It is a bleak, cold winter of our discontent. The All Blacks have lost a home test series against Ireland for the first time. Inflation is running at a whopping 7.3 per cent. The pandemic is still laying many of us low. Woe is us.
The secret to happiness is that it is all an attitude of mind. For example, National's Nicola Willis recently bemoaned the fact an MYOB Consumer Snapshot survey showed a million New Zealanders were considering moving overseas and 200,000 have already made plans to leave. She pointed to the cost-of-living crisis, a collapsing health system, a labour shortage and unaffordable home ownership as the causes of the impending exodus.
Yet I could argue that those factors are the cure for our problems. If a million of us kindly left the country, there would be a huge oversupply of housing and prices would drop dramatically, pressure on the health system would be immediately eased and surely a labour shortage means higher wages for those still here who want to work.
There is an ancient Monty Python song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, which advises, "When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle and this'll help things turn out for the best." I appreciate that the Government cannot march into the debating chamber joyously singing that ditty, but more's the pity. It would make Parliament a lot more cheerful and stop us all getting too depressed by the litany of bad news that comes out during question time.
I should stop reading media releases from National and Act. Chris Bishop sent one pointing out that in the past four years, Kāinga Ora, the government's state housing arm, spent $24 million renovating its offices and hired 1700 additional staff. "Despite this, Kāinga Ora has added just 21 net new state homes in the year from June 2021 to May 2022." Bishop helpfully added that there are 27,000 people on the state house waiting list and "4500 families are living in motels at the cost of $1 million per day".
Labour's media releases are much more upbeat, headed with statements such as "Govt provides more cost of living support" or "Empowering Pacific Aotearoa to achieve home ownership". That latter release was about teaching Pasifika peoples financial literacy, so they can eventually save up for a home; the former was about extending half-price public transport fares and the reductions in fuel excise duty and road-user charges by more than five months. What they are saying here is, to help you to fight the highest inflation since 1990, they won't take quite as much off you – for now.
Because the 25-cents-a-litre cut lasts until January 31, it's hard to see how Labour will ever get rid of it. Hiking the price of petrol in an election year is unlikely to encourage people to vote for you, so I would expect the cut to last at least until the day after polling day.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Halving the price of public transport was a good move by the Government. Except, where I live, we don't have a bus service. Still, all those big city train and bus commuters should be happier now.
There is an argument that, in a city like Auckland, public transport should be free. It would drastically increase patronage and so eliminate the need for much of the massive investment in transport infrastructure that is looming for the city.
I would point out the bright idea of free public transport is unlikely to happen, but I don't want to be "chewing on life's gristle".