Keep to Policy, John

Keywords: Regulation & Taxation;

Other articles on the 2005 Election Tax Debate

This is for the record, rather than of any great moment. The July 18 edition of “The New Zealand Farmers’ Weekly” included an extract from my In Praise of Fiscal Sustainablity, and a reply by National’s spokesperson on Finance, John Key. I reluctantly replied as follows. The title comes from the headline the editor put over the letter when it was published in the issue of July 25.  

This election should be about policy not personalities. So I regret John Key wasted a quarter of his reply to my extract. (July 18, p.11) with a personal attack. Readers may judge whether he is justified by reading the full speech, “In Praise of Fiscal Sustainability”.

Every politician out of office promises to eliminate waste. They seem to fail in office, because along comes the next opposition politicians making exactly the same claim. Key would do well to reflect on the remarks by Act list candidate Graham Scott, who was Treasury Secretary from 1986 to 1993.

He said National is “talking as though it will be easy to cut enough fat from the state to pay for tax cuts – it won’t be. Believe me I’ve been there and I have done that. The combination of the State Enterprises Act, the Public Finance Act and the State Sector Act, which I helped to design and implement, brought remarkable improvements in the effectiveness of public organisations and lower costs. … We can get better value for money but it has to be done with a scalpel not an axe”.

He also said “I know more about controlling government expenditure than the National front bench.”. When I first saw that, I thought he was exaggerating.

Brian Easton, Wellington.

The caption to the letter published in the July 25 edition was chosen by the editor.