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Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

17 October 2014 23 comments

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1949 state house in Taita

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Intro. Lamp-posts, letterboxes, and liquor outlets

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Barely  three weeks since the election, and Key’s re-elected government is set for one of the biggest state asset sell-offs since… last year.  In line for privatisation; an estimated $5 billion worth of State housing.

State housing is one of the most critical of this country’s social service,  delivering a much-needed roof over the  heads of society’s poorest, most vulnerable, and often most transient. It is fair to say that without state housing – a legacy of enlightened Labour governments and a more sympathetic past public values –  we would have thousands more families living in squalor or on the streets, as currently happens in the richest nation on Earth.

In the US, street homelessness is now as much a feature of the urban landscape as lamp-posts, letterboxes, and liquor outlets;

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Homeslessness

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Here in New Zealand, we seem to be going all-out to emulate our American cuzzies, as our housing situation at all levels is worsening.

Overall home ownership has dropped from 1991, when  73.8% of households own their own home (or held it in a family trust) – compared to last year’s census which now reports 64.8% home ownership (or held in family trust).

In Auckland, home ownership rates are worse, 58% today, compared to 64% in 2001.

Homelessness is a more difficult notion to measure, as the Statistics NZ pointed out for it’s 2013 Census,

In general, people are becoming more difficult to contact in any census or survey collection…

• people having no usual residence (eg homeless people)

However an Otago University study, released in September 2013 concluded,

An estimated 34,000 people, or about one in every 120 New Zealanders, were unable to access housing in 2006, according to the latest available census and emergency housing data.

UOW researcher Dr Kate Amore says very little is known about this population, and the study provides the first ever New Zealand statistics on the problem.

“These 34,000 people were crowding in with family or friends, staying in boarding houses, camping grounds, emergency accommodation, in cars, or on the street. They all had low incomes.

Many of these people are excluded from poverty and unemployment statistics, and are not on social housing waiting lists. They are extremely disadvantaged, and it’s great that we now have a way to produce robust numbers about the size of the problem and who’s affected.”

The tragic nature of homelessness was chillingly spelled out when the report went on to state,

A quarter of severely housing deprived people were children under 15 years, living in these inadequate situations with their family.

The  report went on to reinforce the growing social problem of the working poor,

About a third of the adults in the population were working, but still could not get a house for themselves or their family.

The 10th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey showed housing as severely unaffordable in all eight of New Zealand’s major centres.  Christchurch-based survey author Hugh Pavletic blamed recently centrally-imposed State controls on mortgage loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions, low mortgage interest rates, and lack of land as reasons for increasing unaffordability.

The same report stated that Auckland house prices were  less affordable than Los Angeles or London.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank’s loan to value ratio (LVR) controls – approved by Bill English on 16 May 2013 – has apparently succeeded in not just forcing first home buyers out of the housing market, but into renting, and pushing up rents.  The average weekly rent for a three bedroom home in Auckland  increased by 29%, from $440 in 2005 to $570 in 2013.

Long time property investor, Ollie Newland, has warned of slums developing as over-crowding increases,

Some landlords were capitalising on the desperate market by renting out homes on a room-by-room basis.

“It’s not a good look. We don’t want to go the way of Bangladesh. It’s quite rife. We come across it all the time, especially in the lower socio-economic areas.

So has housing only recently become a critical social problem?

Not according to the Prime Minister…

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National’s pre-election policy: 2008

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In January 2008, then Opposition Leader, John Key attacked Helen Clark’s administration for Labour’s track record on the economy. He said, in part,

“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 can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?”

Indeed – why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?

In the Otago University study (see above) Dr Amore stated,

“We know that housing shortages, poverty, and crowding are very serious problems in New Zealand, so these findings are not surprising. We expect the problem is bigger now than it was in 2006. This study just adds to the evidence that housing is major issue, and we need a lot more quality housing that people on low incomes can afford to live in.”

In the Sydney Morning Herald, when interviewed on the issue of child poverty in this country, John Key was uncharacteristically candid when he admitted,

“Our opponents say more children are living in poverty than when we came into office. And that’s probably right.”

So what is the National government doing about a pressing social problem that is, by the Prime Minister’s own admission, growing?
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Gerry Brownlee – Waiting for Godot, Tomorrow, and Private Enterprise?

