“Show me the money!” cried the voters. by underground

Ah, budget day! The day the country waits, in anxious anticipation, with sweaty palms and racing heartbeats, hoping, wishing and/or praying to be delivered a tax cut by Dr Michael Cullen with his sack full of money. Alas, like Christmas, today he delivered the present that every adult had asked for on the wish list, and everyone rejoiced. Well not everyone. The National Party expectedly rubbished the budget, promising to deliver a greater “tax relief” package for voters. Was anyone surprised? Politics can be all too predictable!

I’m not really interested so much in the budget, but in the reactions and how it fits into the whole scheme of things for our election later this year.

I won’t pretend to understand economics, so will not be discussing the pros and cons of tax cuts nor the details of todays budget. I will instead look at the politics surrounding this momentous day. I will look at one issue that has led to me being more disillusioned with politics and political reporting: parties campaigning on vague, broad (and therefore meaningless) ideas, instead of detailed and disclosed policy.

How can you campaign on a policy without disclosing the specifics. In my view this is deceitful. When Key and his colleagues talk of tax cuts or tax relief the truth is that this could mean anything to anyone. What people may think these terms mean could differ, and probably do differ, greatly from what National’s policy actually will be. Yet the issue has been a strength for the party for many years and gained a lot of support for the party from the electorate. But how does a supporter know that the policy spoken about so regularly is the same thing that they perceive to be such a great idea. Who knows, perhaps National’s tax plan may fall far short of some voters expectations, perhaps some economist may find it inadequate. On the other hand, perhaps the tax cuts are so large that some economists do not believe them to be affordable and deem them to be irresponsible acts of economic mismanagement.

So as I said I don’t know about economics. I won’t and can’t tell you if the budget was good or bad, nor could I tell you if National’s economic policy is any good. But this is mainly because I do not know it. If Key and his party want the country to have an informed and intelligent debate about who is best to lead this nation, we need to have all the facts. Once again the facts are being withheld from us and all we have is the empty claims, the hyperbole, the fantastical ideas, the charismatic speeches, the meaningless catchphrases, the pointless insults and the unfounded accusations. No substance. Don Brash’s National Party did not release their tax policy till merely weeks out from the party, yet had been campaigning on the issue for many months. In my view, this is not democratic. Stop withholding information from the electorate. Let the voters make informed decisions and get involved in informed discussions.

To Mr John Key I can only say, “Put up… or shut up”

Of course, we should expect this from politicians. After all, politics is a carefully managed business, withholding policy is clearly part of their plan, never mind whether it is good for democracy or not, if it helps get them elected, it goes. I can’t help but feel the onus is with the media to pursue political policy. Although John Campbell did a great job interviewing both Helen Clark and John Key, I felt that he could have pushed harder on Key regarding their policy (or lack of). I would actually like to see this from all interviewers, because Key (or any politician for that matter) saying that another parties policy sucks and that their’s is far superior without actually disclosing the details of that policy, should not be tolerated as a response in an interview. The interviewer should demand they front up, and debate the details, or cease to mention their policy as a viable alternative. Otherwise, these politicians are able to continue pulling the wool over people’s eyes.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Excellent write-up! Just what I have been thinking for weeks. Somewhat concerning when people jump on board policies which at present we know nothing about. Except that we “will be better off”. What does that mean, and for whom? Who is we? Not me I am sure.
Anyway, love reading your blog. Awesome.

Comment by Joel

Hey Joel,

Thanks for the comment. This is something I’ve been thinking about since before the last election, I think this example really does sum up the hollow nature of most of our politicians and the political debate that exists in the country. The politicians do their utmost to ensure proper political debate does not take place, and the media allow it. Perhaps that is where the blogosphere can undermine this status quo, by ensuring that debate does take place. Now we just got to put the tough questions to the politicians online. I’m off to harass John Key on facebook!



Comment by undergroundnetwork

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