Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay – for now
“Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”
In colloquial terms, that is what is known as ‘dropping someone in it’ – “it” being brown, smelly, and heading for waste-treament ponds.
Is there a civil war going on within National, comprising two factions with one led by technocrat Steven Joyce and the other by neo-liberal Bill English?
Or is there something even more disquieting going on within National’s ranks.
“There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed. I doubt they’d give the same advice today.”
Noticeably, when queried by media, all three Ministers had similar responses – obviously coached by the same tax-payer funded Party spin-doctors and media-minders,
“I think hindsight’s a wonderful thing....”
And the tongue-tied Craig Foss,
“Well in hindsight… is a benefit of hindsight...”
You can always tell when a politician has been coached; they use the same words and phrases over and over again. Spin doctors/media-minders develop a mantra, and their clients are expected to learn and parrot it, by rote. It takes a skilful journalist/interviewer to peel away the carefully-crafted coaching and get to the truth.
This indicates that Parata, English, and Foss had been pre-warned of Joyce’s press conference and admission of the three Minister’s actions.
So is this some sort of carefully managed internecine warfare?
Or a very subtle, clever strategy to neutralise possible Opposition disclosures in Parliament?
Joyce’s statements that there will be on-going problems with Novopay could be seen as an attempt to minimise future media reports on Novopay errors.After all, if National admits that there will be ongoing problems – does that make it news when it happens?
Whichever is the case, this is Steven Joyce at his most cunning, and the Opposition will need to be on their toes. As will the media, if they are not to be out-manouvered by National’s “Mr Fix It”.
“Mr Fix It” does not apply to sorting out computerised pay systems. “Mr Fix It” fixes political messes.
This certainly qualifies as the Mother of all Messes.
As is common with National, Joyce attempted to shift blame onto advisors/bureacrats/Uncle Tom Cobbly, when he stated,
“There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed…”
My bet is that we will never, ever see this “advice”.
= fs =
John Key, on Hekia Pata, nearly a fortnight ago,
Hekia Parata, confirming Dear Leader’s assertion that she is “one of the smoothest communicators we’ve actually had”,
It takes a profound and deeply callous indifference to make light of the ongoing Novopay fiasco and the resulting stresses on teachers and school admninistrators.
Parata may have been ‘joking’ when she made her “Karma” quip.
The joke, though, is on her and on John Key. I suspect that the moment this story hit the headlines, that Key was on the phone quick-smart and gave her a simple message; “shut the -------- up!”.
As pundits have reasonable postulated, Key has evaded demands that Parata be despatched as Education Minister. (After all, only eight days ago he fired two other Ministers who were nowhere as masterful in the incompetance stakes as Ms Parata.)
The difference, as the pundits have most likely correctly guessed, is that sacking Parata would’ve been seen as caving in to teacher’s unions, school boards, parents, and anyone else that she has pissed off in the last year or so. It would’ve been a major coup for the Opposition, who are now only 22 months away from becoming the next government.
So instead of sacking Parata, Key went for Plan B; side-line her so she is Minister of Education in name only, and assigned National’s “hatchetman” – Stephen Joyce – as the real Power-behind-the-Ministerial-Leather-Throne,
In the meantime, Key’s message to Parata would’ve been simple,
And do nothing.”
As I wrote in my previous blogpost (see: National and the Cult of Buck-Passing ) on 22 Decemberlast year,
As for Hekia Parata, this blogger is ambivalent about her resigning her portfolio.
A new Minister would simply take up the reins and pursue current National Party policies. Perhaps with a new vigour. That would be of no help to this country whatsoever.
Parata’s presence as Minister of Education has an ongoing “benefit” of focusing on the ideological nuttiness of National’s education “reforms”.
National’s education portfolio is a mess because National’s policies are, in themselves, a mess.
Why take away a constant reminder of National’s failings, by sacking one of it’s most inept Ministers?
Why put a fresh, new, clean face on a cesspit of problematic policies?
Why let the Nats off the hook?
Let Parata stay. It will give voters something to think about in 2014 (if not earlier).
It seems that two of my “predictions” have come to pass,
- “A new Minister would simply take up the reins and pursue current National Party policies.” Enter: Stephen Joyce.
- ” Let Parata stay. It will give voters something to think about in 2014 (if not earlier).” With her bizarre comments, she certainly is giving voters something to think about.
When Hekia Parata referred to Karma today, I think she was missing the Big Picture. See the bite marks on Key’s $50 million arse?
Otago Daily Times: Joyce to take on handling of Novopay
NZ Herald: Parata safe in her job – Key
Dominion Post: No pay for Education Ministry staff
= fs =
Wainuiomata, Sunday, 27 January 2013 - It was a scorcher of a day throughout most of the country – and the Wellington region was no exception. The Met Office was predicting 23 degrees – this blogger scoffs at that and thought it nudged closer to 30. Not for the first time, I thanked the Human Race for the invention of air-conditioning inside a car.
This was not the first time I had heard Party leaders speak. My very first occassion was Bill Rowling, in the 1975 election campaign. According to my memory, he seemed a nice enough guy and had some good things to say.
Unfortunately forLabour – and for the nation – Muldoon made “mince meat” out of Rowling; won the ’75 election; trashed Labour’s compulsory super-savings scheme; and set the country on a course for future dependency on foreign bankers. Nice one, Rob.
My most recent encounter with a Party leader had been John Key, in Lower Hutt and then in Upper Hutt, in 2011 in the lead-up to the general election.
Impressions? I understood why many people likened politicians to used-car salesmen. There was something about Key that instinctively made me feel uneasy and doubt every word he uttered. At any moment, I expected him to offer the audience shares in the Wellington harbour bridge. (Soon, he’ll be offering us shares in companies we already own. So I wasn’t far off.)
Back to the present…
At first, I thought the Wainuiomata Rugby Club – at a far-flung corner of this little village – was an odd place for a public meeting. But maybe not. In some ways, Wainui represents New Zealand in the wider world; tiny, isolated, out-of-sight of the rest of the country and mostly forgotten. As a microcosm of New Zealand, surrounded by verdant green-covered hills, it was a perfect setting.
The Rugby Club car-park was jam-packed. Decided to park across the road. Smiled nicely at the Wainui Bowling Club folk who must’ve been wondering what was going on across the road, and legged it. Bloody traffic had been slow all the way through the Hutt Valley and through Wainui and the ” star attraction” was due to start his speech within minutes.
The host’s introductory speech was just finishing, and David Shearer walked – strided confidently – from a rear annex where he had been waiting with one of his staff.
There was good applause from the audience, perhaps a third or half of whom were Labour party members or supporters.
Shearer was in good form as he opened his speech,
Tena koutou katoa.
Greetings everyone and thank you for being here together on a Sunday.
It’s great to see so many friendly faces.
It’s wonderful to see so many of you prepared to give up some of your summer break to talk about the future of our country.
There is nothing more important. And nothing more urgent.
I can tell you that today I’m refreshed, I’m fired up, and I’m raring to go.
This year will be a big year for Labour – a year where we not only hold the government to account, but also show there’s a better way.
A way of hope, where there is a place for everyone and where we fight for a world class NZ that we can all be proud of.
Today I want to lay out the challenges before us, the need for change and our focus for the year.
Shearer started off well – and for the most part, maintained a vigorous energy as he gave his twenty to thirty minute long speech.
NEW ZEALANDERS WHO INSPIRE US ALL
A book I was given for Christmas tells the stories of 50 inspiring New Zealanders – artists, scientists, musicians, business people, some well-known, some less so.
Reading about their lives, they share the same passion and pride in their work and in their country. The ambition to be world class.
As scientist Ray Avery says: ‘we have no respect for the status quo’.
These people never say it’s too hard – we’re not big enough, we’re too isolated, we don’t have enough money.
Instead they say, “To hell with it, I’m going to do it anyway”.
New Zealanders have always achieved what wasn’t supposed to be possible.
Sir Edmund Hillary’s idea of what was possible took him to the very top of the world.
Kate Sheppard’s idea of what was possible made New Zealand the first country to give women the vote.
Alan MacDiarmid’s idea of what was possible took him from Masterton to winning the Nobel Prize.
We’ve always dreamed big and succeeded.
Interestingly, this is the same book that Alliance leader, Jim Anderton, referred to on numerous occassions during the 1996 general election campaign. He often mentioned it in his speeches, highlighting how New Zealanders had struggled to overcome adversity during their lives.
I see that same attitude in families and schools, businesses and sports teams as I travel up and down the country.
People overcoming adversity, dreaming of something better.
When I see a single mum put herself through polytech to build a better future for her kids, I’m inspired.
When I meet New Zealanders well into their retirement, who after a lifetime of service are the first to volunteer come Daffodil Day, I’m inspired.
When a kid, who the stats say should fail, becomes the first member of their family to graduate from university, I’m inspired.
It’s inspiring because Kiwis don’t lie down.
From the most famous to the most humble, courage and determination is the common bond.
They deserve a Government that backs their hopes and inspires them to succeed.
A Government that says: you do your bit, we’ll do ours.
Shearer used the phrase “you do your bit, we’ll do ours” several times throughout his speech. It’s a phrase that can mean different things to different people.
In a centre-left context, it can suggest an interventionist hands-on government. Though it harks back to the famous Marxist expression, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs“, I doubt if 21st Century Labour’s speech writer had Karl Marx in mind.
That’s what a Labour Government will do.
That’s what a government I lead will do.
NATIONAL’S EXCUSES ARE HOLDING US BACK
But this Government’s low expectations are holding us back.
For 4 years we’ve been fed skilfully spun excuses for why we can’t get ahead.
It’s the Global Financial Crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, the global outlook that is the problem.
We are told we have to accept second best.
There is always an excuse for why we can’t get ahead. For why we can’t be a leader in this field or that.
For example, the National government aspires to being a fast follower when it comes to climate change.
Hold that thought. What is a fast follower exactly?
Does it mean that if we follow too fast we become … what…an accidental leader?
