John Key's speech-writers had nine questions for Helen Clark:
• Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
• Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
• Why, under Labour, do we get a tax cut only in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
• Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
• Why can't our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
• Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
• Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
• Why hasn't the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
• Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?
Unfortunately, neither the speech-writers nor John Key's policy-writers have virtually any answer to the obvious follow-up question: "What the hell would National do about any or all of these nine?" The answer to most of them still seems to be either "Beats the hell out of me," or, "Much the same as Labour."
UPDATE: The Hive claims there was plenty of detail, all of which they liked. I'd suggest however that the liberal use of phrases like "focus on," "more careful with" and "unrelenting in our quest" speak less of detail than they do of wishful thinking. Every government since Jenny Shipley's has promised for example to "reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy." Not one has yet managed it. Key offers no details of how his government would be any different. Like all such promises have proved to be, John Key's promise is all sizzle, no sausage.