- Politics on Nine To Noon -
- Monday 17 March 2014 -
- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -
Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,
Winston Peters and the possible make-up of the next government. Moves to link school funding to performance.
Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (23′ 51″ )
- Winston Peters, NZ First
- Judith Collins, Orivida,
- Helen Clark
- Green Party transport policy
- Hekia Parata, education policy, school fundsing system
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- Radio NZ, Nine To Noon -
- Wednesday 12 March 2014 -
- Kathryn Ryan -
On Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…
Winston Peters is the leader of NZ First, which is polling at around the 5% threshold for getting MPs into parliament without winning an electorate seat, meaning it could yet hold the balance of power after voters go to the polls on September 20.
Click to Listen: Election year interviews ( 35′ 17″ )
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- Radio NZ, Nine To Noon -
- Wednesday 25 February 2014 -
- Kathryn Ryan -
On Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…
Click to Listen: Election year interviews (27′ 50″ )
A major policy statement by David Cunliffe;
@ 22.00: “We will create incentives for private employers to be certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage to all their employees, by giving them a preference in Crown contracts.”
This will not only support firms that pay their staff properly – but will de facto give preference to local businesses to supply goods and services!
If this doesn’t motivate Small-Medium Enterprises to switch their allegiances from the Nats to Labour, I don’t know what will!
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The latest Roy Morgan Poll has a dead tie between National and a Labour-Green coalition. Both are currently polling at 45%.
The actual Party figures are as follows;
National – 45%
Maori Party* – 1.5%
ACT* – 0%
United Future*** – 0%
Translated into National-led Seats: 54 (N) + 1 UF = 55
Labour – 30.5%
Greens – 14.5%
Mana*** – 1%
Translated into Labour-led Seats: 37 (L) + 18 (G) + 1 = 56
Conservative Party** – 2% (nil seats)
NZ First – 5% (6 seats)
Number of respondents who refused to name a Party: 4%.
- The Conservatives win no seats nor cross the 5% threshold;
- Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira retain their electorate seats but do not win any more, nor increase their Party vote;
- ACT loses Epsom and does not cross the 5% threshold;
- and the Maori Party lose all three seats;
That leaves NZ First as the “King Maker”. And if, as this blogger suspects, Peters may decide to coalesce with National, that would create a repeat of the 1996 Election.
That coalition deal ended in disaster for Peters And nearly destroyed his Party.
However, things are not quite so simple. Check out the Roy Morgan graph below. Specifically, focus on polling leading up to the 2011 election. Notice how as both Parties campaign, National’s support drops whilst Labour’s rises (1)?
In between elections, Opposition parties support falls away. In comparison to nightly media coverage for government ministers and policies, Opposition Parties do not gain similar coverage of their policies. Parties like Labour and the Greens are severely restricted to five-second soundbites.
It was only when Labour and the Greens announced the NZ Power policy on 18 April this year that the Labour and Green Parties rose in the polls (2).
Next year’s election should be no different; Opposition Parties support will rise as their policies are put before the public, whilst Government support will fall as voters consider alternatives.
This blogger still predicts that we are on course for a change in government next year and we will be looking at a Labour-Green-Mana Coalition government.
Additional to that, I predict;
- ACT will not win any seats in Parliament and will eventually suffer the same fate as the Alliance Party,
- Peter Dunne will retain his seat by the barest margin. It will be his last term in Parliament,
- Paula Bennett will lose her seat but return on the Party List,
- National will fare badly in Christchurch’s electorates,
- The Conservative Party will not win any seats, electorate or List,
- The Maori Party will lose all three current electorate seats, back to Labour,
- John Key will resign as National’s leader and the following leadership power-struggle between Judith Collins, Steven Joyce, and Bill English will be brutal. Collins will win, with Cameron Slater throwing nasty dirt at Joyce and English,
- If NZ First coalesces with National, expect one or two of it’s MPs to defect or resign from Parliament,
- A new Labour-led coalition will govern for three terms, minimum,
- Collins will be ousted after a dismal showing by National in 2017, and the Party will pull back to a more moderate, centrist position.It will reassert it’s pledge not to sell any further state assets.
Really, politics is more entertaining than any “reality” show on TV.
And as always, Roy Morgan is the only poll that calls cellphones as well as landlines.
* Not expected to survive the 2014 election.
** Not currently represented in Parliament
*** Electorate-based Party only
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 December 2013.
Previous related blogposts
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The National Government selling a state-owned property to itself?!
This is the kind of practice that is best synonymous with Third World or ex Soviet republics, where corruption is rampant.
Now we are witnessing corruption by National ministers, Party officials, and their equally culpable apparatchiks.
Who would have thought that we would see this kind of thing here in New Zealand? And how do National Party members and supporters justify this kind of corrupt behaviour?
Perhaps it is time for Transparency International – the global corruption monitoring organisation – to reconsider our rating.
A message to Mr Peters;
Post the 2014 election, if you hold the balance of power, will you align yourself with a self-serving, discredited Party that has no compunction to act corruptly?
Will you cosy up to a Party that has engaged in unpopular legislation; ignoring public opinion; attacked critics; extended State surveillance power; and is now stealing public property for their own purposes?
Do you want yourself and your Party associated with this kind of corruption?
You have some deep thinking to do after next year’s election. Choose wisely.
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- Citizen A -
- 27 June 2013 -
- Julie Fairey & Keith Locke -
This week on Citizen A host Martyn Bradbury, Julie Fairey & Keith Locke debate the following issues:
Issue 1: Poll Dive for David Shearer. Does this latest Herald Digi-Poll scare Labour’s caucus into reconsidering Shearer as leader?
Issue 2: Would a NZ First backed GCSB bill be the worst outcome for New Zealand?
Issue 3: And what did Auckland mayor Len Brown give away to get the support of this National-led Government?
Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)
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In January this year, Labour, Green, NZ First, and Mana parties held an inquiry (after the Parliamentary Finance Select committee rejected a request for a similar investigation) into the loss of 40,000 jobs from the manufacturing sector in the past four years.
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar
In case anyone believes National’s claim that this was a “political stunt” (see: Opposition determined to manufacture a crisis), the comments from manufacturers who participated in the Inquiry took it deadly seriously. Whilst politicians like Joyce suckle on the tax-payer’s teat, exporters and manufacturers actually have to earn a living.
They were not impressed and made their feelings known;
“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 W Fraser;
“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.”
The Inquiry made its findings known;
Recommendation 1: The government adopt macroeconomic settings that are
supportive of manufacturing and exporting, including:
- a fairer and less volatile exchange rate through reforms to monetary
- refocusing capital investment into the productive economy, rather
than housing speculation;
- and lowering structural costs in the economy, such as electricity prices.
Recommendation 2: New Zealand businesses are encouraged to innovate.
Research and Development tax credits, with a stronger emphasis on
development, should be introduced as part of a package for innovative
manufacturing, supporting exports and quality jobs.
Recommendation 3: The Government adopt a national procurement policy
that favours Kiwi-made and ensures that New Zealand manufacturers enjoy
the same advantages as their international competitors.
Recommendation 4: The tax system is used to boost investment in new
technology and machinery. An accelerated depreciation regime should be
implemented for the manufacturing sector.
Recommendation 5: A wide range of funding is available for manufacturers to
invest in their business and employees. Measures to encourage the availability
of venture capital and mezzanine funding should be continued, including
government funds through commercial-managers.
Recommendation 6: Businesses are supported to achieve 21st Century
organisation and practices. Policies such as NZTE’s focus on Lean
Management, and the work of the High Performance Work Initiative should
be extended. Apprenticeship training support for the sector should be
Recommendation 7: Manufacturers are given a voice in FTA negotiations.
From the outset of FTA negotiations the interests of manufacturing must be
explicitly addressed. Negotiating teams must keep the sector informed.
Recommendation 8: Measures to encourage foreign direct investment in
manufacturers should be consistent with the strategic direction of New
Zealand’s manufacturing and exports.
Recommendation 9: Government should lower compliance costs wherever
they can be consistent with maintaining New Zealand’s values including
workers’ rights, environmental standards, and product quality assurance.
Recommendation 10: Manufacturing’s ability to create jobs and boost exports
should be recognised in national, regional and industry policies.
Recommendation 11: Taskforces of government local government,
businesses and unions, be established to assess and act on new business
and job opportunities in the wake of major closures or restructuring in the
For full details of each Recommendation, read the full report.
Source: Manufacturing Inquiry Report
Joyce’s response? There was no crisis.
“Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana are determined to manufacture a crisis in manufacturing. The massive problem for them is that while individual firms face real challenges at different times, no crisis exists.”
Acknowledgement: Scoop – Opposition determined to manufacture a crisis
Dear Leader also made the same astounding assertion,
“Quite honestly there is no manufacturing crisis in New Zealand; there are challenges for some manufacturers. ”
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Opposition manufacturing inquiry report released
There we have it: no crisis exists.
40,000 jobs lost since 2008 – but Key and Joyce insist, no crisis exists.
It is the measure of this shonkey, incompetant, self-serving government that National ministers can deny the existence of a crisis when companies are folding and 40,000 people have lost their jobs.
I wonder if Key and Joyce’s attitude would be different if Labour were in power and 40,000 jobs had been lost in the last four years under theitr watch? Would they still insist there was no crisis exists ?
I think we all know the answer to that question.
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Continued from: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru
As Chris Trotter pointed out in his excellent blogpost just recently,
“ONLY STEVEN JOYCE could offer up JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, and Forsyth Barr as credible critics of the Labour-Greens’ energy policy. As if these six financial institutions were ever likely to offer the Opposition parties their fulsome support!.”
We can add to the above list; AMP Capital, Morningstar Research, BusinessNZ, and Federated Farmers – all of which appear to be the front-line foot-mercenary-soldiers in National’s counter-attack to the Labour-Green’s NZ Power.
Minister of the Known Universe, Steven Joyce’s actual comment was,
“Financial analysts including JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management and Forsyth Barr are unanimous in their condemnation. One has labelled it a ‘hand grenade’ to the New Zealand economy, while others have said it will cut the value of every New Zealanders’ KiwiSaver account and lead to rolling blackouts. ”
Acknowledgement: Scoop – Labour-Greens Power ‘Plan’ Economic Sabotage
He left out a plague of locusts and rivers turning into blood (though with farm run-offs, these days it’s more like Rivers of Excrement).
