A TV3 Poll on 20 September confirmed what many of us already suspected; the majority of New Zealanders are not interested in changing the flag.
For whatever reason, most respondents chose to stick with the status quo;
Want to change the flag: 25%
Keep the current flag: 69%
Don’t know: 6%
The poll was conducted from 8 to 16 September, and surveyed one thousand people. Even when the margin of error (+/-3.1%) is taken into, the result is a decisive and unambiguous ‘Yeah, Nah!”.
The response of our esteemed Dear Leader was one of arrogant dismissal.
On the morning of Monday, 21 September, on TV3’s “Paul Henry Programme” (which this blogger has not seem, but is quoting from the TV3 web-story), Key gave his response to the poll;
“It’s, with the greatest respect, not a terribly sophisticated question. It’s yes or no question but within all of those numbers there will be some people who will say they will never change and others who say they’ll never change but if… you press them they might change.”
Key had parroted precisely the same line earlier on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint;
Key: “Ok, so it’s not a terribly sophisticated question. It’s a yes or no question [unintelligible]-“
An increasingly exasperated Guyon Espiner posed simple questions to the Prime Minister – and elicited anything-but-sensible responses;
Espiner: “Aw, come on though. This is the best question. It’s a simple question; do you want to change the flag, yes or no. And only 25% of people want to change the flag. It’s a great question.”
Key: “So if you ask more sophisticated questions, fair enough, [garbled] the people who just want to say ‘I won’t change under any circumstances, that’s it, I’ve made my mind up’. That number is under 50% and falling. So everybody else is in a, ah, they will, they’ll say to a pollster ‘Yes, I’ll keep the current flag, but they’re open to change and they’re considering it.“
Key kept repeating the mantra that the ‘Yes/No’ question from the TV3-Reid Research Poll was “basic” and was insistent in his (obviously pre-prepared tutored) responses to Espiner that different questions would yield different answers;
Espiner: “Yeah but that might be a valid argument if we hadn’t seen the options, Prime Minister. But we’ve got those options out there. People have seen the four options. Then they’ve been asked. And they’ve said, over-whelmingly, they’ve screamed this, ‘no, we don’t want to do it‘.”
Key: “Yeah, like I’ve said, yeah, y’know it’s a very basic question. If you have a look at a more sophisticated basis [sic] you get different answers.“
Espiner: “So the 70% of people who say they don’t want to change the flag, do you think that they, what, don’t know their own minds, or…?”
Key: “No, like like I said to you, y’know, if you ask a more comprehensive question, you get a much more granular [sic] breakdown. And therefore, and then you get to the number of people who just say, ‘no, I don’t want a change’. And that is under 50%. But, y’know, it’s a big number and that’s what makes it difficult, because for a lot of people, y’now, they say, “Oh, it’s out history’ and that’s it. But for goodness sake, every audience I go to at the moment I ask them this question, y’know, at some point in the speech, and I haven’t had an audience that’s been more than 50% at wanting to keep the flag, and in fact the vast overwhelming bulk want a change [unintelligible]-”
Espiner: “Well, come on, that’s just a, that’s just a nice little anecdote though. This is a scientific poll. I mean, we take these numbers seriously, you take your 47% party vote pretty seriously. You can’t have that, and then say ‘Oh yeah, but the poll’s rubbish because I went to a meeting and everyone liked it’.”
At one point, Key invoked the 1972 Kirk-led Labour government as a justification for his increasingly monomaniacal flag-quest.
Key: “…It’s not a new debate. I mean, whatever the merits you think that, it goes all the way back to Norman Kirk.”
Espiner’s response was immediately derisory;
Espiner: “Oh, we’re not going to start blaming Labour from 1972, now, are we?“
Key’s insistance that the TV3-Reid Research poll was flawed because the question was too “basic” or “not terribly sophisticated” is a cop-out.
The actual Reid Research poll question was;
Now you have seen the final four flags, do you?
- Want to change the flag
- Keep the current flag
- Don’t know
That poll question is similar to the proposed second part of the Flag Referendum. Schedule 2 of the New Zealand Flag Referendums Act 2015 is specific how the second referendum ballot paper is to be laid out;
The reality is that this poll has put the “frighteners” into Key.
Perhaps for the first time he has glimpsed the potential implications if the referendum fails to replace the current flag. John Key’s credibility will have taken a severe pummeling; he will have spent much of his “political capital” for no good reason; and it will be seen as a personal failure for his leadership skills.
