Archive

Archive for June, 2016

Letter to the editor – give us a chance to vote, Mr Key!

30 June 2016 2 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, Jun 27, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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British voters have voted to leave the European Union, and our esteemed Prime Minister, John Key responded statesmanlike;

“This was always a decision for voters in the UK and we respect the decision they have made.”

I wonder if our dear leader will also give New Zealand voters the opportunity to vote in our own binding referendum whether to Remain or Exit the controversial TPPA?

Will Key demonstrate the same respect for New Zealand voters?

I call on John Key to give us a referendum so that we, like our British cousins, can determine our own future.

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-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: Brexit’s impact on NZ will be limited – PM

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Letter to the editor – “Throwing money at the problem” of homelessness

23 June 2016 2 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: Sun, Jun 19, 2016
subject: Letter to the Editor

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Letter to the editor
The Listener

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On TVNZ’s Q+A on 19 June, former National Party President, Michelle Boag referred to solving homelessness as “throwing money at the problem”.

Because as we all know, the homeless should just bunk down at the nearest Marae or in a ute parked up by some handy public toilets.

Meanwhile, National forked out a $30 million subsidy to Rio Tinto; $26 million for a flag referendum, and $11.5 million to a Saudi businessman for a farm in the middle of the Saudi desert. These are evidently not “throwing money at the problem”. They are ‘investments’.

In the next breath, Boag shed a couple of crocodile tears saying, “we want to be a compassionate society”.

Well, actually, many of us already are compassionate.

It’s Boag who seems to have trouble with the concept.

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Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

TVNZ: Q+A – The Panel

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Flying the Red-Green Banner of Resistance

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The Red Green Banner of Resistance

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May 31st was the day that many in the Labour and Green parties had so earnestly wanted to see – a formal declaration between the leadership of their respective parties for greater co-operation to remove National from power. For most (if not nearly all) of the rank-and-file membership, it was a no-brainer that the two parties – both similar in so many ways – would seek a more formal partnership.

The wonder is that it has taken so long to achieve.

When Labour undermined Hone Harawira’s chances of holding on to his  Te Tai Tokerau electorate, I wrote this prescient piece on 11 June 2014;

That is why the Left will lose on 20 September [2014].

Unless Labour radically changes tack and demonstrates to the public that they are more interested in working together with potential partners – than wrecking their chances at winning votes – voters will be put off. Telling the public that Labour “can work with other parties after the election” is not good enough. Labour must show it can do it.

Otherwise, as one quasi-fascist right-wing blogger put it, the public will perceive that “things are falling apart for the Labour Party“.  He may have a valid point.

Again, as Gordon Campbell stated,

 Labour may just be mule-headed enough – and tribally fixated on the FPP-era of politicking – to try and get rid of Harawira at all costs, and thereby torpedo one of its main chances of forming the next government.

At which Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish added;

 How not to win an election…

…Pretend that we still have a First Past the Post electoral system.”

It is supremely ironic that National – the champion of the Cult of Individualism – can work collectively and collegially with other political parties. But Labour – a party of the left, which espouses collective action for the greater good – is desperately and greedily scrabbling for votes for itself and attacking  potential allies.

That was written four and a half months out from the 2014 election.

After Labour’s disastrous drubbing at the 2014 election,  I penned this post-mortem on 26 September 2014;

The forces on the right are very united”,  said Josie Pagani, on TV3’s political panel. And she would be 100% correct.

This is one of the lessons that Labour should be taking from the 2014 elections; unity is strength.

National did not seek to destroy potential allies. With the exception of the Conservative Party, it actively supported them. Either with direct deal-making (Epsom and Ohariu), or with “nods-and-winks” (Maori Party).

Even with the Conservatives – though Key refused any actual deal-making, he did not go out of his way to under-mine Colin Craig’s party. Just in case they reached the 5% thresh-hold and thus became potentially useful to the Nats.

By contrast, Labour campaigned to destroy the Mana-Internet Party, and the Greens undermined Labour with it’s comment that Labour’s policies would have to be “independently audited” – a phrase picked up by Key and used to attack Cunliffe.

Key projected stability and co-operation on the Right.

The Left projected intense rivalry and a hatred of each other that was volcanic in intensity.

Who did Labour and the Greens think the public would vote for?

Ten things Labour and the Greens should consider in the coming days, weeks, months, and next three years.

