National’s successes

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, June 27th, 2009 - 72 comments
Categories: john key, national/act government, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: ,

grey cardiganNational’s 2008 election victory was undoubtedly a great success for the Party. Just two terms after humiliating defeat under the leadership of Bill English, National rose from the ashes to claim a convincing win. Forming a broad coalition that brought the Maori Party into the fold, thus simultaneously broadening National’s coalition options and lessening the necessity to be beholden to any one coalition partner, was also a success. Some might say National gave away too much for too little in the coalition negotiation process and ACT in particular out-flanked them, but it was probably worth it. After this initial flush of success, however, one wonders what successes can be attributed to National since?

Set pieces like the Jobs Summit have been an abysmal failure: no jobs in any worthwhile numbers have come of it, Key’s pet National Cycleway is set to descend into farce, the 9 Day Fortnight suffered the ignominy of minuscule uptake. Other outcomes of the Summit have long since been forgotten altogether. The Budget’s biggest success, to those stupid enough to not realise the enormity of what canceling superannuation pre-funding means, was to be seen as ‘not as bad as it could have been’.

Caucus unity and credibility have yet to be established and are beginning to look like a forlorn hope. Contradictory statements from Key and his ministers and Key and his Deputy haven’t helped the perception that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. The woefully misnamed ‘Supercity’ is rapidly converting otherwise ambivalent Aucklanders into fervent anti-National voters and National’s Auckland electorate MPs are understandably nervous, in turn threatening to further undermine caucus unity.  The Mt Albert by-election, supposed to be a strong showing from National with Key taking a personal interest in the project and hand-picking the star candidate, was clearly such an abject failure of political judgement that it tarnished the broader party’s perceived credibility.

The tax cuts that propelled National’s polling throughout the lead up to last year’s election, and which for many ill-informed voters provided the significant point of difference between Labour and National’s ‘Labour-Lite’ image, have evaporated never to be seen again in the next decade or so, leaving many wondering if ‘Labour-Lite’ without tax cuts was really worth the risk – especially when it seems the ‘Lite’ pertains primarily to political experience and competence.

The spin-based leadership strategy that served Key so well during the election has already unravelled, leaving the inevitable wake of a twice-as-septic, hostile and cynical Press Gallery – a dangerous state of affairs for any government but exceptionally hazardous for one only 8 months old.

Obviously the exceptional economic conditions offer unique challenges for even the most competent of governments, and it’s likely voters won’t initially blame National for much of the ongoing bad news we’ve seen since National’s election. But it really does seem, both from a political enthusiast’s point of view, and from an everyday, largely disinterested observer’s perspective, that National’s bad news heavily outweighs its good news. National will need to come up with a rich diet of good news before too long if they want to stem the flow of declining plausibility and, given the media’s growing disaffection for this Government, the news will need to be reality based because National have already exhausted their allocation spin-based reasons to be perceived as credible.

So I ask you, gentle readers, what have been National’s successes since forming a government?

72 comments on “National’s successes”

  1. IrishBill 1

    I think they are still successfully pandering to the law’n’order crowd (although the child bashers that make up a large part of that crowd’s activists will be feeling like suckers).

    I don’t think that’s sustainable though as the car crushing/shipping container spin will eventually hit fiscal and social reality. And they’ve already started cutting the police force.

    Other than that I can’t see much in the way of wins for National. Or at least not voter-orientated wins. They’ve got quite a few “policy to enrich our wealthy mates” marks up on the board including the private school funding and the infrastructure group that’s likely to come back with an asset stripping (but not outright sale) recommendation and they will probably get away with ditching a whole lot of very important but low-profile work rights once they get their ERA review underway later this year.

    I’m actually glad they are still polling quite well in that respect as I’d hate for them to think at this early stage that they had no chance of a second term. If they did we’d see a much faster and more aggressive wealth grab as they made the most of their limited time.

  2. lprent 2

    Great summary. They haven’t exactly been covering themselves in glory.

    Maybe you can’t get Crosby-Textor to help with actually running a government. They just help in slipping into government.

    This government does remind me of the ineffectual years of a Howard government across the Tasman. Lots of spin and noise – no substance.

  3. MikeG 3

    Success: keeping their opinion poll ratings up – but as lprent says above, through spin, not substance.

