National’s new leadership team had no need to worry that, as they stepped into office and into campaigning to replace the Ardern government at the next election, they would suffer from a shortage of advice. Wherever they looked they could see mountains of it.
There was this kind (from a newspaper columnist) :
“ In short, new National leader Chris Luxon will likely have to come up with policies and strategies to tackle immediate economic headwinds in five areas: a slow economic bounceback, immigration, a slowing China, tourism, and inflation.”
Or this kind (from former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger) who said a “disappointing” National has to reimagine capitalism because social inequality is pushing countries to revolution.
Bolger said the dominant global economic model was dividing society.
“Some are getting obscenely rich and others are going to food kitchens.” Bolger said Labour was not seriously addressing social inequality.”
Parliamentary veteran Winston Peters, once a National Party deputy leader and MP before forming NZ First, weighed in. What is needed, most importantly, is a real vision for NZ, he opined from his (somewhat lonely these days) pulpit.
The Dominion-Post was at its most omniscient: NZ needs Luxon to right the Nats.
And to make it plain exactly where it stood, the next days’ edition carried as a lead story the revelation that
“.. soaring prices mean new National Party leader Christopher Luxon is effectively earning about $90,000 a week in capita; gains from his 7 properties which give him the biggest property portfolio of any sitting MP”.
Point of Order resists the temptation to join the throng in offering advice to the new leaders. But we wonder whether Chris Luxon and Nicola Willis are as convinced as the would-be advisers appear to be that the original principles of the National Party are so shop-worn they should be discarded.
It is true, of course, that Labour has long departed from the principles on which it was founded (remember the “socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange”) which it found both unpopular and, more to the point, unworkable.
That doesn’t mean to say that some people don’t believe this system is superior to capitalism. Yet it was clear that, in an imperfect world, most people given the choice in the days when Communist Russia espoused the Leninist philosophy preferred to live in the West. The Iron Curtain was designed to keep Soviet-bloc people in, not to keep the capitalists out.
Returning to modern-day NZ, the question is about how to win the middle ground in NZ politics, which – thanks to Geoffrey Palmer’s adoption of the MMP electoral system – a party must do to win enough seats to govern at general elections.) National may well be tempted to at least take a hard look at its original founding principles of free-market capitalism in a property owning democracy.
Critics may argue (as Bolger does) that some people are becoming obscenely rich and others are going to food kitchens, but one may also look to the farming industry as it has evolved in NZ for another example of the operation of the free enterprise system. It is proving not only to be the backbone of the NZ economy, but it is a virtual saviour in terms of export earnings as Covid-19 renders others like the tourist industry almost impotent in terms of earning overseas exchange.
And now there is evolving an equally successful outcome for the capitalist structure to farming in the hi-tech industry. As Southland-born Peter Beck, founder of the spectacularly successful RocketLab, said this week:
“Right now the tech sector in NZ is raging…I have a lot to do with the venture capital, it’s the best I’ve ever seen it and funding a lot of startups. And I have to say that the quality and quantity of startups now is the best I’ve ever seen it”.
It’s no surprise that “obscenely rich” individuals like Peter Beck are backers of new hi-tech ventures — this is what capitalists do — and they encourage others to do the same. The theory is that it is better to aim at lifting all boats.
Point of Order suspects that’s what Luxon and Willis want to do.