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Archive for 12 June 2012

Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader

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“Ask me a question. Anything. Go on, ask me. I’ll answer it all.”

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Social media was abuzz; Dear Leader (we assume it was JK, and not one of his Party apparatchiks) was to “appear” on LiveChat on Stuff.co.nz – Fairfax’s website. The previous day, the public were encourage to send through questions, that would be put to Key.

See:  Live chat with Prime Minister John Key

See:  Live chat  Prime Minister John Key

As promised, the LiveChat with someone purporting to be the Prime Minister went ahead,

11:28 Moderator:
Good morning. Our live chat with Prime Minister John Key gets underway at midday. Tune in then!
Tuesday June 12, 2012

12:00 Moderator:
We’re here live at the prime minister’s office. Thank you for joining us

12:01 John Key:
thanks, great to be here. Looking forward to your questions.

12:01 Moderator:
Sam asks: If you are elected for a third term as Prime Minister, assuming your colleagues continue to have confidence in you, will you stay the full term? Who do you see as your successor?

12:02  John Key:
In terms of the latter, that would be a matter for the Caucus and it would be far too early to predict that.  On the former, that would be my likely expectation.

The next question sounded like one of those patsy questions that backbencher MPs and Coalition partners ask Ministers,

12:02 Moderator:
Newton asks:
Given your big picture view of the NZ economy. Which three industry sectors do you think have the strongest growth potential for NZ over the next 15-20 years?

12:03 John Key:
Anything related to food, particularly as we move up the value curve. What is quite clear is that Asia is likely to be a very significant buyer of food related products from NZ as they become wealthier over the next few years…

Commentary: A suitable follow-up question to Key’s comment would have been, if  “Asia is likely to be a very significant buyer of food related products from NZ as they become wealthier over the next few years” – why are we permitting foreign investors from China, Australia, US, Germany, etc, to buy up farmland – thereby losing profits from food exports to overseas investors? How does that help us  earn revenue?

But that question was never asked, and “more important issues” were canvassed instead.

Prepare to laugh (or weep).

12:04  John Key:
I’m very optimistic that we can continue to develop niche sectors of high-tech manufacturing, services, the film industry, and tourism.

Commentary: Well, that would make a welcome change from growing the gambling industry; cigarette manufacturing; and 15-story brothels. Though this character – from the tobacco industry? – seemed somewhat oblivious to the annual death rate of 5,000 New Zealanders each year,

12:05  Moderator:
Sonny Gough asks:
Hello PM, As Minister for tourism, how do you feel the”Tobacco free NZ” by a certain date will affect tourist numbers to New Zealand. I note that many tourists that visit our shores are quite heavy smokers. Surely we are shooting ourselves in the foot on this. Kind Regards Sonny Gough

12:05  John Key:
Its an aspiration to see NZ smoke-free because of the health benefits that that policy bestows on the ountry. That said, it is highly unlikely that a day would come where we would stop people visiting NZ on the basis that they smoke.

Commentary: Now this, was probably the best question of the day,

12:06  Comment From gary  
If you are prepared to listen to public opinion on the Teacher cutbacks, will you do the same with your Asset sales policy?

12:07 John Key:
We have no intention of changing the direction we have set in relation to the Mixed Ownership Model. The reason for that is that it was an integral part of the election campaign, and was very well canvassed.  Given National polled a record result under MMP, I would argue we have listened to the people.

Commentary: So much for Dear Leader’s comment only yesterday, where he said,   “But, you know, governments from time to time adjust policies . . . if we never listen to people and never take on board what they’re saying then there is an argument for that as well – and that’s called arrogance.  And I think we’re a lot of things as a government, but we’re not arrogant.”

See:  Key: We were right, despite U-turn

12:07 Moderator:
Amy asks:
What do you have to say about the fact that starting from January, postgraduate students will not be able to borrow enough to live off? And what implications do you think that will have for professions that require an unpaid full-time internship year?