We’ve had power black-outs in the past, due to dry weather; equipment failure; shut-downs for maintenance; human error; etc. And we will continue to have unavoidable power cuts, in the future;
Acknowledgement: NZ Radio – Damaging gales forecast for north
“Kiwis are deeply suspicious about the Labour-Greens announcement and its timing. It’s simply economic sabotage. ”
Hmmm, considering the high value of the New Zealand dollar’s destructive effects on our manufacturing/export sector and the 40,000 jobs that’s been lost in the last four years – if I were Joyce, I would not be too keen to bandy about charges of “economic sabotage”. National’s policies in the last few years have been more than effective in that regard,
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar
It’s hardly surprising that most of the negative response has been from the financial markets and commercial firms. They are the ones with the naked vested interests.
To date, the following fear-threats have been thrown at the New Zealand public – because make no mistake, these doomsday scenarios are directed at voters, and not Labour or the Greens.
Acknowledgement: First NZ – Contact Energy – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it
Is First NZ is really telling the public that power prices have only risen 2.6% since 2000?!?! Well, they do qualify that with “net of line charges and after allowing for inflation”. Though why they would omit line charges seems pointless; the public are still paying at the end. “Clipping the ticket” seems the norm and impacts on the end-consumer regardless of how it is done.
Which also raises a question in my mind; why is First NZ making this assertion only now? Why did they not make the effort to rebut National’s claims when Dear Leader issued public statements like this, on 27 January, 2011,
“In the nine years Labour was in government, power prices went up 72 per cent and the Government owned 100 per cent of the assets.”
Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Power price fears if Govt stakes go
Why did First NZ not issue public statements ‘correcting’ National’s “misrepresentations” at the time?
Why have they left it only till now, to counter the assertion that “power prices went up 72%”?
Why is a single-buyer desk for electricity sending brokerage firms into a panic? Especially, considering, that we already have single buyer-desk’s in the form of Fonterra, Zespri, PHARMAC, etc.
The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious. First NZ’s fanciful statements and assertions are part of an orchestrated litany of bullshit to scare Joe & Jane Public to run back into the cold, dead arms of Nanny Neoliberal.
The Financial Money Men, with their Federated Farmers allies, are propping up their neo-liberal stooges in Parliament. The rats are out of the woodwork, and we can see who is lined up against the best interests of the public.
Because, in the final analysis, this all boils down to money – who makes it and who gets to keep it. And because so much money is at stake, we are told that rising power bills is the price for living in a “free” market.
We’re also promised that power prices will drop. Sometime. In the future.
We just have to be patient.
Maybe another thirty years?
It will be interesting if people buy into this propaganda BS. Will voters believe the fear-mongering campaign from the money-pushers?
Or will they realise that share brokers and merchant bankers are interested only in seeing that power prices remain at stratospheric levels, to provide maximum returns for their shareholders?
Because one thing is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow; these firms are not remotely interested in our welfare. Nor in the welfare of Kiwi families being gouged with higher and higher power bills.
I’m struck senseless that so many National supporters believe that siding with the likes of JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management, Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will somehow gain them some kind of ‘benefit’. Are National supporters so masochistic and blinded by their faith in the “free market” that they are willing to tolerate paying higher and higher prices for electricity?
I hope they realise that JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management, Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will not pay the power bills for National supporters.
Good luck with that!
The Labour-Green coalition should welcome these attacks as an opportunity. Every time one of these money-pushing firms launches a critical attack on NZ Power – the Labour-Greens should counter with press conferences where facts, stats, and more details are presented for the public and nice, big, colourful graphic-charts presented.
Like this one, from the Ministry of Economic Development/Business, Innovation, and Employment;
(Note price drop around 1999. Whilst Industrial and Commercial prices fell, residential prices continued to rise. There is more to explain the 1998/99 price fall here; Statistic NZ – Electricity consumption. It had little to do with Bradford’s reforms, and more to do with competing retailers changing their methods of calculation for the CPI electricity price index and building extra generation capacity. The cost of the latter had shifted from the State and onto domestic consumers.)
Where possible, David Parker and Russell Norman should speak at engagements around the country at public meetings. (Community newspapers and other local media should be engaged, as they love anything that happens within their community.)
Invite others such as the Salvation Army, and experts such as energy-sector expert, Molly Melhuish, and Victoria University researcher Geoff Bertram, should be invited to address media events.
Invite members of the public; families, etc, to present their power bills as evidence of skyrocketing prices.
Build a Broad Front of support. Show the country that there is support for NZ Power.
People want reassurance. We need to give it to them. And we need to show them why the National and the finance sector are working in cahoots.
Because ain’t it funny that no community organisation has come out, demanding that the electricity sector remain unregulated and welcoming higher and higher prices?
And if the media aren’t presenting the full story, use progressive blogs to publish the information. We, too, can be “foot soldiers” in this struggle. (Because surprise, surprise, we too, use electricity.)
This is a war between the Neo Liberal Establishment and Progressive forces fighting to roll back thirty years of a failed experiment.
That war began on 18 April.
There is no reason on Earth why we should not win.
I find it hard to trust NZ First. Or, to be more precise; I find it hard to trust it’s leader, Winston Peters.
His parliamentary colleagues; party members; and supporters – I have no problem with. They are people who, generally, want the best for this country and dislike the false religion of neo-liberalism as deeply as those on the Left do.
Peters has ‘form’. He has changed direction on numerous occassions, and I find it hard to take him at his word.
In 1996, Winston Peters campaigned to defeat the National Government and remove it from power. His campaign statements at that time seemed unequivocal;
“Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?
Winston Peters: Oh no we are not.” – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996
“There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First.” – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996
“Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?
… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance [so] that they are now arguing for stability.” – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996
“The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition.” – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996
“It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12… Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats.” – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996
“The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling behaviour. We are not into State treachery.” – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996
“We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people.” – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996
“We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences.” – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996
Despite Peters’ assurances, on 11 December 1996 the public woke up to this nightmare,
In 1996, one of the biggest election issues was the sale of Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd (cutting rights only, not the land). In 1996, the then Bolger-led National government had announced it’s intention to privatise the SOE,
In 1996, the Minister of Finance announced the government’s intention to sell its shares in the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand (formerly Timberlands Bay of Plenty). The corporation’s assets were Crown Forestry Licences to planted forests, which had expanded to 188 000 ha in the central region of North Island, processing plants in various locations, a nursery and a seed orchard.
A handful of large forestry companies and consortia submitted bids. The sole criterion was price. However, as the strength of the bids was not as great as hoped, bidders were asked to resubmit their bids. In August 1996, it was announced that the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand had been sold to a consortium led by Fletcher Challenge in a deal that valued the assets at $NZ 2 026 million.
Acknowledgement: Devolving forest ownership through privatization in New Zealand
The sale went ahead and the final sale-price was $1,600,000, to a consortium made up of Fletcher Challenge Forests (37.5%), Brierley Investments Ltd (25%) and Citifor Inc (37.5%).
Acknowledgement: Treasury – Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999
Throughout 1996, Winston Peters engaged in an election campaign to “hand back the cheque” should he and his Party be elected into a position of power,
Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 13 August 1996
Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 2 October 1996
To quote Peters, who said on 13 August 1996,
“I ask both the Labour and Alliance parties – putting politics aside for this one day – to join New Zealand First in it’s post-election pledge to reverse the sales process“.
As many who lived through the times will recall, Peters pledged to “hand back the cheque”. It was a powerful message.
But it never happened.
Peters joined in coalition with National (consigning Labour and The Alliance into Opposition) and the pledge to buy back the forests was dropped – much to the disgust of people at the time..
Sixteen years later, and Peters has made the same promise all over again. On TV3′s The Nation, on 24 June 2012, Winston Peters stated,
“The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. ”
Acknowledgement: TV 3 – The Nation
On 4 March this year (2013), Peters announced,
“New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National and we are committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.”
Acknowledgement: Scoop – One More Quisling Moment from Key
Another quote from Winston Peters, who said in a speech to the NZ First Conference, in 1999,
“All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership. That is what leadership is about – trust. Nobody expects leadership to be infallible. But you have a right to expect it to be trustworthy.”
Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters to the New Zealand First Conference, 18 July 1999, at the Eden Park Conference Centre
Indeed; “All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership.”
If Peters and NZ First hold the balance of power in 2014 and choose to enter into a coalition arrangement with National – will he carry out his pledge this time?
Or will that promise be dropped and buried for political expediency and some babbled, weak excuse?
It’s happened once, before. And not too long ago.
Can he be trusted for a second time?
I am of the belief that folks can learn from their mistakes. God knows I’m made a few in my early adulthood.
Has Winston Peters learned to honour his electoral pledges and not to treat the voting public as fools? Has he learned that he betrays voters at his peril? I hope so.
Because the public exacted a fitting response to his behaviour in 2008, as he and his Party were punished and spent three years in the political wilderness (see; New Zealand general election, 2008).
More than ever, the future of this country – and the power – is in our hands,
Don’t screw up this time, Mr Peters.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2013.
Previous Related Blogposts
History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms” (4 March 2012)
John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)
Statistics New Zealand: The history of electricity reform
Ministry of Economic Development: Electricity Prices
NZ History Online: Dancing Cossacks political TV ad
The Treasury: Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999
NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)
NZPA: Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)
Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)
Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)
Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)
Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)
Otago Daily Times: Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)
Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)
NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)
Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise (30 September 2008)
NZ Herald: Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21 May 2009)
NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)
Scoop: Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)
NZ Herald: Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)
NZ Herald: National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)
NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)
NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)
TVNZ: Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)
NZ Herald: Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)
Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)
Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices
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Something I blogged on 25 June 2012, and now more appropriate than ever…
On last weekends’ (23/24 June 2012) “The Nation“, the issue of asset sales was discussed with NZ First leader, Winston Peters; Green Party MP, Gareth Hughes; and Labour MP, Clayton Cosgrove,
Whilst all three parties are staunchly opposed to state asset sales, NZ First leader, Winston Peters went one step further, promising that his Party would buy back the assets.
Gareth Hughes and Clayton Cosgrove were luke-warm on the idea, quite rightly stating that there were simply too many variables involved in committing to a buy-back two and a half years out from the next election. (And Peters never followed through on his election pledge in 1996 to buy back NZ Forestry – “to hand back the envelope”, as he put it – after National had privatised it.) There was simply no way of knowing what state National would leave the economy.
