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Archive for November, 2011

Post mortem #4: Maori Party, National, and the Treaty

30 November 2011 2 comments

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Full Story

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Current National and Maori Party coalition negotiations raise two interesting issues. One is fairly self-evident. The other is something I’ve just noticed in the above image of Pita Sharples anf John Key…

Issue one

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Mr Key said there was no reason why partial asset sales would need to be treated as a matter of confidence and supply.” Source

The sale of state assets is usually a budgetary matter. As I’ve written previously, past asset sales were generally included as part of bugetary legislation and passed by the government-of-the-day using it’s majority in the House.

The Opposition – whether one party as under FPP, or several parties under MMP – would automatically vote against the government’s budget. If the budget passed, the government had Supply (money to pay for ongoing state activities, such as paying salaries; building infra-structure; making purchases; paying for borrowings; etc).

If the budget was voted down – the government fell.

At present, John Key’s coalition-government consists of 62 seats out of 121 (there is an “over-hang of one seat),

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Those 62 seats comprise,

National: 60

John Banks/ACT: 1

Peter Dunne/United Future: 1

Total: 62

62 out of 121 is a majority – just barely. Lose one seat – in a by-election or a defection – and the majority is cut down to one. Lose two seats, and Key’s majority is lost, and becomes a minority government.

No wonder John Key spat the dummy a couple of days ago and called MMP a “weird system”.

Which is why the Maori Party’s the seats becomes vital to the longer-term survival of this new, National-led coalition government. Last term there were four by-elections. There is no guarantee that there won’t be one or two or more this time around.

Key needs the Maori Party as political “insurance”.

The only way that the Maori Party can be placated regarding asset sales is that the issue is removed from the main body of the upcoming Budget, and presented to the House as separate legislation. The Maori Party may then vote with the National-led coalition to ensure Supply, and the business of government carries on.

When the issue of asset sales is presented to the House as separate legislation, the Maori Party will no doubt vote with the Opposition, as Sharples and Turia promised their constituents during the election campaign, and try to vote down the Bill.

No doubt the Bill will proceed through the House, as John Key utilises his two seat majority early on, to guarantee it’s passage.

Once the Bill is enacted and becomes law, the asset sale can proceed unhindered.

At the same time, the National-ACT-Dunne-Maori Party coalition is embedded. There is face-saving all around.

Issue two

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When I looked at the image above, of John Key and Pita Sharples meeting and greeting each other as equals, the scene reminded me of a photo taken in the early 1970s, of then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk. I found the image using trusty Google.

Let’s compare the two,

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Norman Kirk Moana Priest John Key Pita Sharples

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My, how we’ve matured as a society since the early 1970s.

The symbolism of those two images shows – to me – how the New Zealand social and political meme has been re-defined  in only 40 years.

When Norman Kirk led the young Maori boy across the grounds of Waitangi, the image was one of the Pakeha culture as the dominanant patron of this country, leading the “maori child” walking together, hand in hand. It was the archetypal British Colonial “father-figure”, taking in-hand the “childlike” indigenous people.

In the right hand image, the Maori male is an adult Pita Sharples, meeting John Key on a level playing-field. They are meeting as true Treaty partners.

Despite what one may think of National; their policies; and the Maori Party supporting this government – I find something positive in the right-hand image. I think it bodes well for our future and demonstrates that pakeha fears over the Treaty is without foundation.

We’ve come a long way. The journey is yet to end, if ever.

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Additional

Chris Ford: Has the Maori Party finally cooked its goose?

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Learn to count, Mr Prime Minister.

30 November 2011 5 comments

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Full Story

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John Key bemoans the fact that, in winning 47.99% of the Party Vote, that his government will have “only”  60 seats in Parliament. This, despite the fact, that 60 seats is approximately 48% of the total seats in Parliament (plus over-hangs).

In fact, Key makes this bizarre statement,

But it’s a funny system when you can poll this massive number and still theoretically be wondering whether you’ve got a government.

”If this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour, so it would be this massive majority.

”Yet under MMP you sit there and go, ‘you’ve got this hugh result and yet it still feels tight’.”  Source

Mr Key needs to understand that  proportional representation gives a Party the number of seats that they are entitled to – no more, no less, generally speaking.

For him to say that  ”if this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour” is nonsensical. If the Tooth Fairy existed, I’d have fifty cents for a tooth I lost some years ago.

For one thing, under First Past the Post, there is no guarantee that a Party will recieve seats in Parliament according to how the punters vote. Two (in)famous examples are the general elections of 1978 and 1981, where Labour won more votes than National (under FPP) – and yet National gained the majority of seats. Muldoon’s government was elected with a minority of votes.

There is no internal logic to FPP. It is a purely random system that does not deliver rational results, set on any sound principle.

There is no sound reason why Key’s belief that -  ”if this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour” – would come true. It could equally be true that under FPP, Labour would have won more seats.

Let me explain it to Mr Key in terms that he should be able to comprehend;

Mr Key is selling shares in Company X. Each share is $1. If I am buying $400 worth of shares,  and another guy is buying $600 worth of shares, how many shares do we each get?

Test on Monday.

If John Key thinks he should get 65 seats out of 100 (65%), then let him campaign for that result.

Otherwise, as the immortal Bard put it, “Suck it up, dude, and deal with it!”

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Now that the election is over…

29 November 2011 2 comments

… what is the bet that the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is about to make public their decision on the Chinese offer to buy the Crafar farms?

The cynic in me wonders if the Minister responsible for the OIO had a quiet chat with  Chief Executive, Colin MacDonald, on this issue?

More here,

The second colonisation of New Zealand

The Crafar Farms – Why the delay from the OIO?

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How can this possibly be?

29 November 2011 2 comments

Full Story

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More jobs lost?

How can this be?

At a time when an entire city (Christchhurch) needs to be rebuilt, how can we be laying off sawmill workers? How can there possibly  be a downturn in construction???

This is simply too bizarre to comprehend and one wonders what the heck our government is doing??? Are they so pre-occupied with RWC photo ops that they have no clue what is happwening in their own back yard?

Eurocell sawmill site manager Todd McIlvride has stated,

It was hoped the Christchurch rebuild would help boost the timber industry.

However it was not known when that would start in earnest.

“They have got their insurance issues to get through, and the ground there needs to stop shaking before they will give insurance to new houses. That’s obviously the hold-up down there.

“Certainly there will be a lot of wood needed down there, but how far away is that is the million dollar question.

It seems remarkably short sighted that Gerry Brownlee, the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, has not implemented plans to stock-pile building materials. Waiting for reconstruction to eventually kick-off (whenever that might be) to then place orders for sawn timber will simply create a bottle-neck and shortages.

It is mind-boggling that – at a time when we will be needing skilled operators and sawmills to be operating at full capacity – that we are actually down-sizing our timber-processing capabilities? Is there no one with an ounce of common sense in the Beehive who can foresee the inevitable result?!

No, I suspect there is not.

They seem to be too busy, watching rugby. Or in John Key’s case, brandishing unsigned emails sent by unknown persons, making unsubstantiated allegations.

If anyone wonders what a hands-off government is like, where the “free market” is left to address critical problems: we are looking at one now. If National was any more “hands off”, it would be hovering in mid-air.

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+++ Updates +++

And it seems I am not alone in my opinions on this matter,

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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There is a proactive role to be played here by government. A “hands-off”, “minimalist government” approach simply will not do.  Rebuildimng a shattered city demands the full resources and powers of the State – not the fragmented, ad hoc “invisible hand” of the free market.

If the National-led government does not comprehend this simple truism, then they need to stand aside. This demands more than a “smile and wave” Prime Minister.

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Further Updates

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Full Story

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Source

Listen to more on Radio NZ’s  Checkpoint

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More than ever, this is another instance of the “free market” destroying people’s lives; damaging the fabric of our social cohesion; and impacting on our economy.

Unfortunately, New Zealanders have either not voted for any meaningful change – or have voted for more-of-the-same in the National Party.

Unless National adopts a more hands-on management of the economy, we are headed for a 1991-style major recession. Unemployment at that time rose to over 10%.

Can we do it?  Bloody oath we can! And here’s how.

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Some other recent job losses

English positive despite job losses

Key fails to quell Lower Hutt job losses

Christchurch earthquake job losses dole ‘disaster’

$15m cuts may mean NZ jobs go

School support staff face job losses in Christchurch

Job losses at The Warehouse

Thirty KiwiRail jobs on the line in capital

Jobs cut at Cavalier

Jobs threatened by Alliance meatworks shut down

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Post mortem #3: The Maori Party

28 November 2011 26 comments

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This is when politicians really break out in sweat,

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“The Maori Party leadership has met in Auckland today but is yet to decide on a future relationship with National.

Co-leader Tariana Turia said the party would discuss the issue with supporters after meeting with Prime Minister John Key tomorrow.

A reduced Maori Party caucus gathered in Auckland this morning to discuss possible coalition deals.

The party suffered a serious dent in its support last night. It lost Rahui Katene’s Te Tai Tonga seat and saw reduced margins in its remaining three electorates.

Co-leader Pita Sharples was visibly deflated last night and admitted to being disappointed with his own result and that of the whole party.

He said the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years.”

Full Story

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Co-leader Pita Sharples  said “the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years“.

Well now, that’s an understatement if I ever heard one.

It may seem like a Big Ask, but maori appear to want contradictory things for the Maori Party; independent representation with their own  political movement – and a voice in government. But not in coalition  – Maori Party voters seem overtly hostile to coalescing with National.

Anything else? Would you like fries with that?!

I don’t envy Pita Sharples or Tariana Turia one jot. They have conflicting messages from their constituents, and have already been punished with the loss of one of their number, and reduced votes. This is critical support that no small Party can afford. The next step would be a one-man band Party (a-la Peter Dunne, John Banks, and Jim Anderton) followed by political extinction.

On top of expectations from their constituents is a new thorn in their sides; state asset sales. The proposed sales are deeply unpopular with the majority of  the public (or so they tell the pollsters) and no less so with maori.

Sharples has consistently stated that the Maori Party are opposed to asset sales – though with the caveat that if the sales do proceed, they want Iwi Inc. to have first options to buy.

National, of course, would never have a bar of such a proposal.

On top of all this is the  convention of providing Confidence and Supply to the government.

