Tuesday 19 July 2011

Congratulations Ruth!

Ruth Richardson, former NZ Finance Minister and largely responsible for pushing through the second necessary set of economic reforms in the early 1990s, is to be awarded an honourary doctorate at Canterbury's graduation ceremonies this year.

The only graduation ceremony of any kind that I've ever attended was my high school grad. Circumstances and lack of interest kept me away from the others, though I really regret having missed Denis's awarding of the Canterbury Research Medal last year; I'd forgotten that that award was tied to grad rather than being a separate event.

I will be attending this year's ceremony. And I hope that the Gnomes of Canterbury do something suitable to celebrate.

At the Australian Conference of Economists last week, I enjoyed Judith Sloan's presentation on the horrors of Australian labour market regulation. I understand that Ruth takes a reasonable amount of the credit for sorting out our equivalent messes. And, for the most part, those reforms have stuck: the current Employment Relations Act isn't as clean as Ruth's Employment Contracts Act, but the main features are still there. All of New Zealand effectively remains a "right to work" state; there are no closed shop unions, and union membership remains voluntary.

Congratulations Ruth! And excellent that the University of Canterbury is extending her this well deserved honour.

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