More than half way

24/06/2019

This government is more than half way through its term and what has it achieved?

Duncan Garner says it’s the least effective government in 25 years.

It’s flagship KiwiBuild policy has flopped and the flop looks even worse now we know how it began:

. . .Senior MP and shadow housing minister Annette King had just the ticket.

King, who declined to comment for this story, had been in a car on the way to an event with Salvation Army head Campbell Roberts and Housing Foundation head Brian Donnelly in the months before the conference, chatting about the emerging problems in housing. Donnelly’s agency had a scheme where affordable homes were built and sold, and the capital immediately recycled to build more. King liked the idea.

“We said there was a supply problem, and there was a need for there to be an increase of supply of affordable entry-level housing. But the emphasis was on the affordable,” Roberts told Stuff.

“To tell you the truth, I was a bit concerned with the speed at which they grabbed it. I don’t think there was pretty much more than our conversation – which was in the car going to something – it was a not a sitdown meeting, and the next thing they were introducing it,” Roberts said.

And then  it grew:

. . .KiwiBuild is an unmitigated disaster. Dreamed up by Annette King in the back seat of a car, she latched on to it and set the original target of 50,000 houses because it sounded good in her head. A wish-list, not a policy.

Legend has it the close breathing of David Cunliffe down David Shearer’s neck was precisely what prompted the last-minute decision to blurt out 100,000 homes on the day of the announcement. . . 

It wasn’t a carefully thought-out and costed policy. It was an idea prompted by a conversation and a number blurted out.

And what else has the government done?

  • Wasted millions on fee-free education for tertiary students, many of whom would have enrolled anyway.
  • Got soft on beneficiaries – ending the requirement to be looking for work and for solo mothers to name their children’s fathers.
  • Wasted millions prolonging the grief of those mourning the lives lost in the Pyke River mine.
  • Wasted millions on good looking race horses.
  • Incentivised overseas purchases of farmland for conversion to forestry.
  • Virtue-signalled on the environment while ignoring the science provided by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
  • Wailed about the road toll while refusing to do anything to deter drug driving.
  • Done nothing about the risk to mothers and babies with the lack of maternity centres in Central Otago and Southland.
  • Failed to increase funding to Pharmac to keep up with inflation.
  • Contributed to a slowing economy and a drop in confidence. . .

And while it’s spending more on doing less, it’s taking more money from us to do it:

Kiwi households will be $1750 a year worse off on average because of the taxes being piled on by the Labour-led Government, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“This Government has increased fuel taxes three times since it came into power, it’s added on a regional fuel tax in Auckland, introduced ring fencing of losses, an Amazon Tax, GST on overseas roaming, extended the bright-line test, increased Worksafe levies and cancelled tax relief.

“When you add all of these taxes together and take into consideration the cancelled tax relief, Kiwi families are looking at $7000 out of their pockets over four years. That does nothing to increase the wellbeing of an average family.

“The economy is continuing to weaken because of this Government’s poor policy decisions. The cost of living is increasing, rents are up an average of $50 a week, petrol and electricity are increasing.

“New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.

“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to tax. National will index tax thresholds to the cost of living and will not introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn.”

A lot of the commentariat are taking it for granted that this government will have another term.

But it has less than half a term left to earn a second one.

It will have to do a lot more effective in the next few months than it has been in the last 19 if it’s going to translate its warm words about wellbeing into making a positive difference to the country and its people.


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