New leader, same old policies

By Chester Borrows

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David Cunliffe on the campaign trail that brought him the Labour leadership on Sunday.  PHOTO/APN
David Cunliffe on the campaign trail that brought him the Labour leadership on Sunday. PHOTO/APN

Well, there you go - we have a new Labour leader and all seems right with the world again.

The fact that most hadn't noticed, and that the near-capsize of the Emirates Team NZ boat in the America's Cup led the news is probably an omen, but for now the deal is done.

For political junkies like me, it will be a very interesting watch to see how positions and ranking within the caucus unfold, but I doubt if many others will notice or care - least of all the dyed-in-the-wool Labour voter.

What we would notice in our electorate would be the effect on our local economy if David Cunliffe were to become prime minister. Consider the impact on a rural electorate that relies heavily on agriculture for its job market, either on farm or in processing off-farm product.

My colleague Shane Ardern has done work adding up the cost of all the new taxes, levies and fees a Labour/Green government has promised (even before their recent lolly-scramble of promises), and the added taxes and associated costs of increased personal taxes, company taxes, capital gains tax, carbon and environmental taxes means the average dairy farm will pay $3000 per week, and the average sheep and beef unit $1000 per week.

Those costs will get sheeted straight back on to the consumer who, in the end, pays for all cost increases.

Now we have promises from David Cunliffe to buy back 49 per cent of any partially sold assets and the promise of a living wage, leaving one to wonder just how many jobs would remain in the industrial centres of Whanganui and South Taranaki.

It is not that a living wage is not being paid now in those industries but the ratcheting up of other wages to reflect the increase in the minimum wage from $13.75 to $18.40 per hour.

The associated losses to family support, accommodation supplements and other government aid to households would mean many in receipt of the new pay packet may well find that, overall, they are worse off.

The increased costs to small business would mean jobs would go, doors would shut, and unemployment queues would grow. Given the time-and-a-half and a day in lieu public holiday deal Labour brought in when last in government, the local dairy, cafe, or bookshop would have to find $64.40 every hour for every staff member just to pay wages on those days.

This is ignoring the need to keep the lights on, replacing stock, clean the windows, or any of the other non-staff costs of running a small retailer. Picture the empty shops up the main streets of Wanganui, Hawera, Opunake, and Eltham.

Meanwhile, back in the Labour caucus they are coming to terms with a successful leadership contender who has made all these promises without first running them past the party. I'll bet those on the backbench are pretty miffed that all the lollies in the lolly-scramble were given away without any consultation.

Everybody knows the competing slogans in every election are "time for a change" versus "don't put it all at risk". Under this Labour leader, the risk will be that everyone will be taxed more, will pay more, earn less, and so buy less.

That will only hurt the people of the Whanganui electorate, be they factory worker, shop assistant, panel beater, policeman, publican or priest.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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