First, there was the Carpark Tax.
That didn’t go down well…
Acknowledgement: Government ditches controversial car park tax plan
Then there was the “Talk Tax” on cellphone, ipads, smartphones, laptops, and all manner of other gadgets. The business sector didn’t like that idea, either…
Acknowledgement: TVNZ – Cellphone, laptop tax plan scrapped
Next up, perhaps one of the meanest taxes ever…
Made all the meaner because children cannot vote and therefore this is taxation without representation.
By contrast, the tax cuts of 2009 and 2010 gave the biggest cuts to the wealthiest in this country,
The 2010 tax cuts alone gave Dear Leader an extra $291 extra per week, on his old salary of $390,000 p.a. (see: $4b in tax cuts coming) – on the backs of school children doing paper-rounds and other part-time work, for pocket money, it could be said.
Key’s salary has since increased to 411,510 – plus perks, allowances, superannuation, etc (see: Salaries payable under section 16 of Civil List Act 1979).
For Key, it’s apparently a “non-issue,
“A lot of people didn’t know they were entitled to them so they didn’t bother claiming. The amounts were fairly small and overall we have been trying to clean up the tax code.”
I guess when you have $50 million stashed in bank accounts all over the place it’s fairly hard to identify with a kid earning $40 a week?
By what definition of fairness can we justify someone earning $390,000 a year getting an extra $291 a week – whilst paper boys and girls – who are paid a pittance anyway – are taxed for the few dollars they work for? Are we really that desperate as a nation? And then we wonder why our young people are buggering off to Australia and elsewhere?
If there’s one single example of where our society has gone terribly wrong since 1984 – this, to me, is it.
It’s fairly apparent to everyone except the most sycophantic National supporter that the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts left a gaping hole in the government’s revenue. (see: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b) Dunne’s pathetic attempts at raising additional taxes is simply a consequence of tax-cuts that were unaffordable three years ago – and remain unaffordable to this day.
On the issue of the “Paperboy/girl Tax”, I look forward to the business sector campaigning hard to scrap that, as they did with the “Carpark” and “Talk” taxes.
After all, the members of the Employers and Manufacturers Association have kids of their own.
Isn’t campaigning on behalf of your own children as important as a carpark?
Key defends tax cuts in light of zero Budget (2 April 2012)
Key rejects criticism of ‘paperboy tax’ (25 May 2012)
Car park tax opposition cuts across cultural, class divide (19 March 2013)
= fs =
From the Sunday Star Times (scanned hard-copy – on-line version locked behind a Fairfax paywall) on 14 October,
Andrea Vance is correct; most polls have shown a steady decline for National (with the exception of those at specific moments when issues surrounding Maori claims over water rights are in the headlines) since the general election last year.
John Key’s teflon coating is patchy at best, as scandals; incompetance; and a stagnating economy is showing up National as singularly inept at any measure of governance.
A TV3 poll tonight (24 Oct) was even more bad news for these ministerial muppets,
The four relevant questions asked of respondents were,
1. Do you agree National has done a good job in terms of building a brighter future?
- 49% said no;
- 46% said yes;
- 5% did not know.
- 57% said no;
- 36% said yes;
- 7% did not know.
- 58% said no;
- 32% said yes;
- 9% did not know.
- 49 percent said yes;
- 42 percent said no.
Key’s responses to each of these four questions is reported here: National’s bright future not here yet – poll
Some of his comments are laughable. Actually, no. All his comments are a joke. If anything, his responses to these poll results are a scathing indictment of National’s arrogance and disconnect from the public.
Which brings us to Peter Dunne.
National is in power only because of complicity by John Banks and Dunne.
Dunne’s history began in 1984, as a Labour MP. From there, he jumped from one Party to another; Labour; United New Zealand; United Future New Zealand; and join coalitions led by both National, then Labour, and back to National again in 2008.
Dunne is a political chameleon – able to re-shape and re-form to suit his political environment, as governments come and go. Unlike that other Great Survivor, Winston Peters, Dunne has the unmatched record of rarely having been out of government. Any government.
He has outlasted Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, and Clarke – and is now onto his seventh Prime Minister, John Key.
Whatever “political viagra” the man is on, he could make a vast fortune selling it globally, to other politicians.
Political journalist, Andrea Vance, has suggested in her 14 October article that,
“As Labour begin to pick up in the polls… Dunne is the kid on the sidelines, eyes screwed shut, willing David Shearer to pick me, pick me”.”
For many people in this country, and this blogger included, Peter Dunne has burnt his bridges with the social democratic left.
His vote in Parliament, to enable the passing of legislation to facilitate the 49% sell-down of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, is a step too far. (See: The asset partial sell-off can begin)
With the passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill into law on 27 June, Peter Dunne well and truly nailed his colours to the mast – despite even a poll on his own website receiving an over-whelming ‘no’ vote, and many comments critical of asset sales.
The poll was taken down soon after it began to attract public attention. (Evidently the outcome was not to Mr Dunne’s satisfaction?)
So much for asking the public to “let us know your views“.
Unless we see a threat of a possible third term for National (and one hopes the voting public is not that capricious), Shearer, the Greens, Peters, and Harawira should have nothing to do with Dunne.
His politics is best described as prostitutionism – with about as much ethics shown as a Wall Street banker or back street crack-dealer.
