Monday, December 12, 2016

Opportunity knocks

Bill English is now officially Prime Minister. One of his first policy announcements? Refusing to commit to not raising the retirement age:

Our retirement system is one of the things our welfare system does really well (we have very low rates of poverty in old age, unlike other countries), and tinkering with it is a third rail in NZ politics. For the past two elections Labour has boldly thrown itself on that third rail in an effort to gain "fiscal credibility" with crazed anti-taxers, and suffered the two worst defeats in its history as a consequence as people rightly asked what the point of them was. English's announcement is a golden opportunity for Labour to repudiate that mistake, to differentiate itself from National, and recapture New Zealand's socialist centre. The question is whether they will take it.

(The same goes for the Greens: you're a left-wing party. Protecting generous social services against tax-cutters is what left-wing parties are supposed to do. So do it already. You support a UBI, so protect the age-restricted one we've already got. Better yet, expand it)