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Jacinda Ardern's international PR strategy is being unleashed. She's working on becoming a Great Ambassador for Herself and a Terrible Ambassador for NZ. The more she puts her good self up, the more she pulls NZ down & makes her fellow Kiwis look bad. I've not heard Helen Clark or John Key - our former PMs - upon retirement, ever get stuck into other Kiwis on the world stage. Not so Ardern. Her recent address in Bologna targeted NZ's first female Finance Minister, Ruth Richardson. Ardern said Richardson's "Mother of All Budgets came out", when she was 11 years old, cutting public spending. "I even recall seeing a cartoon as a child depicting the then-Minister of Finance [Richardson] standing over a large cauldron of soup with a child begging for more". Regards the "impact on people", Ardern recalls "the spread of illnesses associated with poverty .. I remember a neighbor's son taking his own life" (at 1 hour 43 mins into the video below). Ardern said Kiwis back then - of which I was one - called those on benefits "dole bludgers" & spoke of an "Asian invasion". In this dark story of our mean past it wasn't just Ruth who made us beggars, life not worth living & who spread plague, she had accomplices - Orks from Middle Earth with names like Richard Prebble & Roger Douglas. Apparently they deployed "fear" to do their dirty work. Stoking fear is not a thing Ardern would dream of doing herself, of course. She'd never tell 1.6 million Aucklanders that thousands & thousands of us would die, die, die - even though most of us were already vaccinated including all of the vulnerable ones - unless we did an almost 4 month lock-down in late 2021, the cause of today's cost-of-living crisis. Pity she put us last in the queue for the vaccine.

Why would an Italian audience even want to hear how someone called Ruth did a budget 30 years ago which somehow was linked to Jacinda's neighbor's son taking their life in Morrinsville? Ardern claimed high unemployment & debt in NZ in the 1980s to early 1990s arose from reforms that made us more "open" & less regulated. She conveniently forgot to mention the 1984 Foreign Exchange crisis caused by then PM Rob Muldoon and oil price shocks that came before. What was Ruth's legacy? When she started as Finance Minister in the early 1990s public debt was 40-50% of GDP. It fell over the next decade to less than 10% - until Ardern ramped debt back up to pre-Ruth 1990 levels, paying for all & sundry during the virus on borrowed money (see below). Ardern could only do so because of Richardson's championing of fiscal responsibility in prior years. The Italians I know who labored through Ardern's speech did get one thing out of it - they wished that this lady called Ruth would come fix their economy which has been broken by debt & red-tape. At least Ardern can return to writing more self-serving, shallow PR sound-bites at Harvard, creating a narrative for her mates in NZ's Big Media to embrace - namely that Nicola Willis is the new, awful Ruth Richardson. It is that pathetic.


The No-Principles Labour Party Leader, Chris Hipkins, was led by his focus groups & in-house pollsters to drop capital & asset taxes as a platform to fight Election 2023. They told him proposing such new taxes would be a losing strategy. Consequently he threw former Revenue Minister, David Parker's, plans back in his face. Now Hipkin's same focus groups & pollsters tell him these new taxes may be a winning strategy for Election 2026. So he is in the process of reversing himself & instead embracing them. Why? Hipkins aim is power - what's good or bad for NZ is irrelevant to him. His political strategy is becoming Machiavellian, something Black Adder would be proud of. What is it? Due to the shocking state our country's economy has been left in, with stagnant GDP - and GDP per capita plummeting - the National-led Coalition will struggle to find tax revenues the next three years to barely fix anything. That wouldn't matter should the Coalition be making bold reforms to the health system - by far the single biggest item of government spending - to convert it into the likes of the Singapore model which has incomparably better health-care outcomes achieved for half our cost. Yet the new Coalition has no such plans. Without an immediate prospect of such productivity gains, and with a stagnant economy, NZ's public services may well come under threat. Hipkins cunning plan is to argue that the only way public services can be restored and infrastructure fixed is by hitting the rich with asset taxes. For it to work, the country must languish these next three years. Hipkins is betting on NZ to fail in order for him to gain power.

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Robert MacCulloch

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