An under-reported recent story in the media revealed that 54% of small/medium sized businesses in New Zealand oppose the partial privatisation of state owned enterprises.
As Mathew Gilligan, of chartered accountants Gilligan Rowe and Associates, demanded to know,
“Why do we need to sell them when we can borrow at very low interest rates and continue to receive the dividend and interest in New Zealand rather than letting that potentially escape offshore in the future.”
This is precisely one of the strong arguments used by opponants of asset sales. Leftist political parties; community groups; other organisations; and even a certain well-known Prime Minister, have made precisely this point since National announced it’s privatisation agenda.
The Green Party;
“The four energy companies had an average return on investment of 18.5% per annum over the last five years, including both equity gain and dividends. This is more than four times higher than the Government’s cost of borrowing at 4%. Would you borrow money on your credit card at 18.5% to put in a savings account for 4%? Of course not. It doesn’t make sense. But giving up returns of 18.5% to save 4% is the same thing, and that’s what National is planning to do. In the long-run, selling highly profitable companies for a one-off gain would mean more government debt, not less.”
See: Why Keep Our Assets?
Clayton Cosgrove, NZ Labour Party
“I’m calling on him now to pull the plug on it. What we are now down to is the Government defending John Key’s pride and his political vanity in respect of these sales…
... John Key is well experienced at floating companies. He is the financial whiz kid and anyone with half a brain could have worked out that because China is slowing down, their appetite for natural resources is slowing down and commodity prices are decreasing, that Solid Energy would come under pressure.”
Bryan Gould, former UK Labour MP, former Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University
“The Government’s commitment to public asset sales, in other words, is driven by the need to raise the money to offset its failure to get the economy moving again. But there are also reasons for resisting the sale of our national assets to what will inevitably be overseas owners.
Those reasons relate to the degree of control we exercise over our own destiny. We have already sold a greater proportion of our assets to overseas owners than any other advanced country; every time we sell another important national asset to overseas owners, we lose a little more control over our own future. ”
“ Grey Power calls on Government to slow down the asset sales process, and engage properly with household consumers to find practical solutions to power price rises, cold houses, and long-term energy sustainability…
… All householders, particularly those on fixed or low incomes, will be prejudiced by asset sales because privatisation will lock in today’s industry-friendly pricing. Last year prices rose only a little, but as soon as the asset sales bill was passed we saw the highest-ever price increase in a single quarter – a 5% price rise averaged nationwide…
… Today’s regulation actively promotes wealth transfers to big businesses at the expense of small consumers. Price rises are like a tax but worse, because much of the profit would go to the private sector instead of cutting the national deficit or funding healthy homes programmes. Government has removed. ”
Hone Harawira, Mana Party
“ Assets owned by the state on behalf of all New Zealanders should not be sold to pay off a debt that was created not by NZ citizens, but by bad governance and a devotion to economic values which lead to “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.”
“ State asset sales will be disastrous for electricity consumers. At present the market is distorted with domestic consumers subsidising commercial and industrial users. Privatising power generating and retail companies will make this situation worse as investors seek to push up profits. New Zealand First firmly believes that any profits should stay at home to benefit the local economy.”
Rod Oram, Financial Commentator
“The harder John Key tries to sell voters on reducing Crown ownership of five state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the deeper the hole he digs for himself and National. Here are the main arguments. None stack up…
… So, given the economics of SOE sales are so poor and the politics so unpalatable, judging by voter resistance expressed in the polls, it remains a mystery why Key is exercising such bad economic and political judgement.”
Dr Brian Edwards, Broadcaster, Media Specialist
“Well perhaps I can use myself as an example. I’m against the sale of state assets. I think selling them can’t be justified on economic grounds; and I share the nationalistic sentiments of so many Kiwis that they’re ours and we should keep ownership and control of them here.”
Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem
“ They will carry on the same operations as they do presently which have significant scope to impact on individuals and communities and the environment. It’s not just about commercial interests, the impact of these companies goes much wider than that and all of those interests ought to be protected…
… However state-owned enterprises are different from private enterprises by necessary definition of their ownership and purpose – that is to make profits for the Government and to expand and promote the interests of the public.”
CTU President, Helen Kelly
“The Government does not have the mandate to sell our strategic assets and it is time the public had their say.”
“In the national interest and the interests of the Crown-Maori relationship, we recommend that the sale be delayed while the Treaty partners negotiate a solution to this dilemma.”
John Key, Prime Minister;
“Now they’re highly profitable companies, the Crown’s dividend stream from Mighty River and Genesis are large so on both motivations we don’t have a debt problem and they’re acting highly effectively as companies. There is no motivation to sell assets; actually we’re about creating assets not selling assets...
… Nor am I hell bent on selling assets, actually in the world of making the boat go faster, actually, I don’t think selling assets actually makes the boat go faster.”
With business opposed to asset sales as well as a myriad of political, sector groups, and prominent citizens, this country is fairly well united with a single opposing voice; people reject privatisation, whether in part or in full. Especially when those assets are highly profitable and benefit the entire country as a whole.
The MYOB Business poll simply adds an extra dimension to the clamour to half asset sales. These are New Zealand’s businesspeople speaking out – not leftists or “intellectuals” or community groups – but hard-nosed businessmen and businesswomen who understand black and red ink at the bottom line.
When MYOB managing director, Julian Smith, says,
“Businesses do not buy the return on investment argument that the Government is running. They can’t really see how it is going to practically improve the economy or help the country.”
- then National would be foolish to ignore that opinion.
Certainly SOE Minister, Tony Ryall’s gormless comment,
“What it reflects is a wider understanding that what the Government is doing with the partial asset sales is about controlling debt.”
- is nothing more than mindless drivel.
How can Ryall claim that 54% opposition to asset sales demonstrates “a wider understanding that what the Government is doing with the partial asset sales is about controlling debt” ? Has the man actually read the poll figures before blurting out that non-sequitur spin?
With the majority of businesspeople now firmly in the anti-asset-sales camp, National has few allies left. ACT’s John Banks and Peter Dunne are it. One is a chronic amnesiac – the other a political prostitute. Not exactly a Broad Front, by anyone’s definition.
Time to call it a day, Dear Leader. When your own business allies reject your agenda, you know you’ve totally lost the battle.
Postscript: Another lesson in National Party double-standards…
According to Dear Leader, the Greens’ $75,000 spending of taxpayers’ money to stop asset sales, and thereby protect taxpayers’ assets, was a heinous crime…
“In two interviews about asset sales this morning, Key attacked the Greens for using $75,000 of its taxpayer-funded leaders’ budget to hire staff to collect signatures towards a citizens initiated referendum on the issue.
