Monday, April 02, 2007

Better than the alternative

In the wake of the 2005 election, with Labour forced by electoral circumstances into a reactionary agenda of bashing Maori, immigrants, and "crims", left-wing voters such as myself felt more than a little cheated. But over the weekend, we got a powerful reminder of why even a Labour government with its hands tied by Winston Peters and Peter Dunne is better than a National one, in the form of an increase in family support, a rise in the minimum wage, and a fourth week of annual leave.

Ordinary New Zealanders are better off because of these changes - and they would not be if National had been elected. So, while I'm disappointed with the government's direction (or lack thereof), it has at least delivered some benefit, and it still seems to be a hell of a lot better than the alternative.


I agree, and I guess I can understand why people like Jordan promote the idea that if those of us further left than Labour want to make change we need to be inside the big Red tent with him:

But I don't think it's for me, and I also think it is something of an FPP approach to political cultural change.

Posted by Span : 4/02/2007 11:47:00 AM

If more people had voted Green, we'd have a Lab/Green coalition which would be substantially more progressive.

Posted by Rich : 4/02/2007 12:28:00 PM

if more people had voted Green... then the Greens would be polling 1.5% and wondering why MMP keeps cannabilizing minor support parties??

Posted by dc_red : 4/02/2007 01:43:00 PM

Rich - this comment requires a bit of clarification. If you mean that if more people had voted Green rather than National - you are correct - we would have a Labour/Green Government. But if more people had voted Green instead of Labour - we would currently have a National/UF/NZFirst/Act Government supported by the Maori Party.

I think it is easy to forget that the Maori Party signed up with National after the election - the only thing that prevented the above arrangement was NZ First - because it had campaigned to go with the largest party. If Labour dropped 2 MPs, and the Greens picked up 2 - while it doesn't change the balance, what it would have done is forced NZF to go with National.

Things really were that close.

That doesn't mean the next election will be the same - I suspect the small parties realise that the campaign to go with the largest party hurt their support and won't do it again next election.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/02/2007 02:03:00 PM

I'm not convinced that people are better off because of these changes, or that Labour can claim to have achieved anything more than National would have achieved.

For example, it's also true that inflation and taxes have risen during the last several years, while interest rates are generally higher. The average New Zealander hasn't really seen any significant rise in real wages/salaries.

What's also a concern is that the supposed improvements high-lighted in the above post are limited to specific areas. Families might gain from the Working For Families benefits, but no other groups benefit. Similarly, those on very low benefits might gain from a rise in the minimum wage, but there's no direct benefit to anyone else.

Obviously, we can debate on the indirect changes produced by these so-called improvements. Some would argue that they're merely inflationary, thereby leading to no direct benefit to anyone, while producing a loss to others. On the other hand, others might claim they produce indirect benefits.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/02/2007 04:52:00 PM

The Minimum Wage has risen from just $7.00 per hour in Feb 1999 to $11.25 an hour today. That is an average annual increase of around 6% per annum. Still not enough IMHO, but more that the CPI which has been hovering around 3% pa.
Tax rates have NOT increased. Tax take has because gross wages have. But still the average is about 20% per person, and one of the lowest in the oecd figures.

So how can the anon above say he is not convinced we are better off - These figures - which anon can verify for themselves if they look - PROVE WITHOUT A DOUBT that the lowest paid certainly are.

Incidentally, the minimum wage improved from $6.00 to $7.00 under the previous National Govt over a period of 9 years. GREAT!!


Posted by Anonymous : 4/03/2007 09:36:00 PM