Good point; “Does it mean that if we follow too fast we become … what…an accidental leader?“
Writing his speech, I would have referred to New Zealand’s leadership during the French anti-nuclear tests at Muroroa, and our opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Whilst our Aussie cuzzies were lukewarm in their support of Norman Kirk’s decision to send a frigate to the test site, we went ahead and did it anyway.
We were The Mouse that Roared. And this would have tied in beautifully with his references above to “ 50 inspiring New Zealanders”.
But a leader with no clue about where they’re going.
That’s not good enough with an issue that is so important to our planet, and our country.
We deserve better than that.
I refuse to accept that for New Zealand.
And so do the Kiwis I meet.
Strangely, this seems reminiscent of Key’s January2008 speech, “A Fresh Start for New Zealand“,
“We know this isn’t as good as it gets. We know Kiwis deserve better than they are getting. We are focused on the issues that matter and we have the ideas and the ability to bring this country forward.
National is ambitious for New Zealand and we want New Zealanders to be ambitious for themselves. “
The reason I point this out is that Shearer’s speech writer(s) should be wary of using too much generalised rhetoric. In many cases New Zealanders have heard it all before.
If rhetoric is used, make it original and make it something unique to social democratic precepts. There has to be a different language; different words – a different brand – to that of the Nats.
Otherwise Labour’s message will be diluted and lost within the political-media maelstrom.
FORGOTTEN NEW ZEALANDERS
But this Government has forgotten the hard-working and inspiring people I come across every day.
In a pub in Napier, a guy came up and said to me “I’m working harder than ever, I pay my taxes, we’re trying to bring up our kids the best we can, but we simply can’t seem to get ahead”.
He went on to say: “I just feel nobody is standing up for me”.
So many others I have met feel the same.
They’re busy helping organise school galas, donating their time to charities, running the sausage sizzle to fundraise for local sports clubs.
They are at the heart of our communities helping make our country the great one it is.
I’ve run into that spirit amongst many small business owners.
They’re the kind of people who pay themselves for 40 hours but work 80 just to keep the doors open.
They’re not asking for an easy ride or a hand-out.
But like thousands of others across this country, they’ve been taken for granted.
They feel the Government has forgotten them.
Kiwis across the country are working harder than ever.
They’re doing their fair share. Playing their part.
We all have that responsibility.
But they feel let down.
My promise to you as Prime Minister is that I will always stand up for the hardworking, forgotten New Zealanders.
You’re doing your bit, it’s time you had a Government that did its bit too.
NEW ERA – HANDS ON GOVERNMENT
We desperately need real leadership now more than ever.
The Global Financial Crisis has exposed the frailties of the old economic wisdom.
Now we’re getting to the knitty-gritty. Recent history backs up Shearer’s statement 100% that the “Global Financial Crisis has exposed the frailties of the old economic wisdom“. This is reality and only the most hard-line rightwing National/ACT Party devotee would attempt the futility of arguing to the contrary.
This is where National is vulnerable (amongst a truckload of other vulnerabilities).
In point of fact, whilst Key may not have been personally responsible for the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis – his profession certainly had a hand in it’s making. Key has admitted as such, two weeks after the 2008 general election (notice not before the election),
In turn, despite the lies from National MPs (more on that in an upcoming blogpost), Labour left the New Zealand economy in a fairly positrive state,
- unemployment was low at 4.6% (source)
- sovereign net debt mostly paid down from 20% to 5.6% of GDP (source)
- and Labour was posting surpluses, as even Key had to admit, with open derision (source)
These are all positives that Labour shouldn’t be afraid to remind New Zealanders – many of whom suffer from long-term memory-fade at the best of times.
The National Party believes the financial crisis is just a blip to get over. Their solution is to apply their failed ideas of the past over and over.
They are wrong.
The hands-off, simply leave it to the market approach has failed all over the world.
We are on the cusp of a new era – when new thinking and leadership is needed to build wealth we can all share in.
The world has changed…
Why not offer a few examples?
- Examples of hands-on State intervention.
- Examples of governments re-taking control of their currencies.
- Examples of people throwing out right wing governments and replacing them with centre-left administrations.
…National hasn’t. It’s stuck in the past.
We need a government that recognises times have changed.
We need a Government that finds the courage to act, not better excuses for why we can’t.
We need a government prepared to stand up for hardworking forgotten Kiwis.
We need a smart, hands-on Government.
A government that is prepared to be a player, not a spectator.
That will be a Labour Government, and the Government I will lead.
It’s about getting our priorities right, being thrifty about our economy.
Bringing our debt under control.
But being smart about how we tackle the massive challenges ahead.
Above all, this country needs a government that chooses to act. Let me tell you what I mean.
When a young couple is putting off having kids until they buy a house, and yet despite saving hard, prices always slip beyond their reach, it’s time to act.
That’s why I’m committed to putting 100,000 families into new homes.
It’s ambitious, but New Zealanders can see right through the Government’s hands off approach that leaves it to the market.
Ambitious? Of course – but also doable. This is not beyond our means and it’s laughable that those right wingers who poo-poo the idea as “too hard” or “too costly” are always – always – the same ones who defend against similar criticisms levelled at National’s “pet projects” for their business mates.
Evidently subsidising Warner Bros (a multi-billion dollar corporation) or a rugby tournament with our taxes is “not hard” and “not costly”. It’s called an ‘investment’.
So why is building homes for our own people “too hard” or “too costly”?!
Right wingers have a blinkered view of the world and a narrow idea of what is an ‘investment’.
Housing for our citizens is a human right and something we’ve always taken pride in. This is Labour’s core strength; ensuring a roof over peoples’ heads.
They see through the tinkering with the RMA.
They see through the latest excuse – to blame the local Council.
Key has been blaming everyone and everything for the poor state of our economy; rising unemployment; growing poverty, etc.
- In 2008 he blamed his money-trader mates
- He’s blamed the Global Financial Crisis
- He’s blamed people receiving welfare payments
- He’s blamed “dodgy statistics”
- He’s blamed the Labour Party
- He’s blamed the Greens
- He’s blamed Winston Peters
And now, recently, Key and his National cronies have taken to blaming local body councils,
“ We need more houses built in New Zealand, at a lower cost. That means we need more land available for building, more streamlined processes and less costly red tape…
… It’s ridiculous that we allow councils to demand almost anything as a condition for the consent.
And it’s ridiculous that we allow them to charge whatever fees they want.”
I’m waiting for him to next blame aliens, Illuminatii, et al.
It’s just not credible.
Damn right it’s not.
It’s also why Labour will introduce a Capital Gains Tax to move investment into business and away from property speculation that is pushing house prices through the roof.
When a student graduating from university faces 7.3% unemployment and little chance of getting a job, it’s time to act.
They’ve done their bit, we need to do ours.
It’s heart-breaking watching parents waving goodbye to their kids at our airports.
People want to work – they just need the jobs.
Two days ago, John Key had an epiphany: We have a youth unemployment problem – we need apprentices.
Good on him. I thank the focus group that brought that to his attention.
There was thunderous applause from the audience at this point. The remark referring to “government by focus group” is a quip that National constantly tossed at the Clark government.
It applies equally well to National’s term. Let’s keep using it.
There are now 20 per cent fewer apprentices today than when he took office. We are now importing foreign labour to meet skills shortages in the biggest rebuild in our history in Christchurch.
Is he just waking up to this now? Is this government asleep at the wheel, completely out of touch?
You don’t need to answer that. The answer is obvious.
There was a touch of humour as Shearer said, “you don’t need to answer that. The answer is obvious.” The audience loved the wry touch and laughed. The laughter was at National’s expense.
I have been serious about youth unemployment from the day I was elected leader.
Labour’s plans are out there. I’d be delighted if this government picked them up and ran with them.
We’ll pay employers the equivalent of the dole to take on apprentices.
More loud applause. Everyone welcomes the idea of apprentices – what’s not to like? Taking young folk from our 85,000 Unemployed or Not in Education or Training(NEET); training them into a trade; adding to the skills base of our country – this is real investment.
We’ll back Kiwi businesses to get their slice of the $30 billion dollars the Government contracts out every year – but we will require them to take on apprentices and trainees in return.
This is the kind of social contract that only a centre-left government can enact. National’s neo-liberal dogma could not allow such a hands-on, visibly interventionist, policy. It flies in the face of everything they hold dear; that only the “Market” can create jobs.
Labour (or any other centre-left and left Party) has no such constraints. They can be utterly pragmatic and do whatever it takes to generate jobs.
We’ll give tax breaks to companies doing world-leading research and development, so the innovations – and the jobs – they create stay right here in New Zealand.
When I see talented people forced to leave their home town because there’s nothing on offer for them, it’s time to act.
That’s why we’ll work with councils on projects that support their provinces. Projects like the Gisborne to Napier rail link to boost economic development and create jobs.
This was well received by the audience, with good applause and rowdy cheering. The audience seemed to understand perfectly well the long-term value of rail.
When I hear of high value manufacturers shedding jobs because our high dollar cuts them off at the knees, it’s time to act.
We’ll make changes to monetary policy so that our job-creating businesses aren’t undermined by our exchange rate.
When a 5 year old girl falls asleep in class because she had no breakfast before she left home, it’s time to act.
Labour will put food in schools, to make sure all our kids get the same chance to learn.
On a roll…
When a mum and dad work long hours but still can’t afford healthy food for their kids, it’s time to act.
We’ll lift the minimum wage and champion a living wage to make sure hard work can provide a decent living.
This is what I mean when I say we need a smart Government prepared to act.
Plenty of applause at these statements. And plenty of material for the electronic media,
And print media,
This is where National will continue to be on the back-foot. Come 2014, (if the Nat-led Coalition lasts that long – by no means a foregone conclusion) Key and his administration will have been in office for six years. Aside from balancing the books (oh f****n hooray), what will be their legacy? What practical achievements can they present to the voting public after two terms in office.
Bugger all, I would suggest.
A Government that says we will back you if you’re prepared to do your best.