A couple of weeks later, on 10 October 2014, I repeated my views;

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.

It appears that Labour, belatedly, has finally taken note. Specifically, they have taken note of 21st Century Realpolitik in New Zealand;

  • We are no longer operating under First Past the Post
  • John Key is very adept at fostering good relationships with potential coalition allies
  • Labour either ignored potential coalition allies, or – in Mana-Internet’s case – actively destroyed it
  • Post FPP, National is still a monolithic  party of the Right simply because it has successfully become a political vehicle for religious conservatives, urban neo-liberals,  rural conservatives, and other assorted right-wingers
  • Post FPP, the Left is fractured because ideologies are wider ranging, and because many perceive Labour as still carrying baggage from it’s Rogernomics days and do not trust the Labour Party (whereas the Green Party has a pristine, untarnished reputation, free of dirty baggage from past betrayals of the electorate)

Adding to Labour’s woeful performance is it’s constant habit of  replacing their leader almost like we change the oil in our motorcars. As I wrote on 10 October, 2014, after Cunliffe was dumped as party leader;

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?

The only other parliamentary party that goes through it’s leaders like I go through a pack of toilet-paper is ACT – and we don’t really want to be like ACT, do we?

Support for the formal  MoU was positive from Labour-leaning blogs such as The Standard, and grass-roots members generally seem to welcome what was an obvious strategic move by both parties.

Those who were ascerbic tended to be the Right Wing (for obvious reasons), and some cynical media for whom deep political analysis has long eluded them.

Peoples’ Exhibit #1

This asinine “tweet” from  Heather du Plessis-Allan had all the constructive insights of a rural long-drop made from decaying, moss-covered weatherboards;

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Heather du Plessis-Allan - Labour Green MoU - tweet - twitter

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It “hurt her eyes”! Oh, how jolly witty!

It received eleven “likes”. Out of 4.5 million New Zealanders.

Is this the new nadir of 21st century journalism in New Zealand? All I can say is; thank-the-gods-for-Radio-NZ.

’nuff said.

Some other media punditry was only marginally better. Either New Zealand’s political journalists have become too cynical; too jaded; too dismissive to offer constructive reporting and analysis of new events – or, perhaps, such new events are beyond their ken to fully understand.

Peoples’ Exhibit #2

This column from former ACT-leader Rodney Hide, published in the Herald on 5 June;

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Rodney Hide - Marriage of convenience - Labour Green MoU - nz herald

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– spoke more of the author, than the political event he was commentating on.

Hide’s piece is little more than some bitchy, snide derision dressed up as political commentary. However, the more one reads, the more one becomes acutely aware that – carrying the “marriage of convenience” metaphor a step further – Rodney Hide is positively purple with apoplectic jealousy.

Hide is the bachelorette who missed out on getting a rose, and he’s miffed!

Whatever Hide might say about the Greens, there are certain truths he cannot easily dismiss;

  1. The Green Party won 10.7% of the Party Vote in 2014. ACT won 0.69%.
  2. The Green Party won it’s votes through it’s own efforts. ACT’s sole MP won Epsom through a deal between National and John Banks in 2011, and later, David Seymour.
  3. The Green Party leadership has been stable since 2008. ACT has changed leaders five times since 2008. (The next change will see them officially run out of members, and they will have to start from Roger Douglas again.
  4. In the 1999 General Election, ACT won 9 seats and the Green won seven. A decade and a half  later, in the 2014 General Election, ACT had one MP (elected solely at the whim of the National Party) and the Greens have doubled their parliamentary representation with fourteen MPs.

So for Hide to sneer at the Labour-Green MoU is a bit rich, considering his own party is on terminal life-support, and survives purely at the pleasure of the National Party. When ACT’s usefulness to National has finished – the electoral plug will be pulled from the political respirator that keeps ACT’s brain-dead corpse “alive”.

ACT’s passing will be the point in our history when we mark the decline and demise of neo-liberalism in New Zealand. Future generations will view it as a mirror-image of the 1960s/70s youth counter-culture movement; cruel, self-centered, and full of hatred for those impoverished for whom the “free” market failed.

In the meantime, the Green Party will do what green things tend to do: grow.

And the jealous bitterness of Rodney Hide will consume him to his final days.