Considering National’s tragically incompetant economic mismanagement thus far, the outlook for New Zealand is not good. We can look forward to more of the usual,
- More migration to Australia
- More low growth
- More high unemployment
- More deficits
- More skewed taxation/investment policies
- Still more deficits
- More cuts to state services
- And did I mention more deficits?
By 2014, National will have frittered away most (if not all) of the proceeds from the sale of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.
In such an environment, it is difficult to sound plausible when promising to buy back multi-billion dollar corporations.
Not to be thwarted, Peters replied to a question by Rachel Smalley, stating adamantly,
” The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. “
It remains to be seen if Peters will carry out that threat – especially if a number of his shareholders are retired Kiwi superannuitants?
When further questioned by Rachel Smalley, Peters offered specific ideas how a buy-back might be funded,
” Why can’t we borrow from the super fund, for example? And pay that back over time? And why can’t we borrow from Kiwisaver for example, and pay that back over time…”
The answer is that governments are sovereign and can make whatever laws they deem fit. That includes buying back assets at market value; at original sale price; or simple expropriation without compensation. (The latter would probably be unacceptable to 99% of New Zealanders and would play havoc with our economy.)
Peters is correct; funding per se is not an issue. In fact, money could be borrowed from any number of sources, including overseas lenders. The gains from all five SOEs – especially the power companies – would outweigh the cost of any borrowings.
- Cost of borrowing from overseas: 2% interest
- Returns from SOEs: 17%
- Profit to NZ: 15%
We make on the deal.
The question is, can an incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government accomplish such a plan?
Should such a radical policy be presented to the public at an election, the National Party would go into Warp Drive with a mass panic-attack.
But it’s not National that would be panicked.
It would be National going hard-out to panic the public.
National’s scare-campaign would promise the voters economic collapse; investors deserting the country; a crashed share-market; cows drying up; a plague of locusts; the Waikato River turning to blood; hordes of zombie-dead rising up…
And as we all know, most low-information voters are highly susceptible to such fear-campaigns. The result would be predictable:
But let’s try that again…
A more plausible scenario would have the leadership of Labour, NZ First, the Greens, and Mana, meeting at a secluded retreat for a high-level, cross-party strategy conference.
At the conclusion of said conference, the Leaders emerge, with an “understanding”, of recognising each others’ differing policies,
- Winston Peters presents a plan to the public, promoting NZF policy to buy-back the five SOEs. As per his original proposals, all shares will be repurchased at original offer-price.
- The Mana Party buy-in to NZ First’s plan and pledge their support.
- Labour and the Greens release the joint-Party declaration stating that whilst they do not pledge support to NZ First/Mana’s proposal – neither do they discount it. At this point, say Labour and the Greens, all options are on the table.
That scenario creates considerable uncertainty and anxiety in the minds of potential share-purchasers. Whilst they know that they will be recompensed in any buy-back scheme – they are effectively stymied in on-selling the shares for gain. Because no new investor in their right mind would want to buy shares that (a) probably no one else will want to buy and (b) once the buy-back begins, they would lose out.
Eg; Peter buys 1,000 shares at original offer price of $2 per share. Cost to Peter: $2,000.
Peter then on-sells shares to Paul at $2.50 per share. Cost to Paul: $2,500. Profit to Peter: $500.
Paul then cannot on-sell his shares – no one else is buying. Once elected, a new centre-left government implements a buy back of shares at original offer-price @ $2 per share. Price paid to Paul: $2,000. Loss to Paul: $500.
Such a strategy is high-stakes politics at it’s riskiest. Even if Labour and the Greens do not commit to a specific buy-back plan, and “left their options open” – would the public wear it?
The certainty in any such grand strategy is that the asset sale would be effectively sabotaged. No individual or corporate buyer would want to become involved in this kind of uncertainty.
Of less certainty is how the public would perceive a situation (even if Labour and the Greens remained staunchly adamant that they were not committed to any buy-back plan) of political Parties engaging in such a deliberate scheme of de-stabilisation of a current government’s policies.
The asset sales programme would most likely fail, for sure.
But at what cost? Labour and the centre-left losing the next election?
We may well end up winning the war to save our SOEs – but end up a casualty of the battle.
Related Blog posts
= fs =
- Citizen A -
- 14 February 2013 -
- Matthew Hooton & Keith Locke -
Issue 1: Richard Prosser – is he racist? What are the ramifications for NZ First and does this reflect poorly on MMP?
Issue 2: Salvation Army gives the Government a D for child poverty, housing and employment – what is the Government doing?
and Issue 3 tonight: John Key’s decision to take Australia’s refugees – what do we get?
Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)
= fs =
When it comes to sheer, naked audacity – John Key has it by the Kenworth truck-load. And just it appears that Dear Leader has reached stratosopheric heights of effrontery – he goes one better.
A few days ago, Dear Leader lamented the very real possibility Winston Peters would choose to coalesce with Labour, rather than National, at the next election.
If anything, this was worthy of a good, hearty laugh!
To understand why, we must cast our minds back to 2008, and the donations scandal that enveloped Winston Peters when he denied knowledge of a $100,000 secret donation from billionaire, Owen Glenn,
During this affair, John Key had plenty to say about Winston Peters,
National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.
“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.
“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.
“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.
“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.
“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.
“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.
“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”. “
In early 2011, Key was still adamant that he would not countenance working with Peters in any future coalition government,
“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead,” he said at a press conference today.
“Historically, he has always been sacked by prime ministers. It’s a very different style to mine and it’s rearward-looking.
“I’m about tomorrow, I’m not about yesterday.”
“If Winston Peters holds the balance of power it will be a Phil Goff-led Labour government,” Mr Key said.
And just prior to last year’s electons, Key had this to say about Winston Peters, all but accusing the NZ First leader of being an unreliable, destructive political force in Parliament,
Prime Minister John Key warned voters yesterday that a new government after Saturday’s election could be brought down on any issue by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters unless National won enough votes for “strong, stable, dependable leadership”.
Said Mr Key: “What Winston Peters is saying to New Zealanders is that on every Budget, on every issue, there could be a general election. How could New Zealand govern itself over the next three years, which is likely to be a volatile period in the world economy, when at any stage the whole Government can be brought down by Winston Peters?”
I think it’s fairly clear that up until recently, Key had ruled out working with Peters. He was unequivocal in his condemnation and distrust of Peters.
There now appears to have been some kind of quantum-shift in John Key’s approach to Peters,
“I think that the argument that he really really dislikes the Greens, let’s put it politely, that’s all true . . . but he’s not overly enamoured with me,” Mr Key said.
He and Mr Peters had chatted during a trip to Samoa as part of a New Zealand delegation.
“I had a brief chat to him but realistically I think he will go with Labour . . . Even if we were prepared to change, and that would be a big if, he was always going with Labour . . . in 2008,” he said. “I think it’s just personal.”
“…but he’s not overly enamoured with me,” says Dear Leader?!?! No sh*t, Sherlock! When did that *news flash* come to Key’s attention?!
Let me state at the outright; John Key’s questioning of Winston Peters’ behaviour in 2008 was perfectly justified. In a functioning multi-party democracy, we rely on opposition Parties to keep governments honest.
Without an active, critical Opposition, we end up like Zimbabwe or a One Party state like Nth Korea. Without an Opposition there simply would be no democratic system in this country.
So whilst it may have been irksome for Labour supporters and the Left, in general, to have a coalition partner under a spotlight for alleged corrupt practices (undeclared donations) – John Key was doing the job that the taxpayer was paying him for.
But whilst condemning Peters in 2008 and the following three years – by flirting with Peters as a potential coalition partner, we see a further measure of the man that John Key is.
In 2008, Key considered Peters “unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga“.
Since no such “credible explanation” was ever forthcoming – what has changed?
In 2008 and 2011, Key tried to destroy NZ First to deny Labour a potential coalition partner.
Now, with National fast running out of coalition partners (except for the one-clown bands known as ACT and United Future); with the Maori Party’s continuing survival no means a certainty; and the Conservative Party at 1% or less in the polls – the answer is prosaic; National is desperate for a Coalition partner.
Unfortunately for Key, his utterances stand in the collective consciousness of other political parties; the media, and the blogosphere.
Courting NZ First in such a very public way, and voicing indignation at being rebuffed, will simply make Key look very foolish indeed. It will be yet another indication to the voting public that Key’s word cannot be taken at face value.
On it’s own, it would mean nothing of significance to the public and media.
But Key has back-tracked on so many policies, promises, and pledges that this will be another nail in his political coffin.
He may have started out as an “ordinary bloke” and non-political politician – but that has gradually changed. With his point-of-difference gradually eroded, what makes him any different to any other politician?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
Previous relared blogosts
NZ Herald: Pressure mounts on Peters as Key all but shuts door (27 Aug 2008)
Scoop: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government (27 Aug 2008)
TV3: Owen Glenn piles the pressure on Winston Peters over donation (9 Sept 2008)
NZ Herald: Phone records contradict Peters (10 Sept 2008)
NZ Herald: Timeline: The NZ First donations saga (23 Sept 2008)
The Pundit: The art of not predicting politics
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Matthew Hooton is a right-wing blogger, political commentator, and National Party fellow-traveller. He has been an occassional guest panellist on Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury’s excellent “Citizen A”, as well on as Radio New Zealand’s late-Monday morning slot, “Politics with…”.
In his favour, he is one of the more coherent from the neo-liberal camp and can present a reasoned opinion without resorting to cliched, right-wing rhetoric or blame-speech. In short, you can listen to him without groaning; face-palming, and eventually reaching for the “off” switch or the Remote channel-changer.
Lately though, this blogger has been hearing something unusual from the man who is a self-professed fan of the original, neo-liberal, ACT Party.
It turns out that Matthew Hooton is either a closet Winston Peters fan, or has been up to a subtle piece of mischief-making lately…
On Radio NZ’s political segment on Monday late-afternoons, hosted by Kathryn Ryan, Mr Hooton has been making some very strange noises about a National-Conservative Party-NZ First coalition.
Those with a fair memory will recall that NZ First has been in coalition with National once before, in 1996.
To put it mildly, Peters’ decision to go with National was unpopular with the public. The coalition deal did not last long and neither did it end well.
But considering it was New Zealand’s very first coalition government under MMP, Peters might be forgiven. It was a steep learning curve for the entire country.