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has been made aware of a critical housing shortage in Christchurch, due to the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes which devastated much of the inner city. According to a Buddle Findlay report dated February 2012,

The sheer number of buildings up for demolition is significant.  The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) currently lists 742 CBD buildings that have been or will be demolished.  In his state of the economy address in Auckland on 25 January, Prime Minister John Key said that of the 1,357 buildings approved for partial or full demolition in greater Christchurch, over two thirds have been demolished.  In addition, the demolition of the up to 7,000 residential red zone homes has recently begun in Bexley.

This has resulted in a massive shortage of rentals in Christchurch, with rents continuing to escalate, and people forced to live in substandard or over-crowded accomodation. A 2013 Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MoBIE) report revealed,

No reliable statistics are available on the number of people living in insecure housing. To generate an estimate of the scale of housing insecurity the report starts with a baseline established by a study of homelessness in Christchurch, supplemented by 2006 Census figures on people living in overcrowded housing. Qualitative information from non-government organisations in the area is used to identify plausible increases in the numbers of people living without shelter or in temporary or emergency shelter. Estimates of the housing stock lost due to earthquakes are used to identify the potential increase in numbers of people living in crowded conditions with other households. Through this approach, the report’s initial estimate of the scale of insecure housing is expressed as a broad range. That range runs between 5,510 and 7,405 residents, up from 3,750 before the earthquakes.

The same report updated the decline in housing stock in the quake-ravaged city,

“…it has been estimated that the total housing stock has been reduced by a net 11,500, or 6.2% of the previous housing stock.”

Predictably, as housing stock and rental numbers fell, rents skyrocketed. According to the same MoBIE report,

In the month of February 2013, the average weekly rent from new bonds lodged for the greater Christchurch region was $384. This is a 31% increase compared to the pre-earthquake month of August 2010 when the average rent was $293. The majority of this increase took place in 2012, as shown in Graph 6. Greater Christchurch’s average rent increased $92 per week which is very significant and will have an adverse impact on many tenants’ financial wellbeing. During this same period, Auckland’s average rent increased $50 per week or 13%.

When confronted with this crisis, Minister Brownlee’s response was reported in The Press, on 20 March 2012, offering this “solution” to Christchurch’s housing-shortage;

The Government appears to have ruled out further intervention in Christchurch’s worsening rental housing crisis.

The solution is best left to the market, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

A month later, Brownlee continued his ‘King Canute-like’ resistance to the problem,

People may be sleeping in cars, sheds and garages, but there is no rental housing crisis in Christchurch, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

“This is a problem, I’ll accept that, but I don’t think this is a crisis,” he said yesterday.

And incredibly,

Brownlee said the steep increase in rent was “not a problem that has been brought to my attention”.

The Government would not intervene in the issue, he said.

“A rent freeze doesn’t increase supply and will never encourage new stock to come in. We won’t be moving to regulate rents but we most certainly are actively providing new housing.”

Brownlee’s defensiveness is understandable. Nationwide, it is estimated that 20,000 – 23,000 new homes are required per year,  to meet demand.

However, over the last three years, less than 15,000 per year have been built.

So much for “the market”.

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Making Supply “meet” Demand – a sleight-of-hand trick

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When “market” supply doesn’t meet demand, there are three options available,

  1. Increase supply
  2. Dampen demand
  3. Ignore the problem

National chose Option 2 as the fastest, cheapest way to address the problem. As referred above, on 16 May 2013, Finance Minister Bill English approved a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the  Reserve Bank’s loan to implement  Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) controls. In simple terms,

Banks will be required to restrict new residential mortgage lending at LVRs of over 80 percent (deposit of less than 20 percent) to no more than 10 percent of the dollar value of their new residential mortgage lending.

Banks which exceeded the limit (10% of all lending) of low LVR (20% deposits) risked considered reprisals from the RBNZ,

If a bank breaches the speed limit it will be in breach of its conditions of registration. The Reserve Bank would need to consider the reasons for the breach and may impose a range of sanctions.

Again, Key was candid in the plan to address demand-side pressures on housing,

“Even with LVRs introduced, interest rates may ultimately rise anyway, but the intention with these loan-to-value ratios is to provide the Reserve Bank with other tools to dampen demand.”

