Every so often, headlines from the past come back to haunt us because of some striking element of relevance. This story from the Dominion Post last year, is perhaps exceptionally pertinent, as John Key’s popularity is now in free-fall. It appears that those who dis-trusted the ‘Teflon Don‘ had good reason to be suspicious,
An associated poll – whilst not scientifically reliable – supported the claims made by Danya Levy and Paloma Migone that more people trusted Phil Goff to be truthful than John Key,
As National continues to spring surprises on the electorate; as John Key continues to have to defend unpopular policies; and as the economy fails to improve – his teflon coating has peeled away and he is under greater critical scrutiny than ever.
The “smile & wave” approach doesn’t work anymore.
National has had three and a half years in office and almost every social and economic indicator is worse than it was in 2008.
People are holding National to account. And according to polls, they are not liking what they are seeing,
” Prime Minister John Key who has been overseas for a fortnight, has dropped in the preferred Prime Minister stakes by 3.7 to 40.5%. Labour leader David Shearer is up by 1.9 to 12.3%…”
With Key’s evasiveness when it comes to fronting up to the public, people’s distrust in him is growing.
Ironically, Key’s high rating for “best grasp on economic issues” may be his un-doing. Part of his electability was his knowledge (so- called) of international finance and other economic-related matters. But even with his high rating against Goff (62% vs 16%) he has been spectacularly unsuccessful in meaningful achievement, including,
- Job creation to cut unemployment
- Skills training programmes
- Motivating young New Zealanders to stay in the country instead of jumping the ditch
- Growing the economy in any meaningful way
Instead, the public have seen only a pathetic attempt to grow the economy, lacking any real imagination or boldness,
- Partial asset sales
- Beneficiary bashing
- Ongoing cuts to the state sector
… and that’s it.
No wonder that the business sector, last year, voiced their frustrations at any apparent lack of planning by National,
“ Businesses have echoed Labour’s criticism that the Government lacks a blueprint to develop the economy.
Party leaders and their finance spokesmen yesterday fronted up to lobby group Business NZ’s election conference to outline their economic vision.
Business NZ also released the results of its election survey of more than 1300 small to large businesses. While almost all believed it was important for the government to have a co-ordinated plan of action that raised economic performance, little more than a third thought John Key’s Government had one.
Deloitte chief executive Murray Jack said the finding was “disturbing” and the plan Mr Key had earlier in the day confidently spoken to the conference about “was obviously news to most people in this room”. “
New Zealanders had high expectations from a John Key-led government. In large part, those expectations were raised unfeasibly high by Key himself. Whether it was promises to raise wages to parity with Australia or grow the economy – Key raised expectations to the heights of Mt Everest,
“ When Sir Ed climbed Mt Everest back in 1953, he wasn’t the only New Zealander on top of the world. We all were. We were among the five wealthiest countries on earth. Not any more.
Fifty-five years on, we are no longer an Everest nation. We are among the foothill nations at the base of the OECD wealth mountain. Number 22 for income per person, and falling.
But what does a wealth ranking matter, you might ask? Why does it matter if we’re number 22 or number four?
It matters because at number 22 your income is lower, you have to work harder, and you can save less. You face more uncertainty when things go wrong, when you or your family get sick or lose a job. No New Zealand sports team would be happy to be number 22. Why is the Government?
This is a great country. But it could be so much greater. It has been so much greater.
So the question I’m asking Kiwi voters is this: Do you really believe this is as good as it gets for New Zealand? Or are you prepared to back yourselves and this country to be greater still? National certainly is.
Under Helen Clark and Labour, our country has become a story of lost opportunities.
Despite inheriting the tail wind of a strong global economy, Helen Clark has failed to use that momentum to make significant improvement in areas of real importance to New Zealanders. She has squandered your economic inheritance by failing to build stronger foundations for the future.
Tomorrow, Helen Clark will tell us what she thinks about the state of our nation. In all likelihood, she’ll remind us how good she thinks we’ve got it, how grateful she thinks we should be to Labour, and why we need her for another three years.
Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister. Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like:
- Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
- Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
- Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
- Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
- Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
- Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
- Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
- Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
- Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?
Those are the questions on which this election will be fought…
The National Party has an economic plan that will build the foundations for a better future.
- We will focus on lifting medium-term economic performance and managing taxpayers’ money effectively.
- We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.
- We will cut taxes, not just in election year, but in a regular programme of ongoing tax cuts.
- We will invest in the infrastructure this country needs for productivity growth.
- We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.
- We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy.
- We will reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy, and we will say goodbye to the blind ideology that locks the private sector out of too many parts of our economy.
- And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect. “
Very few of those expectations have been met.
In fact, the only ones who appear to have benefitted the most are… the 1%.
Perhaps, at this point, someone close to John Key should remind him of this old maxim, by a great man,
” You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. ” – Abraham Lincoln
= fs =
The election may have ended at 7pm last Saturday – but political “aftershocks” may yet change the Parliamentary landscape,
As the Dominion Post story states, “National could theoretically lose up to two seats on special votes and its majority could be affected“.
After the 2008 general election, Cam Calder (number 58 on the National Party List), became an MP based on election night provisional results.
However, a subsequent seat re-allocation due to counting of special votes reduced National’s entitlement (by one seat) in the final count, preventing Calder from entering Parliament.
Instead, the counting of specal votes gave the Greens an extra seat, and Kennedy Graham became an MP.
Fast-forward to the 2011 general election: If Te Ururoa Flavell’s coup succeeds, and the Maori Party chooses not to give Supply and Confidence to the National-Dunne-ACT coalition – then matters could get very interesting, very quickly.
It would be bleak irony if National lost it’s election night wafer-thin majority; the Maori Party chose not to support a second John Key administration; and a Labour-led coalition became a new reality. In which case, Phil Goff’s resignation was somewhat “premature”.
Irony indeed if, having stepped down, one of the two Davids became the new Prime Minister – on the back of Phil Goff’s hard work and victory.
