This has been a very instructive year. It is 10 pm on Thursday (December 9) with Parliament sitting late to discuss “urgent business” and continue to do over the next several days, rising about a week before Christmas.
Such urgency sessions this time of the year reflect incompetent management by the National Party Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee. His lame excuse was that since parliament was not sitting in January it was important to introduce a string of bills before rising for the holiday season.
Mr Brownlee has reduced Parliament to an end-of-year shambles. Labour cooperated with the Government earlier to avoid last minute legislative rush.
This is also typical of the Government’s performance in 2010. As our Finance Spokesman David Cunliffe said, “No one can be happy with the economy, which is tracking below worst-case projections, according to a Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Statement. Economic recovery is mired, the Government has done nothing to help, and the result is that Kiwis are worse off now than the day National was elected.”
The Reserve Bank projection for mid-2011 cut growth by a full percent, with unemployment staying above 6% until after the next election, and skyrocketing fiscal deficit.
Throughout this year, the Government tried to dupe the public. Week after week, they have tried to tell New Zealanders that their so-called tax switch policy is working wonders. Why is it then that so many ordinary people are suffering and are unable to save?
What is amazing is that week after week I have sat in parliament and heard the Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English tell us with dodgy figures, that no one is worse off. Whenever economic performance has been bad, they have blamed it on the recession but failed to acknowledge that their policies are ineffective and would help none to progress.
This government’s social policies have been punitive, taking away from the most vulnerable and advantage those with greater disposal resources. While they talk about evidence-based policies, they have passed laws like the boot camp provisions that have failed elsewhere.
But perhaps the most telling failure of this Government is how it has dealt with the Pansy Wong affair.
This is clearly a case where travel rules have been breached and yet Mr Key has refused to order a proper investigation by the Auditor General. Whom is he protecting? An independent authority should examine all the details and make a proper decision. Mr Key has taken a different approach, accepting the word of the accused person.
We are looking forward to the election year with clear choices before the public. A Government has to govern for all the people. This one has not done so this year.
I want to wish all Indian Newslink readers compliments of the season and a Happy New Year. I also want to thank them for reflecting on my columns this year. I have met and discussed my views with readers at several face-to-face meetings. I always appreciate your encouragement and constructive comments.
Dr Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament on Labour List.
Photo Caption: Looking ahead to the Big Day in 2011. Labour Party Leader Phil Goff with some of his caucus colleagues including Dr Rajen Prasad at the launch of Electionlink at the Indian Newslink offices on June 25, 2010. Picture by Narendra Bedekar ©