A party ousted from government after three terms needs to cull some of those who’ve been there, done that and will be blamed for doing it, if it’s to present new faces and fresh direction at the next election.
Those who don’t go voluntarily face the ignomy of a public ousting of the dead wood, as happened with National after 1999.
The Dominion Post reports that Michael Cullen is not waiting to be culled and is planning to step down in the next couple of months.
There is no doubting his intelligence and wit, but the latter was sometimes harsh and I think his reputation as a prudent Finance Minister was ill founded.
New Zealand was in recession months before most other countries and he must bear some of the responsbility for that because of the policies of over taxing and over spending.
He and his colleagues sqaundered the good economic years of the noughties. We’ve been paying for that with restricted growth for years and the bill will get bigger.
The ACC blowouts ought to have been in the PREFU and he left other financial timebombs in expenditure promised but not budgeted for on top of reckless spending such as the purchase of St James Station at an inflated price which has left the Nature Heritage Fund’s coffers all but empty.
In December Bill English identified gaps in the budget he inherited including:
* $1 billion for the insulation fund agreed to with the Greens in the last few months of the last government (though this was flagged as fiscal risk in Treasury documents).
* Only $8 million was set aside in 2009/2010 as part of the ongoing $600 million promised in the budget for the growth of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
* Other spending had been “creatively funded” such as the $40 million to buy the St James Station which was funded by “cleaning out” the Nature Heritage Fund for the next four years.
* The need for unbudgeted government payments to ACC would also “unexpectedly” increase government debt by $1.2 billion over the next four years.
Keeping Stock reminded me of the train set Cullen bought. The multi-thousands of hecatres of land expensively purchased through tenure review and now in the DOC estate are another monster he’s created with an appetite for taxpayers’ dollars.
He apologised for the quip he made in his maiden speech about getting stuck in to farmers:
“I’m proud of the fact that my secondary education was not paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand but by the farmers of Canterbury and Hawkes Bay [he was given a scholarship to Christ’s College]. I ripped them off for five years then, and I shall get stuck into them again in the next few years.”
But his actions speak louder than his words. His rich prick sneer at John Key was just one of many examples which show he resented wealth and didn’t understand wealth creation. He got stuck into not just farmers but all taxpayers and we’re all the poorer for that.