Following strike wave, New Zealand prime minister appeases the corporate elite
8 September 2018
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on August 28 the creation of a new Business Advisory Council to build “closer relationships” between the Labour Party-led government and big business.
Ardern’s announcement, made to a gathering of corporate leaders in Auckland, was aimed at arresting a collapse in “business confidence” 10 months into her government’s term. A current ANZ bank outlook, the gloomiest monthly survey in a decade, shows 50 percent of businesses expect conditions to deteriorate. Economists are mostly downgrading growth forecasts for the coming year to around 2 percent, from about 3.5 percent a year ago.
Ardern had earlier described plummeting business confidence as the “elephant in the room” for the Labour-NZ First-Greens coalition government, but she opened her speech by declaring that the level of corporate disquiet had now become a “massive, big, flashing neon sign.”
Ardern reassured her audience that the government was “listening” to their concerns and promised to “do better.” Certainty, she warned, “should not be confused with stasis and complacency.” By failing to “transform” the economy in the 1970s and early 1980s, Ardern asserted, “we paid a price for that with the speed of reform that had to come after.”
The remarks were a reference to the brutal market-liberalisation attacks on jobs and living standards that was carried out by the Labour government of 1984–90. Ardern emphasised that her government has ambitious plans to further “transform the economy”—i.e., to extend the pro-capitalist agenda and deepen the assault on the working class—and “wants business to come with…