  4. calltoaccount 4

    Be interesting to hear why the wider public are ignoring all of this, as shown by the latest early-mid June poll I have seen: The Roy Morgan poll had National unchanged on 52 percent support despite a bleak budget in May, the Richard Worth affair and a disastrous by-election in Mt Albert.

    Tax was an issue on the doorstep before the election, now what are those people saying? The run up to the Mt Albert hammering was given plenty of MSM coverage, but isn’t showing up, why? I guess voting trends are trends and take a lot of aggregated mistakes before they start to move…

  5. Lew 5

    The big one, if it can be so called, is avoiding a credit rating downgrade. This is a big deal, if a) you accept the counterfactual that it would have happened anyway and b) you accept that the consequences of a downgrade would have been worse than the alternatives (say: the tax cuts).

    Still, a highly technical issue, not the sort of compelling stuff most parties would like to nail to their trophy wall. That ‘no downgrade’ is being spun into ‘effective upgrade’ shows that, as far as National and its supporters are concerned, a lack of regress is as good as progress.

    L

    • Anita 5.1

      How often does our credit rating get reviewed? Does this mean it’ll be spun as a success every time we don’t get downgraded?

      Not to mention what’ll happen if we were to get downgraded, National must be desperate to prevent that now.

      • Lew 5.1.1

        Anita,

        S&P put NZ’s credit rating on negative outlook (which is a signal that, unless something doesn’t give, they might downgrade the rating) in January because of the large current account deficit, and the fact that the budget (including tax cuts) looked likely to lock in operating deficits as well. The only reason National can legitimately claim they avoided the downgrade in this case is because they heeded that warning signal and scrapped the tax cuts – a discrete and specific action which, on its own, seemed to mollify S&P. In other cases they’d have a tough time drawing such a clear link between a policy decision and the rating.

        L

  6. Tom Semmens 6

    Their success so far? not being Labour. Having an politically incompetent, amiable millionaire in charge who nice, middle class people can aspirationally project onto instead of a disciplined, focussed workaholic intellectual woman who needed to be brought down a peg or two seems to work for them just now as well.

    I almost got puched by a girl I know, who made a song and dance about telling me how she was going to “vote for change”, who has been laid off in a SOE when I asked her how the change felt now (Suffice to say politics is off our conversational agenda for the time being).

    But she isn’t supporting Labour yet, she is just “angry National,” and looking to blame someone else. There seem to be a lot of people like her out there. They are excessively touchy and defensive when you ask them how they feel now about voting National. They are like a wife who has been told her husband is a no-good philander and reacts by blaming the messenger. They BELIEVED the culture war nanny state & Helengrad bullshit. They are slowly realising that they have complacently come to believe after nine years that brilliant leadership and sheer competence was the norm, not an exception in NZ politics. They were duped by the “time for a change” media meme.

    But telling voters “we told you so nah na na na na” won’t win Labour any of these voters back just yet.

    • gobsmacked 6.1

      Amen, Tom.

      In Logic-land, a vote is choosing the best match between our views (interests) and a party’s. But in the real world, a vote is a personal statement, about oneself. It’s not hard to say “Party X is wrong”. It’s much harder to say “I was wrong.”

      There is no easy protest party now (or “centre party”), so for swing voters, expressing disaffection with National means being prepared to switch (back, mostly) to Labour. But there is a huge psychological barrier in the way, and it is not at all clear that Labour have grasped this yet. Shearer struck the right note after Mt Albert, conciliatory and “listening”. It’s about tone as much as policy, and Labour really need to work on this.

      As for National’s successes, they have been very good at kicking for touch. Most decisions have been deferred. But sooner or later, they have to do something about foreshore & seabed, climate change, Afghanistan, public spending, Super-City … the list goes on.

      They might live to regret having a first-five who loves the boot.

    • So Bored 6.2

      Some resonance here….as the boss in the office last year prior to the election the “workers” were all saying to me National are getting our vote. Bloody bizarre from the viewpoint of a pile of proletarians who “aspired” to be “better”. One’s origins are easily put aside so my workmates voted against their class lines and voila, Jonkey and crew.

      Last month I made one of these aspirational types redundant as a result of the economic downturn. I doubt that he will make the connection between his current situation and his position in relation to capital and class. Class memories and allegiances get panned by the status quo ( I wonder who benefirts) and now seem far too long forgotten,

    • Galeandra 6.3

      I can’t help but agree with you. I still hear bitterness from people I talk to, especially middle-aged males who resented liberal changes such as the revocation of the smacking defence. Frequent comments about “her” (either Helen or Sue) and “nanny state”.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Only one (S&P), out of three indicated a concern at the risk for NZ. The other two were unconcerned weren’t they?

