National's Top Ten Dumb Ideas
- Not Measuring Child Poverty: After 7 years in Government, National still refuses to measure child poverty so that it can identify and address the issues and track progress. Children living in substandard environments and suffering poor health and educational achievement not only costs a lot every year to mitigate but will severely limit our economic capacity in the future. Inequality has also limited economic growth, according to an OECD report. Cost to the country, $70 billion ($10 billion a year estimate)
- Low GHG Emissions target: Since being in Government, National has weakened the ETS, subsidised carbon credits to polluters and we have seen our emissions increase by 13% in the last 7 years. A low target will expose the country to huge costs both economic and environmental. Cost to the country, up to $52 billion
- Farm Intensification: The Government's goal was to double farm production, rather than adding value or establishing sustainable markets. This has had a huge environmental cost and the focus on exporting milk powder exposed us to volatile commodity markets. The collapse in milk prices has hit the economy badly and left Fonterra struggling to increase higher value income streams like organics. Cost to the country, estimated around $13 billion.
- Tax Cuts: The gift of tax cuts to the rich cut government revenue and rather than adding stimulation to the economy and growing jobs the money was spent on luxury items and property. It also increased inequality and shifted more of the country's wealth to a few. Cost to the country, around $10 billion (about $1.5 billion a year of lost revenue).
- Housing New Zealand Dividends: In an effort to balance the books after the loss of revenue caused by their tax cuts, National had to suck funds from departments and SOE's despite the impacts on their core business. National's lack of interest in Housing New Zealand's ability to maintain its houses on reduced funding has resulted in some well publicised deaths and illness directly related to this failure. Bill English has admitted an expensive catch up is needed but also wants to sell houses to get rid of some of the responsibility. Cost to the Country, $1.5 billion (this doesn't include the related health costs)
- Sexy Coal: Encouraging Solid Energy to emulate Australia's success in exporting coal to China was too late and disastrously expensive. Cost to the country, well over $600 million.
- Bribery instead of Diplomacy: The three obvious examples of this were the Government's bribe to Rio Tinto to help progress the share sales of Meridian Energy ($30 Million); the bribe to buy the favour of a Saudi businessman to get a trade deal ($11.5 million), the bribe to Warner Bros to capture their business support in New Zealand ($60 million). There are probably many more but these are the most prominent. Cost to the country, loss of dignity and $101.5 million
- Implementing Novopay: Rushing into the implementation of a system riddled with flaws was a result of cutting funding to the Ministry of Education and poor ministerial oversight. This has impacted negatively on those working in the education sector and caused years of ongoing problems. Cost to the country, $100 million+
- Changing the Flag: A new flag may indeed be something that should be addressed at some time, but when we currently have a housing and child poverty crisis, this is nothing more than a John Key "vanity project". Even National insiders have questioned the flawed and expensive process. Cost to the country, $26 million
- Charter Schools: This has been an expensive experiment with at least three times what is spent per student in state schools being lavished on the 370 students in Charter Schools. One of the schools has failed to deliver a safe environment even with expensive support. Despite the failure the Government has decided to open more schools and continue the debacle. Cost to the country, around $20 million
Obviously this list is not comprehensive and its accuracy is debatable, but it does point to poor governance and shocking economic management. I didn't even mention current thinking, like the plan to allow builders to sign off their own work. National Governments never learn from their past mistakes and the fact they are even thinking of such a move is extraordinary considering the $11.3 billion cost of deregulating the building industry in 1991 and the current problems in Christchurch. Ideology continues to blind National Ministers from the reality of the world around them. Their thinking and actions cost all of us dearly as there is less money to invest in the things that build resilience and sustainability: health, education, welfare and the environment.
We also have the $50 billion extra in Government debt that National has added with borrowing over the past 7 years.