Good policy doesn’t come in sound bites

A lot of the criticism of the economic package National annoucned this week has been rooted in what’s-in-it-for-me?

But, as Bill English said on Agenda today, good government is about much more than that:

 . . . I think there’s a misjudgement where people are looking for nice sounding ideas but our job is the prudent and responsible management of incentives and the prospects for growth across the board and that’s why much as people don’t regard it as sexy. Further investment in infrastructure doing more sooner affects every single business every single household and that’s why we’ve given ourselves the room to do it. Labour say it’s reckless, we don’t, we believe it’s vital and actually it’ll help soak up a lot of the unemployment that’s coming out of the construction sector which is – you know parts of which have just simply gone dead. Another pervasive policy here is around regulation, we’ve developed these complicated overlays of regulation from good times under a government who thought there was a rule for everything.

. . . It’s simply not good enough to say these things done matter, they do, they affect every single business and some rinky dink scheme that might sound good on the news isn’t going to help the business who is dealing with the challenges of the Building Act, the Resource Management Act, you know the rules that have got as silly as telling us what kind of shower heads we can have in our homes.

He also spoke about the importance of growth.

Well we’re not comfortable with the opening of the books and bear in mind they were opened last Monday we produced a package on Wednesday and as we said then we’d made a start which is a lot better than our political opponents who have known about this for months, accused National of being reckless for proposing a bit of borrowing and then turn up with a 50% increase in government borrowing, I mean how can you trust people like that? So we’ve made a start, if we become the government we would want to pull those deficits back, but I have to say from the history of governments coming out of government books and recessions the thing that has the most impact on the government’s books is actually the rate of growth coming out of the recession, and the Treasury forecasts around that aren’t that good and we would need to work hard to lift that rate of growth because that is the thing that’ll have the most impact alongside controlling government expenditure.

The full transcript of the interview is here.

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