Anyone else read Audrey Young’s interview of Bill English in the New Zealand Herald and get a massive feeling of deja vu?
Here’s a typical outtake:
Rather than the Treasury working out where to cut spending, he wants the departments to change the way they think.
“We will get them doing it. They are going to have to own this,” he said.
“It is permanent restraint – more services with the same or fewer people and the same or less funding.”
We heard a lot of this in the 1990s. And we heard it from Bill. He knows what happened back then: it deepened and lengthened the recession. But despite seeing it with his own eyes he doesn’t believe that.
That’s because Bill is ex-Treasury and he still holds the faith and that means he is willing to make all the same mistakes again. And again. And again.
But when that nice man Mr Key is out there promising all sorts of goodies and angry Bill is back at the north pole sacking all the elves something has to give. Even for New Zealand’s credulous media the gap between reality and spin will become too great.
That said it seems John has decided to spend a little of his political capital by attacking TVNZ workers today. His claim that the crown owned company should trim a few jobs rather than cut its dividend reminds me of his old moniker, “the smiling assassin”:
“That may also be wholly appropriate if they need to get to a flatter sort of slimmer operating structure… We’re in difficult times and every company, whether its government owned or private sector owned, has to consider how to best operate,”
That’s how he talks about people losing their jobs. The way they pay the bills and feed and house themselves and their families. Like it’s a decision with no moral loading whatsoever. That’s especially cold given he represents TVNZ’s shareholders and as such has the ability to cancel this year’s dividend and stop job losses happening. But that would be too much like real action to save jobs. Best just to stick to the spin.
I might be getting soft in the head but even I had started to think that perhaps this government was a bit centrist. I should have known better.