New Zealanders will have every right to ask why Key spent $26 million on a referendum which only 25% of respondents – less than National’s core voter-base – supported.
The flag referendum will do for Key what a 1997 referendum on a proposed compulsory superannuation savings scheme did to National-NZ First coalition Treasurer, Winston Peters. At that referendum, 92% of voters (from a postal ballot turnout of 80%) voted against replacing NZ Super with a private savings system.
The poll was widely seen as an indictment of Winston Peters and the Bolger-led National-NZ First coalition Government.
A failure of this magnitude will be remembered as “Key’s Folly” – a moment when one man’s ego out-stripped his common sense and he began to believe the hype created by National’s taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and party strategists. In other countries, such ego-driven leaders build massive bronze statues of themselves.
Even Key is not as delusional as to think his “popularity” would let him get away with a 20-metre metal-version of himself in front of Parliament.
As more polls on this issue appear, pressure will increase on Key to dump this fiasco.
The question is; is Key’s ego greater than his much-vaunted political-acumen?
It hasn’t been so far.
A strategy to subvert John Key’s vanity project…
NZ Parliament: New Zealand Flag Referendums Act 2015 – Schedule 2
Wikipedia: 2002 General Election
Wikipedia: Referenda in New Zealand
No Right Turn: So much for the PM’s vanity project
The Standard: The flag poll
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 September 2015.
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19 September – This morning’s episode of The Nation on TV3 featured leaders from Labour, Greens, NZ First, ACT, and Steven Joyce spinning for National. The episode was an appraisal of National’s performance since last year’s election.
Joyce, Little, Shaw, and Peters were given decent time to respond to questions from hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower. David Seymour seemed short-changed with an unseemingly hasty, brief interview, though at 0.69% of the Party vote his five minutes of question-and-answer might be deemed appropriate. Except that ACT has considerable influence on National out of proportion to it’s miniscule electoral support.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect to the episode were continual references to poll ratings for John Key and National being “unchanged” and continuing to ride high. The implication being that National and Key’s poll ratings remain unchanged.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A Roy Morgan poll reported on Radio NZ on Friday – the day before The Nation went to air – gave a shock result for National;
According to the poll, National National’s support has plummeted by six percentage-points, with support for the Labour/Green bloc jumping by eight percentage points.
NZ First support had also fallen by 2.5 percentage points.
The inescapable conclusion is that, according to this poll, Labour and the Greens had achieved the Golden Rule; increase support by taking from their opponants, and not by the two Left-wing parties cannibalising each other. As Patrick Gower pointed out;
“They have to find a way to take votes of National. They can’t just shuffle it around between the Greens and New Zealand First to get to 33, 34. That ain’t gonna do it.”
In the Roy Morgan poll, National and NZ First’s fall mirrors almost exactly the rise of the Labour-Green bloc. No “shuffling” – National’s support has moved over to Labour and the Greens.
How was this reported on The Nation? Not at all. No mention made whatsoever of a poll – which while it should not be taken in isolation – should still give government party strategists cause for alarm and rate a mention from our current affairs media.
This made a mockery of Patrick Gower’s comment to Labour leader, Andrew Little,
“But still the poll ratings haven’t changed. John Key is exactly where he has always been.”
“That’s what the polls say. The polls put them at 47%.”
Or this comment from Lisa Owen;
“So while National’s well ahead in the polls, it’s not been a year without its challenges.”
During the Panel discussion with Guyon Espiner, Patrick Gower, and Tracy Watkin, similar mis-leading references were made by professional political journalists who should know better.
“I think it’s tracking pretty well, if you look at the polls. I mean, 47% for National is extraordinary at that point.”
“47%, if that’s that the numbers in the latest poll, I mean that is quite incredible, it really is.”
“Well I’m going to have to say John Key [is the winner]… Well, I mean, if he’s still on 47% [interruption] Winner! Winner! He’s…Despite everything, y’know, third term and he’s still massively popular and his government is still hugely popular.”
To be fair, if the interviews for Saturday morning were pre-recorded throughout the week, the Roy Morgan poll results appeared too late to be included in questions asked of Party leaders. Though the lead-in from Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower was a live (?) broadcast. They should have been aware of the shock result only twentyfour hours previous.
