I do not stand for John Key’s defeatist talk

I’ve heard it all before. In the 1980s, the New Zealand Government promised that, with the introduction of Goods and Services’ Tax (GST), people would be better off, because it would mean more money in our pockets.
   With the proposal to hike GST to 15 per cent under the current government, Prime Minister John Key is singing a similar tune: that somehow, this will be better for us, offset by a reduction in income tax.
   It’s the same tune that was sung 25 years ago by another technocratic government, clueless on actually how to grow the economy without stealing from the general public.
   Economies are grown through innovation and creating circumstances that allow that to happen, which was what the National Party promised with its broadband strategy. We’ve since heard less about that and more about putting some cycle tracks through the country for tourists—all short-term projects from people who have never had to start a long-term business in their lives.
   Unemployment is now up to 7·3 per cent. Before you say it’s not that bad compared with overseas, it’s still pretty terrible. It’s why this has been the core of a lot of my mayoral campaign messages: we need to get unemployment down. How? By creating the environment through which innovation can be fostered.
   In Wellington, that means building on the creative and technological clusters people have been creating. What this city should have in the next three years is a mayor and council that support this—because it is in the national interest.
   When Dr Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank, said we should not bother trying to match Australia’s standard of living by 2025 because we lacked the natural resources, I was shocked at what I would call a defeatist attitude—one that the PM seems to share with trying to take from everyday New Zealanders.
   I hope that Dr Bollard can inform me of the context, as I was out of the country when he made his statement on television.
   But I will say that we already are among the most innovative people in the world, both out of our natural creativity and out of necessity.
   We also know that economies are built on industry clusters—something that already exists in Wellington and needs just enough encouragement from a supportive mayor and council.
   We also know that in the 21st century, trying to grow an economy based around primary products and natural resources is an outmoded idea. They are important, of course, and New Zealand will always need a vibrant primary sector, but the real growth is in intellectual capital—something which people in national politics seem to lack.
   What we don’t have are enough people seeking public office who can see this. People who want to grow the economy. People who believe enough in the intelligence and innovation of New Zealanders.
   Well, I believe in us, and I believe in our potential. I also don’t believe in robbing everyday New Zealanders of their hard-earned cash.
   While some rates’ increases are already planned by this current administration, let us try to minimize future increases by creating real businesses for Wellington, and for this city.
   Let’s also show the defeatists that they are yesterday’s men. We know better, and we can do better.

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6 thoughts on “I do not stand for John Key’s defeatist talk

  1. I reckon I can do more for the country by helping one city. National politics is slow and unresponsive for the most part, IMO.

  2. Although I’m a property owner and consumer who pays GST, I broadly support the suggestions proposed by the Tax Working Group. The current settings are distortionary and work against attracting investment into the creative and technological sectors that you mentioned.

    I do agree with you that Mr Key, a former financial trader, is not the right person to conceptualise and drive meaningful growth in the economy. It annoys me that it seems like there is no shortage of funding to get white elephant rugby stadiums and “party central” built in Auckland, whilst financial assistance for technology startup businesses is virtually non-existent.

    Regarding Bollard’s comments however, he does have a point. You can’t compare pears with apples and I believe Key is misguided in proposing “catching up with Australia” as a populist call to action. I will publish an article next week explaining why.

    Jack I really hope you get the opportunity to play a part in our city’s future. Leveraging our intellectual capital and our natural environmental attributes is the only way forward.

  3. Paul, excellent points The Working Group’s paper does bear more reading and I admit I only glanced over a summary at the time.
       I am disappointed by Mr Key. While today’s speech was not meant to be ground-breaking, I also did not expect to be disappointed. However, it means that he wishes to shift the burden of creating a technological and creative city to local government, and it is a task I am happy to take on.
       Regarding Dr Bollard, he is right on a broad macroeconomic level and that is why I made one reservation about context. I didn’t watch the entire interview since I was still travelling.
       Thank you for your good wishes, Paul. I look forward to your article next week, and to learning more.

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