Labour is marketing itself as the party of radical economic transformation. It says it is prepared to make the real changes that National won’t.
Yesterday David Parker advocated forcing the Reserve Bank to take on exporter and worker representation, and taxing property investment profits – see: Labour talks tough on economic reform.
That’s the public face, but as Chris Trotter writes, the message behind closed doors to the business sector has a very different emphasis.
What is not going to change under Labour, is a commitment to returning to a fiscal surplus in two years - meaning a newly elected Labour-led Government’s first budget in 2015 would have no red ink. There would have to be a dramatic turnaround in government finances over the next few years if significant new spending is going to be seen before the following election in 2018 – see Trotter’s blogpost, No Joke: Why I'm Not Laughing At Labour's Latest Speeches.
Another apparent contradiction between Labour’s ‘in public’ and ‘in private’ positions is with the status of core state assets. This has a major bearing on Labour’s critiques of National’s partial privatisation. Parker told his business audience that telecommunications and electricity generation are not included in Labour’s list of assets that need to be ‘run in the New Zealand interest’.
Trotter is unimpressed: ‘So, all those people standing on street corners with clip-boards collecting signatures for a Citizens Initiated Referendum on asset sales; all those thousands of people planning to march in the “Aotearoa Is NOT For Sale!” protest this Saturday; all those hundreds of Labour Party members who’ve been reassuring their workmates and neighbours that the Caucus is rock-solid against the sale of Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy; all of them are wasting their time. Because “energy generation” isn’t even on Labour’s “closed list” of assets that should never be sold.’
The lack of detail about Labour’s desire to ‘take some hard decisions and shatter some orthodoxies that are past their use-by date’ has Trotter worried that what the party is channeling is more Roger Douglas than Mickey Savage or Norm Kirk.
Of course it’s almost certain that the Greens will have a big say in how any of Labour’s plans are actually implemented. Ele Ludemann looks at Transtasman’s analysis of Australian Labor’s hostility towards the Greens and whether or not the current Labour leadership has the ‘smarts’ to keep them at a distance, as Helen Clark did – see: How close does Labour want to get to Greens?
Chris Trotter also looks at the Labour-Greens relationship in his must-read Taranaki Daily News column today – see: Labour seeks middle ground on policies
. Trotter fires shots at the Labour Party and Grant Robertson, with warnings for the Greens, and praise for David Cunliffe. He characterises comments by Labour deputy Grant Robertson as ‘a simple and brutal warning: there's a Cabinet seat for you in the next Labour-led Government, but only if you're willing to leave your radical ideas ("uncompromising dogma") at the door, only if you accept that it will be business as close to usual as Labour can make it’. Robertson has now responded with a blogpost: For the benefit of Mr Trotter
, implying that there is a historic personal element to Trotter’s criticism, and that his use of ‘uncompromising dogma’ relates to the importance of using evidence and science to back up our environmental policies. To read Robertson’s original speech itself, see: Green Growth
With non-MPs likely to be given more say in who gets to be a Labour MP and Labour leader (see: Labour tiptoes towards perception change
) the debate over Labour’s differing public and private positions may have to be resolved before coalition negotiations begin with the Greens.
Other important or interesting political items today include:
Kim Dotcom’s PR nous and the legal botch ups reflect badly – but unfairly – on the Government says Jane Clifton in Mega-spot of bother
Reports of hostilities between the generations seem to have been overstated writes Eric Crampton in War of ages
iPredict’s latest New Zealand Election newsletter
is out, and its main predictions include: Turia and Sharples both picked to step down as Maori Party co-leaders, MMP review expected to propose reducing threshold to 4% and abolishing one-seat rule, Annette King to run for Wellington mayoralty and Shane Jones to be criticised by Auditor-General. The expected party votes at the 2014 election are: National, 40%, Labour, 35%, Greens, 10%, NZ First, 5%, Conservatives, 4%, and Act, Maori, Mana and UnitedFuture at around 1%.
Water rights and asset sales