Friday, August 19, 2022

Bryce Wilkinson: A Prime Minister congratulates Ian Forsty in the Koru Club

“The ownership of these [water] entities sits with local bodies and government. … Local government retains ownership. For most people power sits with ownership.”
Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern Interview 31 July 2022.

Prime Minister (brightly): Good morning, Ian.

Ian Forsty (guardedly): Good morning, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister: I was delighted to see that your coaching contract remains fully intact.

Ian Forsty (more positively): Thank you Prime Minister. I was worried. A contract is a contract, but the lads lost a few games, and it was looking dicey.

Prime Minister: I know the feeling.

I even had to explain to an interviewer recently that I am never going to apologise for high aspirations relative to performance.

Those with low aspirations might congratulate themselves on delivering a poor performance, but not you and me.

You aspire to win the World Cup. I aspire to end poverty, fix crime, clean up our rivers, end the housing crisis, end inequality, and much else.

I reject the premise that performance matters as much as aspiration.

Ian Forsty (dryly): Perhaps so, but may I suggest you do not take a leadership role in professional sport when you retire from politics?

Frankly, I was worried that they might remove my contractual rights and powers.

Prime Minister (puzzled): But they were not going to that were they? They were just going to give the coaching job to someone else and stop paying you.

Ian Forsty (puzzled): But that is what I meant by taking my contractual rights.

Prime Minister: Dear me no. Your rights in anything do not extend beyond titular ownership. Your ownership of your copy of the contract is power enough.

You are not alone in this misunderstanding. You would be amazed how hard it is to explain the point to local authorities over three waters.

I say to them: “Look at state schools. Government owns them but the teachers’ union controls the system. That is why we had to end partnership schools.” They still don’t get it.

Even landlords seem to think they have a right to the portion of rental income that we have not taxed away from them ­ yet.

Ian Forsty (exiting): Prime Minister, you have made me realise how lucky I am. Thank you. Do carry an aqualung when sparring with local authorities over three waters.

Dr Bryce Wilkinson is a Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, Director of Capital Economics, and former Director of the New Zealand Treasury. His articles can be seen HERE.

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