“These are the people that said they don’t have enough money to pay for (deaf MP) Mojo Mathers’ technology in Parliament but have enough money for a citizens initiated referendum,” he told Newstalk.
“This is a politically-motivated referendum.”
Meanwhile, National’s spending of $100 million of taxpayers’ money to flog off our state assets seems perfectly acceptable to Dear Leader and his cronies…
“Treasury has announced it’s appointing a panel of firms to sell 49 per cent of the shares in Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy.
It expects as many as 250,000 investor applications and fees charged by brokers will run to about $100 million.”
$75,000 to save our state assets vs $100 million to flog them of, against public opinion.
Gee, that’s a ‘toughie‘.
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- Rob, The Standard blog
21 May 2011
This Budget restricts the increase in public debt to manageable levels. Treasury’s December forecasts showed a dramatic and indefinite rise in debt levels. This is unacceptable to this Government because we do not want to saddle future generations with the cost of short term policies.
We will initiate a programme to lift productivity, improve competitiveness and sharpen New Zealand’s future economic performance.
We will consolidate the Government’s fiscal position, keep debt under control and ensure that Crown finances are properly managed.
This Government came into office with a plan to lift New Zealand’s economic performance.
I move on to our plan to balance the Government’s books. … This Budget will begin to restore the Crown balance sheet to its previous health.
The measures I have outlined will form key elements of our strategy to ensure that New Zealand emerges from the downturn stronger than it entered it.
The Government is determined that future taxpayers will not be burdened with higher debt which is unmatched by increases in productive assets.
To achieve this, the Government has made some difficult decisions.
The measures outlined this afternoon, the expenditure restraint shown by this Government, deferment of the tax cuts and deferment of Super Fund contributions, will keep the increase in public debt within acceptable levels. …
[This Budget] marks a turning point for New Zealand. Ten years of economic growth and expansive appetites for debt and Government spending have ended. Today we have outlined the challenge to rebalance the economy from debt and consumption to investment and exports.
The Budget will improve New Zealand’s international competitiveness.
It will get our debt under control and turning down.
It starts to create a government sector that provides better services and delivers better value for taxpayers.
It will help create new and sustainable jobs.
It will begin to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.
Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.
Ooops – Dammit! Sorry, my mistake. Wrong speech. That’s the budget speech from 2009. This is the one I meant:
The worst of the global crisis has for now passed and the economy has begun to grow again. In fact, New Zealand has weathered the economic storm better than many other developed economies.
Government policy struck the right balance between blunting the sharp edges of recession and maintaining control of public finances.
The Government is committed to policies that will reduce our vulnerabilities by tilting our economy away from debt and consumption toward savings, investment and exports.
These policies underpin the updated Treasury forecasts showing steady growth of around 3 per cent over each of the next four years.
The forecasts also show that this growth will raise real incomes of the average household by about $7,000 over the next four years, and create 170,000 jobs.
I now turn to the Government’s fourth objective, that of maintaining firm control of the government’s finances, so we can return the budget to surplus and reduce our rising debt.
The fiscal outlook has improved from last year, due to the economy returning to growth and the positive impact of Budget 2009 decisions.
The projected operating deficit for the next financial year is $8.6 billion or 4.2 per cent of GDP.
It is projected to improve steadily in each subsequent year, and to reach surplus in 2015/16, three years ahead of last year’s projection.
As a result of this improved outlook the debt projections have also become more favourable
We now have our debt under control and unemployment is beginning to fall.
We will emerge as one of the countries that other nations aspire to be more like.
There are risks to the recovery. A mountain of debt hangs over a number of our export destinations, and will also influence the markets that lend to New Zealand.
We cannot take for granted the contribution that the Australian and Chinese economies have made to our growth.
However, we are on track to a position most developed economies will envy.
This includes more new jobs, falling unemployment, rising family incomes,
quality public services and sound public finances.
Mr Speaker, This Budget continues to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.
Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.
Oh My. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me today. That’s the wrong speech again! That was the 2010 speech. This is the 2011 speech. Really this time:
Today I introduce a Budget that will further strengthen the long-term performance of the economy.
It supports economic forecasts that show growth returning to its highest in over five years and 170,000 net new jobs being created by 2015.
Our main task remains to return New Zealand to sustained prosperity. The economy has been underperforming since before the global financial crisis. Indeed, per capita GDP has not grown since 2004.
The OECD, the Savings Working Group and others have pointed out that we need to make the economy more competitive and lift national savings.
Currently, most businesses and households have successfully lifted their own savings. While that has hurt retailers for now, in the long term it is a good thing.
The main sector not saving is the Government.
The deficit in 2010/11 will be large, at $16.7 billion or 8.4 per cent of GDP. This includes a range of one-off costs, including the earthquakes.
The measures announced in this Budget will put both the Government’s finances and the economy on a much sounder footing despite a series of adverse events and a slower economic recovery.
The projected operating deficit will fall dramatically over the next three years. It will be in significant surplus from 2014/15.
This is a year sooner than the position forecast last year.
Budget 2011 shows how, from the depths of the global financial crisis when a decade of red ink was in prospect, and despite the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and other setbacks, the Government has laid the basis for future prosperity.
It is within sight of budget surpluses and falling public debt.
It has funded reconstruction of Christchurch, our second largest city.
It has in prospect the strongest growth for a decade.
It has materially improved the tax system.
It has placed KiwiSaver onto a sounder, more sustainable footing, and instilled a culture built on savings rather than debt.
And it will provide future New Zealanders with real choices about further lowering taxes, adding quality public services, or both.
We set a path for responsible government spending from the start of our term, and we maintain that path in this Budget.
This Budget continues to build a platform for a much stronger, more ambitious New Zealand.
Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.
Sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it. Right down to the recycled prediction of 170,000 new jobs. Why are the promises and predictions of 2011 any more realistic or believable than the failed promises and predictions of 2010 and 2009? How can anyone listen to Bill English, John Key and the Nats making these abundantly meaningless claims time after time without laughing? Know what they say eh. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Reprinted with kind permission by Lprent, The Standard
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Background: The Company
“Clemenger Group Limited is the holding company of a group of companies involved in advertising and marketing communications services throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the largest communications group in Australia and New Zealand. Clemenger Group Limited has about 1500 employees and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. 26% of the shares are held by Clemenger Communications staff and 74% by BBDO Worldwide. BBDO Worldwide is in turn part of the Omnicom Group, which the largest communications group in the world.”
