Espiner on Economy

June 15th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner blogs:

Last night I was in Christchurch for a public meeting on the organised by .

We had Prime Minister along, plus Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce head Peter Townsend, Lincoln University chancellor Tom Lambie, Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon, Canterbury University vice-chancellor Rod Carr, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, Press editor Andrew Holden and me.

We packed out the James Hay Theatre (well, we only charged $5 a ticket) and for two hours we debated the economy – how bad was it, and what could we do to make it better. You could have heard a pin drop.

Not because the audience was asleep (we had electric buzzers fitted to their seats) but because nearly 1000 people had turned up to hear what Key had to say about the recession, and how to fix it.

That is an amazingly high number of people to attend.

The night was interesting for several reasons. It was good to hear the Prime Minister explain what he planned to do about the recession in words that didn’t have to be fitted into a seven-second television soundbite. Or in a dry speech to a chamber of commerce. Or in the heat of battle in Parliament.

And it reminded me that the public is interested in weighty issues and able to absorb them in relatively big chunks. They don’t need stuff dumbed down, and they do care about more than just day-to-day issues that obviously still concern them.

Did they learn anything? Well, they learned Key doesn’t have all the answers, although he does have a sound grip on what the problems are. He took a sound telling-off from Rod Carr about the lack of expenditure on education with good grace.

Wish I could have attended.

Key apologised for canning the tax cuts, though he said they would be back: “I believe in the power of tax cuts,” Key said, almost evangelically. He spoke of the opportunities that existed in China and India, the need to develop a “China strategy” to make it easier to do business in that part of the world, and to focus on human capital.

Key talked about food quality, water storage, regulatory reform, and the difficulty of doing more on less money. There was no silver bullet, but then I suspect there isn’t one.

Overall it was a pretty commanding performance on what is easily Key’s best subject, when you get him away from the sideshows and the distractions.

Good to see the reaffirmation of the importance of tax cuts.

And Colin quotes Key’s final words in what he calls one of his best public performances:

“I think that you get elected to concentrate on what actually matters to people. And in the end my perception is when you go down to the polling booth, you vote on whether the economy is going to be managed properly, whether your communities are safe, whether your kids have got an opportunity, whether New Zealand has a health system that really works, whether you feel like you’re actually going in the right direction.

“And all of the other stuff is just sort of white noise that bubbles along. And the risk for politicians is they get attracted to the white noise. It’s a bit like a bar fight, you know? Everyone watches it, hopefully you’re not involved in it, but actually not much changes.

“And when you go and have a look at political parties that have spent their life on those kind of salacious, scandal-based issues, their support never rises. Because you the voters want answers to real problems.

“What I say to the Cabinet on a very regular basis and to the caucus on a very regular basis is look, for as long as we stay focused on the issues that matter to New Zealanders, that we come up with solutions, that we’re honest with them, we’ll enjoy their support.

“And when we start thinking it’s about us as politicians, when we start losing track of what matters to you then actually I reckon you will boot us out.

“I can’t tell you whether that will be two and half years, or in five and a half years’ time, or eight and a half years’ time, or more, but what I can tell you is the simple, fastest way to get thrown out is forget why you were put there.

“And we were put there to make New Zealand a lot better. And that’s going to be my intention. And that’s what I’m going to deliver.”

An excellent initiative from The Press to have such a forum.

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26 Responses to “Espiner on Economy”

  1. stephen (3,981 comments) says:

    Key talked about food quality, water storage

    That’s a new one?

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,278 comments) says:

    Probably water shortage, but with some of Key’s pronunciation who knows? :)

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  3. Sam (421 comments) says:

    “Good to see the reaffirmation of the importance of tax cuts.”

    Shouldn’t you have provided one of these: ;) with that statement…?

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  4. Countess of Cleavage (27 comments) says:

    Silly old me voted for national because young Johnnie had the answers.

    Funny how once the votes were counted it becomes too difficult.

    Then those tax cuts , that were rushed through Parliament after the election and just as quickly rushed through parliament cancelling them- within months.
    Is that what concentrating on whats important means. U turns?

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  5. Marc (14 comments) says:

    Key bang on target again! – the UN must be enjoying the miss clark obfusications!

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  6. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    CoC, if you voted for a party based on a single issue, that they were commited to deliver long over due tax cuts, and then whine when economic circumstances change (ie, get much fcking worse) and that party does the fiscally prudent thing and cancels the last 20% of them, then I would say your vote is worthless.

