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Agenda: PM's Optimism Early Election?

Clark’s relentless optimism indicates early election

Prime Minister Helen Clark’s relentlessly positive spin on the economy and domestic politics suggests an early election is inevitable.

On Agenda this morning Simon Dallow highlighted certain gloomy economic indicators: New Zealand’s current account deficit has hit 6.4% of GDP, and commodity prices, the dollar and the sharemarket are also falling. The Government is facing charges of under-resourcing the police, and has this week backed down from its standards-based assessment policy in secondary education.

Bur Clark insisted such issues were “not having any particular effect on it (the decision on whether to call an early election).” She even identified a shortage of skilled workers and the pressure on transport and energy infrastructure as “new issues we couldn’t have dealt with before because they couldn’t come on the horizon….we have so many exciting issues to deal with and I think there’s going to be a buzz around that (Labour Party) conference as they plan to take Labour into the long term.”

Dallow pointed out that state sector wages have grown by two to three million dollars per day, for the last five years under Clark’s Government, and almost $2 billion went on sub-degree courses that weren’t even completed. But the Prime Minister insisted that spending was tight. Taken as an indication of election strategy, this shows her readiness to foreclose National’s appeal to voters interested in tax cuts, while pitching Labour as responsible financial managers.

“This Labour-led Government isn’t going to throw money around that it doesn’t have, in fact we’re simply amazed at the voodoo economics coming out of right-wing parties which believe you could right now chuck vast amounts of tax cuts on the present monetary situation, that would be ridiculous and would certainly prompt more interest rate rises,” she said.

And while the Budget looks like it may not be the spend-up anticipated by some, Clarke said it would provide more details on the Government’s home ownership and retirement savings schemes. We will also “definitely hear more this year” about tertiary education saving accounts.

On the Maori seats, Clark’s also “feeling pretty positive”- though it’s spending on those electorates will increase five-fold.

But Clark’s optimism in the face of gloomy global and national financial indicators as well as domestic politics cannot last long as an election strategy. This suggests there will be an early election.

© Scoop Media

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