Source: Wikipedia Clemenger Group
Source: Clemenger Group/About CGL
Background: Asset Sales
Last year, National opened a tender for companies which might be interested in a multi-million dollar contract to handle an advertising/publicity campaign for up-coming asset sales,
” Advertising agencies are working through the Christmas holiday period to meet a Treasury request for proposals to provide the advertising and communications campaigns that will accompany the Government’s partial privatisation agenda over the next three years.
While no budget is given for the contract, it is likely to be one of the largest new pieces of Government-funded advertising work agencies have seen for some time, but they have been given just 28 days to respond over the traditional shutdown period of Christmas and New Year. “
See: TVNZ News: Ad agencies scramble for asset sales contract
On at least two fronts, the tender process was seen as dubious by various groups.
” A formal Request for Proposals was issued on Decermber 15, with a deadline of January 9 for responses, leading industry veterans to suggest the Treasury has already made a choice of agency, but needs to follow Government rules requiring a tender process.
Advertising consultant and agency developer Mike Hutcheson says it is likely the Treasury already knows who they will give the job to, and this kind of fast-tracking is typical of such Government contracts.
“It’s a bit of a charade that Government departments and local authorities always go through because their choice is quite limited. There will be relatively few who can actually handle it,” said Hutcheson.
“Government departments have to go through a process and in fact it’s meant to be quite a transparent process, but usually it’s pre-determined.
“There will be someone in Government who would favour someone for sure. They’ll want someone to win, and whoever it is generally knows in advance”. “
Secondly, the Green Party pointed out that seeking tenders for contracts over the December/Christmas and Easter period contravened Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) Guidelines for best-practice. The Guidelines states,
”Unless it is unavoidable, government entities should be sensitive to the needs of busy people and not initiate tendering processes in the three weeks before Christmas, the week after Christmas and around Easter.”
So, not only was the timing of the tender process seen as disturbingly hasty by some – but it was held over a period which the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet guidelines itself stated quite clearly, should be avoided.
A spokeswoman for Treasury, Chris Major, said whilst Treasury was ‘mindful’ of DPMC’s guidelines, that,
”Those guidelines note that RFPs should be avoided at Christmas if possible; in the case of the Mixed Ownership Model programme it was deemed necessary and unavoidable to proceed with procuring advertising and communications services in December/January.”
It’s hard to understand why Treasury wanted “to proceed with procuring advertising and communications services in December/January” – no advertising or publicity has taken place either last year or this year. Only a website has been put up, and there is no apparent reason for urgency in that regard.
Someone, it appears, was in a hurry to award this particular contract.
The tender process closed on 9 January 2011, and the lucrative contract was awarded to Australian-based company, Clemenger BBDO, thereafter,
“State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said Treasury made decisions about contracts.”
In which case, why have a Minister of the Crown? Why not have Treasury run the country (gods forbid)?
Is this the sort of “personal responsibility” that National continually demands from the public – but not from themselves? The “Buck Does Not Stop Here”, obviously.
Clemenger BBDO will be paid a multi-million dollar sum for the contract, but National has refused to disclose the figure, citing “commercial sensitivity”,
“Finance Minister Bill English yesterday told Parliament the cost of the contracts were commercially sensitive but the Government would release figures ”in due course”.”
In effect, politicians are handing over unknown millions of dollars of our money, to corporates, to sell our own state assets, to corporates.
Al Capone was in the wrong job.
Tuesday, 28 August: Aotearoa is Not For Sale organised another ‘Flash Occupation’ – this time targetting Clemenger BBDO in Kent Tce, Wellington.
At around 2pm, the small group of a dozen activists – some in corporate attire – met at Te Aro (Pigeon) Park, in Manners St. The group discussed tactics; reaffirmed a committment to non-violence; and practiced singing several anti-sale songs. The songs were popular titles such as “Down by the Riverside“, which had been adapted for the current situation, and re-titled, “We’re gonna stop the asset sales“,
Placards and banners were prepared, including this new one, “No Asset Sales – No Higher Prices – No Corporate Welfare“,
All in readiness, the group set off to Kent Tce, a ten minute walk from the Park,
The group was in good spirits, and continued practicing singing the songs we would soon be sharing at the offices of Clemengers,
Target dead ahead; the corporate offices of Australian-based, Clemengers BBDO. Interesting to note that being an overseas-owned company, any fees paid to this company will be remitted offshore, to foreign shareholders.
The sale of our state assets was already resulting in the outflow of profits to overseas investors,
A brief demonstration took place outside the company’s doors. Considering the honking of car horns, it was evident that the public supported our presence, and more importantly, the message we were conveying,
The group then headed into the building,
The target of our ‘Flash Occupation’, emblazoned on the wall of the ground floor foyer,
And into the Reception Area, where a startled receptionist was the first to see the messages we had brought to Clemengers,
The Flash Occupation broke into song, as we moved through the offices,
At all times, the event was recorded. Not just to spread the event through on-line video, but to protect against mischievous allegations of violence or damage,
As the protestr moved through the offices, leaflets were distributed outlining why we were there and explaining why Clemenger’s participation in asset sales was unacceptable,
We sang our protest songs with gusto, and this blogger noticed more than a few office workers smiling to themselves. (Ok, we won’t be appearing any time soon on the next “New Zealand’s Top Idol“…)
But we gave the Clemenger’s staff seated behind the activists entertainment, and a clear message: Aotearoa is not for sale!
At this point, Clemenger’s Wellington Managing Director, Andrew Holt (center, white shirt), appeared and advised us that the police had been called and that we should leave.
We stood firm. We had more songs to sing, and a final message to read out,
The singing continued. We would not move on until our message had been delivered, in full, and understood by everyone at Clemengers,
Andrew Holt (standing behind banner) stood with some of his staff (unseen, behind banner), as the singing came to an end,
Shane read out a message, as Andrew Holt looked on, and listened,
“The power companies Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy, and Meridian Energy belong to those who built them from scratch, benefitted from them in the past and benefit from them today;
all New Zealanders.
The proposed sale of these State Owned Assets means the transfer from public into private ownership of these essential national services. We know that this will result in higher power prices for thepublic and loss of control of our electricity-generating capacity.
We think your role in this process is outrageous and we, as members of the public, object to paying fees to you to help sell what we already own.
No sale of state assets!”
In the background, another Clemengers staffer can be seen on the phone – talking with police?
Having delivered the message, the ANFS activists departed from the building peacefully, and with no damage or mess left behind.
Another Flash Occupation peacefully and successfully completed, the group separated and departed.
Clemengers was now the second corporation, connected to asset sales, that had been visted by a Flash Occupation.
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Scoop.co.nz: Govt ignores ad guidelines for SOE contract
Fairfax: Asset sale contract ‘broke rules’
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This, folks, is our Dear Leader, John Key
Dear Leader sometimes has a problem differentiating between making a statement that is true – and one that is not quite so true.
