In today's email, we look at John Key's legacy and rate his valedictory speech, detail the big data debate and check out the response to claims in "Hit and Run".
1. 'Goodbye and good luck'
Newsroom Co-Editor Tim Murphy assesses retiring Prime Minister John Key's valedictory speech as neither profound nor particularly memorable, but as "spot on for the man and politician. Quick, matter-of-fact, in the vernacular and heartfelt for those he cared about."
I listened to it on the radio and, as Tim writes, it was pure Key.
Succinct, authentic and engaging, with enough jokes and anecdotes to keep a smile on everyone's face. It was a handy summary of his philosophy and achievements with some personal touches that illuminated his personal philosophy. Like Key, it was immensely likable, but not particularly memorable or uplifting.
For me, something he said about himself on his last day as PM sums up his successes, and perhaps his failure to use his political capital to do more.
"Truthfully, I'm the kind of person that likes to be liked," Key said on December 12 after caucus voted for Bill English as leader.
Here's the video of those final comments on the tiles in Parliament.
2. And his legacy?
Key spoke relatively briefly about the economic legacy he is leaving to Bill English and the rest of the country, referring in passing to the jobs summit, the cycle trails and the balanced books.
Here's my assessment of what Key's Government has done (and not done) on the economic and financial front. Although to be fair, it really was the Key-English Government and English can claim much of the credit -- as Key was quick to point to last night.
Here's a taste:
Key's legacy is sweetest for property owners, who saw the values of their homes rise more than $400b to over $1 trillion on his watch, while the cost of servicing their mortgages as a percentage of disposable incomes has fallen almost 40 percent.
But renters and aspiring home owners have not benefited from the Key era. They have gone backwards. Their housing costs are now rising faster than their incomes, particularly if they are single, on benefits, or have insecure and poorly paid work.
The poorest 40 percent of the population who are renters saw their housing costs rise substantially under Key, and faster than than their incomes.
3. A big data decision is looming
Newsroom's National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw has taken a deep dive into the data privacy debate growing around the Government's Social Investment approach.
"An imminent decision from the Privacy Commission could be the first check on the Government’s data-driven social investment approach," he writes.
"It revolves around that plan by MSD to expand demands for private client information from contract-holders in exchange for funding, and is due at the end of the month."
Shane's piece is an excellent primer ahead of the Privacy Commissioner's report due by next Friday, which could throw a big spanner into the Government's plan to use data mining techniques to target social investment through non-government organisations.
4. Resisting an Inquiry
The main news focus yesterday was on whether Bill English would call an official inquiry into the SAS's actions in Afghanistan in the wake of 'Hit and Run's allegations about the killing of civilians.
English wouldn't rule out an inquiry, but said in Question Time he would not be rushed into an Independent Inquiry because "on the face of it, the allegations are difficult to substantiate."
He said he had not seen sufficient evidence in the initial briefings he had received on the book to justify an inquiry. He also described the book as "politically motivated" and said he accepted the NZDF's assurances from 2011 that no civilians were killed.
However, that was undermined later in the day when former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp referred to the death of a three year old girl as an accident, but not a war crime. Here's Fairfax's report on Mapp's comments.
5. A productivity problem
Statistics New Zealand reported yesterday that labour productivity fell 0.7 percent in the year to March 2016.
Capital productivity rose just 0.1 percent in the year, while multi-factor productivity fell 0.4 percent.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce told me the fall was not a surprise, given the fast growth in the size of the labour force, and productivity would eventually catch up as business investment improved.
"And I'd expect productivity to catch up over the next couple of years as that flows through in increased investment, and also, provided growth is sustained, companies being prepared to make more investments in their systems and their equipment," Joyce said.
Labour Finance Spokesman Grant Robertson contrasted New Zealand's performance with improvement in Australia.
"We get higher wage jobs if we are more productive, however we are getting less productive especially relative to Australia," Robertson said.
"National used to make a big deal out of catching up with Australia’s economy, but they’ve been strangely silent on the widening gap that’s now apparent," he said.
6. While you were sleeping...
Four people were killed and 20 injured in an apparent terror attack on Westminster Bridge in London when a man drove a car into pedestrians. He was then shot and killed, BBC reports.
7. Coming up...
The Reserve Bank is expected to hold the Official Cash Rate at 1.75 percent when it releases its latest decision at 9 am this morning. The focus will be on the bank's outlook for interest rates, and whether it keeps its balanced view on the risks of the next move being a hike or a cut.
8. One fun thing
John Key had a few good jokes in his speech last night, but best was actually one from Bill English, as retold by Key.
Key talked about a parachute jump he did over Whenuapai last year and how he had first rung his wife Bronagh.
"I then texted Bill English. I kept it short. "I'm alive.", I said. His reply was even shorter: 'Bugger!'," Key said.
"One minute later, I got another text from him: 'Going to give it another go?'. It was at that point I decided he was just a little bit more ambitious than he was letting on."
Have a great day.