My one concern about the government is the lack of one Sir Roger Douglas. I am sure he is an arrogant bugger, but if you had almost single-handedly brought in the most dramatic and successful economic reforms in living memory, it is forgiveable to have a slightly big head. Sir Douglas has very negative public opinion rating, and I know almost no one who believe (as I do) that he has a lot of offer New Zealand.
But in my view, Sir Douglas is neither captured nor capturable by any particular faction or pressure group, whether union, business, environmental, educational or welfare. He has one of the clearest heads in New Zealand, and is able many times to get to the core of an issue and make a change that sticks.
John Key, in justifying the exclusion of Sir Douglas, says he intends to run a moderate government which keeps faith with the New Zealand public. Here at least, Mr Key has produced a reasonable defence of his actions. The 1984 Labour government was elected with very little idea of what they were to do. Their main benefit was that they were 'not Muldoon'. It was a similar 'change' election to this one, in fact, although National have produced a lot of policy this time. People were shocked at what Labour did.
In Douglas's defence, the Labour government was only acting on advice, and good advice too. When treasury suggested that agricultural and export subsidies and the network of legislation and rules which had built on top of them, were inefficient, Labour abolished the lot. Once told that taxes were too high, they reduced them. When told that most countries had a value-added tax in addition to income taxes, they introduced one, and almost unique in the world, didn't add any exceptions, because that would be 'too complex' (I still remember the bleating about GST on food). Many argue that a National government would never have been so bold, particular when the reforms would hit farmers and businesses hard.
The one thing Labour did not do, which arguably made unemployment worse, was to reform the labour market. This was left to National in 1991. I am not in a position
This architect of Rogernomics enacted these policies before as minister of finance in the 1984 Fourth Labour Government and they were disastrous.
But still neither National nor Labour is prepared to provide any real break from the free-market economic policies forced on the country by Roger Douglas. Both are still talking so-called free-trade, continuing destruction of New Zealand manufacturing, more user- pays for roads, schools and healthcare. Both parties' proposed tax cuts disproportionately favour the rich.
These people are not the economic stars of our country. They have not brought untold wealth and success to anyone. They are dedicated to old, lost causes which don't matter and miss the point.
But given what New Zealand owes him, his reputation stinks. He has a lot to offer, and is not the evil ghoul that he is painted as.
Whoever is doing Sir Roger's PR needs to be terminated.
UPDATE: This cartoon (via The Inquiring Mind) is pretty funny, though.