Liam Dann 's Opinion

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann: Has business lost appetite for change?

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Thumbs-up suggest commercial leaders are no longer hungry for radical moves.

People talk about the demise of the old-Left, but the resounding thumbs-up for this 2014 Budget suggests business is no longer hungry for radical change. Photo / Mark Mitchell
People talk about the demise of the old-Left, but the resounding thumbs-up for this 2014 Budget suggests business is no longer hungry for radical change. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Have our business leaders gone soft? Or are they just very cautious about ensuring the National Government gets a good run back to power in September?

It won't be a revelation to anyone that business likes this Budget. Getting the books back into surplus has been a huge hit and Bill English has been widely applauded for his prudence.

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But given the "steady as she goes" theme and the sprinkling of Labour-lite social policy it is surprising just how few we've heard calling for further economic reform.

People talk about the demise of the old-Left, but the resounding thumbs-up for this document suggests business is no longer hungry for radical change, at least not the way it was a decade ago - and certainly not publicly.

Where there are still calls for more dramatic policy moves they tend to come from the left of the business spectrum. The likes of John Walley and the NZ Manufacturers and Exporters Association certainly didn't rate this English effort, but they have interventionist views on monetary policy.

There are some nagging doubts coming thorough in the commentary from the mainstream of the business community, chief among them is that we are failing to tackle the burden of the ageing population and future superannuation costs.

Perhaps there is a feeling that the Bill English formula doesn't go far enough to tackle the big challenges, that the track it keeps us on is unambitious. But the voices of the old school Roundtable are a distant echo.

Bob Jones will be wondering whether he needs to start a new political party just to get these lefty Nats out of power.

- NZ Herald

Liam Dann

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann is the Business editor of the New Zealand Herald, overseeing all our business content in print and online. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy.

Read more by Liam Dann

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