October 6, 2009


Kiwi Conservative: Meet New Zealand’s Reaganite prime minister. (Lydia Bevege, 10/06/09, National Review)

Since taking office, Key, head of New Zealand’s center-right National party, has signed a multilateral free-trade agreement with twelve countries in the Asia-Pacific region and has commenced a regulatory review program aimed at eliminating unnecessary and inefficient regulations. His government has also capped the number of staff in the public service (halting the growth of a bureaucracy that became hugely bloated under Key’s predecessor, Labour prime minister Helen Clark, who served from 1999 to 2008) and introduced a bevy of tax cuts designed to stimulate job growth. Delivering his first budget in May, Key continued to distinguish his economic policies from those being adopted in Washington, London, and Canberra. He imposed a cap on government spending set at half the average spending level over the past five years, reining in government growth to 2 percent per year. Key’s “line-by-line” review of federal spending identified and cut back $2 billion worth of non-essential programs. His conservative budget pushed the New Zealand dollar higher and prompted the ratings agency Standard & Poor to increase New Zealand’s foreign-currency rating from negative to stable.

Key’s economic-stimulus plan has sought to improve private-sector productivity by reducing red tape and fiscal disincentives, rather than by borrowing and spending billions of dollars to prop up growth and bail out ailing industries. Meanwhile, his health-care reforms have reduced bureaucracy, encouraged private health-care provision, and improved value in the public health system. New Zealand health minister Tony Ryall has stated categorically that the government is “not interested in supporting any recommendations that increase bureaucracy.” The Key-Ryall reforms are a world away from Obamacare.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2009 6:26 AM
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