Why it is good Labour u-turned

People should celebrate that Labour scrapped or delayed four policies. The reason everyone should be happy about that is that were basically terrible policies. Labour thinks they are great policies, but unpopular. I think they are terrible policies.

Yes Labour will still try to implement most of them if they get a third term. but if they don’t then the policies stay dead, which is a good thing. And while National had said it would scrap them anyway, it is harder to scrap something already implemented – and takes up time and energy which is better spent on implementing your own policies.

So why were the four policies Labour u-turned on bad policies. My summary:

Compulsory Unemployment Insurance

  • The largest tax increase in a generation at $3.5 billion annually
  • Would have reduced family incomes by almost 3% with take home pay for some couples dropping $70 a week
  • Is regressive, giving four time as much money to high income earners as someone on the median wage
  • Would pay people up to $400 a day for six months to not get a job

Biofuels mandate

  • Would increase the cost of fuel by up to 10c a litre
  • Would not reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions at all
  • May increase global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Similar policies in 2008 led to global food prices increasing 75%, pushing 100 million people below the poverty line
  • The amount of grain turned into biofuels could feed 1.9 billion people for a year

RadioNZ/TVNZ merger

  • Was combining a public broadcaster and a commercial broadcaster into an entity which would be neither, and inevitably do both things badly
  • Was likely to reduce media diversity
  • Was going to cost $3 billion over 30 years
  • Would have increased the power of the state over the media

Hate speech law change

  • Could have criminalised legitimate criticism of religions
  • Treated people’s religious beliefs (something people choose to have) the same as innate characteristics such as race, colour and sex.
  • Likely chilling effect on speech as activists would use law to try and get Police investigations of people they disagree with

So again these were all lousy policies that we should not mourn. But we should remember Labour still thinks they’re great policies, they just accept they are unpopular.

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