Dunne has utterly betrayed his own country by supporting the sale – theft - of state assets. Considering he has been part of three terms of a Labour-led government – to then support neo-liberal policies shows a lack of principled behaviour.
What was he doing in a Labour-led government in the first place?
What else is he willing to do to keep ministerial “baubles of power”?
A new Labour-led government, starting afresh and addressing many of the social inequities and economic imbalances afflicting our country, should leave behind the dross of previous administrations.
The next government should be a principled one. And Peter Dunne has none of the necessary qualities that would make him a credible fit with such a new administration.
Take note, Mr Shearer; you need to start your new Administration on the very best footing. Peter Dunne will provide the opposite.
Mr Shearer; do you really want the left-overs of a failed National “government” at your Cabinet table?
As the Member for Ohariu once said,
” We understand clearly that the only reason for our existence is to represent the voice of the people in our parliament. We believe that any party that is not constantly in touch with the views of the people is simply not doing its job. In this space you can read what others think on key issues, and you can let us know your views.” – Peter Dunne, “Have your Say Polls”, United Future website (since deleted)
Clean sweep, Mr Shearer, clean sweep.
Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.
= fs =
When National campaigned in 2008, John Key made several promises – most of which he has either broken or failed to address.
One of those promises was to “cap the state sector”,
The above election pledge, signed by Dear Leader John Key, states quite clearly and concisely,
” Ensure government spending is focused on frontline services such as health and education by capping the number of bureacrats… “
Checking an on-line dictionary, the definition of capping (in this case) is,
” 26. to put a maximum limit on (prices, wages, spending, etc.). “
“To put a maximum limit on… “
Sez nothing about reducing, cutting, chopping, decreasing, or any other word gleaned from my friendly Thesaurus.
But as with nearly every other promise from Key, National was quick to break this one as well. Instead of capping, National began cutting,
Much like National’s long list of broken, or unaddressed promises, the ‘Roll Call of Redundancies‘ goes on. And on. And on…
By March of this year, the Dominion Post reported that over 2,500 state sector workers had been sacked..
2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved
Andrea Vance, Last updated 09:18 03/03/2012
A squeeze on state service backroom functions has saved just $20 million in two years, Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf has revealed.
The Government has shed more than 2500 jobs in the past three years and ordered chief executives to shave their IT and human resources bills as part of a drastic overhaul of the public service.
But despite ambitious plans to save $1billion over three years, a `benchmarking’ report to be published next week will show 31 agencies and departments have managed to reduce spending by just $20m.
All for a measely $20 million?!
John Key sells his integrity cheaply. (I’m sure he could get more for it on the open market. Just what are politicians selling themselves for, these days? Ours is barely used.)
John Key promised capping the “bureacracy”. Instead, National sacked 2,500.
This year, National is planning even more redundancies, in its obsession with it’s failed neo-liberal ideology of “small government” and privatisation of services.
In the meantime, cuts to the state sector are rapidly becoming a cautionary tale – one that is a repeat of National’s cuts in the late 1990s.
Two years into his new cosy relationship with National, and with all the perks and high salary in his ministerial role, Peter Dunne begins the process of
capping cutting the state sector,
Dunne defends Greymouth IRD job cuts
NZ Herald, 9:08 AM Friday Dec 17, 2010
Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has defended the timing of yesterday’s announcement that eight jobs are to be cut at the Inland Revenue Department in Greymouth.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the timing could not be worse, coming before Christmas and quick on the heels of the redundancies of 114 Pike River Mine employees following the explosions which killed 29 men…
… Mr Dunne said the proposals had been discussed with staff in Greymouth in the wake of the Pike River tragedy, however staff told him they wanted to be given certainty on their jobs “as soon as possible”.
“We didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads,” he told Radio New Zealand.
How very generous, kind-hearted, and humane of Mr Dunne, that “we didn’t want them to go into Christmas with that uncertainty over their heads.”
Certainly not. Instead he “puts the steel-capped boot” into the West Coast community eight days before Christmas.
Only the National Party and it’s sycophantic fellow-travellers and grubby little ‘groupies’ could be so cold-hearted.
Then it follows with mass sackings like this,
IRD confirms job cuts
Newstalk ZB/NZ Herald, 12:38 PM Wednesday Sep 7, 2011
Inland Revenue has confirmed it’s cutting 156 jobs from its regional offices. The affected branches are Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Nelson and Invercargill.
Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Tremain said the original proposal was for 191 job losses, but after consultation with staff the number has been reduced to 156.
She said IRD will keep its offices, but where and how it does some work would change.
The process is expected to take 18 months, and will start early next year.
In the above story, PSA National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff warns us,
“Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”
Then a few more, like this,
IRD cuts 51 provincial jobs
TV3, Thu, 31 May 2012 7:39p.m.
The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has made 51 staff in regional offices redundant.
The 16 job losses at Invercargill, seven at Nelson, 12 at Rotorua, nine from Napier and seven at New Plymouth are part of the government’s public sector budget cuts, the Public Service Association says…
… An IRD spokesman said on Thursday the cuts would help it deliver a more flexible and sustainable approach with work that could be done over the phone taken up by offices in the main centres.
Then, MP for Ohariu; Revenue Minister; and careerist-politician, Peter Dunne makes a public statement to reassure the public,
IRD job cuts won’t impact taxpayers – Dunne.TV3, Fri, 01 Jun 2012 7:48a.m.
