Now let’s  see  how  Christopher Luxon  develops the image of  a  “caring” National Party

Only  weeks   into becoming leader  of  the  National  Party, Christopher  Luxon has  succeeded   in  pulling  together   his   troops  and at  the  same  time  re-shaping the  message  he  thinks  is needed  to  attract  back the  413,000 voters who drifted  away  in  the  last  election.  The  question    is  whether  he  can  pitch the message  to  haul  back  some of  those  who  voted for  Labour  in 2017  on  the  basis  of  their  promises, but  have  since  realised Labour ministers  don’t  have  the  ability  or  capacity to   deliver them.

Initially  there  was  some  uncertainty  that  Luxon,  with  only   a  year behind him  as  an MP, could   unify  the  faction-ridden National caucus.  But he  settled  those  doubts  impressively   at  the  two-day  retreat  at  Queenstown,  not   least  with  his two  warring  predecessors,  Judith Collins  and Simon Bridges,  showing up  to  breathe  a  new  spirit  of   sweetness  and  light by  the  lakeside.

Luxon  has  resumed polling  to get  the mood of voters, re-engaging  David  Farrer’s  Curia, and  will  use  the  techniques  refined  by  John Key  and Bill  English of  focus groups and  internal polling   as  new  policies  are  formulated. Continue reading “Now let’s  see  how  Christopher Luxon  develops the image of  a  “caring” National Party”

Fonterra could learn lessons in enterprise and growth from Australia’s Wesfarmers

NZ  co-ops have been  getting  a  bad  media  rap   lately.  Take  Fonterra, for example.  Andrea Fox, one of the  country’s  best-informed journalists  specialising  in agriculture  issues,  started   a  new series in the  NZ  Herald  with the  headline:  “Fonterra: Disappointment and soured  dairy dreams”.

Noting   the dairy goliath had a silver-spoon  birth   nearly  18 years ago she  wrote:

Today the  co-operative  is looking a bit like  the family’s overweight, lazy teenager  hogging the remote  on the biggest couch in the room And the  credit card bills are coming in”.

After Fonterra posted a historic first net loss of $196m, Fox  says  calls  are heating up  for  the company to be split up  and a  company, perhaps  listed, spun off it, open to outside capital  investment to  chase  high-value product  markets. Continue reading “Fonterra could learn lessons in enterprise and growth from Australia’s Wesfarmers”

Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps

The  government  is reported to be  planning  a   “world-first well-being”  budget  in  2019.   It  won’t  be  some “light, fluffy happiness index”, but  will be based, says  Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson, on  indicators  and measures of well-being   which  can be tracked.

It  sounds a  great  idea.  The  government   sees it  as  running in tandem  with the current  measurement of  GDP growth,  which according to Robertson is a  good, long-run  measure of  economic  activity.  But he reckons GDP  doesn’t represent  what  New  Zealanders  regard as  success. He believes  success should be measured  not just through  financial  capital  (by  GDP), but through natural  capital, human capital  and  social  capital.

The government’s enthusiasm   for   tracking  “well-being”  is  apparently  matched in the departments tasked with undertaking the  research,  particularly  Treasury  and  Statistics.  Continue reading “Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps”

An economist reflects on Bill English and the rockstar economy

220px-Prime_Minister_Bill_English
If I only had time, I might still be PM…

Mr John Edward Rowles, OBE, was in splendid company on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.  His name, “for services to entertainment”, came immediately after the name of the Right Honourable Simon William English,  “for services to the State” among those who become  Knight Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Rowles has belted out a few hits over the years, most notably “If I Only had Time”, while Bill English is the bloke widely credited with giving us “the rockstar economy”.

According to the official citation:

As Finance Minister from 2008 until 2016, Mr English oversaw one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world, steering New Zealand through the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes and ensuring the Crown accounts were in a strong financial position.

Stuff political reporter Stacey Kirk was more laudatory: Continue reading “An economist reflects on Bill English and the rockstar economy”