This gadget, below, is a lie detector, also known as a polygraph,
They even come as hand-held versions. This one is called a de-FIB-ulator (clever, eh?),
Now with a bit of judicious wiring… some strapping to his clothing… and someone to monitor inputs/outputs…
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Some (most?) folk will have seen an advert currently running on television, featuring the above image.
It is part of a campaign by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging here in New Zealand. In Australia, recently, a million-dollar law suit brought by tobacco companies against the Australian government was fought on this specific issue.
The tobacco companies lost.
This trans-Tasman conflict was viewed closely by National and it’s coalition-partner, the Maori Party. Especially by Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia.
Plans for a similar law are being mooted here in New Zealand; to replace the glamourous, brightly-coloured cigarette packets with plain packages featuring mostly the usual ghastly images of cancer victims.
In response, British American Tobacco New Zealand, the biggest tobacco company in the country launched a counter-campaign on 23 August, called Agree-Disagree.
Part of that campaign is a short, animated advertisement running at prime time on several (?) television networks. The campaign pushes the proposition that if a business creates “intellectual property” then it should be free to use it.
This blogger has seen the ad.
If the aim of the campaign is to mobilise public opinion to log on to the Agree-Disagree website, then they pushing poo uphill with a garden fork. Ain’t gonna happen, sunshine.
This is the New Zealand public we’re talking about here. A million of my fellow Kiwi brothers and sisters couldn’t be stuffed voting at the next election. If apathy had been a political party, it might’ve beaten National comfortably.
At the same time, we have pressing issues such as chronic alcohol abuse (which most of the country is in denial about); child abuse (except for a small group prone to moral panic attacks); child poverty; growing unemployment; a stagnant economy; blah, blah, f*****g blah.
Unless it’s a stranded penguin or some big white letters on a cliff-face overlooking a Wellington suburb or some silly bint making unwise comments on a Facebook page about dead soldiers – the public is too ‘busy’ to care. Hey, the latest episode of “The Block”, “The Voice”, “The Latest Really Exciting Cooking Show”, etc, etc, is on – and people are positively mesmerised by 21st century junk-TV.
By the time their particular favourite Reality-show porn is over, folk will have forgotten that ad, plus fifty others that might’ve flashed across our screens during that time.
Thank you, Television, for turning our minds into short-term attention spanners.
Sorry… um, what was I writing about?
Either tobacco companies have wasted their hard-earned cash (derived from customers just dying to enjoy their products) on a disastrously mis-judged campaign – or this blogger is missing something. If the public are not going to rear up on their collective hind legs in moral outrage that innocent
drug peddlers tobacco giants are being treated unfairly – then what is the point of these adverts?
On another excellent blog – Tumeke – well-known left-wing commentator, Chris Trotter made this interesting comment,
” The ads aren’t aimed at us, Bomber, they’re aimed at the newspaper publishers and broadcasting networks.
Add up the amount of money being spent – then look at the response from editors and columnists.
See how it works? “
Well, that’s as valid as any interpretation, I guess.
Because otherwise, BAT has just wasted several hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars on a campaign that is futile and doomed to be forgotten.
One final question to tobacco companies…
They make the point,
“If I create it, I should own it.”
Can that same statement be applied to everything else that tobacco companies created?
Like the millions of cancer sufferers who are dying from use of their product?
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In the 1960s TV science fiction series, ‘Star Trek‘, a sub-theme of humour ran through some of the episodes. The young ‘Mr Chekov’ – a proud Russian character played by American actor, Walter Koenig – would often claim several inventions, cultural icons, famous historical figures, as being of Russian provenance,
It was a comic sub-text that ran through the series and we smiled at the subtle mocking of nationalistic fervour.
Not quite so funny, though, when our own Dear Leader John Key does it,
“By any measure, the National Government’s home insulation scheme launched in 2009 has been a success…
… We set up the scheme as a four-year programme to insulate 188,500 homes – but we are now doing an extra 40,000 thereby taking the total to around 230,000.”
Who set up the home insulation scheme, Mr Key?
If I may jog peoples’ memories,
Why yes – it was a Green Party initiative! John Key is claiming credit for another Party’s policy initiative!?
National did refer to home insulation in their Policy 2008: Environment document. The sum total their “policy” on home insulation consisted of twenty words,
” National will:
… Work with councils to provide financial assistance to help low income households change to clean heating and improve their insulation.”
The same document that stated, that National would,
• “Honour New Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol obligations.
• Support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, including working to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed at Kyoto.
• Legislate for a well-considered, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy”
None of which it has achieved. Our ETS is certainly not “carefully balanced” as farming and other industries are exempt until 2015, with taxpayers having to foot the bill for those exemptions.
By the 2011 General Election, National had appropriated the Green Party’s home insulation initiative entirely,
” Key facts
• Over 130,000 homes so far are warmer, drier, and healthier thanks to our Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart scheme.”
And the tobacco companies complain of their intellectual property rights being ripped of?!?!
When Key writes,
“We’ve also worked with the Green Party on the insulation programme as part of our Memorandum of Understanding.”
… he is taking credit where none is deserved.
Following Key’s piece in the Herald, a reader posted this comment,
“ Ennill (Beach Haven)01:13 PM Sunday, 26 Aug 2012
Are you also proud of other government progress?
A “Best of.” list might include:1. Making more people redundant than any other employer
2. Growing the exodus to Australia of our best and brightest
3. Maintaining zero growth for New Zealand
4. Making 90% of New Zealand poorer by restricting wages and raising GST
5. Selling off New Zealand’s laws to the highest bidder
6. Taking away basic rights and protections for workers
7. Supporting John Banks
8. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on consultants
9. Not sacking Paula Bennett and Judith Collins for leaks of private information
10. Pushing ahead with asset sales when 85% of the country are against them
11. Charter Schools – a failed experiment elsewhere that have been introduced for ideology and not for the benefit of our kids
12. Ignoring the advice of experts when it doesn’t suit policy such as National Standards
13. Cutting Health spending to such an extent that they are struggling to deliver on anything except government-imposed targets
14. Making dodgy deals that are described by legal experts as ‘riding rough-shod over New Zealand’s laws’ such as the Sky City pokie deal
15. Encouraging mining on National Parks “
Ennill’s criticism of Key and National is damning. It is also accurate.
S/he points out one salutary fact; National has failed to achieve anything except tax cuts in 2009 and 2010. And even those are now being paid for by increased borrowing and asset sales.