Yes, we face huge challenges, but by being hands on we can turn our biggest challenges into opportunities for the future.
Since we announced KiwiBuild last year, excitement is growing. Architects, construction companies and designers around NZ have been in touch.
They see an opportunity to build affordable, energy-efficient – even energy generating – houses.
Houses that use home grown sustainable materials.
Houses that families will be proud to call home.
This is an idea the country is embracing.
And it’s also 100% feasible. There is no reason why any of Shearer’s suggestions cannot be implemented. It is, after all, part of our innovative, “number 8 fencing wire” mentality that we love to espouse as a Kiwi characteristic.
Ok, well let’s put that into operation. Not just to make money for overseas corporates like Warner Bros – but for our own young people.
This is the kind of talk that cuts through the free market, neo-liberal BS. This is what will encourage New Zealanders to call this country home – and not just a launching pad for overseas destinations.
More than 70 per cent of Kiwis support our KiwiBuild programme to build 100,000 first homes.
New Zealanders are also behind our other new ideas and those numbers are growing.
Most people see the need for a Capital Gains Tax on investment properties.
Nearly six in every ten New Zealanders support our idea to make KiwiSaver universal.
And nearly two-thirds of you back our pledge to protect universal superannuation for future generations by gradually lifting the age of eligibility.
The forces of conservatism said that reforming Super wasn’t the right thing to do.
It wouldn’t be popular – so we shouldn’t do it. They were wrong.
New Zealanders are forward thinking and are prepared to do what it takes to create a better future.
When New Zealanders understand the long-term implications of their decisions, and vote accordingly for sensible policies on Election Day, we can achieve great things.
But when we vote through sheer stupidity for selfish reasons – as many did on 29 November 1975 for Robert Muldoon – we inevitably achieve short term gain. But loose out Big Time on long term benefits (see related blogpost: Regret at dumping compulsory super – only 37 years too late).
National has a big idea of course – it’s to sell our best assets.
And, with them, goes another chunk of our future.
That is their plan.
Most Kiwis hate it. And we are behind them fighting that idea all the way.
HANDS ON – A GLOBAL TREND
Labour isn’t alone in knowing the time has come for active government.
A movement of leaders and people across the world have realised the old hands-off solutions take us nowhere.
It’s a new way of thinking and it’s evolving.
New Zealanders are looking to a government that will roll up its sleeves and back them.
You do your part, and we the government will do ours.
In 2014 that’s the Government I will lead.
And that it pretty much what persuaded voters to support Labour and it’s coalition partners in 1999. The do-nothing, slash-and-burn mentality of Bolger and Shipley was driving New Zealand to a yawning chasm. Neo-liberalism was creating a nightmarish society of high unemployment, degraded social services, missed opportunities, and widening gap between the rich and poor.
AGENDA FOR 2013
Kiwis won’t have to wait until the election to find out what I stand for and what I’ll do about the issues that matter to them.
I’ve already put clear stakes in the ground on housing affordability, quality education, growing jobs and the economy.
There’s more to come.
For Labour, this year is about preparing for Government.
We want New Zealanders to know that we’re ready to govern.
It’s simple: appear confident and act like a government-in-waiting – and they will flock to you.
Note, this applies also to NZ First, Mana, and the Greens. The public want to see Opposition Parties working together for the good of the country as a whole. By all means offer your own policies for public debate – but take note that there’s a very fine demarcation between debate and squabbling.
Any hint of squabbling and the voters will turn of.
There have to be positive reasons for voters to take a punt on voting for the Opposition.
Work together, in a cool, calm, methodical, professional manner – and they will flock to you.
That’s why today I’m setting out my agenda for the year.
Number one is jobs.
It is our most urgent priority and cuts across everything we do.
Labour’s plan to build new affordable homes will create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships.
A job is more than a weekly wage, it’s gives people a purpose and pride in themselves. That’s why I’m focussed on jobs.
Our housing proposals are at the cutting edge of urban design and energy efficiency.
This year we will bring together the best ideas of architects, designers, urban planners and others to a housing conference.
I want KiwiBuild ready to roll on Day 1 when we take office.
First-home buyers shouldn’t have to wait.
Jacinda Ardern, my Social Development spokesperson, will produce an alternative white paper this year, setting out our direction to help lift kids out of poverty.
There are 270,000 children in hardship in this country, and the government is failing them.
Kids deserve the best chance in life regardless of their parents’ wealth, and with Labour they will get that.
And those of us on the Left will be supporting, encouraging, and where necessary, nudging, a Labour-led government to maintain the focus of these problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) .
It is simply unacceptable to have poverty in this country and tackling this cancer in our society must rank at the top, along with job creation and caring for our children.
On this note, I would suggest that David Shearer demonstrate his total commitment to addressing child poverty in this country by taking on the role of Minister for Children.
There is nothing more important to the future of our nation than our children. (Some rightwingers don’t get this simple fact – but then, they do suffer from a brain-deficit in comprehension of social problems.)
John Key made himself Minister of Tourism – and spent his holidays in Hawaii. I guess he’s Minister of Tourism for Hawaii, and we just didn’t hear that part of the announcement.
An incoming Labour Prime Minister’s portfolio must be Minister for Children.
No ifs, buts, or maybes – that will set the tone of an incoming Labour-led government.
Their best opportunity is from a world-class education system.
We’ve already set out our plan to put food in schools and extend reading recovery so our kids aren’t destined to be drop outs from their first day at school.
This year I’m asking my education team to look at ways to improve transitions from school to further training and high-skill jobs.
1. Can Charter Schools. These are parasitic neo-liberal constructs which add nothing to our education system.
2. Look at Finland. They’re at the top of OECD PISA tables for achievement. I suggest they have a wealth of knowledge we can gain from them. (Finland does not use the “Charter schools” model.)
3. Whether of not NZ First joins the Coalition on an official basis, I would strongly suggest that MP Tracey Martin be given an education or health or Associate Minister of Children’s portfolio. This woman has talent and should not be over-looked. (Disclaimer: I’m not a member, supporter, or even fan of NZ First. But I recognise talent when I see it.)
85,000 young New Zealanders are not in work, education or training.
It’s a flaw in our system.
I want to see our schools seamlessly connect to further training opportunities.
I want every child to go through school with a purpose and plan of where they’ll end up.
Because every young Kiwi deserves a shot at a career that excites and motivates them.
Without this we’ll continue to see kids, without the right skills to get a job, falling through the cracks.
And our employers will continue to struggle to find the skills they need.
That’s not a future I want for my kids or yours.
Pretty damned obvious, eh?
I mean, really, it’s so fricken insanely straight forward.
In fact, it’s so patently obvious that voters have a clear choice,
A. Vote National and more of the same – 85,000 not in work, education or training.
B. Vote for a centre-left Coalition and get these kids into apprenticeships.
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get this?
I’ve spoken of a clean, green, clever economy many times.
We need our environment to drive our economic success and our economy to keep our environment clean.
Despite warnings from the likes of Dr Mike Joy that our environment was hardly the fiction of being “100% Pure” or “Clean & Green”, right wing spin doctors (see: When spin doctors go bad) and our Dear Leader don’t seem to understand the simple fact that much of our economy is predicated on our marketing brand (see: John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth).
Dr Joy was lambasted by Mark Unsworth – a rabid right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth – who condemned the scientist as an economic “saboteur” on 21 November, last year.
Now, as our environmental mishaps begin to compound, the chooks are coming home to roost – and crap all over everything,
The reality is we will not create more better paying jobs by simply exporting more milk powder.
We’ve been talking about it since Mike Moore invented lamb burgers.
Our future prosperity will be carved out by backing the talent of businesses working in high tech, or the innovations of those adding value to our natural resources.
It will be built by those that see the promise and opportunity of a clean, green future.
Great ideas are emerging from organisations like Pure Advantage, and from thousands of innovative can-do Kiwis.
A thriving manufacturing sector is at the heart of my vision. That’s why our manufacturing inquiry that starts tomorrow is an important first step.
But the commitment is lacking from government.
Well I am committed to this future.
There is simply no other option.
That is why I have asked my colleagues to develop a clear plan to diversify our economy.
A plan we can put in front of New Zealanders, not airy fairy concepts.
There was more applause to this…
All of these areas – jobs, education, housing and building a new economy – are critical to rebuilding our second largest city.
I am committed to rebuilding Christchurch from the grassroots up, not the Beehive down.
A part of me thinks that “rebuilding Christchurch from the grassroots up, not the Beehive down” may be the toughest, most demanding of Labour’s promises. 300,000 Cantabrians may have 300,000 opinions as to what should be done.
At the very least, a Labour-led government must put an end to school closures and the prospect of the Charter Schools experiment. Christchurch has enough stresses without central government adding to the woes of an already vulnerable community.
That’s why I’ll be talking to Cantabrians about how they see their future.
To ensure their voices are heard.
That’s what we’ll work on in the coming months.
These ideas will make a difference.
These are ideas National simply can’t see.
The difference between the forces of conservatism and the need for change has never been wider.
Indeed. On almost every level, there is a world of difference between the expectations of National Party supporters and those who support Labour, the Greens, Mana, and NZ First.
The differences are best epitomised by the issue of child poverty.
National/ACT supporters play the blame-game and deride parents for making “bad choices”. Key himself validated this belief in February 2011, when he said,
“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.”
This attitude of selfishness can become vicious and downright psychopathic in cruelty. Perhaps the nastiest I’ve seen was Damien Grant’s piece in the NZ Herald yesterday – see: Damien Grant: I’d rather a better phone than feed a hungry child.
People like Grant – and those who posted vile messages in support of his comments – are the mean spirited, self-centered, dark side of humanity. Their vision of society would not be too dis-similar to to Dickens’ Victorian-era world.
Though strangely enough, Rightwingers/National Party supporters are never quite able to explain how a child can choose to be born into a family ridden by unemployment, poverty, dysfunction, addiction, abuse. Strange, eh?
