A John, a Tony, and a Winston
This morning’s ‘Q+A’ (TV1), and ‘The Nation’ (TV3), featured interviews with John Key, Tony Ryall, and Winston Peters. Peters also appeared on John Tamihere’s panel on ‘Think Tank‘ – but more on that in a moment.
The three interviews and panel yielded some interesting points…
One of National’s constant cop-outs on why the economy is stagnating and unemployment is so high, is a constant finger-pointing at the previous Labour government. According to Key, English, et al in National, the previous Labour government left the economy in a “parlous state”,
” In 2008 the Government inherited an economy that had been in recession for nearly a year and that was up against a world economy in crisis….
… Under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance.
… We inherited from Labour a set of government books showing never-ending budget deficits and government debt spiralling out of control. This would have ruined the economy and created an onerous debt burden destructive to jobs and income growth. “
” I do agree with the view that for New Zealand to have a sustained recovery based on a stronger export sector will be a challenge with the dollar at the current levels. But I imagine that that member will not try to make a political point about that, because it is precisely record-high interest rates and a record-high dollar, driven by the previous Government’s reckless economic management, that have put the export sector into such a difficult position. “
None of it is true, of course, and National’s attempt to re-write history is simply a dishonest strategy to excuse their own shocking performance at growing the economy. In fact, this blogger pointed this out in a carefully researched analysis of Labour’s track record from 2000 to 2008.
Today (17 June), SOE Minister Tony Ryall let slip on ‘Q+A’ an admission that Labour’s record on fiscal management was not what National Party strategists had been alleging,
” TONY RYALL Uh, its certainly about debt. You know, New Zealands debt is currently $52 billion, $53 billion. Expected to go to $72 billion in the next three years. Thats getting to a level that were uncomfortable with. Thats the reason why we want to sell a minority stake in these assets, free up some cash that can then be invested in the other priority assets that New Zealanders want in the future…
TONY RYALL Thats right. Because at the moment, were going from $8 billion when we started in 2008. The debts now around $52 billion. Were expecting to be at $72 billion in another three years time… “
So much for National; their party apparatchiks; and supporters who constantly warn us that Labour was, and is, a “borrow and spend” Party. National seems to be quite adept at racking up massive overseas debt – whilst cutting taxes locally.
Eventually though, that debt has to be re-paid. Hence why National is selling state assets and cutting back on state/social services.
Thank you, Tony Ryall, for the admission that the previous government, in fact, was not as fiscally inept as you and your colleagues have made out. Nor as inept as your handling of the country’s economy.
Feel free to call an early election any time soon?
John Key’s appearance on today’s ‘The Nation‘ as the front man for an ideologically-driven National Party was on-par with past performances as the ever-smiling, smooth-talking politician, whose role it is to put a “human face” on the neo-liberal agenda.
There were several issues touched upon in the interview – though none as deeply as perhaps the viewer might have desired. On the issue of National’s deal-making with Sky City, Key was let off the hook lightly – with Fairfax interviewer, John Hartevelt looking slightly bemused when a particularly promising line of questioning was cut short.
Perhaps the interview tried cramming in too many issues, for the alloted time?
On the issue of the Auditor General’s investigation on National’s involvement in deal-making with Sky City on the possible awarding of a contract to build a new Convention centre, one comment from Key, in particular, should have raised a few eyebrows and generated further questioning.
At 6.37 into the interview;
” KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual. I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions with people in Auckland about building a cycleway.
So now what we’re talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general will say.
So let me tell you this, for a start of, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero. “
In a very casual, matter-of-fact manner, Key has stated that whilst he had “talks to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre” – that there is no record whatsoever of any such talks or interaction with any of the parties involved.
What we do know is this,
” Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he offered a deal to Sky City allowing the casino to have more pokie machines in return for building a multimillion-dollar convention centre. Mr Key, speaking from Indonesia, confirmed he made the offer to Sky City in his capacity as Minister of Tourism, Newstalk ZB reported…
… Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.
He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003″. “
The problem here, is that with Key’s “office having absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, no phone calls” we, the public have no way of knowing what has transpired. There is simply no telling what has gone on between Key and “critical players”.
