Written By: - Date published: 11:34 am, July 8th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: national/act government, workers' rights - Tags: bill english, don brash, fran o'sullivan, nz herald, productivity, Rodney Hide, wage gap
A few weeks ago the NZPA reported that the Government had agreed to establish a taskforce to “work on ways to close the productivity gap between Australia and New Zealand”. The taskforce would be selected by ACT leader Rodney Hide and would be announced within the month. The story then sank without a trace.
So it was interesting to see Fran O’Sullivan in the Herald today pumping Don Brash, of all people, to lead the working group:
Hide’s people now say the chair of the advisory group may be announced next week when the Act leader gets back from holiday. A couple of names have been under consideration.
Political sources suggest they are former National leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash and former Treasury secretary Graham Scott.
The political drum goes that Hide had all but secured support for Brash to chair the group – right down to suggesting who else should be among the membership. But Bill English – who has employed Scott as his “purchase adviser” – preferred his former Treasury boss (the Finance Minister was a Treasury analyst before entering politics) over his former party leader.
Anyone who’s seen Alister Barry’s In a Land of Plenty will understand the bitter irony of appointing Don Brash to lead a taskforce dedicated to raising wages. This is a man, after all, who advocated lowering wages and abolishing the minimum wage, and whose actions as Reserve Bank governor helped create the trans-tasman wage gap in the first place.
According to Fran, Bill English is opposed to Brash’s leadership out of personal bitterness:
Those of an unkind bent are saying that English – whom Brash toppled for National’s leadership – does not want him running the ruler over New Zealand’s economic performance against its largest neighbour.
Bullshit. It’s well known that English and elements of the National caucus and ACT have a fundamental disagreement over how to increase productivity. English is understood to favour a more moderate and collaborative approach, while ACT and its sympathisers in the National caucus want to use “productivity” as a cover to return to the slash and burn of the reform era.
Fran, naturally, is pushing the ACT line and trying to frame English as simply being bitter about losing to Brash. In reality, this is a battle between the pragmatic arm of the Right who want to implement their agenda gradually, and the ideological zealouts from the ACT end of the spectrum who want to kickstart the revolution whatever the cost.