Jan 29, 2008

National's Economic Agenda

We are sure that most comment will be on the social agenda contained in Key's State of the Nation Speech, so our focus will be on his vision for the economy. The Dominion Post and The hive yesterday called for substance and detail so we are glad that priorities have been identified. Key's agenda is:

The National Party has an economic plan that will build the foundations for a better future.

We will focus on lifting medium-term economic performance and managing taxpayers’ money effectively.
We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.
We will cut taxes, not just in election year, but in a regular programme of ongoing tax cuts.
We will invest in the infrastructure this country needs for productivity growth.
We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.
We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy.
We will reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy, and we will say goodbye to the blind ideology that locks the private sector out of too many parts of our economy.
And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect.

We are generally comfortable with this agenda. It is quite close to our own. We would have put the productivity message in brighter lights - both higher growth and higher wages depend on better productivity growth.

We strongly support the call for improvement in the quality of government expenditure. The focus has been too much on quantity. there are huge gains to be had by improving public service productivity.

Clearly we agree fully with the tax message.

As recently as today we posted on the locking out of the private sector from some parts of infrastructure investment, so we also endorse keys comment about "blind ideology".

And we support strongly anything that is done to improve our education system.

On the negative side we would have liked to see Key talk about immigration (we urgently need more skilled immigrants) and local government reform (but maybe this is hinted at - "the burden of compliance and bureaucracy").

Overall we give Key a strong pass. It will be interesting to mark the PM's speech tomorrow using the same criteria.