ZB

John MacDonald: Do our politicians really know how tough things are?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Apr 2022, 1:07pm
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

John MacDonald: Do our politicians really know how tough things are?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Apr 2022, 1:07pm

I’ve been thinking about our MPs and whether they have any idea what life is like at the moment for so many people in this country.

I think they are way out of touch.

Let’s start with the 6.9 percent inflation rate and all the huffing and puffing we’ve had from MPs.

Now there’s a line that gets trotted out now and then which says: People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

Which means, if you’re an MP, you can bang on about CPI this and CPI that, inflation this and inflation, but you’re wasting your time if people hear you and just walk away thinking 'they’re a bright spark, but I don’t think they understand what that all means for me'.

People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

So 20 minutes after the inflation figure came out yesterday, we spoke with National’s Finance Spokesperson and Deputy Leader Nicola Willis.

I thought she was very good. She talked about the five things she thinks the Government could and should be doing to get on top of inflation.

  • Stop adding costs for businesses like the new unemployment insurance scheme
  • Grow the workforce by getting more high-skilled workers into the country so employers don’t have to pay exorbitant wages and salaries to hire and keep people
  • Spend less - as she pointed out, government spending has gone up by around $52 billion since 2017
  • Review the spending in this year’s Budget - which Grant Robertson will deliver next month. She wants him to go through the Budget line-by-line to make sure every dollar he wants to send needs to be spent
  • Cut income taxes so people have a bit more in their pockets

As I say, I thought she was very good and I thought she definitely sounded like a Finance Minister-in-Waiting.

But when I say that I mean that she sounded like an MP who knew what she was talking about. Which is the least we should expect from all our MPs, isn’t it? It doesn’t always happen though.

But is it enough just to say a lot of stuff and sound like you know what you’re on about? I don’t think it is - and it’s why I think our MPs are out of touch with reality.

Let’s move on to the Finance Minister, Grant Robertson.

There he was on the radio this morning talking to Tim Dower, saying that high inflation is a global problem and that New Zealand isn’t particularly special on that front. And he’s right - the US, UK, all over the place inflation is going through the roof.

Just like Nicola Willis, he was reeling off numbers at the drop of a hat - banging on about tradeables, non-tradeables, supply chain constraints,

When he was asked to comment on beneficiaries cutting back on food, he went on about “targetting low and middle income people”.

He said “it is tough” - but do you think he really knows what “tough” is? Really?

I read this morning about families here in New Zealand deciding each night which of them are going to eat and which of them aren’t. And these aren’t the so-called “no-hopers” that some people like to talk about. We’re talking about families where two people are working but they still can’t make ends meet.

That’s what 6.9 percent inflation looks like. It’s not five-point plans and supply chain constraints and all the other economic-speak politicians of all colours rattle out.

Again - people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care. And all I’ve heard from all politicians since that 6.9 percent inflation figure came out, is the “know” bit. I haven’t heard the “care” bit.