This government has not yet developed an economic strategy.
Sure, they’re busy, but that’s not the same thing.
Not one month ago there were massive shocks to our two largest local companies at the head of our two largest industries. The government through the Minister of Economic Development simply said the potential demise of Fletcher Building wasn’t their problem, and may consider Fonterra solely through an oblique and awkward agricultural regulatory lens, somewhere deep into the future.
A few businesses will do well, but none of the papers released even try to demonstrate how this fund and its projects will make a specific and measurable difference to New Zealand.
A week ago the government signed the CPTPP, a deal almost entirely negotiated by the previous government, for which the current government gave mere tweaks.
This week the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods re-launched the Innovative Partnership Programme.
Pretty much identical to the one the previous government already had running. Did any of it respond to the actual strengths and weaknesses of the innovation system within New Zealand? She provided no evidence of that, nor linkages back to any lessons learned from the past nine years.
Last night Minister James Shaw at a Westpac-hosted business charm offensive threw out further teasers about what his plans for the economy were. Now, he’s a visionary. But the sum message amounted to form another group, write another set of papers, throw out another maybe fund. Don’t get me wrong, he was in total command of his policy field, and he knew full well that unlike Shane Jones’ fund, his task is not to “crowd out” the market, but to “crowd in” by encouraging private capital to work in the service of themselves and the planet. And together with Simon Upton as Commissioner, he is seeking full cross-Parliamentary support for an enduring economic transformation. But he’s on his own in this government, and time is against him.
Absent all of that, for all of the above and more, any coherent framework from the Minister of Finance. Silence.
Sure, everyone’s running around looking busy. MBIE is a big machine and it’s moving fast. Mark my words all of this is in MBIE’s hands.
The difference between the 2014 and 2017 reviews of MBIE show that they are a lot more coherent and effective than they used to be.
So MBIE’s coherence makes them look like they are successfully playing these Ministers in this new government like a black grand piano. You don’t need accountability when everyone’s busy. With such mad-monkey nonsense from an economically incoherent government we can expect to see the leftie version of more huge projects like the Sky City Convention Centre, leftie versions of irrigation dams, more boondoggles, more piecemeal regulation, more chronic wastes of money. Because that’s what you get without a plan. That’s what you get when nothing makes sense. There are no common accountabilities. Nothing to convince us the paying public that the sum of these policies is intended to transform us as a whole, or is worth doing.
None of the Ministers are talking to each other. None of them appear remotely capable of shifting from “coalition” to “government”.
All of them are behaving precisely the way the previous government did: forget about the actual risks to the economy, launch a series of projects and initiatives in the most ad-hoc manner, stay busy, don’t bother to show how you can learn, don’t show how we make sense together.
In sum: they need to develop an economic strategy.