12:08 John Key:
The advice I have received is that on average the switch between student allowances and access to the student loan scheme will still enable students to complete post-graduate studies, albeit it will require them to repay this loan without interest. The research shows these students are likely to earn considerably higher wages over time.

Commentary: How much of his student debt did John Key repay from his tertiary education? Answer: none. He recieved a free university education, courtesy of the taxpayer.

12:08  Moderator:
Grace asks: What is your biggest regret over the past year?

12:09  John Key:
Not adequately spelling out the full aspects of the class size changes, because in the end a move to better quality teaching is an integral part of assisting those students who are falling between the cracks.

12:10  Comment From Simone  
What are your plans to help curb the brain drain in New Zealand? To be honest overseas opportunities are so much more appealing.

12:11  John Key:
I wouldn’t undersell New Zealand. Having just returned from Europe, this country is in far better shape than almost any other in Europe. It is also likely that over the next three years, NZ will have a faster growth rate than Europe, the US and Japan …

12:11  John Key:
While its true we lose people to Australia, that is neither new, nor should we misunderstand that a sizable portion of those leaving are going for opportunities in the mining sector.

Commentary: Say whut?!?! Hang on a mo’, Dear Leader – didn’t you and your party make a f*****g big deal, in the 2008 election campaign,  out of stemming the flow of emigrants to Australia, and to motivate New Zealanders to stay in this country?

Yes, I believe you did!

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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12:12 Moderator:
Liam asks: What are you going to do about the high attrition rate in our defence force? How do you expect to attract people to our military when everyone is leaving in droves?

12:13 John Key:
Attrition has been extremely low in the defence forces over the last three years, particularly as the labour
markets have been really tight. In recent times attrition has been a little higher as the military has been undertaking their change programme, but its my view that that programme is necessary for the long-term
benefit of the NZDF.

Commentary: Warning, Will Robinson! BS Alert! BS Alert!

See:  Job losses to hit military next week

See:  Defence staff eye leaving as morale falls

12:13 Moderator:
Elliot asks:
Why do you continue to reject the idea of a capital gains tax when almost every other country in the OECD has one?

12:14 John Key:
It’s important to understand that countries have quite significant variations when it comes to the type of taxes that they have, and the mix of taxes. NZ already has a capital gains tax; its simply not the  comprehensive CGT that some people talk of…

Commentary: “NZ already has a capital gains tax“?!?! Well, that’ll be news to everyone. This is an example of Key’s propensity to mis-represent the truth; where he only tells part of the truth, and leaves out remaining facts. It’s as good as lying.

No wonder that, in a poll last year, more respondents believed that John Key would be likely to “bend the truth” (34.9%) than his rival, Phil Goff (26%).

See:  John Key Safe hands, forked tongue?

12:15 John Key:
A CGT as proposed by Labour would be on the entire productive sector, but ignore three quarters of all ousing in NZ. Put bluntly, its bad for growth, and in the short term would raise very small amounts of revenue.

Commentary: John Key’s response is pure BS. A CGT would not be “bad for growth” – it would be a positive measure, as “mum and dad” investors would not be plowing their investments into speculative rental properties – but would instead invest in more productive sectors of the economy. At present,  NZers “love affair” with property is a serious distortion on our economy.

It is one reason why  private sector debt is ballooning out of control.

See:  NZ dangerously in debt: top businessman

See:  House prices a cancer for the economy

When the CGT was debated last year, almost every sector of the economy came out in favour of a capital gains tax.  For John Key to dismiss this reality shows that his sense of fiscal realities is badly out of touch.

12:15 Comment From Chris  
Why are you against raising the retirement age when statistics indicate that we’re going to have significant problems in the future if we don’t raise it soon?