Peoples’  Exhibit #3

Winston Peters dismissed the Labour-Green MoU. He repeated his usual mantra;

“We do not like jack-ups or rigged arrangements behind the people’s back. We’ll go into this election, just ourselves and our policies seeking to change how this country is governed.”

And five days later on TVNZ’s Q+A;

@  0.46

“But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works.”

Which is deeply ironic, considering that;

(a) Prior to an election, Peters never discloses to the voting public whether he would coalesce with National or Labour,

(b) Once the election is over, Peters then negotiates in strict secrecy with both National and Labour – in effect, “behind the people’s back“.

In effect, a Party Vote for NZ First is akin to giving that political party a blank cheque; the voter has no way of knowing where that “cheque will be spent”. Will we get a National-led coalition? Or a Labour-led coalition?

At least with parties like ACT and the Greens, the voter has a good idea where a vote for either party will end up on the political spectrum.

With a vote for NZ First, you are effectively handing over to Peters your voting ballot-paper, un-ticked,  and he alone will decide whether to cast it for a National-led coalition or Labour-led coalition.

Peters’ derision of the MoU  was therefore wholly predictable.

Peters understands that a resurgent Labour-Green team poses a dire threat to NZ First’s chances of being “king maker”, post-2017 election. If closer co-operation between Labour and the Greens  results in electoral success and the birth of a new red-green coalition government, NZ First’s role as “king maker” would be scuttled.

In such a case a  vote for NZ First becomes a “wasted” vote.  He would be left isolated on the cross-benches, sniping impotently at Prime Minister Andrew Little, and his Deputy PM, Metiria Turei.

Another jilted political suitor who missed out on  a rose.

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Steven Joyce - green labour memorandum of understanding - twitter

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Evidence for the Defence

There is nothing preposterous about a closer  Labour-Green relationship.  It is no more absurd than the Liberal–National Coalition which has existed in Australia since early last century;

The Coalition, also known as the Liberal–National Coalition, is a political alliance of centre-right parties, which has existed in Australian politics in various forms since 1923.

The Coalition is composed of the Liberal Party of Australia (formerly the United Australia Party, the Nationalist Party of Australia and the Commonwealth Liberal Party) and the National Party of Australia (formerly named the Country Party and the National Country Party), as well as the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland and the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in the Northern Territory.

And coalitions in Europe are the norm.

So what was the fuss about the “living arrangement” between Labour and the Greens?

Summing up for the Jury

At the moment, the public sees the National-Maori Party-Dunne-ACT coalition, and understand it. But one thing that voters want to know is; what would an alternative to a National-led government look like?

Far from negotiating this Memorandum from a position of weakness, as some have suggested, it is instead a well-executed strategy. As Andrew Little said with simple clarity;

“Voters want to know that there are opposition parties who are capable of working together, can work strongly together and can offer stability and certainty. And that’s what this agreement is about, that’s what we will demonstrate.

Up-coming polls will show whether the voters like what they see.

And on election day next year, the verdict will be delivered.

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References

Green Party: Memorandum of Understanding

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the rise of Laila Harré

Imperator Fish: How to win an election

Fairfax media: Greens eye bigger supluses

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

Twitter: Heather du Plessis-Allan

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide: Marriage of convenience

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2014

NZ Herald: Political cups of tea shared

Wikipedia: ACT Party Leadership

Wikipedia: 1999 General Election

Wikipedia: 2014 General Election

Fairfax media: Labour and Green leaders announce closer co-operation agreement

TVNZ: Q+A – Winston Peters interview (video)

Twitter: Steven Joyce

Wikipedia: Coalition (Australia)

Radio NZ: NZ First labels Labour-Green deal ‘worthless’

Other bloggers

Boots Theory: On the M.O.U.

Pundit: In which universe will Winston Peters become PM?

The Standard: Labour Green announcement – working together to change the government

The Standard: Why is it that?

The Standard: Labour Green MOU well received in poll

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

The secret of National’s success – revealed

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

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2016.

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Why is Paula Bennett media-shy all of a sudden?

17 June 2016 5 comments

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1949-state-house-in-taita

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From December 2014…

A year and a half ago, Paula Bennett showed little hesitation in milking the opening of community housing for a photo-op*;

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paula bennett opens community housing

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Bennett was not shy in using tenants with disabilities as part of her “feel good” propaganda piece.

