I can’t be bothered doing a detailed rebuttal of Don Brash’s latest 2025 Taskforce report. It’s 150-odd pages of the same fear-mongering and shoddy statistics as last time, used to argue for the imposition of an even more radical version of his failed neoliberal agenda. It ought to be and will be ignored by everyone who matters. That said, Brash’s latest offering is a curate’s egg – nearly all of it foul and rotten but with one partially redeeming section:
Public investment projects to be justified by the business case. It is crucial that state investment in infrastructure is only undertaken when robust and transparent cost-benefit analysis shows it is warranted. We should know whether, for example, building Transmission Gully will provide a net benefit to the economy.
Now, I’m really bad at darts but let me have enough throws and eventually I’ll hit the bulls-eye. Brash is like that with economics. And this is a bulls-eye.
Government investment should be justified by the costs and benefits (in every sense, not just monetary) to the country. That would see National’s stupid Roads of National Significance canned immediately. But it should go wider to include SOEs, which are currently required to make decisions purely to maximise their own benefit/cost, ignoring the rest of the country. That leads to the crazy situation of Kiwirail importing trains it could make itself for nearly the same price and the country losing all the flow-on benefits in jobs and taxes.
So, well done, Don. I’m not sure it was quite worth how many hundreds of thousands that your ‘taskforce’ of neoliberal pensioners have cost us, since this report will just be binned like the last one (this whole exercise is about making John Key look moderate compared to the ‘scary Right’ after all). But at least you got one thing partially right and, in doing so, condemned National’s entire infrastructure investment policy.