Bill English has usurped his do-nothing leader with an op-ed in the Herald framing National’s agenda for the year to come. This piece was English’s chance to convince New Zealanders to accept his agenda. He gets off to a bad start:
As New Zealand emerges from recession, the Government’s focus has firmly shifted towards significantly lifting our economic performance.
The recession ended 9 months ago. 9 months and the Government has nothing to show for its supposed focus on economic performance. Growth is so weak that its slower than population growth – the pie is getting a little bigger once more, but slower than the number of slices is increasing. Bill is pretty pleased with himself nonetheless:
The 2009 Budget got us on the road to recovery.
No it didn’t. It was delivered after the recession had ended and it did nothing for economic growth, which English says is his priority.
Economic growth matters because it creates jobs, lifts incomes and improves the living standards of families.
Yes, and no. Just as important is where the fruits of economic growth go. Does it go to working New Zealanders through jobs and higher wages? Or does it go to the tiny privileged elite through tax cuts for the rich, higher profits, and wealth concentration?
Making changes that help permanently lift our economic performance will be the overriding focus of the 2010 Budget.
OK, maybe, depends what the changes are and who benefits from them (not all reforms like all boats equally, that’s obvious). So, what are the changes you’re proposing, Bill?
Oh, he won’t say. The bulk of the op-ed is just repetitions of the same old lines that National has been using since before the election – “Protecting New Zealanders from the sharp edges of the recession”, “six key areas as potential drivers of growth” – the same old vague comments, never backed by any detail.
It is clear that English’s actual agenda is to slash public services (got to pay for last year’s tax cuts for the rich and next years’ cuts for corporates somehow). The cover for this is going to be a claim that the public sector is holding back the economy:
the public sector has grown rapidly, but with poor productivity. That has lowered the economy’s overall productivity.
Wrong, of course. The Right has made an art form of lying about productivity. It has not ‘lowered’, it has risen – 17% over Labour’s last terms in office. And I would like to know how English can claim to know the level of public sector productivity. It’s not covered in the productivity stats (if you’re not selling anything, it’s pretty hard to measure how much you’re producing in dollar terms compared to the amount of inputs, which is how you measure productivity).
This opening shot of the year (delivered by the real driver of this government, not Do Nothing Key, who is still in Hawaii), tells us that 2010 will be more of the same from this government – big words, no deeds; over-promise, under-deliver.