Budgets are presented to the House for voting by all MPs. If the Budget passes, then government is assured of Supply – at least until the next Budget.  In all likelihood, National will make asset sales a central pillar  of their first Budget.

If the Budget is voted down – the government falls. If the Opposition cannot form a new government, then a snap  election is called.

Is essence, if Sharples goes ahead with his promise to oppose asset sales, he is effectively voting down the government’s Budget.

With National’s majority only a slim margin, the Maori Party would be playing a risky game of high-stakes, political poker. Excluding Maori Party support, National will have only a one seat majority in the House once the Speaker’s role is taken into account,

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With Labour a couple of seats short of being able to form a Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana-Maori Party Coalition – a fresh election is inevitable.

At best, the Maori Party could only abstain from voting for Supply for the government. That would mean National relying on Peter Dunne and John Banks to make up the numbers. Just barely.

Not exactly voting for asset sales – and not exactly opposing it, either. And all the while having to satisfy their constituents – or face an even greater voter back-lash in 2014.

At this stage, joining Winston Peters on the cross-benches; voting on legislation issue-by-issue; and hoping that Tariana Turia’s “pet-project” Whanau Ora is not canned – seems their likely option.

This may work. Until the first by-election happens – and last year there were four such by-elections.

To coalesce or not to coalesce – that is the question. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for a small party in Parliament.

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The loneliness of Phil Goff

- Gem

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As a Labour party member, the sadness I feel today is tinged with a sense of resignation. John Key is the coolest, untouchable kid in the unforgiving social strata of high school. Anyone who remembers such cliques will understand feeling hopeless and powerless to change playground politics, let alone our country’s politics at a time when brand Key is pervasively popular. In the interest of gracious defeat, let me congratulate Key and National on their conquest.

Last night wasn’t entirely gloomy. New Zealand First’s gallop to 6.8% was like the class nerd scoring with the hottest girl in school.  That Winston Peters and his crew triumphed in spite of concerted media efforts by Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner, John Campbell, Paul Holmes et al to sideline them makes the victory stunning and sweet.

Another highlight of last night was seeing the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter working at the Green party’s celebration. It is progressive and heartening to see a political party actively promoting the validity and importance of NZSL, an official language of this country.

Phil Goff – I implore you not to resign, yet I sense the inevitability of you doing so.

In a hostile, biased media environment, populated by media personnel who are reduced to slobbering stupidity in Key’s presence, you never stood a chance. You knew this, so you presumably thought, “What the hell” and you campaigned hard. You’re not a firebrand. What you are is steady, methodical and quietly determined. You have integrity.

Even while your treacherous colleagues sharpened their knives, you persisted.

While the media fawned over Key’s confident, solo fronting of National’s campaign, yet double standardly cast you in the desolate role of man alone, you trundled along.

Last night, your concession speech was gracious and moving. The journalists who lambasted you with cruel, needling questions as soon as you were off the stage should be ashamed. They wouldn’t let you have even a few minutes of dignity. Someone’s concession speech, like yours this time, Helen Clark’s in 2008, or Bill English’s back in 2002, is not a moment for gloating. It is a time to put political allegiances aside and to respect a fellow human’s intrinsic humanity and dignity, to recognise how hard it is to admit that efforts, based on someone’s strongest convictions, have simply not been enough.

Shame on our hectoring, salivating, unseemly media. Shame on your grasping, backstabbing colleagues.

If you resign, I fear that the Labour will scrabble around for another three years with a new leader who the media will maltreat in the same way that they have abused you, out of dribbling sycophancy to Key. No one else could withstand this abuse. That you have come this far speaks volumes about your durability and tenacity. If you leave, Labour will try to reconfigure but will end up in a confused, unpopular scramble of egos and treachery.

Please stay. You did experience a victory of sorts last night, despite being defeated – you came into your own and shook off the ghosts of the past.

If you resign, I will resign my membership of Labour. Suddenly, New Zealand First is looking good.

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Acknowledgement

http://writical.blogspot.com

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Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

27 November 2011 78 comments

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Phil Goff – Man of The Hour

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I must admit… When Phil Goff took Labour into the 2011 General Election, I didn’t really give him much credence as a credible alternative to John Key. Due perhaps in part to Key’s popularity with the Masses, and the Key/Media love affair, Phil Goff was simply left in the background, kicking at the sand, waiting for attention.

He seemed… ok. Nothing special in terms of political leadership. Average.

What can I say? I was totally wrong.

Phil Goff led Labour into a battle-royale against one of the most popular governments since David Lange’s administration in the mid/late 1980s. He scored significant debating points against John Key in two out of three Leadership Debates, and toward the end he trounched the National Party leader in the final debate.

John Key wanted to get away from the “Teapot Tapes” saga and focus on issues? Goff agreed, and threw issue after issue at Key.  With the odd exception, Key was left smiling vacantly; looking bored;  or unable to  even make eye-contact with  Goff as the Labour leader fired  issues at the Smile & Wave Kid.

Goff had risen to the challenge, and in my view he did bloody well.

And at his greatest moment; when he made an almost Kennedy-like speech; Goff gave a concession-announcement that I thought was passionate; stirring; and came straight from the man’s soul. Phil Goff loved New Zealand and you could tell from the raw, naked emotion he revealed. He held nothing back.

This man, I thought,  had become a worthy challenger to a National Party Prime Minister who is more about photo-ops than addressing issues; bending the truth when it suits him (or when he’s caught out); and is a fine illustration of how our society values form over substance. Oh yes, we deserve John Key 100%.

In time, we will get over Key’s “smile and wave” persona. Like the children that we are, we will get bored with his vacant optimism and endless promises for a brighter future that is always just around the corner. And we will yearn for something more mature and more meaningful.

I hope Phil Goff is around when that moment comes, because by the gods, we don’t deserve him. Not when Goff gave us a viable alternative to National’s much-disliked policies – and we failed to grasp what was offered.

I hope Phil Goff stays on as Leader of the Labour Party. He shouldn’t have to resign simply because, collectively, we were too thick to connect the populist leader with unpopular policies.

I, for one, will join the Labour Party as a card-carrying member, and will work my butt off to secure a centre-left victory in 2014 – if Phil Goff stays as Leader.

C’mon, Phil. Wadaya say, boss?

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Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

27 November 2011 24 comments

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The Green Party has done remarkably well this election, winning 10.62% of the Party Vote, and translating that result into 13 seats. After special votes are counted they may even win an extra seat in the House.

What is also clear is that Green Party voters  have failed to  use their two votes in a tactical manner. Casting their Electorate Vote for Green candidates was not only a  pointless exercise in futility – but assisted National to win electorates; lose Labour MPs; and in one instance, succeeded in returning one of National’s coalition allies (Peter Dunne).

Luckily,  ACT managed to gain only 1.07% of the Party Vote. Had ACT increased it’s Party Vote share over 1.2%, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP back into Parliament “on his coat-tails”.  This is the brutal consequence of not voting tactically.

As the following figures demonstrate all too clearly,  failing to use Electorate Votes in a clever way, that maximises desired outcomes, is an indulgence that opponants to National simply cannot afford.

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Auckland Central

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ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    11,823
KAYE, Nikki   (Nat)    12,358
ROCHE, Denise    (GP)    2,188

Majority to Nikki Kaye (Nat): 535
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Denise Roche (GP) to Jacinda Ardern (Lab),

ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    14,011
KAYE, Nikki    (Nat)    12,358

Revised  majority to Jacinda Ardern (Lab): 1,653
Win: Labour

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Christchurch Central

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BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 10,493
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493
MOORHOUSE, David (GP) 1,805

Majority: dead-heat
Win: n/a

Transfer electorate votes from David Moorhouse (GP) to Brendon Burns (Lab),

BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 12,298
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493

Revised  majority to Brendon Burns (Lab): 1,805
Win: Labour

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Ohariu

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DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228
CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 11,582
HUGHES, Gareth (GP) 1,775

Majority to Peter Dunne (UF): 1,646

Win: United Future

Transfer electorate votes from Gareth Hughes (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 13,357
DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228

Revised  majority to Charles Chauvel (Lab): 129
Win: Labour

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Waimakariri

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WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409
COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 15,014
KELCHER, John (GP) 1,049

Majority to Kate Wilkinson (Nat): 395
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from John Kelcher (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 16,063
WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409

Revised  majority to Clayton Cosgrove (Lab): 654
Win: Labour

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Waitakere

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BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 11,961
TOLLESTRUP, Steve (GP) 1,582

Majority to Paula Bennet (Nat): 349
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Steve Tollestrup (GP) to Carmel Sepuloni(Lab),

BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 13,543

Revised  majority to Carmel Sepuloni (Lab): 1,233
Win: Labour

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The five seats above would have gone to Labour, had Green voters voted more judiciously with their Electorate Vote. Whilst it is true that, generally speaking it is the Party Vote that counts in MMP elections – it is also true that in closely-fought elections, Electorate results can also have a direct impact on who forms a government.

Had Green voters cast their Electorate Votes for the Labour candidate, the following would have resulted;

  • Paula Bennett (N) would have lost Waitakere
  • Carmel Sepuloni would be the new MP for Waitakere – Ms Sepuloni lost the race, and failed to get back in on the Labour List.
  • Peter Dunne would have lost Ohariu, and Charles Chauvel would be the new electorate MP

In the cases above, Ohariu is the most important. Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.

In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

Regarding the  Epsom seat; Green and Labour voters in that electorate are very lucky that ACT’s party vote remaind under 1.2%. Had ACT won more than that, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP (Don Brash) into Parliament, according to how MMP functions.

Had ACT “cracked” the 1.2% (unofficial) “threshold”, Epsom National voters would’ve sent two ACT MPs to Parliament, not one. These are the sorts of consequences that voters in crucial electorates must consider when casting their two votes. On rare occassions, an Electorate Vote can become more significant than the Party Vote.

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Epsom

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BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150
GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 11,665
PARKER, David (Lab) 3,093
HAY, David  (GP) 1,670

Majority to John Banks (ACT): 2,485
Win: ACT

Transfer electorate votes from David Hay (GP) and David Parker  (Lab) to  Paul Goldsmith (Nat),

GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 16,428
BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150

Revised  majority to Paul Goldsmith (Nat): 2,278
Win: National

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Lucily, the John Banks’ win simply displaces a National MP, and there is no net gain for the National-led government.

