Brace yourselves: this is a seriously scary chart. According to the latest IMF World Economic Forum forecasts released this week, 148 countries will grow real GDP per capita faster than New Zealand in the decade to 2016. Gallingly, they include Australia – of course.
We wouldn’t accept such mediocre outcomes from the All Blacks, yet it says much about our priorities that we accept it for economic performance.
Our governments don’t hesitate to set grandiose targets for raising living standards. The last Labour government said repeatedly that its top economic goal was to lift New Zealanders’ average standard of living back into the top half of the OECD by 2010. The current National government has the stated goal of catching Australia by 2025.
Labour never had a credible strategy for achieving its goal, and National has yet to unveil one. And even if it had a strategy, would it have the will and ability to achieve it under MMP?
The current government set up a 2025 Taskforce which produced two high-quality reports. These were regarded as politically unpalatable and accordingly side-lined. Their orthodox OECD style recommendations would have given New Zealanders a much better chance for a more successful and prosperous future.
This is not a simple matter of blaming the politicians. If the electorate rewards political parties for grandiose goals with nothing to back them up, the chart indicates what we can expect to get.