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Less a kickstart than a wee nudge with a soft shoe

Written By: - Date published: 1:36 pm, February 11th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: economy - Tags:

The kickstart package is out and it seems to be a mixture of work that was already going to happen and stuff that is worthy enough but not focused on much past the building industry.

One of the concerns I have is with the fast-tracking of roading projects. For example just how much difference it makes to have a project like the Hawkes Bay Expressway southern extension brought forward three months?

I’m also concerned that little thought has gone into spending the $500m (or whatever part of it wasn’t already allocated to projects) in a way that looks forward to the next boom.

Where are the packages focused on training so we don’t end up with a skills shortage like we did in the last boom? Where is the funding for increased research and development so we can start growing the ideas the next boom will be carried on? In short, where is the vision? I mean it’s good to see them trying to be Keynesian rather than cutting benefits and slashing spending but what they’ve offered so far just seems so unambitious.

18 comments on “Less a kickstart than a wee nudge with a soft shoe”

  1. vidiot 1

    “Where are the packages focused on training so we don’t end up with a skills shortage like we did in the last boom?”

    Shall we pick on one of those great government sponsored programs that encouraged people to become SCUBA instructors, the industry referred to them as ‘Zero to Hero’ courses. The dive industry churned out instructor after instructor for jobs that just weren’t there, all for the sake of picking up some cheap government funding.

    You could also point the blame at the Government for the ‘french pass’ tragedy (http://www.cdnn.info/industry/i030317/i030317.html), they wouldn’t have been there at that time/place if they weren’t on that course.

    And let’s not forget those essential skills that ‘twilight golf’ and the ‘get a free PC, sell it on trade me’ courses brought to industry.

    I am all for focused training, but it needs to be focused and not rushed in to blindly. I guess the way Key is looking at it, is that roading is ‘easy’ work. You don’t need a large skill set to push a spade, hold a sign or paint yellow lines.

  2. @ work 2

    Perhaps a course on thowing babies out with bath water is in order vidiot?

  3. Joshua 3

    69 state houses to be built, what a joke. How about 690 and you might be getting somewhere. Completely underwhelming when you compare this to many packages that other countries are putting together. Nothing for public transport in there, in fact nothing for Auckland’s transport at all.

  4. vto 4

    In my humble opinion it is wise to not overplay what the govt can achieve in the current environment. The massive bailouts all around the globe I always said would not work and they wont. They may soften things a little (tiny tiny) but there is a point where more bailout / stimulation becomes superfluous and useless (actually worse than that because it simply lumbers future taxpayers with burdens for no benefit). It is a case of diminishing returns.

    This downturn is an attitudinal problem in many respects and govt action will not deter that. Picture a stampede – unstoppable things. Maybe divertable but the only way stampedes stop is by running themselves out. And this one has only just got up to speed…

  5. IrishBill 5

    vidiot, I was talking about things like a retraining allowance. The courses you mention are a direct result of the market model of education resource allocation that the National government introduced in the early 90’s.

    Labour should have done something about the absurd EFTS system earlier but feared they would be seen as interfering and pciking winners.

  6. Pat 6

    The good thing about the schools and roading projects is that they are spread around the country, and so will have a wider impact for spreading the work around.

  7. Daveski 8

    Most of the negative reaction is simply opposition tactics – it doesn’t matter what National does, oppose it. I heard Kevin Hague oppose a bill because it was to be taken under urgency yet most hear are damning the nats for not going fast enough.

    I’ll throw you lot a bone. How about agreeing that perhaps NZ doesn’t need the same extreme measures (at least at present) because we are better placed to meet the challenges. We don’t have the same liquidity, banks are toppling, unemployment isn’t yet desperate.

    (Of course, a troll would argue the Nats can’t do much more because Labour has already spent it … or at least a troll would say that’s what Dr Cullen said :))

    Being able to have some headroom in the future (viz interest rates compared to the rest of the world, can’t be a bad thing.

    And we all know who you would given the credit for the above.

    I tend to be pragmatic – there does appear to be consensus between Nats and Lab over the core fiscal and economic policies since the excesses of the 1980’s and early 1990’s and that’s something that we should see as a good thing.

  8. @ work 9

    Bugger, Muldoons corner always keeps the Rimutakas interesting!

