Trans-Tasman’s Tortoise and the Hare

Trans-Tasman makes an interesting observation in their newsletter today:

Readers of Trans Tasman, an educated lot, will know the Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The two were in a race and the hare got so far in front he took a nap. The tortoise plodded on past him.

National looks like trying to transform NZ’s economic reform
progress – in the past we’ve been a bunch of hares – doing sudden bursts of reform and then taking a nap. This time, National is planning on being a tortoise. This was implicit in its initial response to the economic crisis it found on its desk in November 2008. Previous Govts, faced with similar crises, have tended to panic and push every policy button available.

They have usually been shortlived Govts, and they have tended to put NZers off the whole idea of systematic economic reform until it is forced upon them.

We got more tortoise-like behaviour last week, with John Key’s opening statement to the House. A series of headings, it initially looked underwelming, and the more superficial commentators pronounced it as excessively timid.

The implications of some of those headings, on tax as well as on things like education reform and resource development, are now sinking in. Now people have taken the time to think about them, they look more progressive than they looked at the time.

I agree with the sentiments here. Pushing through reform that merely results in a new Government at the next election that reverses that reform, is dumb.

Australia has been a pretty good example of continuous reform, rather than just in the odd spurt of activity. And the PMs statement did have a significant amount of good stuff in it.

My concern though is that pre-election commitments to not touch WFF, Student Loans etc, crown assets, Superannuation, will block significant reform. Now I don’t advocate a change to these policies in this term of Government, but I do hope for the 2011 election National will have a less restrictive manifesto.

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