National’s failure in managing the economy is so dire that it has taken to resorting to stealing policy successes from other political Parties it has worked with.
They are about to steal our billion-dollar state assets and flog them of to already wealthy buyers and corporate investors.
I wonder if the Greens could sue for theft of intellectual property?
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Continued from: Asset Sales: two down, three to go!
As predicted, the Waitangi Tribunal has issued a report endorsing a delay to asset sales until the issue of water rights can be resolved,
Specifically, the report recommends,
- Maori have long established property rights over water bodies
- Ownership precedents date back to 1929 when Nga Puhi was granted ownership of Lake Omapere
- Maori culture and rights should not be relegated and ignored.
- The claim is not opportunistic
- Offering shares in the companies to Maori is not a remedy
- Shares in conjunction with enhanced power on the boards of these companies could provide meaningful recognition
- It is impossible for the Tribunal to recognise all Maori water rights across the whole country
- It is possible to devise an appropriate scheme for Maori affected by the sale of the assets but more time is needed
If, as Dear Leader John Key stated on 10 July, that National could decide to ignore the Tribunal’s findings (because they are non-binding), then the matter will head to the High Court.
Either way, the asset sale process has been stalled.
The Tribunal’s decision is yet another nail in the coffin of this wretched privatisation agenda.
As pointed out in a previous blogpiece ( Asset Sales: two down, three to go! ), the process has been hampered by corporate interests; low shares prices (Air New Zealand); poor international commodity prices (Solid Energy’s coal); and lower than anticipated revenue from certain electricity companies.
This blogger sez; thank god for the Treaty of Waitangi. We may yet save our state assets from being stolen from us, the people.
Who would have thought that the Treaty – designed in 1840 to protect Maori assets from ruthless activity by colonials – would 172 years later protect the assets owned by ALL New Zealanders.
National and it’s redneck supporters may object with shrill hysteria.
These assets belong to all of us. Not just those with the money to buy them.
And it’s a bit rich for National politicians and their sycophantic supporters and fellow travellers to now be insisting that “no one owns the water”.
Especially since the concept of private ownership for land, trees, fishing quota, airwaves, etc, etc, etc, was inytroduced by Pakeha to New Zealand.
Now the architects of the capitalist notion of private ownership are screaming for collective ownership over water?
Get real, you rednecks.
Vocal right wingers and anonymous commentators on various internet fora are simply livid that Maori are exercising the same rights that Pakeha themselves have used for their own benefit and wealth-accumulation for the last two hundred years.
National may well begin to comprehend that it is on a hiding to nowhere on this issue. It is time for John Key to comprehend,
- The majority of New Zealanders do not want state assets privatised
- Maori have a legitimate intrerest in water rights if states assets are privatised
- Privatisation is opening a can of worms with corporate vultures circling overhead, looking for cheaper power deals
- The State will not earn anything near the $5 to $7 billion that Bill Enlish has been anticipating
John Key, it is time to knock asset sales on the head.
= fs =
Oh dear, National seems to be in a spot of bother over it’s planned partial privatisation of five SOEs…
One state owned enterprise, Solid Energy, appears now to be off the sales list. According to Finance Minister Bill English,
On top of that, there appears to be a real questionmark over the sale-value of Air New Zealand, as well, according to outgoing chief executive Rob Fyfe,
“However, outgoing chief executive Rob Fyfe has said he would be “surprised if the Government would be wanting to sell” at the current low share price.
The company was in the midst of a “cyclical low” on its share price, Fyfe said in June.”
Fyfe is correct.
A look at Air New Zealand’s recent and longer term share price history shows that it has been badly affected by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
In 2007, Air New Zealand’s share price stood at $2.47 a share,
At the end of trading (22 Aug), today, that share price stood at 92.5 cents each. That’s a loss of $1.545 per share,
In fact, the share price dropped from 94.5 cents a share yesterday (21 Aug) to it’s current level of 92 cents.
Looked at another way; it’s like having your home valued at $247,000 in 2007, prior to the onset of the GFC – and having it valued at only $92,500 today.
Not a good environment to be a seller.
NOTE: It is interesting that, of all the SOEs, Air New Zealand is the only one that has a small, privately-owned component. The state owns 73.13% of Air New Zealand, other investors own 26.87%.
This situation is a ‘quirk’ of Air New Zealand’s re-nationalisation in October 2001, when it faced collapse under a massive $NZ1.425 billion operating loss incurred by then-private owners.
So it’s current share value is a relatively true reflection of it’s present market-value. There is no “guesswork” involved, as Bill English revealed in February this year, with the other four SOEs,
Helluva way to run an economy…
Most sane people wouldn’t sell at such a ridiculously low price and would wait for the market to recover.
However, despite misguided belief, National’s commercial nous is vastly over-rated. In fact, some of their commercial decisions have been absolutely apalling.
The most famous being that these assets – especially the power companies – actually return a higher dividend to government than would be the cost of borrowing that same money. As BERL reported in May,
” Partial asset sales will do nothing to curb New Zealand’s growing debt problem, a new report by economic analysts Berl says.
The Berl report, commissioned by the Green Party and released today, says the Government’s partial asset sales programme to build new assets would leave the Crown accounts ”permanently worse off”.
Government debt, the ratio of debt to assets, net worth and total assets would all be worse off after the programme was carried out, Berl found.
”The interim loss of earnings resulting from reduced dividends and the period of time before the new assets reap benefits is never recouped,” the report said.
”Subsequently, the option of asset sales can only significantly improve the Government’s accounts if a set of assumptions are adopted that are at the extreme ends of plausibility“.”
The up-shot? Unless the global economy stages a miraculous recovery in the next two years (about as likely as The Second Coming or Klingons camping out in my backyard), and National ministers are dumber than I thought, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand can be scratched from the privatisation agenda.
Added to this, is a brewing toxic mess involving commercial interests and Treaty claims over water rights…
At the beginning of August, Key realised that the partial-sale of SOEs was not going to go smoothly. Until now, state owned power companies were exploiting water resources for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
Maori were content with that status quo; for as long as no one owned the power companies – they were owned by us all – the same could be said of water.
But the moment that private ownership of hydro-power generation was mooted – the situation changed. Water would be used to generate power, which would be sold, and would deliver profits to private owners.
Saying that “no one owns the water” that hydro-power stations use is akin to saying no one owns the coal or gas that are used in coal-powered and gas-powered stations. Ridiculous.
The Waitangi Tribunal will shortly be delivering it’s response to Maori Council claims over water rights.
Most likely, the Tribunal will find in favour of Maori. This blogger can conceive of no reason why this should not happen, and just as land can be owned – so can water rights.
