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The Informer - Sunday 3 December 2000 - #28

The Informer - Sunday 3 December 2000 - #28

Health hiccups

Annette King tried her hardest to spin the Health Bill's rough ride through the House as "MMP in action," but it was abundantly clear that Labour cocked up the passing of such keynote legislation. Labour's relationship with the Greens hit an all time low, as the Green's refused to play lobby fodder.
With the wrath of Michael Cullen unleashed, the temper tantrums were enough to make Rod Donald's possum skin tie curl up in a ball. Further humiliation for Cullen and King came when Helen had to step in and try and sort out the mess.
National's health spokespeople; Wyatt Creech, Dr Hutchison and Dr Scott; can be pleased with their performances in the House, scoring National some significant concessions. As well as ensuring the new system is more transparent and accountable, National's amendments include the establishment of a committee to look at the control of diseases and mortality issues.
Many of the Government's health problems last week can be traced back to their inept management of the Bill at select committee.

Long-term concerns

The recent OECD report represents a balanced assessment of New Zealand's history and future. While acknowledging the fact that growth looks set to rebound in the short-term on the back of the weak exchange rate and higher commodity prices, there are real concerns about our long-term economic prospects. The OECD makes the point that given our place in the world, policy in New Zealand needs to be better than everyone else to attract (and indeed retain) investment and people with skills. Recent policy changes have been so far removed from current economic orthodoxy that we have lost our lustre and as a result our economic performance will lag behind. This is a clear message to the Government about where the intent of policy needs to be: lifting the relative performance of the New Zealand economy. The most important gap to close is that between New Zealand's economic performance and that of the countries we aspire to be like. In closing that gap, other gaps will take care of themselves.

No holiday, we're kiwis

Informer presumes that handsome (according to not-so-secret admirer Margaret Wilson) Social Services Minister Steve Maharey won't be queuing up to greet the Queen during her 2001 Royal Tour.
Steve was quick off the mark to squash any suggestions that New Zealand would mark the Queen's 50th anniversary in June 2002 with a national holiday, as Britain is doing.
However he may regret taking such a hard line. The prospect of giving New Zealanders a "feel good" day off may not seem such a bad idea to Labour as it heads into election year.
National has submitted written questions about next year's Royal Tour. It will be interesting to see which Government MPs will be hanging round for the photo opportunities. David Cunliffe springs to mind as a likely frontrunner for the 'shameless publicity hound' honours.

No increase predicted

The Reserve Bank delivers its December Monetary Policy Statement on Wednesday. The smart money is on no increase in interest rates next week, but the market consensus is that we will still see higher rates early next year. The RB's last MPS highlighted the degree of uncertainty around the economic outlook when they outlined three possible scenarios for the economy. While they are probably more comfortable about the outlook for growth domestically, a new uncertainty has emerged - the outlook for the global economy. At the same time all inflation indicators are pointing higher. But remember - the tightening cycle is already 2 percentage points old. They can afford to wait.

Defence on-line

The recently held Defence Policy Seminar, organised by Dr Wayne Mapp, was very successful, with invaluable input from Australian Senator Sandy Macdonald, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade Legislation Committee.
Permanent defence staff may have unfairly been banned from attending, but they now have an opportunity to keep up with the debates and National's thinking via the website

Road trip success

National's On the Road tour has been well received with good numbers turning out to breakfast functions and public meetings, and local media keen to talk to Jenny and other MPs. This week's itinerary includes Whangarei, Hawkes Bay, Tauranga, and Hamilton. For more information about the visits please send us an email at

Quotes of the Week

"I've appealed for calm and reason and tolerance in the festive season" - Helen Clark tries soothing words during the health debacle to relax her warring MPs.

"Just four months ago Dr Cullen ruled out lump sums for mental injury because of the high costs. His backtrack is a win for the Alliance and will be alarming for business" - Gerry Brownlee on ACC.

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