Fran pumping Brash for productivity taskforce

Written By: - Date published: 11:34 am, July 8th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: national/act government, workers' rights - Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

18 comments on “Fran pumping Brash for productivity taskforce”

  1. slickrick 1

    from that same article – “Nearly nine months into this Government’s (first?) three-year term, nothing has emerged”

    Now there’s a telling use of brackets. Fran’s faith in this government is diminishing fast.

  2. Some pretty sneaky wording in that article too:

    Yet before becoming Prime Minister, Key made huge political capital out of the fact that New Zealand’s income on a GDP per capita basis had slid markedly during his predecessor’s near nine years in power.

    Except he didn’t talk about GDP per captia, it was always about closing the wage gap between NZ and Australia.

    Throughout Labour’s time as government the wage gap was steady, and closed slightly. In the previous 15 years of the kind of neo-liberal economic policy that Fran dreams about we went from having higher wages than Australia to significantly lower wages.

  3. Frack-checker 3

    Fran’s got that wrong. GDP per capita increased markedly when Labour was in power. It’s down about 4% over the last year though.

    Maybe she meant GDP per capita relative to Australia but like Jarbury says, we managed to keep pace with them under Labour.

    • ghostwhowalks 3.1

      Not its not. Its about + 3% on an annual basis to this time last year.

      • Frack-checker 3.1.1

        ghost. Think about what your claim was: that after five quarters of the economy getting smaller and the population growing, the size of the economy per person is bigger. That doesn’t make any sense.

        Even the graph you point to has GDP down 1%. Add 1% Population growth and GDP per capita is down 2%. But that’s the annualised measure. It looks better because part of the 2008 March year includes quarters when GDP was still rising.

        Look at March Quarter 2008 GDP per capita and March Quarter 2009 GDP per capita;

        Q1 2008 GDP $34 billion
        Q1 2009 GDP $33 billion

        nearly 3% down, add 1% population growth – 4%

        • ghostwhowalks

          I looked at the excel table behind the graph which showed each quarter.

          And then added each quarter. Not sure you can do that as adding % is often a no no.
          But what you was doing was taking -1% for the last quarter and multiplying for the previous year, which is very misleading

          • ghostwhowalks

            There isnt 1% population growth per qtr. Lucky if that is for a whole year.

            Plus I was using official figures and for last year on one quarters there was 3% increase in total GDP
            Yours are just quesses

          • Frack-checker

            Sorry, ghost, you’ve misinterpreted the data you’re reading.

            Those figures you added together are the annual change in GDP (it says so in the top left-hand corner of the table). What that is the change in GDP between the four quarters ending that quarter and the four quarters preceding them.

            So you don’t add them together, you just take the last one, if you’re looking for year on year change in GDP. If you want the difference between GDP in the latest quarter and the same quarter a year ago you can’t use that table, you have to go to Stats.

            My numbers aren’t guesses – they are from Stats, follow the link I gave you.

            The GDP in Q1 2008 was $34 billion, the Q1 GDP in 2009 was $33 million.

            Population growth between those two quarters was 1%, again check stats.

  4. Mike Collins 4

    I would be happy with either of them.

  5. Zaphod Beeblebrox 5

    More interesting was the part of the article which talks about the difference in economic forecasts between Aust and NZ. If this turns out the be true, both the Nats and especially Act’s economic credibility will not last long at all.

    Will be interesting to see how Key and English respond when Australia starts growing whilst NZ is going backwards.

  6. I think you’ve taken O’Sullivan out of context when you say: “According to Fran, Bill English is opposed to Brash’s leadership out of personal bitterness:”

    O’Sullivan’s very next sentence is: “Frankly, both English and Brash are better than that.”

    • Eddie 6.1

      She’s trying to position English so that he has to let Brash chair it or risk looking like he’s driven by personal bitterness.

  7. Red Rosa 7

    National will be hung out to dry on ‘Closing the Gap With Australia’.The real gap openened up under the previous National government, and Labour managed to narrow it, marginally.

    Now it is widening again, as the Oz economy rolls steadily on. Shaken somewhat of course, but currently one of the better performers in the OECD.

    The main reason for this is the different export mix, and there has been more than enough analysis over the years to tell us this.

    The real question is ‘What are we going to do about it?’ There has never been a convincing answer to this question over the years, and it is unlikely that Don Brash or Graham Scott are going to provide one now.

    A simple table of current and past GDP per head for Oz and NZ, updated quarterly, will keep National nailed to this rash election promise. It will be another factor spelling its doom for the next election.

  8. randal 8

    cut to the chase.
    according to someone from a gubmint deepartment on rnz this morning:
    proportionately more new zealanders are employed than in any other oecd country,
    new zealanders work longer hours than anyone else,
    new zealanders work harder than anyone else,
    yet we 9th from the bottom on the oecd list.
    why is that?
    can anyone explain that?
    if you got brash, english, keys and hide in a room could they explain that?

  9. ghostwhowalks 9

    we dont have oil or we arent part of the EU and we are too small to have a decent manufacturing base anymore ( remember when we had that and we were way up the list).

    Norway is streets ahead of Sweden , guess why

    Ireland is mile ahead of NZ,
    1) belongs to EU,
    2) has a lot of money gos through their banks to avoid tax in Europe or US.
    eg Google invoices all its web advertising revenue through an Irish subsidiary, worth a few $bill. Microsoft is moving more in this direction. Plus all the big London ‘investment’ banks run their back office ( and revenue )through Dublin

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