  9. BLiP 10


    WTF is that Goober John Key trying to do? What a fantastic opportunity to show some real leadership – and what does the Goober do? Fiddle about with some dates on projects already on the books, sit back and twiddle his thumbs.

    What about 690 statehouses (as above), electrification of the main trunk, a railway link to Auckland airport, a comprehensive apprenticeship scheme, and having a scope around looking at some sitting ducks for nationalisation – public transport maybe?

    If its true that a nation gets the leadership it deserves, we’re all fucked. Wonder where I put my passport.

  10. Pat 11

    The point is to have profects that can be started now – budgeted for and consented for – rather than some yet to be determined future pie-in-the-sky project like a railway link to Auckland airport. How long has the Waterview link project been thrown around the table, and that is only a few kilometres long?

  11. Joshua 12

    Yes I agree that it was a bit impossible for the big public transport projects to be included in this package because the planning work hasn’t been done on them. But how about the Marsden Point rail link, where the designation was confirmed late last year? Or the Manukau Rail Link, which has “no timetable for completion” according to the ProjectDART website even though its design is complete and it’s “ready to go”. Continuing electrification along the NIMT would also be a great idea – seems dumb that we’re going to have a Papakura to Hamilton and a Palmy to Wellington gap. Once again, that would be within the existing rail designation so wouldn’t need resource consent.

    Perhaps these will be announced later on, but isn’t it better to over-react than under-react in the current climate Daveski? Most response so far to the recession internationally has been considered “too little too late”. We’re already arguably too late, and now it seems we’re perhaps too little as well.

    I at least thought there’d be some re-hash of the Greens’ insulation bill – but it seems like one has to live in a state house to get any benefit from that.

  12. Daveski 13

    Can someone give me concrete evidence that we are too late?

    I think the evidence of comparable interest rates shows we certainly have headroom compared to other economies.

    And as I noted myself, this is actually crediting Labour for at the very least cautious if uninspired economic management.

    What no one is acknowledging is that OVER reacting will simply mean a longer recovery period.

  13. ak 14

    Daveski: as I noted myself, this is actually crediting Labour for at the very least cautious if uninspired economic management.

    Quite right, and congratulations on your beltated, grudging, shuffle into the light. Welcome, and join the rational majority in our “rolling yawn” at the first 100 days of stupefaction.

    Can someone give me concrete evidence that we are too late?

    sadly, I don’t think you’ll have to wait long now Dave…..

  14. daveski 15

    I saw an interesting statistic (not spin, not opinion) that pointed out the advantage of our ridiculously high interest rates a little while back. hence (as one example) we have more room to move than say the US and Uk. I don’t deny things will get worse but we aren’t where the UK or US is.

    As I pointed out there is a long term cost to the short term benefit and the cautious approach could prove to be a better strategy allowing for the fact that you can always spend again tomorrow.

  15. Joshua 16

    It just seems strange that National would spend only 10% of their “infrastructure fund” now. Are they expecting the recession to last for years and years or something?

  16. expat 17

    Most of the World is expecting tthe recession to last for years and years. We are looking at the biggest global economic train wreck for >100 years.

    Buckle in, it may get bumpy ahead.

  17. There is one spark of true wisdom in this package. Part of the $100 million is to be spent adressing the pavement rehabilitation backlog referred to in Transit’s 2005/06 annual report. The rest of the $100 million is being directed at reaching the Road Safety 2010 Strategy’s traget of 6.1 deaths per billion vkt. For some reason the target is still being stated as no more than 300 deaths in 2010 even though it has been obvious for some time that we haven’t had the traffic growth rates anticipated when the startegy was being prepared. Honest politicians would have revised the official target downwards to no more than 250 deaths in 2010. It’s pity we don’t seem to have any honest politicians.

    It seems that the severity of the highway funding situation has not been conveyed to Aucklander’s. The Regional Land Transport Committee investigated tolling the Northern and Southern motorways to fund the shortfall created by the cost of building the western ring route. That turned out not to be feasible so now they are considering a regional petrol tax. They don’t seem to have considered options to redirect the money back to where the need is greatest.
    These startling revelations were leaked to a local newspaper that not many Aucklanders have access to.

    ReCaptcha: curtain escapes (rather apt IMHO)

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