    • Lew 7.1

      Ian,

      Yeah. But rating agencies (and the lenders who consult them) are like reef fish.

      L

      • Phil (not Goff) 7.1.1

        … and despite what those who have an axe to grind might say, S&P is still the most highly respected of the agencies. Where the Standard (original, accept no imitations) goes, Moodys and Fitch will surely follow.

        Cap: ‘onlooker undertaxing’
        Erm…..

  8. In times of recession avoiding a downgrade is something of an achievement, even if a modest one.

    The achievements of the Nats have been underwhelming to date. But, to be fair, it’s early days.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Yep, it is only early days. I estimate that they’ve only marked out their own grave so far and haven’t yet started digging it.

  9. r0b 9

    So I ask you, gentle readers, what have been National’s successes since forming a government?

    Well that’s obvious! Tax cuts! Oh no – wait. OK, well, there’s . .. then … oh ummm. Didn’t they? No – no that was Labour. Perhaps….

    Hang on – I’ll get back to you on this one.

  10. Pete 10

    I guess you could say that the National government successfully pushed their agenda (and the agenda of their ACT party brethren – if you’ll excuse the pun) through the house without the public at large really connecting the dots to understand what it meant for them, their families and communities. Of course the MSM was asleep at the wheel most of the time, and opposition MPs did a poor job of really informing the public of what was going on – short of some some filibusting in the later stages (which was successfully poo-pooed by the government boys and their blog/media pals.

    That and the ‘nice Mr Key’ still appears nice to many.

    I might add that I am not one of the many.

  11. OhPlease 11

    Labour is in grave danger when it says that the jobs lost is National’s fault. When elections come around we will be getting out of recession and Nats will be saying the upturn is due to them. Labour should not pin its long term election strategy on the business cycle. It needs to connect with the sense of community that is at the heart of NZers. It is not doing that IMHO. So – your claim that National did nothing makes no difference when Labour has done even less.

    • Lew 11.1

      OhPlease,

      It’s about building mythology at this stage. Things which are arguably or demonstrably true now and are repeated enough and by the right people become home truths for the sharp end of the electoral cycle. So Labour doesn’t need to do anything at this stage, except highlight how National is failing, and work feverishly behind the scenes that they’re ready to move when the opportunities present themselves later.

      L

  12. Zaphod Beeblebrox 12

    Its easy for National at the moment because people have low expectations. They are not expecting their lives to be made better since they hear gloom and doom and are happy just to be treading water. I suspect it will get a lot harder for the govt if the aspirational classes see prosperity all around especially in Australia and they feel they are missing out on the pie.
    In this way English and Co are smart to dampen down expectations of economic progress over the next few years. Surveys continually show that economic growth does not bring improvements in levels of personal happiness, its the eveness of the distribution of wealth that counts.

  13. Ed 13

    I don’t understand the comment:
    “The tax cuts that propelled National’s polling throughout the lead up to last year’s election, and which for many ill-informed voters provided the significant point of difference between Labour and National’s ‘Labour-Lite’ image, have evaporated never to be seen again ”

    I think National see the tax cuts that _did_ happen as a real achievement for their supporters, and they have in my view been very successful in hiding the reality that a majority of individual taxpayers got nothing or very little from tax cuts – many really believe that all tax cuts were stopped; others think that they did get a tax cut even if they didn’t.

    Spending $35 billion on a small group of the population and conning the majority about how little they got may be spin, but it has been successful spin by National – and their unwillingness to pay for maintaining services is being seen as arising from ‘the poor state Cullen left government accounts’ rather than paying for the cuts they did make.

  14. Jenny2 14

    “Set pieces like the Jobs Summit have been an abysmal failure: no jobs in any worthwhile numbers have come of it, Key’s pet National Cycleway is set to descend into farce, the 9 Day Fortnight suffered the ignominy of minuscule uptake.”

    Is there any wonder that the nine day fortnight has not been taken up in any numbers?

    After all the nine day fortnight was not a National party inniative, it came from the union movement.

    The unions wrung this concession from the Nats as a condition for taking part in the jobs summit.