The Government says the Inland Revenue Department will maintain frontline services… despite shedding 60 jobs at regional offices.
The Public Service Association (PSA) says staff are already struggling to meet demand and the redundancies will make that task even tougher.
“Job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.
But Revenue Minister Peter Dunne maintains the public shouldn’t notice any change.
“Most of the services that are being refocused are services that were better performed in larger areas. We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact.”
Note Mr Dunne’s comment, ” We are certainly not closing any offices and I don’t think tax payers will notice any impact ” .
Remember Mr Wagstaff’s dire warnings above, made in September last year,
“Staff say they are already struggling to meet customer demand and the job losses will mean fewer people on the phones, fewer people talking to customers face-to-face and less processing work being done.”
The inevitable consequence to state sector cuts are now coming home to roost,
More than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered –
Fairfax Media, Stacey Kirk, Last updated 05:00 13/07/2012
Government cuts and poor planning have left more than 70,000 calls to IRD unanswered over its busiest tax return time, the Public Service Association (PSA) says.
IRD figures showed about 70,000 calls weren’t answered between June 25 and July 5 – the two weeks leading up to the deadline for filing tax returns.
During that period 164,000 calls were planned for, but more than 202,000 were received. Of those only about 131,000 were actually answered as the department struggled to cope with increased demand.
The PSA said there had also been a significant increase in the number complaints about the phone service.
National secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was frustrating for both the public and staff but was a “clear consequence” of budget cuts and bad decision-making.
“IRD has been undergoing a large restructuring programme which has already seen its workforce slashed by nearly half in several regional sites. It has been creating what it calls ‘virtual jobs’ in metropolitan centres while reducing jobs and services in the provinces.
I wonder how many of those 70,000 unanswered calls were National Party voters and supporters of cuts to the State Sector? I live in hope that every single one of those 70,000 were foolish, naive, people who thought that National was “cutting the fat” from the state sector.
I hope they reflect on how wrong they were, as they wait for hours and hours waiting to talk to someone in a government department.
Failing that, I guess they can always call Peter Dunne?
An incoming Labour-led government will be charged with having to re-build the State sector – much as Helen Clark did in the early 2000s.
But more than that, jobs have to be protected. We simply cannot allow an ideologically-driven bunch of right wing lunatics to gut the state sector every time New Zealanders get a rush of blood to their heads and elect National into power. Not one New Zealander would want to live under a system where his/his job was reliant on the whim of a politician – not one.
So why should state sector workers have to endure their lives turned upside down, simply because National is elected to power every six or nine years?
Such a situation is grossly unfair and untenable. We end up losing talented people and the best and brightest will not want to work under such a cloud of uncertainty and insecurity.
A Labour-led government must fix this and do so as a matter of priority.
This blogger suggests putting all state sector workers on a Union-Employer negotiated, sector-wide, contract-style system, with the PSA as an interested Third Party, and with legally-protected job security for at least five years, dated from each general election.
Breaking the contract would entail hefty penalty fees by any government contemplating mass-redundancies.
No doubt every right winger in this country would be frothing at the mouth at such a suggestion of an entrenched system of job-protection. Personally, I don’t care. Right wing fanatics don’t care about others losing their jobs – so why should we care about them?
What I do care about is a fair and just system that protects people’s jobs; their livelihoods; families; and their dignity.
That’s what really matters.
= 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 =
On his Party website, Peter Dunne says this, about selling Kiwibank,
It appears that Peter Dunne, the MP for Ohariu, and one of National’s one-man band coalition partners, has taken a very ideological stand on refusing to sell Kiwibank. (Not that John Key or the Nats ever campaigned on this issue last year. So it is, for all intents and purposes, a non-issue.)
The question here is simple; if Peter Dunne maintains that Kiwibank is “collectively… ours pure and simple. It must stay that way” – then why is his stance different on even more important strategic state assets; power companies and an airline?! (Especially considering that Air New Zealand already went bankrupt once, and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer in October 2001.)
Isn’t it curious… Peter Dunne considers Kiwibank to be “ours pure and simple” and that “it must stay that way” – but he has not applied the same principle to Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air Air New Zealand.
Why is Kiwibank “ ours pure and simple. It must stay that way ” – but not other State assets?
Especially when he says that Kiwibank must remain in public ownership because in “an increasingly fraught and troubled globe, it is both a symbolic and practical statement of our economic sovereignty“.
One would have thought that three power companies (at the very least); that power our homes, industustries, infra-structure, businesses, etc, would have even greater ” symbolic and practical statement of our economic sovereignty “?
Or is this an example, yet again, of selective morality from one of our elected representatives?
Oh dear… People of Ohariu, is this really what you wanted when you cast your votes last year?!
If this annoys you as intensely as it annoys me and others, never fear – the Million Mail campaign (and a petition) is here!!
Flood the Beehive!
The Million Mail Campaign!
National’s plans to partially-privatise State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) continues to grind on – despite over-whelming public opposition.
It’s time for every New Zealander who opposes these sales to make their voice heard loud and clear, and to flood the Beehive with a storm of protest mail!
One million-plus emails and letters will create a loud message that will make politicians sit up and take notice.
Start writing now!
It costs nothing – and you may be saving $6 billion worth of assets that belong to you, your family, and other New Zealanders.