The reality is that Roy Morgan polls are rarely reported by either TV1 or TV3. Both broadcasters have their own contracted polling companies and ignore all other results.
What is totally inexplicable is that the producers and hosts of The Nation ignored polling from their own company, Reid Research.
As was reported previously, the personal popularity of our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, has been in slow free-fall since 2009;
Oct/Nov 08: 36.4%
Feb 2009: 52.1%
April 2009: 51.1%
Aug 2009: 51.6%
Oct 2009: 55.8%
Feb 2010: 49.4%
April 2010: 49.0%
June 2010: 49.6%
Jul/Aug 2010: 48.7%
Sept/Oct 2010: 50.6%
Nov/Dec 2010: 54.1%
Feb 2011: 49.1%
April 2011: 52.4%
May 2011: 48.2%
Jun/Jul 2011: 50.5%
Aug 2011: 53.3%
Sept 2011: 54.5%
Oct 2011: 52.7%
1-8 Nov 2011: 50.0%
9-16 Nov 2011: 49.4%
16-23 Nov 2011: 48.9%
Feb 2012: 45.8%
April 2012: 44.2%
May/Jun 2012: 40.5%
Feb 2013: 41.0%
April 2013: 38.0%
May 2013: 41.0%
Jul 2013: 42.0%
Nov 2013: 40.9%
Jan 2014: 38.9%
Mar 2014: 42.6%
May 2014: 43.1%
Jun 2014: 46.7%
Jul 2014: 43.8%
5-3 Aug 2014: 44.1%
19-25 Aug 2014: 41.4%
26 Aug-1 Sept 2014: 45.1%
2-8 Sept 2014: 45.3%
9-15 Sept 2014: 44.1%
Jan 2015: 44.0%
May 2015: 39.4%
The most recent 3News/Reid Research Poll is no better for John Key. His PPM ranking has slipped again;
July 2015: 38.3%
From the rarified-atmosphere heights of 55.8% (2009), Key has dropped 17.5 percentage points in the Preferred Prime Minister rankings by July of this year.
Not referencing a polling company that Mediaworks has no contractual relationship with is, perhaps understandable, even if it means not presenting their audience with a full picture of New Zealand’s ever changing political environment.
But not referencing a polling company that Mediaworks is contractually bound with, and has previously used their results for several years? Especially when that polling company has recorded a massive fall in popularity for Key since 2009?
The only explanation for this strange over-sight of data is that it did not fit with The Nation’s narrative of a “hugely popular Prime Minister”. Otherwise, Owen and Gower would have had to completely change their interviewing tactics with Little and Shaw.
Perhaps this is one reason why Key’s popularity has “remained so high” – a reluctance by certain MSM not to reassess the narrative around our esteemed Dear Leader. In doing so, the perception of Key’s “high popularity” is artificially maintained, creating a perpetual, self-fulfilling scenario.
In part, this provides an answer why Key is so “hugely popular”. Because we are told it is so.
Tim Watkin Responds
When the issues raised in this story were put to The Nation’s producer, Tim Watkin, he generously took time give his response;
“On your Roy Morgan critique:
Media organisations always refer to their own polling, not others. The Roy Morgan poll is well known as the most volatile. Indeed, to emphasise why we wouldn’t base a programme discussing the past year in politics around a single poll by another organisation, Radio New Zealand and no lesser poll-watcher than Colin James reported this in just the past few days: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/284109/national-back-in-poll-position
Polls are about trends, as you know, not single results. So I’m afraid your “nothing could be further from the truth” couldn’t be much further from the truth.
On your quotes of Lisa, Paddy, Tracy and Guyon:
Looking at the 3News-Reid Research poll, National has been remarkably consistent since 2011. National is indeed at 47%, as those on the programme said. When Guyon mentioned 47% he was likely referring to RNZ’s poll of polls, which also has National at 47%. Labour is in the low 30s. So all the quotes you mention are absolutely correct. Paddy’s mention of John Key being unchanged I took to mean ‘still well ahead of you, Mr Little’.
On John Key’s numbers:
Though you’re changing the goalposts by switching from party numbers to personal numbers, you’re right that Key’s own preferred PM numbers are down and right to focus on the trend, rather than a single poll. But when you say a couple of times that we didn’t reference that, you have simply ignored our final couple of questions to Steve Joyce. We didn’t mention those numbers precisely, but the ones behind that, on honesty, capability, narrow-minded etc. We put to Joyce that Key was sliding, exactly as you argue. So your outrage at our pre-ordained narrative is somewhat misplaced, isn’t it? We raised the point that you say we didn’t.
