Hey John, I'm still waiting for our great National cycle trail.
After the global financial crisis hit, the Prime Minister called a summit in 2009 of important people to brainstorm ideas to buoy our economy and create jobs in difficult times. A big bold idea that he suggested was a national cycle trail.
It would provide a financial stimulus to the nation and spread the benefits throughout the country. It would create jobs in the regions and boost tourism to our shores. It was a great idea. It quickly dissolved into local regions being left to do their own thing. To be fair, the National Cycle Trail did directly create jobs. In 2011 staff were cut from 7 to 3. It was marvellous spin. The spin really hasn't stopped.
When our exchange rate was high, Mr English described this as a vote of confidence by the rest of the world in the soundness of our government's financial management. When the kiwi dollar almost gained parity with the Aussie some pundits, including the noted economist Mike Hoskings, highlighted this as evidence we were overtaking our neighbours in economic prosperity.
Now the kiwi is dropping against other currencies. This is apparently the long-awaited rebalancing. It is allowing exporters who struggled with the high exchange rate to finally prosper. Mr English recently pointed out in a Q and A program that a lower exchange rate will be a big help to exporters.
When the boom in world dairy prices was at its peak this sector was of crucial importance to our economy. Nowadays our political leaders are eager to downplay the importance of dairying to our economy. Mr English said recently we need to be aware that dairying is only 20 per cent of our exports.
World dairy prices have plummeted and the Chinese economy has the wobbles but any mention of the " R" word is ugly self defeating pessimism. We don't mention recessions these days. Slowdowns are far more benign.
Children from poor families are suffering life threatening diseases due to poorly insulated sub standard rental accommodation. Many are going to school hungry. Their parent can do something about it if they are fortunate enough to make the evening news. Mr Key has initiated a costly national debate about a new flag for ourselves.
The Auckland housing bubble continues to inflate. There is absolutely no urgency in collecting hard data about who is buying houses in Auckland. This might require immediate action. Mr Key and Mr English assure us it is entirely a supply issue. Any solutions will be very long term.
The privately run prison established by this government turned into a fight club venue. Some entrepreneurs who set up charter schools are allegedly skimming upwards of 40 per cent off expenses as management fees. Our Prime Minister feels strongly that Richie deserves a knighthood.
The Pike River disaster killed 29 miners. The Prime Minister and his ministers lent their unwavering support to the bereaved families and community. The disaster was a tragic ugly reminder of what can result when profit takes precedence over people. There were universal calls for tougher health and safety measures in our work places. The recent health and safety legislation from this government has been a watered down, poorly constructed fiasco. The government has successfully ensured hasty legislation to allow pubs to keep serving booze in the early morning hours during the rugby World Cup.
The cost of living for essentials such as electricity, accommodation, rates and insurance continues to outpace wage growth. Max seems to have grown into a fine young man and thoroughly enjoyed his recent stint in Hawaii.
That long-awaited budget surplus has yet to materialise despite severe pruning of real government spending. The Conservation Department even resorted to using private shooters to cull bird life on Motutapu Island. They successfully shot four of the very few remaining highly-protected Takahe in existence. The Minister's response was that it was a failed attempt to get more New Zealanders involved in conservation work.
We are living in an age of spin. The Roman leaders gave their people bread and circuses. Sadly we no longer get the bread.
Peter Lyons teaches Economics at Saint Peters College.
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