Messages don’t have to be long or involved or full of facts and figures. Messages can be simple. Eg,
“ Please do not sell my energy companies and Air New Zealand. They belong to me and my family. “
” I did not vote to sell my state enterprises. But I will vote against anyone who tries to sell them. Please stop your asset sales programme. I do not support it. “
“ I am one of the 60-70% of New Zealanders who oppose state asset sales. I will remember this at the next election. I do not give you permission to sell my assets. “
State assets up for partial sale: Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy (formerly Coal Corp), and Air New Zealand.
More information: Asset sales bill down to the wire (Long link: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10814141)
Send an email now. Or a paper-letter (no stamp required). We can flood the Beehive with a Million Messages, and it will be messages that will make politicians pause and think.
In May, 2010, over 50,000 New Zealanders marched up Queen Street, Auckland, to stop mining in our Schedule 4 Conservation land.
More information: Thousands march against mining (Long link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3647465/Thousands-march-against-mining)
The politicians backed off smartly. Imagine what 500,000 letters and emails can accomplish!
Eventually, John Key, Tony Ryall, Peter Dunne, and Steven Joyce, et al, will no longer be able to ignore our growing clamour.
It’s damned hard to ignore 1 million emails and letters.
Write now! Write often! Keep writing!
Snail Mail Addresses
Minister for Revenue
Private Bag 18888
Private Bag 18888
Minister for Economic Developement
Private Bag 18888
Minister for SOEs
Private Bag 18888
Parliamentary Email forms
Direct Email Addresses
Peter Dunne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“John Key” <email@example.com>
“Steven Joyce” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Tony Ryall” <email@example.com>
Please note: make your letters/email polite, but firm.
And if you want to send letters to the editor, here are some addresses,
“Dominion Post” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“NZ Herald” <email@example.com>
“Otago Daily Times” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“The Press” <email@example.com>
“Southland Times” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Sunday News” <email@example.com>
“Sunday Star Times” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Waikato Times” <email@example.com>
Flood the Beehive!
Please pass this Campaign on to others!
This will be our one and only chance to put the brakes on this government’s asset sales plans!
Lots more we can do…
Day of Action!
And sign the petition!! Available here,
= fs =
Four days ago, Peter Dunne’s website contained this poll,
It appears that poll has become an embarressment for Dunne, who is supporting National on partial asset-sales, and someone has removed it from United Future’s website. The link to the polls – http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz/do-you-support-john-keys-proposal-for-the/poll.do – now goes to this page,
A lot of white space, and not much else.
Which is a shame, as the deleted poll also contained many sensible, well-formulated, and temperate comments explaining why people were opposed to partial privatisation of our SOEs.
It is fairly obvious that Peter Dunne is no longer interested in public opinion and by removing the poll (and people’s comments), he has shown total contempt for his constituents. Like the arrogance shown by John Key and John Banks, Dunne has shown his true colours.
I wonder what the voters in Ohariu must feel that their own MP dismisses their views so easily?
At the next election, Dunne will have some explaining to do. This blogger will be there to ask those questions and remind voters of Dunne’s contempt for them.
Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.
Previous Blog post
= fs =
Why do I get the impression that this story just screams desperation, from this government?
Aside from the fact that many sceptics voiced doubts last year about National’s optimism to “balance the books”, and considered it nothing more than election propaganda for gullible voters, Dunne’s comments on this issue beggar belief,
“‘We just had public consultation on the use of mixed assets such as holiday homes and launches, and we’ve been doing other work looking at the tax treatment of various forms of activity.”
”That programme needs to be ongoing… what we should be doing is making sure we are collecting all the existing taxes which are due and if there anomalies and loopholes we need to be closing those to make sure the system is fair to everyone.’
It was estimated the Government was missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue a year.” – Ibid
“We just had public consultation on the use of mixed assets such as holiday homes and launches…“
“…what we should be doing is making sure we are collecting all the existing taxes which are due and if there anomalies and loopholes…”
Isn’t this precisely what Labour was suggesting last year with it’s Capital Gains Tax?
The Green Party certainly made that connection,
” “Bill English has failed to close the single largest remaining loophole in our income tax system. A comprehensive tax on capital gains (excluding the family home) is hugely progressive and would help close the growing gap between rich and poor,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“Treasury advice to Bill English in 2009 made it clear to him that capital assets are owned disproportionately by higher income families. The advice said not taxing this income is regressive. That’s Treasury’s way of saying that a capital gains tax is incredibly fair.
“Both John Key and Bill English have consistently defended the tax loophole, however, preferring to ignore growing inequality in our society…”
…“The largest proportion of capital gains is earned by those at the upper end of the income spectrum. This income currently remains untaxed,” said Dr Norman.
“This tax loop-hole for those that can afford to own multiple properties needs to be closed.” ” – Source
So much for John Key stating last year,
“Scrapping the top income tax bracket reduced the value of highly leveraged investment properties as a tax shelter, while tougher rules on depreciation and LAQCs also reduced their relative attractiveness as investments.
Labour, Prime Minister John Key declared on Monday, is “fighting a problem they had when they were in office, not a problem we have today”. ” – Source
Yeah right, Prime Minister. Unfortunately, simply saying that didn’t make the problem go away, did it?