Labour/Green/Mana and probably NZ first supporters see problems such as child poverty as a societal problem that affects us all. They understand there are many reason why a family may be living in poverty.
With 175,000 New Zealanders now unemployed, it’s hardly surprising that poverty is increasing. Contrary to the bizarre fantasies of right wingers and low-information voters, the dole is not very generous. No one in their right mind would give up a job earning $600 a week, to go on the dole for $204.96 a week, net (see: WINZ Unemployment Benefit – current).
A priority of an incoming Labour-led government should be to un-do the benefit cuts of Ruth Richardson in 1991. It is an indictment on Labour that it never carried out this positive reform during it’s tenure in office.
Aside from being the right thing to do, Labour should ask itself; why should the poorest in our society vote for them if they don’t un-do the policies of previous right-wing governments?
What’s in it for them?
Come 2014, New Zealanders will face a choice more stark than any in a generation.
A choice in the direction of their country.
A choice between staying as we are and managing our decline, or being part of a hands-on
Government that’s backing hardworking New Zealanders.
“Government that’s backing hardworking New Zealanders“.
Code for the fickle middle classes?
A government that chooses action over excuses.
A government that understands the world is entering a new era and we need to change with it.
One that shares the determination and passion of those Kiwis who inspire us most.
There was more loud applause at this point. Despite not giving specifics, the audience seemed to like what they were hearing; the direction that Shearer was moving the Party.
That’s the Labour Government I will lead.
But I can’t do it alone.
Today, I am asking for your help.
I want you to be part of my team and play a part in the next government.
I want to hear your hopes for this country and your ideas of how we get there.
I want each of you to take the Labour message out to your neighbours, your co-workers, your congregation, and your friends.
Tell them yes, we in the Labour Party are committed to making a real difference in people’s lives.
We will not accept the status quo.
A tide for change is building.
Indeed. And that tide for change is not just the poor; the unemployed; or the low-paid. Even businesspeople seem to be getting mightily pissed of at National’s arrogant hands-off, do-nothing, Leave-It-To-The-Marketplace attitude,
The managing director of a company that makes and exports a device that protects crops from hail stones said comments from the Government that his sector needs to get smarter are “insulting and unnecessary”.
Mike Eggers said he is sick of hearing politicians telling him he has to up his game if he wants to survive – when the high dollar makes it more and more difficult to operate.
“We’re told to get smarter and I find that irritating and insulting. I’m about as smart as they get in my little field. How the hell do these people get smarter? For a politician to tell somebody else to get smarter – he’s risking his life.”
A scrap-copper manufacturer told the inquiry the Government can’t continue to do nothing about the exchange rate.
A W Fraser managing director Gordon Sutherland said the over-inflated dollar is crippling exporters and it was disappointing when the Government told them to keep making efficiencies to remain viable.
“We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”
Joyce’s immediate response?
“Nobody’s arguing that being a manufacturer isn’t challenging. In fact, in my history in business, every time you’re in business it’s challenging.
“But going around and trying to talk down the New Zealand economy and talk about a crisis in manufacturing, I don’t think is particularly helpful.”
Mr Joyce said there was no simple answer to the problems the sector are facing, except to keep working hard to further improve their businesses.
If Joyce and his little National buddies think that kind of response will win them the next election – they must be more deluded than I thought imaginable.
Joyce might as well have saved time and simply told exporters and manufacturers, “Go vote Labour”. The effect will be the same.
Change that guarantees everyone gets ahead, not just those at the top.
Change so we once again stand tall as a country.
A country where we strive to be a leader – not a follower.
A country where the Government is hands-on and backs its people.
A country we can be proud of.
Friends, join with me to build that future.
Because, together, that’s what we will do in 2014.
With that, Shearer concluded his speech. As the audience rose to their feet, cheering enthusiastically, he left the stage,
So, what to make of Shearer’s performance?
Shearer spoke from a pre-prepared speech (hard-copy provided to this blogger) which he more or less followed. He spoke convincingly and passionately and though perhaps not as charismatic as a Jim Anderton or younger Winston Peters or late Rod Donald, it was sufficient to present his message to people in the Hall.
Reading a pre-prepared speech, this Blogger scores Shearer a 6/7 (where 10 is in the league of Lange/Kirk/Savage and 1 is one-dimensional to the point of being robotic.)
The speech scores a 5/6. It was adequate – but perhaps something was missing. Something that would make a listener sit up, with the proverbial lighbulb switching on.
After Shearer left the stage, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard, invited the gathering outside to enjoy the beautiful hot day in an adjacent park, as well as a free sausage sizzle for all,
A traditional Kiwi sausage sizzle provided free snacks – though there were suggestions that NZ Herald journo, Audrey Young (not pictured) pay for hers in the spirit of Market User Pays,
It also gave Shearer an opportrunity to meet the press outside, to answer questions. Most questions seemed focused on Labour’s recently released Housing policy,
Patrick Gower (at left, with pink tie) was the main questioner,
At times the questions were so intent on detailed house pricing; number of bedrooms; location; location; location, that they seemed more suitable for a real estate agent than a Party leader. But they were fair questions and this blogger has no quibble with them,
I stood with the group throughout the Q + A session, listening and recording the exchange between Shearer and msm journos.
My impression? He has improved significantly since his earlier days as Labour’s mumbling, incoherent, leader. Occassionally there is still hesitation, and that requires further training to make his speech patterns more fluid, natural, and assertive.
In any case, except for an occassional moment or two, he answered journo’s questions reasonably well.
The question is – is he ready to go head-to-head with The Great Car Salesmen, aka, our Prime Minister John Key? Currently, I’m not sure. By 2014, with more practice and experience, and as his confidence grows, he has a fair chance.
What the Labour Party needs to do is ensure that not only does Shearer get the training and experience, but that he is 100% well-versed in every aspect of Labour policy and funding mechanism.
National is vulnerable right now, and this blogger believes things are about to get a whole lot messier for the Tories. 2012 was only the beginning of their eventual demise as government.
There’s still a lot of work ahead of us, and every critic and opponant of National must do their bit; Party activists; MPs (which means side-lining hopeless non-performers and elevating those who are taking it to the Nats); bloggers; and disaffected ordinary New Zealanders who’ve had a gutsful.
2014 is ours to seize.
Other moments and faces of the day
Rimutaka MP, Chris Hipkins, (“Kennedy for President” t-shirt) and friends,
Hutt Mp, Trevor Mallard, chatting with two members of the public,
Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, and supporters,
And Labour leader, David Shearer, listening intently to a fellow New Zealander,
The Jackal: Anti Shearer faction loses traction
The Standard: For a February leadership vote
This blogger has no links or preference to either “Team Shearer” or “Team Cunliffe”, and is mostly neutral in the leadership stakes.
Copyright (c) Notice
All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,
* Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
* Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
* At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
* Acknowledgement of source is requested.
= fs =
- Citizen A -
- 24 January 2013 -
- David Slack & Dr Wayne Hoper -
- National Party cabinet reshuffle - First Political Poll of 2013 - Ratana & the Maori Party -
Issue 1: National Party cabinet reshuffle – rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic or the boldest political move of the 21st Century?
Issue 2: First Political Poll of 2013 – National up and Labour down – what does David Shearer need to do?
and Issue 3: Ratana this weekend – has Maori political influence peaked – what is happening in the Maori Party?
Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)
= fs =
John Key today delivered his State of the Nation speech. This is my appraisal of the contents of his address to the people of New Zealand…
“Whether it’s welfare reform, law and order, education, the rebuild of Christchurch, or continuing our improvements in public services, it’s full steam ahead.“
But no mention of jobs?
“We’ve made a huge turnaround in the government’s books, we’ve brought in the biggest changes to the tax system in a generation, and we’re making significant changes to reform the welfare system and strengthen work obligations.”
Still no mention of jobs!
“Among other things, we’ve introduced 90-day trials; set time limits for the consenting of large projects under the RMA; introduced a competitive new system for awarding oil and gas exploration permits; got ACC back into good financial shape; and kick-started a multi-billion dollar programme of infrastructure investment.”
Where are the jobs?
” …an economy that was left unbalanced, and in poor shape, by the previous government.“
Bullshit. Aside from being National’s “Big Lie“, Labour posted several Budget Surpluses, and payed down debt. How long can National keep blaming Labour for non-existant ‘mis-management’?
“… the impact of the Global Financial Crisis“
That was FOUR years ago – what has National been doing in the meantime – aside from banging on about welfare “reforms” and adding to unemployment by cutting back on the State sector and under-mining the export sector by not addressing the high Dollar?!
“Since the bottom of the recession, in mid-2009, the economy has grown at an average of just under 2 per cent a year, and economists are expecting that to strengthen further.”
Which economists? These ones; Rodney Dickens finds economists consistently over-estimated growth?
And how can it be ‘strengthening’ when unemployment is rising; the export sector is being knackered by our high dollar; and government austerity is dampening growth?
Key is practicing more of his “vacant optimism”, and bugger all else.
” Our employment rate is very high in comparison to other countries, with over three-quarters of all New Zealanders aged 20 to 64 in work. There are still too many people looking for work who can’t find it. But forecasts show employment continuing to increase and unemployment falling.“
Bullshit. Unemployment has risen in the last four Quarters,
Source: Trading Economics – Unemployment
By what stretch of his money-addled brain is he expecting it to fall? Especially when the 170,000 new jobs predicted in 2011 by a vacantly optimistic Key, have yet to materialise.
“Interest rates are at 50-year lows. “
Interest rates are not determined by government. They are set by the Reserve Bank. And current interest rates are low only because the economy is weak.
Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said: “New Zealand’s economic outlook has weakened a little since the March Monetary Policy Statement.
“Political and economic stresses in Europe, along with a run of weaker-than-expected data, have seen New Zealand’s trading partner outlook worsen. Furthermore, there is a small but growing risk that conditions in the euro area deteriorate more markedly than is projected in the June Statement.
The Bank is monitoring euro-area developments carefully given the potential for rapid change.“Increased agricultural production and the weakened global outlook have driven New Zealand’s export commodity prices lower.
