There’s increasing focus on the National Government’s plans for spending cuts – especially those in the core public service. The criticisms are building – see, for example Hayden Donnell’s very good overview: Govt accused on ‘slash and burn’. On the Imperator Fish blog, the criticism is made that the cuts represent a government that is ‘devoid of imagination’ – see: The Imagination Deficit. Despite being sympathetic to spending cuts, the Dominion Post makes the interesting argument that the Government should make cuts to spending in the Beehive first, quoting Jim Bolger that ‘New Zealand needs no more than 12 to 15 Cabinet ministers’ instead of the present 28 ministers and all of their huge numbers of staff – see: Public sector cuts should start at top.
The Labour/Hughes/Goff saga rolls on however. And the most cutting commentary on the scandal comes once again from the left. Writing in The Wellingtonian, Gordon Campbell says in his column, A stunning fall from political grace, that the failures of Hughes and Goff are ‘almost inexplicable’. In terms of Goff, Campbell says his ‘behaviour was also appalling’ and ‘It was a quite extraordinary failure of leadership’. Campbell also laments that the whole affair will have a conservatising effect on public policy debate, saying that ‘Over the coming months, any legislation with a moral dimension will now offer an opportunity for the Hughes affair to be resurrected’, and that issues such as alcohol laws will be the victim of a conservative backlash. Vernon Small also has a worthwhile read on Labour’s current issues. He maintains that although the Labour leadership coup is now off, this is simply due to the lack of ‘someone prepared to accept the chalice nor a single challenger to rally behind’ and he says that ‘At one point last weekend reporters were even told of plans to send an emissary to Mr Goff to outline concerns about how he handled the Hughes affair’ – see: Goff needs the focus to be on the economy. Another useful read is David Farrar’s Labour’s choices which runs through the options for the caucus reshuffle that is now required due to Hughes’ departure. [Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]