Gareth Morgan pointed all this out to us, last November,
“It’s difficult to detect any sort of principle – liberal or otherwise – in the economic policies we could reasonably expect to address the widening income gap. Gaping loopholes in our tax system permit those with wealth to earn tax-free gains – putting them further ahead than ever.
While the Government sees fit to give a handout to working families earning $100,000 per year (nearly twice the average wage), those who can’t meet bureaucratic hoops miss out on support altogether and we have abandoned targeting in toto for the politically powerful (the elderly).
Equally worrying, current tax policy incentivises investment for capital gains, causing excessive investment in property at the expense of business – something which has hindered the long-term outlook for incomes and jobs.” – Source
So for United Future leader Peter Dunne to try to excuse their inertia by saying “that the Prime Minister could not have foreseen a dramatic slide in global economic conditions“, is disingenuous.
No. Not disingenuous. Let’s call it for what it really is: bullshit.
National’s tinkering with the tax system is not going to address the shortfall in government revenue. We will simply see more of the above headlines in future media, as the core-problems in our taxation system go unaddressed.
National simply does not have the intestinal fortitude to address taxation problems in any meaningful way. If they did, they would,
- Implement Labour’s capital gains tax
- Stop Trusts from being tax havens
- Reverse the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts for those earning above $70,000
- Implement a Financial Transactions Tax
- Review Working for Families payments for families earning over $100,000
Unfortunately, none of the above will happen. Generally, only reformist Labour governments have the inclination to make radical changes when they become blindingly obvious as necessary.
It also takes a collective frustration from Voterland to “connect the dots” and realise that voting for National will not achieve longterm reforms.
In the meantime, Dunne will tinker; National will continue cutting services; government workers will continue to be sacked; and we’ll see more of the following, as our economy stumbles along like a diabetic with low blood sugar,
… before John Key sells our first publicly-owned, state asset,
In that one year, the government will be highly vulnerable to the following,
- A growing public resentment and opposition to asset sales, putting pressure on National MPs – especially those like Nicky Wagner (Majority: 47) and Nikki Kaye (majority: 717 ) – who stand to lose their respective electorate because of narrow majorities.
- Public pressure on Peter Dunne.
- A defection from National’s ranks.
- A by-election should one of National’s MPs be forced to resign for whatever reason. There were four by-elections, during the previous Parliamentary term.
John Key must be praying that every single one of his MPs remains healthy; scandal-free; and dedicated to the National Party.
It would take the loss of only one MP from National’s ranks for Key’s house-of-cards to come crashing down.
As a part of coalition negotiations with John Key, quasi-National MP, Peter Dunne, says there is no conflict between his new role as Associate Conservation Minister and being an opponent of the use of 1080 poison. In a Radio NZ report he stated that,
“[I] would like to see 1080 banned altogether but only when there are effective alternatives, for example better trapping methods.” – Source
Really? Are you quite certain of that, Mr Dunne?
Because his United Future website states a quite different position,
““UnitedFuture is generally opposed to the aerial application of 1080 unless it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the terrain in the treatment area is such that it would be impossible to carry out a successful ground baiting operation and it is far enough from population centres to present no danger to the public,” said Mr Dunne.” – Source
“UnitedFuture believes that all New Zealanders have a birthright to enjoy our unique, diverse landscape. Our strong outdoor heritage is central to what it means to be a Kiwi.
Our key policies to achieve this are
…Curtailing the application of 1080 poison and replacing it with new and more environmentally friendly forms of pest-control.” – Source
Mr Dunne seems to be having a “bob each way” on this issue, depending on who his audience happens to be. He appears to be attempting to pander to anti-1080 opponants (many of whom appear borderline hysterical or maniacal on this issue), whilst presenting himself as “moderate” to the general public.
The reality is that there is no real alternative to 1080 that is both economic to use and easy to disperse. Without 1080, this country’s bush would be quickly over-run with possum and rats,
Peter Dunne most likely understands this – but is also looking over his shoulder at votes from the anti-1080 lobby group. A classic case of a politician attempting to send different messages to different audiences.
This works… until the media puts a spotlight on such conflicting messages.
The hunters dislike 1080 as it impacts on their game-species (and hence why the hunting fraternity are so heavily involved in the anti-1080 lobby-group).
The real issue here is our choice,
Perhaps Peter Dunne should be more concerned with our endangered wildlife, rather than scoring votes from fringe lobby groups.
“What Mr Dunne gets:
- No sale of KiwiBank or Radio New Zealand.
- Statutory limits will be introduced on the sale of public asset to no more than 49 per cent of shareholding to private interests and limits would be put on the extent of single entity ownership.
- A ban on guided helicopter hunting on conservation land will be introduced to Parliament.
- The budgets of both Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand will be maintained.
- The Families Commission will be revamped.
- There will be public consultation on Mr Dunne’s Flexi-Super policy.
- Guaranteed access to rivers, lakes, forests and coastline.
- An agreement to reintroduce Mr Dunne’s income sharing legislation which failed to win enough support in the last Parliament.
- Free health-checks for over 65-year-olds would also be investigated.“
Whoa…! Back up that coalition-pony, sonny boy!
“No sale of KiwiBank or Radio New Zealand“?!?!
Since when did National advocate or campaign on the privatisation of Kiwibank or Radio New Zealand?
In fact, John Key made it a campaign promise that Kiwibank was not up for sale, and that the only state assets on the block were Genesis Power, Meridian, Might River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand. No mention whatsoever of Radio NZ or Kiwibank.
