I’ve got a piece up at Radio NZ about the next steps for our new goverment: After the sigh of relief, time to set a decisive course
For those of us on the left, the temptation will be to down tools and do whatever we can to support Ardern. Our instinct will be to look beyond the first three years, to set the course for a two- or three- or, gods be good, a four-term Labour-led government. See the big picture! It won’t happen overnight but it will happen!
I caution against that.
Let’s be honest, I’m most proud of getting the phrase “wombling free” into a published piece of political commentary.
I was asked by Radio NZ to give my thoughts on the rather dramatic political events of yesterday – which I certainly was not expecting! Here’s a taste:
… those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, and Labour has spent nearly a decade doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The prevailing myth of Labour Party strategy since Clark has been that we (for I can’t deny I am, indeed, a Labour Party Insider) must “look like a party ready to govern”. And this has translated to buying into the proper, grown-up, governmental ways of doing things – promising endless reviews or well-costed schemes.
It doesn’t inspire people. It doesn’t feel like a real alternative. The proof of the pudding is in the polls.
Here’s the link to the whole thing.
Max Rashbrooke at the excellent Good Society, on the contrasting behaviours of Radio NZ and Uber during the recent quake:
… apart from the ludicrous presumption that tonnes of people would be frivolously using Uber in the middle of the night during a massive earthquake, price is a terrible way to allocate resources because it discriminates against the poor, and because ability to pay is no guaranteed reflection of need.
What would have sorted things out very clearly is a classic public sector process: finding out people’s circumstances, assessing their need based on their overall situation not the size of their wallet, and allocating resources (rides) accordingly. Of course Uber doesn’t do that because it’s not a public service. But that brings us round again to what performs well, especially during tough times – and that, unsurprisingly, is both the public sector’s spirit and its processes.
And while we’re questioning the “efficiency” of the market:
It seems thoroughly unfair that hot on the heels of losing Dita de Boni from our political commentariat, we’re saying goodbye to Brent Edwards as political editor at Radio New Zealand.
But it’s not all bad news – he’s moving to the position of director of news gathering at Radio NZ. He and Mary Wilson, who’s moving to director of news programming, should make one hell of a team.
So here’s his sign-off. It should probably be required reading for #nzpol nerds.
… with ministerial press secretaries and political advisers on their case, public servants increasingly appear to consider the political implications of anything they do, including when it comes to releasing what should be publicly available information.
Couple that with the rise of political spin, a practice adopted widely around the world, and politicians’ natural aversion to speaking in a straightforward manner it is little wonder the political debate has become less and less relevant.
Politics has become a profession and now politicians are judged by how they practise their profession.
While that might be good for politics, it is not necessarily good for democracy.
Three weeks ago I snarked John Key’s sudden desire to take serious action on child poverty.
Now, thanks to Radio New Zealand, we know that not only has Treasury been tailoring its advice to meet National’s prejudices, and not only has National got no real intention of changing the way it’s doing things, but they also really, really don’t want to be honest about it.
Radio New Zealand made the request for copies of the officials’ advice in May last year but the documents were only released early this month after repeated complaints to the Ombudsmen’s Office.
John Key has conceded the Government often delays information releases when it is in its political interests to do so. Delaying the release of this advice appears to confirm the Government is sensitive to debate about child poverty.
Before Mr Key became Prime Minister he talked about a growing underclass in New Zealand and his determination to reverse that trend. Information in the documents suggests the Government is yet to make any real impact on the problem.
Next week the Governor-General delivers the Speech from the Throne at the opening of Parliament and this will outline the Government’s broad programme for the next three years.
Just what will it say about lifting children out of poverty?
My guess is it’ll be more of the same: the usual right-wing hand-waving about creating jobs and “incentives” to work – which in practice means sitting back and doing nothing except make it harder and harder for people to actually access vital support when there simply aren’t jobs for them to move into.
John Key’s focus groups are telling him people care about inequality, so he has to go through the motions of caring. But he’s already rejected the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group on poverty and leads a government which is doing its damnedest to drive down wages and kick people off benefits. Expect a lot of big talk and no real action for another three years.