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.