The resulting moderation in export incomes, although partially offset by depreciation in the exchange rate, will weigh on economic activity in New Zealand. Fiscal consolidation is also likely to constrain demand growth going forward.
Is Key taking credit for a weak economy?! Go on, Dear Leader, I dare you to do it!
“Prices for primary exports are holding up, and our terms of trade remain high. “
Say whut? Has Key been caught out fibbing – again? Terms of trade are not “remaining high”. Quite the opposite,
New Zealand’s terms of trade fell to a three-year low in the September quarter as the country’s strong currency ate into returns from an increasing volume of dairy exports.
The terms of trade, which measures how much imports can be bought with a fixed quantity of exports, fell 3.2 per cent in the three months ended September 30, according to Statistics New Zealand. That’s more than the 1.8 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. Export prices sank 6.3 per cent, ahead of the 3.6 per cent expected, while import prices declined 3.3 per cent versus an anticipated 2 per cent fall.
Primary export prices are not “holding up”. They are falling,
Dairy, which accounts for about a quarter of New Zealand’s exports, was the biggest contributor to the falling export prices and rising volumes, with volumes surging 32 per cent in the quarter, even as prices sank 13 per cent.
This isn’t a “State of the Nation” report – it’s a work of goddamn fiction.
” That will be centred, of course, on Christchurch, where the spend is now estimated to be around $30 billion. But construction is also expected to pick up in other areas, and manufacturers across the country will be gearing up to supply materials.”
Again, more vacant optimism from Key.
If two major earthquakes had not trashed Christchurch, where would the “growth” come from? What would be driving economic growth and employment? Faith in the Free Market?!
Total manufacturing rose 2.6 percent.
Excluding meat and dairy product manufacturing, sales fell 1.4 percent.
Meat and dairy product manufacturing rose 13 percent.
Total manufacturing rose 1.6 percent.
Excluding meat and dairy product manufacturing, sales fell 1.1 percent.
Meat and dairy product manufacturing rose 9.3 percent.
“In any three-month period in New Zealand, between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs disappear, and between 100,000 and 200,000 new jobs are created, as businesses start up, expand, contract and close altogether.”
Is Key suggesting that there are “100,000 to 200,000 new jobs” created within a three month period?!
The man is in la-la land.
Statistics NZ revealed that for the Setember 2012 Quarter,
The number of people unemployed increased by 13,000 people.
The employment rate fell 0.4 percentage points, to 63.4 percent.
The number of people employed decreased by 8,000.
The labour force participation rate remained unchanged, at 68.4 percent.
I see no evidence of 100,000 or 200,000 new jobs anywhere. Unemployment, however, rose from 6.8% in the June 2012 Quarter to 7.3% in the September 2012 Quarter.
Key’s speech mentions none of this, and is as vacantly optimistic as he was last year, or 2011, or 2010, or 2009…
“Because the truth is, you only get jobs and growth in the economy when people invest money, at their own risk, in setting up a business or expanding an existing business.
But the only way net new jobs can be created is by private investors putting their money into businesses in New Zealand.”
Which brings us to the matter of Market failure. We simply are not seeing the number of new jobs required to soak up any of the 175,000 unemployed.
Since 2009, a net total of 114,200 Kiwis left for Australia and elsewhere (see: Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: migration ). One could only imagine the staggering level of unemployment if Australia wasn’t an economic “safety-valve” just across the ditch.
” Governments can encourage investment but they can also discourage investment.
A government can load up big costs and uncertainties onto business.
It can make people unwelcome because they are considered to be the wrong nationality to invest here, or in the wrong industry.
And it can lock up the resources of the country.
That would certainly discourage investment.
But as I said, we have to be a magnet for investment.
That’s why my Government is working hard to reduce costs and uncertainties for business.
That’s why we welcome investment that benefits New Zealand.
That’s why we are keeping our own costs down.
That’s why we are ensuring people have the right skills to contribute to the workforce.
That’s why we are ensuring the country has the infrastructure it needs to grow.
And that’s why we’re focused on opportunities to use our natural resources productively and sustainably.”
Ok. So again – where are the jobs?!
After four years of National’s “working hard to reduce costs and uncertainties for business”, “welcoming investment that benefits New Zealand”, “keeping our own costs down”, “ensuring people have the right skills to contribute to the workforce”, “ensuring the country has the infrastructure it needs to grow”, and “focused on opportunities to use our natural resources productively and sustainably” – why are we not seeing this translated into more jobs?
Instead we are seeing unemployment GROWING – not reducing.
Something is terribly wrong here.
” This year we are launching five new vocational pathways that clearly signpost the subjects young people should take to prepare for vocational careers in construction, manufacturing, the primary sector, the service sector and social services.
This year there will be over 4000 places available in trades and services academies, allowing young people to explore vocational career opportunities while still at school.
And there will be around 8700 Youth Guarantee places for young people to study fees-free outside the school environment.”
Two years after the earthquakes that levelled Christchurch?! National has belatedly realised that Market failure is not delivering the number of skilled tradespeople required, and government intervention is needed?
Oh well, better late than never. At least they didn’t wait till after the 2014 elections… Or the turn of the next century… Or the Second Coming…
“Under Labour’s wasteful management, up to 100,000 people a year listed as being in industry training were in fact “phantom trainees” who achieved no credits and in some cases were no longer alive.”
Oh, how original – more Labour-blaming!!
I suspect that figure of “100,000″ is pure Key bullshit. But regardless, how long is National going to use Labour as a scapegoat?! Especially since, I suspect, that had National kept Labour’s apprenticeships scheme, we’d have the necessary numbers of tradespeople to help re-build Christchurch.
But I guess it’s easier for the Nats to do nothing; wait for the Market to deliver results – and then blame Labour when that nutty idea crashes and burns.
I hope Key realises that the finger-pointing of Labour-blaming is wearing rather thin? People are wondering when the Nats will start taking responsibility for their actions. Especially since National is the Party of personal responsibility,
“ We also need to remember the enduring principles on which the National Party is based – individual responsibility, support for families and communities, and a belief that the State can’t and shouldn’t do everything.” – John Key, 30 January 2007
Source: National Party
“That has freed up some very significant funding to re-invest in expanding apprenticeships.”
Oh? How much?
Is this “new” money?
Or money stolen from other budgets such as Vote Health, eg; for grommet operations for kids with glue ear? (see: Grommet cuts fear )
One will excuse my cynicism, but with National’s current maniacal obsession with balancing their books, they are constantly robbing Peter to pay Pauline. The net result is that state services are being cut back and no part of our community is safe from National’s cost-cutting slash-and-burn activities.
One thing is for sure – some other part of the community may find their services wound back to pay for National’s “expanding apprenticeships”.
” So today I am announcing a new initiative to expand and improve apprenticeship training.
This has a number of parts to it:
1. From 1 January next year, we are…”
Well, never let it be said that National moves with decisive speed when confronted with critical economic and social problems.
Initiating their “new” apprenticeships scheme will mean another year that Christchurch suffers a shortage of trained workers; another year we could have been training some of the 85,000 unemployed youth in this country. Another year – wasted.
This isn’t a government “on top of things”. This is procrastination by deliberate design. Perhaps Key is hoping that the Market will do the job in the next twelve months, giving National an excuse to quietly forget and drop this scheme?
“…we estimate that around 14,000 new apprentices will start training over the next five years, over and above the number previously forecast.”
This sounds remarkably familiar… Didn’t we get a similar promise in 2011,
“Treasury say in the Budget, as a result of this platform on what we’ve delivered, 170,000 jobs created and 4% wage growth over the next three to four years.” – John Key, 19 May 2011
Which was backed up on their 2011 election flyer,
“National’s Brighter Future Plan will help businesses create 170,000 new jobs over the next four years.”
Source: National Party
That one didn’t work out very well either.
Key went on to say,
“The whole idea is to kick-start new apprenticeship opportunities ahead of the curve, so that thousands of New Zealanders get to learn a new trade that will last them a lifetime.”
I have a simple question for our smile and wave Dear Leader; why didn’t they do this immediatly after the 2008 election? Why didn’t this come out of the Jobs Summit in 2009?
And why, as he’s said above, are they now leaving this critical problem to be addressed next year???
All in all – there is little here to create new jobs, now, when we need it the most. Even his comments regarding infrastructure are just so much ‘fluff’,
“Moving on to infrastructure, the Government will this year continue its significant programme of investment, which supports thousands of jobs across the country.”
Well that “support for thousands of jobs across the country” hasn’t worked out so well. Unemployment has risen four quarters in a row. Redundancies were happening across the board, up and down the country. 175,000 New Zealanders are now out of work. Three months prior, that number was 162,000.Before that, 160,000. (see previous blogpost: Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: employment/unemployment ) The numbers are going the wrong way.
“In terms of housing, the Government is itself planning to build more than 2000 houses over the next two financial years…”
That number is derisable and falls woefully short of the 20,000 new houses required to be built each year to keep up with demand. As Warwick Quinn, from the Registered Master Builders Federation, said last October,
“New Zealand had fallen way behind the required build rates of 20,000 homes a year, hit by the global financial downturn that began in 2008...”
Two thousand new houses over the next TWO years?
That doesn’t cut it, Mr Key. Not even close. In effect, what Dear Leader has done is acknowledge that a critical housing problem exists – but that National is unable/unwilling to address it in any meaningful way. Their ideological attachment to free market dogma binds their actions at every turn.
Two thousand new houses over two years is a joke. Not a particularly funny one at that.
” We need more houses built in New Zealand, at a lower cost. That means we need more land available for building, more streamlined processes and less costly red tape.”
Now THAT comment worries me.
Didn’t we go through a de-regulation of the building industry in 1991? And didn’t we end up with billions of dollars of poorly built homes that leaked and rotted?
And wasn’t the end result of that disaster a situation where liability ended up with local body councils paying 25% for repairs; central government 25%; and home owners were lumped with 50%?! Oh indeed that IS the case!
