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Good Again

Written By: - Date published: 7:48 am, October 28th, 2021 - 23 comments
Categories: covid-19, jacinda ardern, labour, Privatisation, roger douglas, water - Tags:

COVID has reminded us how good New Zealand is, and we should remember how we were reminded.

It will take years to figure if this government really has shifted what we can expect from the state; whether it is regaining a good measure of that strength so deliberately destroyed in the thirty years before 2017.

There are questions that will remain after this current crisis is over, such as: why didn’t New Zealand move back from the extremes of Rogernomics in the generation since? Why was the left relatively timid and the right unable to propose more than privatisation and deregulation? We will leave those questions to historians of political economy.

As we head into 2022, New Zealand has a significantly re-aggregated state: centralised polytechs and labour force planning, centralised re-regulation of 3-water production and price, far stronger public housing providers and developers, re-centralised healthcare, invasive public and private employment mandates for the unvaccinated, a highly integrated carbon market, tens of billions spent by government to business to protect jobs, further tens of billions on infrastructure projects across the country for years to come.

We have also endured some of the most extreme public lockdowns in the world.

Across such rapid expansion in state power in the course of just two years, protests have been minor. Public praise for the Prime Minister remains high deep into the second term and Labour popularity also remains high.

Despite their best efforts, those pushing to re-open to the risks and opportunities of the COVID world have not succeeded. The government measured its own cadence to it all, with very high success. Perhaps we collectively learnt from the blitzkrieg of Rogernomics that we ought no longer look to the United States as a model for rolling out governmental policy of any kind. Responding to COVID we resolutely made and walked our own path as at perhaps no other time in our history.

Through that crisis, welfare payment levels increased, minimum wages increased, Working For Families was sustained, public institutions such as Kiwibank and NZSuper and ACC were strengthened, apprenticeships were made free. The role of Maori-based NGO health providers was also strengthened.

New Zealand is coming out of this crisis with greater social cohesion than when it went in.

This tells me that New Zealanders continue to express deep values that do not fit with a free-market ideology and do fit with a people that assent to a highly mandated state that distributes very significant public goods to all and in particular to those who have the least.

Despite three decades of one-sided, mean-spirited policy and politics, New Zealand retains a very strong base of social capital evidenced in high respect and trust for each other; willingness to work together; willingness to sacrifice for the common good; and recognition of collective action for our common survival and prosperity.

This makes New Zealand, right, now, one of the most hopeful places on earth.

The last two years are showing that great things can still occur in this small, remote place. It has also shown that while the wealthy and their political loudhailers took away much of what was good of us in the past generation, they certainly lack the moral authority to dictate how our society evolves together. New Zealand builds and retains that moral authority as a full collective.

With the right kind of government – a Labour government – New Zealanders have shown each other that they have the power to fundamentally change the direction of this society for good. A quiet pride is deserved.

But just one point further; with our economic growth and social cohesion accelerating into 2022 against most global measures, New Zealanders can also be, once again, a source of inspiration for much of the world. We are good again.

23 comments on “Good Again ”

  1. Jason 1

    very motivational piece. Much thanks

  2. Ngungukai 2

    We wouldn't of had this F%$k Up if Winston was involved. Even National & ACT would haven't let this happen.

  3. dottie 3

    Yes it is good that we have not got Winston muddying the waters.

    You have highlighted the best of our values Ad, I really hope that they continue.

  4. ianmac 4

    A refreshing contribution for an optimistic society. Thanks Ad.

  5. Puckish Rogue 5

    National and Labour have both moved away from what they once were, until both move back I fear NZ will not go back to what it was, if its even possible.

    • Ngungukai 5.1

      We need more Asians and more Dairy Farms ie National/ACT Policy

    • garibaldi 5.2

      Well PR, I certainly don't want to go back thirty or forty years. National have always been kings of dirty politics and Labour has been as weak as dishwater at being the workers party. Go back 50 years to Kirk and maybe, but National would still be dirty politics experts.

      • Puckish Rogue 5.2.1

        I was more referring to Labour being more interested in middle class academics and less into the working class and National more into venture capitalists and merchant bankers rather than farmers and small businesses

        Basically Labour and National are more interested in less useful people and both are ignoring those that made (and make) this country what it is

        • Robert Guyton

          "made… this country what it is"

          And what is it, Pucky?

          • Puckish Rogue

            Overall one of the, if not the, greatest countries in the world, ever.

            • Ngungukai

              Was until Robert Muldoon turned up, then the country went on a downward spiral. Hopefully we can turn it around.

              • Patricia Bremner

                It always amazes me how Bill Birch father of "The Employment Contracts Act" flew under the radar. He did huge damage to working conditions. This was a foundation of great misery.
                So good to see some rights restored under this Government.

            • Tricledrown

              New Zealand is not the best in the world in many areas now.

