Politicians’ attitude to and handling of Telecom has always offered a litmus test of their attitude to (big) business, never more so than in recent times, by the two most recent governments.
Their handling of Telecom offers an eloquent demonstration of the difference between these two governments in their attitude to business: where the Clark Government did its best to nationalise and dismember Telecom (scratch today’s Labour MPs, and you’ll still find a Marxist underneath), the Key Government is now doing all it can to turn it into a government department.
Such is the way the Key Government apparently sees business: as part of his corporate state, kept onside by subsidies and state-guaranteed monopolies.
A monopoly we would always have been better off without.
And, sad to say, instead of attacking Key’s crony capitalism Don Brash has shown he still doesn’t understand how politics works. In accusing the Labour opposition of “sabotage” and “wanton economic thuggery” because it says it would repeal Telecom’s sweetheart fibre contract, he is opposing precisely the position National should have taken over Kiwisaver when it was in opposition—back when it claimed to be opposed.
As I said at the time, for all their flatulent opposition at its introduction, John Key could have extinguished Kiwisaver before it was even born by one simple statement that, if elected in 2008, he would deal to this scheme as Muldoon did to the last Labour compulsory savings scheme -- by scrapping it.
That would not have been sabotage. That would have been a kindness. It would have shown balls.
No wonder he didn’t try it.
UPDATE: In Australia, opposition leader Tony Abbott has pledged to scrap Julia Gillard’s carbon tax if his Coalition wins the next election. Presumably Brash would call that, too, “economic sabotage.”
Which shows how absurd his mis-directed mini-tantrum really is.