Up to 89,000 home owners were affected by the “red tape” de-regulation of the early 1990s – and Key appears to be staggering drunkenly down the same route. (see: Leaky home payouts start tomorrow )
Will this be a repeat of the same errors of history all over again?!
Key went on,
” It’s ridiculous that we allow councils to demand almost anything as a condition for the consent.
And it’s ridiculous that we allow them to charge whatever fees they want.”
Why not? After all, National demands whatever taxes and government fees they want. Eg; rising petrol taxes; increased early childhood costs; increased ACC fees; raised GST, etc.
But when backed into a corner, default to Strategy #1 – blame Labour. As Key then said,
” Labour’s so-called ‘plan’ to build 100,000 houses doesn’t do anything to fix the actual cost of building – so will either fail miserably, deliver dwellings that people don’t want to live in, or require massive taxpayer subsidies. It’s dishonest and it doesn’t stack up.”
Well, Key would know about dishonesty: John Banks. Raising GST when promising not to. Mystery email regarding Standard & Poors. Clandestine meetings with Skycity executives. Pledging meals in schools, then recanting.
Key derides Labour’s plans to build 100,000 new houses, proclaiming it will “fail miserably”.
This from the smile and wave man who lives in a multi-million dollar mansion; has a holiday home in Hawaii; and god knows what other property – while young New Zealanders are desperate to buy their own homes. (See: Frustrated home buyers want investors to be discouraged)
This from the same smile and wave man who offers New Zealanders 2,000 new homes over TWO YEARS.
It beggars belief how anyone can take John Key seriously these days. The man is a joke.
Key then took the stick to local body councils,
“But if councils aren’t able to change their planning processes, then the Government would have to get a lot more proactive, because we are very serious about resolving this issue.”
Oh really? “Very serious”, eh? So serious that in four years National has done nothing about our housing shortage?
Moving from blaming Labour, Key now seems to be beating up on local body councils.
Does National ever take responsibility for anything?!
On the environment…
” New Zealand is rich, for example, in minerals. The Greens and Labour oppose it, but we are going to continue to encourage development of our country’s oil, gas and mineral resources.
Looking across our resource base as a whole, what’s clear is that we need a much better system of planning and resource management – one that enables growth and provides strong environmental outcomes, and does so in a timely and cost-effective way.”
National’s ‘devotion’ to “strong environmental outcomes” is amply illustrated by their abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol; watering down the ETS, and scrapping the five yearly State of the Environment Reports, despite John Key having endorsed it in September 2008 as one of National’s own policies. (See: National scraps crucial environmental report , Government shuns second Kyoto committment )
Anything Key, or one of his ministerial muppets, utters about environmental concerns can be safely dismissed as empty platitudes.
On the TPPA,
“The Greens and their fellow travellers say the TPP is anti-democratic. That is nonsense.”
Interestingly, Key does not say why claims that the “TPP is anti-democratic” are “nonsense”.
Nor does he acknowledge that the TPPA negotiations are currently held in secret. The public and media are excluded from proceedings. Eventually, the TPPA presented to Parliament will be a done deal, with no chance for media analysis and public oversight. If that’s not anti-democratic then I fear that Dear Leader has no concept of the principles of democractic participation.
Considering Key’s penchant for secretiveness when it comes to deals with corporates such as Mediaworks, Skycity, et al, It’s not clear to me why we should take him at his word.
On asset sales…
” Subject to the Supreme Court’s decision, this will start in the first half of the year with our offer of up to 49 per cent of the shares in Mighty River Power.
We also want to proceed with another IPO later this year.
The whole share offer programme will be a shot in the arm for New Zealand’s capital markets.”
Really? So National is flogging of half of Meridian, Genersis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and further down-selling Air New Zealand… to satisfy “New Zealand’s capital markets”?!
Key’s background as a money-trader appears to have besotted him. The Big Sell-off has begun, and he’s positively salivating at the prospect.
Meanwhile, over 75% of New Zealanders don’t want a bar of state asset sales. But hey, so what? Anyone would think this was a democracy?
“At the same time, the Government will maintain majority ownership of the companies, and will use the proceeds to invest in other public assets, like schools and hospitals.”
Rubbish. National will use the proceeds to balance their books. Any other suggestion to the contrary is patent nonsense.
“That’s because overseas investment in New Zealand adds to what New Zealanders can invest on their own.”
That makes no sense… Typo? Brain-fade? A drunk speech writer?
“It creates jobs, boosts incomes, and helps the economy grow.”
So much bullshit…
Let’s remind ourselves for the zillionth time that,
- unemployment is up
- the income gaps between New Zealand and Australia continues to widen
- the economy is “growing” at a snail’s pace and as it does, our Current Account deficit grows. Why? Because increasing economic activity boosts profits for foreign owned companies, which means more profits remitted overseas, which results in a worsening Current Account deficit. That, in turn, impacts on the interest rate we pay for our own capital (borrowings for mortgages, etc),
John Key knows all this – but he ain’t sayin, Billy-Bob boy.
And businesses aren’t so happy either,
On Science & Innovation…
” Finally, despite tight times, the Government is continuing to put a real priority on science and innovation. Research funding will be greater this year than it ever has been, because new ideas are a key driver for a modern economy.”
Didn’t National remove the 15% R&D tax credit soon after winning the 2008 election? If that’s putting “a real priority on science and innovation” – I’d hate to see the Nats in full-flight when they positively hate something. (Oh yeah, kinda like beneficiary bashing.)
So back to default Strategy #1,
“But I can guarantee you one thing – Labour will oppose almost all of it.”
Yeah. Piss poor of Labour not to support National when Key demands absolute fealty. In fact, Labour, Greens, and NZ First should just bugger off and leave National to govern on it’s own… and we know what that’s called, don’t we?
Perhaps New Zealand would be better served if – instead of constantly deriding and blaming Labour, the Greens, NZ First, local body councils, and Uncle Tom Cobbly – that National focused on the problems confronting our nation; our economy; and our society. Fixating on Opposition Parties for eighteen paragraphs is not a good look. Defensive, much, Mr Key?
John Key’s constant reference to Labour makes him look fearful – and perhaps so he should be.
By 2014, National will have been in office for six years, with very little to show for it. If Key goes to the election with nothing more except playing a bitter blame-game against Labour, voters will desert him in droves. Voters want results; something reassuring to make them feel better - not excuses. Certainly not high unemployment, a stagnant economy, growing child poverty, lagging wages, more and more people taking flight to Australia, etc.
” As for the National-led Government, our plan will encourage investment, strengthen the economy and boost jobs.
People know what that plan is, we have stuck to it and we will continue to stick to it.”
Well, I’m happy-as-larry that National has a plan. Because most people haven’t got a clue what Dear Leader and his Nat mates are up to. Aside from cutting state and social services, asset sales, and subsidising multi-billion dollar film companies, most New Zealanders are scratching their heads wondering precisely what this wonderful “Plan” is.
In 2011, business leaders were asking precisely the same thing,
Key’s speech can be summed up threefold;
1. Consisting mainly of wishful fantasy – with facts and the last four years disproving almost everything he claimed as a “success”,
2. Constantly blaming others for his own Party’s policy-failings. Grow a pair, Mr Key; man up and own your failings.
3. National’s faith in the ability of the Market to produce economic growth, jobs, and higher wages has been sadly misplaced. His announcement on 2,000 new homes over two years is an insult, and National’s new apprenticeship scheme is two years too late, and too little.
National’s neo-liberal policies are more faith-based dogma than anything rooted in Real Life – and the chooks are coming home to roost.
This wasn’t a State of the Nation speech – it was a Statement of National failure. A Hekia Parata-style own-goal.
If this is National’s idea of a “bright new future”, they’ve just sent Labour and the Greens a very long concession speech for the next election.
Idle thoughts of an Idle Fellow: The Ruminations of Robert Winter: The Negative Mr Key
The Dim Post: All part of the service
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By now, it has become fairly well known that National’s tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 were unaffordable and impacted disastrously on government revenue (and subsequent spending) in following years.
In 2008, National tempted voters with promises of “self funding” tax-cuts. (Though “self funding” was never very clearly explained.)
National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.
This makes it absolutely clear that to fund National’s tax package there is no requirement for additional borrowing and there is no requirement to cut public services.
Source: Economy – Tax Policy 2008
The pledge of “no requirement to cut public services ” was also one that was made (and subsequently broken in dramatic fashion).
In May 2008, Key was making bold statements of “meaningful“ tax cuts, “north of $50“,
John Key… said National would be looking at economic figures and what other promises Dr Cullen made in the budget on Thursday… But he was “very confident” National could deliver an ongoing programme of tax cuts, like that promised in 2005”.
Despite the growing black clouds of a global downturn, Key was still optimistic. When questioned by Sue Eden of the NZ Herald whether National’s tax cuts programme of 2005 were still credible given uncertain economic circumstances, Dear Leader replied,
“Well, I think it is.”
National will fast track a second round of tax cuts and is likely to increase borrowing to pay for some of its spending promises, the party’s leader John Key says.
But Mr Key said the borrowing would be for new infrastructure projects rather than National’s quicker and larger tax cuts which would be “hermetically sealed” from the debt programme.
The admission on borrowing comes as National faces growing calls to explain how it will pay for its promises, which include the larger faster tax cuts, a $1.5 billion broadband plan and a new prison in its first term.
It has also promised to keep many of Labour’s big spending policies including Working for Families and interest free student loans.
Mr Key today said there would be “modest changes” to KiwiSaver.
How does one ” “hermetically seal” tax cuts from the debt programme ” ?!
The ‘crunch’ came on 6 October 2008, when Treasury released a document known as the “PREFU” (Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update). This Treasury report analyses and discloses the fiscal and economic state of the nation, with short and medium-term outlooks, based on international and local trends.