So why has Mr Hooton been saying things like,
“If you assume that this report makes it much more likely that the Conservative Party will come into Parliament, and if you also assume that Winston Peters would prefer not to be a third wheel on a Labour-Green government , then National really can get it’s support down as low as say 40% now, and with New Zealand First and the Conservatives be assured of forming a government.
… But if the government does accept these, then National now knows very clearly it’s path to it’s third term is through that Winston Peters-Colin Craig deal.” – 13 August
“Then, forget about all this nonsense flirting with these one-MP parties, and focus on forming a government – god help me for saying this – with New Zealand First and the CCCP [Colin Craig's Conservative Party - not the USSR].” – 20 August
It seems fairly clear that, having learned the lessons of the late 1990s, it seems highly unlikely that Peters would risk another public backlash by coalescing with National. It would be annihilated in the following election…
… which, may give us a clue why Matthew Hooton has been dropping little “hints” about a potential National-NZ First-? Coalition arrangement.
Could it be that, like this blogger, Matthew Hooton has seen and understood the portents in the political tea-leaves, vis-a-vis latest political opinion polls, which show a steady decline for National?
Could it be that Mr Hooton understands that ACT and Peter Dunne are dog-tucker – especially once MMP reforms are implemented?
And could it be that a third term for National can only be guaranteed if,
- Colin Craig’s Conservative Party breaks the new 4% threshold, and,
- NZ First does not make it back into Parliament?
Without NZ First, a Labour-Green-Mana Coalition may be unable to beat a National-Conservative Coalition. It may come down to a simple one or two seat majority, as happened last year.
So why would Mr Hooton be touting a National-Conservative-NZ First Coalition?
Because, traditionally, supporters of NZ First tend to be disaffected voters.
They vote against the incumbent government (in this case National), just as voters cast their ballot for NZ First in 1996, believing it to be a vote against the incumbent Bolger-led National government.
If a meme can be developed that there is a possibility that NZ First may opt to join a National-Conservative Party coalition (even though there is zero indication of this happening), then that may alienate potential voter-support for Peters.
After all, what would be the point of voting for Peters if he simply props up the current government? That would be the subtle, psychological message that Hooton may well be trying to implant in Voterland’s collective psyche.
It’s a kind of reverse psychology; “a vote for NZ First is a vote for a John Key-led government”. Which would put off voters who don’t want a Key-led National coalition, thereby reducing NZ First’s chances of breaking the 4% threshold.
They may instead vote for the Conservative Party, which presents itself as the new “maverick kid on the block”.
(And yes, I know the Conservative Party is most likey to coalesce with National. But, like voters who opposed asset sales still voted for John Key, those who vote for Colin Craig may not consider that eventual outcome. All they see is an new Alternative Option.)
So when the likes of Matthew Hooton drop little hints of a National-NZ First deal – just ask yourself; what’s Matthew up to?
Is he happily fomenting mischief?
Or is he really a closet fan of the Dapper Suited One?
= fs =
A contributor to The Standard blog, ‘Jenny’, made a very simple – but insightful post, detailing National’s track record in the last three and a half years,
“ This is a government determined to gift everything they could possibly wish to the rich and powerful, and on behalf of this greedy sector force onto the rest of New Zealanders.
More junk food
A fire sale of public assets
Less civil liberty
More toadying to foreign powers
More toadying to foreign corporates
More spying snooping and videoing of New Zealand citizens
More tax cuts
More job cuts
More benefit cuts
Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive? “
Jenny posits the question, “Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive? “
Try as one might, despite inane rhetoric and vague promises, no National Party MP, functionary, or groupie could possibly point to any success achieved by John Key and his colleagues.
Not . One.
National’s “Master Plan” for economic growth and job creation seems to revolve around four events – none of which have been particularly successful,
- The rebuild of Christchurch. Despite being an opportunity to upskill 160,000 unemployed and a major boost to the economy – nothing much is happening. Instead, National is content to allow tradespeople from overseas to come into the country and carry out the work. With few apprenticeships, we are woefully unprepared for the looming demand for tradespeople – a damning lack of planning by National and it’s naive reliance on the “free market” to provide skilled workers.
- The Rugby World Cup – far from being a major boost, seems to have contributed very little to our economy. In the last three months of 2011, GDP grew just 0.3% – half that predicted by economists. It seems that Dr Sam Richardson’s prediction, that $700 million was a hopelessly unrealistic expectation proved to be unerringly correct. Who is ultimately responsible for National throwing $200-plus million of our tax dollars at this exercise in outrageous extravagance? Murray McCully? Steven Joyce? John Key?
- The Sky City/Convention Centre deal. Our illustrious Dear Leader promised 1,800 jobs from this planned project, in return for re-writing gambling legislation and permitting Sky City to increase pokie machine and gaming tables by up to 500. Potential social fall-out surrounding increased problem gambling was casually dismissed by both John Key and Sky City’s CEO Nigel Morrison. Unfortunately, as with most of John Key’s figures and promises, the expectation of 1,800 jobs was as fictitious as much of what he says.
- Asset sales. With weak growth; a stagnant economy; high unemployment; and New Zealanders continuing to escape to Australia, National’s one (and only) trump card appears to be the partial-privatisation of five state owned corporations. As has been pointed out, ad infinitum, floating shares in these SOEs will not contribute to economic growth; nor create new jobs (in fact, it is likely to result in redunancies, if past privatisations are any guide); nor create real wealth. It simply shuffles bits of paper (shares) around from investor-to-investor-to-investor. And if investors need to borrow to buy these shares, we are using overseas funds for speculative purposes. Which sounds suspiciously like our love-affair with speculative housing-“investments”.
As Business NZ has stated, our economic growth has been ‘unspectacular’. And that’s coming from one of National’s own business allies. (Just as Business NZ seemed somewhat unimpressed as National’s lack of planning and direction last year, just prior to the election.)
Otherwise, National’s Grand Plan can be summed up as a reliance on a “two pronged” approach to growing the economy; a hands-off “free market” approach, and tax cuts. Not only have neither worked terribly well, but these measures have been counter-productive.
Tax-cuts gave massive increases in income to the richest 10% of New Zealanders – whilst the GST increase has made life harder for the poorest and lowest-paid in this country.
Right wing cheer-leaders who bleat on about their rich masters “working hard and deserving increased wealth” may be aspirationists who one day hope to become one of the Master Class – but I hope they’re not holding their breath. That day will be a long time coming.
Tax cuts have also resulted in a government budget blow-out. Borrowing $380 million a week, whilst claiming that National is “not borrowing for tax cuts is credible only to National; their salivating sycophants; and low-information voters (for whom “The GC” is the height of documentary-making).
Tax cuts have also not delivered the promised boost to the economy by increasing spending and consumption. This is not surprising, as the tax cuts were given to the wrong sector of society.
High income, wealthy, asset-rich families tend to use their tax-cuts to reduce debt or spend on investments (shares, kiwisaver, etc) that do not directly help small businesses.
Low income, poor, families spend everything. These are the the people who will buy more food to put on their tables; clothes; shoes; medication; and other consumables. These are the people that small businesses rely on on for their custom. And the retail supermarket sector is suffering a massive drop accordingly.
Middle income families continue to stuggle not to fall behind. Any tax increase they may have gained has been swallowed up by increased gst, government charges, increased user-pays, etc.
I think most people have since ‘twigged’ that National has indeed borrowed for tax cuts. And we’re having to pay back those massive borrowings by cutting services; slashing the state sector; and selling our state assets.
2. Asset Sales
National’s asset sales programme has been an unmitigated disaster from Day One.
Since National first announced their decision to partially privatise Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, this issue has been opposed by the public.
National has used it’s so-called “mandate” from last year’s election to proceed with their policy, and passed enabling legislation only last Tuesday (26 June).
Any notion of a “mandate” is shaky and open to interpretation.
Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.
|National , ACT, United Future Party Votes||Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes|
National – 1,058,636
Labour – 614,937
ACT – 23,889
Greens – 247,372
United Future – 13,443
NZ First – 147,544
Maori Party – 31,982
Mana – 24,168
Conservative Party* – 59,237
TOTAL – 1,095,968
Total – 1,125,240
The irony of the Conservative Party gaining more Party Votes than ACT and United Future combined – yet winning no seats in Parliament – will not escape most fair-minded people. Adding the Conservative’s 59,237 party votes to the anti-asset sale bloc, yields a majority of voters opposed to National’s programme.
It is only the current rules of MMP (now under review) that allows this quirk to take place.
Add to that, opinion poll after opinion poll showing 60% to 80% of respondents opposed to asset sales, and National’s mantra that “We have a Mandate” becomes patently untenable.
A recent NZ Herald poll, where respondents were asked to leave a comment, as well as a “Yay” or “Nay” vote yielded results that were thoroughly predictable,
The National Party understands this only too well. Hence their desperate, ad hoc schemes to bribe the public with all manner of ‘sweeteners’,
- giving first option to buy shares to “mum and dad” investors
- a bribe of “loyalty” shares
- promise of “affordable” shares for investors
There is a considerable degree of arrogance in National’s pursuing of their asset sales, despite considerable public anger.
” They don’t fully understand what we’re doing. My experience is when I take audiences through it, like I did just before, no-one actually put up their hand and asked a question. “
On 3 May, as a 5,000 person march wound it’s way through Wellington, John Key grinned to reporters and cheekily said,
” How many people did they have? Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it. So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind. “
” No, um, and with the greatest respect to your financial literacy, you’ve proven that you don’t actually have any. “
Key said pretty much the same about Greens co-leader, Russel Norman,
” With the greatest respect to [Green Party co-leader Russel Norman], I’m sure he’s a great bloke, he doesn’t know much about economics. “
It is fairly obvious that Key has very little time for anyone who opposes his views. In fact, he gets downright belligerent and derisive.
Who does he remind me of? Someone else who used to belittle and deride anyone who dared disagree with him – especially in economic matters. Who else was famous for his arrogance? Another Prime Minister,
Despite public opposition and several valid commercial reasons made clear that these sales will be financially disadvantageous to our economy, National carries on, oblivious to all but it’s own ideological fanaticism.
This is a Party totally out of touch with the rest of the country.
In 2008, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit the world with a social and economic recession not seen since the 1920s/30s. Coporations like Lehmann Bros collapsed. General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Others had to be bailed out with billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Millions lost their jobs and homes, and unemployment skyrocketed. Europe is tottering on the brink of a domino-like collapse of their currency.