12:17 John Key:
There’s very limited support for raising the retirement age prior to 2020 and on that basis I have much bigger issues to confront than that one. Secondly, the most important thing we can do to insulate NZ from all of the costs related to the demographic aging of the population is to focus on improving NZ’s overall competitiveness and growth.

Commentary: “Limited support” for raising the retirement age?!?! WTF?!!! Yet again, Key is lying his head off with that rubbish.

See:  Key rules out pension age referendum

There has been a growing realisation in this country that the current retirement age of 65 is simply not sustainable. For Key to dismiss these concerns is symptomatic of a government unwilling to address pressing problems that – left unresolved – will impact massively on our economy in coming decades.

This is a repeat of National’s mishandling of superannuation in 1975, where the then-Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, canned Labour’s compulsory super-savings scheme. Had that scheme been kept intact, New Zealand would have  considerable savings and we would not be so reliant on overseas funds.

By contrast, Australia’s compulsory savings scheme has amassed A$1.3 trillion dollars. Little wonder they have greater wealth and higher living standards than we do.

See:  Higher pension age key – OECD

Key’s intransigence is irresponsible and ultimately damaging to our economy and society.

12:17 Moderator:
Rhiannon asks:
What are some of your favourite bands?

Commentary: Ah, the hard questioning begins…

12:18 John Key:
I like Katy Perry, the Eagles, and Hayley Westenra.

Commentary: Tough call, Prime Minister.

12:18 Comment From Gabby  
How do you feel about the Christchurch Cathedral being demolished? Would you want to save it?

12:19 John Key:
I am saddened because its an iconic building. The Government’s released all the advice its had from engineers, who sadly are of the view that for safety reasons the Cathedral needs to be demolished. My focus now is on a replacement Cathedral.

12:19 Moderator:
Josiah asks:
I’m curious to know if there was one thing about New Zealand culture that the PM could change, what would it be?

12:20  John Key:
To be more confident as a nation.

Commentary: You hear that, poor people? Get confident!!

12:20  Moderator:
A follow up question: what is one thing you celebrate most about NZ culture?

Commentary: Prepare yourself for the answer,

12:20  John Key:
That we are an egalitarian society.

Commentary: *cough*splutter* cough, cough*

Is he taking the piss? Worse – is he being serious?!

12:21  Moderator:
Peter asks:
Where do you see NZ aquaculture in the near future(~5 years)? and what is the govt doing to make it easier for small fish-farms to get up and running?

12:22 John Key:
Hopefully significantly larger, which is why the Government has undertaken substantial reform in the aquaculture sector. Clearly an expansion into fin fish farming, both in terms of species and allocated space is critical, and maybe one day, a move into more exotic species, like crayfish.

12:22  Moderator:
Hayden asks:
Your wife says that it’s important to her that she’s able to be there for your son when he comes home from school, and to be around for him while he’s studying. What are you doing to help more New Zealand parents have that ability?

Commentary: Good question.

12:23  John Key:
The most important thing we can do for NZ families is to give them a stronger economy and give them more choices. Over the last three and a half years, under very difficult conditions, we have managed to grow the economy consistently. We continue to support family-friendly policies like ECE and Working for Families.

Commentary: Crap answer.

12:24  Moderator:
Kirsten Windelov asks:
You are currently proposing to close down all of the schools that students with physical and intellectual disabilities attend. If you go ahead and do this, can you guarantee that all of those kids will be better off with the mainstream schooling and foster care you’re proposing for them?

12:24  John Key:
I’m not sure that accurately reflects the position, although a move to mainstreaming more children is generally widely supported by the education sector

Translation: You’re on your own, Kirsten.

12:25 Comment From John  
Will you make lego in nz free for all kids in the near future.

Commentary: These questions just keep getting tougher.

12:25  John Key:
That’s not part of the current Government’s agenda, but a lot better than some of the other suggestions I get.

Commentary: *facepalm*

Is this going to get any better?

12:26  Moderator:
Joseph Whyle asks:
My question for the prime minister, what is your vision for New Zealand in the next 10 years?