Politics – reality TV at it’s finest.
As a Labour party member, the sadness I feel today is tinged with a sense of resignation. John Key is the coolest, untouchable kid in the unforgiving social strata of high school. Anyone who remembers such cliques will understand feeling hopeless and powerless to change playground politics, let alone our country’s politics at a time when brand Key is pervasively popular. In the interest of gracious defeat, let me congratulate Key and National on their conquest.
Last night wasn’t entirely gloomy. New Zealand First’s gallop to 6.8% was like the class nerd scoring with the hottest girl in school. That Winston Peters and his crew triumphed in spite of concerted media efforts by Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner, John Campbell, Paul Holmes et al to sideline them makes the victory stunning and sweet.
Another highlight of last night was seeing the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter working at the Green party’s celebration. It is progressive and heartening to see a political party actively promoting the validity and importance of NZSL, an official language of this country.
Phil Goff – I implore you not to resign, yet I sense the inevitability of you doing so.
In a hostile, biased media environment, populated by media personnel who are reduced to slobbering stupidity in Key’s presence, you never stood a chance. You knew this, so you presumably thought, “What the hell” and you campaigned hard. You’re not a firebrand. What you are is steady, methodical and quietly determined. You have integrity.
Even while your treacherous colleagues sharpened their knives, you persisted.
While the media fawned over Key’s confident, solo fronting of National’s campaign, yet double standardly cast you in the desolate role of man alone, you trundled along.
Last night, your concession speech was gracious and moving. The journalists who lambasted you with cruel, needling questions as soon as you were off the stage should be ashamed. They wouldn’t let you have even a few minutes of dignity. Someone’s concession speech, like yours this time, Helen Clark’s in 2008, or Bill English’s back in 2002, is not a moment for gloating. It is a time to put political allegiances aside and to respect a fellow human’s intrinsic humanity and dignity, to recognise how hard it is to admit that efforts, based on someone’s strongest convictions, have simply not been enough.
Shame on our hectoring, salivating, unseemly media. Shame on your grasping, backstabbing colleagues.
If you resign, I fear that the Labour will scrabble around for another three years with a new leader who the media will maltreat in the same way that they have abused you, out of dribbling sycophancy to Key. No one else could withstand this abuse. That you have come this far speaks volumes about your durability and tenacity. If you leave, Labour will try to reconfigure but will end up in a confused, unpopular scramble of egos and treachery.
Please stay. You did experience a victory of sorts last night, despite being defeated – you came into your own and shook off the ghosts of the past.
If you resign, I will resign my membership of Labour. Suddenly, New Zealand First is looking good.
Phil Goff – Man of The Hour
I must admit… When Phil Goff took Labour into the 2011 General Election, I didn’t really give him much credence as a credible alternative to John Key. Due perhaps in part to Key’s popularity with the Masses, and the Key/Media love affair, Phil Goff was simply left in the background, kicking at the sand, waiting for attention.
He seemed… ok. Nothing special in terms of political leadership. Average.
What can I say? I was totally wrong.
Phil Goff led Labour into a battle-royale against one of the most popular governments since David Lange’s administration in the mid/late 1980s. He scored significant debating points against John Key in two out of three Leadership Debates, and toward the end he trounched the National Party leader in the final debate.
John Key wanted to get away from the “Teapot Tapes” saga and focus on issues? Goff agreed, and threw issue after issue at Key. With the odd exception, Key was left smiling vacantly; looking bored; or unable to even make eye-contact with Goff as the Labour leader fired issues at the Smile & Wave Kid.
Goff had risen to the challenge, and in my view he did bloody well.
And at his greatest moment; when he made an almost Kennedy-like speech; Goff gave a concession-announcement that I thought was passionate; stirring; and came straight from the man’s soul. Phil Goff loved New Zealand and you could tell from the raw, naked emotion he revealed. He held nothing back.
This man, I thought, had become a worthy challenger to a National Party Prime Minister who is more about photo-ops than addressing issues; bending the truth when it suits him (or when he’s caught out); and is a fine illustration of how our society values form over substance. Oh yes, we deserve John Key 100%.
In time, we will get over Key’s “smile and wave” persona. Like the children that we are, we will get bored with his vacant optimism and endless promises for a brighter future that is always just around the corner. And we will yearn for something more mature and more meaningful.
I hope Phil Goff is around when that moment comes, because by the gods, we don’t deserve him. Not when Goff gave us a viable alternative to National’s much-disliked policies – and we failed to grasp what was offered.
I hope Phil Goff stays on as Leader of the Labour Party. He shouldn’t have to resign simply because, collectively, we were too thick to connect the populist leader with unpopular policies.
I, for one, will join the Labour Party as a card-carrying member, and will work my butt off to secure a centre-left victory in 2014 – if Phil Goff stays as Leader.
C’mon, Phil. Wadaya say, boss?
Election Eleven – Tuesday
Now this is just downright creepy: right wing blogger, David Farrar, is now investigating private individuals who have appeared as part of TV3′s audience for their Leader’s Debate last night? A screenshot from his Blog,
I have blanked out the names that Farrar has published and I have not linked back to his article. I have no wish to aid his witch hunt against three individuals.
But I think it is the height of hypocrisy that Farrar and his right-wing colleagues criticised Labour non-stop for “Nanny State” policy – and now he is identifying private individuals for their (supposed) political activities.
Is this to be the new standard set by right wing blogs?
It now appears that if a New Zealand citizen is even remotely politically active, that they may be subjected to what is essentially an online, public, “name & shame” campaign. This can only be viewed as a none-too-subtle form of intimidation. Another term is cyber-bullying.
Does this have any place in New Zealand society? Is this the direction of future politics in this country? And what will it do to getting people more involved in politics?
This isn’t “Nanny Statism”. Nope, not at all.
It’s Big Brother – and Big Brother (aka David Farrer, et al) is Watching You!
