Business

A political leader Australia could only hope for?

JOHN Key won the recent New Zealand election in a landslide.

Unlike our dissembling pollies here, without cowardice he came, he saw and he conquered what was a basket-case economy in his first two terms.

Unfazed by short-term polls and the 24-hour media cycle! It's probably something we haven't witnessed in Australia since the Hawke-Keating years notwithstanding the fact that the Howard government arguably took some tough medicine early.

In 2008 the New Zealand Key had inherited from a Labour coalition with a plethora of single-focus minor parties collapsed into recession like many of the OECD countries. It can now boast just about the best economy in the OECD.

Nominal GDP growth is 7%, inflation 1.5%, retail sales are growing by 4% per annum and consumer confidence is exceptionally high and has been for six or so quarters.

Business investment is at 10%, growth is 4% and the unemployment rate has been dropping significantly for two years. Makes laggard Australia across the ditch look pathetic, doesn't it?

So what was Key's key? He simply took much of the regulation out of the economy, boosted business opportunity and entrepreneurism by increasing the GST and slicing company and personal tax and eschewing a capital gains tax and took the fat out of public administration.

His NZ is now in his words: "the finest little nation on earth".

His biggest move was to increase the GST from 12.5% to 15% and continued to have it apply to almost every facet of expenditure, unlike the Australian hotchpotch.

Horror of all horrors, but the reality is that at 15% the rate is lower than in most of the OECD. To compensate for this, Key reduced company tax and sliced the top PAYE tax rate from 39 cents in the dollar to just 33 cents.

That's 16 cents less than we'll pay here once Hockey's tinkering with the tax system gets the nod from our Senate.

But that was not all. He de-regulated the labour market, easing the stranglehold organised labour had on business and by extension, the economy.

He extended no-reason dismissal laws to the first 90 days of employment, he squeezed mandatory superannuation and he ticked nine-day fortnights for struggling businesses.

He also cut a burgeoning public service feeding off a plethora of welfare alternatives by reducing to just three simple categories the available support options for Kiwis and making dependence on the public purse harder to get.

However, Key was not above stoking the fire of nationalism.

In something of a contradiction, he brought back knighthoods yet promised a referendum this year to rid the Kiwi flag of the Union Jack.

A conservative, he legalised marriage equality, something which would give our Bible-bashing conservative politicians the vapours.

In comparing NZ with Australia, he recently said: "Our tax system is broad based, low-rate, our labour laws are more flexible and our investment in infrastructure is improving dramatically."

Chalk and cheese!

Topics:  bob lamont economy gladstone business john key opinion



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