Magazine article New Zealand Management

Helen's 2002 Business Plan. (Politics)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Helen's 2002 Business Plan. (Politics)

Article excerpt

In mid-February Helen Clark will deliver the opening speech at a "leadership" conference, the Knowledge Wave's second shindig. This will be around the same time as her annual Prime Minister's statement to Parliament. Will they mesh?

The watchword of this Government is "incrementalism". If "leadership" implies boldness, this so far is not the government for that. Incrementalism is for calm times--or times when fears need calming. At the end of the turbulent 1990s it was just what the voters ordered. But now the fears have been calmed. Now incrementalism means in effect leading from behind or only just in front.

The parallel is the Holyoake years. "Steady does it" kept National in power for 12 years. Sir Keith would do nothing for which he did not already have a majority in the community.

And, like Clark, he had a compliant economy: rising incomes, low unemployment, money to spend--modestly--on social services. The parallel is eerie.

The message for business, now as then, is no big surprises. Put out of your mind tax cuts, privatisations, leaps of imagination in education, daring plays for foreign investment and major reprioritisations of state programmes to free up funds for focal issues.

But this is not a standstill government, just as Holyoake's wasn't. Remember Nafta, the first step toward free trade with Australia? ACC was dreamed up by one royal commission of the Holyoake years and the radical notion that the benefit system should ensure all can fully participate in society by another.

So here are 12 things business can expect from the Government next year.

1. Legislation to enable public-private partnerships for road-building, complete with tolls on those privately run roads, as part of the Land Transport Management Bill to be passed by July. The roads will take a while longer because of the Resource Management Act. While you are waiting, watch out for a walking and cycling strategy and prepare to be the proud owner of the rail track. Transport may well be the Government's biggest focus next year.

2. Speaking of the RMA, some movement to reduce compliance costs and time delays. Something may also be done about the growing practices of buying off objectors and paying for consultations with iwi, which have attracted the attention of the world corruption watchdog, Transparency International.

3. Compliance costs? Modest tinkering with red tape for small and medium business, starting with the tax system. …

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