I’ll say it now: there is no place in politics – or any other part of our society – for behaviour like this,
Whilst I disagree with Ms Barry’s politics – she has a democratic right to go about her business without being abused like this. I sincerely hope that anyone knowing who this man is, take him aside, and tell him that such behaviour is utterly repugnant and unacceptable.
Ms Barry is an intelligent, articulate woman who has achieved much in her life. Disagree with her if you will – but respect her for her accomplisments; her willingness to participate in the democratic process; and for simply being a human being.
Politics is a contest of ideas – not a spitting game that juveniles might indulge in.
Taken by an observant reader, and sent to me ten minutes ago,
Hmmmm, I’m guessing that for the Nats to state that “Your vote is crucial this sat”, that they are starting to panic? Something has definitely spooked the back-room National strategy boys…
… and yet more fear mongering from John Key, about Winston Peters? I now believe that National’s internal polling is showing that they are bleeding voter support and that they are probably somewhere around 46-48% – if not lower.
Otherwise, why would Key be wasting his time with the leader of a near-non-existent party that isn’t even represented in Parliament?!
National is right to be worried.
There are National supporters who view John Key’s scheme to sell state assets with considerable unease – if not downright hostility. Such voters are loathe to vote for a left-wing alternative such as Labour or Greens. But NZ First is a “soft Tory” alternative.
Expect Peters to return.
Expect a new Labour led coalition.
Oh dear. It seems that National is making election promises regarding matters that are already law,
Someone in the National camp really should check their facts. Promising to implement policy that has been a law for well over a decade seems pointless. Mind you, it is rather a cheap way to make election promises.
They won’t cost anything.
They’ve already been implemented,
Fraud Investigation teams nationwide work to preserve the integrity of the income support system by preventing and detecting benefit fraud.
Fraud Investigation teams work closely with the National Data Match Centre. The Centre shares data with other government agencies including:
- Inland Revenue
- Housing New Zealand
- Accident Compensation Corporation
- Internal Affairs. “
And being already implemented – National can take credit for it!
What a cunning plan!
Whoopsie! Isn’t it a bugger when a photo-op comes back to bite you?
“Lots of young people decide to go for an OE – I don’t know how long she’ll last. I’m not in a position to go into too much; hope she comes back.” Source
Ummm, John… She’s sixteen. She’s hardly likely to be going on her OE, and probably leaving with her family. Probably long-term migration.
She and her family are joining 84,400 who have also left New Zealand in the last year.
Election Eleven – Monday
The last four days, and the election campaign is into the ‘last stretch’. Expect things to get interesting… dramatic… and desperate…
John Key and the growing “Cult of Personality”? So we really should start addressing him as “Dear Leader”?
Hmmmm, I didn’t realise that John Key won the Rugby World Cup? I’ve been mis-led – someone said it was the All Blacks!
Radio NZ invited both Phil Goff and John Key to debate on Morning Report. As per his M.O., Key refused. So much for his criticism of the media last week for focusing on the “Teapot Tapes” saga, rather than addressing the “ishoos”.
Phil Goff fronted on RNZ to be interviewed,
So while Phil Goff was addressing issues on Radio NZ – where was John Key? Missing in Action? Kidnapped by Grey aliens? Nope, here he is,
Is this what Key calls “discussing issues”?
Some people just don’t seem to “get it”…
I’m not sure if “Daniela” is a low-information voter who has totally mis-understand the aim of Labour’s letter – or is a National/ACT supporter deliberately ‘stirring the pot’.
By what stretch of imagination does “Daniela” think that the letter is “threatening”? Does she really think that Labour activists, aliens, or Moonies are going to break into her home; kidnap her; and transport her to a secret underground volcano lair???
But this bit really “takes the cake” and suggests to me that “Daniela” is happily fomenting mischief with this,
“Daniela also forwarded the flyer to the blogger Whale Oil, saying she was upset because she felt like the letter made it sound criminal to head back to work after having a baby.” Source
So let me get this straight; “Daniela” thinks that Labour is trying to “criminalise” her for heading back to work after having a baby?!
Does “Daniela” not realise that National actually does have a policy which attempts to force mothers of 1 year old children back to work? As the article states,
“National’s welfare policy would see sole parents asked to seek full-time work when their child turned 14, part-time when they turn five, and the work-testing of all sickness and invalid beneficiaries. If women have a subsequent child while already claiming a benefit they will have to look for work when that child is one year old. “
“Daniela” seems hopelessly confused by all this. She doesn’t seem to undersytand that Labour’s mail-out is actually making a factual statement. This excerpt is from TVNZ’s Q+A,
“GUYON Because this will, in some cases, mean that mum has to work full-time when the first child hits one, won’t they? Because it’s about returning to work obligations. So if you’ve got a 14-year-old, say, and you have another child when you’re on the DPB, you’ll have to work full-time when that child is one year old.
PAULA So your other children are 14. So you’ve got other children that are 14 years and older, you’re on welfare, and then you have another baby, so there’s not many. So last year, there were about 70 of them, and yes, they will have to look for full-time work.
GUYON So who’s gonna care for the kid?
PAULA Well, it’s within respect, as well, that it does need to fit in, so we’re not gonna make them work all night, for example, and then look after children all day. The job kind of needs to fit with them. But there is going to be childcare options. And, actually, people do it now.
GUYON Let me take you back to when you first came into parliament. You made a speech in 2005. I’ll quote from it. You say, ‘As we are pushed to increase women’s participation in the workforce, we need to ask the question of who will be raising the next generation, and a lot of women are saying that they would like to – that staying at home and raising their children is an option they would like not only to have, but one they would like to be actively encouraged to do.’
PAULA Yeah.” Source
So it is National’s policy to make mothers of 1 year olds to seek work outside the home.
And it would be likely that, given such a new “Nanny Statish” law forcing new mothers to practically abandon their baby, they may well end up missing their child’s first birthday.
I hope someone brings all this to “Daniela’s” attention. Because so far, she either doesn’t get it – or she’s playing to someone elses agenda.