Not since the Muldoon-led National administration, when price-wage controls froze the economy in 1982 – with dire results – has a government attempted to control a facet of the banking system with such direct, interventionist controls. Again, state intervention was the tool-of-choice, as Key admitted,

“We need to try to help people into their homes but also facilitate an orderly market.”

This was Muldoonism 2.0, and it was coming from a supposed free-market National government, with the blessing of Muldoon’s successor, John Key.

Even before the RBNZ implemented their new, prescriptive LVR regulations, National was pushing for exemptions with  New Zealand Bankers Association chief executive Kirk Hope stating the obvious,

“The Reserve Bank policy will have an impact on low income buyers. It will knock them out of the market.”

By December 2013 the Reserve Bank had “buckled” to government pressure. The government realised that preventing first-home buyers from getting into their first house was not a palatable political option.  The opposition would have a field day at National’s expense, and New Zealanders would begin to notice.

Forcing the RBNZ to implement first-home buyer exemptions for new-build houses ultimately proved fruitless. By 1 October  this year, the damage had been done and the results were wholly predictable;

Experts say the Reserve Bank’s controversial home loan restrictions have achieved the desired effect, but at the expense of first-home buyers.

One year ago today, the central bank introduced limits on high loan-to-value ratio (LVR) loans in an attempt to slow house price growth and reduce risk to the financial system.

The latest bank lending data from the June quarter shows the rules have been highly effective, wiping $5.5 billion worth of high-LVR loans from the balances that were recorded on September 30, last year.

[…]

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the limits had helped dampen house price inflation, though it was difficult to say by how much.

“It’s still unclear as to whether LVRs were the driver, or the higher interest rates were the driver.”

Bloxham said the limits had worked well in removing risk from the financial system, but not without social consequences.

“Along the way . . . the largest effect it’s had is to cut the first-home buyer out of the market.”

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research economist, Shamubeel Eaqub,  was damning of the government-sanctioned LVR restrictions,  saying that   first-home buyers had been unfairly blamed for  the housing bubble,

“The data we have seen very clearly shows it was investors.  We don’t think there’s any reason to maintain the LVR restrictions any further, especially now [the Reserve Bank] has raised interest rates.”

Bear in  mind’s National’s technique for solving problems. It would set the stage for  New Zealand’s growing shortage of social housing, and National’s ‘Clayton’s‘ response.

To be Concluded: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)


 

References

TV3 News: State housing sell-off worth $5B

Radio NZ:  Home ownership on decrease

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment: Housing key facts

Statistics NZ: Coverage in the 2013 Census based on the New Zealand 2013 Post-enumeration Survey (pdf)

Otago University: 34,000 people missing out on housing, University of Otago research shows

Fairfax media: Housing affordability getting worse

Reserve Bank NZ: RBNZ signs MOU on use of macro-prudential tools

NZ Herald: Rents rise as buyers forced out of market

John Key: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Sydney Morning Herald: The Key Factor

Buddle Findlay: The Progress of earthquake related demolitions in Christchurch

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment: Housing Pressures in Christchurch (pdf)

The Press: Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’

Fairfax media: No Christchurch rental crisis -‘Pontius’ Brownlee

Reserve Bank:  Loan-to-value ratio restrictions – FAQs

Dominion Post:  Few first home buyer details in PM speech

Te Ara – TheEncyclopedia of New Zealand: Muldoon announces a wage and prize freeze, 1982

TVNZ News: Govt pushes for loan restriction exemption

NZ Herald: Reserve Bank buckles – new homes exempt from loan rules

Fairfax media: LVR works at first-home buyers’ cost

Scoop media: Gateway to improve housing affordability

Hekia Parata: State housing improved in Porirua

Additional references

Dominion Post: Housing policy will destabilise life for children

Fairfax media: Over-crowded house blamed for baby’s death

Previous related blogposts

Review: TV3′s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Social Groups

Facebook: Affordable Housing For All

Facebook: Housing NZ Tenants Forum

Facebook: Tamaki Housing Group- Defend Glen Innes

Other blogs

The Jackal: More homelessness under National (30 July 2012)

The Standard: Unaffordable housing & the culture of greed

No Right Turn:  A surprise policy


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 October 2014

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Letter to the editor – The New Vietnam; who is first?

