Oct 29, 2008

Fran O'Sullivan Calls For War Cabinet

Fran O'Sullivan today calls for the establishment of a grand coaltition between National and Labour to deal with the financial crisis and to establish an 8 person war cabinet to run things. She also talks about a group of high level advisors helping out from outside Parliament. We like the second idea, but we are not sure we actually need Labour forming part of the new Government. This is, of course, what happens in countries such as Germany.

Anyway here is Fran's idea

The collapse of the New Zealand dollar has burst the air of surrealism clouding the election campaign.
At issue now is not just who wins the election but whether they have the brains, know-how and sheer chutzpah to avoid a full-on currency crisis.
The NZ dollar is already worth 40 per cent less than its peak value in US currency just months ago. The "smart money" got out when the dollar was peaking around the US80c mark.
Now that AXA and other funds are freezing redemptions - while the Reserve Bank and Treasury try to come up with a Government guarantee scheme to keep financial pipelines open - the crisis has entered a new phase.
The upshot is there will be huge pressures on the next Government. Looking over the political candidates, my judgment is that neither main party has sufficient high-quality, financially-numerate MPs to form the "wartime style" Cabinet which will be necessary to steer New Zealand through a lengthy period of instability.
The logical answer is for National and Labour to form a grand coalition in the country's interest instead of flaying about trying to meet the unreal demands of minor parties.

There are stellar players in the senior ranks of both parties: Labour has Helen Clark (unparalleled experience at the international political level), Michael Cullen (he is managing the vital shift to a saving culture), Phil Goff (good foreign affairs and trade track record) and David Cunliffe (former investment banker).
National has John Key (former international markets manager), Bill English (former Finance Minister and Treasurer), Tim Groser (former WTO negotiator) and Chris Finlayson (legal brain).
If those eight people formed a high-level bipartisan attack team to drive a response to the international financial crisis - rather than tear each other apart while the economy worsens - they would quickly find they had more points of agreement than is obvious on the campaign trail.
If that is just too hard a task for the politicians to consider in the heat of an election campaign, the least they could do is start thinking about appointing an independent Council of Economic Advisers to champion NZ's real interests after a post-election Government is formed.
The Scottish Government did just that last year by appointing 11 people from the senior ranks of business and economics to a council which is claimed to sport "the most formidable intellectual firepower ever to have tackled Scottish economic underperformance".
This is a smart way of making sure the best brains are applied to major national issues - not just current officials and politicians.