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Of bogey men & fear mongering…

20 November 2011 Leave a comment

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I guess it had to happen sooner, rather than later. With the fallout-cloud rapidly dissapating from the Teapot Bomb, Winston Peters has emerged like some political-version of a post-apocalyptic mutant-zombie, resurrected from the graveyard of  dead Parties.

It was perhaps the last thing that the Two Johns were counting on when they met at the Urban Cafe in Epsom, and Banksie started their convo,

“G’day, John!”

“That’s Prime Minister to you, John.”

“Oh! Good-oh, Jo- Prime Minister!”

“Better.”

*click, whrrrr, click*

“D’you here something, John?” asked Banksie.

*Prime ministerial sigh*

“Ackshully, no.”

“Ok. One lump or two, John?”

“One, please, John, and a new ACT leader to go with that, please,” replied the PM.

“Sure, John!”

“Thanks, John.”

“Anything for you, John!”

*click, whrrrr, click*

“Damn, John, there’s that sound, again,” said Banksie.

“Don’t be so paranoid, John. That new Police Surveillance Act hasn’t kicked in yet.”

And so it went.

Paranoia. How easy it is to stir that stinking pot of fear and prejudice, with just a hint of demonisation to add zest to the brew,

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Full Story

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Only a couple of days ago, there was discussion about when National would mount a full-blown attack on Winston Peters, to try to stall his ascendency, and to demolish his chances at re-entering Parliament. National’s great fear is that dis-affected National-leaning voters might see Peters as a credible alternative on Election Day.

National is already polling below 50% in several polls, and there is every likelihood that by Saturday, they will have lost an additional two or three percentage points.

That is all it takes to damage National’s chances of re-election to government – especially if ACT and United Future lose Epsom and Ohariu. And especially if the Maori Party are ‘spooked’ from supporting National again after Paula Bennet hinted last week that a new National-led government might can Whanau Ora – the Maori Party’s version of NZ First’s superannuitant’s “Gold Card”.

… 2 or 3%.

Which means that National’s focus has now been split and are attacking on two fronts; Labour and NZ First. For the Nats, their most crucial target now is Winston Peters.

John Key states,

“”What Winston Peters is saying to New Zealanders is that on every budget, on every issue, there could be a general election.

“How can New Zealand govern itself over the next three years – which is likely to be a volatile period in the world economy – when at any stage the whole government can be brought down by Winston Peters” ” Source

Which is a bizarre, given that every single government elected under MMP has run it’s full three year term. No exceptions.

The same cannot be said of FPP governments, and as recently as 1984, the then-Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, called a snap election before National’s term of office was due to end.

In short, John Key is fear-mongering. He is playing the “Winston Card” – which is kind of ironic, as Peters himself has pandered to similar fears and prejudices in his Treaty-bashing, and Asian immigrant-bashing, speeches and policies.

Oh, Karma, you are indeed a bitch.

I guess it is up to the media to see through this latest tactic from National Party back-room strategists. Those boys in dark suits have no doubt cooked up some fairly McCarthyist stuff.

If the “Teapot Tapes” left a foul taste in our mouths – be prepared for a dose of really foul Winston-bashing.  And the irony of this is that I am no friend of NZ First, it’s leader, or their populist policies – but he does deserve a fair go.

Time for a breather, boys.

Tea’s off.

Coffee, anyone?

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Jobs for the bro’s?

20 November 2011 1 comment

10 September 2011

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Is it me – or does this sound plain wrong

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Full Story

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Why was the position not advertised, as is common practice?

Is this an example of nepotism? (Silly question. Of course it is.)

And at a time when this government has thrown thousands of government workers out of their jobs, and onto the unemployment scrap-heap – how much is this “advisor” job costing the tax-payer?

As an indication, this case might give us an idea,

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And once again, the highly-paid “advisor” involves the English family.

Another case,

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Full Story

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So much for this government “cutting expenditure”. They are sacking ordinary workers – and rehiring “advisors” aid exorbitant amounts of tax-payers’ money?

What on Earth is going on here?

