Jacinda Ardern’s ‘Dear Don’ letter

Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, May 24th, 2011 - 28 comments
Categories: don brash - Tags:

Dear Don,

I saw your letter week before week; the one to John Key resigning from the National Party. John Key mentioned that he didn’t plan on replying to you; a bit rude, really. But given you did send the letter to every media outlet in New Zealand, I guess it lost that personal touch.

I didn’t want to see your letter go unacknowledged though, so here I am, writing to you to say thanks.

Thank you for reminding me that you believe low wages are the route to higher employment. Paying young people less is not what I would call a comprehensive list of ideas to deal with unemployment, yet it’s the only one I have heard ACT raise in two and a half years. Points for consistency, but none for ignoring the fact that the last time youth unemployment was this high, we were paying young people less than everyone else.

Thank you for restating your position on the environment. You claim we should be fast followers on the issue of climate change, for the sake of our farmers. I would argue we should be leaders of environmental reform for the sake of all of us.

Of course, supporting our exporters is crucial and that includes the dairy industry, as our biggest export earners. But surely that means acknowledging that our brand matters. There is a reason that the UK labels our butter as ‘free range’- there is a growing global movement of conscience consumers and retaining our brand advantage means that it’s time to stop pretending we’re clean and green, and start acknowledging that lagging behind will not only have environmental repercussions, but economic ones also.

Thank you for highlighting what the National party really stands for. I’m writing this during budget week, and while legislation is going through Parliament to cut Kiwsaver, working for families, and restrict student loans. The way the Government is talking, it would be easy to think these are all steps that they’ve been forced into because of the Christchurch earthquakes and the global financial crisis. Let’s be honest though, if fiscal restraint was the only game in town, they would have pulled back on their almost $25billion in tax cuts, which is responsible for roughly $130 million a week worth of our borrowing. Instead, they’ve gone for the things they never really believed in: Working for Families (which in opposition they called ‘communism’); student loans, which John Key called a bribe; and Kiwsaver, the personal savings scheme which you all called too ‘generous.’ Ultimately, these cuts will hurt, but they won’t fix the real issue- our stagnant low wage economy.

Thank you for reminding us again, about the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia, but I would add a few more ‘gaps’ to the list. The skills gap is one. Recently, I had a desperate mum contact me. Her son had just graduated from MIT with a plumbing qualification. The next step in his career was to become an apprentice, something that shouldn’t have been hard given the lack of qualified tradespeople across the country. Despite a desperate search, he couldn’t find a single placement in New Zealand so he turned to Australia. He is now training in Melbourne, where he has been bonded for the next 3 years. And what has the Government response been? To cut $55 million from industry training. Of course the wage gap matters, but let’s not pretend that money is the only reason our young people are looking offshore or that there is nothing the Government can do about it.

Thank you for mentioning superannuation. Not an especially sexy subject matter, but incredibly important nonetheless. Your answer though, to raise the age of entitlement, seems to come without any analysis of the other choices the government is disregarding. It’s not a default option, but it becomes that way in lieu of decent planning. I still remember sitting in Parliament for the Government’s first budget as they suspended all payments into the country’s superannuation fund for the next decade and realising that this was the moment they wrote off my generation.

In many ways though Mr Brash, I fear that you have written off not just my generation, but New Zealand. There was no hope in your letter, no sense of aspiration or of the idea that we can build a prosperous country and do it without adopting an ‘every man and women for themselves’ mentality. And that’s the real reason I want to thank you, because you reminded me why I got into politics and why I became an MP- because we have the potential to be so much more than what you would consign us to.

Yours sincerely

Jacinda Ardern

28 comments on “Jacinda Ardern’s ‘Dear Don’ letter”

  1. sean maitland 2

    Ummm Jacinda – I’d just like to point out that the deficit we have at the moment is because the country is stuck trying to pay for super, KiwiSaver, student loan borrowing, Working for Families, DPB, Sickness benefit, Accomodation supplement, 10,000 extra public servants that Labour hired and Kiwi Rail (among other items).

    They were costed in times of surplus and a booming economy, and are now simply unaffordable. The borrowing the government is doing is to pay for these schemes. Its not to pay for tax cuts.

    All the rhetoric and fluff in the world about expanding our economy and training schemes is not going to change the fact that we have a massive social welfare bill that our country simply can’t afford.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      “All the rhetoric and fluff in the world about expanding our economy and training schemes is not going to change the fact that we have a massive social welfare bill that our country simply can’t afford.”
      That’s the whole point of expanding the economy and training people, you know. So that they’re employed. And therefore not being paid the unemployment benefit. National is (belatedly) trying to do the same.
      Seems this guy is just a thoughtless troll.