When criticism is levelled at National’s inability to address our stagnating economy, John Key and Bill English point to the GFC, stating it’s not their fault,
“We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis.” – Source
“This is a global debt crisis and you certainly wouldn’t want to add more debt at that time unnecessarily.” – Source
“The economic downturn that may occur on a pronounced basis in Europe is factored into our books.” – Source
But when it comes to those who are the casualties of the economic downturn; the unemployed, National suddenly sings a different tune when it comes to Cause-and-Effect,
“The Government is considering requiring beneficiaries to immunise their children.” – Source
“Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday said contraception would eventually be fully funded for female beneficiaries and their 16 to 19-year-old daughters. ” – Source
“Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.” – Source
“Under the Government’s new youth welfare policy, announced by Prime Minister John Key at the weekend, 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries would receive a payment card for food and clothes from approved stores.” – Source
And perhaps – worst of all – was this piece of vileness from Finance Minister, Bill English,
[click on image to go to TV3 website]
English’s smirking disdain, for all those New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis, was plain to see. Shame on him; his revolting attitude; and shame on every person in his electorate who voted for this arrogant little man.
The National Creed
1. The Global Financial Crisis – a handy excuse for poor economic policies and mismanagement.
2. The Unemployed – a handy scapegoat for National’s inability to grow the economy and create new jobs.
3. If in doubt, never take responsibilty; refer to #1 and #2.
- Hakes Marine; 15 redundancies
- Telecom; 400 redundancies
- Brightwater Engineering; 40 redundancies
- Pernod Ricard New Zealand; 13 redundancies
- Depart of Corrections; 130 redundancies
- Summit Wool Spinners; 80 redundancies
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; 80 redundancies
- Norman Ellison Carpets; 70 redundancies
- IRD; 51 redundancies
- Flotech; 70 redundancies
- NZ Police; 125 redundancies
- CRI Plant and Food; 25 redundancies
- Te Papa; 16 redundancies (?)
- PrimePort Timaru; 50 redundancies (?)
- Kiwirail; 220 redundancies
- Fisher & Paykel; 29 redundancies
- Goulds Fine Foods; 60 redundancies
- Canterbury University; 150 redundancies (over three years)
Will drug testing be used to “sort this lot out smartly”, Mr English?
And more bizarre is Paula Bennet’s admission that National “has ruled out universal drug testing of all beneficiaries, with drug and alcohol addicts being exempted from sanctions for refusing or failing a drug test when applying for a job“.
Which means that if addicts and alcoholics are not tested – that leaves only those workers who’ve been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through New Zealand’s ongoing stagnating economy.
Adding insult to injury doesn’t begin to cover the humiliation which National intends to thrust upon workers who’ve lost their jobs.
And all because National has no job creation policies.
4. Sky City/Convention Centre
This is perhaps one of John Key’s shonkiest deals. It is no wonder that the Auditor General is investigating the Sky City “arrangement” – so I have little faith that the investigation will yield much that is incriminating of Dear Leader.
As Key stated with utter confidence, on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on 17 June,
” KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual. I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions with people in Auckland about building a cycleway.
So now what we’re talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general will say.
So let me tell you this, for a start off, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero. “ - Source (@ 6.37)
That statement does not instill confidence in me. Dear Leader has just stated, on record, that no evidence exists of his meeting(s) with Sky City management. Key admitted meeting with Sky City’s Board in late 2009,
“I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“. – Source
But what was said or agreed on, we don’t know. As Key has stated, “when the auditor general comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero”.
This is not a very good example of transparency. It is certainly not the “transparency in government” that Key has promised this country on several occassions.
In fact, it’s dodgy as hell.
In the same blogpost ( Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How ) dated 23 April, this blogger outlined John Key’s somewhat dubious tactics for pushing through dubious policies,
“ Promise Big Numbers. It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees collective amnesia for 99% of the public.
From December, 2010,
Cycleway jobs fall short
“6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010
The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.
In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.” – Source
Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?
From March, this year,
Key defends casino pokie machine deal
.“08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP
Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…
… But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.
“It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it… ” – Source
In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?
Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?
Well, it didn’t take one year. It took only a matter of months. On 5 March, John Key asserted,
“It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate.”
But then, on 5 June, the NZ Herald reported,
” Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.
Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.
But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.
Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.
He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. “
Sprung! Another of Dear Leader’s “little white lies” uncovered.
Next ‘cast iron guarantee’ from Dear Leader, who said on his website,
” SkyCity has agreed to pay the full construction costs of the centre – estimated at $350 million. The company has asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation.”
Yeah, I’ll bet that Sky City has “asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation“…
In business, it’s called a ‘contra-deal‘.
But it’s seems that even this deal is not as “free” for tax-payers as Key has made out. In fact, it has been uncovered that taxpayers are definitely ‘stumping up’ some of their hard-earned cash,
” Budget documents reveal that if the plan goes ahead, taxpayers will contribute up to $2.1 million to ensure its design and facilities meet Government expectations... The Prime Minister, however, is defending the budget allocation of millions of dollars towards a potential Sky City convention centre.
John Key says he has always said his preferred position is that no taxpayer money would be spent – and that if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs. “
So… Key has (once again) mis-led the public, and his stock-standard explanation is that “if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs .”
John Key claims that “a new convention centre would bring 144,000 additional nights of Auckland stays for business tourists, who generally spent twice as much as other tourists“.
But as Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, said somewhat more convincingly,
” Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland. “
What’s the bet that the forecast for “economic spinoffs” will be as accurate as National’s predictions for spin-offs from the Rugby World Cup or national cycleway?!
How many times have we heard Prime Minister John Key make all sorts of promises that this or that will deliver jobs and economic growth – only to see the promise fail. Which is then usually followed by an excuse relating to the global economic slowdown?
It’s getting rather predictable and tedious.
What Dear Leader has tried to gloss over and dismiss is the inevitable consequence of increasing pokie machines: more problem gambling. Both John Key and Sky City CEO, Nigel Morrison, have tried to trivialise this growing social problem,
” The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult. We’re not just on about growing our gaming machines. We would like to grow our table games product and expand our operations to meet the growth of Auckland. “
Gambling addiction in many way is as pernicious – if not worse – than alcohol and drug additions. A compulsive gambler can damage not only his/her own life – but those around them. Houses have been lost; businesses crippled or closed down; families torn apart, as problem gamblers suck others down into a whirlpool of uncontrollable gambling.
From a Ministry of Health report,
” Overall, the prevalence of problem gambling in New Zealand adults was 0.4% (about 13,100 adults). Additionally, the prevalence of moderate-risk gambling was 1.3% (representing a further 40,900 people). In total, 1 in 58 adults (1.7%, or 54,000 adults) were experiencing either problem or moderate-risk gambling.
Other key findings of this study include:
- Maori and Pacific people experience more gambling-related harm than other people
- people living in more socioeconomically deprived areas are more affected by gambling-related harm.
- this study may help to inform the provision of problem gambling intervention services and public health activity, as the study showed that:
- problem gamblers can be found in both urban and rural areas
- Maori and Pacific people appear to be under-represented in intervention services
- people experiencing gambling problems are more likely than other people to be current smokers, have hazardous drinking patterns, have worse self-rated health, and have a high or very high probability of a mood or anxiety disorder. “
Interestingly, the above report, using 2006/07 data, and posted online in 2009, is the most recent Ministry of Health report available. Nothing more recent – and perhaps more damning of current gambling policies – is apparent on the Ministry of Health website.
Why is that?
On a more personal level, this blogger is aware of an elderly couple who were both addicted to pokie machines. Badly in debt, they were forced to down-size their family home and buy a smaller, more modest, property. One of the couple died soon after, leaving the other who continued her gambling habit.
Not only has this elderly woman lost her surplus cash from the house-sale, but has gambled using equity in her current home. She often ‘borrows’ money from her grown up children.
Her modest house is deteriorating through lack of maintenance.
Not only has this woman lost all equity in her home, she is now more reliant on both the State and her family.
Meanwhile, this article on Sky City’s most recent posted profits should be cause for concern,
” Sky City Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling operators in the country, has seen a significant rise in profits over the course of the last year. The company attributes this growth to the earnings generated by the Sky City Casino in Auckland.
Over the course of 2011, profits for Sky City rose by over $10 million to $78 for the year. The company believes that the changes made to Sky City Auckland are to thank for this impressive profit increase over the course of the past year.
$50 million was spent on renovating the gambling facilities available the casino, but the company still managed to offset the costs with improved profits. In addition to building a new VIP lounge, Sky City also renovated other areas of the casino to make them more attractive to players.
Slots [pokies] brought in the amount of increased revenue, seeing a rise by 17%. Non-gaming elements also helped to boost profits. Auckland’s recently-revamped hotels and restaurants garnered a great deal of attention from patrons.
It seems that the adage “you have to spend money to make money” is true for Sky City. “
If the convention centre is National’s only scheme to grow the economy and to create 170,000 new jobs – we are in deep trouble.
Nothing best illustrates National’s narrow vision of the role of government than the demise of TVNZ7. Nothing.
Whether the previous Broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman, or the current Minister, Craig Foss – their attitude has been the same; market forces shall prevail – and public-interest programming shall be the responsibity of NZ On Air, who shall contract such programmes to current commercial broadcasters.
Except that this is a cop-out.
The beauty of TVNZ7 is that public broadcasting was, in the main, focused on a single broadcasting platform. The public knew where to go to watch certain types of programming.
Just as the public now go to supermarkets to buy their meat, fish, veg & fruit, and bread – instead of going to a butchers; a fish shop; a fruit & veg produce store; and a bakery. Imagine the uproar if John Key told us we must go to five different food retailers to buy five different sorts of foodstuffs?! Dear Leader would have a size 9 boot imprinted on his backside.
TVNZ7 fulfilled the same public demand; niche programming on a niche broadcaster.
Just as, currently we have racing on the TAB channel; Chinese programming on CTV; parliament on Parliament TV, etc.
Ironic that politicians have no problem broadcasting their “debates” (inverted commas used deliberately), deeming their squabbles and shrill screams a must have - but not public, non-commercial TV.
Or, that we can have non-stop horse racing on a free-to-air TV channel.
But we are not entitled to have access to non-commercial public TV.
Whatever concept National has of public television, it is clear that Broadcasting Minister, Craig Foss’s vision is different to the rest of New Zealand,
“… the government was ‘committed’ to supporting local content through NZ on Air, instead of directly funding single broadcasters. “
Having public TV through NZ On Air is akin to selling vegetarian/vegan food products in butcher shops. You have to go looking for it. It’s not easy to find. And it’s buried amongst ‘crap’ you’d rather not have to put up with.