16 October 2014 5 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Thu, Oct 16, 2014
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
The Listener
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Our esteemed Prime Minister seems very keen and eager to show our American cuzzies that we can contribute to the war in the Middle East.

In which case, if we are going to put “boots on the ground” in Iraq or Syria, who will be filling those boots?

Will it be the sons and daughters of National Ministers?

And when the first coffins start returning home, will Mr Key be on the tarmac, seeing them unloaded?

Or will he be “otherwise engaged”, watching his son play baseball in the US?

 

-Frank Macskasy

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[address & phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ:  PM’s assurances over US meeting questioned

TVNZ News: Slain soldier criticised Key for missing troops’ funeral


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Letter to the editor – The martians are coming! The martians are coming!

16 October 2014 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Tue, Oct 14, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post
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Our esteemed Prime Minister announces that our Terror Alert has “risen” from “very low risk” of a terror attack to a “low risk”. (13 Oct)

Key states that our risk of a “terror attack” has gone from “unlikely” to “possible but not expected”, saying,

“We are moving up. So it’s as I’ve been saying, we wouldn’t want to overstate the risk, but New Zealand is becoming riskier,”

So what does Key do to reduce potential risks to this country?

He announces he is considering greater involvement in the Middle East conflict against ISIS.

Smart move, Prime Minister. You’ll have us up to “Attack: Imminent” in no time at all.

Subjecting the public to fear-generating announcements is certainly one way to guarantee re-election in three years’ time.

-Frank Macskasy

[name & address supplied]

 

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References

TVNZ News: NZ ‘becoming riskier’ as terror alert raised

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

10 October 2014 5 comments

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20-september

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Counting of Special Votes are completed and the Electoral Commission’s final election results have been announced;

National: 47.04 (60 seats – down 1)

Labour: 25.13 (32 seats – no change)

Green Party: 10.70 (14 seats – plus 1)

NZ First: 8.66 (11 seats – no change)

Maori Party: 1.32 (2 seats – 1 electorate, 1 List – no change)

ACT: 0.69 (1 electorate seat – no change)

United Future: 0.22 (1 electorate seat – no change)

Conservative: 3.97 (nil seats – no change)

Internet Mana: 1.42 (nil seats – no change)

 

It is interesting to compare the 2014 results with the 2011 Election figures;

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party votes - 2014 -2011 - general elections - new zealand

* Predominantly electorate based-parties

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Other results

 

1. Final enrolment rate:

2011: 93.7%

2014: 92.6%

2. Total Votes counted by Electoral Commission:

2011: 2,278,989

2014: 2,416,481

Increase: 137,492

3. Voter turnout (as a percentage of enrolled electors):

2011: 74.2%

2014: 77.9%

4. Advance votes cast:

2011: 334,558 (14.7% of voters)

2014: 717,579 (29.33% of voters)

Increase: 383,021

 

Observations

National

National lost it’s overall majority in the House, though with ACT’s single MP (and to a lesser degree, Peter Dunne), they will most likely still maintain a de facto majority regardless.

My belief is that National’s party strategists were acutely aware that once Special Votes were counted, they would lose their 61st MP, Maureen Pugh. This was a re-play of the 2008 and 2011 elections, where election night results were only temporary, and National’s numbers were pared back (usually by one seat) after the counting of special votes.

Little wonder that Key and National Party strategists have been very, very, very eager to form coalition deals with ACT, Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party. Despite Key’s noble-sounding public pronouncements,


“It’s more about, you know, the kind of inclusive government we want to have other parties working with us…

[…]

But equally, we sort of know each other quite well now, after six years we got a bit of a sense of the areas of importance and significance to each other and in a perfect world we don’t want to pass legislation 61 [to] 60 votes the whole way through, we do want to work with other people.”

Yeah, right, whatever. Key wasn’t being “inclusive” or “magnanimous” – he was playing his cards right, knowing full well what the Electoral Commission was going to deal out to his Party two weeks after  Election night results.

National’s coalition deals with three minor parties was their “insurance policy”.