    The tax cuts were “rushed though Parliament” because they were so long over due. The last round of tax cuts were cancelled because IT WAS THE FISCALLY PRUDENT THING TO DO.

    I am sick of you one issue voters bitching and moaning when it turns our that your one issue is less important than you think. Talk about cheapening your vote.

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  7. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    I’m a bit depressed that he thinks tax cuts will help us.
    I’m glad that he gets it that water reform, agricultural research, tourism education and good health care are the keys to a creative economy- but these things all cost money. If the govt wants to drive economic development it needs to support our export, education and health care industries. You don’t get nothing for nothing.

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  8. Captain Crab (336 comments) says:

    Being in Canterbury Key would have said “water storage”. I heard 85% of the rain on the Southern Alps runs out to sea. Storing for irrigation and power generation really has to be a priority now.

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  9. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    CoC, as I am sure you are aware, labour would have not given any rounds of tax cuts. The socalled “mini-budget” was little more than an opportunity to justify cancelling them. As it happened you got one round of tax cuts, one more than under labour. If you think that is insufficient I suggest you vote for act next time.

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  10. stephen (3,981 comments) says:

    Being in Canterbury Key would have said “water storage”. I heard 85% of the rain on the Southern Alps runs out to sea. Storing for irrigation and power generation really has to be a priority now.

    One hears murmurs about this sort of thing (usually from the Greens) around, but interesting that the PM of all people is now talking about it.

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  11. Countess of Cleavage (27 comments) says:

    The other thing that baffles me is that fiscal incompetent Cullen ran up billions in surpluses and paid down government debt but the economic whizz Johnnie is promising years of deficits?

    My accountant also tells me the tax cuts are actually just created by taking money that was a tax credit for my staff Kiwisaver which now I get back much less as a personal income tax cut.

    So i was better off under the tax cuts I didnt get from Cullen, than the tax cuts I got , and he then changed his mind after the voting from Johnnie Key

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  12. MyNameIsJack (2,414 comments) says:

    stephen (2712) Vote: 0 0 Says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 11:59 am
    Being in Canterbury Key would have said “water storage”. I heard 85% of the rain on the Southern Alps runs out to sea. Storing for irrigation and power generation really has to be a priority now.

    One hears murmurs about this sort of thing (usually from the Greens) around, but interesting that the PM of all people is now talking about it.

    Google canterbury plains water and you’ll find this is quite a hot issue.

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  13. alex Masterley (1,535 comments) says:

    Water is hot issue anywhere in Canturbury, or for that matter Central and North Otago .

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  14. coolas (115 comments) says:

    “And we were put there to make New Zealand a lot better. And that’s going to be my intention. And that’s what I’m going to deliver.”

    If ‘that’s going to be (his) intention’
    What’s his intention now I wonder?

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  15. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    The other thing that baffles me is that fiscal incompetent Cullen ran up billions in surpluses and paid down government debt but the economic whizz Johnnie is promising years of deficits?

    Cullen was promising years of deficits by the end also. In order to sustain the surpluses the NZ economy had to keep growing at over 2% per year.

    For that to happen, we needed some combination of (a) NZ households willing to get deeper into debt to sustain spending in the domestic economy (ultimately unsustainable) or (b) overseas markets willing to pay us extraordinary prices by normal standards for milk products, timber etc or (c) leaps in productivity growth rates akin to those promised in the knowledge wave conferences. The first two events have ended, the last never got off the ground.

    In the meantime, Labour had built into the public sector a number of programmes that would need growing funding, had funding holes (ACC) or were promised but not yet funded (e.g. kiwi rail). That’s why the size of the public sector grew much faster in absolute terms.

    Fwiw, most debt was repaid during the 1990s, chiefly under the good work of Birch. Cullen was in the fortunate position of being able to use funds that were previously earmarked for debt servicing to redistribute incomes, blunt productivity growth rates, blow the trade balance out to over 8% of GDP and oversee the first period of net deforestation in the forestry sector (incidentally, blowing our Kyoto credit position heavily into deficit territory).

    The decade of deficits is largely a result of Cullen pissing away the best opportunity NZ had to get up the OECD ladder.

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  16. Poliwatch (335 comments) says:

    “in words that didn’t have to be fitted into a seven-second television soundbite” I always thought it was the eight second soundbite. Must be another economy move by the MSM.

