Tag Archives: Government

Do we need an NZERA?

The appointment of Roger Sutton as Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has been widely welcomed as a good move and in the best interests of the region.  From the little I’ve seen of him on telly I would tend to agree.  He has the communication and leadership skills to bring great vision and drive to a very important organisation.

What a pity that our politicians don’t have the same skills.  Words like self-serving, poll-driven and short-term thinking spring to mind when I hear a politician speak.  The drive to retain power in a system that sees them facing the risk of being sacked every tthree years stunts their ability to think and act in the best interests of the country and its people.

I am of the view that New Zealand faces a disastrous economic future unless something drastic is done to sort out our problems.  I’ve posted before about the economic impact of the leaky home crisis, the Christchurch earthquake and the meltdown of finance companies.  These things, along with world economic conditions, will make life very hard for us all.  But what are those responsible for managing all this doing?  Making minor adjustments to things like student loans schemes and Kiwi Saver (but not their own super scheme I note somewhat cynically).

Perhaps we need to sideline the politicians and appoint a New Zealand Economic Recover Agency headed by someone like Roger Sutton?

Someone able to assess the situation, get a handle on the key factors plaguing this country and then make the hard decisions,not just short term, to help us make progress and get back to a reasonable standard of living.  Not a political appointment, subject to three yearly changes of governments, but an enduring appointment (obviously with safeguards) of someone with vision and leadership skills to sort us out.

So bring on an NZERA.  I’ll vote for that.

Less Government In Our Lives?

“I want it both ways”.  That’s what many people in New Zealand seem to want.  We are constantly berated by some about getting Government out of their lives or business.  On the web site of one NZ political party is the comment “New Zealanders know best how to spend their own money, not the government”.  In the NZ Herald on Wed 26 Jan the headline reads “Business leaders support partial privatisation of state assets”.

At the last election New Zealanders voted the National party into power to govern based in part by promises of reducing taxes and that has been implemented but any gain has been offset by the increase in GST.

But as soon as something goes wrong we hear these very same people holding their hands out and expecting Government to come to the party.  While not decrying the enormous tragedy of the Christchurch earthquake, the first reaction of business has been to turn to government and ask for handouts, the very same business that wants lower taxes and less Government.

Excuse me – if you reduce taxes and cut back on government expenditure for the armed forces and you decrease the capacity of Government Departments like DoL or Civil Defense or agencies such as hospitals, how can you then expect them to respond adequately in the event of a disaster?

Government is facing huge bills from recent catastrophes – last year’s Canterbury earthquake, the leaky building situation, the Pike River tragedy, the bail out of financial institutions.  In addition the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) has seen a significant slump in tax revenue as the economy has contracted.  Now everyone expects the Government to step in and provide handouts for businesses that can’t operate in Christchurch and to support people with grants.

A simple example to illustrate the point I am making.  People in suburbs are complaining that after ten days they still haven’t got toilet facilities.  The city’s infrastructure has been severely damaged and a quick fix isn’t possible.  So the sight of thousands of portable chemical toilets being delivered is a relief (excuse the pun) for everyone.  But why aren’t there stock piled supplies of such essential items – toilets, tents, food, water etc at strategic places around the country?  Because we don’t want Government in our lives, we want to rely on private enterprise.  But private enterprise is never going to plan for an emergency.  Its never going to carry excess capacity for contingencies.  It can never supplant the work that Government does and must do as a back stop for our society.

Another example:  there’s been a push by some in Government to cut back the scope of fire fighter’s duties to focus solely on fire fighting.  Fortunately, senior people in the service have fought to keep the broader scope of the fire service and we’ve seen the result in recent days in Christchurch.  Superbly trained and committed fire fighters doing what private enterprise could never do.

“New Zealanders know best how to spend their own money, not the government”; Yeah right.  We can spend it on TVs or cars or lattes and don’t worry about tomorrow, Government will step in and pick up the remains of our lives when things go so terribly wrong.  When will we wake up?