Not Grumbling?

Mr Gundry, QSM, has asked his old mate, the Bloke from the Pub, to come off the Reserves Bench again. This guys is so happy it feels a bit like one of the coalition governments PR hacks?
It certainly has been an interesting few months as the Coalition Government gets down to business.  I think it’s fair to say they copped an economic hospital pass from the outgoing Government and despite Robbo’s oft repeated claim that we were doing well compared to other countries, the truth is, we weren’t.
After he extracted more Tax Revenue, and borrowed and spent more money than any previous Finance Minister, he departed politics leaving an economy on life support and debt our grandchildren will still be dealing with.  So how fortunate for him that he can now ease into a modest little earner at Otago University at $629,000 p.a. plus a house.  Nice work if you can get it.
What is clear is the Government is simply getting on with running the country and dealing with a myriad of complex issues.  In the same time Labour might have formed a few committees, called in some old Labour functionaries now operating as Consultants and had a damned good chat about things, then reconvened in a month or two to see if anyone has any ideas.
They have already replaced much of Labour’s worst legislation, introduced targets for the Public Sector with ongoing reviews, established clear expectations and set time frames – which will not only maintain pressure on the slow moving, change resistant bureaucracy but also ensure Ministers remain focused on meeting or exceeding those targets.
In addition, they have ticked off every one of the 20 items on the first 100 Day action plan ranging from Law and Order, Economic matters and improving Public Services.
I do like the Fast Track Approval Bill that’s coming up, hopefully this will mean that vital projects both Government and Private can now proceed without unreasonable interference from the vexatious naysayers that cause delay and can add millions in legal costs.
The Ministers with the greatest challenges will be Nicola Willis, Erica Stanford, and Dr Shane Reti, and to date I have been impressed by all of them.  As Minister of Finance, Nicola Willis is dealing with a dreadful economic situation, the country is in a double dip recession, at a time when other economies are starting to grow and talking about cutting interest rates.  Sadly there seems little prospect of that happening here until possibly later this year, or even into next year.  Worse still, some commenters suggest we could be experiencing Stagflation, a combination of a stagnant economy, high consumer price inflation and growing unemployment.  If this proves to be the case, then any economic turnaround could take even longer.  However she always sounds positive and optimistic, so possibly by late this year some of the current pain will have eased as we gradually emerge from our economic quagmire.
I can’t recall any politician speaking so honestly as Erica Stanford did recently, after she received the latest disastrous Education statistics, which she said nearly brought her to tears.  NZ’s Education standards have been sliding for at least 20 years and there can be no doubt that educationally we are in deep trouble, and there is no easy or quick fix.  It is encouraging to see she has taken a select group of Educators to Singapore, who now have one of the best education systems in the world.  We urgently need to adopt best practice from around the world and import the very best people we can find to commence the slow rebuilding process, as it appears we no longer have the answers or the people to do it.
You don’t need to go far to observe classic bureaucratic dysfunction and the sort of problems now facing Dr Shane Reti.  Currently sitting idle is the new $300 million 150 bed surgical unit at North Shore Hospital.  Stage 1 was due to open last December, but 5 months on there is still no confirmed opening date.  As I understand it, Te Whatu Ora had no funds to employ staff.  It didn’t just appear overnight, and you’d think someone in Wellington may have remembered it was nearing completion and thought about putting some money aside, but they didn’t.  So all my decrepit old mates still continue to stagger about with bung knees and hips awaiting that life changing call.
Perhaps if a portion of the $51,000,000 that disappeared into the Harbour Bridge Cycle Path or a fraction of the $228,000,000 spent on Ardern’s Light Rail dream had gone into Health, we may now have a fully functioning Surgical Unit.
How the Coalition Government performs with Economy, Education and Health will largely determine its future.  Will it be another Government that promises much but ultimately delivers little, or will it evolve into a transformational, multi term administration that sets the foundations for New Zealand’s success for years to come, I guess that remains to be seen.

Message from the Publisher – I wasn’t able to track Mr G. down this month. It is fair to say he was avoiding my calls, texts and emails. Let’s hope he’s back for the June issue! 

By: , Gundry's Grumbles

Issue 152 May 2024