What’s going on here?
Either Peter Dunne is telling fibs and creating a false “victory” – or else National had a secret agenda of further asset asales!?
Someone is misleading the public.
+++ Updates +++
The above article starts out positive and seemingly Dunne has succeeded in saving TVNZ7 from disappearing and being replaced by a shopping channel…
Until one reads this in the same piece,
“I would have preferred to have got a much more explicit agreement regarding the future of TVNZ 7 but the National Party wouldn’t go there.”
And Dunne then adds,
“TVNZ keeps saying it needs to run as a commercial body, and it obviously makes its own decisions, but I think it needs to recognise there is a significant chunk of the population that prefers the approach TVNZ 7 takes and would be very disappointed if that channel was to close.“
So he really hasn’t “saved TVNZ7″ at all. In fact, Dunne admitted as much this morning (Dec 6) on Radio NZ, when he said on “Morning Report“,
” …I wanted to get an absolute committment to the retention of TVNZ7. We weren’t able to get that. The government wasn’t prepared to make that, uh, concession…”
Ok, so let’s sum this up,
- Dunne get’s a promise from National that neither Kiwibank nor Radio NZ will be sold.
- But National never suggested selling Kiwibank or Radio NZ in the first place.
- So what kind of “victory” is it to get a committment on something that the Nats weren’t intending to do anyway?
- Dunne then negotiates to get an absolute committment to save TVNZ7.
- And fails.
Have I missed anything?
Moving right along…
“Free health-checks for over 65-year-olds” – ???
Great. More rip-offs from my generation, the Baby Boomers. Everyone else has to pay for health checks – but all of a sudden we get freebies?
Yet again Baby Boomers – being a sizeable bloc of voters – gain tax-payer funded social services whilst everyone else has user-pays.
No doubt these “free health checks” will be funded from that sale of state assets. Once again Baby Boomers are ripping off future generations for our own selfish benefit.
The word obscene comes to mind.
Email Peter Dunne to let him know what you think about asset sales:
Current National and Maori Party coalition negotiations raise two interesting issues. One is fairly self-evident. The other is something I’ve just noticed in the above image of Pita Sharples anf John Key…
“Mr Key said there was no reason why partial asset sales would need to be treated as a matter of confidence and supply.” Source
The sale of state assets is usually a budgetary matter. As I’ve written previously, past asset sales were generally included as part of bugetary legislation and passed by the government-of-the-day using it’s majority in the House.
The Opposition – whether one party as under FPP, or several parties under MMP – would automatically vote against the government’s budget. If the budget passed, the government had Supply (money to pay for ongoing state activities, such as paying salaries; building infra-structure; making purchases; paying for borrowings; etc).
If the budget was voted down – the government fell.
At present, John Key’s coalition-government consists of 62 seats out of 121 (there is an “over-hang of one seat),
Those 62 seats comprise,
John Banks/ACT: 1
Peter Dunne/United Future: 1
62 out of 121 is a majority – just barely. Lose one seat – in a by-election or a defection – and the majority is cut down to one. Lose two seats, and Key’s majority is lost, and becomes a minority government.
No wonder John Key spat the dummy a couple of days ago and called MMP a “weird system”.
Which is why the Maori Party’s the seats becomes vital to the longer-term survival of this new, National-led coalition government. Last term there were four by-elections. There is no guarantee that there won’t be one or two or more this time around.
Key needs the Maori Party as political “insurance”.
The only way that the Maori Party can be placated regarding asset sales is that the issue is removed from the main body of the upcoming Budget, and presented to the House as separate legislation. The Maori Party may then vote with the National-led coalition to ensure Supply, and the business of government carries on.
When the issue of asset sales is presented to the House as separate legislation, the Maori Party will no doubt vote with the Opposition, as Sharples and Turia promised their constituents during the election campaign, and try to vote down the Bill.
No doubt the Bill will proceed through the House, as John Key utilises his two seat majority early on, to guarantee it’s passage.
Once the Bill is enacted and becomes law, the asset sale can proceed unhindered.
At the same time, the National-ACT-Dunne-Maori Party coalition is embedded. There is face-saving all around.
When I looked at the image above, of John Key and Pita Sharples meeting and greeting each other as equals, the scene reminded me of a photo taken in the early 1970s, of then-Prime Minister, Norman Kirk. I found the image using trusty Google.
Let’s compare the two,
My, how we’ve matured as a society since the early 1970s.
The symbolism of those two images shows – to me – how the New Zealand social and political meme has been re-defined in only 40 years.
When Norman Kirk led the young Maori boy across the grounds of Waitangi, the image was one of the Pakeha culture as the dominanant patron of this country, leading the “maori child” walking together, hand in hand. It was the archetypal British Colonial “father-figure”, taking in-hand the “childlike” indigenous people.
In the right hand image, the Maori male is an adult Pita Sharples, meeting John Key on a level playing-field. They are meeting as true Treaty partners.
Despite what one may think of National; their policies; and the Maori Party supporting this government – I find something positive in the right-hand image. I think it bodes well for our future and demonstrates that pakeha fears over the Treaty is without foundation.
We’ve come a long way. The journey is yet to end, if ever.
This is when politicians really break out in sweat,
“The Maori Party leadership has met in Auckland today but is yet to decide on a future relationship with National.