    ““I think that you get elected to concentrate on what actually matters to people. And in the end my perception is when you go down to the polling booth, you vote on whether the economy is going to be managed properly, whether your communities are safe, whether your kids have got an opportunity, whether New Zealand has a health system that really works, whether you feel like you’re actually going in the right direction.

    “And all of the other stuff is just sort of white noise that bubbles along. And the risk for politicians is they get attracted to the white noise. It’s a bit like a bar fight, you know? Everyone watches it, hopefully you’re not involved in it, but actually not much changes. ”

    Good words. Politicians and watchers get all caught up in the minor stuff from the Bain case to Civil Unions. Cabinet need to act in the same way as company directors. That is to “protect and enhance stakeholder value”. They need to concentrate on the “big picture” stuff. They (from all political persuasions) are drawn into the minor stuff either because they themselves cannot relate to what is important or because they are left tidying up the mess created by others. Unfortunately politics is seldom conducive to this.

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  17. dime (10,213 comments) says:

    lmao “Countess of Cleavage” is a new type of labour plant!

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  18. tvb (4,554 comments) says:

    Sure Worth is an irritation to John Key BUT these sorts of political problems ARE going to occur from time to time. Ask a philanderer whether he is philandering – you will get a LIE. Or course it is irritating, a distraction and all the rest. But the sort of problem Worth presented needed to be dealt with, and John could have handled it better. I hope he develops a strategy on how to handle problems with colleague especially if the Leader of the Opposition is getting involved.

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  19. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    dime, I suspect “she” is trying to be a concern troll, but if so “she” is doing a pretty poor job.

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  20. dime (10,213 comments) says:

    a concern troll? lol great name for it!

    i have to admit.. i may have done something similar on the Labour forum in 2005 heh

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  21. mike12 (183 comments) says:

    lmao “Countess of Cleavage” is a new type of labour plant!

    Word on the Street is that she’s Clinton Smiths mother – ever seen the ‘Bad boy Bubby’ flick

    [DPF: She is Ztev/Ghost/Jacob]

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  22. getstaffed (8,040 comments) says:

    The other thing that baffles me is that fiscal incompetent Cullen ran up billions in surpluses and paid down government debt but the economic whizz Johnnie is promising years of deficits?

    The difference, CoC, between the two chaps in question is that Cullen was running a state-supported tax extortion racket to the determent of NZ workers and businesses, while Key is trying to undo the damage caused.

    As for the paying down of government debt, commenter JC reminded us :

    Lets clear away some of the crap about paying down debt by the much admired Cullen.

    During the 1990s Richardson and Birch reduced the national debt from $60 billion to $28 billion off a GDP around $100 billion. Thats despite the shambles they faced when they took over, the two big droughts of 1997/98 and the two to three years Asian crisis.

    Cullen reduced the debt from $28 billion to $22 billion off a GDP of $185 billion during the best economic times in a generation.

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  23. Sam (421 comments) says:

    “He took a sound telling-off from Rod Carr about the lack of expenditure on education with good grace.”

    A smarter economy, investment in infrastructure, creating opportunities for those made redundant in the current recession to re-train, call it what you will, this has been a significant oversight by Key and National. The huge cut to research scholarship funding is a blow that could see us climbing out of the recession slower than we might otherwise have done…

    Thanks for the the cycle-way though (yeah right).

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  24. Inventory2 (9,380 comments) says:

    DPF said [DPF: She is Ztev/Ghost/Jacob]

    Dontcha just love the way those IP addresses incriminate people??!!

    Interesting too that Ghost Who Walks and jacob van hartog were one and the same.

    [DPF: Actually it is the posting style that gives it away]

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  25. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    DPF said [DPF: She is Ztev/Ghost/Jacob]

    Dontcha just love the way those IP addresses incriminate people??!!

    Interesting too that Ghost Who Walks and jacob van hartog were one and the same.

    [DPF: Actually it is the posting style that gives it away]

    And this is why I don’t trust those online chat sites. You think you are talking with the Countess of Cleavage and you are actually talking with pimply Nigel who does the photocopying at Labout Party HQ or some sultry maid of the east who turns out to be not all she is cracked up to be. . Bloody internet.

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  26. PaulL (5,449 comments) says:

    I’m very disappointed. Countess of Cleavage I had expected to be a middle aged lady, well endowed in all areas, and preferring to put the most eye catching area on show. Instead, it turns out to be some pimply kid, worried about his sexuality (hence Countess), and fascinated by Cleavage. Very disappointing.

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