    Winning official backing from the government is not enough, unions will need to follow through on the ground to get reluctant employers to agree to it in practice.

    It was never going to be any other way.

    Without union insistance of this policy, employers will naturally take the easy option.

    But the good news is that as a ‘government sanctioned policy’ it will weaken employers resistance to union pressure to enforce it.

    Further it would expose the Nats as hypocrits if they dared criticise unions who took whatever actions they thought necessary to compel employers to take up this option, as they would be just enforcing government policy.

    • Pete 14.1

      OK jenny2, so are you arguing that the only idea the government came up with (sans union influence) that has continued beyond the discussion phase is the cycleway idea (still uncosted, unplanned and unassigned I might add)?

  15. Paul Robeson 15

    Once the assets are sold, the apprenticeship schemes cancelled, the regulation taken off the building industry, the CYFs offices closed, the payments not made into the superanuation scheme the damage is done.

    Ask anyone who is in a leaky home or who paid for a builder or electrician in the 2000s, or who paid an electricity bill, or wanted to catch a train recently, or even anyone who compared their non-award wages to Australia.

    The hurt lasts. Bad decisions now hold us back for a long time, and we are still suffering from the last time around.

    If they get ACC and the RMA, well.

  16. Jenny2 16

    It is no wonder that the 9 day fortnight has not been taken up by employers.

    As it was not a National government innitiative in the first place.

    It came out of the union movement.

    The unions wrung this concession out of Key as condition for their attending the Jobs Summit.

    To win government ‘official support’ is a good thing but in itself was never going to be enough to get reluctant employers to take up this option rather than lay workers off.

    Unions will need to use their influence in the workplace to pressure reluctant employers to take up this scheme.

    It was never going be any other way.

    The Nats as an employers government will never do it.

    But the good news is that because it is now government policy, employers will have lost the high ground when they refuse to consider it.

    Further the government will look like hypocrits if they dared to oppose any union that decides to take whatever action they deem necasary to compel employers to take up this policy instead of laying off workers.

  17. ak 17

    A rolling maul treading water. Brilliant.

  18. Used Napkin 18

    My entire rugby team will be making WINZ appointments this week Fuck the useless union.Things are going to real nasty and greed will be the winner on the day.

  19. What is the point of National?
    I ‘get’ Labour, but National?
    ‘I always wanted to be Prime Minister of NewZild’ does’nt cut it.
    And whats with the slurping noise The Jonkey makes when finishing one of his witticisms ? An incompetent bumbling barely coherent dopey mugged millionaire…., What are we? the Italy of the South Pacific?

  20. Steve 20

    The point of National is to oppose Labour – the two right wing parties were mortified after the 1935 election and decided it was better to join forces to try and defeat Labour rather than going it alone..

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      That’s pretty much about it and that’s why there’s so much fracturing in National – it’s a conundrum of conflicting ideologies.

  21. sonic 21

    The polls mean nothing at the moment, any election is two years away and people are not focussed on the subject.

    I like Tom’s point about “angry National voters’ and there are going to be lots more of them as unemployment rises. However I would not assume they would drift back to Labour as labour really has no solution to the economic crisis either (just a commitment to manage it better and ameliorate it’s worst effects)

    Lots of pissed off unemployed people can be pulled to the right just as easily as to the left.

  22. Zaphod Beeblebrox 22

    Labour does need to recognise that they were lots of failures in their time. In areas like corrections, climate change policy, education policy, health policy, public transport and social policy good ideas was ditched for the sake of political expediency. Until they acknowldge this and come up with new ideas and arguments in these areas, National will easily be able to deflect criticism by pointing to the lack of action previously seen in these areas.
    People will not vote for an alternative unless they can show how they will be better.

    • Akldnut 22.1

      “Labour does need to recognise that they were lots of failures ……………….. National will easily be able to deflect criticism by pointing to the lack of action previously seen in these areas.”

      Totally agree with that BUT,

      “People will not vote for an alternative unless they can show how they will be better.”

      It appears to me that people will and do vote for an alternative without needing to be shown anything better as I sure haven’t seen it yet.

