Grant Robertson has been in parliament as an MP since 2008, and worked for Helen Clark before that. His background in politics seemed to suggest he would be one of the leaders of policy formation in the current Labour administration, but it is hard to think of a single policy success attributable to Grant.
This may be unfair on Grant, he may have had policy successes, but he has not been any good at selling them. If he had been any good we would know about them, and we would have had his podgy visage on the 6 o’clock news for weeks on end.
Grant has been near anonymous in the Environment portfolio. He has done bugger all to hold National to account, and has ceded massive ground to the Greens through his inaction. This is despite the environment being one of the easiest areas to rinse National because no one really trusts National on the Environment.
The urban voter could well believe that National is going to give farmers huge amounts of money to pollute our waterways, ruining some of New Zealanders most cherished possessions. Yet we havent heard a peep out of Grant on this.
Grant has also been negligent in his understanding of the National Party budget. National has set aside nearly $500m for irrigation projects, projects that will cement New Zealand as a low value commodity producer and give National’s backbone, farmers, a big increase in wealth. It is crony capitalism at its worst. Or that’s how a competent Labour spokesman would be spinning it.
The limitations of Grant’s policy thought are not only his inability to explain why intensive farming is bad for New Zealand. He has lacked the strategic thought needed to be able to see that $500m is a good amount of money Labour can piss away on its own voters. He can do this without much blow back because there are never any farmers that vote Labour, and very few voters who will not vote Labour if they take back the $500m for irrigation.
Labour got nailed at the last election when John Key asked Phil Goff to show him the money. Grant can easily show National $500m by stopping irrigation funding, but has not done so. Grant’s judgment seems lacking.