It’s a bit late-in-the-day for capitalist National voters and politicians to now be claiming socialist principles of “collective ownership”. That just ain’t gonna wash, Jethro.
If National over-rules the Tribunal findings, then Maori will go to Court – the High Court to be precise. Of all Pakeha institutions, Maori have a great affinity for the legal system. They know how to use it for greatest advantage.
Going to Court will have one result; a lengthy delay in the asset sales programme.
On 22 August, National admitted what the rest of us already knew,
” The Government says it is going to have to start making judgments about how much of its partial asset sales programme can be completed in this term of office…
[abridged]… Finance Minister Bill English says the Government also has to deal with other issues, such as the Waitangi Tribunal report on water rights relating to the partial sale of Mighty River Power, and possible legal action.
Mr English says he is not taking it for granted that the Government will be able to complete the full programme this term. “
And as if that was not enough to put a spoke in the wheels, two corporate interests have recently made announcements that could have a significant impact on share prices for the remaining three SOEs; Mighty River Power, Meridian, and Genesis.
Norske Skog Tasman
” Norske Skog Tasman’s plan to halve newsprint production at its Kawerau mill will have implications for the power generation industry if it goes through with it, says an industry analyst.
The company, which accounts for about 2.9 per cent of New Zealand’s power demand, is looking at cutting its annual production to 150,000 tonnes from 300,000 tonnes because of dwindling domestic and offshore sales.
The analyst, who requested anonymity, said the partial closure would further extend the “significant” generation over-capacity in the New Zealand electricity market.
A 50 per cent reduction in Norske Skog Tasman’s electricity demand would equate to about one year of demand growth estimated in Ministry of Economic Development forecasts. “
By coincidence, Norske Skog buys most of its power from Mighty River Power, which is the first SOE that National plans to partially privatise.
Any potential “mum and dad” investors may be warned off from investing in MRP shares. If Norske Skog proceed with their plans, power consumption will decrease dramatically – and so will profits. Which will mean a cut in dividends paid to shareholders.
Tiwai Aluminium Smelter
Perhaps the ‘nastiest’ surprise for National and it’s Dear Leader was this announcement on 11 August from multi-national conglomerate, Rio Tinto,
” Meridian Energy’s announcement that it had been approached by New Zealand’s biggest power user, Rio Tinto, to discuss potential changes to its supply contract has created uncertainty for the Government’s plans to partly privatise the three power generators, analysts said.
State-owned South Island power generator Meridian said it had been approached by Pacific Aluminium, a business unit of Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS), to discuss potential changes to the electricity contract with the smelter.
The statement comes a time when Rio Tinto is assessing its options for the NZAS smelter at Tiwai Pt.
Tiwai takes about 15 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity, so the prospect of changes to the contract between Meridian and Rio was enough to send Contact Energy’s share price down 20c to $4.80 on Thursday.
Few in the financial markets expect Tiwai Pt to close, but if it did, much more power would be added to the national grid, depressing prices and affecting the profitability of all the power generators. “
Rio Tinto’s announcement immediatly sliced 20 cents off Contact Energy’s share price. What will it do to the three state owned power companies?
It’s hardly surprising, really. Everyone else appears to be putting their hand out, or up, to gain benefit from the asset sales – why not multi-national corporations who are already parked here in our country?
The Herald report goes on to say,
” Morningstar analyst Nachi Moghe said there was ongoing concern about the feasibility of Tiwai Pt and the possibility that it might eventually shut down.
“Obviously, if that happens it will hurt everyone, but it will hurt Meridian the most,” he said.”That additional supply will throw the supply-demand balance out of kilter.”
One fund manager said the news was a “bolt from the blue”.
In the contract negotiations, he said, the pressure could go on Meridian to reduce its price, or to reduce the volume of power it supplies, which would have an impact on the wholesale electricity market.
“It’s poor timing but great timing on behalf of Rio Tinto as we go into the mixed ownership model process,” said the fund manager, who did not want to be identified.”
Rio Tinto appears to be exploiting current uncertainties and confusion in the current environment. As pressure mounts on National from every direction, this appears to be an opportune moment for corporations to start flexing their own muscles.
Just what the Nats needed – their own corporate allies to shaft them at the worst possible moment.
Capitalism. Ya gotta laugh.
And the most critical factor to impact on the electricity generation industry: the weather.
This is something that even the “invisible hand” of the free market is utterly powerless to influence. Meridian’s profits have already been affected,
” The worst inflows into its hydro lakes for 79 years took a toll on Meridian Energy’s earnings in the year to June 2012.
The state-owned generator and electricity retailer yesterday reported a net profit after tax of $74.6 million, down from $303.1 million the year before.”
At this point, Dear Leader John Key might be starting to wonder. With all these ‘forces’ ranged against his Party’s plans to flog off our state assets – perhaps the Fates are trying to tell him something?
This blogger is surprised that China and Australia – both nations with which we have Free Trade Agreements – have not put their hands up to line up and buy shares.
After all, that is what FTAs are about. Legally, we might not be able to stop them.
Will we be hearing from our Chinese and Aussie cuzzies next?
Watch this space.
= fs =
Matthew Hooton is a right-wing blogger, political commentator, and National Party fellow-traveller. He has been an occassional guest panellist on Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury’s excellent “Citizen A”, as well on as Radio New Zealand’s late-Monday morning slot, “Politics with…”.
In his favour, he is one of the more coherent from the neo-liberal camp and can present a reasoned opinion without resorting to cliched, right-wing rhetoric or blame-speech. In short, you can listen to him without groaning; face-palming, and eventually reaching for the “off” switch or the Remote channel-changer.
Lately though, this blogger has been hearing something unusual from the man who is a self-professed fan of the original, neo-liberal, ACT Party.
It turns out that Matthew Hooton is either a closet Winston Peters fan, or has been up to a subtle piece of mischief-making lately…
On Radio NZ’s political segment on Monday late-afternoons, hosted by Kathryn Ryan, Mr Hooton has been making some very strange noises about a National-Conservative Party-NZ First coalition.
Those with a fair memory will recall that NZ First has been in coalition with National once before, in 1996.
To put it mildly, Peters’ decision to go with National was unpopular with the public. The coalition deal did not last long and neither did it end well.
But considering it was New Zealand’s very first coalition government under MMP, Peters might be forgiven. It was a steep learning curve for the entire country.
So why has Mr Hooton been saying things like,
“If you assume that this report makes it much more likely that the Conservative Party will come into Parliament, and if you also assume that Winston Peters would prefer not to be a third wheel on a Labour-Green government , then National really can get it’s support down as low as say 40% now, and with New Zealand First and the Conservatives be assured of forming a government.