In future elections Green (and occassionally Labour) voters must consider the overall effect of their voting. Sometimes, aiming for a desired goal is not a straight-forward route of getting from “A” to “B”. Occassionally, a slight detour will be required to get to our end destination.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a useful roadmap.

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Sources

Electoral Commission: Election Results – Overall Status

TVNZ: Election Results and Electoral Information

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Categories: The Body Politic

Election Eleven – Saturday

26 November 2011 12 comments

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Election Eleven – Saturday

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National has won the election, and, seemingly increased it’s Party vote from 44% to 48%.

Despite running a policy-based campaign based on important issues, Labour has suffered a major setback.

The Greens, meanwhile, have done stunningly well.

And Winston Peters was the sole beneficiary of the  “cuppa tea” meeting in Epsom.

Some initial observations…

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ACT

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The “cuppa tea” meeting between the Two Johns has proven to be a futile exercise. The sole gain for ACT was to return John Banks (a former National MP) to Parliament – but with no extra MPs “riding on his coat-tails”.

In effect, there was no profit for National to support ACT. National might as well not bothered and simply supported Paul Goldsmith.

ACT’s continuing existence is now at the pleasure of Dear Leader, John Key.

By 2014, ACT will most likely disappear.

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Green Party Voters – Ohariu

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Green Party members in the Ohariu electorate – you people need to learn to count and to understand the concept of tactical voting.

By giving your electorate vote to the local Green candidate, Gareth Hughes, instead of Charles Chauvel, you have allowed Peter Dunne to return to Parliament and give National an extra coalition partner.

National wishes to thank you for your assistance in returning a centre-right government to power.

Similar results have occurred in other electorates, where Green supporters voted for their Electorate candidate,  instead of voting strategically, with a Labour/Green split.

For example; Waitakere:

Paula Bennett (N): 12,310

Carmel Sepulone (L): 11,961

Steve Tollestrup (G):  1,582

1,582 wasted electorate votes for the Green candidate could have helped the Labour cadidate defeat Paula Bennett. Instead, Carmel Sepulone – a very talented Labour candidate – has lost her seat in Parliament.

Similar instances abound in other electorates.

*facepalm*

Next time, Green Voters,  ease up on the wacky-bakky before you vote.

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Asset Sales

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By voting National, New Zealanders have given National the mandate to sell state assets. That’s our assets. Or rather, they used to be our assets. Pretty shortly, they will belong to Americans, Germans, Chinese, Australians.

Congratulations, fellow New Zealanders, you’ve succeeded in giving away our best performing; most profitable publicly-owned; assets.

After our electricity companies are sold off,  wait till you get you next power bills. When power prices begin to rise, as overseas owners demand higher and higher returns on their investments, you will be reminded that we did this to ourselves. No one forced us to sell.

Aren’t we a clever bunch?

Not.

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Maori Party

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Pita Sharples has stated that the Maori Party will oppose asset sales as National’s coalition partner.

Oh dear lord…

Sharples needs to look at the rules of Supply & Confidence. Specifically, if National makes asset sales a part of their budget; and the Maori Party votes down that budget; they will have denied the National-led government Supply, which in turn will force a snap election.

Does the Maori Party want to force a snap election and suffer the wrath of the voting public?

Do they want to risk electoral annihilation at the hands of annoyed voters? I doubt it.

Checkmate.

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Horizon Polling

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The biggest loser of the night, few will take Horizon Polling seriously after tonight’s election results.

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MMP

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The BIG winner of the night; New Zealanders have voted to retain MMP. This was due in part to “Vote for Change” mounting the most pathetic, incompetant, and and mostly invisible campaign in this country’s history.

And Jordan Williams had the cheek to blame the media for “not having a debate” on the issue?

Jordan Williams needs to take responsibility for his Claytons-campaign. Blaming the media  may work for Winston Peters – but coming from others, it is not a good look.

MMP won because,

  • It is relatively  simple to understand,
  • The alternatives were unfair; unworkable; or hellishly  complex to understand,
  • New Zealanders simply didn’t feel inclined to change.

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Labour

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Was this a defeat for Labour?

No. I see it as a postponement of a victory.

In the next three years, as National’s policies really start to bite low and middle income earners, and those at the top increase their wealth, Labour’s time will come in 2014 (if not earlier – see Maori Party above).

I am picking a snap election in a years’ time, or mid-term.

And this time, National will lose.

As for Phil Goff – I hope he doesn’t step down. I think he’s actually grown in stature over the last few weeks. He won two of the three Leader’s Debates handsomely, and is able to pin down John Key on issues.

With the media/Key honeymoon well and truly over, Goff now has a chance to show up National’s weaknesses to the public.

The campaign for the next election starts on Monday.

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Additional

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

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Election Eleven – Friday

25 November 2011 Leave a comment

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Election Eleven – Friday

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Not much blogging today. Busily removing ‘Vote MMP” signs before the midnight deadline tonight.

A few observations though…

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An open letter to the Maori Party…

A point to make about Pita Sharples stating that if National gets back into power,  that the Maori Party will vote against asset sales.

I’m glad to hear that, Mr Sharples.

But it ain’t that simple.

If National get back into power, with the Maori Party as their sole coalition partner, then National will assume it has Supply & Confidence.

National will then ‘tack’ asset sales onto their first budget.

If the Maori Party votes against asset sales, it will be ipso facto be voting against the government’s budget. This means that a National-led government no longer has Supply – one half of the Supply & Confidence equation required to govern.

Once a government loses a Confidence vote, or, cannot pass Supply legislation – that usually results in a snap election.

Think very carefully who you want to go into Coalition with, Mr Sharples and Ms Turia.

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Kind of sez it all, really…

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Latest Horizon Poll – released today!

24 November 2011 5 comments

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The latest Horizon Poll has been released today, with results on,

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  • the electoral system referendum
  • political party ratings
  • Maori voting intentions

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Electoral system referendum

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MMP is still the preferred option, with FPP coming in second place. This will no doubt annoy the heck out of the “Vote for Change” lobby group, who chose the FPP-variant, Supplementary Member (SM) as their preferred option.

Big mistake, boys. I know why you did it – you believed that FPP was tainted by past political abuses of power (which is correct) and that Supplementary  Member would be a welcome alternative. “Vote for Change” even touted SM as a “compromise between FPP and MMP – which it isn’t, of course. But you relied on low-information voters not knowing this and following your lead.

Unfortunately for “Vote for Change”, their non-existant campaign achieved very little. In fact, it was distinctly amateurish, to put it mildly.

The results,

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Full Results

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Political party ratings

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As usual, Horizon Polling results differ markedly from Roy Morgan, Herald-Digipoll, et al, because Horizon prompts Undecided respondants to state a preference. Other pollsters also often do not include Undecideds when calculating their percentages.

The poll results,

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Full Results

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It’s interesting to note that the poll results for ACT, Labour, and the Greens match very closely other political opinion polls – only the result for National is markedly different.

For example, a Fairfax Media-Research International poll released yesterday had the following results;

  • Labour – 26%
  • Greens – 12%
  • ACT – 0.7%

Very similar results to the Horizon Poll, with two important exceptions – Fairfax had the following results for National and NZ First;

  • National – 54%
  • NZ First – 4%

Significantly different to the Horizon Poll.

As the poll above stands, a Labour-led government is possible, with NZ First support. (And woe betide Winston Peters if he plays silly-buggers with Supply & Confidence.)

The election results will point to which company has gauged voter preferences the most accurately.

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Maori voting intentions

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As Maori politics follows Pakeha political movement and fragmentation along classic Left/Right lines, Mana and Maori Parties are becoming critical potentional partners for National and Labour. (Phil Goff may say he won’t go into Coalition with the Mana Party – but I believe he will need Hone Harawira’s Supply & Confidence to govern. He is hardly likely to turn down Mana Party support – critical if the left are to win on Saturday.)

Party Vote Results:

  • Labour is attracting 27.6% of Maori nationwide
  • Mana 14.9%
  • Maori Party 14.9%
  • NZ First 11.3%
  • Green 11% and
  • National 9.5%.

Full Results

It is interesting to note that, generally speaking, Maori still favour Labour-led government;

  • 20% of Maori want the Maori Party to enter a post-election coalition agreement with National.
  • 53.5% would prefer it enter a Labour coalition.
  • 45.8% of Maori would prefer Mana to enter a coalition agreement with Labour, 9.2% National.

If Horizon Polling is accurate – and I believe that their results are more realistic than the 50%, 53%, 56%, results that other polling companies have been coming up with  – then National is on-course to being a one-term government.

And if John Key follows comments he made earlier this year, he will resign from Parliament.

Interesting times, indeed…

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Election Eleven – Thursday

24 November 2011 2 comments

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Election Eleven – Thursday

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It appears that stress is starting to show on National’s campaign team,

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Hasling the bus driver is not a good look. Nor is it particularly sensible when he has to focus on driving that big blue tank along some of our more… challenging” roads…

Word of caution, guys. Don’t upset John (the busdriver).   Not unless the next votes you’ll be canvassing will be at the Pearly Gates.

Mind you, could it be that Dear Leader’s mega-star status is waning?

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If John Key thinks that reception was “frosty” – he ain’t seen nothing yet.  Another three years of his smile & wave vacant optimism is going to wear very thin – especially as wages continue to lag; unemployment stays high; and the economy continues to stagnate.

On top of that will be the open, festering ‘sore’ that is Christchurch. The slow re-build and insurance companies abandoning that city (and possibly the rest of the country?) will really piss people of.

An election victory for Mr Key may be a glittering  chalice containing a toxic brew.

Cheers, Mr Prime Minister!

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So much for customer loyalty; good corporate citizenship; and the “free market” providing a service,

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And so much for John Key’s blind faith in insurance companies doing the “right thing”,

One thing I do know is that as things settle down – and they will settle down in Christchurch – eventually what’s going to happen is a lot of insurers are going to look at that market and say, ‘wow, there’s quite a lot of premium in there,’ and you will see insurers coming back more rapidly than you think.”  Source

And is John Key still concerned? As he said in September,

“”This is something the government is monitoring. Obviously, if insurance companies aren’t doing their job properly that is a concern to us.“”  Source

If ever there was a case for the New Zealand government top have retained State Insurance in state-ownership – we are seeing it now.

