Plain English: Rip Van Winkle Wakes Up
22 September 2006
Rip Van Winkle Wakes Up
Last week Alan Bollard woke up from his long sleep
through rising inflation. Financial Markets were surprised
when Dr Bollard indicated that another increase in interest
rates is possible. Bollard and Cullen have both believed
they found a way to keep interest rates low while inflation
and public spending ran rampant in a growing economy. They
might be smart guys, but no-one is that smart. The country
is about to pay the price for this illusion. Either we will
have persistent 4% inflation, which is very bad for savers
exporters and wage earners, or we have a dose of higher yet
interest rates. Either way, Dr Cullen's dream of a rising
economy in election year is fading.
It's the Economy Stupid
Clark's vicious attack on Don Brash is another attempt to obscure the fact that Labour overspent their electoral expenses limit and they used public money to do it. The attack shows the character of a leader and a government who believe that they can talk their way out of everything and that spin will beat reality every time. But reality matters. Rising interest rates and a sharper economic downturn will have more impact on Labour's prospects than the current controversy. Labour have taken their eye off the ball - every meeting and every day the Government is obsessing with Don Brash, it's not doing the job they were put there to do - manage the economy, provide health and education, maintain law and order.
Meanwhile Out In the Countryside
Pansy Wong and Colin King MP, I spent two days in the King
Country and South Waikato visiting 13 schools and a trades
training centre. Many of our children are getting a good
sound education and some of what we saw was inspiring. The
care and attention older students get in smaller secondary
schools more than makes up for the smaller range of options.
In primary schools we saw excellent work in teaching the
basics of reading, writing and maths. There are plenty of
good ideas and strong leaders in education who could thrive
with less rules and clear accountability. We know what
works, but pushing it into every corner of every school is
Average pay in the public sector is $27.50 per hour and in the private sector it's $20.50, a gap of 34 per cent. Public sector pay is rising faster than private sector pay so the gap has grown by 30 per cent in the last two years. The government spend almost 50 per cent more on schools than in 1998, but recent government tests show no difference in achievement. Health spending has almost doubled but hospitals are doing less elective surgery. It's time to ask hard questions about value for taxpayers money and more thoughtful solutions than extra dollars for strategies, pilots, visions, and programmes. National won't have to slash and burn to do better for the citizens of New Zealand.