Joyce has it backwards

When I saw the headline ‘Collaboration helping recruit health ICT workers‘ I was cautiously optimistic – did the Government actually have a plan to create some jobs?!

But alas, nope. Steven Joyce hasn’t come up with a great scheme to get Kiwi IT grads into jobs, he’s instead trying to get more skilled workers from overseas to fill bums on seats.

A new project designed to attract highly skilled workers to New Zealand is a great example of collaboration between the Government and the private sector, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

Speaking at the Medical Technology conference in Auckland today, Mr Joyce said 12 New Zealand health technology companies – including Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Orion Health – have been working with government agencies such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Immigration New Zealand to recruit hundreds of skilled employees for roles in the New Zealand health technology sector.

My first “proper job” after graduating was with a large fortune-500 company from Texas, with a sizeable presence in New Zealand.

In our induction into the company they told us how proud they were to be part of a scheme setup by Jim Anderton as Minister of Economic Development which used government incentives to bring work from overseas to New Zealand, and got Kiwis to do it with decent pay and conditions. This Beehive press release from the time goes into a little bit more detail.

The Labour government invested money in bringing work to New Zealand which led to us having the lowest unemployment rates in the world. The National government is now investing money to bring more skilled workers from overseas.

Two different approaches. I know which I prefer.

“Nasty” Mr Key

This piece from yesterday’s edition of Bryce Edwards’ excellent NZ Politics Daily frames what is happening in New Zealand politics quite nicely…

Have we seen the end of Mr Nice Guy? The number of voters who say they’d like to have a beer or bbq with John Key might soon plummet, as the Government appears to be getting into the hard decisions early in its second term. According to John Armstrong, ‘National seems unaware of how hard-edged it is starting to look with its noticeable drift to the right. The contrast with the soft pragmatism of its first term is starting to become pronounced’. In his column, Ministers risk seeming uncaring as jobs culled, Armstrong writes that public sector reform looks likely to start having a real impact on frontline services – despite Government promises – particularly with possible layoffs of nursing staff at district health boards. He warns that the Government is still to reveal the extent  of contracting out of public services to the private sector, and says it may have a hard job selling that to voters. Tracy Watkins agrees and says even though changes to date have been done far more carefully than in the 1990s, real savings  – particularly in the big budget health sector – will mean job losses in the thousands – see: Public service cuts get deeper.

In my humble opinion, the “new” welfare reforms announced by John Key and Paula Bennett are perfect examples of knee-jerk conservatism. They didn’t actually have any new ideas for reducing welfare dependency, just some half hatched ideas to kick the poor while they are down. The thing is, even these ideas aren’t new, they were announced during the election campaign.

So why re-release them? Their polling is obviously not looking flash. They’ve seen that they’re losing traction to the opposition parties, Labour in particular, and want to remind people that they can be tough. The National Party will be expecting a bump in the polls from an announcement like this, and they may well get it. But will it be the 3-5% they need to actually open a lead in the polls? I doubt it.

I can see a flaw in your logic

The government can’t raise the minimum wage much because labour market is too tight. They can clamp down on beneficiaries because there’s plenty of jobs.

Via @Covlin on Twitter.

Some perspective

Political commentator Annabel Crabb on Tony Abbott’s reaction to the Labor leadership vote…

[You] have to admire the cheek of a chap who won [the leadership] by 1 vote, questioning the legitimacy of a chick who won by 40

Australian Labor: Both Gillard and Rudd lost today

As has been widely predicted and reported, Julia Gillard has one the party room ballot 71-31. While Gillard went into the contest saying she would stand down and drop and leadership ambitions should she lose, Kevin Rudd made no such call.

Gillard will now drop Rudd from cabinet, but he will continue to undermine her from the back bench. He knew he didn’t have the numbers to beat Julia when he resigned as foreign minister last week – this is all part of his game plan. In effect, he plans to “do a Keating”. To refresh your memory, the Paul Keating article from Wikipedia nicely traces the rocky path that Keating took to Kirribilli…

At a 1988 meeting at Kirribilli House, Hawke and Keating discussed the handover of the leadership to Keating. Hawke agreed in front of two witnesses that he would resign in Keating’s favour after the 1990 election.[10] The Deputy Prime Minister, Lionel Bowen, retired at the 1990 election, and Keating was appointed Deputy to Hawke. In June 1991, after Hawke had intimated to Keating that he planned to renege on the deal on the basis that Keating had been publicly disloyal and moreover was less popular than Hawke, Keating challenged him for the leadership. He lost (Hawke won 66–44 in the party room ballot),[17] resigned as Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, and declared in a press conference that he had fired his ‘one shot’.[18] Publicly, at least, this made his leadership ambitions unclear. Having lost the first challenge to Hawke, Keating realised that events would have to move very much in his favour for a second challenge to be even possible.[19]

Several factors contributed to the success of Keating’s second challenge in December 1991. Over the remainder of 1991, the economy showed no signs of recovery from the recession, and unemployment continued to rise.[20][21] Some of Keating’s supporters undermined the government.[20] The Government was polling poorly.[19] Perhaps more significantly, Liberal leader John Hewson introduced ‘Fightback!‘, an economic policy package, which, according to Keating’s biographer, John Edwards, ‘appeared to astonish and stun Hawke’s cabinet’.[22] According to Edwards, ‘Hawke was unprepared to attack it and responded with windy rhetoric’.[22] After Fightback!, Keating ‘did practically nothing’ as Hawke’s support dwindled and the numbers moved in Keating’s favour.[23] On 20 December 1991, Keating defeated Hawke in a party-room ballot for the leadership by 56 votes to 51.

Sound familiar?

So what’s the solution? From Julia’s perspective, she can use this opportunity to grab the bull by the horns. A Labor loss in Queensland at the end of March will now be entirely blamed on Kevin Rudd destabilising the party just weeks out from the state election. Her campaign to retain the leadership was always on the back foot, but she showed she is a fighter (the press release from Wayne Swan was simply incredible).

She can rebuild, but it’s not going to be easy.

Labour Review – consultation

Labour’s President, Moira Coatsworth, has just announced a schedule of 18 meetings for party members to have their input into the consultation process as part of the party’s organisational review. As well as the meetings, you can submit online. I’d say that it’s just as important to get the feedback from members who have never been to a meeting as it is from those who have chaired hundreds of meetings.

There is a review website live now, where you can learn more about the process and have your say. Get involved. I’m happy for guest posts on The Progress Report if you have any particular view points you’d like to get a wider audience.


Missing Ministers

Yet another wheel coming off the government.

Last week the National foreign minister, Murry McCully announced a very controversial change proposal for his minisitry, which involved the cutting of 305 staff.

You wont find McCully defending the decision however, he has totally gone to ground. As this remarkable report on Stuff reveals…

Prime Minister John Key has defended his Foreign Affairs Minister, saying although Murray McCully is not missing in action, he has “absolutely no clue” where he is.

I’m no expert of the mechanics of the functioning of Cabinet, but I’m pretty sure Key would have had to signed off international travel.

Has he hired a helicopter and fled with Kim Dotcom? Would that make him Murry Dotcom?