Which is it, “Daniela”?
The latest Horizon Poll has been released today (20 November) with some expected – and unexpected – results. Questions canvassed included the following,
- How parties leaders make people feel
- The latest poll, covering qualified voters who are “definitely” going to cast a party vote
- Whether or not National leader John Key and Act candidate John Banks should authorise the public release of a conversation between them recorded by a member of the media.
How parties leaders make people feel
Firstly, how did the two main leaders make people feel?
The poll indicates that the preceding week has made people feel angry, nervous and afraid about John Key.
Conversely though, Key makes people feel comfortable, excited, proud.
The results seem contradictory in one sense – but perfectly understandable in another. Key’s “honeymoon” with the media has ended – and that with the public is waning. He is now more of a political figure, rather than apolitical as some perceived him, and therefore is beginning to polarise voters.
It is when negative feelings toward a leader becomes more entrenched that support for a government will drop away – as happened with the Clark-led Labour government in 2008.
These changes are already becoming apparent,
It’s interesting to note that Goff elicits a growing hope (+8.6%) and pride (+7.4%) whereas people appear less hopeful with Key (-6.7%) and less proud (-4.5%). This would appear to tie in with recent polls, which also indicate a decline in consumer confidence.
Also of interest is that Key is making people feel more angry (+9.7%), afraid (+8.8%), and nervous (+5.6%) than respondants feel for Goff (+3.8%, +5.2%, +3.1%). Issues such as asset sales, cost-of-living increases, high unemployment, and a stubbornly stagnant economy probably play a significant part in such results.
Also, with Key’s brittleness over the “Teapot Tapes”, the public have have their first glance under the “ordinary bloke” facade that Key and his advisors have so carefully cultivated. The man is nowhere as laid back as he makes out. He can get rattled and when things aren’t going his way, he has no hesitation in removing himself from the scene – as evidenced by his recent media conference walkout.
Again, this is reflected by the fact that +1.6 appear more comfortable with Goff – and significantly, people’s comfort level with Key has decreased by -0.5%. Is Key’s “ordinary bloke” facade developing cracks?
The following poll, though shows a clear difference in how Key and Goff are perecived by the public,
Key is see as more inspiring, knowledgeable, and stronger.
But Goff’s qualities are that he is seen as more moral, trustworthy, and honest. The latter was backed up by a stuff.co.nz poll that also reflected popular opinion that Goff was more honest/trustworthy than Key,
Key’s past career in speculative trading in the commercial sector may be a factor in this. With the collapse of dozens of finance companies in New Zealand, owing billions to “mum & dad” investors, and with the global banking crisis sparked by dubious activities on Wall Street, those who are engaged in speculative commerce, finance, stocks, etc, are now viewed with suspicion and often downright hostility.
An underlying subtext to how people view ‘Brand Key’ is that while people certainly consider him to be more knowledgeable than Goff (and the Christchurch “Press” debate may reinforce that impression) – that Key is less trustworthy for reasons outlined above.
Conversely, Goff is seen as more trustworthy, honest, and moral – perhaps because unlike Key, Phil Goff has not be ‘tainted’ by the smell of Wall St excesses. Goff may be seen as wanting to do the “right thing”, whereas Key is seen as a product of hard-nosed business.
Goff has also been candid in admitting that Labour made serious mistakes over selling state assets in the late 1980s. He has apologised for those grievous errors of judgement – no mean feat for a politician. This underscores his trustworthiness compared to John Key’s, right or wrong, in the eyes of the public.
The Horizon Polling for political parties has yielded the following,
Noteworthy is the growth of support for NZ First and the fledgling Conservative Party. If accurate, the Conservative Party are within a hair of crossing the 5% thresh-hold.
The Horizon analysis sez this about seat numbers and coalition permutations, based on the above results,
“The results indicate a National-Conservative-Act-Maori Party- United Future grouping would have 59 seats in a 122 seat Parliament. This assumes Act and United Future win Epsom and Ohariu, the Maori party has 4 electorate seats and Mana one.
A Labour-Green group would have 47, and 50 if joined by Mana.
New Zealand First would have 13 seats and the balance of power in the new Parliament.
A National-led coalition would muster 73 votes with New Zealand First support.
A Labour-led coalition would muster 63 votes if supported by New Zealand First and Mana.”
The Horizon Poll also took into account public feelings about the “Teapot Tapes” Affair,
“The country is highly polarised over the unauthorised recording of a meeting between the Prime Minister, John Key, and the Act party’s Epsom candidate, John Banks.
53% say that neither Mr Key nor Mr Banks, as parties to the conversation, should authorise the public release of the recording.
46.9% think they should authorise its release, according to a major nationwide HorizonPoll, covering 2,874 adult New Zealanders, conducted between 9 am Wednesday and 5.39am Friday (November 16-18). Weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, personal income, education qualification and party vote 2008, the poll has a maximum margin of error of +/- 1.8%.
54.9% also believe the November 11 recording of the eight minute-long conversation, on a microphone left on a table at a Newmarket café by a member of the media, was deliberate. 15.9% say it was inadvertent while 29.2% are not sure.
Asked if the Herald on Sunday, which had the recording last weekend but decided not to publish, or other news media should publish it now, 49.4% say no, 39.5% yes while 11% are not sure.
The issue was damaging the Prime Minister’s credibility this week.
41.9% think the issue has made him less credible, 6.2% more credible while 47.4% say it makes no difference to his credibility. 39% think it has made Mr Banks less credible, 3.2% more credible.
Among those who voted for National in 2008, 17.7% think the issue has made Mr Key less credible, 12.3% more credible – a net credibility loss of 5.4% among his supporters at the last election.
The issue is also impacting New Zealanders’ views on the credibility of the Herald on Sunday (43.1% think it is less credible, 11.8% more credible); all news media (38.6% less credible, 9.8% more credible) and the police who are investigating a complaint of authorised interception of the private conversation (12.6% less credible, 8.5% more credible).”
