We are all hoping for a better year in 2011. I want to be optimistic about it, but there’s some 2010 issues that are not going to go away (and nor should they) just because it’s 2011.
I believe they will test the government even more this year and John Key’s smile and wave response to the max. None of them will surprise you, but feel free to add more.
- Pike River Coal Mine disaster : The sadness and anger at the loss of lives will continue through 2011 as the inquiry picks its way through the tragedy of 29 dead miners. The now jobless West Coasters will do it hard. Answers to some tough questions will be demanded and it won’t be pretty.
- Canterbury Earthquake – Many Christchurch families are still struggling in temporary accommodation, businesses are still going broke and workers losing their jobs. 8000 EQC claims have been turned down and the Xmas aftershocks won’t have helped. Great to be heroes in the immediate aftermath, but we’re into the hard stuff now. The government will be pushed a lot more about its support to the region.
- Employment law changes : – rammed through under urgency, with still many questions unanswered about the impact of the law. Every day I hear a story of worker dumped under a 90 day trial period and once it applies to everyone from 1 April, look out. We still don’t know why the Minister chose to ignore Cabinet advice that there shouldn’t be any access restrictions where health and safety is involved – the Minister may well regret this.
- The Hobbit – if the government thinks no-one noticed that it sold out a whole category of workers to please an American company, it’s got another think coming. Complaint to the ILO anyone?
- A tanking economy – with pre Xmas redundancies in the Wood and Meat Industries. But the government has little faith in our NZ workforce and is unprepared to invest in NZ jobs so that instead we have China making new locomotives for New Zealand use, putting good jobs on the line in Dunedin’s Railway workshops.
- Cost of living increases, already being harshly felt by those with the least. The tax cuts (for those who got them) will have receded in voter’s minds and austerity will become a word the government uses as its excuse for poor economic management and no plan.
- ACC changes legislated for earlier in 2010 now having an impact. The scandal around sensitive claims was one thing, but more claims will be denied due to “degenerative disease” and the impact of the 6% threshold for hearing loss claims will hit the headlines. Privatisation on the election agenda.
- Cuts to Early Childhood Education – just starting to be felt in late 2010 with more to come in early 2011. Families are already grumpy about this, but the government hasn’t seen the half of it.
And before any of you ask, what’s Labour going to do, I think Phil Goff said it very succinctly in his NZ Herald interview yesterday :
We’re looking at active management of the New Zealand economy to perform better for New Zealanders, to lift wages and to create jobs, none of which the Government has done. We are looking at other small countries that have done so much better than New Zealand in their economic development – Denmark, Finland, Singapore, Israel – smart economies. We will be looking at skill development, at R&D, at better savings and investment track records and being a clean, green clever economy, by contrast to what the Government has done. The closer we get to the election, the more you’ll see the detail, but a lot of that will be in the broad campaign period, the last three months.
Happy New Year – I really mean it. Rest up for a little longer if you can, because there’s a lot of work to do.