Given the dire situation of Labour’s leadership and state of the party at the moment, they have been needing nothing short of a miracle to turn the polls around from the reverse momentum they have been currently experiencing under the leadership of David Cunliffe. One thing that I have seen echoing from this blog to social media to talkback radio is the apparent lack of policy, which almost seems to be replaced entirely by attack politics. Two days ago Labour leader David Cunliffe released a policy that they probably thought was a ‘game changer’, unfortunately it was exposed to have more holes than a block of swiss cheese outside a rat hole.
Stuart Nash yesterday went on the offensive explaining away as to why the policy was a winner, as he responded to a reader:
I have also worked in the forestry and wood processing industry, and it is an example of a sector of the NZ economy that has so underperformed as a result of massive underinvestment in value-added processing. You say you know what the problems are, but you don’t list any… I am suspecting that you don’t really know.
I would have thought the problems were pretty obvious to someone that has worked in the forestry and wood processing industry. For the last 10 – 15 years sawmills around the country have been closing down. Why is that? It is because the overseas market wants raw logs. You meet that market, or you lose it. They don’t want our sawn timber, and Labour’s policy will squeeze New Zealand out of the international market resulting in even bigger unemployment. There is only so much sawn timber the local market will absorb, and no half thought out idea of only constructing buildings under four storeys out of timber or the Christchurch rebuild will save this policy from failure. The silly part is it would be still optional to builders/construction firms as to the materials they used as it wouldn’t be implemented by force, in effect making the policy a dead duck and a waste of time. To suggest that part of the economy is under performing as a result of lack of investment is foolhardy: the demand isn’t there, so neither is the investment. If private investment won’t do it, that suggests the market isn’t there and it is bad business. You know, like subsidising large car manufacturers.
Nashy didn’t much like Mike Hoskings comments on it either,
If Hosking’s commentary was based on a reasoned analysis of Labour’s forestry policy then he would be taken seriously, but as per usual, he doesn’t let the truth get in the way of misinformed bile. He is articulate and intelligent, but he absolutely has an ideological axe to grind. That’s what makes him dangerous.
And it was pretty obvious as to why he took exception, as Hosking meticulously picked the policy to pieces like a vulture to expose the bare bones of what an incompetent idea it would be.
The other significant problem was that on one hand you have CTU President Helen Kelly screaming from her office that forestry death rates are too high, the government is doing nothing to fix it, while on the other hand you have David Cunliffe wanting to create more jobs to get people off welfare and into one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. How many lazy slackers are going to want to do hard forestry work, let alone avoid getting tangled with a chainsaw or have their block knocked off by a flying log due to inattention, being stoned or hungover from the night before. It is not the kind of job that accommodates slackers, halfwits, poor time keepers or self inflicted long weekends.
What does Helen have to say about it? Nothing. Not a peep, not a whisper, not a murmur.
It is much like the manufactured ‘manufacturing crisis’, this policy simply does nothing but provide bad solutions to non existent problems. If this policy was David Cunliffes big ‘game changer’ policy, he’s in for a rough campaign. Wait for the next round of musical chairs on the Labour front bench.
If Labour got in and implemented this policy the forest owners and logging contractors in Russia, Washington State and Oregon will be laughing all the way from the side of the hill to the port with double the capacity of raw logs for export.