The 2008 PREFU started with this dire warning,
The economic and fiscal outlook has deteriorated since the Budget Update
In the five months since the Budget Update was finalised, we have witnessed a number of significant domestic and international developments: in particular, the deepening of the international financial crisis, the slowing housing market, and growing pressure on households and businesses. These developments are key factors in our updated view of the economy and the government’s finances set out in this Pre-election Update.
We are now expecting weaker economic growth over the next few years, resulting in slower growth in tax revenue and higher government expenditure. Combined with increases in the costs of some existing policies, these factors lead to sustained operating balance deficits and higher debt-to-GDP ratios.
The economic outlook is weaker …
Imbalances have built up during nearly a decade of sustained growth, including inflation pressures, an overvalued housing market, high household debt and a large current account deficit, with implications for interest rates and the exchange rate. With the economy slowing, these imbalances are starting to unwind – as are imbalances in the global economy – but there is a long way to go.
The opening statement went on to state with unequivocal frankness,
The international financial crisis has deepened and is having an adverse impact on global economic growth. New Zealand is expected to feel the effects of the financial crisis principally through the tighter availability and increased costs of credit, but also through a fall in business and consumer confidence, falling asset values and lower demand and prices for our exports.
The weaker economic growth that we are forecasting is reflected in reductions in our tax revenue forecasts. Compared with the Budget Update, we expect tax revenue to be on average around $900 million lower for each of the next three years.
- The weak outlook for the household sector will have a direct impact through GST, which is forecast to grow by around 4% per annum over the next five years, compared with 7.5% over the six years to 2007.
- With firms’ margins under pressure and profitability low, underlying corporate income tax is forecast to decline by 3% in the 2009 June year, and growth is expected to be negligible in 2010 as accumulated tax losses offset profits.
- A relatively robust forecast for wages over the next few years helps to keep underlying growth in PAYE up at around 5% per annum.
The largest single change in government spending in the Pre-election Update is an increase in the expected costs of benefits. Compared with the Budget Update, benefit expenses are around $500 million per annum higher, reflecting both an increase in numbers of beneficiaries as a result of the slowing economy, and the impact of higher inflation on the costs of indexing benefits.
As a result of the various factors set out above, the government’s debt outlook deteriorates. This leads to higher debt servicing costs, which are forecast to be around $500 million per annum higher
Treasury continued – in considerable detail – to outline the gloomy prospects for New Zealand’s fiscal and economic short-term and medium-term outlooks (see: Fiscal Outlook),
In Risks and Scenarios, Treasury wrote,
Since the Budget Update, global developments have been more in line with the alternative scenario than the Budget forecast and global financial and economic conditions have worsened significantly. On the domestic front, finance companies have continued to face reduced debenture funding and more finance companies went into receivership or moratorium in the past three months. The speed and magnitude of the slowing in domestic demand has been more abrupt and greater than forecast in the Budget Update.
Reflecting these recent international and domestic developments, we have made significant downward revisions to our growth forecasts in this Update. However, the financial turmoil has intensified since the finalisation of our economic forecasts. As a result, we have seen the downside risks to our growth forecasts increase markedly, particularly in the years to March 2010 and 2011.
Unlike his “lack of knowledge” over the GCSB monitoring of Kim Dotcom, or the Police report on John Banks, John Key cannot feign ignorance over the 2008 PREFU report,
“John Key has defended his party’s planned program of tax cuts, after Treasury numbers released today showed the economic outlook has deteriorated badly since the May budget. The numbers have seen Treasury reducing its revenue forecasts and increasing its predictions of costs such as benefits. Cash deficits – the bottom line after all infrastructure funding and payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund are made – is predicted to blow out from around $3 billion a year to around $6 billion a year.”
Especially when Bill English admitted his knowledge of the PREFU,
“The figures outlined in the Prefu are a bit worse than we expected, and we are currently digesting them. However, National is not content to run a decade of deficits.”
In an example of black-humoured irony, English went on to say,
“New Zealand can no longer afford Michael Cullen and Labour’s big-spending low-growth policies.”
But evidently New Zealand could afford National’s “ big-tax-cutting low-growth policies“?
On 6 October 2008, Key reacted to the PREFU (proving he had full knowledge of it’s contents, and made this astounding comment when questioned about National’s planned tax cuts, at 0:40,
“REPORTER: What is your growth programme, does it include tax cuts?.”
“JOHN KEY: It certainly does include tax cuts. We have a programme of tax cuts.”
Key’s comments following 0:40 seem equally bizarre, and at 2:28 admits that “… we can’t deliver anything other than, ‘yknow, a legacy of deficits for New Zealand…” – and still continues to warble on about cutting taxes, including trying to justify “debt for future growth“.
The consequences were a $2 billion hole in government tax revenue (see: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b; Govt’s 2010 tax cuts ‘costing $2 billion and counting’); budget deficits (see: Budget deficit $1.3b worse); increased borrowings (see: Govt borrowing $380m a week); cuts to the State sector in terms of services and jobs (see: Early childhood education subsidies cut; 10 August: Unhealthy Health Cuts, 2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved); and surreptitious increases in government charges and taxation elsewhere (see: Petrol price rises to balance books; Student loan repayments hiked, allowances restricted; Prescription charges on the rise); and asset sales (see: Govt says asset sales will cut debt).
The point of this blogpost is simple.
It’s not to look back, at the past…
… it is to look forward to the future.
When National makes Big Promises, be wary of the nature of said promises, and the underlying , invisible “hooks” contained within them.
Quite simply when the Nats offer you a “tax cut”, the first question that should pop into your head is not, “Oh goody, I wonder how much I’ll get!”
The first thought should instead be, “Uh oh, I wonder how much that’s going to cost me!”.
Because as sure as evolution made little green apples and the sun will rise tomorrow, the Nats care very little about your pay packet.
They care only about “rewarding hard work” [translation: more income for the rich] and “making the veconomy more competitive” [translation: implementing their neo-liberal agenda for their ideological crusade to turn this country into a Market-driven economy, away from an egalitarian society].
In the process, if they have to turn our country into a slow-rolling, economic train-wreck, then so be it.
They can always blame someone else,
Key even blames Labour for the global recession !? (see @ 0:48)
In the meantime, did National recklessly damage the New Zealand economy with unaffordable tax cuts, despite Key & Co being given ample warning by Treasury – simply to get elected in 2008?
Draw your own conclusions.
The evidence speaks for itself.
The Atlantic: Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds (16 Sept 2012)
National Party: Economy – Tax Policy 2008
NZ Herald: National’s 2005 tax cut plans still credible – Key (20 May 2008)
NZ Herald: Nats to borrow for other spending – but not tax cuts (2 Aug 2008)
The Treasury: Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update 2008 (6 Oct 2008)
NZ Herald: $30b deficit won’t stop Nats tax cuts (6 Oct 2008)
BBC News: Bank shares fall despite bail-out (13 Oct 2008)
Bay of Plenty Times: John Key: We cannot afford KiwiSaver (11 May 2011)
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Was Heatley pushed because he wasn’t rebuilding State housing fast enough – or because he wasn’t selling off state housing stock fast enough?
National’s track record and a good dollop of cyncism suggests the latter.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. The whole lot has done inculable damage to our economy and should resign.
We need a fresh election. This year. Stat!
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Even through the printed word on an internet news-site, it’s pretty obvious that Key can barely contain his zealous obsession to partially-privatise Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and further down-sell Air Zealand.
There is a reason for this.
National is nearing it’s Use-By date and is only one by-election away from losing the government benches. The Nats are living on “borrowed time” and need to get at least one asset sale completed to balance their books.
In case anyone was still deluded in thinking that Key wanted to give “mums and dads” the chance to “invest” in our own power companies – think again.
National is desperate to balance the books and return to a slim surplus by 2014/15. (See related blogpost: “It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne)
This is by no means a “done deal” and the public can still make life uncomfortable for this shonkey “government”. Large numbers of New Zealanders voicing their opposition to what amounts to the theft of our state assets will keep pressure on Key and his cronies.
One such opportunity will be a mass public rally on Wednesday, 13 February, at Frank Kitts Park on the Wellington waterfront. This blogger will be there to cover the event, and encourages everyone to turn up.
And bring a person with you. That will effectively double the numbers!
This will be our opportunity to send a strong message to National.
Feel free to pass the link to this blogpost on to others via email, Facebook, etc. Full permission is given to re-post; re-publish; print, and distribute.
Frank Kitts Park – see you there!
Can’t attend but still want to make your voice heard?
Email Key at: John Key <email@example.com>
Send letters to the editor at: Dominion Post <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NZ Herald <email@example.com>
The Press <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Otago Daily Times <email@example.com>
Sunday Star Times <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Make your voice heard loud and clear!
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Whether or not Nick Smith “returns” to a Ministerial post is, in my mind, a distraction.
1. With ministers like corrupt liar, John Banks, in cabinet, Nick Smith could be viewed as a “breath of fresh air”.
2. This entire government is rotten to the core and is driving this country backward with short-term, ineffectual, rightwing policies. “Boot camps”, anyone?
3. After four years, are we any better off?
Previous related blogpost
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“A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde
It’s no great secret that the news media in this country – with perhaps one or two exceptions - has been going downhill in the last three decades.
As an example, the previous entities, the ‘Evening Post‘ and ‘Dominion‘ in Wellington, once employed three reporters – two full time and one part-time – to cover local body politics and events in the city. No councillor or mayor could pass wind without one of the journos picking it up. If something smelled rotten, the journos would sniff it out fairly smartly.
Now, with continuing cutbacks at Fairfax media, and most sub-editors gone, the combined entity known as the ‘Dominion Post‘ has one journalist covering City Council activities on a part-time basis. Coverage has becomes sporadic, disjointed, and out of context.
Which is why Wellingtonians now have little idea what’s happening at their Council.
TVNZ and TV3 once had current affairs programmes, at prime time, conducting in depth investigations into government activities and dubious behaviour from dodgy politicians.
Many of those programmes, ‘Holmes‘, ‘Assignment‘, have gone. ‘Sunday” was an hour long on Sunday nights – that’s been cut to thirty minutes.