12:27  John Key:
A more prosperous, confident and ambitious New Zealand, one that delivers both higher incomes and a higher quality of life. A country that maintains the very best of New Zealand in terms of spirit and commitment to each other, as was clearly on display during the response to the Christchurch earthquakes.

Commentary: Haven’t we heard all this before… ? Oh, yeah…

See: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand – John Key

12:27  Moderator:
Tim asks:
Do you believe in god?

12:28  John Key:
I don’t believe in life after death, so in the traditional sense of the world no, but I have no conclusive proof either way.

12:28  Moderator:
Anna asks:
What is the govt doing to prevent the extinction of the Maui dolphins? DETAILS! Not just “we’re working on it” NZ wants answers. We want a moratorium on set net fishing.

12:28  John Key:
We are very close to making an announcement in relation to that issue. Stay posted.

12:28  Moderator:
Dominique asks: What do you plan on doing after being Prime Minister? Retire? Continue in politics?

12:29  John Key:
I have no intention of continuing in politics. I haven’t given any thought to what might happen later, but it will involve golf clubs.

Commentary: “No intention of continuing in politics“? There is a god!

12:29  Moderator:
Arn asks: If you had to choose an opposition MP to take a job in your cabinet, who would it be and what portfolio would you give them?

12:29  John Key:
Shane Jones for Broadcasting.

Commentary: Was that supposed to be funny?

12:30  Moderator:
Sue asks: When did you last take public transport? What was it?

12:30 John Key:
Last week, and it was a bus, in London.

12:30 Moderator:
Chris asks: What changes do you believe are necessary (if any) for our Civil Defence capability in both the Canterbury Region, and Nationally, to improve what I believe is a very clearly defined weakness in our ability to respond to major natural disasters? Thank you.

12:31 John Key:
I’m not sure I would agree with the question…

12:32 John Key:
The Christchurch Earthquakes clearly tested the Civil Defence capability, and while there were always thing we could improve upon, it demonstrated there was a lot that we got right. After any major civil defence response, the Government undertakes a review and there will be some things from that process that will feed into our overall future responses.

Commentary: The next message was from the feeble-minded faction  of the political Right,

12:32 Comment From Guest  
With regards to the welfare system, Have you ever considered a life time entitlement for welfare assistance, Eg: every person has a 5 yr entitlement to welfare, once its used you support yourself or get a job.

12:33  John Key:
The difficulty with that suggestion is that for some people, they will never be able to support themselves. Overall the Government is focused on reform of the welfare system to ensure its ongoing viability.

Commentary: Plus, Dear Leader, it’s not the fault of workers who lose their jobs because your mates on Wall Street have shafted the global economy.  But you knew that already, huh?

The following question was another all-to-rare beauty,

12:33  Moderator:
Jan asks:
When prioritising, can you please explain how 15 million dollars is preferably spent on entertaining foreign dignitaries at the world cup, when it would cost only 16 million to keep TVNZ7 on, the nations only fully government funded TV channel (Australia, the UK and most other developed countries have several of these)? Thanks, Jan.

12:34  John Key:
The Rugby World Cup was the largest single sporting event NZ has ever hosted, and it made sense to leverage that event for New Zealand’s benefit. In relation to TVNZ7, the Government transferred that funding to the Platinum Fund administered by NZ on Air because it saw better value for money from that spend.

Commentary: Only thing is – New Zealand didn’t get that  much benefit from the RWC, according to reports,

See: Weather and World Cup fail to lift GDP

Yet again, John Key is out of touch with public opinion that wants TVNZ7 retained. What part of that message does he not understand?!

Once National is thrown out of office, an incoming government will be mandated to set up a new public service TV broadcaster. This time, with built-in safe-guards to prevent political interference from feeble-minded politicians from the Right.