              Housing ,poverty,family violence,food affordability, clothing affordability, especially shoes,healthcare,crime,equality etc etc. From the Norman kirk years we have gained luxuries for those who can afford them and now we have widespread poverty which was very rare then.

              The only area we are really good maybe the natural beauty of our country.

              Community has been usurped by selfishness.

  6. Adrian 6

    Excellent piece, congrats Advantage. And as for going back , nothing has changed except National is quite lost because it has always taken its lead, and funding, from the most powerful sector in our economy. It lost badly in 1999 because it had closed its ears to the farmers because the Power now laid with the overseas banks and big financiers. In one of their biggest electorates during the ‘98 to ‘2000 drought there was a getaway car idling outside the rear doorway of country halls during electioneering meetings. Such was the anger of their rural heartland. Now, there is no natural successor to the farmers, banks and finally Chinese expatriated money, it is all quite politically fractured now and the Money is more selective.

    • woodart 6.1

      very good post adrian. the last sentence is something that many here and in the rest of the political phone booth (gee,that dates me!) need to remind themselves frequently. "all quite politically fractured" perhaps that needs shouting "ALL QUITE POLITICALLY FRACTURED").. the last couple of years have shown that the vast majority of kiwis are social , and society minded. suddenly , blue rinse ladies, gang members (from mongrel mob to federated farmers), stoners , corporate movers , and , most importantly, "the hard working new zealand taxpayer" all agree on something very important to us all . the fact that the economy hasnt nosedived, but actually grown ,without many of the trappings we were told we need, has really thrown the dice into the cocaine. "shit, where do we put our bribe money.".its amusing to read the same old geezers still trying to be tribal…

  7. Ad 7

    This Crown Responsible investment Framework requires all of the big government funds to achieve Carbon Neutral 2050 goals.

    New Investment Framework Aligns With Govt’s 2050 Carbon Neutrality Goal | Scoop News

    This is a great step in a whole-of-government approach to require our entire public-good-fund system to work together for toe common good.

    Sure hope it also means no more NZSuperFund surprises like the one they pulled for light rail.

    • Patricia Bremner 7.1

      The investment in carbon free entities will have a profound effect. "Money talks" has never been more true. The protection of our assets from ". Fire Sale fallout"

      The investments in our society as it struggles with covid, the banking sector having to examine their housing loan policies, the emphasis on climate change mitigation, plus putting wellness at the centre of policy are things that were needed.

      The recognition of tangata whenua at many levels, through culture language and fundamental beliefs. The statements and implementation of policy to assist change for the better continue to improve the framework.

      To quote Jacinda Ardern "There is much more mahi to do" But thanks for reminding us of what has been done. We are in the beginning of this Pandemic, so our cohesion is critical and is holding despite all reports to the contrary.

      Those who have suffered during this period, through loss and grief, thank you for your stoicism. May better days be closer. Especially those waiting to return.

      Thanks Ad, we do need to reflect away from the “noise”, what has fundamentally changed for the social good.

  8. georgecom 8

    I have been wondering to myself how things would have been had covid appeared say 40 years ago – lets say 1980 with Muldoon as PM. What might the impacts and the policy responses have been.

    the virus would have been slower to migrate around the world and to reach NZ, incursions into NZ lower

    availability of vaccines would have been a whole lot slower. we would be taking whole virus vaccines rather than mrna or virus vector like pfizer and janssen. I am unsure if technology existed in nz back then to produce vaccines domestically

    vaccine hesitancy probably lower given the lack of social media and widespread conspiracy theories

    probably not the same emphasis on maori and pasifika vaccination we have now, they would be lumped into total %s

    mask wearing and social distancing could have occurred, signing in would be via manual rolls

    our supply of nz made goods and services would probably have stood up reasonably well depending how much stock of imported parts and materials were on hand, things made off shore would probably have become scarcer than they are presently

    no widespread testing regimes

  9. SPC 9

    Most of that case for a returned Labour administration is why the next election will be like 2005, one where National will thrown the whole Orewa 9 yards into the fight.

    The provinces vs Maori and central government.

    If Labour win, then National will do the John Key – and accept some of the reforms.

  10. Shane Jones has always been irrelevant!

  11. Weasel 11

    It's good to have catalogued the multitude of positives arising from having a Labour government. The one glaring omission of course is tax reform and Ardern's failure to accept the recommendations of the Tax Working Group. Over the years we have scrapped Inheritance tax. Gift duties, we have had the progressivity of income tax vastly reduced and instead had the regressive GST introduced and then upped. On tope of this our government's have committed a sin of omission with their failure to tax capital gains, which has allowed those with wealth to hugely increase their wealth tax-free.
    Neither Helen Clark in nine years of government nor Jacinda Ardern seem capable of addressing the tax question. This is fundamental to wealth redistribution that would do most to alleviate poverty and help restore that most inspiring aspect of a good society – equal opportunity.
    (BTW Advantage I think it's past time you started referring to Aotearoa by it proper name.)

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