      Captcha: helmeted all-cotton

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 22.1.1

        Agreed, national adapted John Howard’s small target policy- not producing a lot of detail, creating foreign and economic policy bipartisanship and accentuating the social differences between the parties.
        But they did provide an alternative- emphasizing social conservatism and supposedly being strong on law and order (without providing any idea of how to pay for it). Whilst it was an alternative divorced from reality that didn’t matter to the voters who bought the narrative(which they will find impossible to live up to, but it was an alternative).
        BTW- John Howard won THREE elections using this narrative. What did the ALP do to help him do this- they adopted the same small target policy, minimal detail, nearly as conservative as Howard proclaiming that the Keating ear was great.
        My advice to NZ labour- be bold, be creative, look at the ideas that we will need for the future. I know they have the MPs that are up to it, its just a matter of convincing the old hands.

  23. RedLogix 23

    People will not vote for an alternative unless they can show how they will be better.

    Sounds reasonable on the surface; but then how come a National Party whose only substantive alternative offering was ‘tax cuts’ (now postponed into the indefinite future), managed to get so many folk voting for it last November?

    Maybe this the real lesson Labour has learnt.

  24. Swampy 24

    Beating Labour handsomely in the polls and will still be doing in three years when they’ve won the 2011 election.

    I think the reality and reliability of opinion polling is a good dose of reality here.

    • craig 24.1

      Thinking your success in winning the election equates to being a successful government. Yep those National supporters they truly are geniuses!

  25. Swampy 25

    The biggest success is that someone at The Standard can publish a thread titled “National’s successes” instead of “National’s blunders” or whatever.

    You see, now you understand why National won the election !

    • Akldnut 25.1

      It’s obviously a play on words, I take it you haven’t read past the title of the post or you would never have taken this line or even posted.

  26. Swampy 26

    I don’t need to, everyone knows what this blog stands for. It’s good to see a post titled “National’s successes” instead of all the other titles attacking them.

    • r0b 26.1

      So what are they then Swampy? National’s successes? What are they in your opinion, or what have all the Nat voters listed as National’s successes in this thread? Could you summarise?

  27. vto 27

    it is a good question, but its not definitive. their general mind track is the thing

    • r0b 27.1

      Ummm – what?

      Come on – at least try. Here you go – they avoided a credit downgrade! Yes folks, National managed their pre budget spin so well that it was a “success story” when something that wasn’t very likely didn’t happen! Hurrah?

      What else? Or is “general mind track thing” the best we can do here?

  28. vto 28

    see 11.10pm comment. thanks.

  29. deemac 29

    surely one big success was convincing 77% of taxpayers that they got a tax cut on 1st April?
    As long as so many voters know so little about politics/the economy/what makes crime rates change, the chances of the ignorant party (copyright JS Mill I believe) winning are always good

  30. CM 30

    I find it quite telling that the usual national/act apologists that pop up on this site are so quick to reply with misdirection and mudraking shit on most things;

    But when asked to provide concrete examples of national’s successes thus far, are deafeningly quiet….

    ..Well, i can’t think of a good one either. So don’t feel too bad.

    • felix 30.1

      Yeah it’s weird.

      No Little Timmy Ellis. No tsmithfield/tknorris. No Baron. No ginger. No DPF sockpuppets.

      I guess actual policy successes just aren’t that important then.

  31. gingercrush 31

    I haven’t answered because the site went down and I wasn’t online at the time this was posted. I also wouldn’t answer this post because what is the point when you’re just likely to be attacked for answering it.

    • CM 31.1

      I’m sorry, I must admit i’m a fairly casual reader of political blogs,

      and an even more casual poster (today i double my total post tally for all time on this one blog: …must be a slow day at work… recession, you know…)

      But judging from what i have read in previous posts where your name arises your not afraid of being attacked if you think you have a point.

      I promise no personal attacks, generally it seems personal attacks start as a means to change the subject, and i don’t want to do that.

    • felix 31.2

      ginge, I doubt you could point to a single incidence of you being attacked for giving a straight answer to a straight question.

      I’ll even buy you a beer if you can prove otherwise. Rheineck isn’t it?

  32. the sprout 32

    When I posted this I expected a cascade of responses from National supporters.

    The proportion of comments outlining National’s successes (which makes site outages immaterial) is very telling of their supporters’ perceptions.

  33. Pat 33

    I’ll make a small contribution:

    1. Settled the future of Whenuapai Airbase.
    2. Fully funded Herceptin.
    3. Raised the minimum wage.
    4. Got rid of the Electoral Finance Act.
    5. Brought back titular honours.
    6. Increasing the numbers of frontline police.
    7. Prime-minister returned to Waitangi.

