Goff and his advisers knew that the wage cap on public service CEOs would be the headline grabber of his widely praised speech. It succeeded beautifully and has drawn greater attention to the rest of his message.
It also maneuvered National into the position of having to advocate for higher wages for public servants on gigantic salaries if they wanted to oppose him. Incredibly, they took the bait. Calling for higher wages for half million dollar CEOs is idiocy. Especially when National’s freezing the wages of the ordinary public servants, the doctors, the nurses, and the teachers.
But there is actually a hell of a lot more to this speech than the headline grabber. There is heaps more solid stuff to expand upon in the coming year. Like this:
When I was Minister of Justice, I helped set up a pilot program called Te Hurihanga here in the Waikato. It is a place to send young offenders, hold them accountable for their behaviour, and put the work in that will turn them away from a lifetime of serious crime. It gets hold of boys who are under seventeen and it gives them a wake up call, but it also teaches them literacy skills, teaches them how to become better men and make better decisions – a kick in the pants, and help to make them better before it’s too late.
It’s not cheap, but the alternative is far more costly and less effective. Stopping recidivist offenders saves the victim, it saves the police, the justice system and the long-term prison costs. Hamilton police have described the program as a â€˜Godsend.’ But the government has yet to give a commitment to keep it going when the pilot ends this year. Why would you dither over a successful program like that, but rush ahead with a three strikes policy, which over the next five years will result in locking up only about twelve extra people a year.
The political rhetoric gets headlines, but the policy doesn’t make any real difference to make our community safer. If we are going to create better opportunities for our young people, we need to tackle not only the kids who are already in trouble… It is about creating a breakthrough generation in educational achievement and job skills.
Dead right. Crime is a symptom of deeper social malaise. Locking people up does not solve the problem. In fact, it makes it worse. And it costs a fortune – nearly $300 a day. We know how to stop the vast majority of potential offenders committing crimes. It comes down to early intervention, well-functioning communities, education, and jobs. If we choose to, we can supply all that for a fraction of the price of locking people up and avoid the impact of crime in the first place.
This is just one of the themes Goff has outlined for Labour. I’ll have a look at more later. But I think Goff is on to a winner here. He is talking about the things that matter to Kiwis and he is making solid proposals that work. He and Labour should stick to it.