The Horizon Poll there backs up other public feedback where a majority believed John Key’s assertion that the conversation between himself and Banks was a private matter and that there was no requirement for eithrer of the men to release the tapes publicly. Despite this feeling, 41.9% of respondants believed that the affair left Key looking less credible.
An interesting mix of views, though it coyuld be argued that Key did indeed manage to correctly gauge public opinion on this issue.
However, as point out in my piece Tea, tapes, & tantrums – the overal effect is that Key’s teflon veneer has been significantly scratched by this incident.
It will be interesting to note if Horizon Polling has been an accurate assessment of public opinion. As people correctly state, the only Poll that counts is the one on Election Day. Horizon will be measured against that final outcome.
Throughout this election, John Key has been criticising Labour’s policy to increase the minimum wage from $13 to $15 an hour, citing a Department of Labour (DoL) report that such a move would cost the country 6,000 jobs. Key even referred to this in his Leader’s Debates with Phil Goff.
Except… that Treasury has dismissed the DoL’s “claim” by stating that raising the minimum wage “has not been true in the past“.
John Key has been well aware of Treasury’s debunking of DoL’s “claims”, according to a Official Information Act request made by TV3,
Unless Treasury has become a satrap of Socialist International, it seems pretty hard to dismiss their conclusions. The DoL’s case is not helped by their own contradictions,
“…research from the United Kingdom suggests minimum wages may have no effect on employment, or that minimum wage effects may still exist, but they may be too difficult to detect and/or very small.” Ibid
I believe that the so-called DoL “report” can be safely dismissed as not very intellectually rigorous. And not even half clever.
The government claims that recent taxcuts, last year and in 2009, were “fiscally neutral”. But even this is not true.
National’s first round of tax-cuts, which took effect in April 2009, benefitted high income earners the most. Low income earners recieved very little,
“The cuts are proportional to wages. Those earning $100,000 or more a year will get at least an extra $24 dollars a week. Anyone on the average income of $48,000 a year will get an extra $18 a week, and low income earners will get a $10 a week tax credit.
On a monthly basis, both tax cuts together will see those earning $100,000 pocketing an extra $225, and low income earners an extra $95 a month.” Source
The October 2010 round of tax cuts were just as bad for low income earners, and generous for high earners,
Those on minimum wage recieved an extra $6.36. Meanwhile someone earning $120,000 benefitted from between $46.08 to $89.04.
With growing inflation reaching a 21 year high, to 5.3%; increasing ACC charges and rates; any gains made by low income earners and those on social welfare and superannuation were quickly eroded.
Little wonder that the end result was a transfer (“trickle up”) of wealth from the poor and middle classes, to the wealthy.
“The report’s 2004 data – the latest available – reveals the richest 10 per cent collectively possess $128 billion in wealth, with median individual wealth of $255,000. In contrast, the poorest 10 per cent collectively possess $17.2b, with median individual wealth of $3200. While the richest 1 per cent held 16.4 per cent of the country’s net wealth, the poorest 50 per cent owned just 5.2 per cent. ” Source
Which, unsurpringly, means we are seeing more headlines like these in our media,
The Dominion Post article goes on to state,
“Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows New Zealand’s income inequality climbed dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s after sweeping economic reforms and deregulation of labour markets.
Disparities have plateaued since 2000, largely thanks to Working for Families tax credits, bigger pay packets for middle and low-income earners and declining investment returns for the rich.
But the gap between rich and poor still ranked ninth worst in the developed world in 2008.” Ibid
How well have the top richest done in New Zealand?
About this well,
The top 150 Rich Listers’ wealth grew by 20%.
That’s quite an achievement during one of the worst recessions in recent history. But even that increase in wealth isn’t sufficient for the Rich Listers. They wanted more,
“Jeweller Sir Michael Hill, worth $245 million, told NBR: “Could not the Government give us a little freedom to be able to make common sense decisions for ourselves?”
John McVicar, managing director of a forestry group that puts his family’s worth at $70 million, said economic policy should be based on reducing costs for business and increasing productivity and revenue.
Construction company head Sir Patrick Higgins, worth $100 million, said: “The country needs to address excessive regulation if it is to improve wealth creation.”” Ibid
Although at least one United States think-tank and the “Wall Street Journal” “rank New Zealand as already having the highest level of freedoms for business in the world. The Heritage Foundation’s “index of economic freedom” puts New Zealand fourth overall, with a score of 99.9 for business freedom.“
Clearly, tax cuts and increases in profits have shifted wealth upwards – not shared it around. Certainly the “trickle down” theory now applies only to meteorological services predicting upcoming rain falls.
This “gushing up” of wealth has been written about in the US “New York Times”. A very simple illustration showed where wealth has been accumulating – and who has been missing out,
Interestingly, the great divergence of wealth, productivity, and incomes started around the late 1970s, early 1980s. It was also about the time that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected into office, and began neo-liberal, “free market” policies commonly referred to as “Reaganomics” and “Thatcherism“.
The New Right were ascendent, and implemented their policies with ruthless efficiciency. Those policies benefitted the rich – to the detriment of the unemployed, low-paid, and middle classes (who were too busy fighting each other to notice what was happening to them them).
New Zealand’s turn for a dose of New Right came only a few years later, when Rogernomics took effect in 1984.
As wealth is accumulated upward (as the NBR so vividly illustrated), the real reason for denying low-paid workers an increase in the minimum wage becomes more apparent; the rich would be forced to share some of that wealth. Their profits would be a little less.
Of course, this doesn’t stop some from gaining some very substantial wage increases,
How They’re Paid
PRIME MINISTER New salary (backdated to July 1): $411,510. Was: $400,500.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER New salary: $291,800. Was: $282,500.
CABINET MINISTER New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
MINISTER OUTSIDE CABINET New salary: $217,200. Was: $209,100.
