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Economy : How can we convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work? Labour Leadership Q&A #9

Posted by on September 12th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 9

Economy : How will you convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work?

Question : How can we get the voting public to believe that the present economic thinking has failed? And that Labour’s ideas will work for them?

Submitted by : Angie Croft, Christchurch


Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.



Answer from Grant Robertson

We have to relate our economic vision to the reality of everyday lives.

This means an economy where people come before money. Where the centerpiece is full employment- decent jobs paying decent wages.

We need to talk about Labour using the power of government to help create a productive economy, not one like National’s that is based on speculation and selling off assets.

To create this economy we cannot tinker at the edges. We have to leave behind the neo liberal agenda and create a Labour way. This means changing the settings of monetary policy, giving Kiwi firms a fair go at government contracts, lifting wages, reducing power prices, building affordable homes and investing in industry and regional development.

The message from Labour must be, the economy will work for all New Zealanders not just John Key’s mates.


Answer from David Cunliffe

We need to be clear that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) blew the lid off the myth that trickle-down economics will create a fairer, more prosperous New Zealand.

Free markets left to their own devices are ultimately destructive of human well-being. Unregulated markets tend towards monopolies and often concentrate vast wealth in the hands of a few. Neither outcome is sustainable or morally right.

When National says they are going to cut people’s legs off, Kiwis don’t want to hear that Labour will too, just nearer the ankles and with more anaesthetic. The post-GFC modern social democratic alternative must include:

• using the power of the state to intervene when markets fail;

• guaranteeing fair workplaces and decent wages through employment laws, including industry standard agreements;

• lifting the minimum wage to $15 and rolling out a living wage as fast as can be afforded;

• building new partnerships between communities, regions, industries and an empowering and investing State; and

• revised marco-economic settings that do not solely focus on inflation but include growth, employment, and our external balance.

New Zealand desperately needs change.

The next Labour Government mustn’t be more of the same.

I am offering Labour a bold economic agenda and leadership with the vision and economic credibility to see it through.


Answer from Shane Jones

Our ideas are exciting. We will use both the market and the State.

I am convinced that our tax system can be refined to incentivise and expedite fresh investment.

Industry will be actively supported, regional development will be promoted and in special cases underwritten.

Our mix of economic stewardship and equity is desperately needed throughout NZ.

I have the experience and the communication skills to sell this narrative.


Tertiary education is an investment

Posted by on June 30th, 2012

Looking through the budget papers released today, I found myself wondering again at the lack of vision in the recent budget.

The adage that ‘a zero budget is what you get when you’re economy is failing’ rings true in the context of the documents. There is no vision for a better society and no credible plan to address the fundamental problems with our economy.

Amidst the budget papers Treasury has provided (some would say predictable) advice on reintroducing interest on student loans.  It could be argued that this is Treasury’s prerogative – and it is.  But generally Ministers will tell officials beforehand if they’re wasting their time – and energy will be put into more productive tasks.  I expect the advice released signals that National Ministers have been actively considering putting interest back on student loans.

National have never liked the interest-free student loan policy that Labour introduced, and have added an ‘administration fee’ since coming to government.  They’ve cut access to student allowances.  Generally, they’re not afraid to restrict access to those with aspirations who are from poorer backgrounds and are otherwise unable to afford to study.  That is because National see education as a cost rather than an investment.

More fool them.

A treasure of an interview

Posted by on May 29th, 2011

Outgoing Treasury secretary John Whitehead gave an extraordinary and revealing interview on Q + A this morning.

First, challenged by Guyon Espiner on the 170,000 jobs/4 percent p.a growth forecasts, he claimed Treasury had a second to none record for such predictions. The Parliamentary Library confirmed for me this week that Treasury has got its growth forecasts wrong for 28 of the last 30 quarters. (Sure some differences are minor but some are .5% or even 1%+ out)

 Secondly, he confirmed that Treasury had supported Michael Cullen in building surpluses rather than giving tax cuts and that these stood us in good stead for the current downturn. (So much for National’s continuing rhetoric about Labour’s economic mismanagement.)

 Then he talked about Treasury’s concerns about growing inequality in New Zealand (we are now lag at 26th in the OECD on this measure). What has this Government done to address inequality – tax cuts skewed to those on high incomes? Increased GST? Assets sales?

 And Dr Whitehead talked about how the way to address inequality is lifting skills. We’ve just had a budget that cuts such funding by $90m.

 Finally, he defended state asset sales as a way to boost wealth. For whom?

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