GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Land of the Long Dark Cloud

Why Luxon should stop talking doiwn the economy.

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I know there is a risk with writing about the gloomy mood pervading our country, that some of you may find yourselves breaking into the chorus of “Always look on the bright side of life” by the end of this post, but listening to Prime Minister Luxon constantly talking down our economy has really been getting to me.

Pick any speech he has made since taking office and you will find negative statements about what a terrible state our economy is in and it is all the fault of the previous government. But, as I pointed out in a recent post, if you just look at our debt situation 26 of 42 OECD countries are carrying more debt than New Zealand.

Is the cost of living rising? Hell yes. But Luxon knew (if not, he is discovering) that the cost of living is influenced by a lot of factors that happen outside of our island nation over which no New Zealand government has any control. Not the least of which is the fact that we have to import all the petroleum products and when the price of oil goes up, it costs more to transport goods around the country in gas guzzling trucks and so we end up paying more for your groceries at the supermarket.

So frankly I don’t buy the Prime Minister’s rhetoric that the economy is “fragile” and at imminent risk of collapse as “the result of economic vandalism and economic mismanagement we’ve inherited from previous government”.  Nor does it help that he talks down our overseas trading abilities.

In his recent trip to South East Asia, one of our leading exporters had to tell him it wasn’t a good idea to undermine international trading relationships built up over many years and successive governments by declaring that “New Zealand was under new management” and that we are “open for business” when we have never been closed.

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Nor is it accurate to say, as Luxon told Dan Brunskill of Interest, that New Zealand was “very slow out of Covid while the rest of the world took off very quickly”. A quick fact check reveals we fully reopened our border in July of 2022, while China had not yet ended its zero-Covid policy and Japan would not open its border to tourists until October of that year.

I could probably live with the Prime Minister’s negativity if it wasn’t matched with the host of negative legislation and actions by his Coalition government. Suddenly firing 3000 people from government jobs will produce a ripple effect of misery throughout the Wellington region as lack of spending, for example, forces some businesses to close. And when you add the firing of two cabinet ministers within 5 months of taking office to the mix it’s no wonder that consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest level since 1988 – four years after the introduction of neoliberal economics.

Inconsistency of policy and meanness of spirit certainly doesn’t help build the positive mood in a country where you need to fire up an economy. Not only is it simply mean to take away free travel for children and students because it punishes low income families, it is also inconsistent to their demand that  kids get to school each day (otherwise they will fine their parents).

In a recent Ispos survey of 1001 New Zealanders, 58% of respondents said our society is ‘broken’ and 60% said it was `in decline’ and gloomy talk from our Prime Minister will make our national mood even worse.

While it is important to be realistic about the economic issues we constantly face as an island nation at the bottom of the Pacific and a long way from the big markets in the world, there is a thing psychologists call “the self-fulfilling prophecy” where your beliefs can drive the outcome.

If the Prime Minister continues to talk down our economy using blame game rhetoric, the gloominess it will engender throughout our country will turn the possibility of a deep economic recession into a reality.

 

 

Bryan Bruce is one of New Zealand’s most important and respected documentary makers. His work is available on bryanbruce.substack.com

22 COMMENTS

    • Agreed Chris. Luxons political naivety in not understanding the metrics around how the cost of living is the result of many national and global measures, rather than simply blaming the previous government on everything, shows just how out of touch he is and shows he has no political education.
      That makes him a very dangerous person.

  1. Luxon has talked down the economy from the first day he stepped into parliament .He now has what he wanted and has now no idea to respond .He allowed willis to kill the contruction industry which will be more obvious over the next couple of years .NZ is on a serious down wards death spiral with the skin head gang leader charging around the china shop breaking all the valuable stuff .Next we will be sending troops to the middle east war and will lose a generation of young people so he can scrounge US DOLLARS .

  2. Yay. Everything is hunkydory! We’re doing great! We’re making money hand over fist and we’re all swimming in cash. Crime is right down and we’re top of the world with education. We’re totally self sufficient with oil, gas and minerals and our exports are through the roof. Doctors, nurses and cops are bashing down our doors to get in. We have plenty housing and rents have come right dow. Supermarkets are giving away the food it’s that cheap. Life has never been better.
    There Bryan, feel better now?

  3. It’s amazing how many people buy his bs. It might be tribal , they think you can actually trust him, or they are don’t have much of a clue because they are focusing on getting by. Either way Luxon, just like Nicola, is not telling the truth. Again if it’s so bad don’t have tax cuts and pay down debt faster. Our resident Luxon fan club rave about economies such as Singapore without acknowledging how much debt they carry.

  4. A very accurate summation…

    This is all Luxon has got…disrespectfully lying about the previous government’s performance
    to make himself look like the big guy who’s going to ride into town and sort it all out.

    Seymour is no different.Both bluffing their way in to power using big money self interested backers to buy their way .

