The closer we get to this election the less able I am to differentiate between the leading parties.
They seem to be morphing into one indistinct blob.
It started when the issue of opening the border seemed to disappear from National mouths just as Todd Muller disappeared from public life.
It continues when Judith Collins started agreeing that the government had done a good job to this point. This was in her early days as Opposition leader where she acknowledged that the steps taken to date were effective.
It validated the elimination argument and watered down the flames that had been fanned by Todd Muller that our border control was a shambles.
Then she threw out the financial targets that had been suggested by Paul Goldsmith around paying off debt. Goldsmith said the party would try to reduce net core Crown debt to 30 per cent of GDP in roughly a decade, requiring $80b less borrowing on current GDP projections.
Collins didn’t like putting numbers and targets on things which could come back to bite them on the bum if they weren’t achieved. But it also diminished Goldsmith’s thoughts on his role which included spending cuts most notably in Government contributions to NZ Super.
Next thing we’re hearing that the Government would not extend the wage subsidy scheme as it is all borrowed money and after 6 months enough is enough. If that wasn’t a strange enough about face on it’s own, it was followed by both Collins and ACT’s David Seymour called for an extension. While I understand why, it did seem like the parties had temporarily swapped heads.
Meanwhile the common cry that the Government has no plan for short term recovery is still trotted out by National.
Despite the fact that all of National’s economic plans are around the long term. They’re all post Covid plans. The new job subsidy, the writing off of GST on capital expenditure. The billions to spent on big infrastructure which is still 10 years down the track. They’re policies that are good for businesses that are confident on growth rather than figuring out how to get through.
It’s almost as though all politicians are exhausted and confused and not quite sure what’s going to happen to us next in our Covid adventure. Therefor they’re loathe to put their ideas on the line.
The debate seems to be stuck in the immediate issue of border control. And not much more.
There’s no talk of taxes or government cuts or a moratorium on pensions or benefits. There’s no talk on how to kill the debt monster that any government will inherit.
There’s no talk on poverty or inter-generational unemployment. Or what’s going to happen to health and education services in straightened times.
Both Labour and National are campaigning on a simple unqualified statement that each is the best to manage this. Because. Just because.
There is no talk about what’s next because no one really knows what is next. We’re a nation taking it one day at a time and making it up as we go.