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+++ Update +++

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It appears that the ‘heat’ has gone on Tony Ryall in this matter.  He and his colleagures may have been hoping that Mervyn English’s appointment slipped in “under the radar” – but New Zealand is too small a country for that to happen.

Appointments of family and friends to jobs that are not publicly advertised is never a good look, and it is surprising that the government was silly enough to think they could get away with it. It reeks of corrupt practice.

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19 November 2011

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And yet more of the same…

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Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

The move has outraged advocacy group Alcohol Action. Spokesperson Doug Sellman says Ms Rich has been one of the most vociferous defenders of the alcohol industry.

Professor Sellman says supermarkets normalise alcohol as an ordinary commodity and sell it by the tonne at ultra-cheap prices up to 24 hours a day.Ibid

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The Labour Party agrees the appointment of Katherine Rich is too much a conflict of interest.

Health spokesperson Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand while he holds Ms Rich personally in high regard, he believes her role with the Food and Grocery Council does clash with being part of such an agency.

“I think the linkage with her role supporting and advocating for the supermarkets is unfortunate and doesn’t sit well with the health promotion role that the future agency will have.”

However, in a written statement on Saturday, Health Minister Tony Ryall says Ms Rich, a former National MP, was appointed for her experience, balance and integrity.” Ibid

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(L-R) National MPs Simon Powell, Katherine Rich, former National leader Don Brash, National MPs Nathan Guy and Gerry Brownlee applaud John Key as he delivers his speech as the New Zealand National Party launch their election campaign at Sky City on October 12, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Source

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Stacking government and quango roles with party hacks (even if they are talented party hacks) seems to be a time-honoured tradition that National is loathe to depart from.

However, the Radio NZ report does raise an important question regarding her appointment to  the Health Promotion Agency Establishment Board, which replaces the Alcohol Advisory Council.

ALAC was an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of New Zealand’s considerable alcohol related (some say fueled) problems.

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

Whilst working for the Food and Grocery Council, Ms Rich was a firm advocate of liberal laws surrounding marketting and retailing of alcohol.,

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) strongly backed the recommendations.

Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said it set out a clear objective of reducing alcohol-related harm which stretched to structure and role changes for the district licensing agencies responsible for managing liquor licensing in their own communities.

Communities up and down the country were sick of the violence and vandalism that came with drinking and that proposed changes to licencing regimes would help address the problem, Mr Vaughan said.

Nearly 3000 submissions were received by the commission, many of which supported the tightening of laws around alcohol sales, purchasing and consumption.

But NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the report reflected “classic nanny state thinking.”

It failed to target those causing the problems and punished everyone, she said. The industry was already one of the most regulated, and more sensible ways to approach existing problems included better enforcement of current rules and better use of legal powers, along with industry-led initiatives.”   Source

New Zealand has a $4 billion-plus problem with alcohol abuse (BERL report) and Katherine Rich dismissed attempts to address this crisis as “classic nanny state thinking“.

Thank you, Ms Rich. It’s nice to know where you stand on social problems that affect us all.

It is worthwhile reflecting that since liquor laws were de-regulated in the mid 1980s (as part of the wave of Rogernomics “reforms”), that 25 years later things have gotten steadily worse. In those 25 years, the free market system has reigned practically unchallenged and unchanged.

Somehow I think “Nanny State” has little to do with it.

Nanny is still nursing a hang-over from the last 25 years.

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Related

A kronically inept government

Community Needs vs Business Demands

New Zealand 2011AD: Drunken Mayhem and a nice Family Day Out

Our ‘inalienable right’ to destroy communities through alcohol abuse

Govt’s consultants’ bill $375m and rising

 

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Latest Horizon Poll – Results!!

20 November 2011 8 comments

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The latest Horizon Poll has been released today (20 November) with some expected – and unexpected – results.  Questions canvassed included the following,

The results:

How parties leaders make people feel

Firstly, how did the two main leaders make people feel?

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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,

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The results comparing those who will “definitely” vote, with those for voters who will “definitely, may or probably” vote.

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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.

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Additional

Horizon Poll 20 Nov 2011

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