Still, to take a step back, the thing about those numbers is that while trending down (as Lisa stressed with Joyce), they are still at a level any other politician in the country would give a limb for. So when you talk about “freefall” etc, I think you’re missing the big picture, which is how those numbers are a) so much higher than others, b) unusually high for a third term PM and c) have gone down before, only to bounce back up.
So there’s no agenda or telling people how to think; just a cold hard look at the trends.”
Acknowledgement: some quotes have been used from transcripts provided by The Nation, to this blogger.
Roy Morgan polling is conducted by calling both landline and mobile telephones throughout New Zealand, and is the only polling company to do so.
The Nation: Steven Joyce interview
The Nation: Andrew Little interview
The Nation: Winston Peters
The Nation: James Shaw interview
The Nation: David Seymour
Wikipedia: 2014 General Election – Overall Results
The Nation: The Panel discussion
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 September 2015.
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The following two reports were posted on Radio NZ’s website within a few hours of each other on Friday 18 September (ignore the date given on one item; Updated at 2:39 pm on 20 August 2015).
The first item reported that “APN [parent company of the NZ Herald] plans to begin registration of visitors to its New Zealand Herald website before the end of the year, as the company’s profits fall“.
The article went on to outline how “The Australian-based APN News and Media – parent company of NZME which owns the Herald – has indicated it wants to charge customers for online content“.
The next item reported that some of NZ Herald’s most experienced columnists were being dumped;
Now call me old-fashioned, but it strikes me as a rather bizarre business strategy that, on the one hand, the owners will shortly be raising a paywall on NZ Herald’s on-line content, and demanding payment to read material…
… whilst on the other, they are cutting some of their most experienced contributing writers?!
How does that work?
Actually, it doesn’t.
Expecting consumers to pay for a product that the company owners are busily gutting is an insane proposition. Reducing the content of the paper, written by some of the most insightful, respected columnists in this country, is a self-defeating policy. It will only achieve one thing; a reduction in quality leading to an eventual loss of readership.
In commercial-speak: No sound business model can succeed if consumers are presented with a lower standard of quality of product.
In plain english: gutting a newspaper is bad business, and harmful to the democratic process.
This is not a solution, this is an ill-considered panic-move. As usual, it is workers who will pay for bad management decisions that any fool can see will not work.
Radio NZ: High-profile NZ Herald jobs under review
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 September 2015.
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September 15 – A day in our history when four items of news were reported in our media, and few people seemed aware of the new depths of craziness that our country has sunk to.
It was said that the old Soviet system was riddled with contradictions that, by 1991, led to it’s demise.
That charge could just as easily be levelled against the neo-liberal system, where the pursuit of the almighty dollar/euro/yen/etc has resulted in levels of crazy contradictions that are becoming more apparent with each passing day, and increasingly difficult to sustain and justify by it’s proponents.
Those contradictions, I suspect, were part of the reason of Jeremy Corbyn’s ascension in the British Labour Party, and left-wing governments gaining ground in France, Greece, and elsewhere.
New Zealand has often been behind the times, so it may take a wee while longer for voters to fully comprehend that the neo-liberal system is a fraud, with only a few benefitting.
Four headlines. Four more examples of “free” market, corporate quackery. Four more nails in the neo-liberal coffin.
The purchaser of Silver Fern is Shanghai Making Aquarius Group. Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group will be purchasing a 50% shareholding of Silver Fern, paying $261 million for the buy-in.
Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group is one of four subsidiaries of Bright Foods, a State Owned Enterprise, 100% owned by the Chinese government (though registered in the Cayman Islands – no doubt for tax-avoidance purposes). Bright Foods owns (as of September 2015) of Synlait Milk Ltd, which it bought into five years ago.
At $261 million, the purchase price is still a small fraction of the estimated US$4 trillion it has “in foreign currency reserves, which it is determined to invest overseas to earn a profit and exert its influence“, according to a recent report in the New York Times.
As usual, our National-led government has turned a blind eye to yet another buy-up of one of New Zealand’s primary industry producers.
Yet, with a 50% holding, that almost guarantees that half of Silver Fern’s profits will end up going back to Bright Foods and the Chinese government.
