Jacinda Ardern says neoliberalism has failed
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says neoliberalism has failed and New Zealand has always been served well by interventionist government.
The opposition leader, outlining her economic ideology to RNZ in a lengthy interview, was asked if she agreed with former Prime Minister Jim Bolger's assessment of neoliberalism in New Zealand: that it had failed.
"Yes," she replied.
"Neoliberalism" traditionally describes the political shift in the 1980s towards privatisation of government services, a focus on individual freedoms over collective good, and a general glorification of market principles.
"New Zealand has been served well by interventionist governments. That actually it's about making sure that your market serves your people - it's a poor master but a good servant," Ardern said.
"Any expectation that we just simply allow that the market to dictate our outcomes for people is where I would want to make sure that we were more interventionist."
Ardern however ruled out major changes to the legislation that sets out New Zealand's monetary policy.
"For me the neoliberal agenda is what does it mean for people? What did it mean for people's outcomes around employment, around poverty, around their ability to get a house? And on that front I stand by all our commitments to say that none of that should exist in a wealthy society. And there are mechanisms we can use that are beyond just our economic instruments and acts, to turn that around," she told RNZ.
Espiner challenged her on this, saying Labour's current plans would not take New Zealand away from neoliberalism, as it still wanted to keep core crown spending low.
"Being fiscally responsible is not akin to a neoliberal agenda," Ardern replied.
Espiner asked Prime Minister Bill English the same question when interviewing him recently.
"Frankly I don't know what [Bolger] meant by that - we have an economy that is underpinned by market principles, that's broadly accepted," English said.
"Words are a product of their time. This economy is in good shape. It's one of the better performing in the world on most measures."
The conversation with Ardern then moved to globalisation. Ardern said globalisation had been an "inevitable" but "mixed" force in New Zealand.
"There's no rolling back the clock," Ardern said.
"Globalisation, we probably could have done a bit more to prepare ourselves for that, but the next challenge beyond globalisation is automation, artificial intelligence. That's the next frontier for New Zealand, my concern is that unless we start preparing our workforce for that, that could equally be jarring."
Her party's intention to introduce three free years of post-secondary education was intended to help soothe the transition to a more automated society.
Ardern said she would like to stay as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage as well as Minister for Children as Prime Minister - but acknowledged this could be a hefty workload.
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