For the next three years, Key will be praying nightly to the political gods for all his MPs to remain  alive, loyal,  and healthy (in that order). At 60 Members of Parliament out of 121, National cannot afford too many by-elections or defections.

ACT

Not just on political life-support by the good graces of the National Party, but more importantly, ACT’s 7,200 drop in their Party vote signifies New Zealanders’ lack of appetite for any further right-wing, neo-liberal “reforms”.

This is something Key and National Party strategist should take careful note of. National’s increase in support may reflect a current preference by voters for a “steady-as-you-go” regime – not further radical moves to the Right.

It is also something that Left-Wing parties should take note: New Zealanders have expressed a subtle distaste for neo-liberalism. We need to capitalise on that.

On a side-issue, if ACT’s Party Vote is destined to reside with a tiny hard-core element of incorrigible, fanatical, right-wing voters, then what is the value of gifting Epsom to ACT if no other candidate will coat-tail into Parliament on the success of someone like John Banks or David Seymour?

There can only be one possible benefit to National: ACT is the “trojan horse” whereby unpopular right-wing policies (eg; Charter Schools) can be introduced as part of sham “coalition negotiations”. As Cameron Slater’s malicious right-wing blog was used to conduct “second track” vicious attack politics on National’s enemies, ACT’s usefulness lies in enacting right wing policies Key  may not wish to be closely associated with.

United Future/Peter Dunne

UF’s drop in it’s Party Vote – by well over a half – signifies that voters see Dunne fully as a one-man band. He may continue to win Ohariu on Electorate Votes, but his low Party Vote results preclude any other UF candidates “coat tailing” into Parliament on Dunne’s localised success.

A Party Vote for UF has therefore become a “wasted” vote, and eventually National will ask itself a question, “Why are we supporting Dunne when we might as well go hard out to win the seat ourself, with one of our own candidates?” When the Nats cannot even pin unpopular policies on Dunne – what is his purpose to the centre-right bloc?

As well; the day that Green Party voters wake up to the reality that supporting the Labour Candidate, instead of their Green candidate, with the Electorate Vote,  is the day Dunne loses his seat. His presence in Parliament is based purely on some Ohariu Green voters voting shambolically rather than  tactically.

Mana-Internet

Interestingly, the Mana-Internet alliance was the only electorate-based Party to actually increase their overall Party Vote:  from 24,168 in 2011 to 34,095 on 20 September. ACT and United Future between them lost much of their support. And whilst the Maori Party lost only 132 Party Votes – they lost two electorates; Tamaki Makarau and Te Tai Hauauru to Labour.

As history shows, Hone Harawira only lost his seat – Te Tai Tokerau – after Labour’s candidate was endorsed by John Key and Winston Peters, along with some very shady back-room dealings by the Maori Party.

Subsequently, the  mainstream media,  indignant commentators, etc, all piled on to the battered and bruised body of Mana, the Internet Party, Kim Dotcom, and Hone Harawira. However, New Zealanders should never forget;

  • Through Kim Dotcom’s refusal to buckle to State power, we discovered that the GCSB had been illegally spying on 88 New Zealand citizens.
  • After Kim Dotcom’s efforts, we now know that mass surveillance is being undertaken in this country. This is the new reality which the media seems to have over-looked (as per usual) in their constant demands for sensationalistic news stories (as if living in a mass-surveilled society wasn’t sensational in it’s own right).
  • Yes, Kim Dotcom did fund the Internet Party to the tune of around $3 million.
  • Compare that to  National spending $2,321,216 from wealthy benefactors for the 2011 general election.
  • And contrast with the  $60,082  Mana spent    at the same time. When did the media ever question the David-VS-Goliath battle between National and Mana in 2011? The answer is blindingly obvious.

New Zealand has a fine tradition of giving people a fair go.

We like to think we help one another.

There is also a darker side to our nature. Some call it “The Tall Poppy Syndrome”.

I call it bullying.

Less words. Same meaning.

Something  Patrick Gower might reflect on.

Conservative Party

Whilst I am no fan of Colin Craig and his ill-considered mish-mash of populist and right wing policies – I do recognise that National’s on-going refusal to carry out  reforms to MMP – as recommended by the Electoral Commission in 2012 – is persistently creating bizarre and undemocratic results.

