Rodney Hide on Labour’s Future of Work Commission

Rodney Hide writes in NBR:

The first and toughest job in policy making is determining the problem. My experience is ministers and bureaucrats look bewildered when they’re asked what problem they’re trying to fix. They then blurt meaningless claptrap.

So I shouldn’t be too hard on in opposition having no idea what problem its report is supposedly addressing. But it’s a troubling omission.

The closest it gets to a problem definition is Grant Robertson saying by way of introduction that the goal is “to allow New Zealanders to face an uncertain future with confidence.” 

The problem by implication is that the future is “uncertain,” that New Zealanders are not facing that uncertainty “with confidence” and that here’s policy to fix that.

NZers are in fact very confident overall.

So what’s the problem? I have no idea. But I also can’t make either head or tail of much of the policy that Labour proposes.

The report summarises 64 policy recommendations.

These include such gems as “Continue to support Gateway and STAR” (whatever they are), “Support hop-on, hop off training” (whatever that is), “Create new employment-relations framework and collective-agreement targets” (sounds scary), “Address unequal pay” (how exactly?), “Develop regional infrastructure partnerships with post-settlement iwi” (because tribalism in partnership with government will surely work), “Reform education and adopt culturally inclusive learning methods” (reforming education is always good and there’s always room for more inclusivity), “Aim for ICT to be the second largest contributor to GDP” (the government is rubbish at picking winning businesses, so let’s pick an industry), “Appoint a chief technology officer to create a technology roadmap for the next 5-10 years” (because planning tsars worked so well in the past), “Develop a just transition plan for climate change led by an Independent Climate Commission” (let’s shut down fossil fuel use and reverse the industrial revolution in a way that’s fair).

So do you feel better about the future now?

It’s hardly a rallying cry. “Don’t fear the future, vote Labour.” “Support Gateway and Star, vote Labour.” It’s rubbish policy and terrible politics.

Incredibly light weight for something that took two years.

Labour would benefit greatly from having members who have actually experienced work and know what they’re talking about. 

Sadly, the report highlights Labour’s lack of connection with business and the working world. It reads as if it has been written by second-rate teachers, union officials, career politicians and low-level political operatives. That’s because it has been.

The best thing Labour could be doing for itself and the country is recruiting people who have actually been in the workforce Labour says it cares so passionately about. Or better yet, recruit members who have employed people with their own capital at risk and thereby make the workforce possible.

How many Labour MPs have ever employed other people?

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