Corporations are fair-weather “friends”. They will supply us with services and products as long as it suits  them. When it no longer suits their bottom line, they will depart our shores, along with the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that they have extracted from us.

And National wants more of the same?

I think it is high time we re-asserted our sovereignty and revisited the state’s role in matters such as  insurance.  We  simply cannot rely on the beneficence of the free market. (Did we ever?)

Something to consider on Saturday, when your marker-pen is hovering over which Party box to tick.

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At the TV3 Leader’s Debate last night, John Key asserted that he’ll be voting for SM (supplementary member) in the upcoming referendum because he preferred proportionality in our electoral systems.

Key repeaterd this in the latest “Upper Hutt Leader”, where he said,

I’m going to vote “no” to MMP and “yes” for Supplementary Member.

“My view is that, on balance, I would prefer a proportional system to first past the post.”  Source

John Key is either uninformed about Supplementary Member – or is being deliberately disingenuous.

Supplentary Member is not proportional. It is not even close to be proportional.

SM is actually a form of First Past the Post where ninety out of 120 Parliamentary seats are contested on a FPP basis. It offers the prospect of a return to unbridled power by the two main Parties, with minimal (if any) representation by smaller Parties.

If the Prime Minister doesn’t know this – that is concerning.

If he is aware of this, and still claims that SM is “proportional” – then he is deliberately mis-leading voters.

John Key has done this sort of thing before. He is increasingly revealing himself to the public as being loose with the truth

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Whether one accepts that the convo between the Two Johns was private or public (and this blog leans toward the preposterous assertion that one can hold a “private conversation” with 30+ journos about a metre away), the Prime Minister’s complaint and subsequent raids on media companies is nothing less than a complete waste of police time,

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It is also a chilling example of how a politician in high office can mis-use the power of the State to “make a point” and to intimidate opposition.

There have been previous examples of this government pressuring, ridiculing, and intimidating  those with dissenting views.

Is this the road New Zealanders want to go down on?

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Ahhhh, as we suspected,

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John Key is “warning the election could be closer than voters think“?  Pundits and bloggers have been voicing suspicion for the past month that National’s internal polling was showing results that were far closer than main stream polling has been giving us.

John Key has finally confirmed this.

If people want a centre-left, Labour-led coalition government – they need just go out and vote for it.

Yup. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

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Dear Minister…

- John-Paul Powley

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Dear Anne Tolley, and John Key

I woke up this morning and read your education policy as summarised in the media. This whole article on your proposed education policy made me furious.  The article suggested that these were the key points:

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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:

Target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having participated in early childhood education by 2015

New interactive website for parents to choose “the best” local ECE service

New funding model to be trialled in 2014

SCHOOLS:

Require publication of National Standards data in 2012

New assessment of “disposition to teach” for trainee teachers

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A long time ago when National Standards were introduced I predicted that they would creep to Secondary schools and that we would  see league tables.  It didn’t bother me that on both points you said this wouldn’t happen.  It was clearly a lie, and it is no comfort to me to see my predictions turn out to be correct.

It seem to me that there is simply no possibility of negotiating with your government in good faith and this makes me angry, because I am a reasonable person who believes that conflict is a dead end.

Here are some points that I would like to address to you:

  • How can you want 98% of kids in early childhood education, but cut the funding to these centres that make them affordable, and how can you want 98% of kids to go to centres where you do not believe that it is important that 100% of the staff there are fully qualified?
  • What does the term “best” ECE centres mean?  Doesn’t this just mean the centres with the wealthiest and best educated parents?  How does a competitive model in education work when some people can’t afford the best, and are you committed in terms of the massive amounts of money and time it will take to build up struggling centres, or is it a fail-and-close-them-down model?
  • You said that you would not create a situation of league tables two years ago.  This was clearly a lie.  Do you think it is a good model to our students to lie in order to get what you want, and then use double speak to try to pretend that you never said such things in the past?
  • League tables are good for comparing apples with apples, but after the first round of tables are printed there will no longer be apples and apples, there will be schools that are better than others when measured against one criteria.   My daughter started school yesterday, and I know the pressure to send your child to the “best” school and not the local school, but I believe in my local school and I was DELIGHTED to send her to the local school and see her running in and playing with the Somali kids, and the Pasifika kids, and the Indian kids, and the European kids all together, learning together, and being wonderful and curious together, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the white kids when the school down the road does better on the league table, because it is a wealthier and more homogenous school.  Are we committed to a multi-cultural New Zealand or not?  Or is that just talk?  Past experience shows that Europeans like me abandon schools that are sinking faster than rats on a sinking ship because they can, and that parents who can’t afford to make the change don’t (even though they care just as much for their children).  I’m not proud of this fact, but I have to admit it is true.  Do you understand this?  I don’t think that you do, and I think that this is the weakness of a party that is made up of a homogenous and wealthy group and would prefer a voting system where they can just stop mucking about and govern alone.  You do not represent everyone, and you should never, ever be allowed to govern alone for that reason.  Not because I do not like you, but because NO ONE should govern alone.
  • Disposition to teach?  My first years teaching in a low decile school were hell.  I went home, lay down on the floor and cried.  If someone had offered me a job doing something else at the moment I would have taken it.  Now I am at the end of my sixth year teaching and I think I do a damn good job.  Teaching is a long hard road to success, and it is even more brutal and even more important at decile one schools.  My experience of a  decile ten school is that the students can almost teach themselves.  Is it not then true that student teachers in higher decile schools will appear to have a better disposition to teach than those toughing it out in low decile schools?  Where do you want good teachers to go?  Into the low decile schools where the results are low, and they will be judged on league tables, and their position will worsen as white flight takes place over the next few years?  I assume that you are also planning to let parents have “choice” about where they send their kids.  Which means abandoning zoning, and abandoning certain schools whose funding is tied to their roll.
  • Can I ask you this?  What was broken about our education system?  One of the best in the world for decade after decade with results we can be proud of in maths, and reading and writing?  Our identified area of concern was our long tail.  A characteristic that all multi-cultural societies face, and one that they are all battling with.  Why have you created a policy that will disadvantage the schools where the long tail is over represented?  I think that it is so parents who are educated and comparatively wealthy (compared to long-tail parents) can have a good reason to send their kids out of area.
  • Finally, I would like you to show me another country similar to our own where this model has worked over a long period of time.

Yours sincerely,

John-Paul Powley

http://manoferrors.wordpress.com

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Additional

 

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Election Eleven – Wednesday

23 November 2011 4 comments

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Election Eleven – Wednesday

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Another stirling free-market “success” story,

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So another 28 workers lose their jobs; go on the unemployment benefit; and get labelled as “dole bludgers” by right wing imbeciles.

This is New Zealand in 2011AD:  Neo-liberal Nirvana.

Tell me, my fellow New Zealanders – you who pride yourself as being fair-minded and always willing to give others a fair go – does the closure of this yarn factory and job losses strike a chord with you? There are hundreds – thousands – of similar businesses like Qualityarns that’ve gone bust since Roger Douglas put his hand up in Parliament and said, “Ive got a great idea!”.

Isn’t it ironic… 28 men and women had a job yesterday. Tomorrow they will be on the dole and suffering bene-bashing.

Along with 154,000 other men and women.

Is this it?

Is this what we have to look forward to? Unemployment for some; low wages for others; mass-migration to Australia; and cheap goods from China, India, etc?

Hullo? Is anyone awake in this country?!?!

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~ ~ ~

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This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?” – David Cull, Mayor of Dunedin

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The latest in John Key’s hard-sell* of our assets,

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Listen to John Key speaking to reporters on asset sale plans

Listen to full interview

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Now let me get this straight…

Key reckons that “National would legislate to create a cap on the shares held in any state assets”?  He adds that,

National would pass a law stating that no individual or company could own more than a 10% share. There’s historical precedent there – Telecom had a cap – it’s just a matter of passing legislation. We’d pass it.” Source

Really?

A couple of points here.

National’s definition of the word “cap” appears to be somewhat different to that expressed in, oh, say, just about every English dictionary in the Known Universe. This government has “capped” the civil service by actively cutting government workers, and making them redundant.

So does the word “cap” mean the same for National as it does for ordinary citizens? Recent events suggest not.

Secondly. I’m not a financial whizz-kid in John Key’s league. I’ve never speculated on a zillion dollars; made a bajillion dollars profit; and banked a squillion dollars commision. My work is somewhat more mundane.

However. Even I know that passing a law to “cap” (definition?) share-ownership at 10% can be easily rorted. I can spot an immediate loophole:

  1. Company A sets up five shelf companies; A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5.
  2. Each Shelf company buys 9%.
  3. Result; parent company A now owns 45%.
  4. And John Key smiles and points to his “success” at preventing any one company from gobbling up the whole lot.
  5. And by registering each shelf company in special company/tax havens, such as Ian Wishart described in “The Paradise Conspiracy” – we’ll never know that Company A has bought up the lion’s share of available shares.
  6. Easy peasy.

I suspect John Key – being somewhat more knowlegeable in such arcane matters – is already aware of such a possibilty.

But I guess he doesn’t want to spoil the nice fairy tale he’s been spinning us…

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(* Hard-sell – as in selling to us what we already own)

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Perhaps the most sober, insightful, and plain-speaking look at where we have arrived as a society, after 27 years of radical, free market, “reforms” and the rise of the “Me” Generation,

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Full Story & On-demand Replay

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty New Zealand

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Every politician; aspiring political candidate; community leader; businessperson; and follower of the “free” market should be made to sit and watch this film. This is how we have made New Zealand.

This is a portrait of a society that has lost it’s soul, in pursuit of money and the illusion of “free choice”.

Watch… and maybe learn.

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Well, well, well… I wonder what other bad news Dear Leader is keeping from us,

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When Goff sprung that on Key, he looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Which is silly, really. Trying to keep political secrets in this country is like trying to carry water in a butterfly net. The question is not if a secret will be made public – but will it make it in time for the 6PM News on TV1 or TV3.

I suspect there will be a few more unpleasant surprises in store for us next year, if National wins the election. Their last three years have indicated to us that, as usual, right wing governments and secret agendas go hand-in-hand.

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Firstly, since when is cutting the same as capping?! National has been actively cutting government jobs – whilst at the same time hiring some very expensive “advisors”. These jobs are men and women who have given many loyal years of service to the country. They are the ones who do the work in the back-room offices, to ensure that phones are answered when we have a query about tax or traffic lights are out, and that essential  services are carried out.