12:34 Comment From James B  
how do we know this is the real john and not one of his clones

12:36  John Key:
When I was at primary school, I was sent to the “blue room” for talking. Dare you to find that on the internet. Today, Kevin is typing in my answers because he is quicker than I am, and that’s why I keep little pixies around the office.

Commentary: “Pixies”?

Nice to know  John Key is taking this communication with the voting public as a  serious matter.

Yeah, right.

12:36  Moderator:
Shanan asks: Hi John, What are your thoughts of the EU proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)? Should New Zealand consider introducing a FTT if it goes ahead in the EU? Thanks.

12:37  John Key:
NZ has considered this before and rejected it. My understanding is that it disproportionately affects less well off people.

Commentary: Since when has Key been concerned with things that “disproportionately affects less well off people“? He wasn’t overly concerned when National raised GST in 2010 – an act that does disproportionately affect less well off people.

12:37  Comment From Bons  
Do you think marriage and adoption equality bills will be passed in this parliamentary term? If not, why not?

12:38  John Key:
No. Firstly they would need to be drawn from the ballot and that can’t be assured. Even if they were, the process would take quite some time because they can only be debated on Member’s Days.

Commentary: Never let equality and justice get in the way of the bureacracy, eh Dear Leader? After all, what’s more important here – equality for all, or maintaining The System?

Priorities…

12:38  Comment From Greg  
How do you think repealing the voluntary student loan repayment bonus scheme provides an incentive to pay loans back faster?

12:39  John Key:
There’s no question that for some students, the repayment scheme was an advantage. Sadly, it wasn’t widely used. It was expensive to administer and there was some gaming of the system.

Commentary: At this point I sent another message (one of many) to the moderator asking John Key if he was willing to pay for his University education, which he received free of charge; no student loans; no debt; all paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer.

Strangely, that question was never put to Dear Leader. Must’ve got “lost” in the system.

12:39  Comment From Kristen  
Thanks for backing down on the class-size thing, but I’d like to know what you’re going to cut in education to make up the savings you would have got from cutting class sizes.

12:40  John Key:
We are working on that, but worst case scenario we will have to take it out of next year’s new Budget spending provision.

Commentary: Or, Dear Leader, you could raise taxes for top income earners; introduce a Capital Gains Tax or FTT; or stop giving welfare handouts to corporations.

Just a thought. No pressure, John.

12:40  Comment From Nick  
Were you surprised that Piri Weepu got selected at half back in the current AB’s ahead of Andy Ellis?

12:41  John Key:
Yes, but I’m having a bad enough week without wading into the reasons on this.

12:41  Comment From Henry  
Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

12:42  John Key:
Too close to call, and too inappropriate for me to name.

12:42  Comment From Scott  
What is the greatest moral challenge for kiwi society today?

12:43  John Key:
I believe it is drug addiction and alcohol abuse by young people in particular.

Commentary: So… what are you doing about easy availability of cheap booze; the spread of liquor outlets; RTDs/alco-pops geared toward young people; alcohol advertising on TV, etc, etc, etc? It’s one thing to recognise alcohol abuse as a “moral challenge” – but what is National going to do about it?

12:43  Moderator:
William asks:
John Key i’m sure you know that cannabis in its natural form is legally regarded as a medicine by 15+ American States and by Canada and some European countries. In May 2011, our own Law Commission said NZ should follow this path and Police should leave medicinal users alone. Do you agree with the Law Commission?

12:44  John Key:
I don’t support liberalisation of drug laws, because I think it sends the wrong message to young people and would prefer that those with medical conditions sought relief from other alternatives.

Commentary: Whereas advertising alcohol on TV; making it ridiculously cheap and available from outlets  in almost every suburb; and almost 24/7 trading hours – that’s not sending “the wrong message” to young people??

Mr Key – you and your Party’s hypocrisy is breath-taking.

12:44  Moderator:
Michael asks:
Hi Why did the national party pull the pin on a full national cycleway?

