A recent poll conducted by Colmar Brunton indicates that trust in the Government to do what is right for New Zealand is now 65% compared to 48% two years ago. I wonder what happened to cause this significant change?
A new study commissioned by Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (IGPS) shows the number of New Zealanders who trust government has risen substantially since 2016.
The Colmar Brunton survey asked 1,000 people across the country how much they trust key groups such as government ministers, police, medical practitioners, churches, charities, small businesses, the media and bloggers.
Asked whether they trust the government to do what is right for New Zealand, 65 percent now answer yes, compared with 48 percent in 2016. A total of 59 percent say they trust government to deal successfully with national problems, up from 47 percent in 2016, and 49 percent think New Zealand citizens’ interests are equally and fairly considered by the government, up from 39 percent.
“This large boost in trust surrounding government was unexpected and really positive,” says Dr Simon Chapple, IGPS Director. “In other countries we are seeing a decline in trust in democratic political institutions, so it’s interesting that we seem to be going in the other direction. The test will be whether those levels of trust can be sustained.”
Dr Chapple notes that trust in the police and courts is also significantly up.
“On the down side, there was a statistically significant decline in trust in both churches and charities. Trust in other social institutions was broadly stable.”
Simon Chapple, IGPS Director, was interviewed by Suzy Ferguson in this interview.
Contrast this result to business confidence, National’s favourite go to statistic. During the winter of discontent in the first term of the last Labour government something similar happened when businesses talked themselves into a funk which only disappeared when the economic fundamentals showed that despite the doom and gloom things were going along quite well.
Rod Oram describes the background to the winter of discontent in this article and specifically in this way:
Eighteen years ago, the political challenge for Prime Minister Helen Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen was to roll back some of the most unpopular parts of economic reforms while leaving the main beneficial changes intact.
As veterans of the Lange government, they were battered and bruised by the reforms it that had pushed through. They focused particularly on replacing the Employment Contracts Act, which was heavily tilted to employers, with the Employment Relations Act. This gave some rights back to employees, but employers remained strongly in control of the relationship.
The neo-liberal Business Roundtable, led by hard-liner Roger Kerr, fiercely opposed the law changes. It was impossible that the government could reach a constructive agreement on the issues with Kerr. But Cullen only made matters worse. As Hansard recorded, he declared in parliament on August 9, 2000: “Eat that! You lost, we won, it [the ECA] goes! It is as simple as that!”
Cullen’s triumphalism reinforced the belief of many in business that the new government wasn’t interested in working with them. Indeed, Clark and Cullen also overturned two other business favourites among the previous National government’s policies – partial privatisation of ACC’s workplace insurance, and further privatisations of State Owned Enterprises. The government also hiked the top personal tax rate from 33 percent to 39 percent.
Clark and Cullen’s judgement was right. Almost all corporate leaders were letting the Business Roundtable do their thinking for them, even though its sway over government and business had diminished from its heyday in the 1980s. There were essentially no independent, future-focused leaders in business the new government could work with.
Government-business animosity deepened severely during 2000.
“There was something close to a strike by capital,” Cullen recalled later.
Eventually the government had to hold a “summit” to try to reach a working relationship with business.
Gradually the two sides’ confidence in each other improved. But neither became great fans of the other during the nine years of Clark’s government. Only the Key government achieved that for most of its three terms. But even so, business was beginning to grouse about the Key government’s lack of strategy and inability to tackle big issues in its last couple of years.
And there are two basic rules of New Zealand politics, business confidence will be lower under Labour than under National and economic growth will be higher under Labour than under National.
David Cunliffe in this speech detailed the reasons why.
If you take a 30-year history of data and compare economic growth under Labour Governments with economic growth under National Governments, guess which comes out higher? Labour, by over 0.5 percent per annum, has a higher economic growth rate record than occurred under National Governments. As if that were not rich enough, there is another lovely statistic that goes with it that despite that, sometimes business confidence is higher under National. That is because it is purely tribal and because certain wealthy members of the community are able to rip off the system under National and feather their own nests. New Zealanders have had enough of it.
Yes I do appreciate that growth is and should not be the be all and the end all of measurements but most businesses would believe that it is highly relevant.
Still the same old rhetoric, and misrepresentation, continues from National.
From Tracy Watkins in Stuff:
[National leader Simon] Bridges said the Government’s lack of consultation on the oil and gas decision, and its work place reforms – potentially the biggest shake up in industrial relations in decades – were all taking their toll on business confidence.
An Auckland Chamber of Commerce Survey shows business confidence in “freefall”, with nearly half believing the economy will deteriorate over the rest of this year. Only 15 per cent expected an improvement, compared to 12 months ago when a third of businesses thought the economy was going to get better, and 8 per cent believed it would get worse.
Bridges said no one should under estimate the “corrosive” effect of falling business confidence on the economy and the Government.
“It is bloody serous. If they don’t turn it around it’s kind of like nothing else matters,” Bridges said.
“If it stays where it is in a year’s time people will really notice it…it will affect their pay round, their jobs, and the costs they’re facing at the supermarket.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s figures are based on electronic returns from small businesses. Think Horizon polling but less accurate.
A more statistically relevant analysis conducted by ANZ suggests that although confidence plunged immediately after the election it has improved and stabilised at a consistent, albeit negative, level.
I am sure that business will continue to be threatened by any action designed to improve the plight of workers. And that the population as a whole will support it. Maybe it is time for business to realise that what is good for all of us is actually better for them.