Another report states that investors from China are set to invest US$10.9 billion in our real estate, according to said Andrew Taylor, Juwai.com’s co-chief executive;
“Juwai.com projects that the pilot program will enable US$11 billion of new Chinese money to flow into New Zealand’s real estate market. That’s based on wealthy Chinese investing 10 per cent of their assets into international property, including commercial. It’s also based on NZ getting about 3.3 per cent of that property-specific investment, as it has in the past.“
The question is; why is it permissable for a foreign State Owned Enterprise to buy up New Zealand companies – whilst our own government is busy shedding ownership of Genesis Energy, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Air New Zealand, land owned by Landcorp, and houses owned by Housing NZ?
Why does National think that State ownership by the NZ Government in our productive industries is undesirable – but State ownership by foreign nations is perfectly acceptable?
This appears to be a major flaw in neo-liberal ideology and one that National has yet to confront head-on.
It has been fairly obvious that the flag referendum has been foisted upon New Zealand for two reasons,
- A distraction to deflect public and media attention away from the deepening economic downturn that has every indication of turning into another full-blown recession,
- A personal vanity-project for John Key, because eradicating child poverty; addressing the Auckland housing crisis; or making meaningful inroads into New Zealand’s worsening greenhouse gas emissions is not the kind of legacy our esteemed Dear Leader thinks is important enough to warrant his attention (he is a busy man).
On 14 September, John Key surprised many people by “reaching out” to the NZ Labour Party to assist National to include the so-called “red peak” flag in the up-coming referendum. As Radio NZ reported Key’s comments;
“If I drop out one of them, if I drop out one particular flag, there will be a group that will say that was wrong because I was going to vote for that – there will be another group that will say ‘I just didn’t realise this was a process that could be influenced through social campaign’.
If you look at Labour, they’ve been very disingenuous throughout the whole process so if I’ve got to go back to Parliament and change the law to have five, are you really telling me they wouldn’t then run a campaign that said I’m wasting Parliament’s time because I’m now going back to it?
I mean, these people can play games forever.
Well, they would need to go back and change their position on the flag process, instead of lying to the public and saying they’re opposed to this when their policy is actually to change the flag.
If they want to treat the whole process with respect, they’re welcome to come and have a discussion with me, but that is not the way they’ve played this thing.
And if Labour want to publicly come out and support the process and the change, that it’s an appropriate thing to do and argue that it’s an appropriate thing to do… then we might, but that hasn’t been what they’ve done so far.”
There seemed an element of desperation in Key’s plaintive demand for Labour’s support on the issue.
Which is hardly surprising, as support for the “red peak” option had surpassed 50,000 in an on-line petition – a number equivalent to the 50,000 who marched through Auckland in May 2010, opposing National’s proposed mining in protected Schedule 4 DoC conservation land and marine reserves. The sheer number forced National to back down, and on 20 July 2010, then-Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee announced;
“At the time the discussion document was released, I made it clear that it was a discussion. There were no preconceived positions from the Government. We have no intention of mining national parks.”
The question though is, who is playing games here?
Andrew Little explained;
“The Prime Minister can put Red Peak on the ballot paper without any party political support. He does it by Order in Council – he does not need other parties’ support for that.”
A brief explanation on what is an Order In Council;
Order in Council
A type of Legislative Instrument that is made by the Executive Council presided over by the Governor-General. Most Legislative Instruments are made by way of Order in Council. For more information about the Executive Council, see the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website. To find Orders in Council on this website, search or browse under Legislative Instruments.
The Executive Council is the highest formal instrument of government. It is the part of the executive branch of government that carries out formal acts of government.
By convention, the Executive Council comprises all Ministers of the Crown, whether those Ministers are inside or outside Cabinet. The Governor-General presides over, but is not a member of, the Executive Council. When a new Cabinet is sworn in, Ministers are first appointed as Executive Councillors and then receive warrants for their respective Ministerial portfolios.
The principal function of the Executive Council is to advise the Governor-General to make Orders in Council that are required to give effect to the Government’s decisions. Apart from Acts of parliament, Orders in Council are the main method by which the government implements decisions that need legal force. The Executive Council also meets from time to time to carry out formal acts of state.
The Executive Council generally meets every Monday. At the meetings, the Executive Council gives formal advice to the Governor-General to sign Orders in Council (to make, for example, regulations or appointments). The meetings also provide an opportunity for Ministers to brief the Governor-General on significant political and constitutional issues that may have arisen during the week.