And what makes NZ On Air funding of ‘Media7/Media3‘ “public television” – when it will have advertisements peppered throughout?
Take out the advertising of underarm deodorants; cat/dog food; toilet ducks; panty shields; the latest 4WD monstrosity from Korea; promos for the latest US crime/cop shows; reality TV shows; home improvement shows; US sitcoms; and voyeuristic, soft-core porn like “The GC”, and a 30 minute current affairs programme from TVNZ7 becomes a 20 minute show on TV3.
There goes our chance to focus on critical social issues, as commercial advertisers compete for our attention.
What next? Advertising in Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”? Shakepeare’s “Macbeth”? Anne Frank’s Diary?
We are being ripped off in more ways than one. We deserve better than this.
But not, it seems, according to National; there is more than an element of vindictiveness in their decision to can TVNZ7. As if it was their opportunity to “stick it to us” after their embarrassing backdowns on mining in conservation schedule four estates; their attempt to cut teacher numbers and increase classroom sizes; and ongoing resistance to state asset sales.
The closure of TVNZ7 is a clue what National thinks of us. And it ain’t very pleasant.
See: Pundit – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits
Current cutbacks to state and social services is a re-run of the 1990s. National’s cuts now, mirror those of last century.
Bolger, Richardson, Shipley, and Bill English ran amok – slashing health, education, police, military, and anything else they could lay their cold, clammy, neo-liberal hands on.
At one stage, in the late 1990s, the health system was so badly run down that patients requiring critical surgery were not receiving it – and were dying on waiting lists.
This year, as part of National’s on-going agenda to cut government services; reduce the size of the State; and to pass on savings as tax cuts to the rich, National has cut staffing levels; departmental budgets; and services.
The New Zealand middle class tolerates this – until it affects them, personally.
Enter: 24 June – Minister Parata and her plans to slash teacher numbers and increase class sizes. That was a step too far, and a teacher-parent-principal-Boards alliance fought back. Hard.
Bill English – a bloodied veteran of the Bolger-cum-Shipley administration of the late 1990s – recognised the signs that a revolt of the middle classes was in the offing. National’s merciless cuts to social and government services in the ’90s had resulted in an electoral thrashing in the November 1999 elections.
Upshot: 7 July – Government u-turn on cost-cutting policy.
This is now the second major policy u-turn by National. Their previous bloodied-nose, in July 2010, when Gerry Brownlee was forced to announce a back-down on National’s proposals to mine schedule 4 conservation land, was a stunning exercise in people-power.
In my previous blogpost (Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked), I argued that Educational Minister, Hekia Parata should not be forced to step down from her ministerial role. As I pointed out, “sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged”.
However, recent revelations from OIA-released document have revealed,
” The papers for the education budget reveal class size funding ratio changes went even further than what was announced.
Education Minister Hekia Parata originally urged changes that would seen 1300 fewer teachers hired over the next four years than would have happened under the existing funding formula.
That plan to curb growth in teacher numbers would have seen a “a minimal net reduction” in staffing of about 260 after four years.
The Government eventually decided on a less aggressive plan to cap teacher numbers, with almost the same number proposed to be employed in 2016 as now.
That plan to save $174m over four years was agreed and written in to the Budget but Parata was forced in to an embarrassing backdown earlier this month, which cancelled the plan and returned to the status quo.
However Parata’s original plan was to cut $217m. “
It appears that Ms Parata’s inclination was for even deeper cuts to Education services than, (a) the public was initially aware of and (b) that her National ministerial colleagues could stomach.
This explains, in part, why Key torpedoed Parata’s plans to cut education services; he was thoroughly exasperated with an an incompetant Minister who badly overestimated her abilities and could not “sell” even a watered down version of her plans. He must have been spitting tacks that, had Parata’s initial plans to cut $217 million (instead of $174 million) gone ahead, she would have found herself in a much deeper hole, and the fallout to National would have been much worse.
This blogger has come to the conclusion that Hekia Parata is way over her head, and should step down as Education Minister forthwith.
At any rate, she will be gone at the next cabinet re-shuffle.
Tea-lady might be a good, safe role for her?
7. ETS – Another of Key’s broken promises
John Key is adamant that National will not consider slowly raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, because it is a committment he has promised to keep,
“I’ve made it quite clear it would be my intention to resign from parliament if I broke that promise to New Zealanders.”
This blogger finds it hard to understand Key’s reticence to “breaking” an election promise. After all, he’s broken promises not to raise GST; to retrieve the bodies of the Pike River miners; to address growing youth unemployment; stem the flow of migration to Australia; grow the economy; and now, to implement an ETS.
In May 2008, Key stated,
” Key outlined a series of principles an ETS should have, including…
… It should be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS.
… It should not discriminate against small and medium businesses in allocating emissions credits and purposes. “
At the time, Key also stated,
” This not about National walking away from an ETS, we support that. . . we just simply want to get it right and we now have the time to get it right. “
That was four years ago.
Since then Australia has implemented it’s own carbon tax that will lead in to a full ETS by 2015,
” The A$23-a-tonne price on carbon emissions started yesterday [1 July 2012] , directly affecting 294 electricity generators and other companies.
The federal Government is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015. “
By contrast, National has been delaying implementing New Zealand’s own version of an ETS, and has now “postponed” it until 2015.
And yet, four years ago, Key stated that New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme should ” be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS “.
Our Aussie cuzzies have already started their carbon tax/ETS.
With National postponing the ETS for farmers, industrial and commercial polluters, until 2015 – that means that Dear Leader’s “postponement” will have lasted seven years – over two Parliamentary terms. How long does Key need to ‘get it right’ ?
Perhaps the turn of the 22nd century?
Let’s cut through the BS here. John Key is not “postponing” the ETS – he is postponing it indefinitely. National has no intention of ever implementing it. So much for Key’s statement,
“Ours is not a political agenda here, we want a good ETS that works.”
That deserves to be immortalised,
The sooner the Nats admit this deception, the better for the entire country. Until then, the only sector paying the ETS is… us, the public.
Which leads on to…
8. Tax Cuts & Government charges
In 2009 and 2010, National cut taxes. The rationale, as National explained in their 2008 document,
” In the short term, National’s tax package will give households confidence and some cash in their back pockets to keep the economy going and to pay down debt.
In the longer term, our tax package encourages people to invest in their own skills and make best use of their abilities, because they get to keep more of any higher wages they earn. It encourages them to look for and to take up better and higher-paying jobs that make more use of their skills. “
However, what National giveth with one hand; National taketh with the other.
Any benefits from the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts have been more than swallowed up (for low and middle income earners) by increases in a myriad of government and SOE charges.
The most recent have been Family Courts fees, which have risen astronomically.
From July 1 2012, services which used to be free to couples in dispute, now incur considerable court fees,
- Child custody disputes: $220
- Property disputes: $700
- Hearing of any application for each half-day, or part half-day: $906
Of all National’s user-pays regimes, charging couples who are separating; highly stressed; and where violence may be involved, is mind-boggling. We thought it was miserly when National decided to tax children in the last budget – but these user-pays Family Court fees hit people who are vulnerable in the extreme,
” But Family Law Specialists director Catriona Doyle says most families try to avoid handing custody and property decisions to a judge and only use the Family Court as a last resort in irresolvable conflicts.
The few people who waste the court’s time by filing repeatedly or unnecessarily won’t be put off by the fees because they’ll either be wealthy enough to afford it or earning little enough to have the fees waived, she says.
“It’s going to hit the middle class and lower income families where $220 is a lot of money.”
Women especially will be hit hard, as they are often financially disadvantaged when a relationship breaks up, Ms Doyle says.
Rather than trying to keep children out of court, the ministry should be aiming to resolve conflicts before children are affected by them, she says.
“Leaving children in a conflict situation where the parents are at war is neglect and abuse. The kids who live in that situation are damaged.”
A judge should be the person to decide if a case is genuine or flippant, especially when children are involved, she says.
“It’s not something that should be addressed by Parliament or a court registrar”. “
Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, stated plainly,
” What we are trying to do here is have a disincentive for people to be able to bring these matters before the court. “
(Note: As a matter of interest, Chester Borrows is the very same Minister who stated he would be buying shares in SOEs, when they were partially-privatised. See: Conflicts of Interest? )
National complains that court costs have risen from $84 million in 2004/2005 to $142m in 2010/2011 – hence Family Court fees must be imposed.
This is faulty logic, and is penalising people who are attempting to sort out damaging relationship breakdowns. Using Family Courts is preferable to taking the law into one’s own hands. Disincentiving people from using the law – which Parliament put in place to protect us all – is like disincentivising people from calling the Police if you’ve been burgled.
Instead, if we are being “encouraged to resolve issues ourselves”, find the burglar; beat the crap out of him; and retrieve our stolen property ourselves. That is what Borrows is advocating.
Further using Borrows’ “logic”, National should implement high user-pays charges in public hospitals, as ” a disincentive for people ” to use hospitals.
It sounds ridiculous? It is ridiculous.
It is also dangerous. Borrows and his idiotic fellow ministers are playing with peoples’ lives. Putting expensive, punitive barriers up at a time when families most need society’s help defies logic, common sense, and most of all, compassion.
But then – when did anyone ever accuse the National Party of being compassionate?
And will the Dear Leader, John Key, take responsibility if something goes horribly wrong, and an emotionally-stressed family explodes into violence because they had no way out through the Family Court? Like hell he will.
This is a death waiting to happen.
On your miserable head be it, Mr Borrows.
9. More on those tax cuts
As an aside, National’s 2008 Tax document makes this derisable claim,
” 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. “
Jeez. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.
10. Alcohol law reforms
The latest offerings of irrationality from John Key’s Universe; evidently Dear Leader does not believe that minimum pricing for alcohol would work. He suggests (with a straight face, no doubt) that minimum pricing for booze would not work because it could drive people to drink lower quality liquor instead of reducing consumption,
“What typically happens is people move down the quality curve and still get access to alcohol.”
Mr Key, how do I mock thee? Let me count the ways… (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)
How do I mock thee? Let me count the ways.
I ridicule thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when laughing at you hard
For the ends of Banality and Idiotic Government.
I mock thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and ecobulb-light.
I deride thee freely, as men strive for human rights.
