Well, I didn’t think it could done but it has been. National has been promising to close the gap with Australia, and damned if it hasn’t happened already. The Nats’ target was 2025, it didn’t even take a year. In fact, we’re now above Australia and accelerating away while they fall.
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong gap.
(sources OECD, ABS)
For the previous nine years, New Zealand had consistently lower unemployment than Australia. We overtook them in June last year, and we’re still rising even as Australian unemployment falls.
Unemployment was always going to rise during the recession, of course. But it was not, and is not, beyond the government’s power to limit the increase.
The Rudd Government in Australia implemented a $42 billion green jobs package In February last year and immediately the rise in unemployment eased, so much so that it has now dropped from a peak of just 5.8% down to 5.5% in December.
The Key Government, in rather stark contrast, came up with…. a $50 million cycleway … only $3 million of which is so far allocated… to a project that was being built anyway.
And, so, with this magnificent neglect from the top, unemployment has climbed remorselessly upward bringing higher benefit costs, higher crime, and higher deficits from lower tax revenue.
Hmmm, maybe we should be copying the Aussies after all.
On February 2nd, we’ll learn whether National has successfully slept, grinned, dithered, and holidayed its way through a doubling in unemployment in its first year.