National MPs talk a lot about the economy. Always have; always will.
In July, Simon Bridges appointed me Finance spokesperson for the party. So, I’ll be talking about it more than ever.
But when I do, I think of my old Nana, who always said, ‘money isn’t everything’.
Of course, it isn’t.
As one of the richest men in the world Warren Buffett, put it, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, if you’re not loved by the people you want to love you, life is a disaster.
It is the same with countries. Good government is just as much about preserving and enhancing what is special about this country – that, to me, is the quality of our environment, our social cohesion, our relatively high trust, low corruption traditions, our commitment to the rule of law, freedom and tolerance of different views, our sense of security – all these things are incredibly important and should never be taken for granted.
So the economy is not everything – but it’s important.
Not because we revere the great machine for itself – it’s simply a means to an end.
The economy is about people. It’s about you, me, our families, our neighbourhoods.
The point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well –
It improves our chances of finding satisfying and good paying work – so that we can look after ourselves and our families. The most fundamental task each of us have.
And work itself, in its countless varieties, brings the opportunity to make a contribution to our world and the people in it – whether we’re providing someone with a new hip, a new app, or a cup of coffee with a smile.
And third, if we do well, we can afford to have some fun in our leisure time, and maybe if we have some energy left do something in the neighbourhood, on the bbq for the school committee, or whatever.
That, to me, is the good life to which we aspire.
As well as generating work and opportunities, good economic management and a strong economy enables the country to have better public services that improve our lives – a quality education, access to world class healthcare when we need it, decent transport infrastructure so we can get home on time, the reassurance of superannuation when we’re old.
And at certain times of their lives some people can’t look after themselves and their families; the stronger our economy is, the more we can help.
That’s why we’re terribly worried about the sharp slowdown in our economy in the past year. At a time when we should be doing well, with historically high terms of trade, we’re in a funk.
Slumping business confidence is a symptom of the confusion and doubt that this government has sewn.
It’s fallen because this government continues to add costs to business, has created massive uncertainty and has demonstrated incompetence in critical areas – starting with KiwiBuild and transport.
A National Government would restore confidence and revive our economy, so that we can lift our aspirations, both in what we can earn and in what social challenges we can overcome.
We’ll be unfolding our economic policies over the next few months. I’m always keen to hear from Hobson readers offering suggestions of how we might do that more effectively.