IN HIS FIRST major speech as Finance Minister, made not to workers but to business leaders, Grant Robertson reassured the assembled business suits that the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government was not a government about to rock the boat. Robertson wanted them to know that the government represented no threat to their interests.
It was a restatement of the fiscally draconian message that is to be found in the 'Budgetary Responsibility Rules' that Labour signed with the Green Party. If the business sector were concerned that the government was planning to do things differently, they would have been happy to hear Robertson say that " "In order to meet these rules, it will require discipline." Welcome to another dose of austerity, folks.
None of this comes as any surprise - except to people who have been peddling the fiction that the Jacinda Ardern- led government would be not only be 'progressive', it might even be 'socialist'. One such fiction writer has been Chris Trotter.
When Labour launched Its election campaign, an excited and impressionable Trotter wrote:
"The mantle of success has already been draped over Jacinda’s shoulders. Victory advances towards her with arms outstretched. Her followers are convinced they know how this year’s election is going to end. She has filled them to the brim with hope. That’s the Magic – that’s the trick."
And just a couple of weeks ago he was speculating whether Ardern was abut to usher in a peaceful transition to Kiwi socialism.
However the 'magic' appears to be disappearing because Trotter has reacted negatively to Roberston's speech.
"Robertson’s Budget Responsibility Rules will achieve this result all on their own. Throw in Labour’s election campaign commitment to leave income and company taxes unchanged for three years, and what New Zealanders are faced with is thirty-six months of “Austerity-Lite”. Which isn’t quite the “transformation” New Zealanders had in mind when they accepted Jacinda’s invitation to “Let’s Do This”.
Oh dear. Does that mean the "peaceful transition to Kiwi socialism" has been cancelled?
Of course, if the Jacinda Ardern -led government was in any way left wing, Grant Robertson would not be busy placating the business sector but fending off attacks from that very same business sector. He'd be experiencing a little of what Jeremy Corbyn is experiencing in Britain.
Last week financial wide boys Stanley Morgan attacked Corbyn and Labour, claiming that they represented as much as a threat to British business as Brexit.
But Corbyn was having none of it. He fired back that Morgan Stanley were part of the same “speculators and gamblers who crashed our economy in 2008”
He continued "“Labour is a growing movement of well over half a million members and a government-in-waiting that will work for the many. So when they say we’re a threat, they’re right. We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few.”
While Grant Robertson talks of prudently managing the system, Jeremy Corbyn says that very same system has failed. And while Robertson used to once talk of the 'unelectability' of Jeremy Corbyn and declared his left wing polices would not work in New Zealand, all the polls now show that Jeremy Corbyn is the British Prime Minister in waiting.