Hartwich on how NZ lost its mojo

Oliver Hartwich writes:

With a depressingly high road toll, the government has embarked on a “Road to Zero” campaign. Its ambitious goal: no more deaths or serious injuries by 2050. The promotional awareness campaign will cost $15 million over three years.

Yet, as RNZ found out, since 2018 NZTA has installed less than a fifth of the road-safety barriers due by 2024.

Think if they spent more money on road safety barriers and less on advertising!

As of June 2021, NZTA employed about 2,081 staff. That figure was 1,372 only four years earlier.

Staff growth at NZTA did not mainly take place on the frontline. HR workers went from 57 to 122 full-time equivalents; managers from 214 to 456; accountants from 44 to 66; admin staff from 307 to 485; and communications officers from 32 to 88. None of those mentioned above will ever install a bollard, put up a road sign, or fix a pothole.

In so many areas we have seen a huge increase in costs, but no increase in performance or outcomes.

Housing was one of the big issues in the 2017 election campaign. At the time, promised to fix the housing market, reduce homelessness, and build 100,000 affordable KiwiBuild homes over the next decade.

The results after five years? house prices have grown by almost 8.7 per annum on average. Emergency Housing Grants, which were below $10 million per quarter in 2017, now exceed $100 million. And KiwiBuild, so far, has delivered just over 1,300 homes – with only 98,700 to go.

The Government should hits its target around the year 2305. According to Star Trek that will be around 12 years after James Tiberius Kirk dies, so not even Captain Kirk will be around to see the celebration.

Reading and literacy have dropped dramatically in the OECD’s PISA rankings. The mathematics skills of ’s 15-year-olds are only as good as those of 13.5-year-olds 20 years ago. Despite an increase in education spending per student, more than 40 per cent of school leavers are functionally illiterate or innumerate.

Aside from such big policy failures, New Zealanders are bombarded with worrying news daily. There are GPs reportedly seeing more than 60 patients per day. Patients are treated in corridors at some hospitals’ A & E departments, where waiting times now often exceed ten hours.

As gang numbers have grown, gun crime has also become a regular feature in news headlines. Ram raids, where youths steal cars and crash them into small shops, have become common.

But look apart from housing, education, health and crime, everything is great.

Rather than dealing with these and many other issues, the government appears determined to add new challenges to doing business. It is about to introduce collective bargaining in the market and an extra tax on income to fund unemployment insurance.

Yep every employer and employee in NZ will have to pay up to $1,800 a year so people can get paid $600 a week not to work for six months.

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