Last weekends Labour Party conference seemed, by all reports, to be a positive affair. Labour know that National can be a threat, and anything like Orewa close to the election could change poll figures even more dramatically as Dunne's worm did at the last election.
We have healthy economy, unemployment is down - well the registered ones, anyway. The unregistered ones are on other benefits and studying. Employment is up as more women enter the workforce. This time next year the election will be over, and parties are gearing up for it already.
But I can't help thinking what is worse: a National government with Brash at the helm screwing monetary and economic policy or Labour passing unpopular bills representing an unwilling public. As we all know, National can be quite mean to beneficaries, and Brash doesn’t really mind if unemployment is at seven percent if inflation is kept in check. That's more than double what it is now. But given that this current government is spending more on welfare than any government has ever done, what will Brash do next time inflation increases. Cutting unemployment benefits won't be as effective - there are fewer beneficaries. I can't see him altering taxes. Surely he won't tinker with the economy to keep wages down, given that Working For Families will be well under way. The whole point of Working for families is to make work pay; so the state is to assist in providing workers with higher incomes than beneficaries because the employers don't. Of course the lower the wages are, the higher state assistance is - and whatever the wages are, people won't want to do overtime as they will lose some of the state assistance.
Then again, if both inflation and unemployment are low, Brash won't have to bash the healthy economy, or beneficaries who won’t get as much assistance as low income families through the Working for Families package. Labour has already made its decision on beneficary families. The Greens want to restore the universal family benefit
Reintroduction of the Family benefit makes some sense with regard to addressing child poverty. Universal family benefits may assist in reducing child poverty, but it will also maintain the gap between the rich and poor families. The poor get more money but the rich, under Working for Families, get even more as they will get the in-work payment as well.