I don’t know about you, the reader, but I am not in the slightest reassured by Key’s explanation. It is an extremely worrying development in our system when important matters between government of commercial intrerests can be discussed in secret; off the record; and with no paper trail or other indication as to how arrangements were agreed upon.
The potential for corruption is plain for all to see.
If Key does not comprehend this, then his political advisors are not doing their jobs properly. This is not the transparent government that we have come to expect in a modern society – nor what John Key promised us.
John Key then went on to mount an extraordinary and peculiar attack on Winston Peters.
At 27.35 into the interview;
” KEY: I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour, even if Labour’s policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the three-year period from 2014 to 2017.
“I dare him to say he will not, because he’s tricky and he’ll find a way all around all of that stuff. “
Curiously, when pushed by John Hartevelt, Key did not categorically rule out a coalition deal with Peters as he did in 2008.
This blogger believes that Key and National understand Rule #1 in politics: learn to count.
If National’s support drops in 2014 (or earlier election) they will require a coalition partner with more numbers than the one-man parties of ACT and United Future. Only NZ First comes anywhere near offering the Nats a potential coalition partner.
At the very least, National’s strategists want to drive Peters away from any potential coalition-partnership or Supply & Confidence support deal for a Labour-led government.
As for Peters – this blogger doubts that he will repeat his fatal mistake of entering into coalition with National, as he did in on 11 December 1996. Peters understands that his constituency vote for him because it is a protest vote against the incumbent government – in this case, National.
Just as in 1996, people voted for him as part of a wide-spectrum political bloc of anti-National sentiment that was sweeping the country. By coalescing with the Nats in 1996, Peters ignored that sentiment and suffered the wrath of the electorate – first at the superannuation referendum in 1998, which was soundly defeated 92% to 8%. A year later, at the general election, Peters barely scrapped back into Parliament by winning his seat with a 63 vote majority. His Party polled under the 5% threshold.
No doubt National will continue to play their silly-bugger games to de-stabilise the Labour-led governmen-in-waiting. They have no option, as their own internal polling must be reflecting what mainstream polling is showing; the public have had enough of National; it’s “Bright Future” never-never promises; and want change. Come 2014 (if not earlier), the Nats will be dog-tucker and will be gone by dinner-time on election night.
Again, feel free to call an early election any time soon, Dear Leader?
Winston Peters appeared on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘, and afterward on TV3′s ‘Think Tank‘, hosted by John Tamihere. Neither appearances could have been more starkly contrasting.
On ‘Q+A‘, interviewed by the personable Greg Boyd, Peters resorted ‘to form’, and displayed his typical media-combativeness and mis-mash of slogans and faux-outrage, that is his public persona.
It was painful to watch.
Contrast Peter’s cringeworthy performance on ‘Q+A‘, with his appearance on ‘Think Tank‘, today, as one of three guests; Labour Leader David Shearer and Auckland University professor, Jane Kelsey. This was a Winston Peters from a Parallel Universe where he appeared thoughful; measured; insightful; and practically led the panel. This is a Winston Peters who commands respect and attention – not the Jeykill & Hyde version on ‘Q+A’ who alienates the viewer with his antics.
As a critic of Winston Peters, my suggestion to him is this; lose the attitude. Or at least tone it down. The media can be a pain in the arse, for sure, but why wind them up needlessly?
Save the aggro for the debating chamber in the House. That is where Peters can best utilise that righteous anger he is so famous for. And where he can best show the public that he is on our side as the champion of the Ordinary Kiwi Battler.
The Winston Peters that this blogger saw on ‘Think Tank‘ is the one that will help re-build NZ first.
Not the grumpy old bugger who got into a shouting-match with Greg Boyd.
If Peters reads this, take my criticisms as constructive. Or not. As a Labour-Green supporter, I’m not terribly fussed if he makes it back to Parliament at the next election, or fades away into the Twilight Zone.
But perhaps his supporters and Party activists deserve that opportunity?
Just my 5 cents + 15% gst worth.
Cartoons by Murray Webb
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