12:45 John Key:
We didn’t, but the advice we had was that 18 individual rides linked by a rural roading network would better fit the profile and intentions of those likely to use it.

Commentary: plus the couple of hundred jobs it created – instead of the anticipated 4,000-plus  – wasn’t a ‘good look’, Dear Leader?

See:  Cycleway jobs fall short

12:45 Comment From Richard  
What exactly is it about John Banks that you do have faith in? What makes him an excellent asset to New Zealanders?

12:46  John Key:
I accept Ministers at their word and unless they either breach my trust or break the law, it would be quite inappropriate and confusing for me to sack a Minister.

12:46  Moderator:
Don asks:
What kind of watch do you normally wear? Do you collect watches?

12:47  John Key:
I normally wear a Cartier, and I have another watch which is a Brietling that my wife Bronagh gave to me for my birthday.

Commentary: by this time, and following on, this blogger had messaged the Moderator at least half a dozen times posing the question as to why John Key was not willing to fund sufferers of Pompe’s Disease – a terminal condition – as he had agreed to fund a full-term course of Herceptin for breast cancer sufferers, in 2008. (2008 was an election year. Not that it has anything to do with anything.)

This was very silly of me. Obviously the matter of John Key’s watches takes precedence over a life-threatening disease which will kill several New Zealanders.

Sorry, Fairfax. My bad.

However, a serious question did manage to slip in. Perhaps the Fairfax moderator was having a cuppa with Dear Leader at the time,

12:48  Moderator:
Julie asks: (in terms of asset sales)
How can you justify rushing the legislation through urgency? How can the average “mum and dad investors” afford to buy shares?

12:48  John Key:
In terms of the first point we are not doing that. Its the Government’s intention to pass the MOM legislation using the normal House procedures…

12:49  John Key:
The Government is working on ensuring the minimum parcel size of shares can be within the reach of as many NZers as possible.

Commentary: Especially New Zealanders like these,

See:  Rich Listers enjoy 20pc increase in wealth

12:49  Comment From Geoff  
Given the recent dirty dairying news do you still stand by your claim that NZ is 100% clean and green?

12:50  John Key:
I’ve never said that statement. What I have supported is the marketing slogan used by Tourism NZ of 100% Pure.

Commentary: Actually, Dear Leader, you did . John Key;  “if anybody goes down to New Zealand and looks at our environmental credentials and looks at New Zealand, then for the most part, I think in comparison with the rest of the world, we are 100 per cent pure.”

See:  Key rejects BBC criticism of NZ ‘pure’ claim

Another “hard” question followed and was well answered by Dear Leader. He was ‘sharp’ today,

12:50  Comment From Sean Kusel  
What is your main hobby?

12:51 John Key:
Work commitments mean I have a limited time for other activities, but I enjoy cooking, golf, and watching rugby.

Commentary: But how did this one slip through the vetting system,

12:51   Comment From Year 12 Sos Hghs class  
How would you feel about class sizes going up in your sons school?

12:51  John Key:
Totally fine, if they were of the magnitude being previously proposed. I care much more about the quality of the teacher standing before my son.

Commentary: And the reason for not sending his children to State schools is—?

12:52   Comment From Cameron  
Hi, Please don’t take this as being rude but, do you think we will actually hit our budget targets for near future?

12:52  John Key:
If you mean the forecasts that were in the Budget, I hope so. They are based on the best advice available to the Treasury at the time the Budget was put together.

Commentary: Advice from… Treasury?! That’s us stuffed!

12:53  Comment From mike  
When will people with complaints about ACC be herd by an independent group, that doesn’t involve ACC supposedly not interferring with the process.

Commentary: Followed immediatly by this little ‘gem’ from Brendan. Brendan is ‘special’.

12:53  Comment From Brendan  
What’s on the lunch menu today?

