In Labour fails to convince on economic policy (Star-Times), Rod Oram is rather harsher than his earlier Nine to Noon radio spot (covered last week). He is particularly critical of Labour’s new policy on foreign investment:
. . . if foreign investors help the New Zealand dairy industry shift to far more sophisticated, higher-value products, there is a good case for having them here. Labour says those are the land investors it will approve, while it bans the rest.
It will be very difficult, though, for the government to pick the right projects. Other countries such as Ireland have learnt how to make difficult decisions about which foreign investments to support. Labour must convince us it can learn and apply them. If it doesn’t, its agricultural land policy will be a big liability in the business community.
I find this a little ironic, in light of Oram’s own suggestions on foreign investment on Nine to Noon a few weeks ago, as covered in my round-up at the time:
It would be far more interesting if approval was contingent, for example, on a large-scale investment that would improve the industrial capability of New Zealand and increases exports beyond a business-as-usual case. Or there would be safeguards, so for example if a foreign investor bought a New Zealand company any money that that company had received in the way of government R & D grants over, say, the previous five years were refunded. You could be an awful lot more strategic about that — as other countries have been.
If anything, that sounds rather more difficult to operationalise than what Labour is proposing. Though perhaps he has backed away what may have just been an off-the-cuff musing at the time. In any case, he concludes:
“John Key has no game plan for our cities and our farms so that we can compete and win in the global economy,” Goff told the conference. “I do.”
No he doesn’t. But at least he and his Labour colleagues are working on it.
(Oram’s Nine to Noon spot didn’t appear this week, due to the short week.) (Thanks, Samuel Parnell!)
Colin James looks at the Maori Party in The foreshore party’s long growth into realist politics (Fairfax papers):
What does this say to the Maori party as it gathers on Saturday? That it has reached or is close to the limits of what it can extract from National. National will not agree to a “Treaty-based constitution”, except in the formal sense that the Treaty is the founding document legitimising the imposition of constitutional colonial government.
. . . So on Saturday there will be congratulations for the leadership on the totemic wins. But the farsighted will ask what can be extracted from National for a second term after next year’s election which has not already been dealt with or set in train.
So what’s stopping Key deciding to lift the game? He could, for example, add $200 million new spending each year for five years, which would get us to around 1 per cent of GDP.
. . . Of course, it also means either taking money off somewhere else or delaying a return to a budget surplus. And many RS&T ideas produce no return and those that do can take up to 10 years for a return, whereas hip operations, national superannuation at age 65 and the like are here-and-now politics.
Nothing new from Brian Easton this week.