In Politics as with life It's easy to make promises but a hell of a lot harder to keep them.
I'm not knocking our politicians for having a go and fighting for a better future, I've got nothing against identifying real, significant and factually supported issues. I don't live under a rock and In fairness to the opposition like any country New Zealand has its issues, the fact we don't live in some form of Utopian Island paradise will not come as a surprise to anyone . Also in support of our politicians most our mainstream (this does not include Internet/Mana or those collection of parties no one has heard of) parties seem to have a good grasp of our current and future challenges
Have a good grasp aside from the lefts misrepresentation of some of certain issues for political gain such as child poverty and Income equality which statistics clearly show have not been escalating at the alarmist rates claimed see Figure 1.
While identifying issues and throwing out plans to solve them is at least a start the really important thing is who can actually solving these issues, this is when we see who can keep their promises. In reality this is a lot harder than identifying there are some things that need solving which is often an opposition politicians main skill.
To keep a promise and deliver on an issue a Government or leading Political Party needs to satisfy 3 key prerequisites.
1) It/the Country has the resources financially and in terms of human and natural capital to deliver a policy or framework of policies required to deliver on their bold pre-election promises.
2) A Government also needs the votes in the house, the political capital so to speak to generate enough agreement for the policy to pass with enough teeth to make the desired impact.
3) Once delivered and paid for it has to be an effective policy. We must remember history is littered with attempts by ambitious governments trying to tackle any number of complex issues and failing dismally. This often happens due to the issues either not being as simple to solve as they had thought, unforeseen secondary issues stemming from poor of meddled with policy or quite often the issue is one beyond any governments ability to control.
I could list examples of complete policy failure aimed at solving genuine issues but the NZ Internet doesn't have the bandwidth to cope with the infinitely long list. One which springs to mind though is prohibition. A great example of thinking issues are simple enough to simply solve with the wave of a political wand. The government at the time took to a long standing and complex demand side issue with an overly simplistic supply side solution (we are verging at times on repeating this mistake again in the same area). On this occasion a government made a bold promise to solve boozing related issues this promise was believed by the public and after implementation found to be a disaster despite the best of intentions.
So back to 2014.
Its easy for Labour the Greens, Internet Mana, NZ First, The Conservatives etc to make promises to complete their political homework post the election. They have I'm sure the best intentions as I had with my homework but can they actually do it ?
Firstly Does New Zealand have resources to fund the large suite of bold social, environmental and economic promises made by some of our political parties?
Some would say we can raise the revenue to easily by increasing taxes in some areas, sounds so simple! But Is it that simple to just increase taxes by XY and expect Z in return as extra revenue ?
Will people not modify their behavior as most research and common sense would dictate ? Infometrics certainly thought so when it took a look at the Greens Tax policy. "Our second more substantial concern is that the estimates make no allowance for behavioural responses to the tax change." Infometrics Fiscal impact of Green Party policies August 2014.
Will the economy carry on growing without the same level of openness to foreign capital, skilled immigrant labour and free trade or without the ability to continue to utilise our mineral resources?
Will these left wing polices which have the best intentions actually create unintentional secondary effects such as slowing economic growth, decreased trade and investment, retaliation by counties who are restricted in their freedoms when interacting with NZ and reduced tax take due to the above mentioned reasons and behavioural modification by tax payers less than enthused with an extra bill at the end of the year ?
Will the environmental protection and restoration polices of the Green Party not at least in the short to medium term constrain investment and growth in some of our highest earning sectors ? How will this affect our ability to pay for the polices themselves.
Assuming by some miracle a new leftist Government can pay for all of their bold promises (the miracle most likely needing to be borrowing when it turns out the tax payers cannot be squeezed any further) can they agree on which policies to implement and what will they look like after being tossed around in the poltical washing machine being dragged in all directions by a disorganised coalition?
Does Labour as a potential coalition leader have the political capital to avoid having to concede to the Greens around free trade and mineral exploration? What role will Kim.com and whiskey swilling Winnie play? National with a small focused coalition had to make concessions and delay legislation after securing the highest vote in memory what hope does Labour have at what looks even for them a barely attainable 30% ?
At this Stage the first two prerequisites for being able to deliver on those pre election promises are looking shaky at best.
Thirdly are the so called policies if paid for and passed through the house going to work ? Can the Government simply legislate and intervene to fix all our issues ? Is it realistic or even fair to expect them to? Will any law change human behaviour to the extent that binge drinking disappears, or the extent that everyone tries hard at and school and carries this ethic into the workplace ?
Can we simply wave a political wand and bring the Kiwi dollar down or stop parents buying smokes instead of food for the family? If it was that easy wouldn't Labour have done it last time when the coffers are bulging with all our hard earned money ?
Can we believe that Russell Norman and David Parker posses the economic skill and financial expertise to run a our economy? These are two people who believe that raising the minimum wage, removing trial periods, enforcing 4 week redundancies and the like will increase employment opportunities for the young and those at the margins of employment? These employment polices coupled with reducing primary sector growth via emissions regulations, water regulations and reduced free trade? How many of you who own a business would hire more staff or be as optimistic about our growth prospects under those conditions ?
Would you instead rather trust a very experienced politician labeled as the best finance minister in the world by some who had stewarded the economy through some of the worst upheaval in living memory with the GFC and Christchurch Earthquake? Would you not be feeling safer knowing he was teamed up with another cleaver Kiwi who carved a very successful career in finance that placed him on our rich list after growing up in a state house? It's like asking would you pick Richie as our captain or replace him with the Auckland Marist Senior C's vice captain and that guy who watches the game from over the fence with his flagon in a brown bag yelling out barley audible encouragement to both sides?
While I do not doubt the promises sound impressive nor do I question the intent of the opposition or their genuine desire to see a better NZ but it all falls down when you look at the credibility of being able to provide us with the Utopian paradise they describe.
There is no substitute for reality and unfortunately just like my teachers at school if you choose to believe in the promises of the opposition this time around you will wind up disappointed and it will be too late to do anything about it for another 3 years.
It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you inhabit , what ideologies you carry there is just no realm on this earth where we end up better off under a coalition of the left because they cannot fund their promises, cannot agree on the best course of action between them and even if pigs fly and the above mentioned realism's are forgotten their policy's just won't work in the real world.
Our Country's not perfect neither are National but the alternative is just not a credible at all.
Subscribe to updates below