So apparently, unless I am missing something else, Andrew Little is 100% correct; “The Prime Minister can put Red Peak on the ballot paper without any party political support. He does it by Order in Council – he does not need other parties’ support for that.”
Which then begs the question; why is John Key trying to strong-arm Labour into supporting the addition of the “red peak” option onto the ballot paper?
Answer: He is attempting to manufacture “cross party support” to extricate his government from a tricky situation. The flag referendum appears to be spiralling out of control with popular support growing for a flag design that is not simply a pathetic branding exercise (ie; silver fern) – but has become popular with a significant portion of the country.
If Key is to bow to popular pressure, he desperately needs Labour to come on-board, to neutralise a guarenteed attack from the Opposition benches. As Key himself said on 15 September;
“And if Labour want to publicly come out and support the process and the change, that it’s an appropriate thing to do and argue that it’s an appropriate thing to do… then we might, but that hasn’t been what they’ve done so far.”
In effect, Key is employing precisely the same tactic Labour employed in 2007, where Helen Clark sought cross-party support to pass the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act (a.k.a the ‘Anti-Smacking Act’).
National’s parliamentary support, fronted by the then-Opposition Leader, John Key, gave a “seal of approval” from the Political Liberal-Right, to an otherwise contentious piece of legislation that was provoking howls of hysterical outrage from certain quarters.
Bringing Key on-board was risky for Labour, as it elevated Key to a near-equal position with then-Prime Minister, Helen Clark. But it was seen as necessary, to attempt to dilute the perception that this was “social engineering” inspired by Labour-Green “extremists”.
Eight years later, and this time John Key needs Labour to stifle a growing disenchantment with his personal vanity-project, which is threatening to take on a life of it’s own.
Key cannot afford to lose control of the flag debate. There is a reason that this is a binding referendum – the framing of the debate; the four choices; and the sequence of questions (#1, which alternative flag do you want, followed by #2, pick one of two flags, an alternative or the current one) – are all under his personal control, via the Executive Council.
Andrew Little is correct, our esteemed Dear Leader could choose to add the “red peak” option by an Order in Council. Key does not require Labour’s assistance, either constitutionally or legally. But he doesn’t want to leave himself open to ridicule from Labour, and the perception that he has “lost control”.
When John Key stated on 15 September;
“I’m more than happy to meet with him but only on the condition it’s not about a yes or no vote. A yes or no vote doesn’t work. It doesn’t deliver what New Zealanders want.”
– he was not talking about “what New Zealanders want”.
He was talking about what he, John Key, wants. And he needs Labour to do it.
The question is: why should Labour help Key?
This next bit comes courtesy from Paula Bennett, currently Minister for Social Housing.
Radio NZ reported on 15 September,
But the Productivity Commission is unable to offer specific solutions as to how the government should deal with the group that is most difficult to look after.
Every year, the country spends $34 billion on social services, more than 10 percent of the GDP.
Read today’s final report into social services by the Productivity Commission (PDF, 4.3MB)
The commission recommends a move away from the current top-down approach, with more responsibility given to providers.
But it could not decide how to deal with the people with the most complex needs, instead suggesting that the government look at two possible solutions.
One option would be a standalone agency which oversees a client’s case across a number of agencies.
The second would be to fund District Health Boards (DHBs) to be responsible for the country’s most disadvantaged people.
It also recommends establishing a Ministerial Committee of Social Services, rather than an Office of Social Services, which had been recommended in its draft report. The ministerial committee would be responsible for reform of the sector.
The commission has defined social services as those including health care, social care, education and training, employment services and community services.
It has looked at agencies and services including Housing New Zealand, Work and Income, Whanau Ora, services for people with disabilities, and home care for the elderly.
“But we’ve never thought that money was the problem as such. If it needs more money, we will.”
The usual lie from a National Minister, considering the severe funding cutbacks to community organisations such as Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis, community health organisations, Relationship Aotearoa, and many others.
But the following words to gush from her mouth simply beggared belief;
“What we’ve been really big on is the data analytics, that makes sure that we’re targetting the right services to the right kids and more importantly getting actual results for them.”
Bennett was adamant that National has been “really big on is the data analytics, that makes sure that” they are “targetting the right services to the right kids and more importantly getting actual results for them”
Let’s take a moment to step back in time.
