Labour finance spokesman David Parker and Green Party
co-leader Russell Normal yesterday continued their auditions
to become the finance minister in a future Labour-Green
government. Business editor Dene Mackenzie reports
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The position of Reserve Bank governor has become more
political than ever before, with both Labour and the Green
Party calling for changes to the way monetary policy is formed.
Greens co-leader Russel Norman has made no secret that he
covets the role of finance minister in a Labour-Green
government, despite Labour leader David Shearer ruling out
Mr Shearer's favoured finance spokesman, David Parker, should
have the inside running to become a future finance minister.
However, it is Dr Norman who has been making all the running
so far, attacking Finance Minister Bill English, who has been
joyfully pointing out that it is Dr Norman, not Mr Parker,
asking the hard questions.
Dr Norman got an early hit in by releasing earlier this week
a statement calling Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler
biased towards Australian banks.
Even though the criticism was not well founded, Dr Norman did
force Mr Wheeler to release information requested under the
Official Information Act by the Greens.
In his first Monetary Policy Statement yesterday, Mr Wheeler
kept the official cash rate at 2.5% and received general
praise from economists for his summation of the domestic and
As expected, Mr Parker and Dr Norman released statements on
Mr Wheeler's decision and his assessment of the economies. Mr
Parker used his statement to prod the Government to change
the Reserve Bank Act. Dr Norman continued to personalise the
issue as he renewed his call for wider reform of the Reserve
Bank mandate and the way it makes decisions on the OCR.
Mr Parker mentioned Mr Wheeler in his statement, but only in
reference to things he had said or acknowledged he was
carrying out. He was also more inclined to acknowledge help
from other opposition parties in bringing about change.
Dr Norman targeted Mr Wheeler's ability to make the call on
the OCR. According to Dr Norman, only the Greens can fix the
If the polls continue to trend higher for both Labour and the
Greens, competition between the two aspiring finance
ministers will undoubtedly intensify.