Soft­en­ing mar­kets

The New Zealand Herald - - EDITORIAL & LETTERS -

Words like con­sen­sus and grand-coali­tion seem to send some into the same spin, as does ref­er­enc­ing the 1983-1993 Aus­tralian Ac­cord that brought more flex­i­bil­ity into labour mar­kets while low­er­ing in­fla­tion and un­em­ploy­ment. It was never go­ing to be a per­fect so­lu­tion but pro­duced some re­mark­able, and eq­ui­table, long-term so­cial re­forms as well.

De­spite some now recog­nised neg­a­tive un­in­tended con­se­quences, that ac­cord pro­vided a so­cial wage to cush­ion work­ers from the ad­verse ef­fects of eco­nomic and wages pol­icy re­form. It also rep­re­sented a more eq­ui­table al­ter­na­tive to more ex­treme eco­nomic ra­tio­nal­ism (“ne­olib­er­al­ism”) adopted world­wide.

Which­ever word is used, I would ar­gue for a thor­oughly de­bated, well-rea­soned cross-party con­sen­sus in health, ed­u­ca­tion, and long-term in­fra­struc­ture pro­vi­sion for the en­vi­ron­ment, trans­port and even demo­cratic pro­cesses. If this con­sen­sus looks be­yond com­pet­i­tive mod­els to the more eq­ui­table Scan­di­na­vian ones that fo­cus on col­lab­o­ra­tive so­lu­tions all can buy into, we could achieve new re­gional-cen­tral gov­ern­ment eco­nomic mod­els to trans­form our phys­i­cal and so­cial en­vi­ron­ment for decades to come. Some­thing worth hav­ing and wait­ing for?

Steve Lid­dle, Napier.

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