12:53  John Key:
I need to check for you, but I think there are avenues that are totally independent that complainants can explore if they believe they are being unfairly treated by ACC.

12:54  John Key:
Sadly, there is nothing in the fridge and unlike Barack Obama I don’t have a chef hanging around to make me a Tuna fish sandwich.

Commentary: It’s tough when you have to slum it with the poor folk, Dear Leader. By the way, Mr Key, how far did National go with it’s promise of free meals in schools, as promised by National when it was in Opposition,

See: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Still on the subject of food,

12:54  Comment From Kayla  
What type of cheese did you give the queen

12:55  John Key:
A range of Kapiti cheeses including blue cheese and aged cheddar. The Queen personally thanked me and told me she’d already tried one of them.

12:55 Comment From Megan  
What was it like meeting with the Queen? Was it just awkward small talk? Or is she quite personable?

12:56  John Key:
She’s very personable, and this is the fourth private audience I’ve had with her. She is very passionate about New Zealand and genuine in her concerns, particularly over the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

12:56  Comment From Guest  
Mr Key, I believe the taxes being handed off onto smokers are unfair. How do you justify these smoking taxes? The obese population put far more burden on our health system each year, and don’t have to pay any extra tax!

Commentary: Yeah, mate, ‘cos  5,000 New Zealanders dying each year through smoking-related disease just isn’t enough for you, is it?

Twat.

Key’s only sensible reply for the whole afternoon,

12:57  John Key:
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.

12:57  Moderator:
Have you ever smoked, prime minister?

12:58 John Key:
I have never smoked anything in my life, but my mother smoked and I spent years convincing her to give up. When I turned 15, she did.

Commentary: Followed by another decent question,

12:59   Moderator:
Jane asks: When will people who care for the elderly receive a fair wage. Elderly helped build the country

Commentary: A shame that Key’s response was so much twaddle,

1:00  John Key:
I acknowledge that many of the caregivers for the elderly are some of the lowest paid workers. When the Government’s finances are in better shape, this will be one area we will take a closer look at.

Commentary: Which sounds suspiciously similar to Key’s previous promises to raise wages – which have also come to nought.

1:00  Comment From Nick  
Whats you’re favourite kiwi custom?

1:00  John Key:
The haka is not a custom, but I love it when our sporting teams and cultural groups and schools perform it.

Commentary:  *shakes head*

1:00  Moderator:
Time for one last question….

Commentary: Oh, I can hardly wait. What’s it to be;  Dear Leader’s favourite colour? When he last patted ‘Moonbeam‘?

1:01   Comment From Pam  
Mr Key, on the Super debate, is there any appetite to means test Super? I think raising the age is harsh – especially for those in very manual work, e.g. building, labouring.

1:02  John Key:
No, but you raise a fair point that an ad hoc simple moving of the age is a very simplistic way of looking at a very complex issue.

Commentary: “Ad hoc”?! Every organisation, political party, the OECD, and a majority of the public understand that keeping retirement at age 65 is unsustainable, and must be raised to 67 if we are to avoid bankrupting ourselves – and you dismiss it as “ad hocery“?!?!

Mr Key – what on Earth goes through you mind?

Mr Key – you are playing games with the economic future of this country. For you and your fellow National MPs not to act on raising the age from 65 to 67 is irresponsible.

Mr Key will be remembered in the same way that Robert Muldoon is remembered; the man who nearly wrecked our economy through short-sighted acts of incompetance.

Do what is necessary – or resign. One or the other.

1:02  Moderator:
Thank you for joining us in today’s live chat. Sorry we couldn’t ask all the questions.

1:02  John Key:
My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.

Conclusion: It seems fairly obvious that whoever was answering the questions was only barely taking the situation seriously. If it was John Key, then we’ve had another insight into his arrogance and his disdain for treating the public with a modicum of respect.

