John Key’s speech on the economy, billed as the way to close the 30% wage gap with Australia, had six policy headings – regulatory reform, infrastructure investment, better public services, education and skills, innovation and business assistance, and a world-class tax system.
On regulatory reform, the recipe was more deregulation, particularly of job security with the 90-day law, and less environmental protection. No mention of the need for regulation in the financial sector. Once a cowboy always a cowboy, I suppose.
On infrastructure investment, he offered more state highways, the Kopu bridge, and a start on broadband that doesn’t go to homes. Oh and an Advisory Board so the private sector gets to have a say in how to spend the money.
Better public services? Its all about cuts, with more and bigger ones to come next year. Ideology trumps effectiveness.
Education and skills? National standards in primary schools for ideological reasons, proven not to work, and rehashed Labour policies for school alternatives. Adult and second-chance education goes down the gurgler, and apprenticeship funding is cut while Australia is increasing it.
Innovation and business assistance? A bit of bureaucratic reform, more travel for Tim Groser, and $70million for R&D instead of Labour’s $700 million for Fast Forward and R&D tax credits. Hardly an advance.
A world-class tax system? The wealthiest 3% of taxpayers got 30% of the cuts! Don’t hold your breath about yet another review. The Australian Labor government put their stimulus at the bottom end, where it produced a result.
Not a single new idea there. None of that will improve productivity or increase export earnings. Close the wage gap? More like Key’s earlier line – “We would love to see wages drop”.
For a better approach, check out some of David Cunliffe’s ideas at yesterday’s Mood of the Boardroom meeting.