As we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021, it's a good time to catch up on the very best of the Herald columnists we enjoyed reading over the last 12 months. From politics to sport, from business to entertainment and lifestyle, these are the voices and views our audience loved the most. Today it's the top three from Steven Joyce.
NZ's disconnect with the world
World growth is down 8 per cent on what was expected a year ago.
Huge job-rich service industries like travel, tourism and education have been decimated across the globe, including back here in New Zealand where what remains of our national airline has laid off hundreds of staff, and plans to lay off many more.
And yet, here at home, it can seem sometimes like none of this is happening.
Much of our economy appears to be going absolute gangbusters. House prices are smashing records. People are queuing up to buy them anywhere in the country at almost any price, sometimes sight unseen. Construction firms are flat out. Share prices are near record highs. People are buying new cars, household appliances, and even golfing equipment like there is no tomorrow.
The disconnect between the way the world is, and the way we all are behaving, is huge.
Focus on growth, not the property bubble
All the heat and light around housing is unfortunately missing the target. The latest house price bubble in New Zealand is not caused by housing policy — it is a symptom of a much wider issue.
We can therefore talk about housing until we are blue in the face. There is not a single change in housing policy right now that will stop the rise in house prices.
While freeing up more land is always helpful in the medium term, most of the hackneyed housing ideas making the rounds are like doing the proverbial into the wind. Or worse.
Heads should have rolled as border damage spreads far and wide
Safely managing the border of a small isolated country during Covid-19 while at the same time minimising the impact on people's jobs and livelihoods was always going to be a balancing act. Success relies on a huge amount of public trust and confidence.
The public needs to be able to trust that what ministers and officials say is happening, is in fact happening. And when relatively routine questions are asked, for those same politicians and officials to not spend days and days fudging the answer. All that does is tell people you had no idea what was happening in the first place.