Loading front-line services with more paperwork and other administrative duties seems counter-productive. And people are beginning to resent it, and resist these cost-cutting follies.

So much for our esteemed leader, John Key,  assuring New Zealanders that “there’s no way one in five New Zealanders will lose their jobs“.

Making people unemployed is not helping our economy.

For National to be persisting with this false economy of job cuts is not just hurting the economy and hurting ordinary New Zealanders – it signifies a depressing lack of imagination from the National Party,

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This is National’s “action plan”, if re-elected,

National’s action plan includes:

- Have the budget deficit next year, and be back in surplus in 2014/2015
- Establish the Crown Water Investment Company to invest up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund in irrigation and water storage to make farm land more productive
- Amend the Resource Management Act to have six-month time limits on consenting medium-sized projects
- Immediately implement the new lower public service staffing cap
- Slow the phasing-in of the Emissions Trading Scheme and allow off-setting for pre-1990 forest owners
- Amend the Social Security Act to comprehensively reform benefits
- Introduce changes to sanctions for beneficiaries whose recreational use of drugs affects their ability to apply for and secure a job
- Change bail laws to make it harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail
- Introduce screening of parole applications to allow the Parole Board to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings
- Pass the Search and Surveillance Bill
- Make secondary school performance information available to parents
- Immediately begin work to develop more effective teacher and principal appraisal
- Increase the number of elective operations by at last 4000 a year
- Work with district health boards to ensure patients needing a specialist appointment are seen within no more than four months by 2014
- Begin work with local primary care networks to provide free after-hours GP visits to children under six
- Start building 17,000 seat temporary stadium at Addington
- Receive and assess the CBD recovery plan

Source

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No mention of jobs.

But plenty of threats of State  punitive actions,

- Immediately implement the new lower public service staffing cap
- Amend the Social Security Act to comprehensively reform benefits
- Introduce changes to sanctions for beneficiaries whose recreational use of drugs affects their ability to apply for and secure a job
- Change bail laws to make it harder for those accused of the most serious offences to get bail
- Introduce screening of parole applications to allow the Parole Board to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings
- Pass the Search and Surveillance Bill

The National Party shows a strong inclination toward  “Daddy Statism”. Lots of punishments. Increases in state police powers (they’ll need them).  And blaming those of welfare for the lack of job-growth in this country.

There is nothing positive in any of this.

And this is what New Zealanders are supporting as a possible government?

Perhaps, collectively, we feel we don’t deserve any better.

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2008

That was then…

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2011

This is now…

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I have the strongest impression that New Zealanders are not just leaving because of higher wages in Australia. There has  be more to it than that.

Could it be that those leaving are seeking a better quality of life? Could it be that the free market reforms have created a “Me Society” where New Zealanders feel disconnected from our own country?

Bryan Bruce’s sobering and thoughtful documentary “Inside NZ: Inside Child Poverty” suggests to me that twentyseven years of free market, user-pays, growing gaps between wealthy and Middle Classes and Poor, and growing underclass has created a sense of alienation and frustration.

The irony is that John Key saying that – “I believe we’ve made some progress in so much that we have been closing that after-tax wage gap, we are building an economy that is now growing at a faster rate than Australia but it will take us some time to turn that around” -  is not just unhelpful, but totally ignoring the root-cause of what has fractured our society.

Here’s a clue: Money buys goods and serevices. It does not buy a sense of community.

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Quote of the week.

M@TT   #29   2:12pm

John Key, get your stinking paws off Our SOE’s, you damned dirty ape

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- Dominion Post Comments

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The Power of National’s “Daddy Statism”

23 November 2011 7 comments

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A constant theme of National’s criticism of the previous Labour government was that Helen Clark’s government was engaging in “Nanny State” politics. The constant refrain was that Labour was controlling more and more of our lives and the repeal of Section 59 (commonly referred to as the “anti smacking law”) was held up as the prime example of state interference in our lives.

Yet, National voted in favour of that same Bill, passing it through the House with near unanimity.

National’s own penchant for state interference in our lives – referred to as “Daddy State”  by some – is actually more pronounced than Labour’s ever was.

The latest example of state interference in the lives of ordinary New Zealanders is this extraordinary story, which appeared in today’s NZ Herald,

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Full Story

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Anne Tolley has stated explicity,

The biggest influence on learning is the teaching, and we want to make sure we have world-class teachers across the board. Making changes to initial teacher training and setting ‘disposition to teach’ criteria is to make sure we get the right people going into teaching.” Source

‘Disposition to teach’ criteria?!

The government intends to determine who is/isn’t suited to teach?

Three points;

  1. If National wants to alienate our teachers and inspire them sufficiently to move to Australia – they are doing a fabulous job at it.  We will have lost our teachers in the next few years, if  National is returned to power.
  2. What will be the next profession where government sets “disposition criteria”? Doctors? Architects? Airline pilots? Ambulance drivers? Firefighters? All Blacks?
  3. Will National set “disposition criteria” for aspiring political candidates “to make sure we get the right people going into politics”?

National’s plan to test individuals for “disposition criteria” is one of the more chilling policies I’ve heard in a long time.

God knows what sort of society National politicians are envisaging – but I want no part of  it. This is downright quasi-fascism. With a huge dose of bizarro-creepiness thrown in for good measure.

If anyone votes for National after this, they need a “disposition criteria”-check carried out on them.

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Election Eleven – Tuesday

22 November 2011 2 comments

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Election Eleven – Tuesday

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Now this is just downright creepy:  right wing blogger, David Farrar, is now investigating private individuals who have appeared  as part of TV3′s audience for their Leader’s Debate last night? A screenshot from his Blog,

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I have blanked out the names that Farrar has published and I have not linked back to his article. I have no wish to aid his witch hunt against three individuals.

But I think it is the height of hypocrisy that Farrar and his right-wing colleagues criticised Labour non-stop for “Nanny State” policy – and now he is identifying private individuals for their (supposed) political activities.

Is this to be the new standard set by right wing blogs?

It now appears that if  a New Zealand citizen is even remotely politically active, that they may be subjected to what is essentially an online, public,  “name & shame” campaign. This can only be viewed as a none-too-subtle form of intimidation. Another term is cyber-bullying.

Does this have any place in New Zealand society? Is this the direction of future politics in this country? And what will it do to getting people more involved in politics?

This isn’t “Nanny Statism”. Nope, not at all.

It’s Big Brother – and Big Brother (aka David Farrer, et al) is Watching You!

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I’ll say it now: there is no place in politics – or any other part of our society – for behaviour like this,

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Whilst I disagree with Ms Barry’s politics – she has a democratic right to go about her business without being abused like this.  I sincerely hope that anyone knowing who this man is, take him aside, and tell him that such behaviour is utterly repugnant and unacceptable.

Ms Barry is an intelligent, articulate woman who has achieved much in her life. Disagree with her if you will – but respect her for her accomplisments; her willingness to participate in the democratic process; and for simply being a human being.

Politics is a contest of ideas – not a spitting game that juveniles might indulge in.

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Taken by an observant reader, and sent to me ten minutes ago,

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Hmmmm, I’m guessing that for the Nats to state that “Your vote is crucial this sat”, that they are starting to panic? Something has definitely spooked the back-room National strategy boys…

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… and yet more fear  mongering from John Key,  about Winston Peters? I now believe that National’s internal polling is showing that they are bleeding voter support and that they are probably somewhere around 46-48% – if not lower.

Otherwise, why would Key be wasting his time with the leader of a near-non-existent party that isn’t even represented in Parliament?!

National is right to be worried.

There are National supporters who view John Key’s scheme to sell state assets with considerable unease – if not downright hostility. Such voters are loathe to vote for a left-wing alternative such as Labour or Greens. But NZ First is a “soft Tory” alternative.

Expect Peters to return.

Expect a new Labour led coalition.

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Oh dear. It seems that National is making election promises regarding matters that are already law,

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Someone in the National camp really should check their facts. Promising to implement policy that has been a law for well over a decade seems pointless. Mind you, it is rather a cheap way to make election promises.

They won’t cost anything.

They’ve already been implemented,

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Fraud Investigations

Fraud Investigation teams nationwide work to preserve the integrity of the income support system by preventing and detecting benefit fraud.

Fraud Investigation teams work closely with the National Data Match Centre. The Centre shares data with other government agencies including:

  • Customs
  • Inland Revenue
  • Corrections
  • Housing New Zealand
  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Internal Affairs.

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And being already implemented – National can take credit for it!

What a cunning plan!

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Whoopsie! Isn’t it a bugger when a photo-op comes back to bite you?

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Key explains,

Lots of young people decide to go for an OE – I don’t know how long she’ll last. I’m not in a position to go into too much; hope she comes back.” Source

Ummm, John… She’s sixteen. She’s hardly likely to be going on her OE, and probably leaving  with her family. Probably long-term migration.

She and her family are joining 84,400 who have also left New Zealand in the last year.

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An open letter to Winston Peters…

22 November 2011 6 comments

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Don’t even think about it -

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Front page, Otago Daily Times, 11 December 1996

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‘Nuff said?

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Election Eleven – Monday

22 November 2011 2 comments

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Election Eleven – Monday

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The last four days, and the election campaign is into the ‘last stretch’. Expect things to get interesting… dramatic… and desperate…

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John Key and the growing  “Cult of Personality”? So we really should start addressing him as “Dear Leader”?

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Hmmmm, I didn’t realise that John Key won the Rugby World Cup? I’ve been mis-led – someone said it was the All Blacks!

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Radio NZ invited both Phil Goff and John Key to debate on Morning Report. As per his M.O., Key refused. So much for his criticism of the media last week for focusing on the “Teapot Tapes” saga, rather than addressing the “ishoos”.

Phil Goff fronted on RNZ to be interviewed,

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Listen to debate with Phil Goff on Morning Report

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So while Phil Goff was addressing issues on Radio NZ – where was John Key? Missing in Action? Kidnapped by Grey aliens? Nope, here he is,

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Oh dear.

Is this what Key calls “discussing issues”?

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Some people just don’t seem to “get it”…

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I’m not sure if  “Daniela” is a low-information voter who has totally mis-understand the aim of Labour’s letter – or is a National/ACT supporter deliberately ‘stirring the pot’.

