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Anger, that’ll solve our problems

Written By: - Date published: 2:05 pm, January 9th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: bill english, economy, national/act government - Tags:

Yesterday, Labour leader Phil Goff challenged National to present its plan for getting the economy through the global downturn. Halfway through National/ACT’s much-hyped first 100 days and, Goff pointed out, while Obama and the UK are pushing ahead with a ‘Green New Deal’ we’ve seen nothing from National/ACT except the cancelation of the one Green New Deal programme we did have, the home insulation plan.


While the UK, Aussie, UK, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and just about every other government in the world have cancelled their usual holiday hiatus to respond to the crisis, ours is still on vacation. John Key was too busy at his holiday home in Hawaii to even respond to Goff’s criticism. That fell to Angry Bill who spat “Given the mess Labour left the economy in, they should be focused on getting their own house in order, rather than telling the new Government what to do.”

That’s the same Bill English who was praising the former government’s economic management just last month, along with various other commentators. And so they should. Labour left government with the government’s finances in the best shape they have ever been in, with record-low unemployment, with tax cuts targeted at low income workers, with rapidly rising wages, with a larger social wage, with Working for Families meaning many families pay no income tax, and with Kiwisaver increasing our private savings. In the face of a series of external shocks – the drought, record-oil prices, the sub-prime crisis, and the credit crisis that has emerged from it – the economy held up as well as it could have. Labour did as well as it could in trying circumstances. Of course, that doesn’t stop Bill resorting to angry attack as his only defence – he knows the attack is dishonest but it doesn’t matter as long as it distracts from the gaping hole where his government’s policy ought to be.

National/ACT can try and fix the blame wherever it chooses but the only question now is ‘what is National/ACT going to do?’ Where are its answers?

Bill and the Tories can spit all the bile they like but the job now is to govern. We’re still waiting.

11 comments on “Anger, that’ll solve our problems ”

  1. Steve Pierson said “Labour left government with the government’s finances in the best shape they have ever been in”

    This is a piss-take post, right? Or have you forgotten PREFU?


    “Treasury has painted a very ugly economic picture for the incoming National government with cash deficits increasing, growth shrinking, tax revenue diminishing and unemployment rising.

    Prime minister designate John Key was briefed by Treasury yesterday and told the economic outlook had deteriorated further since the pre-election fiscal update (Prefu).”

  2. Whero 2

    You sound surprised?

    Of course National don’t have any idea what to do – they are waiting for thier big business masters to get back to their offices and tell them what to do.

  3. Inv2. Read the actual PREFU, not what Granny has to say about it. And I’m not denying things are bad, Labour isn’t denying that either which is why they are begging National to do something. I’m saying it’s not Labour’s fault and Labour did well given the circumstances, which is what English and experts have said too.

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    I have a suspicion that if a new government, nine years out of power, with many of its Ministers new to the role (and one even new to Parliament itself!) had rushed headlong into a “plan” to deal with not just a crisis, but a pile of inter-related crises with the potential to completely wreck our economy if mis-handled… then the headline to this post would read something like “Ignorant noobs think they can solve all our problems”.

    I do agree, however, that perception-wise I don’t think it’s the cleverest idea in the world to have our PM sunbathing in Hawaii (and probably hoping Obama will drop by so he can meet someone else “famous”). Unless it’s part of a cunning plan to calm fears at home and settle the markets… but I doubt it.

    He’s got the job he’s supposedly wanted since he were a lad, you’d think he’d pull on a suit and at least give the impression of being at the helm.

    But that’s perception. The reality is that we need to tread carefully and with our eye on what much larger economies are doing, rather than “leading the world” on everything at great expense to ourselves. I sincerely hope that’s what they’re doing.

  5. “I’m saying it’s not Labour’s fault and Labour did well given the circumstances, which is what English and experts have said too.”

    No you’re not Steve – once you start using absolutes like “best shape they have ever been in” and “record low unemployment” you paint yourself into a corner. Unemployment is NOT at record low levels. When Holyoake was PM (which I’m old enough to remember 😉 ), unemployment was almost unknown. The joke in those days was that the PM knew all NZ’s unemployed by their first names.

  6. Inv2. Record low unemployment – the measure we have for recording unemployment is the Household Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate under that measure has been lowest in the last four years, under Labour. Hence, record low, the lowest on the record.

