Many have gone backwards for at least part of the reform period — at a guess, , in a population of 3. As in many other countries a minority has flourished in or at least adjusted to the internationalised economy and society. But the majority remains uncomfortable and insecure: their wages, working conditions and jobs are changeable. At the bottom things have got worse: the symptoms of poverty have re-emerged in a country that thought it had abolished poverty forever. Running through this social dislocation is a generational stratification.
Those in their uppers and older pre-date the revolution and, indeed, came to adulthood before the s values revolution. Those in their uppers and younger stand squarely in the post-revolutionary society, having known no other as fully-developed adults — year-olds who had their first vote in are now The in-betweens are in transition, part revolutionary, part would-be counter-revolutionary.
We may be on the verge of passing political power to this next generation. The National party has promoted four young ministers aged to high prominence in its cabinet: the most prominent, Bill English 38 , is the Treasurer and the acknowledged heir to the leadership.
Inflation Targeting in New Zealand: An Experience in Evolution | Conference – | RBA
They have therefore a less doctrinal attitude to policy — an appropriate attitude as the neoliberal intellectual wave breaks and the debate moves on. Social policy reform is deemed necessary not just to hold spending but to improve the quality of delivery of social services to a public that demands the same quality from its public services as from its private sector services. That concern with social order suggests that what the four young men are attempting to do is generate a new conservatism through which they can command the political centre. But the new conservatism presumes a need to settle things down, to establish some social benchmarks that will bind people together after the revolutionary upheaval.
That requires the apparatus of the reformed welfare state. But in what form? Instead, the leading opposition party, the Labour party, is fighting the 27 November election very much in traditional terms, assuming a political stratification determined largely by socioeconomic status. But their presence has been felt in elections.
New Zealand's remarkable reforms
Voters also vented their frustration with established parties by voting to change the electoral system, which has greatly complicated our once simple politics by multiplying the number of parties in Parliament and forcing the two old parties to share power with them. This has left room for a new populist force which has been partly filled by the small rightwing ACT party, led by a former Labour minister, Richard Prebble. ACT was formed in to argue for more radical deregulation and privatisation, including of social services.
Labour is proposing a small tax rise for incomes around twice average earnings. But in fact the Labour leadership is backward-looking. In a sense it is expiating its reluctant complicity as cabinet members in the economic policy aspects of the s revolution. Both leader Helen Clark and deputy leader Michael Cullen hail originally from the left of the party and have never been entirely comfortable with the internationalised economy though they intellectually accept they cannot escape from it and the constraints on policy internationalisation imposes.
This approach treats the fractures in modern society as an illness that can be cured by a poultice or two. Ms Clark is not a visionary.
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She is a disciplined intellectual and a conservative one. In our part of the world, we must look to Mark Latham of the Australian Labor Party for that — and Mr Latham has been exiled to the back benches, from where he issues books, articles and speeches redeveloping social democracy to apply to modern society but does not make official party policy. If there is a Labour-led government after this election, then, it will either last only three years or it will survive only by electoral accident or because it has done some fast rethinking in government.
The real test of the new politics, whatever form it eventually takes, is to meet the central challenge for New Zealanders: adjusting to their new status in an internationalised world. The option of isolationist retreat is closed off, having been found wanting in the s. The rising generation has no sympathy for it. New Zealand is a small, beautiful, sparsely populated country at the bottom of the world, far from the great economies and its majority population ethnically and culturally isolated except for cousins across the Tasman.
It is inventive by nature but also conformist. It grew rich on its agricultural advantage but now is in the middle of the pack, with few advantages and many disadvantages. For the next decade at least its people are likely to be constantly reminded as they travel that their material standard of living is falling relative to that of most other countries. Their brightest children will become Londoners or New Yorkers or for those with lower sights Sydneysiders.
Excellence, which has seldom been prized except in sport, will become more elusive at the very time it is most needed to make a place in the world. Yet, if you project out 20 years, beyond the current post-revolutionary depression of spirit, there are some glimmers of a fourth New Zealand model. By marketing its space: a physically attractive place to live and think, an ideal location for the inventive individual at the forefront of the new sciences, technologies and occupations.
Connection with big-city life is only a plane ride or a mouse-click away. But if it is to develop in this way it must find a way through the challenges posed by another dimension — perhaps the determining one of our next decade or two. New Zealand is bicultural and is rapidly becoming multicultural. Coming to terms with those now established and irreversible facts is an immense challenge for a society that only a generation ago thought itself monocultural.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
By bicultural I mean that two cultures have a claim to a leading role. The Anglo-Celts are dominant in numbers and have controlled the economy and politics for years. This is expressed in many ways by a rapidly growing and confident new elite of educated Maori: through resource and injustice claims before the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal, including, for example, for control over the radio spectrum; through demands that social services paid for by the state should be distributed to Maori by Maori; through demands for special treatment in educational institutions; through demands for legislation to redress imbalances and injustices that cannot be dealt with through the tribunal process; through direct action to hurry along restitution.