The Conservative Party polled 95,598 Party Votes – three times as high as the Maori Party, which was able to bring in a second MP on Te Ururoa’ Flavell’s “coat-tails”. Yet the Conservatives have no MPs, despite out-polling the Maori Party.

(Yes, I understand that the Conservatives achieved only 3.97% of the Party Vote. But who is say they would not have gained extra votes had the Party threshold been dropped to 4%, as the Commission recommended?)

Green Party

Of the left-wing parties, the Greens fared better than Labour or Mana-Internet. Clearly, their extra 9,986 Party Votes came from Labour’s drop of 10,402 votes. Their campaign was well-targetted; they stayed consistently on-message; and their Party was not under-mined by loose-cannon-candidates engaging in open sabotage. (ref)(ref)(ref)

At  257,356 Party Votes, the Greens increased their support from their 2011 result ( 247,370 Party Votes). Their overall percentage dropped only because the overall number of Party Votes cast increased this election by 137,492.

NZ First

NZ First benefitted from the increase  in voting this year. The scandals exposed in  “Dirty Secrets“, and the political fallout that affected Labour, escaped Winston Peters who has continually portrayed himself as “above petty politics”.

Peters, however, was not quite sufficiently  “above petty politics” to  under-mine Mana Leader, Hone Harawira, in his bid to retain Te Tai Tokerau. By endorsing Labour’s Kelvin Davis, Peters plotted with John Key and the Maori Party in an unholy, manipulative, venal  triumvirate to destroy the Mana Movement.

Peters can get down and dirty with the worst of them, it seems.

Like Peters’ broken promises post-1996, the public will soon forget Peters’ quiet  treachery. Unfortunately.

Labour

Ye gods, where does one start…?!

  • The billboards which promoted electorate candidates – and mentioned the all-important Party Vote in barely-discernible small letters?!
  • The constant attacks on a potential coalition support-partner by Labour candidates?!
  • Allowing certain media political commentators to frame the narrative on coalition partners – thereby forcing Cunliffe to  look too eager to “do the right thing” according to certain pundits?! (ref)(ref)(ref)
  • Engaging in internecine warfare, whether pre or post-election – simply the most futile act that Labour could possibly engage in. Did they think no one would notice?
  • Changing the leader, post-election. Does that mean Labour never had confidence in Cunliffe in the first place, and this his appointment was a mistake? Does that mean Cunliffe’s replacement may also be a mistake? Does it mean Labour has 100% confidence in their new Leader – until they don’t? So… why should the public have confidence in Labour’s new choice of a new Leader, when s/he may be temporary?

Perhaps Labour’s worst mistake of all the above was constantly deriding the Mana-Internet alliance. The constant attacks on Hone Harawira and his Party signalled to the public that Labour was weak; full of self-doubt and lacking in self-confidence. Labour’s  desperation for votes was so dire that they were willing to attack and destroy a potential coalition ally, to cannibalise their electoral support.

That showed weakness.

And the public took note.

Contrast Labour’s treatment of Hone Harawira and Mana-Internet, with how John Key related to ACT, United Future, and the Maori Party: with confidence; courtesy; and collegiality.

When Key refused to make a deal with Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, he did so with professional courtesy. There was never any rancor  involved, and despite refusing any Epsom-like deal, Key still left National’s options wide open to work with the Conservatives.

Key even flip-flopped on his previous hand-on-heart promise never to entertain any coalition deal-making with Winston Peters;

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead,” – John Key,  2 February 2011

When the public looked at Key, they saw a politician who said categorically he would be prepared to work with anyone.

The public liked that. The public want politicians to work together for the good of the country. Key not only said as much – he demonstrated it by working with parties as disparate as ACT, the Maori Party, United Future, and the Greens (though the latter not in any formal coalition agreement).

When the public looked at Labour, they saw a left wing party willing to consume another left wing party, to further their own selfish agenda.

Key showed collegiality and co-operation.

Labour exuded desperation.

Whoever leads the Labour Party after 18 November – take note.

Media

The  closet, political “party” in this election – the mainstream media. Acting much like a ‘spoiler’ for the Left, it did it’s damndest to engage in “gaffe” journalism; focus on trivia (scarves, holidays, etc); and failed to chase up real stories when they hit the public.

