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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

8 September 2017 Leave a comment

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National’s Running Ad – Unintended Messaging?

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Nearly everyone has seen National’s “running ad” – a variation on last election’s rowing-boat advertisement – but without the plagiarised and illegal use of an artist’s music.

The full advert can be seen here, on Youtube.

The messaging is fairly uncomplicated and straight-forward; the blue (actually, more like teal) team is a metaphor for National running together as a team, whilst other “joggers” – representing Labour, Greens, and NZ First – are limping along. It’s about as subtle as burning a cross on a Black American’s front lawn.

But, take another, closer look as the Teal Team does it’s cross-country running…

First, the obligatory Clean and Green and 100% Pure message;

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With not a hint of  cows defaecating in the background creating polluted, unswimmable waterways;

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Yup. New Zealand as we imagine it in our fantasies.

It becomes pretty clear though, that National is strong on presenting an image – an Aryan image;

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With the brown folk somewhere in the background, and very bloody happy with their lot in life;

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The jog takes them along a deserted country highway. By now the “jog” is beginning to look very much like inmates from one of  National’s boot-camps, enduring a  forced run;

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Back to wide-open scenery – as the runners jog across a dammed river or lake;

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Is this really National’s vision of an unspoiled, 100% “Pure” countryside – with a dam across it?

But here is where it really starts to get creepy with an unintended subliminal message beamed out to every household in the country. The Teal Team approach runners from a mixed Red (Labour), Black (NZ First) and Green (ditto) team. The other Team are clearly struggling;

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The Teal Team run past;

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As they do, the Mixed Team begin to  stumble;

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The Mixed Team stumble and collapse, falling to the ground;

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And down they go;

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The Teal Team seem apparently (?) oblivious to the situation and continue to run on;

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So the “message” from this advert is that National will readily ignore other people in obvious distress and carry on their merry way?

The subliminal theme presented by the Teal Team is one of callous indifference.

This may not have been National’s intended message. But it sure ties in with child poverty, homelessness, income inequality, and other dire social problems ignored by National. Not  until the media spotlight is focused sharply on the plight of families living in garages, cars, or tents, does National react.

The focus groups presented with this advert clearly didn’t understand the subconscious meaning  within these images when they gave it their ‘thumbs up’. Or maybe they did – but just didn’t care.

Postscript

As at 1 September, the National Party runners ad scored 570 ‘Dislikes’ as opposed to 173 ‘Likes’.

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On Youtube at least,  the Nats have already lost the election.

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The Real Green ‘Jogger’ who tried

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The doom of Metiria Turei  was well and truly sealed when the Establishment Media (aka, Media Elite) and assorted right-wing bloggers and commentators ripped her reputation to shreds like a pack of blood-crazed pit-bulls in a feeding-frenzy.

Some of the public understood her situation.

Many did not. The conservative public passed judgement on Ms Turei because, well, passing judgement on someone elses’ perceived moral ‘lapses’  makes the Judger feel so much better about him/herself.

Ms Turei’s sacrifice appears to have struck a chord with a significant number of  people;

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The Dominion Post, however, barely reported the story in a meaningful way;

Former Greens co-leader Metiria Turei has received the most nominations for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year Awards so far.

Support for Turei increased after her resignation following her admission she’d lied to Work and Income to receive higher benefit payments in the 1990s, the awards organisation said.

The nominee with the second highest number of nominations is the Australian deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce – although his eligibility to win won’t be assessed until nominations have closed.

Joyce was recently revealed to be a New Zealand citizen because his father was born here. The revelation came during a spate of Australian senators having to step down after checking laws preventing them holding dual citizenship while in office. Since then, Joyce has renounced is New Zealand citizenship. Stuff has contacted Joyce’s office for comment.

The Dompost focused more on Australian deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, than on Ms Turei’s public support.

The NZ Herald  barely mentioned the fact  that Ms Turei was leading nominations with it’s story;

Despite Turei’s fall from grace after she publicly admitted she lied to Winz about her living circumstances in the 1990s she has received the most nominations.