By what stretch of imagination does “Daniela” think that the letter is “threatening”? Does she really think that Labour activists, aliens, or Moonies are going to break into her home; kidnap her; and transport her to a secret underground volcano lair???

But this bit really “takes the cake” and suggests to me that “Daniela” is happily fomenting mischief with this,

Daniela also forwarded the flyer to the blogger Whale Oil, saying she was upset because she felt like the letter made it sound criminal to head back to work after having a baby.” Source

So let me get this straight; “Daniela” thinks that Labour  is trying to “criminalise” her for heading back to work after having a baby?!

Does “Daniela” not realise that National actually does have a policy which attempts to force mothers of 1 year old children back to work? As the article states,

National’s welfare policy would see sole parents asked to seek full-time work when their child turned 14, part-time when they turn five, and the work-testing of all sickness and invalid beneficiaries. If women have a subsequent child while already claiming a benefit they will have to look for work when that child is one year old.

“Daniela” seems hopelessly confused by all this. She doesn’t seem to undersytand that Labour’s mail-out is actually making a factual statement. This excerpt is from TVNZ’s Q+A,

GUYON Because this will, in some cases, mean that mum has to work full-time when the first child hits one, won’t they? Because it’s about returning to work obligations. So if you’ve got a 14-year-old, say, and you have another child when you’re on the DPB, you’ll have to work full-time when that child is one year old.

PAULA So your other children are 14. So you’ve got other children that are 14 years and older, you’re on welfare, and then you have another baby, so there’s not many. So last year, there were about 70 of them, and yes, they will have to look for full-time work.

GUYON So who’s gonna care for the kid?

PAULA Well, it’s within respect, as well, that it does need to fit in, so we’re not gonna make them work all night, for example, and then look after children all day. The job kind of needs to fit with them. But there is going to be childcare options. And, actually, people do it now.

GUYON Let me take you back to when you first came into parliament. You made a speech in 2005. I’ll quote from it. You say, ‘As we are pushed to increase women’s participation in the workforce, we need to ask the question of who will be raising the next generation, and a lot of women are saying that they would like to – that staying at home and raising their children is an option they would like not only to have, but one they would like to be actively encouraged to do.’

PAULA Yeah.”  Source

So it is National’s policy to make mothers of 1 year olds to seek work outside the home.

And it would be likely that, given such a new “Nanny Statish” law forcing new mothers to practically abandon their baby, they may well end up missing their child’s first birthday.

I hope someone brings all this to “Daniela’s” attention. Because so far, she either doesn’t get it – or she’s playing to someone elses agenda.

Which is it, “Daniela”?

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Of bogey men & fear mongering…

20 November 2011 Leave a comment

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I guess it had to happen sooner, rather than later. With the fallout-cloud rapidly dissapating from the Teapot Bomb, Winston Peters has emerged like some political-version of a post-apocalyptic mutant-zombie, resurrected from the graveyard of  dead Parties.

It was perhaps the last thing that the Two Johns were counting on when they met at the Urban Cafe in Epsom, and Banksie started their convo,

“G’day, John!”

“That’s Prime Minister to you, John.”

“Oh! Good-oh, Jo- Prime Minister!”

“Better.”

*click, whrrrr, click*

“D’you here something, John?” asked Banksie.

*Prime ministerial sigh*

“Ackshully, no.”

“Ok. One lump or two, John?”

“One, please, John, and a new ACT leader to go with that, please,” replied the PM.

“Sure, John!”

“Thanks, John.”

“Anything for you, John!”

*click, whrrrr, click*

“Damn, John, there’s that sound, again,” said Banksie.

“Don’t be so paranoid, John. That new Police Surveillance Act hasn’t kicked in yet.”

And so it went.

Paranoia. How easy it is to stir that stinking pot of fear and prejudice, with just a hint of demonisation to add zest to the brew,

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Only a couple of days ago, there was discussion about when National would mount a full-blown attack on Winston Peters, to try to stall his ascendency, and to demolish his chances at re-entering Parliament. National’s great fear is that dis-affected National-leaning voters might see Peters as a credible alternative on Election Day.

National is already polling below 50% in several polls, and there is every likelihood that by Saturday, they will have lost an additional two or three percentage points.

That is all it takes to damage National’s chances of re-election to government – especially if ACT and United Future lose Epsom and Ohariu. And especially if the Maori Party are ‘spooked’ from supporting National again after Paula Bennet hinted last week that a new National-led government might can Whanau Ora – the Maori Party’s version of NZ First’s superannuitant’s “Gold Card”.

… 2 or 3%.

Which means that National’s focus has now been split and are attacking on two fronts; Labour and NZ First. For the Nats, their most crucial target now is Winston Peters.

John Key states,

“”What Winston Peters is saying to New Zealanders is that on every budget, on every issue, there could be a general election.

“How can New Zealand govern itself over the next three years – which is likely to be a volatile period in the world economy – when at any stage the whole government can be brought down by Winston Peters” ” Source

Which is a bizarre, given that every single government elected under MMP has run it’s full three year term. No exceptions.

The same cannot be said of FPP governments, and as recently as 1984, the then-Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, called a snap election before National’s term of office was due to end.

In short, John Key is fear-mongering. He is playing the “Winston Card” – which is kind of ironic, as Peters himself has pandered to similar fears and prejudices in his Treaty-bashing, and Asian immigrant-bashing, speeches and policies.

Oh, Karma, you are indeed a bitch.

I guess it is up to the media to see through this latest tactic from National Party back-room strategists. Those boys in dark suits have no doubt cooked up some fairly McCarthyist stuff.

If the “Teapot Tapes” left a foul taste in our mouths – be prepared for a dose of really foul Winston-bashing.  And the irony of this is that I am no friend of NZ First, it’s leader, or their populist policies – but he does deserve a fair go.

Time for a breather, boys.

Tea’s off.

Coffee, anyone?

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Jobs for the bro’s?

20 November 2011 1 comment

10 September 2011

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Is it me – or does this sound plain wrong

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Why was the position not advertised, as is common practice?

Is this an example of nepotism? (Silly question. Of course it is.)

And at a time when this government has thrown thousands of government workers out of their jobs, and onto the unemployment scrap-heap – how much is this “advisor” job costing the tax-payer?

As an indication, this case might give us an idea,

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And once again, the highly-paid “advisor” involves the English family.

Another case,

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So much for this government “cutting expenditure”. They are sacking ordinary workers – and rehiring “advisors” aid exorbitant amounts of tax-payers’ money?

What on Earth is going on here?

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+++ Update +++

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It appears that the ‘heat’ has gone on Tony Ryall in this matter.  He and his colleagures may have been hoping that Mervyn English’s appointment slipped in “under the radar” – but New Zealand is too small a country for that to happen.

Appointments of family and friends to jobs that are not publicly advertised is never a good look, and it is surprising that the government was silly enough to think they could get away with it. It reeks of corrupt practice.

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19 November 2011

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And yet more of the same…

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Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

The move has outraged advocacy group Alcohol Action. Spokesperson Doug Sellman says Ms Rich has been one of the most vociferous defenders of the alcohol industry.

Professor Sellman says supermarkets normalise alcohol as an ordinary commodity and sell it by the tonne at ultra-cheap prices up to 24 hours a day.Ibid

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The Labour Party agrees the appointment of Katherine Rich is too much a conflict of interest.

Health spokesperson Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand while he holds Ms Rich personally in high regard, he believes her role with the Food and Grocery Council does clash with being part of such an agency.

“I think the linkage with her role supporting and advocating for the supermarkets is unfortunate and doesn’t sit well with the health promotion role that the future agency will have.”

However, in a written statement on Saturday, Health Minister Tony Ryall says Ms Rich, a former National MP, was appointed for her experience, balance and integrity.” Ibid

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(L-R) National MPs Simon Powell, Katherine Rich, former National leader Don Brash, National MPs Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee applaud John Key as he delivers his speech as the New Zealand National Party launch their election campaign at Sky City on October 12, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Source

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Stacking government and quango roles with party hacks (even if they are talented party hacks) seems to be a time-honoured tradition that National is loathe to depart from.

However, the Radio NZ report does raise an important question regarding her appointment to  the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

ALAC was an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of New Zealand’s considerable alcohol related (some say fueled) problems.

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

Whilst working for the Food and Grocery Council, Ms Rich was a firm advocate of liberal laws surrounding marketting and retailing of alcohol.,

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) strongly backed the recommendations.

Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said it set out a clear objective of reducing alcohol-related harm which stretched to structure and role changes for the district licensing agencies responsible for managing liquor licensing in their own communities.

Communities up and down the country were sick of the violence and vandalism that came with drinking and that proposed changes to licencing regimes would help address the problem, Mr Vaughan said.

Nearly 3000 submissions were received by the commission, many of which supported the tightening of laws around alcohol sales, purchasing and consumption.

But NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the report reflected “classic nanny state thinking.”

It failed to target those causing the problems and punished everyone, she said. The industry was already one of the most regulated, and more sensible ways to approach existing problems included better enforcement of current rules and better use of legal powers, along with industry-led initiatives.”   Source

New Zealand has a $4 billion-plus problem with alcohol abuse (BERL report) and Katherine Rich dismissed attempts to address this crisis as “classic nanny state thinking“.

Thank you, Ms Rich. It’s nice to know where you stand on social problems that affect us all.

It is worthwhile reflecting that since liquor laws were de-regulated in the mid 1980s (as part of the wave of Rogernomics “reforms”), that 25 years later things have gotten steadily worse. In those 25 years, the free market system has reigned practically unchallenged and unchanged.

Somehow I think “Nanny State” has little to do with it.

Nanny is still nursing a hang-over from the last 25 years.

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Related

A kronically inept government

Community Needs vs Business Demands

New Zealand 2011AD: Drunken Mayhem and a nice Family Day Out

Our ‘inalienable right’ to destroy communities through alcohol abuse

Govt’s consultants’ bill $375m and rising

 

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Latest Horizon Poll – Results!!

20 November 2011 8 comments

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The latest Horizon Poll has been released today (20 November) with some expected – and unexpected – results.  Questions canvassed included the following,

The results:

How parties leaders make people feel

Firstly, how did the two main leaders make people feel?

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The poll indicates that the preceding week has made people feel angry, nervous and afraid about John Key.