The nadir of junk  ‘journalism’ came when Mike Hosking interviewed both Nicky Hager and National Minister, Steven Joyce, on 14 August,  over revelations contained in the expose, “Dirty Secrets“.

As I wrote previously, when I reviewed this segment of “Seven Sharp”;

I encourage people to watch the opening segment, where Mike “interviews” Minister Steven Joyce, and then interogates and derides author, Nicky Hager.

Any pretence that Mike Hosking is an “unbiased journalist” has been firmly dispatched. The man is a mouthpiece for the National government and his behaviour and line of questioning proved it.

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Seven Sharp - 14 august 2014 - nicky hager - steven joyce - dirty politics

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Nicky Hager’s investigations have uncovered practices that can only be described as an abuse of power by this government.

Did Hosking ask challenging questions to the Minister? Answer: no.

Did Hosking put specific examples requiring explanations to the Minister? Answer: no.

Was Hosking’s line of questioning relevant to the book and offer insights to the viewer? Answer: no.

Hosking then asked hard questions from Nicky Hager, who to his credit realised that he was being set up as the “fall guy” for the story.

This was not journalism. Not even close. It was superficial, Fox-style partisan politics masquerading as “informed debate”. Again, not even close.

The only television I have seen in my life that came close to Hosking’s slanted, pro-government performance was during my visits to Eastern European countries in my late teens/early twenties. In those times, Eastern Europe was ruled by well-policed, undemocratic, One Party “communist” regimes. Television “news” was little more than a mouthpiece for the government – no questions asked. There was never even an attempt at balance.

Hosking would have fitted in perfectly.

As far as I am concerned, Hosking’s “talent” lies elsewhere, but not in journalism. Perhaps a PR/spin-man for a cereal company or arms manufacturer or bordello run by the Chow Brothers (he’s already sold his soul, so the other bodily bits should be equally saleable).

On The Daily Blog, on 3 October, Keith Rankin made this pertinent observation

 Note that the apparent conservatism of the mainstream media is due it being almost completely bound to the prevailing consensus; far more bound to it than even the politicians themselves.
Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense.
A media “bound to the prevailing consensus” will reflect the nature of that “consensus”. If the prevailing public consensus  is sufficiently conservative enough to return a National-led right-wing bloc with an increased majority – then the media is unlikely to run counter to the popular current.
Little wonder that the likes of Gower, Garner, Hoskings, O’Brien et al, can get away with overt anti-left sentiments. They are speaking to an audience in a vast “echo chamber” encompassing at least fifty percent of the population.
Little wonder also that a “respected” newspaper like the NZ Herald could get away scott-free with what amounted to an obvious, shabby, politically-motivated  smear campaign with the Donghua Liu Affair in June, this year.  Evidence uncovered by this blogger and a person closely connected to the media  (by-lined as  “Hercules”) points to collusion between the Herald and Immigration Minister Woodhouse’s office to use attack politics and mis-use of information released under the OIA to undermine the leader of the Labour Party.
But even when  there is no real news to report, just  take a leaf from the Patrick Gower Manual of Loud, Excitable, Sensationalist Journalism: make up any ole BS.
Or even when the story is about John Key on the cover of Rugby News magazine, TV3’s Tova O’Brien still managed to make a childish quip at the end – denigrating David Cunliffe. Even though the story had nothing to do with the Labour Leader, O’Brien couldn’t resist a parting shot at Cunliffe,
“So once again the blue team gets one over the red team.Yes, it’s cringey, but it’s left Cunliffe looking whingey.”
Childishly stupid? Indeed. But that’s the style of “news” reporting dished up to the public in 21st Century New Zealand.
Labour, the Greens, and Mana were fighting a political battle on not one – but two fronts. National was only one – and perhaps the lesser of the two opponants they faced. This was not an election – it was the re-annointing of our Dear Leader.
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  portrait of a prime minister
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References