    • the sprout 33.1

      excellent 🙂
      thanks Pat

    • Zetetic 33.2

      That’s it?

      1. Whenuapai? Who gives a crap. And you’re congratulating them merely for making a decision, not making a good one. A retarded monkey can make a decision.
      2. Herceptin. Overrode the medics for politics.
      3. Wanted to give nothing. Pressured into smallest minimum wage raise in years.
      4. Retained the important part of the EFA – donations tranparency
      5. Titular honours – that makes the top 7?
      6. All police currently employed are funded under the Budget passed in 2008… under Labour
      7. Wow, PM went to a different marae! Pack up guys, politics is finished. All problems solved

      • Pat 33.2.1

        These aren’t a top 7, and far from a complete list. It’s just my small contribution to the original post, and things that I personally like.

        Oh, and for 9 years, Labour couldn’t find a retarded monkey to make a decision about Whenuapai.

        • Pat 33.2.1.1

          gingercrush wrote: “I also wouldn’t answer this post because what is the point when you’re just likely to be attacked for answering it.”

          And Zeletic’s reply to my post reminds me of the “What have the Romans ever done for us” scene in The Life of Brian.

        • Zetetic 33.2.1.2

          So what? They were making good decisions about things that matter. Not decisions even you don’t think are good about something no-one gives a damn about.

      • Swampy 33.2.2

        That’s democracy at work. Would you rather live in a communist one party state.

  34. jarbury 34

    I really think that your average New Zealand gives far less of a crap about politics than we think they do. They got sick of the same faces on the TV year after year, they wanted some new faces. The new faces have only been around for a few months so why the heck would they want the old faces back?

    Note for Labour – as much as I liked the last government, Labour has to be different if it wants to win back support. Show some new faces: Twyford, Arden etc. and a few less of the older ones.

  35. gingercrush 35

    1. Provided stimulus to the economy that doesn’t involve billions of borrowing. Most of the borrowing that this government is having to do is simply to keep current services going. The left would love for New Zealand to borrow and splurge in a belief that will save jobs. But high government debt combined with New Zealand’s awful current account deficit will only see more and more jobs loss in this country.
    2. Producing a budget that sets a path to surpluses. The left should really see this as a victory. This is exactly what National did during the nineties and we all know how much Cullen loved those surpluses.
    3. Implementation of an infrastructure plan. I see it as a real success that we have a Minister of infrastructure. I also think its important that we have a government that outlines a 20 year plan.
    4. Working towards RMA changes. Very important in speeding up the process and make it easier for things to get through.
    5. Worker relief package. A clear winner because it forced Labour to come out with their own as well.
    6. National standards in literacy and numeracy. Its a real pity this wasn’t brought in before. As someone that struggles to write coherently. Such a policy would have helped.
    7. Passed tax cuts. Yes they postponed the 2010 and 2011 tax cuts. But the substantial parts of National’s tax cut strategy have been implemented.
    8. Law and order policies that make it tougher for people to get parole. Also private prisons.
    9. National’s continual work on their broadband strategy which will lead to greater gains in productivity.
    10. Bonding of nurses, doctors and vets.

    Those are real successes.

    • r0b 35.1

      Now before “you people” (you know who you are!) tear GC’s list apart (love to myself but I must away) – just remember – at least s/he had a go. Scanning up it looks like Pat was the only other one to try it.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 35.2

      Thanks GC quite a long list.
      The theme of these seems to be consistent with Conservative ideology, at least there’s some consistency there, though Points 1. and 7. d seem to contradict.
      I would argue that so far, the actions taken have been remarkably moderate given that a lot of what you mention is a continuation of existing policy (with a few refinements), have a long way to go before being implemented or basically ineffectual. Even the fiscal restrictions have not been major yet, compared to previous governments (especially 1990).

      Here would be my list of achievements-
      1. Getting rid of EFA. Even labour were happy to get rid of this one.
      2. Attempts at water reform, thank goodness someone is interesting at regulating our most important resource
      3.Admitted they were wrong and stopped the tax cuts.
      4.Home insulation. labour did have a scheme but at least energy conservation was recognised.
      5. RMA changes. Not sure what will happen after the select committee but at least they are thinking about how it might work better.
      6.Recognising that they were heading for the cliff with Auckland Local Government reform. The biggest problem with the bill seemed to be a fixation with cheap rather than better. There is still alot of work needed however to salvage themeselves from this one however.

