Saturday, January 29, 2005

Great non-events of our time

I've been planning on posting about Brash's speech for a couple of days, but really, it just hasn't felt that consequential.

In fact, the only remotely interesting thing to have arisen from the speech was the degree of internal division within the Party over the leadership's increasingly hard turn to the extreme right. Katherine Rich's refusal to back Brash's speech is utterly astonishing. This isn't some politically naive, wet behind the ears backbencher we're talking about here. This is the number five ranked MP in the National caucus, who holds the very portfolio that her leader's comments concern. It would be like Annette King and the PM publicly scrapping over hospital funding. Make no mistake, Brash's approach of making policy on the hoof, over-riding party process, and apparently consultation with key colleagues, will damage National's internal cohesion.

And what of the speech itself - well, it was all predicatable, possibly with the exception of the appalling suggestion that young solo-mother's should be adopting out their newborn children. This from the a Party that claims it is concerned with 'family values'!

While I expect the prospect of a populist hardline welfare policy to attract some short-term support to the Nats, there is simply nothing for the whole thing to latch on to. Consider:

- more New Zealanders in work than ever before. Unemployment at 3.8% compared to 7% under National.
- Declining number on most benefits such as the DPB
- Successful and positive programmes like industry training and modern apprenticeships moving people into the workforce under Labour
- The introduction of tailored case management to move people into work under Labour
- The Working for Families package which will ensure that beneficiaries will always be financially better off if they move into work.

What is the huge problem that Brash is addressing, and how in any case is his approach essentially different from failed 1990s policies such as work for the dole that did not reduce welfare numbers?

I must also comment on the laughability of Brash attacking the poorest New Zealanders as ripping off the system. Next time he sits down for a sherry with some of his Business Roundtable mates from the major trading banks he may want to ask them how much tax their companies pay. Nine percent was a recent estimate.

Who's ripping off the system at the expense of ordinary kiwi's?


stef said...

Yaaaaaaaaaaawn am I the only one who thinks that these state of the nation speeches by brash are nothing more than media hyped boredom?

span said...

ye gads stef, you picked up on that from Korea yet soooooo many people right here haven't. you should have seen the herald in the two weeks before his speech - it was almost as if there wasn't anything else happening.