    • Ben Clark 2.2

      Excellent reply Jacinda.

      sean: read this if you want to see how National have caused a $16.7 billion debt hole. If, as Lanth says, we get people employed by up-skilling them and expanding the economy, we won’t have such a deficit problem, and things become a lot more affordable. If we continue National’s course, well…

    • aj 2.3

      Sean, do you acknowledge that the tax cuts have ANYTHING to do with the current defecit?

    • Georgecom 2.4

      Sean. The so called ‘tax switch’ has left the government with a structural fiscal deficit. Everything after the tax ‘switch’ has exacerbated that deficit. On that count the government doesn’t so much have a debt problem, but an income problem.

      Yes, the global recession did hit the governments income and books. So too did the 2 earthquakes. The tax ‘switch’ exacerbated the first issue, the downturn. The earthquakes exacerbated the structural deficit. So to did English and Key taking the economy back into recession BEFORE the earthquakes.

      Global recession – one hit that lingers on.
      The tax switch, premised on very hopeful growth figures but even then requiring borrowing – large structural deficit.
      Leading the economy back into recession – exacerbating the structural deficit
      Earthquakes – further deepening the strucural deficit and adding rebuilding costs.


    • Deadly_NZ 2.5

      You mention all the good things TROLL but as usual you have overlooked the Taxcuts that Smile & wave gave to the top few % and is now furiously borrowing to pay for this largess.

  2. billy fish 3

    I luffs her even mores 🙂

  3. Andy-Roo 4

    Lets see more of this

  4. Kath 5

    Go for it. You are the one I want to represent the Gulf Islands and Auckland Central. Tell it like it is. Good for you. Nannawai

    • Labour is full of talented people like Jacinda . Its time the media recognized
      and supported these people instead of propping up the tired old Tory hangers on !

  5. Orc 6

    Yay, someone around my age coming back from England, not going there.

    And waying in on the way we are getting screwed by this mob.

  6. Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7

    “Your answer though, to raise the age of entitlement [of superannuation]…”

    Which, incidentally was the Australians’ answer as well. Gillard has happily raised it by 6 months every two years from 2017 until it reaches 67. Key has completely ruled it out.

    Remind me which one is a social democrat?

    • wtl 7.1

      Key is of the view that it can be someone else’s problem, not his.

      • Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.1

        Never quite understood how it is Key can both be doing nothing and pursuing an evil hard-right agenda (which, in this respect at least, is less hard-right that the Australian Labor party).

        • wtl

          Doing nothing about superannuation simply because it won’t be a major problem until Key is no longer in politics is perfectly consistent with pursuing any agenda (apart from actually being a responsible leader, I guess). And what Rob said, below.

        • RobC

          Doing nothing is a hard-right agenda. That is, the less Govt intervention, the better. What is there not to understand?

  7. marsman 8

    Great stuff Jacinda! You have brain,Brash is dust-ball.

  8. Steve Wrathall 9

    ” Paying young people less …”
    It is you Jacinda, who favour forcing unskilled young people to sit at home for $4.50 an hour, while it is ACT who would allow them to offer themselves for up to 14.99/p.a (something Labour would criminalise). Who really cares?

    • The Voice of Reason 9.1

      “… while it is ACT who would allow them to offer themselves for up to 14.99/p.a”

      Some mistake, surely, Steve? Or is this ACT policy these days?

    • Colonial Viper 9.2

      1) Jacinda is in Opposition. She can’t do squat from there, regardless of what you say.

      2) ACT is going to set the minimum wage at $14.99? Really?

      3) Lots of people care. 50% of full time workers earn less than $39,000 p.a. after all.

  9. Herodotus 10

    Let’s be honest though, if fiscal restraint was the only game in town, they would have pulled back on their almost $25billion in tax cuts, which is responsible for roughly $130 million a week worth of our borrowing.
    Is J.A. in a differnet place than I??
    Tax cuts costing NZ $130m p.a. = $8b p.a.
    yet David C (whom I trust his figures) states that the cuts cost $400m p.a. or the gross PAYE was $2.5b
    I do hope that J.A. tightens up her stuff. This is extremely poor from someone who should know better. Sure tell a lie enough times and people believe, NZ education standards are still strong enough to see thru this one. And it is not the 1st time J.A. has been caught out unable to calc simple maths.

  10. jeremy anderson 11

    If working families need other taxpayers to support them then they are working for insolvent businesses who cannot trade without the subsidy their workers give them by accepting low wages.


    The problem in this country, and has been for a long time, is that business, with every assistance that right wing economic theory could possibly have provided, are still paying low wages and earning fuck all.

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