I chuckled to read Fran O’Shillivan on Sunday: “John Key has made a strategic decision to burn some political capital and front-foot major Government decisions” – yeah, all those major decisions: $1m for contraception, ‘tackling cyber-bullying’, a petty pokies for convention centre deal, even their centrepiece policy – asset sales – won’t benefit the economy a jot.
Of late, the Nats have descended into self-parody, going for the ultimate in irrelevant populism. $1m for contraception. Whatever the class issues involved, $1m is a joke. It’s not going to have any real effect. The same with the sudden rush to make cyber-bullying illegal – a redundant exercise that basically consists taking existing law and adding ‘on the internet’ to the end – totally unenforceable. These are like little mascot versions of National’s usually popular ‘tough on beneficiaries’ and ‘tough on crime policies’ but with zero real-world effect and pushed purely for the politics.
Of course, not all National’s policies are so meaningless. Gambling law for sale, asset sales, and, now we learn, further attacks on workers rights are all big, bad moves. But the weird thing is the Nats can’t even argue they’re pushing growth first and foremost, overriding sensitivities about due process, economic sovereignty, and workplace rights in an all out effort to get the economy roaring. Because none of these policies would cause any growth. The pokies deal would almost certainly be negative for GDP because casinos are notorious blackholes for money that is diverted from real investment and leads to problem gamblers collapsing businesses. The asset sales would increase our current account deficit. And reducing work rights and wages would just see more people queuing to find a job in Australia.
There is no growth agenda. All there is are petty headline-grabbers and class warfare policies that are about dividing up New Zealand’s wealth even more in favour of the elite.