Co-leader Tariana Turia said the party would discuss the issue with supporters after meeting with Prime Minister John Key tomorrow.
A reduced Maori Party caucus gathered in Auckland this morning to discuss possible coalition deals.
The party suffered a serious dent in its support last night. It lost Rahui Katene’s Te Tai Tonga seat and saw reduced margins in its remaining three electorates.
Co-leader Pita Sharples was visibly deflated last night and admitted to being disappointed with his own result and that of the whole party.
He said the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years.”
Co-leader Pita Sharples said “the party’s poor performance showed supporters did not like the party siding with National over the past three years“.
Well now, that’s an understatement if I ever heard one.
It may seem like a Big Ask, but maori appear to want contradictory things for the Maori Party; independent representation with their own political movement – and a voice in government. But not in coalition – Maori Party voters seem overtly hostile to coalescing with National.
Anything else? Would you like fries with that?!
I don’t envy Pita Sharples or Tariana Turia one jot. They have conflicting messages from their constituents, and have already been punished with the loss of one of their number, and reduced votes. This is critical support that no small Party can afford. The next step would be a one-man band Party (a-la Peter Dunne, John Banks, and Jim Anderton) followed by political extinction.
On top of expectations from their constituents is a new thorn in their sides; state asset sales. The proposed sales are deeply unpopular with the majority of the public (or so they tell the pollsters) and no less so with maori.
Sharples has consistently stated that the Maori Party are opposed to asset sales – though with the caveat that if the sales do proceed, they want Iwi Inc. to have first options to buy.
National, of course, would never have a bar of such a proposal.
On top of all this is the convention of providing Confidence and Supply to the government.
Budgets are presented to the House for voting by all MPs. If the Budget passes, then government is assured of Supply – at least until the next Budget. In all likelihood, National will make asset sales a central pillar of their first Budget.
If the Budget is voted down – the government falls. If the Opposition cannot form a new government, then a snap election is called.
Is essence, if Sharples goes ahead with his promise to oppose asset sales, he is effectively voting down the government’s Budget.
With National’s majority only a slim margin, the Maori Party would be playing a risky game of high-stakes, political poker. Excluding Maori Party support, National will have only a one seat majority in the House once the Speaker’s role is taken into account,
With Labour a couple of seats short of being able to form a Labour-Greens-NZF-Mana-Maori Party Coalition – a fresh election is inevitable.
At best, the Maori Party could only abstain from voting for Supply for the government. That would mean National relying on Peter Dunne and John Banks to make up the numbers. Just barely.
Not exactly voting for asset sales – and not exactly opposing it, either. And all the while having to satisfy their constituents – or face an even greater voter back-lash in 2014.
At this stage, joining Winston Peters on the cross-benches; voting on legislation issue-by-issue; and hoping that Tariana Turia’s “pet-project” Whanau Ora is not canned – seems their likely option.
This may work. Until the first by-election happens – and last year there were four such by-elections.
To coalesce or not to coalesce – that is the question. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t, for a small party in Parliament.
I’ve been thinking…
That National is higher in the opinion polls than Labour is undeniable. Even the Horizon Poll – which has supposedly more accurate methodology than the other polling companies – has National at 36.8% and Labour at 25.7%. (Source)
Other polls have National at an unfeasibly high 56% – unheard of in an MMP environment, where up till now the highest Party Vote was National’s 44.9% in 2008.
If National is anywhere near 50%-51% of the Party Vote – enabling it to barely form a government – then it will have made history in MMP elections.
Assuming that National’s vote on 26 November will be somewhere in the high 40s – it will not have sufficient seats in the House to govern alone. It will need a coalition partner.
Which is where things start to get interesting…
It is apparent to all but the but die-hard fan of ACT that Don Brash’s coup d’état in April has not achieved a single desired outcome for that Party. Brash’s toppling of Rogney Hide was done on the premise that Brash would re-focus ACT on economic matters and change it’s “brand” from a “chapter” of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, to it’s more traditional role of a neo-liberal party, espousing free market ‘reforms’; user-pays; asset sales; minimalist government; and the Cult of the Individual.
Brash has achieved none of those policy-goals.
ACT is polling well under the 5% MMP threshold (5%). It’s 1% – 3% poll rating rating is not sufficient to win seats in Parliament. It must therefore rely on winning an Electorate Seat, at which point the 5% threshold is set aside.
John Banks’ candidacy in Epsom has also seemingly failed to ‘fire’. Banks is trailing well behind the National Party’s candidate, Paul Goldsmith. Banks’ position is not helped by John Key stating publicly,
“I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.” – John Key
Which makes a mockery of the unspoken “arrangement” between National and ACT, and seems to be an insult to Epsom voters that whilst they are expected to give their vote to John Banks – the Prime Minister refuses to lead by example. Charming.
If, as seems likely, John Banks does not win in Epsom then, like Winston Peters losing Tauranga, ACT is out of Parliament.
Strike 1 for National.
Since the height of United Future’s popularity in 2002, their electoral support has declined to margin-of-error polling,
United Future, as a political entity, is all but dead except in name. Peter Dunne is essentially now a one-person band – and even in his electorate of Ohariu-Belmont, is experiencing waning support with each election,
Peter Dunne, Electorate Votes 1996 – 2008
1996 – 15,915
1999 – 20,240
2002 – 19,355
2005 – 16,844
2008 – 12,303
In 2008, Dunne’s electorate majority over his nearest opponant, Charles Chauvel (L), was a bare 1,006 votes. At the rate that Dunne has been losing electoral support, and if even half the Green electorate vote shifts to Chauvel, then Peter Dunne will lose his seat in Parliament.