The Present…

Bennett appears to have lost her willingness to front up to the media and be photographed with the homeless who have been given shelter by the Te Puea Marae;

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Message of hope at Te Puea Marae

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According to John  Campbell, Bennett refused to appear on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint  for an interview.

Poverty in New Zealand has been put under the glare of  the media spotlight (at least, by Radio NZ) and National ministers have gone-to-ground. Their inaction on poverty has created a crisis in our society that is no longer possible to ignore.

When ministers  of an incumbent government are no longer willing to defend their policies and track-record, and refuse to be held to account by the media, then it is a clear sign they are in deep trouble.

No doubt Bennett’s taxpayer-funded spin-doctors have advised her to keep her head down; refuse all requests for interviews; and hope desperately that this latest crisis for National will blow over.

Unfortunately for Bennett and her parasitic, dogma-driven Tory cronies, they do not realise the tenacity and sense of fair-mindedness from one of New Zealand’s best investigative journalists: John Campbell.

This is what an inept, self-serving politician looks like when the bullshit is stripped away; their spin-doctors have no answers; and they stand revealed in the glare of public attention.

This is what speaking truth to power looks like.

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* Note: The identity of the tenant has been redacted to protect his privacy, and the title of the article removed for similar reasons. Readers are asked not to post  information or links which identify the tenants. – FM

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References

Radio NZ: Message of hope at Te Puea Marae

Previous related blogposts

Job Hunting, Bennett-style

Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?

Bennett & Borrows – where are the jobs?!?!

Paula Bennett on unemployment: spin baby, spin!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

Paula Bennett: one strike and she’s out.

Paula Bennett – massive *facepalm*

Paula Bennett shows NZ how to take responsibility

Was Paula Bennett ever drug tested?

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett revealed

Homelessness, Poverty, and the Final Solution

State house sell-off in Tauranga unravelling?

Upper Hutt residents mobilise to fight State House sell-off

Recommended previous related blogpost

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

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homelessness in new zealand - tom scott - dominion post cartoon

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 June 2016.

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Success for National Govt – new bank opens!

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In 2002, the Labour-Alliance Coalition gave us a new bank;

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Kiwibank_Logo_Wide

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This year, National’s policies (or lack of) delivered us this new bank;

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New foodbank opens in New Lynn - Radio NZ - Generation Ignite - John Campbell

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Nothing quite spells “success”  like a new Food Bank opening in a community near you.

Listen to John Campbell interviewing Jo Noema on her foodbank project, “Generation Ignite“. Truly a remarkable New Zealander.

Generous people like Jo are the reason that disadvantaged, impoverished families are able to survive. They are doing what well-paid, well-resourced National Ministers are tasked to  do, but are failing miserably.

When John Key promised us a “Brighter Future”, I don’t think this  is quite  what we were anticipating.

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References

Radio NZ: New foodbank opens in New Lynn

Additional

Facebook: Generation Ignite

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Dear Leader John Key sitting on his hands - Tremain

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on11 June 2016.

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The Mendacities of Mr English – Fibbing from Finance Minister confirmed

12 June 2016 7 comments

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Budget-2016

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In a Budget-related piece dated 26 May, Bernard Hickey wrote;

“As largely foreshadowed, English increased the Government’s spending allowance in Budget 2016 for the 2016/17 year to NZ$1.6 billion from NZ$1.0 billion to accommodate extra spending on health and education because of population growth, and includes money spent up front on child welfare reforms.”

Hickey’s suggestion that “English increased the Government’s spending allowance in Budget 2016 for the 2016/17 year to NZ$1.6 billion from NZ$1.0 billion to accommodate extra spending on health and education because of population growth seems at variance with the Finance Minister’s own denial that his Budget was predicated in any way on a per-capita basis.

On 28 May, on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, Bill English was interviewed by Lisa Owen;

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The nation - lisa owen - Bill english - budget 2016 - homelessness

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English was at pains to reject per-capita calculations as a basis for his Budgetary considerations;

Lisa Owen: “… I just want to be clear on this, because if you look at the figures, let’s say for health, a variety of economists say that we needed about 700 million a year just to keep pace, yet health is getting about 570 million a year. You’ve frozen the schools’ operational budgets, so to be absolutely clear, per capita spending on health and education, it’s down, isn’t it?”

Bill English: “No. Look, I couldn’t say for sure whether it’s up or down. It’s probably about the same. The point I’m making is it’s the wrong measure. The measures that matter are the ones that are about focusing on getting results.”

