A wee typo in Fran O’Sullivan’s column today:
“Till now, Key has operated a rather laissez-faire approach to Cabinet management.”
I think O’Sullivan meant “fairly lazy”.
She points out that Gerry Brownlee and Paula Bennett have been allowed to go out and essentially lie to the public about their policies only to be embarrassingly exposed by an increasingly awake media (helped by the blogosphere) because Key isn’t paying attention and he doesn’t have a Cullen-like figure to back him up.
“Labour leader Phil Goff has become so emboldened by the Government’s stumbles that he has stolen a line from the blogosphere and now refers to Key as “Smile and Wave”. If Key took a more courageous approach, he would quickly dispel that epithet.”
The problem for National is that isn’t going to happen. Key didn’t come into politics to take a “courageous approach”. Just as he didn’t come into politics to “close the gap with Australia”, give us “tax cuts North of $50”, or a “brighter future”. He came into politics to get PM on his CV and, as a good National leader, fulfill he duty to the ruling class “to see wages drop”
O’Sullivan does credit the Government with getting down to work, just half way through its term. She points to:
“* Welfare beneficiaries got the long overdue message they should ultimately try to get back to work.”
Of course, they don’t need the boot in the face. They need jobs and a safety net until they can get one. When there are jobs, people take them rather than being on benefits. That’s why the number on the dole when from 158,000 to 17,000 under Labour.
“* The state sector was told it was up for much-needed restructuring.”
I’m still gobsmacked that National’s state sector reforms thus far amount to putting National Archives and the National Library into DIA. I mean, these guys had nine years to come up with ideas and this is it? All that talk of government waste and they’re saving $6 million a year (they hope)? Maybe it’s the soft-lead (the opposite to the approach taken on mining) because the talk is that more controversial reforms are coming – not efficiency-gaining ones, but ones that put more power in the hands of the PM, like making the State Services Commission part of DPMC.
“* Mining parts of the conservation estate was put on the table.”
Even if Schedule 4 land is mined, and that will be fought every step of the way costing National huge support, it still wouldn’t make the slightest economic difference to New Zealand. Even the quarter of a billion dollar a year open-cast Waihi mine, by its own admission, contributes just $40 million to the local economy.
“* Wealthy families who had been rorting the Working for Families scheme were told their particular scam was up.”
Good. Wealthy bludgers need to be stopped ripping us off. Unfortunately, National is planning to give these very same bludgers massive tax cuts.
But these policies amount to essentially nought. The big issues are getting people back into work and getting New Zealand’s economy on an environmentally sustainable footing as we face rising oil prices and climate change. National is tinkering at the edges of small issues and, more often than not, getting even those things wrong.