SPEAKER AND OPPOSITION LEADER New salary: $257,800. Was: $249,100.
BACKBENCHERS New salary: $141,800. Was: $134,800.
So remind me again, why we can’t increase the minimum wage? I’ve heard all the nonsensical, reactionary reasons – but they seem more predicated on a pathological disdain for the poor, from uninformed middle class aspirationists, rather than any clear logic.
If New Zealanders want to continue down the road of increasing wealth for the rich; growing disparity in incomes; worsening poverty – this is the correct way to go about it. Our current policies and inequalities will achieve a society where the 1% Haves control most of the wealth; the vast majority remain in poverty or near-poverty; and the middle classes stagnate, blaming those on social welfare (the worst victims of these wretched policies) for their lack of upward mobility.
But the middle classes are looking the wrong way.
This may all sound like extremist left-wing politics. Maybe it is. But I don’t think so. The information I’ve gathered is freely available and easy to gather. The realities are all around us and the media – despite it’s glaring faults and preoccupations with trivia and crime stories – does present us with a view of what’s happening around us.
Many of us just choose not to look.
It’s easier to blame the poor; the unemployed; those of welfare. And yet, if the current economic situation was not as distorted as it currently is – we wouldn’t have so many poor, unemployed, or on welfare.
An increase of $2 an hour would be a step in the right direction. Just ask the Prime Minister – taxpayers are paying him an extra $11,000 a year.
I wonder if paying all our MPs those wage increases will result in any job losses?
To re-cup – er, I mean, to re-cap…
Last Friday, (11 November) John Key met ACT’s Epsom candidate, John Banks for their symbolic “cuppa tea” meeting. It was supposed to send a message to Epsom voters, and to the rest of the country.
A ‘message’ was sent – but not the one intended.
It’s been one week since the saga of the “Teapot Tapes” began. During that time, the issue has been a tsunami over the election campaign and has had unintended consequences.
The saga has not helped Labour – polls seem to be clear on this point. In fact, the ruckus appears to have hindered Labour’s strategy to imprint itself on the voter’s psyche as a credible alternative to a government led by a popular politician.
Only Winston Peters – who has a knack for “playing” the media like a violinist with a carefully tuned stradivarius – appears to have benefitted. For him, the “Teapot Tapes” has been a blast of ‘oxygen’ to his struggling campaign. Peters succeeded in ‘mining’ the issue as he tapped into an underlying anger and distrust toward John Key, ACT, and their public machinations in Cafe Urban, last week.
There was no way that a politician like Phil Goff could exploit this latent collective anger. This is territory that could only be covered by a populist politician adept at taking this collective anger and focusing it like a surgeon’s laser. This was firmly Winston Peters Country.
And sure enough, the latest Herald-Digipoll had NZ First at 4.9% – a fraction below the magical 5% MMP thresh-hold.
Thank you, John Key.
As the saga unfolded, people were taking note of John Key’s actions, reactions, and behaviour.
On Monday, the first ‘crack’ in John Key’s veneer of “laid back blokeyness” appeared when he laid a complaint with the police. For a man who was insistant that he was “comfortable” with what was on the tapes – calling in the police and mounting an investigation against four media outlets was hardly consistent with some who was “comfortable” and relaxed.
His walk-out from his own press conference on Wednesday was the second sign that the pressure was getting to him. For John Key – used to high popularity ratings and a compliant media – this was uncharted territory for him. His walk-out on 16 November was a classic “flight or fight” response to someone stressed and unable to cope.
To memory, no other Prime Minister has ever walked out so abruptly in such circumstances.
The “Teapot Tapes” situation has now moved on from whatever machinations were being plotted by the Two Johns. What we are now witnessing is how a man - fighting for a second term as Prime Minister and hopeful leader of our country – is coping with a situation that he can no longer control.
It doesn’t look good for Key.
Even if the polls are correct and National is still rating highly with voters, the image of a distinctly un-comfortable Prime Minister; rattled by run-away events; and immune to his charm, has been witnessed by the public. The mask has fallen away – albeit briefly – and we’ve seen a three-dimensional man with a short fuse and limited patience. Certainly not the two dimensional caricature, of an ever-smiling figure, seemingly in a perpetual state of grace that we’ve all been familiar with.
We have seen some of the real man behind the facade.
Just as critically, as I wrote in It’s official: the media honeymoon is over Key’s cosy relationship with this country’s media has come to an abrupt halt. The media have now identified John Key as Just Another Politician, and this will prove fatal to the “ordinary bloke” image Key has cultivated these last three years. From this week onward, he will be treated like every other politician.
It’s like we’ve just discovered that our father, who once upon a time could do no wrong and was infallible, is actually just like other people. It’s a bit of a let-down really.
If National is re-elected to government – by no means a certainty any more – then I wonder if John Key’s media advisors have prepared him that the next three years may be rougher than anything he’s experienced thus far. Ironically, even if the economy improves, his relationship with the press will worsen. The media will no longer be quite so accepting of his care-free, easy-going manner and style of management.
Like Stephen Sackur’s interview with John Key on BBC’s Hard Talk last May, they will be asking harder questions, and less inclined with his classic “ackshully” fob-offs. If Key thought that the preceeding week was a bitch – he ain’t seen nothing yet.
This time he will be held to account.
+++ Updated+++ Footnote
ACT’s need for the photo-op between the Two Johns is hypocrisy in the extreme.
Not too long ago, ACT’s Rodney Hide rejected any idea of Maori Seats on the new Supercity Auckland Council. According to ACT, Maori were expected to wins seats on the Council on merit alone.
“Maori Must Earn Auckland Seats On Merit – By Guest Author Denise Cameron
…There are lots of different ethnic groups with representatives in Parliament, on City Councils and as Mayors – who all got there on merit, not as a gift. Let our people do it the same way. Some individual at the Hikoi said that [having Maori representatives on the new Auckland Council] was our right under the Treaty.Let our bright boys and girls EARN their seats, I say…” – Source
Really? Like ACT is trying to win the seat of Epsom on “merit” alone? With a “political subsidy” from National?