In an act of casual minimisation, both papers made sure their stories did not reflect any degree of public support for the former Green Party co-leader.

One thing seems  clear – there is an under-current of support for Metiria Turei.

Postscript

Anyone wanting to add their voice to nominate Ms Turei can do so on the New Zealander of the Year website.

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Fran O’Sullivan… takes a jump to the Left

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Following on from several political parties expressing varying degrees of a gradual move back to state-funded tertiary education, Fran O’Sullivan – the doyen of the Right and nominally an “impartial” journalist writing for the NZ Herald appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A on 27 August as one of it’s regular panellists.

She had this to say about sales of land and property to off-shore investor/speculators; land-banking in Auckland, and current policies that drove house-prices, gifting a tax-free gain for speculators;

@ 1.09

“… when he [Phil Twyford] talked about property speculators, what and how […] what exactly are you going to do there? Are you going to bring in place capital gains taxes? Because I say that because right now, including our government officials, we’re being marketed internationally as a hot place for property investment. No capital gains tax. No stamp duty.

In China and elsewhere, the people coming out of the US buying the big stations, that sort of thing. This is a global property play we’re in and we’re being marketed as a very good place for that. We need to have a much more holistic view I think than what we got today.”

@ 6.07

“Well I was actually quite stunned that people are talking in the range of $500,000 to $600,000. For first home owners I think that’s quite ridiculous. I think it needs to come down further.

I think there needs to be very large state intervention on the land bankers. Just to free up is not enough, I think they’ve got to take a haircut […] what happened to people after the war, farms were sold at fixed prices so people could come back in. We have a national crisis and I think, you know, speculating, and land.”

A pro-National, ostensibly pro-free market commentator loudly voicing support for seizure of privately held land?  Make no mistake, this is heresy against the supreme core neo-liberal tenet of the supremacy of individual land-owning “rights”.

What Ms O’Sullivan was advocating is a giant leap to the Left.

In effect, private land ownership has not only failed to deliver affordable homes to young New Zealanders – but is actually an impediment. Our aspirations for families to own their own homes has been confounded by unfettered capitalistic greed.

Ms O’Sullivan appears to have experienced a Road-To-Damascus conversion that neo-liberalism is not the answer. Like any inflexible, dogmatic ideology, it is part of the problem.

She joins former National PM, Jim Bolger in his own personal discovery that the neo-liberal so-called “reforms” he over-saw in the 1990s are a failure;

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Nick Smith’s Mixed Message of The Month

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On 18 August, our putative “Environment’ Minister, Nick Smith, voiced his concerns that New Zealand-based company, Rocket Labs, may be impacting environmentally on our ocean floor. The concerns were that debris from rocket launches from Mahia Peninsula in Hawke’s Bay could be harming the ocean floor;

“The preliminary work indicates the environmental effects are small, but after 100 launches we may want to have a fresh look as to what is the future regulatory regime beyond that.

By the time we have had 100 lots of debris hit the ocean, fall to the seabed, we will have a better idea [of the environmental impact].

Right now we are not able to get advice on exactly how much of the jettisoned material will actually make it to sea level, or whether it will burn up prior to hitting the ocean.

When we have that information we will be able to refine the regulatory regime.”

Meanwhile, National  has permitted granting of a consent to Trans-Tasman Resources  to mine 50 million tonnes of iron ore sand off the coast of south Taranaki each year, every year, for the next 35 years.

The process would involve mining;

“…50 million tonnes of sand from the seabed off the coast of Patea in South Taranaki, extract the iron ore from it using a giant magnet, and then put 44 million tonnes back”

The damage to ocean life in the surrounding sea and ocean floor cannot even be imagined. The zone of mining would most likely become a dead-zone – uninhabitable.

Unbelievably, consent was given by the so-called Environmental Protection Agency, despite receiving 13,417 submissions demanding that Trans-Tasman Resources’  application to be declined – and only 147 submissions in support.

Meanwhile the Ministry for the Environment has determined that any impact by Rocket Labs on the seafloor would be minimal;

“Overall, our view is that the risks to the environment and existing interests from jettisoned material falling into the EEZ are low and that the development of a space vehicle launch industry will have significant economic benefits for New Zealand, at a national and regional level.”