… But if the government does accept these, then National now knows very clearly it’s path to it’s third term is through that Winston Peters-Colin Craig deal.” – 13 August
“Then, forget about all this nonsense flirting with these one-MP parties, and focus on forming a government – god help me for saying this – with New Zealand First and the CCCP [Colin Craig's Conservative Party - not the USSR].” – 20 August
It seems fairly clear that, having learned the lessons of the late 1990s, it seems highly unlikely that Peters would risk another public backlash by coalescing with National. It would be annihilated in the following election…
… which, may give us a clue why Matthew Hooton has been dropping little “hints” about a potential National-NZ First-? Coalition arrangement.
Could it be that, like this blogger, Matthew Hooton has seen and understood the portents in the political tea-leaves, vis-a-vis latest political opinion polls, which show a steady decline for National?
Could it be that Mr Hooton understands that ACT and Peter Dunne are dog-tucker – especially once MMP reforms are implemented?
And could it be that a third term for National can only be guaranteed if,
- Colin Craig’s Conservative Party breaks the new 4% threshold, and,
- NZ First does not make it back into Parliament?
Without NZ First, a Labour-Green-Mana Coalition may be unable to beat a National-Conservative Coalition. It may come down to a simple one or two seat majority, as happened last year.
So why would Mr Hooton be touting a National-Conservative-NZ First Coalition?
Because, traditionally, supporters of NZ First tend to be disaffected voters.
They vote against the incumbent government (in this case National), just as voters cast their ballot for NZ First in 1996, believing it to be a vote against the incumbent Bolger-led National government.
If a meme can be developed that there is a possibility that NZ First may opt to join a National-Conservative Party coalition (even though there is zero indication of this happening), then that may alienate potential voter-support for Peters.
After all, what would be the point of voting for Peters if he simply props up the current government? That would be the subtle, psychological message that Hooton may well be trying to implant in Voterland’s collective psyche.
It’s a kind of reverse psychology; “a vote for NZ First is a vote for a John Key-led government”. Which would put off voters who don’t want a Key-led National coalition, thereby reducing NZ First’s chances of breaking the 4% threshold.
They may instead vote for the Conservative Party, which presents itself as the new “maverick kid on the block”.
(And yes, I know the Conservative Party is most likey to coalesce with National. But, like voters who opposed asset sales still voted for John Key, those who vote for Colin Craig may not consider that eventual outcome. All they see is an new Alternative Option.)
So when the likes of Matthew Hooton drop little hints of a National-NZ First deal – just ask yourself; what’s Matthew up to?
Is he happily fomenting mischief?
Or is he really a closet fan of the Dapper Suited One?
= fs =
Tracy Watkins is the Dominion Post’s political editor and has been reporting on politics from the parliamentary press gallery for over a decade. She writes many, if not most, of the political stories for Fairfax Media (the Australian owner of the Dompost and other newspapers).
So she’s no ‘newbie’ and should know what’s going on politically.
Last weekend (18/19 August), Ms Watkins was a guest on Russell Brown’s “Media3“, and top of the discussion was Fairfax’s new pollster, Ipsos, one of the biggest polling corporations on the planet.
Ipsos delivered it’s first poll-results at the end of July,
This blogger wrote an analysis of the Fairfax/Ipsos poll, and concluded that we are still on-track for a change of government in 2014 – if not earlier.
One of the most interesting aspects of the poll was the ‘revelation’ that John Key was becoming a polarising figure amongst the public,
” A new poll has found Prime Minister John Key is increasingly becoming a polarising figure – especially among women…
… Left wing commentator Bryce Edwards said there was a noticeable hardening in attitudes against Key, in line with the perception of a growing ideological divide with the Left, which opposes the sales.
“I sense more hostility towards him than there was, but I get the sense it’s among those who are predisposed to be against him.”
But after a year with the headlines dominated by asset sales, ACC, Nick Smith’s sacking, class sizes and the economy, Key is even losing his gloss among National voters, with one in four saying they hold a worse opinion of him than a year ago. “
Russell Brown raised this issue with Ms Watkins, @ 12.40 into programme.
Most interesting was this exchange between Russell Brown and Tracy Watkins,
Russell Brown: ” Was there anything in that first round about how people were feeling that surprised you?“
Tracy Watkins: ” There was actually and that was as a journalist it was a big call for me.
We had a story in the Sunday Star Time talking about how John Key had become more polarising. And I sort of struggled with that one because as a journalist you would say, ‘Ok well it’s not surprising that, y’know, people who don’t vote for national don’t like John Key’.
But we had the benefit of the open ended questions and the thousand responses from people. And Duncan Stuart , who’s a really amazing pollster who works for Ipsos , he made the call that Key was becoming more polarising on the basis that some of the comments about Key were very strong and very disparaging and that was something that as a political commentator I hadn’t really come across before.”
(@17.57 into the programme)
It seems unbelievable. Tracy Watkins who, as one of Fairfax’s most experienced political journalists, viewed Key’s increasing polarising effect as something she “hadn’t really come across before” ?!?!
Where does Ms Watkins live – the dark side of the Moon?
It seems astounding that a journalist of Ms Watkins’ long service could be so out of touch with public sentiment. Indeed, she went on say,
“And about Ipsos, behind it, I might’ve gone out into the street and asked ten people; what do you think about John Key, but I still wouldn’t have written saying he’s become polarising…”
(@18.40 into the programme)
You wouldn’t have written a story about John Key becoming more polarising, even with public feedback telling you directly how people were feeling?!?!
Little wonder, Ms Watkins; you seem to be out of touch with public sentiment.
There is no secret here and growing public dissatisfaction with Key has been blindingly obvious, especially since last years’ elections. A cursory look at blogs; internet fora; and the proliferation of anti-Key/anti-National pages on social websites should be enough to offer a clue that Dear Leader is no longer quite so beloved by many New Zealanders.
When Key was first elected as Prime Minister, those who had no love for National waited with bated breath as to how he would perform.
As time went by, and with an inept government that seems to be incapable of generating the jobs that they promised us last year, that nonchalence slowly morphed into an irritation; and then resentment; and now outright anger. This feeling has been generated by implementation of hardline policies that voters had only a barest understanding. It is a feeling that has been growing for the last nine months, and which was reflected in steadily dropping polls and weakening support for Key as preferred Prime Minister.
How could Tracy Watkins have missed all this?
It should not take a polling company from overseas to acquaint a seasoned political reporter with over ten years’ experience as to what her own countrymen and women are feeling. When politicians lose touch with the public, we view that with distaste.
