Analysis: 100-day scorecard

(Having left positions at the Treasury, the UK Home Office, the Morgan Foundation and The Opportunities Party behind, Geoff Simmons now bills himself as an independent economist – CK)

How progressive were Labour’s first 100 days? Let’s take a look…

  • Progressive = smiley
  • Neutral = indecision
  • Regressive = sad

Free tertiary
Will overwhelmingly benefit those that grow up in better-off households. Free, full time, high-quality early childhood education would have been a better investment for our economy and society.

Increase student allowances and living cost loans
Not a bad move, within the confines of these flawed systems.

Warm and dry rentals
A great start, although without changes to our tax regime, this will probably just encourage landbankers to not bother with tenants at all.

Ban overseas speculators
Won’t hurt but I doubt it will work for the determined foreign speculator.

Stop state house sell-off
Who owns social housing is irrelevant to providing good social housing. In fact, overseas evidence suggests community housing providers do a better job.

Helping the middle class get their foot on the property ladder, rather than housing the worst off. This to me really shows where the priority of this government lies! In the worst-case scenario, Kiwibuild may simply scare off the private sector from investing in construction.

Winter fuel payment
Most of this money goes to superannuitants, including our Deputy Prime Minister.

Best start
A great policy [a payment of $60 a week for each child in the first year after Paid Parental Leave ends, and for low to middle-income families up to age three], although too small and too targeted to solve the problem.

Increases to paid parental leave
Mostly benefits the middle class.

Mental health inquiry
Nice idea, if you like talkfests. We really have to wait and see what comes out of it all.

Medicinal cannabis
A lesson in how to look as if you are doing something without doing anything. Just laughable.

Resume contributions to the NZ Superannuation Fund
Is this going to make super sustainable? Nope. It is bailing out a sinking boat with a soup ladle.

Child poverty target
A target is a nice idea but, given the government’s actions so far, I am not convinced child poverty is actually a priority.

Increase the minimum wage
Slow and steady rises in the minimum wage are a great thing but the proposed pace increase risks putting people out of work. I think the immigration changes will do more to benefit the job prospects of those on low incomes.

Establish the Tax Working Group
The terms of reference (excluding the family home) pretty much make this a waste of time. 

Pike River Recovery
This is great for the families but is hardly systemic change. Will be interesting to see if Winston sticks to his offer of being first in.

Inquiry into abuse in state care
Again, this is a great start, but it will be more interesting to see what action actually comes out of it.

Climate Commission
Great idea, long overdue. Again, let’s see what actual policy changes come out of this. The risk is that NZ First sinks any decent ideas that come out of it, much as they already have on fresh water.
Overall, my rating is average. Poverty and inequality didn’t fall under the Clark Labour government and doesn’t look as if it will under the Ardern Labour government, either.

That is because Labour’s first concern is actually the middle class – despite the rhetoric. They may be better on this count than National (under whom inequality generally rises, especially if you include house prices), but the difference is marginal at best. 

(I tried to get Geoff to cover employment law reform too, but he resisted, saying, "It's still a bit amorphous isn't it? I haven't really seen any detail, and when Grant Robertson tried to offer some he seemed to trip over himself." – CK)

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