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Where’s the beef, Helen?


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The NZ Herald reports Helen Clark announcing a plan to meet the economic crisis enveloping the world.

Leaving aside her announcement of a bank deposit insurance scheme, which has seemed inevitable for some days now, though Adam would like to know who will pay for the insurance. We will focus on the rest of what was said, which raises some significant questions.

Clark, said:-

that New Zealand was better placed than many other nations amid the financial crisis, which she credited to Michael Cullen’s stewardship.

Cullen over taxed, spent unwisely and was lucky the economic cycle favoured him, but anything else is just not credible.

Apparently Cullen will announce some detailed economic policy this coming week.

Adam can hardly wait.

Specifically Clark said Labour would:-

* Add 1000 places to the Modern Apprentices Scheme;

* Lift the target for people in industry training to 10 percent of the workforce;

* Introduce a new retraining allowance on the same basis as a student allowance but no income test, for redundant workers;

* Introduce another retraining allowance for those who have worked for 10 years who want to upgrade skills or retrain.

Given that PREFU revealed a mess and no scope for new spending, is Labour going to cut existing spending?

Are they going to borrow for these programmes?

Is Treasury magically going to find the money?

Or will these programmes be for 2011 and beyond?

In any event what will they do to solve the problem. Not a lot.

Clark went on to say:-

Should economic conditions worsen, the Government would set out steps to reignite the economy in a December economic statement

That really fills Adam with confidence and excitement.

If necessary Labour will bring forward infrastructure spending in areas like road and rail construction projects, local government sewerage treatment projects, school property investment and back country catchments and afforestation.”

All very Keynesian and not a world away from what Bill English said on Agenda this morning.

Indeed both major parties seem to be taking a Keynesian response.

But Adam wants to know how Labour would pay for the costs of this investment?

Further if this investment is so beneficial why was it not done over the last 9 years?

Miss Clark said a housing policy to be released soon and those investments would ensure jobs.

Again how is such a policy to be paid for.

Why do we not see or hear the MSM questioning Labour on these issues?

Implicitly Labour has to either cut spending, or borrow to do this.

Why when Labour does this is it saintly, but when National does this it is satanic?

There needs to be rigourous examination by the media of Labour’s plans and where it intends to get the money, especially as after PREFU it is clear they have not managed the country’s finances well.

Clark said:-

“Central to our vision for a strong economy is a plan focusing on six critical drivers of economic growth. Labour will also bring forward significant infrastructure spending if necessary in order to secure real jobs.”

The drivers were education and skills training, innovation, boosting exports, sustainability, infrastructure and savings.

Words, just words , we need a proper plan.

We need to see substance and detail. Particularly from Labour, because arguably they should have been doing this for the last 9 years. Boosting exports in a global recession, how on earth are they going to do that?

Sustainability, all very well but the ETS will add materially to costs, at a time when it is likely that all countries will be looking to cut costs?

Education and training we have heard that before, along with innovation – Knowledge Wave anyone!

Upper half of the OECD remember that?

If our productivity growth had been exemplary in the last 9 years it would be more credible. Instead we expanded the core public service and wasted money on Working for Families.

Nothing new here, mere platitudes from Clark – especially as much of this should have been done previously.

Again Adam remembers this:-

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