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  • rmacculloch

1st Year Performance Review: Luxon is a good team leader & people manager, but not a "PM" who's designing rules & incentives to improve the nation's efficiency and fairness, which is his KPI.

A political leader is a person who has the power to change the rules & laws that govern our lives. A person who sets the rules of the game. That is what defines good government - it sets up the institutional framework of a nation that allows private individuals to prosper. Having done so, politicians should not choose the teams. Just like how governing bodies of sporting groups, like rugby, Formula 1, or cricket, that are responsible for setting the rules of the games, don't choose the teams. Yet across all spheres of government, Luxon is looking more like a PM who accepts rules and tries to up performance, taking those rules as given. In other words, he is turning out to look more like someone who is comfortable managing, and less like someone who is comfortable governing.


What's the evidence? Luxon has already boycotted ACT's David Seymour's proposed legislation that we should be equal under the law. Rule changes on such matters are not territory Luxon likes to enter. Moreover, he is going to keep Health NZ intact, thinking its problems can be solved by putting up a sign, "Under New Management". This week he said that he wants to see “big change” within [Health NZ] given the billions it received in the Budget & current state of the system. “Health NZ needs to be a high-performing organization, because we’re putting big money [in] and I want to make sure it’s a high-performing organization with a great leadership team.” Health NZ is only a big organization receiving big money because of the rules laid down by the government. Those rules ensure that NZ has a highly centralized system, where the government not only pays the bills, but also provides most health services. NZ's system, like the UK's National Health Service, is failing. New rules need to designed. The government should keep paying health bills, either directly or through a social insurance scheme, but the rules must be changed to allow us to individually choose our own health provider, whether it be public or private. The providers should compete on quality. Such a system is ruled out in NZ.


When it comes to Kiwi Rail, the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Paul Goldsmith, has stated the rules will not be changed. It will not be privatized & neither will any of the State Owned Enterprises in NZ. Instead, Luxon & Goldsmith believe that replacing the Chair & Senior Leadership Team can resolve its problems. Again it is "Under New Management", but rule changes have been ruled out. When Richard Prebble was Minister of State Owned Enterprises, he privatized 22 of them. National will privatize zero.


On and on it goes. It has become clear that the National Party under Luxon will not greatly change the rules of the game that govern banking, nor supermarket, competition. Quite the opposite, the managers running the Big Banks have been canonized by the PM as good, "A- Lister" types, and invited on business trips with him. They've been quietly assured that the rules governing their industry will not be greatly changed.


Will the PM at some stage realize his Key Performance Indicator is not to choose Senior Leadership Teams, but instead design laws & rules that incentivize others to work hard & compete, to create level playing fields & opportunity for all, regardless of how big or small is their firm, regardless of whether they are an A- or C-Lister, regardless of whether they work in the public or private sector, and regardless of their background & ethnicity? From what we know, that is not how he sees his job description. The one he has defined for himself is follows: "I want to make sure it’s [government] a high-performing organization with a great leadership team". Yet most who voted National, ACT & NZ First would prefer government barely existed as an organization & don't care about its leadership teams. But they do care about the rules & laws that govern their everyday lives.


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