When a journalist loses touch, that is cause for grave concern.
What else is she missing?
= fs =
привет President Putin,
What kind of a “girl’s blouse” are ya?
I mean – really? Imprisoning three women because they sang a punk song in one of your Churches?!?!
F*****g get real and release Pussy Riot!! Because, Mr President, as things stand right now, it looks like you and the entire
Soviet Russian military-state complex is so shit-scared of three women that you feel the need to have them locked them away.
Now, I’m aware that Russian women are tough. (God help western men, looking for Russian mail-order brides, thinking that they are ‘subservient’?! Nyet! These women fought alongside their menfolk against Hitler’s hordes, and kicked Nazi arse from Stalingrad back to Berlin!) Yes, tough.
But are three women so much of a threat to your
authoritarian decisive rule that you’re imprisoning them for two goddamn years?!?!
Get a grip, comrade!
Stop being such a neo-fascist twat and let them go. Then maybe listen to their music and chill. ‘Cos, dude, the world thinks you’re acting like a пенис !
= fs =
Continued from: What’s up with the Nats and ACT? (Part toru)
The Tories are slipping.
Firstly, if you’re a politician representing an actual electorate, and you promised to do something for your constituents (remember them – the folk who were nice enough to elect you into Parliament?) – then you damn well do it…
Secondly, if you decide at the last minute to back out – because you realise that representing your constituents conflicts with your ultra-cosy relationship with you corporate backers – then make sure that everyone is telling the same lie.
Because it ain’t a good look, Mr English, when one of your
cronies fellow MP’s explanation for your absence conflicts with that given by your office;
Eric Roy: “Apparently the acting Prime Minister has just been caught up with something that’s captured his time and he’s asked me to accept it on his behalf – which I’m very happy to do. We kind of work together a bit in the South.”
- vs -
Mr English’s office: “He pulled out at the last minute because the Government must be seen to be objective, and he would meet petition organisers later in the day“.
And politicians wonder why we don’t trust them?!
Well, wonder no more, Member for Clutha-Southland.
Just as well that Clutha-Southland is a National safe-seat. Voters there would probably vote for a piece of furniture if it had the blue “N” logo stamped on it.
So not much hope there that voters would take umbrage at being lied to, Mr English.
Just don’t do it again.
(Or at least, hide it better.)
= fs =
If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?
If it’s somethin’ weird an it won’t look good
Who ya gonna call?
Ever since the National Party conference at the end of July, the National Party has been strutting the political stage like a bunch of patched gang-members, strutting about the main street of some small town in the back-blocks.
Key, Bennett, Joyce, Collins, Parata, Banks – even lowly backbenchers like Maggie Barry – have been obnoxiously aggressive in policy announcements and dealing with the media and critics.
The Nats have been unrelentingly in our faces ever since John Key uttered the threat,
This is not just about confidence.
This is something new. This is about a new, hyped-up, aggressive style of taking criticisms and failings, and turning it back on the critic.
Steven Joyce was on-style on TV3′s “The Nation” (19 August), when he belittled and badgered two journalists (John Hartevelt and Alex Tarrant) who asked him pointedly about National’s short-comings. Joyce’s response was typical Muldoon-style pugnacity.
This interview with Joyce is charachteristic of how National Ministers have been belligerent in their responses. It is singularly instructive,
Interestingly, Joyce has a “go” at Labour; then the Greens; and even Hone Harawira throughout the course of the interview. He even blames the global financial crisis and throws that in the face of Alex Tarrant, as he responds to a point.
Everyone gets a dose of blame – except the one party that is currently in power. So much for National’s creed that we should all take personal responsibility for our actions.
It appears that National’s back-room Party strategists have been analysing the first few months of this year and have realised that when things go horribly wrong, or the latest string of economic indicators reveal more bad news, the relevant Minister(s) responds with aggression and with defiance.
If the old say “explaining-is-losing” is a truism, then any explanation offered automatically puts a Minister on the back-foot.
The best way out of such a sticky moment; take a page out of Rob Muldoon’s book, ‘How To Win Friends/Enemies and Influence the Media‘.
And National’s Ministers have been playing this ‘new’ game perfectly…
Key has always played the part of the arrogant, born-to-rule Tory well.
Despite trying to put across the meme that he has never forgotten his “working class/beneficiary” roots (See: Reflections from New Zealand: Address to the Menzies Research Centre John Howard Lecture), his obvious disdain for those who are the most deprived and powerless in our community occassionally slips out, as when he derided the poor for being… well, poor,
“But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.
And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”
That attitude came to the fore recently when Key decided that attending his son’s baseball game in the United States was a more pressing engagement than attending the funerals of two Kiwi servicemen killed in Afghanistan,
Key gave an explanation that, well, frankly astounded most New Zealanders,
“In the end it’s a very, very difficult decision. I’ve got to let somebody down, but my son makes huge sacrifices for me and my job and, in the final analysis, I’ve just decided it’s probably the right thing to do – to go and support him.”
It’s hard to see how Key’s son has made a “sacrifice” that is more “huge” than two soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.
For good measure, Key then had a ‘go’ at our Hungarian allies – also serving in Afghanistan – and who have lost seven of their own troops in the neighbouring Baghlan province,
“As far as I’m aware, the Hungarians don’t go out at night. Not in Afghanistan anyway – they might in Budapest.”
A nice bit of deflection there, from Dear Leader. What better way to evade his responsibilities in an apalling decision not to attend the two funerals, than to point the finger at somone else.
It’s not often that one of our Prime Ministers has successfully disrespected the fallen soldiers of not one – but two nations. Quite a feat – even by arrogant right wing stands.
It seems that Dear Leader is not above a bit of “embroidery” when it comes to singing the praises of his son’s involvement in the game of baseball,
” Prime Minister John Key has told United States media his son’s baseball team’s appearance at an international little league tournament is “big news back home”…
… His support for his son caught the attention of the local Bangor Daily News. He told the paper his son’s team making the tournament was big news back home, and might spur growth in a sport that was already “growing reasonably rapidly”.
“I think over time there’s a chance baseball might be a much bigger sport relative to softball in New Zealand,” he said.
“But competing with big sports like rugby I think is a long way down the road.” About 4000 people are involved in the sport in New Zealand and Baseball New Zealand said it was the “fastest growing summer team sport” in the country. “
The deaths of three more New Zealand soldiers was announced on the morning of Monday, 20 August.
On Radio NZ, John Key stated that he would be attending their funerals. Apparently he has no other pressing engagements coming up.
Listen: Radio NZ Prime Minister John Key on Morning Report (@ 8.10 )
Continued at: What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua: Paula Bennett)
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