For a man who has spent much of his working life in finance, he appears to have little appreciation for fiscal matters such as taxation; investment imbalances; retirement strategy; etc. Any thought of Key as being “fiscally responsible” is misplaced.

As for the questions; the Moderator’s choice left much to be desired. It was like a meal at a Chinese restaurant; one was left feeling hungry for more soon after.

This blogger is left with one inescapable conclusion that has been strengthened by this “Livechat”: the sooner National is thrown out of office, the better for our economy and society.

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Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me?

12 June 2012 9 comments

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Every so often, we see media articles like this recent ‘Herald‘ report,

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The story presents a picture of lazy, unprepared, unwilling unemployed – the usual cliched stereotype so beloved by the right wing who begrudge spending their taxes on a social welfare net (but at the same time prefer to live in a First World society without beggars lining the streets like some Third World, poverty-stricken nation).

The story refers to unemployment at 6.7% – and fails to mention that in December 2007, unemployment stood at 3.4% – placing us fifth fifth among  twentyseven OECD nations, behind Norway, The Netherlands, South Korea and Denmark.

In fact, contrast the above story with this one from the Herald, four years ago,

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The two headings could not be more contrasting – polar-opposites, in fact,

The miracle of full employment

 Monday April 7, 2008

Jobless unprepared for realities of workforce

Sunday May 27, 2012

A further scrutiny of the first story reveals the following;

  • A grand-total of four employers were interviewed
  • Two of the four offered minimum wage, two did not specify the rate offered
  • The jobs are not specified whether full time, part time, or casual
  • One employer admits that some  employees had walked out, but she does not disclose why

Too many questions are left unanswered.

Reading between the lines, though, one gets the impression that we are not being given the full story.

After all, even on $13.50 an hour, the gross wage is $540 for a 40 hour week.

Contrast that to $229.01 a week (gross) unemployment benefit for someone 25 and over.

The minimum wage is barely livable – but still vastly preferable to the dole.  Our Rest Homes are staffed by hundreds of  hard-working, dedicated people earning $13.61 – just eleven cents above the dole,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Rest home work is hard and stressful – and yet we have people willing to put up with the pressures and  do the work necessary to look after our aged and infirm.

Which then poses questions as  to why the four employers in the top article are unable to attract and retain staff?

In this bloggers experience, employers who find it hard to attract and/or retain staff generally have “issues” with their managagement style; working conditions; pay and hours; and other related matters.

To further drive home some simple truths, these media reports should serve to dispel the nasty and manipulative myths surrounding those who are jobless,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

1000 apply for 150 K Mart jobs – Otago Daily Times – 11 June 1997

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking

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Lazy journalists who write inept stories without due diligence in research, and offering balance, add nothing to the sum total of human knowledge. Nor even a wee bit of insight as to what is really happening in our communities.

It’s easy-peasy to write a story that reinforces preconceived prejudices against a minority in society. No real talent required.

When politicians do it, it’s because they are utterly clueless and have no plan or policy to address unemployment. “Bene-bashing” is the de-fault setting of right-wing politicians who have no other options except to shift blame for poor economic activity onto the heads of welfare  recipients. (Because as we all know, the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, invalids, etc, are the ones who actually govern this country. Right?)

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But we expect better from journalists who are charged with asking questions; probing behind official lines; and holding our elected representatives to account.

Not assisting politicians’ to avoid responsibility.

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Media

Jobless unprepared for realities of workforce

The miracle of full employment

Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Reference

WINZ: Unemployment Benefit (as at 1 April 2012)

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Headlines that come back to haunt us…

12 June 2012 4 comments

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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,

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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,

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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,

  1. Partial asset sales
  2. Beneficiary bashing
  3. 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”.  “

See:  Business NZ sees no economic plan

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…

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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.  “

See:  2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand – John Key

Very few of those expectations have been met.

In fact, the only ones who appear to have benefitted the most are… the 1%.

See:  Rich list shows rich getting richer

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

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