Lisa Owen: “Shouldn’t you know whether it’s up or down in terms of spending per capita? Because that’s something that our viewers will want to know.”

Bill English:It’s not a measure we apply… Now, per capita, I can’t tell you whether it’s up or down.”

To be fair on Hickey, he wrote his story prior to English’s comments, which were two days later.

At least now we all know that English does not factor-in per-capita data in his Budgetary calculations. He was categorical in his assertion.

No, he obviously uses more precise techniques…

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DICE

 

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Yet, English himself has readily admitted that yes, he does factor in population (aka “per capita”) in his Budgetary considerations;

Strong population growth is both an indicator of New Zealand’s economic performance and a contributor to it,” English told the parliament in his Budget address. “For the first time in a generation, we have a net annual movement of people into New Zealand from Australia, rather than an exodus of Kiwis across the Tasman.”Bill English, 26 May 2016

And,

“Some spending previously earmarked for Budget 2017 has been brought forward, so net new operating spending in Budget 2016 has increased to $1.6 billion per year. This recognises pressures from higher population growth, and opportunities to invest in core public services and economic initiatives.”Bill English, 26 May 2016

And the clincher;

“Spending pressures have changed since the last Budget – in part because higher-than-expected population growth has increased demand for public services… District Health Boards will receive $1.6 billion over four years to invest in services, meet population growth and deliver better results.” Bill English, 26 May 2016

English’s own words reveal that he wilfully misled Lisa Owen on 28 May, on  ‘The Nation‘. Unfortunately, fact-checking politicians who spin untruths is not easy, and requires quick-thinking and an encyclopedic memory.

Only in retrospect can we fact-check politicians’ statements and determine how honest they have been with the public.

As always, eternal vigilance is the duty of all citizens.

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References

Interest.co.nz: Govt sees NZ$0.7 bln OBEGAL surplus in 2016/17

National.org.nz: Govt books show rising surpluses, falling debt  (*1)

Scoop media: On The Nation – Lisa Owen interviews Bill English (transcript)

Beehive.govt.nz: Budget Speech – Bill English

Previous related blogposts

“The Nation” reveals gobsmacking incompetence by Ministers English and Lotu-Iiga

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

Letter to the editor – Did Bill English try to pull a swiftie on ‘The Nation’?

Budget 2016 – Who wins; who loses; who pays?

Notes

*1: I have downloaded and retained a copy of the National Party webpage. In the past, National Party webpages tend to “disappear”, and are no longer searchable, making referencing and verification of quotes problematic. If this webpage disappears, English’s comments can still be verified to anyone requesting it. – Frank Macskasy

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Lies - The art of political lying

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 June 2016.

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Letter to the editor – homelessness, class eugenics, and middle class sensibilities

11 June 2016 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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The first three paragraphs are brilliant. The next three are a descent into the depths of wilful human blindness. It is tragic how many people feel this way…

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letter to the editor - homelessness - class eugenics - russell vant

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… as if the right to have a family and raise children to be good citizens of this country  is now the sole privilege of the affluent.

So I replied, with my thoughts;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>
date: Sat, Jun 4, 2016
subject:Letter to the editor

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The editor

The Wellingtonian

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Russell Vant’s first three paragraphs of his letter, on homelessness, conveyed the true spirit of Kiwi generosity. (26 May)

But his last three paragraphs appears to make a subtle argument for what can only be described as class eugenics; the elimination of undesirables from society for economic reasons.

Mr Vant demands, “at what point does the collective have a say in the reproductive process, coming together to work out how many children our society can adequately support”?

It is a chilling suggestion that our “reproductive processes” should be pre-determined and enforced like some Kiwi version of China’s one-child policy.

Perhaps his idea is more targetted at a specific group in our society? Not Jews – this time it’s poor families. The suggestion that poor people shouldn’t “breed” because of their financial circumstances is not uncommon.

It is a naive, simplistic response to low incomes and growing poverty since the neo-liberal revolution in 1984.

Addressing the real causes of income/wealth disparity is a complex process. That is no reason to make scapegoats out of those who have been crushed by the cold invisible hand of the so-called “free” market.

The day New Zealand allows only the affluent to raise a family is not a day I want to live to see.

.-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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halloween trickle down - what could go wrong

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 June 2016.

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