Strike 2 for National.
National’s only remaining life-line; the Maori Party. Polls indicate that Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, will most likely win his seat, Tamaki Makaurau. Whether he is join by other successful candidates from the Maori Party is anyone’s guess, and with their low overall ranking in the polls, the Maori Party is unlikely to approach the 5% threshold, much less cross over it.
In 2008, the Maori Party won five out of the seven Maori Seats. With the advent of the Mana Party, formed by breakaway MP Hone Harawira, and supported by many disaffected Maori Party members/activists, these seats are now contested in a three-way battle; Mana, Maori, and Labour.
As an indicator, Hone Harawira won his seat Te Tai Tokerau in a by-election, earlier this year,
If the Maori Party beat Mana’s challenge and win sufficient seats; and if they enter into coalition with National, then John Key is faced with the real prospect of having no counter-balancing Party on the Right. Unlike the 2008 election result which gave him ACT and Peter Dunne on the right, National will be governing at the “pleasure” of just one coalition partner.
Considering that the Maori Party has stated it’s opposition to asset sales (albeit lukewarm opposition), the partial-privatisation agenda may not go ahead as John Key and Bill English anticipated. (*whew!* The ‘family silver’ is saved till another day!)
John Key recently stated,
“I think it is important to understand if the Greens hold the balance of power it would be a Phil Goff Labour-led government and I think they would be quite upfront about that.“ Source
The same could be said of the Maori Party. National’s re-election prospects now depend solely on the success of their Coalition partner.
National’s strike 3? We will have to wait till 26 November for the final result.
… if Peter Dunne just dropped the charade of being a separate Party and simply joined National?
This is really taking “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” to new heights of absurdity.
OPINION: MMP was supposed to give power to the people, and it has delivered parliaments that are truly representative of New Zealand society.
But even its most ardent fans must despair at the way politicians manipulate the system through backroom deals over electorate seats, such as those between National and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne in Ohariu, and National and ACT in Epsom. Though such agreements may be within the rules of MMP, the cynicism that lies behind them is certainly not within the spirit.
In Ohariu, National is encouraging its supporters to give their electorate votes to Mr Dunne, and it is poised to send a similar message in Epsom, where ACT’s survival depends on John Banks winning.
National is motivated by a desire to ensure partners to balance the influence of the Maori Party, its only other coalition option should it be unable to govern alone. In the case of ACT, it is also eyeing the potential for Mr Banks to bring in up to two more MPs, based on the party’s 2 per cent support in today’s Fairfax Research International poll. National will be reluctant to see that centre-Right support wasted if ACT loses Epsom and falls short of the 5 per cent threshold for list-only seats.
Deal-making over electorates is nothing new under MMP, but it has gone from being an occasional accommodation in one or two seats to a regular feature. Suggestions that ACT stand aside in several marginal seats to maximise National’s electorate vote and stop Labour winning them back take the manoeuvring to a whole new level, and few parties are immune.
Despite Labour leader Phil Goff’s criticism of the National deals in Ohariu and Epsom, his party has been happy to give allies an easy ride when it suits. His insistence that Labour has always gone all-out to wrest Wigram from Progressives leader Jim Anderton is contradicted by the campaigns it has run there. It spent just $5425.19 in the electorate at the last election, hardly a war chest primed for victory.
Nor are the Greens above the deal-making. Ohariu candidate Gareth Hughes offered to campaign for the party vote only and encourage his supporters to give their electorate vote to Labour’s Charles Chauvel to oust Mr Dunne. That offer has allowed Mr Dunne to defend his deal with National on the ground that he is only engaging in the same tactics as his opponents though those with longer memories will recall this is not the first time National has given him an easy ride.
Of course, it is up to voters to decide who they back, but they must consider that they might not get what they bargained for. National supporters who took the hint and voted for Mr Dunne in Ohariu in 2005 may have been unhappy to find him taking a ministerial warrant in a Labour government a few weeks later.
With MMP’s future on the line in a referendum in this year’s election, how the people feel about such machinations will be put to the test. It would be deeply ironic if a system that was supposed to end the cynicism of politicians met its own end because of it.
Attempts to manipulate MMP can only succeed if we, the People, play the politicians’ games.
At least these machinations are out in the open, for all to see, judge, and vote accordingly. Under FPP, everything was hidden behind closed doors and no one had a clue what the main parties were getting up to.
It may be distasteful, but I prefer the open transparency of MMP rather than the closed-shop of FPP (or it’s bastardised cousin, Supplementary Member).
I also totally dismiss the editorial comment; “Nor are the Greens above the deal-making. Ohariu candidate Gareth Hughes offered to campaign for the party vote only and encourage his supporters to give their electorate vote to Labour’s Charles Chauvel to oust Mr Dunne…”
The Greens have always been a Party List vote only. Not since Ms Fitzsimmons lost Coromandel in 2002 have they gone for the Electorate vote, anywhere in NZ. So claims that the Greens are “dealing” is not accurate: they have always gone for the Party Vote only.