“Kicking the Tyres” is the John Key/Steven Joyce/Crosby Textor phrase du jour. Anything the government is doing from mining to MMP to asset sales to student loans gets the ‘tyre kicking’ into action.
Its funny when I was growing up a ‘tyre kicker’ was someone who had no idea about a car or how it worked, so they kicked the tyres in a pointless and desperate attempt to look like they knew what they were doing. Sounds about right. Of course for the Nats its about making sure that they dont do anything to risk a scrap of popularity or offend anyone.
But I have also noticed a related tactic- feigned empathy. This is where you show concern for someone’s plight or give them an encouraging word, and then do precisely nothing to help them. This might sound harsh, and I am sure National MPs have genuine concern, but if you are not prepared to do anything concrete, then for me it amounts to feigned empathy.
Last night we saw this at its worst with the response to Carol Beaumont’s Bill to curb loan sharks. Speaker after speaker from the Nats got up and told us how much they felt for people who fell victim to out of control debt, but they were not prepared to actually do something about it, by voting the Bill through to Select Committee. No real reasons were given (they are reviewing the law so we should all wait and see seemed to be the main argument). It was shameful politicing to stop Carol and Labour being seen to ‘win” something. Privately a number of National MPs are embarrased by the approach.
When it comes to the economy , if we combine John Key being “relaxed” about everything with ‘Kicking the Tyres’ it means the country has no economic plan, no step change, no “aspiration”. Is tyre kicking the extent of John Key’s ”ambition for New Zealand.”? It has gone on long enough. Its time for the government to stop kicking the tyres and actually put some petrol in the car.