Oh dear. Never mind. ACT will be goneburger the day after 26 November…
… which in itself raises new problems for the Left. Activists from a dead political party have a habit of colonising other parties and becoming factions within.
Labour has stated that,
“A Labour government would ensure sales were declined unless potential foreign buyers of farm or forestry land also invested in new processing or other related jobs. ” Source
Sorry, Mr Goff, but that is totally unacceptable and is merely ‘tinkering’ with the problem.
The sale (or leasing) of our productive farmland means that we lose profits to overseas investors. It means that a foreign owned farm will (a) export their produce (b) make a profit (c) remit much of that profit back to overseas investors, who look for returns on their investment.
It means that New Zealand farmland is priced out of reach of our own people, who cannot hope to compete with Americans, Germans, Chinese, etc. The purchase of the Crafar farms by Shanghai Pengxin’s over a Michael Fay-led local consortium should ring alarm bells in our heads. (More here)
Labour needs to lift it’s game on this issue.
There has to be a total ban on the sale/lease of farmland to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen. Anything less will ultimately undermine our long term prospects for wealth-generation and prosperity.
We would end up tenants in our own country.
Oh, about this much…
At a time when our country faces enormous problems and challenges; with an election less than three months away; with youth unemployment and other economic problems confronting our society – this is what the media feeds us?!
However, hardly surprising really, and Chris Trotter makes this observation as to why our modern media treats us like juveniles…
I would also venture a suggestion that the same also applies to our apathy at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Rugby seems no longer about playing the game nor about the spectators. It’s now about multi-million dollar sponsorships and the heavy-handed controls that accompany it. (See my piece, “What Killed Rugby?“)
The Big Boys have taken over, and they’ve got the ball now. We can either like it or lump it.
Politics and rugby – both victims of elitism.
With Labour’s release today, of their youth skills/employment policy, voters are now presented with the clearest choice yet between the two main parties. Aside from the issue of asset sales, where National has announced a programme of part-privatisation, and Labour opposes any/all privatisation, employment policy is the real litmus of both party’s essential core philosopies.
National prefers to step back and allow the “free market” to work it’s magic.
Labour has no hesitation in using the power of the State to address social-economic problems.
The National Business Review – hardly an organ for marxist-leninist groups – was moved to report on an opinion piece penned by Duncan Garner;
“In a lengthy blog post, Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park, Duncan Garner declares that ‘this government’s biggest failure to date is our young people’. With 58,000 youth not in work or education, ‘We are at crisis point. 27.6% of those aged 15-24 are out of work and out of luck. It’s even higher for Maori and Pacific youth’. And how has the Government performed on this issue? Garner says ‘there is a yawning gap between Key’s rhetoric and the reality’, and asks, ‘So what did Key do in the weekend to target the problem? Very little’. He suggests that ‘Key needs to be bold, he needs to take risks’.”
In stating that Key had done “very little” to target the problem, Garner was referring to the Prime Minister’s policy speech at National’s Conference on 13 August. Indeed, thus far National’s track record at addressing unemployment has consisted of the following;
- Building a cycleway. Anticipated new jobs: 4,000. Actual new jobs created: 215. (Source)
- Hiring an advisor for Finance Minister, Bill English, at $2,000 a day. (Source)
- A new payment card for 16,17, and some 18 year old beneficiaries that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes; (though it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase these products)
- … and… that’s it.
It is worth noting the seriousness of youth unemployment in this country. According to the Department of Labour;
“Youth aged 15–19 years have an unemployment rate over three times that of the entire working-age population. Young workers are more vulnerable to downturns in labour market conditions due to their lower skill levels and lesser work experience. The latest official figures show that 17.2% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 8.4% of those aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed, which represents a deterioration of the trends found in the report. Maori and Pacific youth had significantly higher unemployment rates.”
Ducan Garner seems in no mood to respond to John Key’s “smiles and waves” politics when he opens his piece with this caustic observation;
“58,000. This is the crucial number that should be ringing in John Key’s ears every night he bunks down in the refurbished Premier House.
58,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 are not in education, training or work. The majority of them are on a benefit.”
“Sure the recession has been tough on young people worldwide. 81 million youths are now unemployed around the globe, it was 71 million before the recession. It is a ticking time bomb. In London, it’s already exploded.”
- Problem: growing, lingering unemployment.
- Potential disaster: social unrest, exploding into mass-violence.
- Solution – ?
[click to expand]
At a time when New Zealand has 170,000 unemployed – of which 58,000 are aged 15-24; when we will be needing thousands of skilled tradespeople to re-build a broken city that has endured massive earthquake devastastion; the current government has done next-to-nothing during its three year tenure.
Except create 215 new jobs in building a cycleway; hire some very expensive advisors; and give tax cuts to some very rich people.
In doing so, we do not have the skilled tradespeople required to re-build Christchurch. Because we are currently losing around 20 skilled tradespeople a day to overseas destinations such as Australia. At the same time, people are losing their jobs in Christchurch and unemployment is rising.
To show how badly this government has failed, nothing better illustrates that failure than this;
Only the most die-hard National/ACT supporter will believe this this situation is acceptable. (And they usually come up with all manner of excuses why it is acceptable.) But I suspect – or at least hope – that ordinary New Zealanders who look at this situation and will ask the inevitable hard questions;
- Why are we not offering training for unemployed?
- Why are we not planning to put our people to work?
- Why are we hiring workers from overseas?
- How will this help unemployed New Zealanders to get back into the workforce?
On the 13 of August, at the National Party Conference, Prime Minister John Key stated,that “the current system “is not working and needs to change“.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about job creation or training for unemployed. He was talking about not letting 16 and 17 year olds buy booze and ciggies.
Goff says it is ”crazy”to have high youth unemployment alongside a growing skills shortage crisis“.
Which one resonates with you?
