I read Chris Trotter’s review on this site of Labour’s monetary policy announcement last week, and completely agree with the content and sentiment. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look.
I also believe that the vision and supporting policies put forward by Finance Spokesperson Parker is the type of innovative approach needed to deal with the issues of the day. The problem is that the vast majority of those who decide elections have no idea what a ‘fiscal deficit’ is or what ‘monetary policy’ does.
I canvassed work colleagues (all educated with mortgages) and asked them to define both of these terms: none could, however, when I asked if they were concerned about their mortgage rates or pissed off with the amount of money the big Australian banks made out of Kiwi’s paying over-the-top interest, they absolutely knew where I was coming from.
This is where Labour needs to be clever in order to deliver the sucker punch. It’s great to come out with innovative policies that will genuinely make a difference to a large number of good hard working kiwi families, however, if the messages are not delivered on a number of levels, then great ideas are potentially doomed to mediocrity at best or history at worst.
Labour’s forestry policy, for example, was extremely good and could make a big difference to the economic landscape of certain regions across NZ, however, the forestry policy wasn’t about forestry per se, but rather about regional jobs through increasing manufacturing capacity and adding value to a raw commodity.
It cut to the heart of what is wrong with the ‘market knows best’ approach that this government has pursued. The market has failed the regions to a large extent, and Labour has a plan to bring back sustainable, well-paid jobs with companies in industries that should find NZ an attractive place to invest but, for a number of reasons, haven’t.
Talking about ‘forestry’ immediately shuts out the vast majority who perceive this to have no relevance to their particular situation. Talking about creating jobs in the regions, of which forestry has an important role to play, however, captures the eye. It’s the same with monetary policy.
If smart, Labour can take advantage of the opportunity it now has to own the narrative about having a plan for the future where lower interest rates, saving for our retirement, limiting the profit of the big Australian banks and looking after good hard working Kiwis are important themes. But it needs to get the messaging right.
My work colleagues knew that Labour had made an announcement, and they had the impression that it was well received. But they didn’t really know what it was. Most interesting.
So now, the announcement wasn’t about monetary policy or reducing the fiscal deficit; nor was it really about NZ ‘paying its way’ (‘what does that mean?’ I hear a number ask). On the doorstep, in the pubs and clubs around the regions and at the coal face of electoral politics, Parker’s announcement has to be about:
-reducing the interest you pay on your mortgage
-creating jobs by making sure our companies are profitable on the world stage
-ensuring that the big Aussie-owned banks don’t continue to rip the guts out of the pay packet of those who are struggling with rising interest rates.
-Making sure that all kiwis have enough money to retire with dignity and enjoy their twilight years.
For the vast majority of those who will decide this year’s election; that’s what Parker’s policy announcement needs to be about.