Budget time — and some signs of policy movement

Colin James’s Otago Daily Times column for 2 May 2017

The budget is three weeks away. Money is being sprayed around. It’s election year.

Last week’s spray was the infrastructure spend, up a bit from the December Treasury update, half of the increase due to the Kaikoura earthquake.

Steven Joyce presented that as investment for the future. Labour’s Grant Robertson said it was catchup with the immigration flood.

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A message from Martin Luther 500 years on

What is the link between social media and Easter? Don’t we live in a secular society now? Isn’t Easter just a paid holiday from work?

The answer is that six months from now will come the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous, and fabled, nailing of “theses” to a church door which sparked a revolution — via the still newish medium of printing.

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Events, news, mistrust – and a democratic deficit

There no facts, only events. That’s the advice some years back from a Victoria University history academic who has published several event-filled books.

The point is simple. As time passes after an event the “facts” become less clear. Different “facts” and perspectives emerge as documents come to light, memories adjust or some speak out who hadn’t at the time or just because as time passes historians interpret events with new hindsights.

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The longer game that will reach through the election

Is Bill English slipping behind the play? A 1990s cabinet colleague, Simon Upton, last Tuesday in effect said he is.

Upton was in Wellington to deliver the 2017 Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) review of our environmental performance.

Twenty years back English, a very-up-and-coming MP, used to say that for his generation the argument over the drastic economic deregulation in 1984-92 was irrelevant. A less regulated economy and smaller government was the way, the light and the truth.

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