I caricature thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I jeer at thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my voter’s faith.
I scorn thee with a scorn I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I sneer at thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if The People choose,
I shall but take the piss better after you are voted out.
Why so contemptuous, you ask?
Because raising the price of tobacco has been the number one tool of both Labour and National governments.
As recently as 12 June, John Key stated on a Fairfax online interview,
” The Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking through price, particularly young people who are very sensitive to rising tobacco prices. I know this is difficult for those that have smoked for quite some time, but for your long term health I can only encourage you to try and give up. “
So high-pricing for tobacco is useful for ” the Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking ” – but not for alcohol?
Raising prices to deter smoking works. But raising prices to deter binge-drinking doesn’t?
It boggles the mind how Dear Leader can hold two conflicting viewpoints, simultaneously, without suffering a brain explosion.
Or is it simply that the liquor industry is a generous donor of funds for National’s election campaigns?
In the meantime, life goes on,
See previous blogpost: A kronically inept government
11. Government Cost cutting = Economic suicide
On 12 May, this blogger posted a piece on National’s slashing of our MAF biosecurity.
In part, I posted this dire warning,
Now, we have the prospect of having entire suburbs in Auckland being contained in some kind of loose “quarantine”, after a Queensland fruit fly was caught in a pest surveillance trap,
Considering that the Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian economy approximately $160 million a year, this is a very real threat to New Zealand’s own $5 billion annual horticultural industry.
Five billion dollars, per year, every year. All under threat because this government wanted to save a few million bucks by employing fewer biosecurity staff.
As if the discovery of a painted apple moth in 1999; the varroa mite infestation of our honey hives in 2000; and other isolated instances of pests found in this country did not serve as a warning to us – National proceeded to cut back on biosecurity staffing.
This blogger wonders sometimes (actually, all the time) what goes through the minds of our esteemed Honourable Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government. These are supposedly well-educated men and women, with support from thousands of University-educated advisors – and yet they still manage to accomplish the most incredibly moronic decisions conceivable.
National has put at risk this country’s $5 billion industry – simply to save a few million dollars.
They have risked horticulturalist’s businesses; workers their jobs; and all the down-stream economic activity – to save a small percentage of billions.
This blogger has three pieces of advice for all concerned,
- John Key must accept the resignation of David Carter, Minister for Bio-security immediatly.
- National must reinstate biosecurity services to pre-2009 levels.
- Horticulturalists (and others who own farms and other agricultural businesses) should carefully consider whether National is working on their behalf – or for the sake of implementing false economies. What is the point of an orchardist voting for National – if National is going to screw his/her business by cutting back on essential government services such as biosecurity?!?!
Hopefully, this fruit fly is a lone bug; perhaps a stowaway in someone’s bag or in a container offloaded at Ports of Auckland.
If so, once again we’ve been lucky.
But how long will our luck hold out?
See previous blogpost: Bugs and balls-ups!
It seems our luck ran out some years ago,
” The kiwifruit growers’ association is considering legal action over the outbreak of the vine disease PSA and says it can’t rule out seeking compensation.
An independent review released on Wednesday into how the bacterium came into New Zealand has found there were shortcomings with biosecurity systems, but it does not say that caused the entry.
The disease was first confirmed near Te Puke in 2010 and has infected 40% of the country’s kiwifruit orchards. It is expected to cost the industry $410 million dollars in the next five years.
Ministry for Primary Industries director general Wayne McNee asid the review did not determine how PSA came into the country but does show where improvements can be made.
NZ Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco says he can’t rule out that compensation will be sought by growers. “
” A damning report into the outbreak of kiwifruit virus PSA is another in a series of warnings over the biosecurity system that the Government has failed to act on, Labour’s biosecurity spokesman Damien O’Connor says.
The independent report was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) following the devastation caused by the virus in the Bay of Plenty orchards with an estimated cost of $400 million.
The report, released yesterday, found “shortcomings” in New Zealand’s biosecurity system although it could not say how the incursion had occurred.
It said MPI could improve protections and must work more closely with industry groups.
The report also suggested resources be moved from low-risk industries to high-risk ones such as the kiwifruit sector.
O’Connor said there needed to be a complete overhaul of the biosecurity system.
The National Government cut biosecurity funding in 2009 and had accepted the growing risk caused by faults in the system, he said. “
Anyone with two inter-connecting neurons would’ve figured out very quickly that if a government cuts biosecurity then we put ourselves at dire risk of pests entering our country. Like the varroa mite. Or PSA bacterium.
With approximately 550,000 shipping containers and 4.5 million people entering New Zealand each year, it stands to reason that we are at extreme risk of unwanted organisms being brought into the country.
National was warned as far back as 2009, when 60 Biosecurity jobs were “dis-established”. It therefore defies understanding as to why National believed that cuts could be made to frontline MAF Biosecurity without serious consequences.
Spelling out those consequences,
- Millions – even hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export dollars lost,
- Jobs lost,
- Businesses ruined,
- And not one single government minister taking responsibility.
The only question now remaining to be asked: how many farmers and horticulturalists will vote for National at the next election?
Remember: you get the government you deserve.
This time, it is farmers and horticulturalists who have been warned.
12. The Terminally Ill
During the 2008 general election, Prime Minister John Key adopted the Herceptin campaign.
Pharmac was funding herceptin treatment for women suffering from breast cancer only up to a nine week period. Breast cancer patients wanted treatment extended to twelve months. Pharmac refused, stating there was no evidence that an extended treatment period would prove beneficial,
Pharmac CEO, Matthew Brougham, said,
“A fresh review of the science and other information has failed to convince us that 12-month treatments offer any additional benefits over the concurrent nine week treatment.”
Enter, John Key. As the 2008 election campaign swung into full force, Key leapt upon the issue,
“National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access.
“We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand.
“These initiatives will be funded within the indicative health spending allocations in the Prefu [Pre-election Fiscal and economic Update].
“They are also further examples of our determination to shift spending into frontline services for patients, rather than backroom costs.”
The election promise was one of many that Key made (along with tax cuts and the perennial “getting tough on crime), and on 10 December 2008, the Prime Minister-elect announced,
“I am proud to lead a government that has honoured such a commitment to the women of New Zealand.
“The commitment was part of National’s first 100-days action plan. I am pleased that the Herceptin funding policy effectively applies from the swearing in of the Government on 19 November.”
Unfortunately, John Key’s belief that ” National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access. We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand “ - seems only to apply during election campaigns.
At other times, Key does not seem to want to know.
Allyson Lock is one of five New Zealanders who suffers from Pompe Disease. It is a terminal condition.
There is medication available (called Myozyme ), but it currently receives no funding from Pharmac agency Pharmac. It is an expensive drug, but without that medication, Allyson and her fellow sufferers will not survive.
Allyson and her group have appealed to John Key for funding for their medication – without success. In fact, Key wants nothing to do with Allyson and other Pompe sufferers.
At a recent “on-line chat” with John Key, hosted by Fairfax Media, several people including this blogger attempted to put a question to the Prime Minister; why was National not prepared to fund medicine for Pompe as they had for breast cancer sufferers?
See previous blogpost: Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader
After all, Pharmac had expressed the same reservations regarding the efficacy of Myozyme as they did with long-term herceptin treatment. Yet, that did not stop Key from ensuring breast cancer sufferers had full access to a year-long course of herceptin.
John Key and Health Minister Tony Ryall have wiped their hands of Allyson.
It is not election year.
So there are no political points to be scored in saving the lives of five fellow New Zealanders.
I look forward to John Key proving me wrong; a link to this blogpost will be sent to media as will as the Prime Minister’s office. The rest is in his hands.
To Prime Minister, John Key;
Fund treatment for Allyson and others, Mr Key. They deserve no less than breast cancer sufferers. You can either oversee funding for their treatment – or attend their funerals.
Your call, Mr Prime Minister.
See previous blogpost: Priorities?
Thanks to ‘S’ for proof-reading.
= fs =
Continued from February 7 (Part Rua).
With the main Party speakers finished, others from the rally had an opportunity to make their views known. It was open, transparent and democratic (take note, National Government),
Madd Hatter spoke of the danger to the environment caused by fracking – including contamination of underground water-tables which has caused extensive pollution in the United States,
And the thing is? She’s 100% right. Fracking uses toxic chemicals which contaminates water tables – water which people use for drinking, cooking, feeding to farm stock, etc. Doesn’t it strike governments as somewhat daft that we’re poisoning ourselves?
Meanwhile, the crowd listened, continuing to hold signs that expressed our collective disgust at what this shabby government was intending to foist upon us,
And the media continued to record the event,
The protest continued, making their point peacefully,
A sentiment 99% of us would whole-heartedly agree with,
Mana’s flag flew proudly in the chill breeze,
The red and black Tino Rangatiratanga flag flew proudly as well. This flag is quickly becoming the de facto syymbol for the poor, the dis-possesed, and the alienated in our society. It is the flag of resistance that corporate interests and their political cronies do not want to see,
Dawn Shapira came from Huntly specifically to join the Rally. She rode all the way on the back of a motorbike – and says that she felt it. (Her return trip will be done in better comfort, in a bus.) That’s dedication. That’s committment. And 80% of New Zealanders share her anger at John Key’s planned asset sales,
Finally, the most important folk at this protest were not the politicians; nor the media; nor the organisers. Instead, the VIPs were the children – they are the ones who will inherit the society that we build (or sell off) for them. Will we leave them a mess, or success?
- Radio NZ reported 30 to 40 people in their audio report, but increasing the number to 60 on their website. This is a somewhat conservative estimate, and I put the number somewhere around 100 to 150.
- TV3’s news item, though, was deplorable – with Dunan Garner referring to the protest rally as “rent a mob”. This description was not only offensive to those folk who attended – but contrasted sharply with a later news story on another protest rally in Kapiti, which was more respectful. The Kapiti protesters were not referred to as “rent a mob”. Not very professional, TV3. Lift your game, please.
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Continued from February 7 (Part Tahi).
A security guard from a private security firm had attempted to stop me from photographing the protest rally from a vantage point that was near other media personnel. I explained I was a blogger; was merely taking photos to record the event; and that I had a right to be standing where I was.
The guard refused to step out of my way, and blocked me from the rally. I became vocal, and insisted that he step out of my way; let me do my job; and then I would return to the crowd.
The media took an immediate interest in what seemed to be an escalating fracas, and started filming us.
