The government is up against it on a number of policy fronts. That’s because New Zealand politics always demands that the government take responsibility and make itself busy doing something.
“What are you going to do?” is the continual question. The problems themselves are easy enough to solve. They just require that politicians do less and allow people to do more.
We can illustrate the proper policy approach with some high-profile examples:
The mad teacher unions and the Ministry of Education have made paying teachers unmanageable.
There are 2500 schools, 15 separate collective agreements and 10,000 possible pay variations.
Teachers can work for multiple schools and belong to more than one collective agreement.
It’s a logistical nightmare.
There’s no other payroll like it.
It’s easily fixed.
All schools should be bulk funded. The payroll would be simplified, teachers being paid each week would no longer be the government’s responsibility and greater flexibility within schools would improve teaching outcomes. Next.
The government is now totally responsible for every inevitable problem that the massive rebuild entails.
Christchurch is a political tar baby and the government is getting stuck deeper with every twist and turn.
The government should butt out of Christchurch.
Property rights should be recognised and reaffirmed rather than endlessly pinched, the region should be declared tax-free and oppressive laws such as the Resource Management Act, OSH and the Employment Relations Act deemed inappropriate.
The city would be back up on its feet and thriving within five years.
3. Christchurch school closures:
The government should not be deciding which schools stay open and which schools close. They should break the artificial distinction between state and private schools. Every pupil should be funded to a school of their parent’s choice.
The people would soon determine which schools close and which open. There would be huge opportunities to develop new and innovative schooling initiatives. Christchurch would be the envy of the world.
4. Treaty claims:
The 51% of the shares that government is planning on keeping in the part-privatised SOEs should be divided up among the members of the tribes yet to settle.
That is $6 billion.
That’s way above what anyone is expecting.
Returning the shares to individuals would undercut the tribal elites and their crony capitalism, put the wealth into the hands that need it and privatise SOEs that should never be in government hands to begin with.
The $6 billion full and final settlement would be cheap and the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal dispensed with.
5. Business, innovation and employment:
Easy. Get rid of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. That alone would signal that government understands that business, innovation and employment aren’t things that flow out of the Beehive.
In its stead, introduce a flat tax at 15% and re-establish the supremacy of property rights and the freedom to contract. Stand back. The economy would honk and the only problem would be the shortage of labour.
News reporting would change. There would no longer be the endless news of government decision-making and inevitable failure. It would instead be the news of people getting on and doing the job.
But perhaps this wouldn’t be as interesting or as easy to report. And perhaps it’s just not politically sustainable to have our politicians standing back doing nothing while people get on with the job.