Thursday, November 8, 2012

I totally agree - unemployment could cook National's political goose and any chance for a third term...

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New Zealand (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, NZ First Leader Winston Peters, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, United Future Leader Peter Dunne and ACT Party Leader Don Brash are pictured during the TVNZ Multi-Party Debate in this handout image provided by TVNZ, on November 16, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealanders will head to the polls on November 26 to decide who will lead their 50th Parliament. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 31: Green Party co-leader Russel Norman and Labour Party leader David Shearer react as MC Pam Corkery speaks as the Keep Our Assets Coalition launch their Spring Collection of signatures for a petition against the sale of national assets at Auckland University Students' Association on August 31, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

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Forget the sideshows - unemployment could cook National's political goose...
Forget about Kim Dotcom, the GCSB, John Banks, privacy breaches, David Beckham, gay red shirts and all the other sideshows that have been grabbing media attention.
There will be more like those before November 2014 but they won't matter either.
They don't affect people. They don't have an impact on anyone's life other than the very few involved, and they don't affect the way people vote.
Unemployment does, fundamentally, and Thursday's household labour force survey was grim reading for ministers.
Labour's spin doctors quickly printed a graph to bring around the press gallery - unemployment at 7.3 per cent is the highest for 13 years and the last time it cracked that figure was under Jenny Shipley's National government.
This was variously described by Labour and the Greens as disastrous, appalling, tragic, disgraceful, a comprehensive policy failure, a crisis and a denial of responsibility.
They didn't have to try very hard. Unless those figures turn around, and quickly, the government really is going to have a crisis on its hands which it probably won't survive when it goes to the country in 2014.
What makes this situation central to National's survival is that the opposition parties aren't just winging and moaning for the sake of it.
They believe the government has got its policies wrong and they have their own strikingly different ideas about what needs to be done.
Labour, the Greens and NZ First are, mostly, on the same page now Russel Norman seems to have given up on quantitative easing (printing money) after nearly everyone except his own caucus said it was a dumb idea.
They want the Reserve Bank Act changed so it can bring down the over-valued dollar, Labour and the Greens back a capital gains tax, they all want to boost industrial research, they all claim to have policies which will create jobs and get the economy moving.
The three parties have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the manufacturing industry, which they say has lost 40,000 jobs since 2008, and it is about to start hearing evidence.
They say the sector is in crisis, which the government continues to deny in the face of closures and job cuts by the sort of high-tech companies it holds up as examples of how New Zealand can compete with the best in the world.
The government, in stark contrast to the attitude of the opposition parties, doesn't think it needs to do anything different.
Its policies seem set in stone and it isn't going to change track.
Prime Minister John Key, his economic development supremo Steven Joyce and Finance Minister Bill English have an approach to economic reform which they acknowledge is going to take time but which they believe will eventually create that "brighter future" which is still National's slogan.
Their big problem is whether they're going to have the time they need for it work.
Two years isn't long, and that's all they have.
Unless National can show real gains, real jobs, prove its policies are working and deliver the evidence to voters in 2014 it isn't likely to be given another three years to get its act together.

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