Conversely though, Key makes people feel comfortable, excited, proud.

The results seem contradictory in one sense – but perfectly understandable in another. Key’s “honeymoon” with the  media has ended – and that with the public is waning. He is now more of a political figure, rather than apolitical as some perceived him, and therefore is beginning to polarise voters.

It is when negative feelings toward a leader becomes more entrenched that support for a government will drop away – as happened with the Clark-led Labour government in 2008.

These changes are already becoming apparent,

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It’s interesting to note that Goff elicits a growing hope (+8.6%) and pride (+7.4%) whereas people appear less hopeful with Key (-6.7%) and less proud (-4.5%). This would appear to tie in with recent  polls, which also indicate a decline in consumer confidence.

Also of interest is that Key is making people feel more angry (+9.7%), afraid (+8.8%), and nervous (+5.6%) than respondants feel for Goff  (+3.8%, +5.2%, +3.1%).  Issues such as asset sales, cost-of-living increases, high unemployment, and a stubbornly stagnant economy probably play a significant part in such results.

Also, with Key’s brittleness over the “Teapot Tapes”, the public have have their first glance under the “ordinary bloke” facade that Key and his advisors have so carefully cultivated. The man is nowhere as laid back as he makes out. He can get rattled and when things aren’t going his way, he has no hesitation in removing himself from the scene – as evidenced by his recent media conference walkout.

Again, this is reflected by the fact that +1.6 appear more comfortable with Goff – and significantly, people’s comfort level with Key has decreased by -0.5%. Is Key’s “ordinary bloke” facade  developing cracks?

The following poll, though shows a clear difference in how Key and Goff are perecived by the public,

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Key is see as more inspiring, knowledgeable, and stronger.

But Goff’s qualities are that he is seen as more moral, trustworthy, and honest. The latter was backed up by a stuff.co.nz poll that also reflected popular opinion that Goff was more honest/trustworthy than Key,

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Key’s past career in speculative trading in the commercial sector may be a factor in this. With the collapse of dozens of finance companies in New Zealand, owing billions to “mum & dad” investors, and with the global banking crisis sparked by dubious activities on Wall Street,  those who are engaged in speculative commerce, finance, stocks, etc, are now viewed with suspicion and often downright hostility.

An underlying subtext to how people view ‘Brand Key’ is that while people certainly consider him to be more knowledgeable than Goff (and the Christchurch “Press” debate may reinforce that impression) – that Key is less trustworthy for reasons outlined above.

Conversely, Goff is seen as more trustworthy, honest, and moral – perhaps because unlike Key, Phil Goff has not be ‘tainted’ by the smell of Wall St excesses. Goff may be seen as wanting to do the “right thing”, whereas Key is seen as a product of hard-nosed business.

Goff has also been candid in admitting that Labour made serious mistakes over selling state assets in the late 1980s. He has apologised for those grievous errors of judgement – no mean feat for a politician. This underscores his trustworthiness compared to John Key’s, right or wrong, in the eyes of the public.

The Horizon Polling for political parties has yielded the following,

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The results comparing those who will “definitely” vote, with those for voters who will “definitely, may or probably” vote.

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Noteworthy is the growth of support for NZ First and the fledgling Conservative Party. If accurate, the Conservative Party are within a hair of crossing the 5% thresh-hold.

The Horizon analysis sez this about seat numbers and coalition permutations, based on the above results,

“The results indicate a National-Conservative-Act-Maori Party- United Future grouping would have 59 seats in a 122 seat Parliament. This assumes Act and United Future win Epsom and Ohariu, the Maori party has 4 electorate seats and Mana one.

A Labour-Green group would have 47, and 50 if joined by Mana.

 

New Zealand First would have 13 seats and the balance of power in the new Parliament.

A National-led coalition would muster 73 votes with New Zealand First support.

 

A Labour-led coalition would muster 63 votes if supported by New Zealand First and Mana.”

The Horizon Poll also took into account public feelings about the “Teapot Tapes” Affair,

The country is highly polarised over the unauthorised recording of a meeting between the Prime Minister, John Key, and the Act party’s Epsom candidate, John Banks.

53% say that neither Mr Key nor Mr Banks, as parties to the conversation, should authorise the public release of the recording.

46.9% think they should authorise its release, according to a major nationwide HorizonPoll, covering 2,874 adult New Zealanders, conducted between 9 am Wednesday and 5.39am Friday (November 16-18). Weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, personal income, education qualification and party vote 2008, the poll has a maximum margin of error of +/- 1.8%.

54.9% also believe the November 11 recording of the eight minute-long conversation, on a microphone left on a table at a Newmarket café by a member of the media, was deliberate. 15.9% say it was inadvertent while 29.2% are not sure.

Asked if the Herald on Sunday, which had the recording last weekend but decided not to publish, or other news media should publish it now, 49.4% say no, 39.5% yes while 11% are not sure.

The issue was damaging the Prime Minister’s credibility this week.

41.9% think the issue has made him less credible, 6.2% more credible while 47.4% say it makes no difference to his credibility. 39% think it has made Mr Banks less credible, 3.2% more credible.

Among those who voted for National in 2008, 17.7% think the issue has made Mr Key less credible, 12.3% more credible – a net credibility loss of 5.4% among his supporters at the last election.

The issue is also impacting New Zealanders’ views on the credibility of the Herald on Sunday (43.1% think it is less credible, 11.8% more credible);  all news media (38.6% less credible, 9.8% more credible) and the police who are investigating a complaint of authorised interception of the private conversation (12.6% less credible, 8.5% more credible).”

The Horizon Poll there backs up other public feedback where a majority believed John Key’s assertion that the conversation between himself and Banks was a private matter and that there was no requirement for eithrer of the men to release the tapes publicly. Despite this feeling, 41.9% of  respondants believed that the affair left Key looking less credible.

An interesting mix of views, though it coyuld be argued that Key did indeed manage to correctly gauge public opinion on this issue.

However, as point out in my piece Tea, tapes, & tantrums  – the overal effect is that Key’s teflon veneer has been significantly scratched by this incident.

It will be interesting to note if Horizon Polling has been an accurate assessment of public opinion. As people correctly state, the only Poll that counts is the one on Election Day. Horizon will be measured against that final outcome.

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Additional

Horizon Poll 20 Nov 2011

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The Great New Zealand Scam

19 November 2011 1 comment

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Never mind Nigerian scammers – we have something much closer to home, and is the biggest rort ever. What do retirement policies and asset sales have in common? Plenty!

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One commentator to the story above posted this message on Stuff’s messageboard,

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cm   #47   11:48 pm Nov 18 2011

All this shows is who votes, and in numbers.

the boomers stand to loose the most from a retirement age increase. The boomers stand to gain the most from asset sales.

come on gen y, x, z what ever the demographs call you. get out and vote before the baby boomers (your own parents/grandparents) sell you and your future out. its pretty damn simple, if you over 20 you arnt a child anymore, your an adult. so act like you give a damn about your futures and stop believing the bullshit that your parents will look after you, put that on a tui bill board.

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CM has pretty well identified how Baby Boomers are going to “internalise a complicated situation” by voting National even though, on the surface, they have an alleged dislike of asset sales.

It is a perfect analysis of what is about to happen on 26 November: the Baby Boomer generation is about to ‘steal’ property from the next generation, for their own gain.

Instead of our generation paying it’s way through taxation, we’ve voted tax cuts for ourselves (2009, 2010) and big borrowings from overseas to sustain those tax cuts, and maintain social services. Then, to start paying it back, instead of doing it through taxation, we’ll sell off state assets. End result; we get the benefits, and Gen X, Y, etc, are left with $13 billion in student debt and not much more to show for it.

By the way, John Key and many others in his position had the benefit of a free tertiary education – fully tax-payer funded. With a student allowance on top, to make it all as easy as possible.

Then, through two tax cuts, he voted himself an extra $1000 a week.

Meanwhile, our young folk are accumulating more and more student debt. By last year, the student debt mountain has grown to an unfeasible $13.9 billion.

What a racket! This is ‘better’ than a Ponzi Scheme! It’s better than a Nigerian scam – because it’s all totally legal.

This is why our best and brightest young people are heading overseas.  They’re leaving before they get saddled with the bill for looking after us in our retirement.

Unfortunately, Labour’s policy to make sure disengaged youth are heard may be too little, too late. Our children are already disconnected from us and our society because we made damn sure it happened that way. Saddling our young folk with a debt we (Baby Boomers) never had to face is pretty well telling them, “Kid, you’re on your own!”.

All I’ll say to Gen Xers and Yers is: Run! (Though Baby Boomers – through the government – won’t let you get away quite so easily.)

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Additional reading

Student loans – the debt mountain

Govt may use student loan debt collectors abroad

Greed is Good?

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Treasury’s verdict on raising the Minimum Wage? – Part II

19 November 2011 2 comments

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Throughout this election, John Key has been criticising Labour’s policy to increase the minimum wage from $13 to $15 an hour, citing a Department of Labour (DoL) report that such a move would cost the country 6,000 jobs. Key even referred to this in his Leader’s Debates with Phil Goff.

Except… that Treasury has dismissed the DoL’s “claim” by stating that raising the minimum wage “has not been true in the past“.

John Key has been well aware of  Treasury’s debunking of DoL’s “claims”, according to a Official Information Act request made by TV3,

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Unless Treasury has become a  satrap of Socialist International, it seems pretty hard to dismiss their  conclusions. The DoL’s case is not helped by their own contradictions,

“…research from the United Kingdom suggests minimum wages may have no effect on employment, or that minimum wage effects may still exist, but they may be too difficult to detect and/or very small.” Ibid

I believe that the so-called  DoL “report” can be safely dismissed as not very intellectually rigorous.  And not even half clever.

The government claims that recent taxcuts, last year and in 2009, were “fiscally neutral”. But even this is not true.

National’s first round of tax-cuts, which took effect in April 2009, benefitted high income earners the most. Low income earners recieved very little,

The cuts are proportional to wages. Those earning $100,000 or more a year will get at least an extra $24 dollars a week. Anyone on the average income of $48,000 a year will get an extra $18 a week, and low income earners will get a $10 a week tax credit.

