I saw the headline and thought how incredible is that? After four decades Richard Prebble has finally realised that we should reward the hard work of ordinary people rather than the rich freeloaders we carry on our backs.
But no – nothing has changed. Prebble had a moral and ethical transplant in the 1980s and there is no going back. He is now programmed to see the parasitic rich and corporate bludgers as hard working while low-paid workers, who pay double the proportion of their income in tax compared to the super wealthy, are somehow freeloaders.
There has been no change. Prebble has spent almost all his political life championing people whose biggest job each morning is to turn the pages of the newspaper to check the share prices of their investments before heading off to join their fellow spongers on the golf course.
I should make a small confession at this point. In 1978 was living in Grey Lynn in Auckland Central and I voted for Richard Prebble as my local MP. I did so only because he was pretty much the only Labour MP who would take on Prime Minister Muldoon in parliament and give him a bit of a mauling. He was then known affectionately as “mad-dog Prebble”. He’s still known as “mad-dog Prebble” today but without the affection.
Once he got into the 1984 Lange/Douglas government he was one of the ruthless free-marketeers who destroyed the welfare state, sold our strategic monopoly assets to rich investors, and enacted policies which drove up unemployment and drove down wages. He then left Labour for Act.
The country has struggled ever since. Productivity slumped and has never recovered. We are now a low-wage economy and don’t have enough income to sustain a decent standard of living for our citizens. We have crippling inequality and all the social problems which come with it.
Unfortunately, the election is not about rewarding hard work. It will be more a matter of rejecting Labour for what the electorate rightly sees as a failure to deliver anything meaningful in six years.
The old saying that people vote against governments rather than for them is true. There’s little sign of any deep affection for National and Act – they will get in simply because they are not Labour.
And “mad-dog Prebble” will be baying at the moon.