The main current affairs prpgrammes – TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ and TV3′s ‘The Nation‘ – have been relegated to Sunday mornings at 8am and 9am. Hardly conducive to encouraging the public to be aware of political issues in our country. Only insomniacs and the most committed political junkie would be willing to forego a Sunday morning lie-in to watch TV journos in action with our elected representatives.
Private and State radio is perhaps the only part of the industry that has remained consistent.
Talkback Radio – idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.
It is the realm where superficial “knowledge” is the main currency and shrill prejudice holds sway over calm reasoned analysis on issues. Imagine allotting a bunch of bigoted, ill-informed rednecks equal speaking time at the Oxford debates, shouting down their more knowledgeable and wiser debating opponants, and that gives an insight into talkback radio.
Even the talkback “hosts” are not ones to rise above the common, noisome mud of prejudice and wilful ignorance, as happened last week,
But hardly surprising.
It’s all part of the commercial radio game; win as many listeners as you can by being as offensive and outrageous as you can. That wins ratings, which in turn let’s you sell more advertising, leading to higher profits, which results in increasing dividends to ever more demanding shareholders.
Ever wondered why radio stations and newspapers “love” Michael Laws so much? Wonder no more. He sells advertising.
Ironically, when radio stations like NewstalkZB are then held to account for offensive behaviour, the additional publicity they gain – as in the case of the subsequent NZ Herald story above – gives them even more public attention. And higher ratings. And sell more advertising… It’s a win/win for them.
Radio NZ – after the political assassination of TVNZ7 – the last remaining non-commercial, public service media in this country.
And National is gunning for it,
It’s fairly obvious why Peter Cavanagh is resigning as Chief Executive: National has plans to commercialise Radio NZ.
This will no doubt be aided and abetted by Radio NZ board chairman, Richard Griffin. As well as having been a former Radio NZ political editor, Griffin took the job of press secretary to former National, prime minister, Jim Bolger (See: Richard Griffin to chair Radio NZ board).
The stage is set…
For National, non-commercial SOEs such as Radio NZ and TVNZ are anathema to their free market ideology – the very same ideology that saw the closure of TVNZ7 by deliberate political design, despite public support for the channel,
The commercialisation of media such as TVNZ is of considerable benefit to National Party (and perhaps Labour?) politicians, for two very good reasons,
- They yield a profit to the State, thereby making government’s job much easier to balance The Books.
- Commercialisation encourages ratings-driven programming. Hence the preponderence of crime ‘drama’, reality TV shows of every description, cheap US sitcoms, home improvement shows, and more cooking programmes than you can shake a wooden spatula at.
The second rationale has a by-product that governing politicians welcome with cunningly-disguised glee; ratings driven programming does not include current affairs shows and documentary making. These are now funded by NZ on Air – and even NZOA has been captured by National’s party apparatchiks,
… to fund brain-deadening crap like this,
See previous blogpost: NZ on Air funding soft-core porn garbage? Since when? Since now!!
It is no coincidence that the gradual demise of intelligent programmes that inform and challenge the viewer has been consistant with the rise and rise of commercialisation of the media – especially the state owned “public broadcaster”, TVNZ.
Quite simply, junk programmes such as cooking porn; MaF officials measuring the size of fish in someone’s bucket; and crime ‘dramas’ depicting the latest grisly murder (usually a female victim) in ghoulish detail, is what sells advertising.
And it should be no surprise that as the media shies away from serious reporting of current affairs, we had the lowest voter turnout last year since 1887 (see: Steve Liddle: Election apathy shows need for civics at school).
The Americanisation of our media (“if it bleeds, it leads”) is creating the Americanisation of our electoral process (apathy and low voter turnout – see: Voter turnout in 2012 US presidential elections 9% lower than 2008 ).
Major political parties – especially those on the Right, such as National – love this kind of thing. An unsophisticated public results in low-information voters. Low information voters allow governments to get way with all manner of dubious policies such as cuts to services; more user pays; environmentally-damaging activities, and further implementation of neo-liberal ideology.
It literally encourages the dumbing-down of society until the consequences are satirised in movies like this,
“Idiocracy” was produced as a speculative “what if” sf movie. It’s now more like a documentary. If you haven’t see it – this blogger strongly recommends that you do. You’ll be feeling a creepy sense of deja vu throughout it (and you’ll never look at ‘power drinks’ in quite the same way again).
It now appears that we, the New Zealand public, have till the end of the year to mobilise to pressure National not to interfere with the running of Radio NZ.
A statement from the Coalition for Better Broadcasting on 16 January, said,
The real story here is that the National Government – having fully commercialised TVNZ and done away with non-commercial TV channels Stratos, TV6 & 7 – is also slowly strangling RNZ to the point that it cannot survive. In 2007 a KPMG report to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage found that RNZ was already running as efficiently as possible. It recommended a funding increase to allow RNZ to continue its high standards. But the following year, the National Government froze the RNZ budget and that freeze still exists with RNZ operating on the same budget as 5 years ago.
The CBB believes this is a shockingly poor way to treat our national radio broadcaster: the station we rely on in times of emergency, disaster and crisis. We note the repeated absence on RNZ of our Prime Minister (who prefers to goof around on commercial stations) and many of his Cabinet colleagues. This fact and frequent remarks made by Ministers, makes it clear that the decision to freeze funding to RNZ is an attempt to influence the station’s ability to present in-depth news and current affairs. This contradicts statutory requirements that the government does not influence RNZ editorial stance and may even be illegal.
The under-funding of Radio NZ has been abysmal, with National wilfully attempting to strangle the broadcaster by a lack of money.
The situation for Radio NZ has become so dire that in late 2011, the Crown Entity registered itself as a charity,
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
This is a deliberate campaign against Radio NZ and constitutes political interference – something that is strictly forbidden by law. National has found a way to circumvent that law.
Make no mistake, the dumbing down of Radio NZ is National’s final mission-plan to eliminate all critical, in-depth media analysis and reporting in this country. Turning Radio NZ in a radio-version of TVNZ would destroy any remaining semblance of serious current affairs programming, resulting in another medium for mindless, unquestioning, consumerism.
This is the neo-liberal agenda at it’s nastiest. To be successful in re-shaping a society into a “free market”, the new right must first remove all critical elements in society and either destroy it or marginalise it.
The commercialisation of Radio NZ would be the beginning of that marginalisation. Next would be a partial privatisation, followed by a full-scale sell-off.
This blogger encourages the reader to;
Join Save Radio New Zealand on Facebook. Get your friends and family to “Like” the facebook page – the more the better! Support a replacement for Peter Cavanagh who will maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
If you have a National MP as your electorate MP, let him/her know your your vote in 2014 will depend on what happens to Radio NZ. Tell your National MP that not only will you vote for another Party, but you’ll be making a donation to them as well! Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write a short letter to your local newspaper and voice your feelings on this issue. The deliberate demise of TVNZ7 was bad enough – but attacking Radio NZ is the final straw. Demand that Peter Cavanagh’s replacement support and maintain the non-commercialised status of Radio NZ.
Write to Labour Leader David Shearer and demand that, if he expects voter support, that Labour reverse National’s policies and undoes any commercialisation of Radio New Zealand.
On Point #4, the demise of TVNZ7 and impending commercialisation of Radio NZ underscores one very critical issue: that important services such as Radio NZ must be protected by entrenched legislation that makes it difficult – if not impossible – for incoming National regimes to to undermine such Crown entities.
It is unbelievable that an organisation such as Radio NZ – which has been operating in one form or another since 1925 – is vulnerable to the ideological machinations of a “government” that has been in office for only the last four years. In existence for 88 years – vulnerable to attack in four?!
A new Labour-led government’s Broadcasting Minister’s first task must be to enact legislation that;
- entrenches protection for Radio NZ,
- denies right governments any opportunity to commercialise the broadcaster,
- ring-fenches funding and ties it to the rate of inflation – perhaps by the Remuneration Authority which also sets MP’s salaries and perks.
The same protections must be in place for any new non-commercial public TV broadcaster that is set up by an incoming Labour-led government. Crown Entities must be free of covert political interference by the likes of Key, English, Joyce, et al, who cannot resist sticking their grubby fingers into places they shouldn’t.
At the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, this issue is not just about saving Radio NZ from commercialisation. This is a battle for the minds and souls of New Zealanders.
As Dave Armstrong wrote in August 2011,
“Despite its budget freeze, National Radio continues to do an excellent job. Its current affairs programmes are intelligent and objective. That’s why you rarely hear the prime minister on Morning Report or Checkpoint. As the recent BBC Hardtalk episode showed, Mr Key becomes dangerously exposed when interviewed by a tough, intelligent journalist. He tends to send in street-smart Gerry Brownlee to take one for the team on Radio New Zealand, while he has a cosy yet inane chat with ex-children’s presenter Petra Bagust on Breakfast or talks to Veitchy on sports radio about hot chicks. That’s far more fun than explaining to Mary Wilson why parents are going to have to pay more for childcare.”
In countries ruled by totalitarian regimes (late Soviet Union, North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria, United States, etc), despots control the media with an iron fist. Members of the state security apparatus watch every word printed; every word uttered; every picture or video screened.
In the West, we do despotic control of the media in more subtle ways. We use “market forces” instead of secret police forces.
The Western model is far more successful because the general populace doesn’t realise it’s happening. In fact, the general populace rather like “Master Chef Albania” or “CSI Timbuktu” or “Mumbai Squalid Home Improvement”. Unfortunately, watching such drivel doesn’t make the populace any smarter or informed. It simply prepares them for Talkback radio.
It’s up to the rest of us to lead the fight and stop National in it’s tracks.
Spread the word, people.
Previous related blogposts
Scoop.co.nz: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link
NZ Herald: TVNZ reveals Seven Sharp presenting team
Tom Frewen: GC In Breach Of Funding Agreement?
Tumeke: Seven Sharp already looks blunt
Brian Edwards: TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm
Tumeke: The future of RNZ
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