On a monthly basis, both tax cuts together will see those earning $100,000 pocketing an extra $225, and low income earners an extra $95 a month.” Source

The October 2010 round of tax cuts were just as bad for low income earners, and generous for high earners,

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Those on minimum wage recieved an extra $6.36.  Meanwhile someone earning $120,000 benefitted from between $46.08 to $89.04.

With growing inflation reaching a 21 year high, to 5.3%;  increasing ACC charges and rates; any gains made by low income earners and those on social welfare and superannuation were quickly eroded.

Little wonder that the end result was a transfer (“trickle up”) of wealth from the poor and middle classes, to the wealthy.

The report’s 2004 data – the latest available – reveals the richest 10 per cent collectively possess $128 billion in wealth, with median individual wealth of $255,000. In contrast, the poorest 10 per cent collectively possess $17.2b, with median individual wealth of $3200. While the richest 1 per cent held 16.4 per cent of the country’s net wealth, the poorest 50 per cent owned just 5.2 per cent. ” Source

Which, unsurpringly, means we are seeing more headlines like these in our media,

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The Dominion Post article goes on to state,

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows New Zealand’s income inequality climbed dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s after sweeping economic reforms and deregulation of labour markets.

Disparities have plateaued since 2000, largely thanks to Working for Families tax credits, bigger pay packets for middle and low-income earners and declining investment returns for the rich.

But the gap between rich and poor still ranked ninth worst in the developed world in 2008.” Ibid

How well have the top richest done in New Zealand?

About this well,

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The top 150 Rich Listers’ wealth grew by 20%.

That’s quite an achievement during one of the worst recessions in recent history. But even that increase in wealth isn’t sufficient for the Rich Listers. They wanted more,

Jeweller Sir Michael Hill, worth $245 million, told NBR: “Could not the Government give us a little freedom to be able to make common sense decisions for ourselves?”

John McVicar, managing director of a forestry group that puts his family’s worth at $70 million, said economic policy should be based on reducing costs for business and increasing productivity and revenue.

Construction company head Sir Patrick Higgins, worth $100 million, said: “The country needs to address excessive regulation if it is to improve wealth creation.”Ibid

Although at least one  United States think-tank and the “Wall Street Journal”  “rank New Zealand as already having the highest level of freedoms for business in the world.  The Heritage Foundation’s “index of economic freedom” puts New Zealand fourth overall, with a score of 99.9 for business freedom.

Clearly, tax cuts and increases in profits have shifted wealth upwards – not shared it around. Certainly the “trickle down” theory now applies only to meteorological services predicting upcoming rain falls.

This “gushing up” of wealth has been written about in the US “New York Times”. A very simple illustration showed where wealth has been accumulating – and who has been missing out,

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Interestingly, the great divergence of wealth, productivity, and incomes started around the late 1970s, early 1980s.  It was also about the time that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected into office, and began neo-liberal, “free market” policies commonly referred to as “Reaganomics” and “Thatcherism“.

The New Right were ascendent, and implemented their policies with ruthless efficiciency. Those policies benefitted the rich – to the detriment of the unemployed, low-paid, and middle classes (who were too busy fighting each other to notice what was happening to them them).

New Zealand’s turn for a dose of  New Right came only a few years later, when Rogernomics took effect in 1984.

As wealth is accumulated upward (as the NBR so vividly illustrated), the real reason for denying low-paid workers an increase in the minimum  wage becomes more apparent; the rich would be forced to share some of that wealth. Their profits would be a little less.

Of course, this doesn’t stop some from gaining some very substantial wage increases,

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How They’re Paid

PRIME MINISTER New salary (backdated to July 1): $411,510. Was: $400,500.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER New salary: $291,800. Was: $282,500.
CABINET MINISTER New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
MINISTER OUTSIDE CABINET New salary: $217,200. Was: $209,100.
SPEAKER AND OPPOSITION LEADER New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
BACKBENCHERS New salary: $141,800. Was: $134,800.

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So remind me again, why we can’t increase the minimum wage? I’ve heard all the nonsensical, reactionary reasons – but they seem more predicated on a pathological disdain for the poor,  from  uninformed  middle class aspirationists, rather than any clear logic.

If New Zealanders want to continue  down the road of increasing wealth for the rich; growing disparity in incomes;  worsening poverty – this is the correct way to go about it. Our current policies and inequalities will achieve a society where the 1% Haves control most of the wealth; the vast majority remain in poverty or near-poverty; and the middle classes stagnate, blaming those on social welfare (the worst victims of these wretched policies) for their lack of upward mobility.

But the middle classes are looking the wrong way.

This may all sound like extremist left-wing politics. Maybe it is. But I don’t think so. The information I’ve gathered is freely available and easy to gather. The realities are all around us and the media – despite it’s glaring faults and preoccupations with trivia and crime stories – does present us with a view of what’s happening around us.

Many of us just choose not to look.

It’s easier to blame the poor; the unemployed; those of welfare.  And yet, if the current economic situation was not as distorted as it currently is – we wouldn’t have so many poor, unemployed, or on welfare.

An increase of $2 an hour would be a step in the right direction. Just ask the Prime Minister – taxpayers are paying him an extra $11,000 a year.

I wonder if paying all our MPs  those wage increases will result in any job losses?

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Tea, tapes, & tantrums

18 November 2011 Leave a comment

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To re-cup – er, I mean, to re-cap…

Last Friday, (11 November) John Key met ACT’s Epsom candidate, John Banks for their symbolic “cuppa tea” meeting. It was supposed to send a message to Epsom voters, and to the rest of the country.

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A ‘message’ was sent – but not the  one intended.

It’s been one week since the saga of the “Teapot Tapes” began. During that time, the issue has been a tsunami over the election campaign and has had unintended consequences.

The saga has not helped Labour – polls seem to be clear on this point. In fact, the ruckus appears to have hindered Labour’s strategy to imprint itself on the voter’s psyche as a credible alternative to a government led by a popular politician.

Only Winston Peters – who has a knack for “playing” the media like a violinist with a carefully tuned stradivarius – appears to have benefitted. For him, the “Teapot Tapes” has been a blast of ‘oxygen’ to his struggling campaign. Peters succeeded in ‘mining’ the issue as he tapped into an underlying anger and distrust toward John Key, ACT, and their public machinations in Cafe Urban, last week.

There was no way that a politician like Phil Goff could exploit this latent collective anger. This is territory that could only be covered by a populist politician adept at taking this collective anger and focusing it like a surgeon’s laser. This was firmly Winston Peters Country.

And sure enough, the latest Herald-Digipoll had NZ First at 4.9% – a fraction below  the magical 5% MMP thresh-hold.

Thank you, John Key.

As the saga unfolded, people were taking note of  John Key’s actions, reactions, and behaviour.

On Monday, the first ‘crack’ in John Key’s veneer of  “laid back blokeyness” appeared when he laid a complaint with the police. For a man who was insistant that he was “comfortable” with what was on the tapes – calling in the police and mounting an investigation against four media outlets was hardly consistent with some who was “comfortable” and relaxed.

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His walk-out from his own press conference on Wednesday was the second sign that the pressure was getting to him. For John Key – used to high popularity ratings and a compliant media – this was uncharted territory for him. His walk-out on 16 November was a classic “flight or fight” response to someone stressed and unable to cope.

To memory, no other Prime Minister has ever walked out so abruptly in such circumstances.

The “Teapot Tapes” situation has now moved on from whatever machinations were being plotted by the Two Johns. What we are  now witnessing is how a man  -  fighting for a second term as Prime Minister and hopeful leader of our  country – is coping with a situation that he can no longer control.

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It doesn’t look  good for Key.

Even if the polls are correct and National is still rating highly with voters, the image of a distinctly un-comfortable Prime Minister; rattled by run-away events; and immune to his charm, has been witnessed by the public. The mask has fallen away – albeit briefly – and we’ve seen a  three-dimensional man with a short fuse and limited patience. Certainly not the two dimensional caricature, of an ever-smiling figure, seemingly in a perpetual state of grace that we’ve all been familiar with.

We have seen some of the real man behind the facade.

Just as critically, as I wrote in  It’s official: the media honeymoon is over   Key’s cosy relationship with this country’s media has come to an abrupt halt. The media have now identified John Key as Just Another Politician, and this will prove fatal to the “ordinary bloke”  image Key has cultivated these last three years. From this week onward, he will be treated like every other politician.

It’s like we’ve just discovered that our father, who once upon a time could do no wrong and was infallible, is actually just like other people. It’s a bit of a let-down really.

If National is re-elected to government – by no means a certainty any more – then I wonder if  John Key’s media advisors  have prepared him  that the next three years may be rougher than anything he’s experienced thus far. Ironically, even if the economy improves, his relationship with the press will worsen. The media will no longer be quite so accepting of  his care-free, easy-going manner and style of management.

Like Stephen Sackur’s interview with John Key on BBC’s Hard Talk last May, they will be asking harder questions, and less inclined with his classic “ackshully”  fob-offs. If Key thought that the preceeding week was a bitch – he ain’t seen nothing yet.

This time he will be held to account.

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+++ Updated+++ Footnote

ACT’s need for the photo-op between the Two Johns  is hypocrisy in the extreme.

Not too long ago, ACT’s Rodney Hide rejected any idea of Maori Seats on the new Supercity Auckland Council. According to ACT, Maori were expected to wins seats on the Council on merit alone.

Maori Must Earn Auckland Seats On Merit – By Guest Author Denise Cameron

…There are lots of different ethnic groups with representatives in Parliament, on City Councils and as Mayors – who all got there on merit, not as a gift. Let our people do it the same way. Some individual at the Hikoi said that [having Maori representatives on the new Auckland Council] was our right under the Treaty.Let our bright boys and girls EARN their seats, I say…” – Source

Really? Like ACT is trying to win the seat of Epsom on “merit” alone? With a “political subsidy” from National?

Oh dear. Never mind. ACT will be goneburger the day after 26 November…

… which in itself raises new problems for the Left.  Activists from a dead political party have a habit of colonising other parties and becoming factions within.

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Additional Reading

How bad are National’s internals?

What if the unexpected happens?

Will there be election-night fright for the Nats?

Two’s Company

Tea Pot Tapes: Revenge of the Meme

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The New English Teacher…

18 November 2011 1 comment

For a bit of light relief, the following was a TV special played on UK TV for their Red Nose Day Appeal. Enjoy! (Turn your sound on.)

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[Click image to start]

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