NZ First versus “irresponsible capitalism”

Winston Peters is positioning NZ First as the party against neo-liberalism. This approach turned around Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in the recent UK election (but not enough to win), but can Peters pull it off?

Peters has hankered for ‘the good old days’ – see Winston Muldoon.

He is challenging Andrew Little as Leader of the Opposition – see Peters: Little is on the verge of not getting back into Parliament.

Sunday Star Times has more on the NZ First strategy:  Winston Peters dismisses ‘irresponsible capitalism’ of other parties with new economic policy

Winston Peters is positioning NZ First as the party of difference and says his policy announcements today will steer away from the “irresponsible capitalism” that every other political party is selling.

The neo-liberal policy adopted by New Zealand politicians in the 1980s is a “failed economic experiment”.

“We want to confront what’s going on and set it right,” Peters said.

“I look at Parliament today and the National party, the Labour party and now the Greens are all accepting of that with a little bit of tweaking. That is astonishing, particularly in the case of the Greens – they’ve done it to try and look respectable – it’s totally disrespectable economic policy.”

Greens picked a fight against NZ First last week that looks set to continue.

“They’re talking about tweaking the Reserve Bank Act, I’m not. This idea that you’re going to set up this wholly independent organisation that’s not answerable in any way politically to anyone at all, which they’re not, unlike the Reserve Bank of England – it’s responsible for reporting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer – in New Zealand, nothing at all.”

At the time New Zealand headed down that economic route of neo-liberalism “Australia grew 38 per cent larger in real terms than we did”.

“That’s all you need to know about whether this is a sound economic policy or not,” he said.

Except that now Australians envy the New Zealand economy, which is performing relatively well compared to the rest of the world.

But Peters doesn’t care about facts like that, he deliberately promotes populist misconceptions. An increasing number of voters don’t care about accuracy, they are happy to accept rhetoric.

I think that one of the defining things of this election will come down to the business end of the election, when voters look more closely at what’s on offer and start to form their voting decisions on what they think will be best for their personal finances and for the country’s finances.

Peters is very good at pandering to perceptions on the surface, but if voters peel back the layers they may be uneasy about what they see.

Time will tell how many Peters manages to persuade that the way forward is back to the past.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 16, 2017

    Winston is trying to create some middle ground economically between National and Labour that he can occupy. He probably thinks English is more likely to leave a gap there than Key. If he can push them apart he can get a foot in the door and try to collapse Labour back into the Green’s fantasy corner. He will say anything that suits his cause.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 16, 2017

      Damn. Shift that apostrophe.

  2. Where is the Deloren???? Has Winnie solve the flux capacitor conundrum?? Back to the future we go!

  3. Jay3

     /  July 16, 2017

    Using Australia as an example of good economic management as Winston does is nonsensical. Given that country’s huge natural resources and relatively small population, the question should be not why has Australia done so well economically, but why has it done so poorly?

  4. sorethumb

     /  July 16, 2017

    The serious consequences of having no clear and sound strategic framework for policy are evident and New Zealand as we know and value it is being fatally damaged. Think about it:
    o Auckland is booming but it’s the struggling regions that contribute most exports and tourist destinations – the critical determinants of living standards.
    o Excessive, low value immigration is a disaster. It boosts GDP, so is politically attractive, but increases housing demand and prices, is causing serious social problems, puts pressure on Government spending AND, most importantly, reduces the living standards of New Zealanders. Building more houses for more people who don’t add economic value just digs a deeper hole!
    o Immigration inflates house prices but much of the increase in house prices reflects the large tax subsidy to investors in housing, compared with savers.
    o High volume – low value tourism is destructive. It adds little economic value but puts serious pressure on the environment and fundamentally erodes New Zealand’s desirable features.
    o Deliberate policy targeting of savers and savings is politically expedient but bad policy, and damaging, economically and socially.
    o Low productivity is a critical weakness, contributing to low incomes, low tax payments and low living standards – and welfare dependency.
    o The windfall gains from Auckland house prices should be substantially taxed, to fund critical National projects, such as restoring river water quality and more effective social programs. River water quality is a disgrace!
    o The Public Service needs to be sorted, urgently. It has too many serious policy and performance failures. It has too many weaknesses and is too much a lap dog rather than a source of leadership and free and frank advice and information. “Better Public Service” is dead in the water!
    o And so on!
    It’s not a “housing crisis” but a comprehensive failure of policy crisis. The Minister of Finance acknowledged this, that policy was ill founded and unsustainable, (public comment, 7 June, 2016) when he stated that slowing immigration would put house prices at risk!

    • sorethumb

       /  July 16, 2017

      Otherwise National’s doing a great job.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 16, 2017

        My company is facing a serious shortage of good software professionals. Restricting immigration may well be seriously harmful.