    Both they, and the electorate, are going to find out the hard way that bullshit, bravado, bagging others who have sweated blood to make this country a better place, and
    stupid tik tok videos, only get you so
    far.

    The sign of a real leader is some one who engenders a positivity and vision to take the many and not the few to a better place by coming up with
    new ideas and revisiting worthwhile old ideas.

    Not rubbishing your own country to the world by calling it whiney and useless and whilst further lining the pockets of the richest 20%.

    Now THAT is lazy, and clueless.

    Luxon is no leader…far from it!!

    He’s, at best, a middle manager try
    hard who’s not actually trying very
    hard .
    If he was in my company, and saw how he operated…i’d fire him!
    of the richest

  5. Luxon’s actions just expose the inability of National to understand current economic events & that their rash promises were simply a means to get into power. Grant Robertson obviously understood the tight financial times ahead & planned accordingly however National who give every impression that they still believe in the tooth fairy & Santa rushed ahead with promising support to those who need it least & punishing the poor then wonder why they are unpopular.

  6. Luxon’s idiotic “ open for business” comment may be the fumbling of a complete ignoramus, but Bennett heading Pharmac, has plunged many into a sea of despondency.

    • Stephen He certainly shouldn’t be bashing the Parliamentary opposition/previous government to foreign countries. Not part of his job description.

      • He has no political experience Gentle so blaming the previous government for everything is simply resorting to type. Break down every comment he makes and you will see a very shallow man.

        • I know. His gloating in Parliament like a school yard bully when he thinks he’s aced the opposition is inappropriate and very juvenile – clueless at every level, including socially; he doesn’t have the gravitas or brains for the job.

  7. I less concerned with what he says that that he is failing to get off his larded ass and do something – anything! – that would in in any validate the unending and patently false assertions of economic competence the Right of politics seem to think is theirs by some kind of legacy.

    I knew the economist who took Korea from being poorer than Somalia to its current status of moderate prosperity. National have done nothing he would recognize as economically positive since Think Big, and some of that was misguided. They are lazy, as well as stupid, venal, and mean.

    We can’t afford them.

  8. @ BB.
    Yeah, well with respect we know all that. But what is it between our agricultural primary industry and the mouths then arse holes of a global human population that needs to eat food and wear quality, non petrochemical clothing?
    Could it be special little secrets between well lobbied politicians and the Kiwi-as-bro 14 multi-billionaires, the 3118 multi-millionaires each with a starting figure of $50 million net and the international cabal of thieves aka the four now foreign owned banksters taking $180.00 a second net 24/7/365 making them the second most profitable bankers in the world, second only to Canada.
    The Press.
    https://www.thepress.co.nz/business/350094635/nz-banks-some-most-profitable-world?
    Who else’s loins are stirred but not shaken at those figures? A population of 5.2 million and most of you can’t see the bullshit because you have your heads so far up the bull’s are hole.
    50 thousand farmers earn 100% of our income and in doing so have enabled 14 multi-billionaires, the 3118 multi-millionaires each with a starting figure of $50 million net and that nefarious international cabal of thieves aka the four now foreign owned banksters taking $180.00 a second net 24/7/365 not to mention the remainder of non farmer AO/NZ people leaving a population of 5,150,000 who do what? In reality, what do they do? One of the first things I saw when I got off the plane in Wellington recently was a fucking late model Ferrari. How?
    Here’s a bizarre factoid for you. If our farmers were unfettered by billionaires, millionaires and banksters we could pay living wages to every normal one of you and we’d flourish ever more so.
    Ok. Here’s the rub. Speaking broadly, you all have my figures. Now where are yours? Prove me wrong. I fucking dare you try.
    @ BB. I have great respect for you and your work but can I suggest you look past the mind controlling hypno-politician’s gaze and by the way, you’re nearly there. Yeah, I know. I’m an arrogant old bastard and that’s one of my better qualities.
    The Hypnotoad. Or is it really the national, act, nz first coalition…? It gets good @ 33 seconds in. ( The sound of the hypno toad is unnerving/ )
    https://youtu.be/POh7qNVFIrg?feature=shared

  9. Bang on Brian.
    Nats spent $10m on telling me that the country was buggered but they could fix it.
    Now 7 months later they are spending taxpayers money to tell us the country is still buggered but it is becoming obvious they don’t know how to fix it.
    The Auckland water deal is an example, essentially what Labour was suggesting but without out the credit rating that Labour would have provided. So Auckland will be paying 3 times as much in interest alone and WaterCare will have no government guarantee. Didn’t see that mentioned in the press release. Mayor Brown is just as silly as Minister Brown and the PM.
    Financial illiteracy on display.

    • Well explained and aren’t they all crowing at how clever they are.
      I fail to see why too, because it doesn’t seem all that clever compared to what we could have had with 3-waters.

  10. Prime Minister Luxon knows exactly what he’s doing he is financially literate whereas we all know the opposition are not.We replaced the cowboys with professionals at the last election October 2023.

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