James Allan on Clark

Former Otago Law Professor James Allan writes in The Australian about Helen Clark:

Helen Clark is in big trouble with an election a little more than six months away.

Her Labour Government came into office in 1999, winning that election and the next two. But, unless something drastic happens soon, it will lose office to the right-of-centre National Party later year. Indeed, it will suffer a noticeably worse defeat than did in country.

The Coalition only had 1.5% less than Labor on primary vote and 5.4% less on two-party preferred.  But with FPP even a fairly small margin can lead to a large majority – 18 seats in Australia’s case.

One of the big problems for the Clark Government has to do with comparative economic performance. Soon after coming into office it said one of its main goals was to lift NZ back into the top half of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development league tables in terms of per capita gross domestic product. It hasn’t. Indeed, NZ has dropped a place or two down to 20th or 21st. Little mention is made of pledge by the Government these days.

One of many goals dropped.  You don’t hear much about Closing the Gaps either anymore.

And taxes are relatively high. The OECD estimates that NZ’s general government receipts are running at 45 per cent of GDP. Australia’s run at about 35 per cent. NZ is even above the OECD average, one that includes the high-taxing Europeans. So despite a lower top marginal rate there, it is a high-tax economy.

Yep. NZers pay more in pretty much every bracket up to around $220,000.

In a decade, that would widen the gap from 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Who knows how many Kiwis might then see Australia as an attractive place to live? The brutal truth seems to be that the Clark Government’s emphasis on wealth distribution over wealth creation is seeing the country as a whole do no better than stand still in comparative terms, while Australia is surging ahead, and a few other countries are doing even better.

And Kevin Rudd is very very focused on wealth creation.  Plus he is delivering $31 billion of cuts.

Of late, the Government has also indulged in some forays into illiberal lawmaking. The new Electoral Finance Act, passed at the end of last year, was strongly condemned by a surprising range of viewpoints, even by the Human Rights Commission, as putting unacceptable limits on free speech. Then there was the parental anti-smacking law of last year, another of the government-knows-best laws that eventually started to grate on otherwise sympathetic voters.


All in all, there is a tough year ahead for Clark.

Her odds at present look even worse than Hillary Clinton’s, and that’s saying quite a bit.

Actually I think Clark’s odd are better than Clinton’s.

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