At that point, the security guard’s superviser intervened. He demanded I leave. I insisted on my right to stand peacefully in a spot shared by other media. I gestured at the cameras pointed at us and reiterated; “let me take my photos, and I will leave peacefully. You do not want to make a ‘scene’ in front of all these cameras“.
Some in the crowd began shouting, “Leave him alone!” and “Let him take his photos!“
Obviously I was not carrying weapons of mass destruction (or even light destruction)(maybe an unbent paper-clip in my pocket), and he agreed to allow me to proceed. I thanked him, and the security guard (who was only doing his job).
It seems a sign of the times that here in New Zealand, a small crowd of (mostly) middle-aged protestors required the presence of security guards; barriers; and half a dozen police to contain the situation.
What are our elected representatives so afraid of?
With the situation de-fused, the media returned their attention to the actual protest rally,
Some of the signs held aloft by ordinary folk who have no desire to see our public assets sold off. This one has an “air of truth” about it,
Possibly because it reminds me of this, from the late 1990s,
Back to the rally, and one of our best known activists and expert on our energy industry, attended the protest,
This gentleman insisted he was not a member or supporter of NZ First – but still shared the sentiment expressed on the placard,
This photo, to me, speaks volumes. These two elderly gentlemen represent an age from when New Zealanders worked hard to build the state assets which we now enjoy. It must grieve them to see their foolish children auction them off, so casually, without considering the true worth of what is being given away.
To me, it feels akin to a betrayal of what our parents and grandparents left us,
Amazing isn’t it – that ordinary kiwis understand the true ramifications of asset sales. Our elected representatives (or rather, some of them) seem to take us for fools. But we understand economic realities only too well,
This image alone, should wipe the smirk of John Key’s face. Contrary to his little “teapot chat” with John Banks, elderly voters are not “dying off”. In fact, I think they’ve postponed any impending “coach-tour to the Pearly Gates”, so as to vote in 2014. They have a “date” with the ballot box in three years hence, and have no intention on missing it.
Take note, Mr Key; you are annoying the voters,
Perhaps one of the guttsiest people at the rally had to be ” Madd Hatter “, who convened the Rally. Make no mistake about the weather – it was wet and cold. Yet, covered in “oil” (a mixture of mollasses and other stuff ) she braved the Wellington weather to make a point about fracking and deep-sea oil drilling of our coastline.
With the cost of the ‘Rena‘ clean-up now estimated at $130 million, it seems that some of our elected representatives are still entertaining lunatic notions that could result in the polluting of our underground water-table (“fracking“) or endanger our coastline with deep-sea drilling. (See previous blog-piece here, on this issue.)
Cheers, “Madd Hatter” – you deserve to be in Parliament. (And I say that in a nice way.)
And addressing the rally,
Jonathan then advised us that various Party leaders would address the Rally,
From the Labour Party, Charles Chauvel (L) and Deputy Leader, Grant Robertson (R). Note the media-scrum around them, and successive Parliamentary speakers,
Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman. For some unfathomable reason, Norman attracted derisory calls from one (possibly two?) individuals in the crowd. Like, who can possibly dislike the Greens? (As our mums kept reminding us; Greens are good for us! Very wise, our mums!)
Hone Harawira recieved the loudest applause – and not without good reason. Leaving the Maori Party – that is now so closely wedded to National – has cemented his credentials as an opponant of Right Wing ideology. In these times of myriad shades of gray and ambiguity, I think it fair to say that we know where Hone stands,
When it came Winston Peter’s turn to speak, there was a briref, two-minute vocal exchange between him And Jonathan Elliott. Regardless of who was in the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we need to remember that the media will report on such ‘exchanges’ rather than the full message of the protest rally,
Sometimes, we just need to bite our collective tongues, and on message. Otherwise, certain folk on the Ninth Floor will simply rub their hands with glee at our dis-unity. When Peters spoke, it was… vintage Winston,
(Damn, I wish I had his hair.)
Following the main political speakers, came Katherine Raue, from Transparency nz. It is unfortunate that as Katherine took the microphone, the media pack melted away,
Despite losing the interest of the media (who can be seen in the background, interviewing one of the politicians – Winston Peters, I believe), Katherine spoke eloquently on John Key’s broken promises – especially the impact broken promises has had on the families of the Pike River miner’s families.
Katherine made a strong, impassioned plea for Key to honour his promises to recover the bodies of the 29 dead miners. As we can all recall, John Key was highly prominent on the West Coast soon after the disaster. He made reassuring noises, promises, and committments – saying all the things that the dead miners’ families wanted to hear.
None of which came to pass.
In case anyone thinks that this protest-rally was “side lined by irrelevent issues” – think again. The committments that our elected representatives make – whether to recover dead miners, or create jobs, or to make government transparent – is something that impacts on us all.
Even if we believe that something that government does doesn’t affect us – it does. Well done, Katherine – we need more Kiwis like you,
Katherine was followed by Green MPs Catherine Delahunty and Gareth Huges. Both spoke well, though again, the media pack had deserted the area,
Then it was Molly’s turn. Molly Melhuish is a long-time energy campaigner. She has seen decades of change, from the Muldoon era of the Electricity Department – to post-Rogernomics electricity corporatidsation. What she doesn’t know about the industry probably isn’t worth knowing,
Greypower, more than any other group of New Zealanders understand only too well the severe impact that privatisation of our electricity will have on our elderly. For many, the price of electricity is a matter of life and death.
Note the policemen in the background. They were posted to guard the steps of Parliament in case Greypower decided to storm the House of Representatives. Good show, chaps – democracy is safe.
- the beginning of public reaction and action against the planned partial state-asset sales…
A small group assembled at the front of the Art Gallery in Wellington’s Civic Square. Though raining, the group was in high spirits, and it was pointed out – quite rightly – that we were representing 80% of the country who opposed state asset sales,
“Occupy Wellington” co-ordinator, Jonathan Elliot (in yellow t-shirt), helping to focus the assembly,
The media were present, to report on the event,
… including Radio New Zealand,
And we were off, with Jonathan being interviewed by the Radio NZ journo,
A simple message, to respect and honour the Treaty, via Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986. Section 9 is not a particularly complicated or onerous piece of legislation,
In fact, the Treaty may save our state assets from being flogged of.
“Ordinary” New Zealanders, marching along Mercer St, Willis St, and along Lambton Quay. The slogans were simple; “No asset sales!”. As the rally moved along the streets, more people joined us,
Kay Gubbins was quite clear in pushing the message,
Did Wellington’s most ardent and well-recognised street evangelist, exhort John Key to repent and cancel the planned asset sales?
The media, recording the march,
Past Bowen House – good kiwi folk making their way to Parliament. Whilst Wellingtonians looked-on , there were no hecklers. Those watching understood what we were on about,
And through the gates of Parliament – the People’s House of Representatives. (Ok, just kidding. Currently occupied by National, ACT, United Future, and various moneyed vested-interests, and assorted right wing ‘groupies’.)
… and joining another group already in the grounds,
Note “Mad Hatter” – who convened the rally – covered in mock-oil. on the far left of the pic below. More on her later,
I moved away, past the barriers; around a low-stone wall; onto the higher part of the grounds, to take better pictures of the assembled protesters,
Where I encountered a somewhat over-zealous security guard who tried to remove me from the higher ground,
He was persistant. I was insistant. We had a “frank exchange of views“. All of which attracted (predictably enough) the attention of the media,
What happened next?
To be continued Part Rua (so as not to overload this page with too many images).
I guess it had to happen sooner, rather than later. With the fallout-cloud rapidly dissapating from the Teapot Bomb, Winston Peters has emerged like some political-version of a post-apocalyptic mutant-zombie, resurrected from the graveyard of dead Parties.
It was perhaps the last thing that the Two Johns were counting on when they met at the Urban Cafe in Epsom, and Banksie started their convo,
“That’s Prime Minister to you, John.”
“Oh! Good-oh, Jo- Prime Minister!”
*click, whrrrr, click*
“D’you here something, John?” asked Banksie.
*Prime ministerial sigh*
“Ok. One lump or two, John?”
“One, please, John, and a new ACT leader to go with that, please,” replied the PM.
“Anything for you, John!”
*click, whrrrr, click*
“Damn, John, there’s that sound, again,” said Banksie.
“Don’t be so paranoid, John. That new Police Surveillance Act hasn’t kicked in yet.”
And so it went.
Paranoia. How easy it is to stir that stinking pot of fear and prejudice, with just a hint of demonisation to add zest to the brew,
Only a couple of days ago, there was discussion about when National would mount a full-blown attack on Winston Peters, to try to stall his ascendency, and to demolish his chances at re-entering Parliament. National’s great fear is that dis-affected National-leaning voters might see Peters as a credible alternative on Election Day.
National is already polling below 50% in several polls, and there is every likelihood that by Saturday, they will have lost an additional two or three percentage points.
That is all it takes to damage National’s chances of re-election to government – especially if ACT and United Future lose Epsom and Ohariu. And especially if the Maori Party are ‘spooked’ from supporting National again after Paula Bennet hinted last week that a new National-led government might can Whanau Ora – the Maori Party’s version of NZ First’s superannuitant’s “Gold Card”.
… 2 or 3%.
Which means that National’s focus has now been split and are attacking on two fronts; Labour and NZ First. For the Nats, their most crucial target now is Winston Peters.
John Key states,
“”What Winston Peters is saying to New Zealanders is that on every budget, on every issue, there could be a general election.
“How can New Zealand govern itself over the next three years – which is likely to be a volatile period in the world economy – when at any stage the whole government can be brought down by Winston Peters” ” Source
Which is a bizarre, given that every single government elected under MMP has run it’s full three year term. No exceptions.
The same cannot be said of FPP governments, and as recently as 1984, the then-Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, called a snap election before National’s term of office was due to end.
In short, John Key is fear-mongering. He is playing the “Winston Card” – which is kind of ironic, as Peters himself has pandered to similar fears and prejudices in his Treaty-bashing, and Asian immigrant-bashing, speeches and policies.
Oh, Karma, you are indeed a bitch.
I guess it is up to the media to see through this latest tactic from National Party back-room strategists. Those boys in dark suits have no doubt cooked up some fairly McCarthyist stuff.
If the “Teapot Tapes” left a foul taste in our mouths – be prepared for a dose of really foul Winston-bashing. And the irony of this is that I am no friend of NZ First, it’s leader, or their populist policies – but he does deserve a fair go.
Time for a breather, boys.