    • Pascal's bookie 35.3

      Good comment gc. Thanks.

      As Zaph says, given that you are a rightie, it’s a good list of accomplishments.

      I’ll focus on the first.

      1. Provided stimulus to the economy that doesn’t involve billions of borrowing. Most of the borrowing that this government is having to do is simply to keep current services going.

      Stimulus can obviously be defined as any government spending that creates demand. In that sense then sure, they are stimulating, but if the need for stimulus is due to a drop in demand from the private sector then just keeping current services going won’t do the trick. Because that demand was already there. If you are going to say that the government is stimulating then it has to be new demand.

      So it seems, (at least to me), that the accomplishment here is not ‘stimulating’ so much as ‘keeping debt under control’. If they are borrowing to keep spending the same then they are not stimulating, and if they are stimulating and borrowing, then they are borrowing to stimulate.

      But that’s a nitpicky thing. I’ll grant you that that debt is not as bad as it could be.

      The left would love for New Zealand to borrow and splurge in a belief that will save jobs.

      That may well be what you think the left is saying, but it’s not quite right for many on the left. I think the phrasing suggests that the left is completely unconcerned about debt, and in favour of any old spending. Which is unfair.

      Obviously, the less debt the better, but it’s a tradeoff. Saving the jobs is important, for many reasons. But the point IMO of doing so at the moment is that having people productively employed is a very good way of keeping the economy afloat. The costs of unemployment cascade, and are long lasting. Just as you think we ignore debt, I don’t think you pay enough attention to the left’s arguments about this. The market, during this recession, which still has along long way to run, will not be providing job growth. If the government doesn’t do what it can here, nothing will get done. That will have huge costs. ‘Saving jobs’ isn’t just an end, but a means.

      But high government debt combined with New Zealand’s awful current account deficit will only see more and more jobs loss in this country.

      NZ’s govt debt isn’t that high for one thing. We have a lot of private debt though, and that is going to have to be paid off. There is not much that the govt can directly do about that, (or the Balance of Trade for that matter). While that private debt is being paid off, that is money that is not circulating. As people and businesses slowly pay off their debt, that is less money that they are spending. Which means less money that other people and businesses are earning. This is what is known as the ‘paradox of thrift’. If everyone is saving or paying off debt, then economic activity declines, causing less ability to pay off debt and so on.

      That is the problem that stimulus spending is designed to ameliorate. Not fix, just help. That debt has to be paid, to do so we need economic activity to keep ticking over. We need people to be confident enough to spend and invest. That comes from demand.

      So. Demand in the economy comes from three places; exports, domestic private consumption, and the government. If the first two are retrenching, that just leaves the govt to pick up the slack. If people and business get the feeling that the govt is more worried about it’s own debt than in keeping the economy ticking over, then that just feeds that cycle of retrenchment mentioned above.

    • r0b 35.4

      1. Provided stimulus to the economy that doesn’t involve billions of borrowing.

      Almost no new “stimulus” – most of it is just spin and re-announcing stuff Labour had already budgeted for.

      2. Producing a budget that sets a path to surpluses.

      In what – 12 years was it? That isn’t budgeting, it’s astrology.

      3. Implementation of an infrastructure plan. I see it as a real success that we have a Minister of infrastructure.

      What has said minister actually done? Apart from cut funding for public transport – which has to be the stupidest infrastructure move ever?

      4. Working towards RMA changes. Very important in speeding up the process and make it easier for things to get through.

      Gutting the RMA isn’t a success, it’s shitting in your own nest.

      5. Worker relief package.

      huh?

      6. National standards in literacy and numeracy.

      Stupid and un-necessary.

      7. Passed tax cuts. Yes they postponed the 2010 and 2011 tax cuts. But the substantial parts of National’s tax cut strategy have been implemented.

      Ah no, massive “personally guaranteed” fail.

      8. Law and order policies that make it tougher for people to get parole. Also private prisons.

      Make up your mind – Paula Bennet thinks this is a bad thing.

      9. National’s continual work on their broadband strategy which will lead to greater gains in productivity.

      Well short of initial promises and nothing concrete yet. Same productivity gain as pixie dust to date.

      10. Bonding of nurses, doctors and vets

      What about individual responsibility and freedom from government regulation and interference?

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