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Post War Nz Essay

1197 words - 5 pages

Why did 1984 mark a sea change in the history of post-war New Zealand’s political system and policy making?
The year 1984 played a significant role in how New Zealand’s political system and policy making is shaped today. This period saw marked transformations of many policies, government expenditure, alterations in its foreign trade policies and saw numerous economic reforms. These radical reforms worked to stabilize New Zealand’s stagnant markets and society. To fully comprehend how these changes came about, it is necessary to draw from the period of 1945 to 1965. Whilst the post war period experienced much upheavals and disharmony, these amendments were vital to bring about the ...view middle of the document...

New Zealand had to deal with not only its relationship with Britain ending but had to quickly diversify its exports and markets (Gustafson, 2006: 5)
Britain’s entry into the European Community, oil shocks, inflation and rising unemployment all accumulated into New Zealand’s political culture to become more individualistic, heterogeneous and more concerned with equality of opportunities (Gustafson, 2006: 6). Urbanisation, immigration and increased technology resulted in a society flush with diversity. The general consensus had ended and the country was divided on how best to address to situations at hand. “The drastic restructuring process was initiated by the election of the fourth Labour government in 1984” (McAloon, 2002: 1). A central leader in the many reforms was the Finance Minister Roger Douglas. “He showed early signs of entrepreneurial talent” (Aberbach & Christensen, 2001: 406). The changes that then Prime Minister David Lange and Roger Douglas brought about have stayed the same ever since (Gustafson, 2006: 8). However there has been concern over the information basis of these central actors and whether they acted on complete information (Aberbach & Christensen, 2001: 407). There are arguments that the Treasury’s advice was inadequately informed. “The Crisis of 1984 gave a group of actors inside the New Zealand Labour Party, headed by Roger Douglas, a readymade opportunity to apply economic solutions that have been on the shelf for some time” (Aberbach & Christensen, 2001: 413).
Many of the economic reforms set forth by the Labour Government were carried on by the fourth National Government. Effectively it cut government expenditures such as welfare benefits and deregulated the labour market (Evans et al, 1996: 1861). These changes increased economic efficiency. To lessen New Zealand’s national debt many enterprises were sold off and assets became privatised - many ending up with overseas owners (Gustafson, 2006: 9). “A major element for New Zealand in the post war economy is the transition from colonisation to independence (McAloon, 2002: 4). New Zealand’s political attitude was transformed from consensus and conformity to one of competition and individualism. A major symbol of New Zealand’s independence from the USA and Britain in defence matters was its Anti-Nuclear legislation in 1987 (Gustafson, 2006: 9).
A number of policies were brought forward to grapple with New Zealand’s very large deficits. The very core of how these policies worked was through the new National Government’s expenditure restrictions and strong economy growths. These policies worked to reduce overall expenditure (Evans at al, 1996: 1868). The Goods and Services tax was also introduced in 1986 – reflecting a...

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