Specifically, set temporal co-ordinates of your Toyota Tardis to 16 August 2012. This NZ Herald story, from that year, tells the story;
The question here is; How can Bennett “target the right services to the right kids and more importantly get actual results for them” – when three years ago she stated categorically that finding the “data analytics” was not a priority?
What “data analytics” is she talking about?
The fiasco surrounding the private company running Mt Eden and Wiri prisons got more bizarre on 15 September when it was revealed that Serco had been let off $375,000 in fines for serious contract breaches.
Fines for breaching the contract between Serco and the Crown are one of the few sanctions that the government can levy on the company for not upholding contractual obligations.
A 15 September report from Radio NZ revealed;
The story then explained why the heading – “$270k in fines’ – was an under-estimation;
Under questioning from Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon this afternoon, Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga spelt out the sum of Serco’s cancelled fines.
“Mr Speaker, since Serco took over management of Mt Eden Prison in 2011, I’m advised that Corrections has issued a total of 55 performance notices to Serco – seven have been withdrawn,” Mr Lotu-liga said.
“And the total amount of the withdrawals is $275,000.”
But it seems there are more fines that Serco has had cancelled and Mr Clendon asked the minister about one of them.
“Does the minister approve of Corrections’ decision to excuse the $100,000 fine that was imposed when Serco failed to take back razors that had been issued to prisoners, to inmates, if so why?” Mr Clendon asked.
Mr Lotu-liga responded that that was not one of the seven withdrawn fines he was referring too.
The chronically inept and terminally-tragic Corrections Minister, Sam Lotu-liga, was either unaware of the $100,000 fine – or was wilfully engaged in a cover-up.
However, whether the actual figure of $275,000 or $375,000 is actually irrelevant.
What is truly astounding is that someone within either the Minister’s office or the Corrections Dept had made the decision to scrub $375,000 in fines for serious contract breaches.
The obvious questions which beg to be asked and answered are;
- Who made the decision to dismiss $375,000 in fines issued to Serco?
- Why was the decision made to dismiss the fines?
- Does the same principle of waiving fines extend to every citizen in New Zealand who has exceeded the speed limit; parked illegally; or committed some other offence which resulted in a monetary penalty?
- What the hell is going on?!
The next time our esteemed Dear Leader or some other National minister utter the phrase, “One law for all” – they should be immediatly reminded that obviously “One Law for All” does not extend to companies like Serco.
15 September – one hell of a day for National. It got about as crazy as crazy can be in this country.
Or is there more to come?
Wikipedia: Bright Foods
NZ Companies Office: Synlait Milk Limited
China Daily: China’s Bright Dairy invests in NZ’s Synlait
NZ Herald: Chinese investment set to boom
Radio NZ: Red Peak – Politicians fling flag barbs
Ministry for the Environment: New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2013
Radio NZ: A flutter of hope for Red Peak?
Fairfax media: Thousands march against mining
Te Ara – The NZ Enclyclopedia: Cross-party negotiation on legislation
Radio NZ: Major social service changes recommended
Dominion Post: Women’s Refuge cuts may lead to waiting lists
Scoop media: Relationships Aotearoa – our story
Radio NZ: Serco let off $270k in fines – Minister
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 Septembr 2015.
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As international prices for milk-powder plummet to historic lows, wiping billions from Fonterra’s pay-out to farmers; the economy; and tax revenue; sending farms to the wall and collapse; and pushing New Zealand closer to recession – our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, had this to say about the downturn;
“Dairy prices are down a little bit…”?
And I suppose World Wars 1 and 2 were “nations disagreeing a little bit“.
You can always count on the sky on Planet Key being warm and rosy.
Contrast Key’s disingenuous, Pollyannarish positivity, with former Finance Minister, Dr Michael Cullen’s, warnings about the Global Financial crisis in June 2008, and how it was impacting on New Zealand’s economy;
“In 2008, New Zealand’s economy has begun to feel the effects of a challenging global environment. Global increases in commodity prices have seen the cost of food and petrol increase significantly here at home. Internationally, there are fears that these increases could impoverish tens of millions of people in developing countries.
The continued fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States and the resulting global credit crunch have led to higher mortgage rates and a weakening of the housing market domestically, squeezing the budgets of existing homeowners and reducing household spending and investment growth. The weakness of the United States Dollar has been an important driver of a very strong New Zealand Dollar, making life difficult for some exporters. Adding to this, farmers are battling drought in a number of regions and GDP growth will slow as a result.
