My new local cafe stocks a range of newspapers, and I’ve been finding myself reading things like the Australian Financial Review (Australia’s equivalent of New Zealand’s NBR). Yesterday I almost spat out my morning coffee while reading an incredible op-ed from Jennifer Hewett.
She spent several hundred words extolling the economic skills of Bill English, claiming that the New Zealand economy should be the envy of Australia.
I have to give her credit for originality – it’s certainly not a line of logic I’d heard before.
My friend and fellow ex-pat New Zealander, Marcus Ganley, has written an excellent piece for Crikey pulling the op-ed apart. Read his full post here.
While National have got the treasury’s books on a path to surplus (made far easier due to the strong fiscal management of the 5th Labour government), they’ve done it at the expense of actually looking after the economy. Growth has been stifled and unemployment is simply too high.
As Marcus says…
Taking the size of the economy in 2008 (when the National Party was elected) as the base, the New Zealand economy is 1.18 times bigger today. This compares with Australia, where the 2013 economy is 1.25 times bigger than in 2008. Growth under the previous New Zealand government averaged just under 3.5% per year.Under Clark’s government from 1999 to 2008, unemployment in New Zealand was continually below Australia’s. From 2005 to 2007, unemployment in New Zealand was below 4%. In 2005, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development statistics unemployment was in New Zealand was 1.2 percentage points lower than Australia. This has changed completely under the National Party. On the latest OECD figures unemployment in New Zealand is nearly 1.7 percentage points higher in New Zealand than Australia. At the same time, the wage gap between Australia and New Zealand has increased by nearly $NZ90 per week since the election of the National Party government.At its essence government is about priorities. Strong fiscal management is important. It ensures government services are sustainable and avoids placing undue burden on future generations for the services provided today. However, fiscal management is not everything. Before heaping too much praise on New Zealand’s National Party, it is worth looking at the economy as a whole.