Whatever way you look at them, the figures look bad. Even that eternal optimist, TV1's business reporter Corin Dann, couldn't find something in the figures to talk up the 'free market'.

The final government accounts for the year ended June showed a massive $12.9 billion annual decline in the headline operating balance - to a $10.5 billion deficit at the end of 2009 compared to $2.3 billion surplus in 2008. This, according to Treasury,is the worst budget turnaround since comparable statistics began in the 1990s.

The figures would have been worse if the Inland Revenue hadn't managed to claw back $1.4 billion in back taxes from the BNZ and Westpac - who have been engaged in tax evasion on a grand scale

The consensus among the world's power brokers is that governments need to curtail their spending. This is the message that the IMF has been pushing all year.

Yesterday the Minister of Finance said that 'government spending had to be brought under control'.

So are major cuts on the horizon?

There is a push for further austerity measures but will John Key, the jolly populist, go for it? His natural instinct is to head for high ground and go for the option least likely to offend voters but when the pressure goes on ..

There is space on the left for a real economic alternative to neoliberalism, and a chance to outflank the government.

Labour though is nowhere to be seen.

With Captain Goff at the helm,the battered and discredited ship that is Labour is still becalmed in neoliberal seas.

Having already dispensed with the party's social liberalism, Goff and Labour's economic program is more of the same neoliberal nonsense we are all too familiar with. You know things have not changed when you hear Labourites retreating to that well-worn position of 'At least Labour isn't as bad as National'. Even if that was true, it doesn't suggest there's been much soul-searching going down in Labour ranks, bar a few desultory discussions at the recent conference - which the parliamentary party will just ignore anyway.

There has a been rising tide of revolt against neoliberalism but it has barely touched the Labour Party.

At the recent Labour Party conference President Andrew Little, a trade union 'leader' who has shafted workers' struggles up and down this country, claimed that Labour was a party of 'new ideas'.

But, as is mostly the case with Little, the reality never lives up to his rhetoric. There is no new thinking going on in Labour. Its's business as usual - which is a mix of neoliberalism and a few nods in the direction of some very mild and inoffensive social democratic measures.

Excited yet? Me neither.


  1. I think the hope was that after a big election defeat it would reinvent itself but Labour just seems to be shifting further rightwards.


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