Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Sporting National making a match of it, again?

Some time ago (the 7th of March, 2008, to be precise (1)) I pondered if National - in opposition but well ahead in the polls - were so bored with the inevitability of their victory that they were deliberately acting all hateful and useless to even things up a bit. This was the time of John Key's "We'd love to see wages drop" gaffe, his absent mindedness about what his party's policy on treaty settlements was, and Bill English promising to flog off Kiwi Rail at the first opportunity.

The same sporting spirit manifest again, with National deciding that, really, it is silly having a 20 point lead in the opinion polls, and since Labour don't seem to have any ideas at all on how to reduce it, they'd better give them a helping hand.

I can't think why they'd do something so obviously stupid as threaten to open up ACC to competition - well, I can, but that would mean they were both ideologically driven and boneheadedly stupid as well (2). It's better to assume they're trying to make a match of 2011. After all, it would be pretty depressing to be trounced twice by arrogant, dim free market fanatics.

Nick Smith's announcement is a gift to Labour, if they have the nous to take it (a big if, I'll grant you). It's one of these divisive issues where the real differences between National and the electorate is made clear - and not to national's advantage. And because it's something that lots of people have experience of, and which can be phrased in fairly straightforward language, it might have some resonance.

Even better, the fact that any changes won't take place until after the election means 2011 can effectively be ABOUT the future of ACC. The battle lines can be very clearly drawn, and the electorate given a straightforwards choice between the status quo, or hideous mess.

(n.b. I may have shown my preference there)

I can even discern the makings of some sort of policy platform here:
  • PROTECTING our ACC from the freemarket.
  • RESTORING your rights as workers by repealing the 90 days rule.
  • KEEPING the employer contribution and government subsidies on Kiwisaver.
Which is nice an worker focused, and has the advantage of being good policy.
2 - "ACC levies unchanged, work cover opened up," by Vernon Small. Published by Stuff, 21st of December, 2010. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4481101/ACC-levies-unchanged-work-cover-opened-up)

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