The demands now also go to the heart of the power structure: a change in the constitution to give Maori equal decision-making power with the rest of the country or at least greater leverage. The change in the electoral system did give Maori more leverage but there is a growing clamour for institutional change as well. One claim is for two houses of Parliament of equal power, with a reconciling upper House.
Demands of this sort have no chance of success, at least for the next decade or two, but the push by Maori is leading a gradually stirring debate on the constitution which is likely to develop momentum and possibly lead to change during the s decade. Part of the reason for Maori interest in the constitution is the debate across the Tasman on abolition of the monarchy now temporarily suspended. Maori claim, through the treaty, a special relationship with the British Crown, which even though only symbolic they will not give up unless there is some arrangement in a written constitution the New Zealand constitution is a hotchpotch of laws and conventions, not a single written document.
Maori have much lower though improving educational achievement, much lower and possibly worsening health status, more than twice the general level unemployment and three times higher likelihood of going to prison. But there is a hard-nosed economic issue at stake. Such a large segment underachieving is a brake on the economy.
The irony is that the Maori enthusiastically took up British technology in the nineteenth century and took readily and successfully to the capitalist economy, falling back into underclass status only when dispossessed of their land and stripped of their mana dignity.
New Zealand is also home to other Polynesian races, a legacy of our mini-empire in the South Pacific. But, while there is some fellow-feeling between Maori and Pacific islanders, Maori also jealously guard their special bicultural status. Some Maori reject entirely the notion of multiculturalism: there is Maori culture and other culture, they say.
Unlike Pacific islanders, Asians are economically successful and the object of resentment. Most countries in one way or another are having to come to terms with a diversity of cultures within their borders. But in most cases it is an issue of a dominant culture making space for other cultures. In New Zealand it is a case of the two leading cultures having to make space for other cultures at a time when the leading cultures are still coming to terms with each other.
The potential for tension is therefore doubled.
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A liberal consensus among politicians and bureaucrats has so far held the line on biculturalism and multiculturalism and tensions have been contained; no political force has given voice to conservative redneck views on Maori issues, though New Zealand First used coded messages to tap resentment against Asians in But now the ACT party has breached the Wellington consensus with direct attacks on the treaty process which strike a chord not just with rednecks but with many middle class liberals. The next decade is likely to be much more tense in race relations than the one we are leaving.
Dealing with cultural adjustment and diversity is an internal preoccupation. How will the New Zealand of the first decade of the twenty-first century relate to the outside world, and in particular the United States? It will be generally outward-looking and internationalist with a preference for multilateral arrangements.
In culture, New Zealand is an avid importer, particularly of American culture, both low and high. We are internationalist in that sense. As we become more secure in our own national expression we are likely to maintain that internationalist attitude. In trade New Zealand is internationalist with a first preference for multilateral initiatives, though there would be diminished zeal for new bilateral and regional initiatives if Labour leads governments its allies, the Alliance and the Greens, are strongly opposed to free trade.
With very little border protection and industry assistance, which requires most business to be internationally competitive or dead , New Zealand has everything to gain and scarcely anything to lose from free trade agreements. Hence it has committed itself to beat the deadline for APEC tariff elimination and is actively seeking free trade wherever it can, quite apart from the World Trade Organisation round, of which it is one of the most enthusiastic advocates.
But that sort of protectionism is something we have to live with as an exporter of the products food that are among the most sensitive to local producers.
In politics and defence New Zealand is multilateralist. The effective withdrawal from the Anzus treaty in the mids as a result of the anti-nuclear stance looks isolationist on the surface, an impression that would be reinforced by a glance at the niggardly record in defence expenditure and a multi-party parliamentary report in August this year urging an army-based force, with the navy and airforce downgraded to army support and shed of their expensive strike hardware.
But that is to misread the public attitude. New Zealand suffered high casualties in the world wars because of inadequate preparation and equipment before them. By the time the United States requested participation in the Vietnam war in the s with heavy hints about the future of our beef trade even the conservative government in power was very reluctant. But New Zealand has been among the most dedicated of United Nations peacekeeper, contributing to about half of all operations. When the East Timor crisis developed in September even our peaceniks were demanding involvement, including combat if necessary.
But the anti-nuclear stand is unacceptable to the United States, which requires a nuclear alliance. Even if National remains in power, however, it will not move on the anti-nuclear policy. We are destined to remain militarily apart. Thankfully, Washington does not seem to allow that to affect other aspects of the relationship. Per capita we devoured around kg of meat per annum, the bulk of it beef 46 kg , mutton and lamb 30 kg. We each got through around four kg sacks of potatoes and 19 kg of canned or frozen vegetables.
Apples, bananas and oranges were the most popular fruit. Increased migration from Asia opened up new cuisines. Kiwis accustomed to the occasional Chinese meal could now sample Japanese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese food. Coffee and tea were consumed in equal quantities around 2 kg each. Coffee was becoming available in an increasing range of styles. Wine tourism poster. Between the early s and late s annual beer consumption halved from around litres per adult to around 90 litres. More women were now drinking alcohol, with wine their preferred tipple.
The local wine industry boomed — the area planted in grapes soared from ha in to ha in Smoking was becoming less socially acceptable.