While these challenges are not of New Zealand’s making, they are affecting New Zealanders today. And while the New Zealand Government cannot single-handedly bring down food and petrol prices or end the credit crunch, we have a responsibility to manage our way through these difficulties while protecting families from the harsh edges of any downturn.”
Cullen was up-front with New Zealanders, warning of tough times ahead.
Key treats us like children, because deep down, his barely-disguised arrogance taints and defines his view of New Zealanders.
Sometimes, though, the disdain he holds for ordinary Kiwis pokes through his public persona of “likeable blokiness”, and becomes manifested in sneering derision. As he has done with anti-TPPA protests and opposition to the partial-privatisation of state assets;
“They don’t fully understand what we’re doing. My experience is when I take audiences through it, like I did just before, no-one actually put up their hand and asked a question.” –John Key, 27 October 2011
“Well, the numbers don’t look like they’re that significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around about 40 per cent. That’s not absolutely amazing, it’s not overwhelmingly opposed. But the people who are motivated to vote will be those who are going to vote against.” – John Key, 14 December 2013
“They were expecting a big turnout, they were expecting a big vote in their favour and they didn’t get either of those. Overall what it basically shows is that it was a political stunt.” – John Key, 13 December 2013
“There’s three groups – some are Jane Kelsey and her people; she’s been opposed to every single free trade deal… she’ll never agree. The second group are the Labour and the Greens people; they are there with all sorts of stuff… Labour in their heart of hearts are actually in favour, but they’re in that oppositional mode at the moment where they’re opposed to everything… then you get to the third bit with people who are genuinely protesting, but I think protesting on quite a bit of misinformation.” – John Key, 17 August 2015
Radio NZ: PM shrugs off worries about economy
Treasury: Budget 2008
TV3 News: Key – TPPA protesters ‘misinformed’
Fairfax media: Asset sales promoted to seniors
NZ Herald: Asset sales proceed in spite of referendum
Fairfax media: PM playing down voter turnout
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2015.
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A story on TV1 News on 9 September was more interesting for what it failed to tell the viewer, rather than any information it was trying to impart.
Briefly, the story focused on a recent Colmar Brunton survey that stated that National’s poll rating remained “unchanged at 47 per cent, the same amount it attained at the election“. It also told us;
Mr Key’s personal approval ratings also continue to ride high. He’s steady at 40 per cent this month.
According to the story, the Colmar Brunton Preferred Prime Minister survey gave the viewer a ‘snapshot’ of the survey period 29 August to 2 September. There was no other context to the survey.
The viewer was not given information as to how Key’s popularity compared to previous Colmar Brunton surveys.
If TV1 News producers had bothered to do a brief search on the issue, the result would have given better context and a more overall, informative picture.
For example, a Google search for past Colmar Brunton surveys reveals the rise and gradual decline of our “popular” Prime Minister;
September 2009 – 50%
May 2010 – 46%
November 2011 – 52%
September 2012 – 44%
September 2013 – 42%
September 2014 – 46%
September 2015 – 40%
In fact, the Colmar Brunton Preferred Prime Minister polling shows a striking similarity to polling carried out by TVNZ’s rival, 3News/Reid Research Poll;
Aug 2009: 51.6%
April 2010: 49.0%
Nov/Dec 2010: 54.1%
1-8 Nov 2011*: 50.0%
9-16 Nov 2011*: 49.4%
16-23 Nov 2011*: 48.9%
July 2012: 43.2%
Nov 2013: 40.9%
2-8 Sept 2014*: 45.3%
9-15 Sept 2014*: 44.1%
* Where multiple-polling took place within a given month, all poll results have been presented top give the reader a more accurate picture.
It is therefore apparent that to claim that “Mr Key’s personal approval ratings also continue to ride high” and that “He’s steady at 40 per cent this month” – is not an accurate reflection of polling trends. Those are misleading statements, creating a false perception of a politician’s standing in the electorate.
If this is the new standard of political analysis from TV1 News then the producers may as well not bother. There are plenty of crime, disaster, “cutesy animal”, and quirky-celebrity stories they could broadcast instead.
Perhaps serious political analysis should best be left to the experts – bloggers.
Facebook: Colmar Brunton – 14-18 Sept 2013
Colmar Brunton: 6-10 September 2014
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 September 2015.
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