As a self confessed (sometimes vehement) critic of this government, l find being a supporter of at least one of its major announcements all a bit challenging.
I base my support in this instant purely on a belief that criticism is only effective when reserved for transgressions that are obvious to people with a reasonable sense of fair play but are balanced with complimentary comments that are equally potent when justified. Credit given where or when credit is due!
The governments announcement of pay freezes for a large section of the public service is, in my view, an opportunity for the latter.
I think it should be congratulated for being bold enough to make this decision knowing that it could well mean a significant drop in popularity especially amongst some of its most ardent supporters and traditional political allies - the public service.
We can see from this sector’s immediate reaction that they are not happy. From the responses we have heard, it would seem a significant number of its members may even be considering a new home for their vote come election time. Time will tell.
Whatever, but history tells us that this is the sort of scenario that can lead to the defeat of even popular Prime Ministers and their governments who had only a few months earlier been hailed as the “deliverer from Evil”.
Winston Churchill’s government was unceremoniously dumped immediately following the end of WW2 after successfully guiding the nation through its darkest hours.
It would seem that voters are quick to forget previous loyalties when their personal aspirations might be enhanced by others offering more rewarding prospects for a tired battle scared populace.
Basking in the glory of a magnificent victory soon pales when contemplating a future that threatens jobs for the returning heroes, so it was understandable that in those circumstances, Atlee’s offer gained the votes.
That obvious precedent for our own Government’s actions with the unforeseen consequences would no doubt have be foremost in the minds of Labour’s spin doctors when weighing up whether this move could be justified politically.
I take my hat off to the Government for having the courage to show a rare glimpse of what is left of their commitment to the nation’s future rather than just to those whose lifestyles have been totally protected during the whole time that COVID has dictated who lives and who dies.
I say that as one who has seen a significant loss of income (more than half) as a result of the government’s necessary and justified actions during the pandemic.
It is worth noting that others in the private sector have lost everything through no fault of their own - just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Perhaps those members in the public service who will still retain their $100,000 salaries in spite of these new measures should reflect on just how lucky they are.
It could have been and for some, it is so much worse.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.
Studies show that jobs in the public sector attract about a 30% premium compared to their equivalents in the private sector.
A comment I've heard recently from several public sector groups is that after working hard during the Covid crisis they are very disappointed at not being "rewarded" with a pay rise.
Hold on! These people had guaranteed jobs on full pay, unlike many others who were on 80% at most and didn't know how long their job was going to last. I'm sensing some real entitlement here.
They obviously feel under-valued and think they should be paid even more for doing their jobs when lots of people fared really badly.
NZ has a huge, burgeoning public sector for a country of only 5 million. They have the best pay and conditions and are protected from competition and the free market. Clearly that's not enough and they want even more!
In line with Clive's sentiments, I feel I should congratulate the government on sticking to their guns. Aaah, that felt weird!
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