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  • rmacculloch

NZ's New Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, rebrands the Labour Party, as the party of the economy

Welcome back! In 2021, DownToEarthKiwi predicted the 2023 election would be a cost-of-living election. Now, in his first speech as incoming PM, Chris Hipkins said his focus would be on the economy & cost-of-living. It constitutes a full re-branding of Labour. Why do that? To answer that question, let's first define former PM Ardern's legacy.

In a line, it was a focus on non-economic and moral issues. If you read Ardern's Harvard address, it refers to the likes of abortion, gun-control, "misinformation" on the Web, future of democracy & her "kindness" agenda. She never spoke a word about economics. Of course, Harvard students & professors would not take well to being lectured on that subject - but loved every word of her class on the morals - giving her a standing ovation.

But that's not where it ends. Ardern also tried to be a climate change leader & championed minimizing Covid-related health issues during the pandemic by imposing strict rules, which led to large economic costs. Those economists who advocated quantifying the benefits of these rules against the financial costs were branded cold, heartless types at the time - folks who callously put a monetary value on human life.

As such, Jacindanomics never existed - not in the sense that Rogernomics, for example, did exist as a coherent reform program, even if you disagreed with it. Ardern's leadership only saw an ad-hoc, stitched together set of reactions to put out the many fires blowing up in the Kiwi economy. However, with no guiding economic model behind her, I believe her sincere & earnest attempts to put out those fires proved immensely stressful and over-bearing.

Today, Kiwis are too busy paying food, petrol & mortgage bills to philosophize about trade-offs between freedom of speech and disinformation on the web with kids at Harvard. Surveys show the cost-of-living is our chief concern.

That's why Hipkins first act as PM was to rebrand Labour. He thinks Ardern's reputation as a global leader righting the world's wrongs has morphed into a domestic liability. Hipkins is branding himself as "chippy", an ordinary Hutt Valley kid who needs to save his own finances before he can save the world. His interest is "bread & butter" stuff. Hipkins will be going head-to-head with the Nats on economics in election 2023.



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