The Kiwis are killing it.
The New Zealand dollar is set to hit parity with ours, for the first time in 30 years.
Its economy is growing 20 per cent faster. Its GDP per capita is rising while ours is falling.
Its competitiveness rankings have outstripped ours. Its unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent compared with our 6.3 per cent, and that’s with a higher participation rate.
The NZ budget is heading towards a surplus while ours spirals further into deficit.
NZ has challenges, and the global economy is still fragile, but we are better positioned than most.
In a world lacking impressive leadership, Prime Minister John Key and his finance minister Bill English are shining lights, running the most successful and stable conservative government in the world.
Angela Merkel might disagree, but there is a reason Key was elected Chairman of the IDU.
Through lunches at the homes of mutual friends, I have come to know Key and his wife Bronagh a little and, over the years, have watched him become more energised and enthusiastic about the challenges of government.
Sunny-natured and refreshingly normal, he presents a new model of reassuring, decisive centre-right political leadership tailor-made for the 24/7 media demand for authenticity.
He shows that canny leaders who are trusted can get away with just about anything.
For instance, Key increased the GST in NZ to 15 per cent without a blip to his popularity. He did it by reducing the top marginal rate of tax to 33 per cent — compared with Australia’s uncompetitive 49 per cent — and he and English discussed their “tax switch” for 18 months beforehand.
Key’s style is not to spring unpleasant surprises after an election and exude competence by ensuring he is able to implement the policies he has promised.
And while some of those policies may be controversial (such as Sky City) they were publicised and debated before the 2011 and 2014 elections. The Opposition spend much of their time demanding Key break his word and not implement his election policies.
Key’s success is even more remarkable considering he had to weather a GFC-induced recession, and the $40 billion cost of rebuilding Christchurch after its 2011 earthquake.
His style has been dubbed “incremental radicalism”. But he is much more than an economic rationalist appealing to base self-interest. Like a Reagan or Thatcher, he is animated by a moral vision of an egalitarian nation of stable families where poor children like him can aspire to greatness though hard work.
Welfare is a means to an end, not an end in itself.