Electoral Commission:  2014 General Election – Official Result

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

Electoral Commission: Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate

NZ Herald: Final election results in – National loses majority

Dominion Post: National loses majority, Greens pick up one

NZ Herald: Special votes see Greens gain seat, Nats lose

NZ Parliament: The 2011 General Election

TVNZ ‘Breakfast’: Coalition deals signed – ACT and United Future

Radio NZ: Big change in Maori seats

Dominion Post: Lots left to be desired

Twitter: Patrick Gower

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

NZ Herald: MMP review recommends lower party threshold

Scoop Media: Māori Party’s first list MP Confirmed

TV3 News: Labour candidate makes more ‘Shylock’ comments

Fairfax media: Mallard’s mad Moa blurt

Fairfax media: Winston Peters backs Labour’s Kelvin Davis

NZ Herald: Election 2014 –  Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Fairfax media: Kelvin Davis blasts Mana Party   (alt. link)

TV3 News: David Cunliffe owns up to getting it wrong

TVNZ: David Cunliffe stands by decision to take family holiday

Election Ads: James Dann – Labour Party – 2014 General Election

Frankly Speaking: The secret of National’s success – revealed

Scoop Media: Patrick Gower interviews Labour leader David Cunliffe

Radio NZ: Cunliffe says no to Internet-Mana

TV3 News: Cunliffe – Labour, NZF, Greens ‘will work’

NZ Herald: Cunliffe on Dotcom – ‘We have nothing to do with him’

TVNZ News: No deal – Key leaves Colin Craig out in the cold

Fairfax media: Possible coalition line-ups after election

TVNZ News: Winston Peters not grabbing John Key’s olive branch

NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal

TV3 News:  Cunliffe apologises ‘for being a man’

The Daily Blog: When the media say they covered Dirty Politics – did they?

TVNZ: Seven Sharp 14 August

The Daily Blog: National Party Spice Boys

TV3 News Bulletin: Tuesday 30 September 2014

TV3 News:  Key nestles in with the All Blacks

Previous related blogposts

Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 October 2014

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Letter to the editor – From a warm beach in Hawaii, With Love

7 October 2014 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Tue, Oct 7, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

 

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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John Key has delegated responsibility and oversight of the SIS and GCSB to Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson saying,

 

“Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.”

 

The last person supposedly responsible for “exercising ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB” seemed to be “on holiday in Hawaii” when sensitive information was released by the SIS to a certain right wing blogger – or unaware that one of our spy agencies was illegally spying on New Zealand citizens.

 

It is reassuring to know that someone, at last,  in this government will be “exercising ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB”

 

That will be a welcome change.

 

That will leave Mr Key with plenty of time to fulfill his role as Minister for Tourism – from a warm beach in Hawaii.

 

-Frank Macskasy

 

[name & address supplied]

 

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References

NZ Herald: John Key unveils new Cabinet line-up

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the editor – Key’s one true portfolio remains…

6 October 2014 4 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Mon, Oct 6, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post
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So John Key won’t be Minister in charge of the SIS & GCSB?

Well, that leaves him as Minister for Tourism – a position he ably fulfills from a beach in Hawaii…

-Frank Macskasy

 

[address & phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: John Key reveals new Cabinet lineup

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor – An own-goal from a particularly stupid National Supporter

4 October 2014 9 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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There was something about this letter that didn’t quite ring true…

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Dave Christie - Titahi Bay - National Party

 

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It seemed “too cute” by far. Too clever. And it seemed familiar, as if I’d read the story elsewhere – or something similar to it.

Sure enough

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michelle bachmann - right wing fuckwitry

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Which prompted this response from me to the Dominion Post’s editor…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Thu, Oct 2, 2014
subject: Letter to the Editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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Re Dave Christie’s letter, telling the story about his “friend’s little girl wanting to grow up to the the Prime Minister so she could house and feed all the homeless people; and then Christie replies they should all mow his lawns for $25 and do other work around his house”.(1 Oct)

Perhaps Mr Christie could have added that the story was actually lifted, almost word-for-word, from Republican House Representative, Michelle Bachmann’s Facebook page.

It is one of those apocryphal political fables that regularly does the rounds on the internet.

The only difference is that when Mr Christie copied and pasted it, passing it of as his own “letter to the editor”, he changed one important feature. The American version had the homeless guy working for $50.

It seems that a National Party supporter couldn’t bring himself to pay that much, and halved the remuneration.

National advocating cutting pay for New Zealanders? Apocryphal indeed.

Own goal, Mr Christie, own goal.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Facebook:  Michele Bachmann

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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