In a rare move The Australian does an endorsement:
New Zealand’s election this Saturday is reminiscent of Australia’s in 2007. A successful, reforming government that has achieved one of the highest growth rates in the world is fighting for survival despite International Monetary Fund projections that New Zealand will outdo all other advanced nations, except oil-rich Norway, in gross domestic product growth by 2025.
And it is economic growth that gives us options.
Kiwis should think long and hard before they dump one of the most successful governments in the Western world and replace the experienced Mr English with Ms Ardern, who in nine years as an MP has neither championed a substantial bill nor served as a minister. For eight years under Mr Key, Mr English was the highly successful finance minister. Unemployment fell and the budget returned to surplus. He was a crucial member of a government that tackled the difficult and unpopular welfare reforms Australia needs but has not been able to achieve. As our experience shows, good economic management cannot be taken for granted. Mr English has shown skill and perseverance in helping New Zealand get to an enviable position.
Australia has drifted for the last nine years or so as it has been unable to gets the books balanced.
Ms Ardern — a staff member for former prime minister Helen Clark and briefly a president of the International Union of Socialist Youth — is promising big spending, including phasing in three years of free tertiary education. She also has shown political nous. Labour’s surge owes much to its hardline stance on immigration, with a promise to cut arrivals by 30,000 a year and ban nonresident foreigners buying homes. Much is at stake in a close race, but Australia’s experience since 2007 should remind Kiwis that seemingly safe changes in government can have lasting and costly impacts.
It was 2007 that saw Kevin Rudd elected!
New Zealand has provided a beacon of sensible government in an increasingly mad world. Yet, in 2008, when National’s John Key became prime minister, New Zealand was headed into recession, burdened by heavy government debt and deficits in perpetuity, and with a collapsed non-bank finance sector. In contrast, Australia had no central government debt, budget surpluses and manna from China-fuelled mining boom. Almost unbelievably, a decade later and after two major earthquakes across the ditch, the positions are reversed.
Just think about that last line.
But New Zealand Labour vows to re-regulate the labour market toward the Australian model through industry-wide union bargaining. Labour is making sceptical noises about free trade deals that give New Zealand business – and workers – a bigger global market to sell into. Ms Ardern’s populist Jeremy Corbyn-style promise to get rid of university fees would likely require higher income taxes, further dulling work incentives. To cover this up, Labour talks of watering down the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s commitment to low inflation and the central bank governor’s control over official interest rates.
It is a bad combination.
Yet National’s fiscal stewardship under Mr English has been impressive enough that even Labour’s shadow finance minister Grant Robertson admits in today’s pages that he has done a good job.
Yet Grant criticised and complained about everything National did when they did it. He opposed every single piece of spending restraint.
It would be sheer folly for New Zealanders not to elect Mr English and the National Party to a fourth term. With all the madness, dysfunction and anti-business law-making emanating from Canberra, New Zealanders have a chance to press home their competitive advantage by re-electing a government that has shown it knows how to properly govern.
I guess if Labour get elected it will reduce housing pressures, as more Kiwis will flee to Australia!