    I’m aware of the old joke about Holyoake and it refers to the number of people on the unemployment benefit, not the number of unemployed. The number of people on the unemployment benefit reached a low of 12 in 1950 but the number of unemployed was far higher than that – just as the number of people unemployed according the the HLFS today at 94,000 is far more than the 20,000 on the UB. You’ve also got to understand the difference between a time when complusory military service and a huge public workforce intentionally created work for all even if it was valueless and today.

  7. the sprout 7

    You’re forgetting National’s other Master Recovery Plan policies of cancelling the Buy Kiwi Made campaign and the Fire At Will Bill to promote unemployment.

    English’s anger is borne of his impotence. He know’s there’s bugger-all his party can come up with that will do much good and still hold on to its rightwing support base. They are in a serious pickle, and so soon into their reign.

    You’re pissing into the wind if you try and parrot English’s line that Labour left the economy in bad shape. There are few politicians of any colour and even fewer journalists – let alone economists – who’d believe that.

    “Of course National don’t have any idea what to do – they are waiting for thier big business masters to get back to their offices and tell them what to do.”

    Many a true word is said in jest.

    But really… a pretty lacklustre and disappointing performance from National so far and one I doubt will improve in the coming 34 months or so before they’re consigned to history as One Term Wonders.

  8. Ari 8

    You know, blaming the Labour government for the international financial crisis is very “bipartisan” and totally consistent with his earlier comments that they had left the economy in a comparatively good state.

    I really hope I don’t have to watch Bill English’s slow descent into schizophrenia as he tries to be “bipartisan” and attack Labour at the same time. XD

  9. r0b 9

    Here were some of Bill’s words on the topic – all the way back in December:

    Bill English had to swallow the proverbial dead rat this morning and effectively acknowledge that Michael Cullen had done something right in his stewardship of the Government’s finances in the past nine years.

    Having condemned his predecessor for many years for paying off debt too quickly, English said: “I want to stress that New Zealand starts from a reasonable position in dealing with the uncertainty of our economic outlook.”

    “In New Zealand we have room to respond. This is the rainy day that Government has been saving up for,” he told reporters at the Treasury briefing on the state of the economy and forecasts.

    Right wing trolls always want to beat up the dire economic predictions as Labour’s failure. They are not, they are a result of dire international circumstances. Without the good work of the last Labour government, things would have been a lot worse. Here’s some notes from the Treasury briefing (pdf link) to the incoming National government:

    New Zealand’s economic fortunes are tied to those of the world
    economy. In the immediate future, international economic conditions
    will be dominated by events in the financial sector and their
    aftermath. The instability of global financial markets has required
    radical policy responses to stabilise financial systems. The full
    impact of this instability on economic activity remains uncertain, but
    a key factor will be the speed with which stability returns to financial
    markets. Economic growth has already weakened significantly around the world accompanied by substantial losses in wealth. […]

    Past macroeconomic policies have put New Zealand in a reasonably strong position to weather economic shocks.

    Significant fiscal stimulus is already in train, and tax and spending should be allowed to adjust as the economy In the medium-term, fiscal consolidation will be needed.

    So I guess we look to the government for urgent action in these urgent times right? Wrong. Even National’s best friends in the media (hello Granny) can’t help but notice that National haven’t got a plan:

    Many may find the new Government’s initial programme, outlined to Parliament in the Speech from the Throne yesterday, a trifle bland for the times. National has come to office in economic circumstances it describes as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    But despite the parliamentary urgency it has invoked for its election promises there appears to be no particular urgency to meet the crisis.

    The speech delivered by the Governor-General added little flesh to the bare bones of policies announced before the election or agreed with National’s supporting parties more than a fortnight ago. The stimulus package that the country expected, no matter which of the major parties was elected, has not materialised yet and there was no hint from the throne that one is imminent.

    What Granny Herald is trying to say is that the National government is frozen like a rabbit in the headlights, dithering while Rome burns. They blew all their political capital violating the democratic process by rushing punitive bills through before Christmas under urgency, while doing nothing (zero zip nada) to address the truly urgent problems of the economy.

    Note to John Key. Summer silly season will soon be over, and the country will be looking to you for leadership and results. What’s your plan?

  10. randal 10

    you are on the money SP
    the National party and its supporters have turned into an angry party
    make that a very angry party
    just listen to radio spud and the rest of the squawkback radio and all you hear is an endless parade of very angry people who want change in the world but dont know how to change anything except their underpants
    on the whole they are very CLEAN people too
    so they now they have “power” of soprts but dont know what to do with it because to effect change costs MONEY and the angries are also very mean as well

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