Taken out of context it’s a pretty robust speech and policy agenda with a fairly orthodox right-wing ideology. Fixing up all the crazy tax loopholes for the rich that Labour ignored for ten years is sensible stuff; switching taxation away from labour and towards consumption is a reasonable solution to the challenge of gathering tax revenue from our aging (soon to be retiring) population.
None of this is ‘step-change’, catch-Australia-in-15-years stuff though and that’s what the PM promised to deliver. His response to Alan Bollard’s dim view of plan-Australia was that he had a bold plan to execute a step-change. A day later he reveals he’s looking at various options.
Most of the rest of the speech is about the government announcing stuff they’ve already announced, or various economic aspirations (mining, back office hub) they’ve been talking about for over a year.
It’d be interesting to know why the policy around taxation is still so tentative: they’re dead sure about a controversial plan to dig up conservation land but awfully vague about what they’re doing with income tax thresholds and property tax. No mention at all of company tax or trusts.
It could be that the government knows what it wants to do but has some horse-trading with it’s coalition partners before they’ll sign off on it. Previously they’ve been able to play ACT and the Maori Party off against each other, but you can’t do that with the budget – and both parties are likely to want things that the other will strenuously oppose. So the details could be tricky and the final result more schizophrenic than the outline sketched by the PM.
The speech was better written than Key’s speeches were last year: very clear, less adjectives, no passive voice, sneaky writers tricks like floating opposites and linked transitions. I bet they farmed it out to a PR company.