As 2009 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the year in retrospect. It was a year that opened with hope for those of us who believe there is a better alternative to the ever-waxing tide of government regulation and expenditure that we have seen under successive New Zealand governments for the last 15 years. The new National government was elected on a platform of economic growth and prosperity.
Alas, after one year of National, the signs are that this is a conservative (with a small 'c') government that is not prepared to change anything that the previous Labour government put in place and that is prepared to increase the burden of regulation and government interference in the economy through initiatives such as the new emissions trading scheme and increases in accident compensation levies.
The truly alarming news out of this government came late in the year when the Minister of Finance announced that the goal of the 2025 Task Force, to match Australia's GDP per capita by 2025, was "aspirational" and unrealistic. The effect of this is that, for the first time ever in my observation of politics in this country, the government has conceded that New Zealand's future is as a Third World, not a First World, country. This alarming news is made worse by the widespread acceptance of the Finance Minister's view in the mainstream media. Personally, I find this situation very depressing and for the first time in many years I find myself reassessing whether New Zealand will continue to be my home.
I am fortunate in that my family and I have dual citizenship and can live and work anywhere in the European Community as well as in New Zealand. My children are still at school but they are already citizens of the world, having travelled to a number of countries at a young age and having already become fluent in other languages. It is apparent that they will be highly productive citizens of whichever country they eventually settle in and I don't think I am being overly boastful when I say that they are exactly the type of young people that New Zealand needs to retain. But it is difficult to remain loyal to a country that seems intent on squandering its future.
Hopefully 2010 will see the National Government come to its senses and follow through on the platform of economic growth and prosperity on which it was elected. If it does not, it will be betraying not only the electors who put it in power but the future electors of New Zealand like my children.