A bouquet to Hutt Gas and Plumbing Systems Ltd , a Lower Hutt company that is one of the many thousands of small businesses in our communities, quietly ‘beavering’ away in the background, that make our economy work.
Hutt Gas & Plumbing featured on TV1′s evening news where Phil Goff released Labour’s youth skills and employment package.
Hutt Gas & Plumbing train several apprentices, giving young people an opportunity to learn a trade; earn a wage; and contribute to their local community. These folk are the real pillars of our society. Not the big, flash corporations and financial institutions that shuffle bits of paper around, and make their profits on speculation.
These are the small companies that deserve our support and encouragement. They are the ones that some of our children will rely on for jobs’ training to get into a trade.
Kudos to Labour for planning to increase apprenticeships. This is the hard policy planning that will create jobs and give our kids opportunities.
And a bloody big brickbat for Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce, for saying that Labour’s proposal was just National policy dressed up,
“They’re basically doing what the government is already doing, they just want to throw more money at it.”
It’s rather revealing that National thinks that creating jobs for our young people is “throwing money”.
Because buying 34 new BMW limousines, for National ministers, is not “throwing money”?
Previous Blog post
… 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.
Warren Buffet is regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. He is ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008. He is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011.
He is not a disaffected socialist, nor “random leftie” – he has serious money in his bank account(s). So when this guy warns us that the wealthy are not paying their way, and have been “coddled by billionaire-friendly governments” – you know he’s saying something important.
And that we should take note…
Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.
The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.
Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
(Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.)
Buffet’s analysis holds true for New Zealand as much as it does for his own country, the USA.
In April 2009 and October 2010, this government awarded the highest income earners and the wealthiest the most in tax-cuts.
At the same time, the top ten wealthiest people in NZ (and probably others throughout the world also increased their wealth by 20 percent) – whilst the rest of the global economy was wracked by the worst recession since the 1930s, and millions lost their jobs.
The old excuse that the “wealthy work hard and should be rewarded for their labours” no longer deserves to be taken seriously. Most of us work hard, and long hours.
It is time that governments stopped coddling the rich. It’s not like they can take their wealth off-planet to Mars or elsewhere. The rich will still invest their vast wealth.
But it’s time they paid their fair share as the price of living in societies that gave them the opportunities to create their wealth.
It’s high time National looked at a fairer taxation system, and paid for the social services and job creation-friendly policies, rather than the top 10% of the population and middle-class rich-wannabees.
Otherwise, prepare yourselves for a society of growing inequality.
So far, the indicators are not good…
Well, I think the ‘message’ is reasonably clear for all but the most ideologically-blind. Question is – what are we going to do about it?
(Hint: more of the same will probably not work.)
This is must-read stuff…
It is worth noting that, here in New Zealand, recent tax cuts gave $2.5 billion a year to the top 10 per cent of earners and “practically nothing to the bottom 20 per cent of earners, who got 3 per cent of those cuts”.
It is also worth noting that, as a country, we are having to borrow $380 million per week to – in part – fund those tax cuts. That’s $17.6 billion this year alone.
Far from being a “prudent fiscal manager”, National is being highly irresponsible as it continues to woo the Middle Class for their votes.
Only thing is: eventually it all has to be paid back. Even selling all out SOEs won’t cover that debt mountain, as we simply don’t have enough state assets left after the 1980s and 1990s.
A neo-liberal is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In this case, this National government are slowly strangling good, quality broadcasters like RNZ and TVNZ7 – whilst feeding us a daily diet of brain-cell deadening, pseudo-news on TV1 and TV3 and apalling programming that consists mostly of American sitcoms, cooking programmes, and bleak crime shows.
If only New Zealanders were as passionate about the lack of governmental support for quality broadcasting as we were about stranded penguins; “Wellywood” signs; and books by Ian Wishart.
Oh, but that would mean thinking about complex issues, wouldn’t it? Jerking the knee with superficial, emotion-tugging, issues is much easier: no effort required.
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
Kedgley said she first thought the charity registration was a joke.
“I am appalled to discover that it is serious proposition and that the Board of Radio New Zealand has been forced by the Government’s funding freeze on Radio New Zealand to set up a trust so that it can go out with a begging bowl to the public,” she said.
“The move suggests there is quiet desperation at Radio New Zealand. The broadcaster simply cannot make ends meet under the Government’s funding freeze.”
Curran said the move raised some “serious questions”.
“Not the least of which is why the whole of RNZ has been registered as a charity, and what the long-term intention is,” she said.
“Radio NZ’s survival should not be dependent on it having to solicit donations. It is our state radio broadcaster and holds a special place in New Zealand.”
Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman couldn’t be reached for comment and neither could RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.
Griffin told Fairfax earlier this year that RNZ could only survive a funding freeze for another two years.
He said the current freeze put the public broadcaster in a “more than difficult” financial position.
“If we’re left in a position where every year costs increase and funding remains static, we’re going to wither.”
It was believed that the charity was mainly to fund its concert station.
It is an unbelievable, bizarre state-of -affairs when a public service such as Radio New Zealand , has to register itself as a charity. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells with us, then we are truly asleep.
It should also give us cause for concern that National will be closing down TVNZ7. This free-to-air; advertising free; public network is a wealth of news, documentaries, and offers an un-commercialised look at ourselves and the world around us.
TVNZ7 treats the viewer with intelligence and respect. It is television as it should be – and not the mindless rubbish that we are now served up every day on other channels. (Parliament TV excepted – that contains very mature, erudite debate from our Honourable Members of Parliament.)
It is a great shame that two quality public services – TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand – can be put in jeopardy through the lack of political support from the government-of-the-day, and because of public apathy. If New Zealanders were as passionate about their own public broadcasting system, as they were about wayward penguins, oh what a much more mature society we would be.
But we are like children, it seems, and easily enthralled by the latest distracting trinket.
New Zealand has often been described as a “young country”.
That is truer than we realised.