One has to wonder where Nick Smith’s priorities lie?

At the bottom of the ocean floor, by the looks of things.

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References

Youtube:  Keep NZ Moving Forward – Party Vote National

NZ Herald:  Cows in water supply shock town

Dominion Post:  Metiria Turei has most nominations for 2018 New Zealander of the Year

NZ Herald:  Metiria Turei and Barnaby Joyce lead nominations for NZer of the Year

New Zealander of the Year:  Nominate

TVNZ’s Q+A:  Housing Debate – Panel – 27 August 2017

Fairfax media:  The 9th floor – Jim Bolger says neoliberalism has failed NZ and it’s time to give unions the power back

Radio NZ: Rocket Lab faces government environmental checks

Mediaworks:  Trans-Tasman Resources gets consent to mine iron ore sand off south Taranaki

Manawatu Standard:  Call for moratorium on all seabed mining amid ‘secretive’ application

NZ Herald:  NZ rocket launches raise concerns about toxic environmental fallout

 

Previous related blogposts

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 September 2017.

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John Key – am I detecting a seismic shift in public attitude?

10 February 2013 22 comments

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Is Dear Leader  losing his touch? He doesn’t seem quite so “dear” to some people any more…

  • The Novopay foul-up just gets worse and worse and worserer with each passing pay cycle. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just delegate the pay-system into the hands of Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.

 

  • Education Minister, Hekia Parata, screws up on a semi-regular basis. Does Key hand her the ceremonial sword and with a smile tell her, “you know what to do with this”. Nah, he annoints her as National’s “most effective communicator. Has anyone ever seen 4.4 million people do a collective face-palm?! Meanwhile, Joyce is the new de facto Minister of Education and Parata is given duct-tape to put over her mouth. This, for National, is seen as a “solution”.

 

  • Unemployment keeps going up and up and up and up… And when the stats cannot get any worse, they do a massive West Auckland-style u-turn and wheelie burn-out… Unemployment is no longer up – people have given up banging their heads against a brick wall. So the stats are now a mess. What they do indicate is that people are turning off from looking for work.  It must be depressing getting knocked back time after time after time after… And if you think it’s bad now, in bright sunny summer – wait till the gloom and shortened days of Winter really kick in with mass-depression.

 

  • Manufacturing and exporters are screeching like banshees that the high Kiwi Dollar is sending them to the wall… and Steven Joyce smiles benignly and sez, “things are challenging”. Not helpful, Mr Joyce. Not one bit.

 

  • The country’s third biggest construction company goes to the wall and the Nats do… nothing. Question: at a time when we have to rebuild the second (or third) largest city in the country – how does a fricken construction company manage to go into receivership?!?! Someone explain this to me. Wouldn’t that be like a water-tanker truck in the Saharan desert unable to sell water???

 

  • We have a critical housing shortage in the country… A shortage of housing?! But, but, but… isn’t the free market supposed to prevent these shortages??? What goes on here?

 

  • We have a shortage of skilled tradespeople, IT specialists;  healthcare professionals… whilst on the other hand, we have 175,000 unemployed. Hmmmm… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… why don’t we-? Nah. What a silly idea. For a moment there I had this ridiculous thought in my mind about re-training 175,000 unemployed to meet our skills shortages… Bugger me, where do I get these daft notions from.

 

  • National doesn’t want to build housing for New Zealanders. They say it’s up to the Free Market to do this. Government, sez Joyce, Brownlee, Key, et al, say that it’s not the role of government to offer subsidies or state housing. Unless you’re a private school. Or farmers wanting irrigation systems. Or Rugby World Cup. Or investors in a finance company. Or insurance companies. Or a movie producer – especially a foreign one. Then there’s plenty of money. Whoopie – lolly scramble!

 

  • But just don’t get silly over housing.

 

  • Steven Joyce wants to put the bulldozers and excavators into our conversation lands and have deep-sea drilling off our coast, in deep waters… because, you know, we don’t mind if the remaining few native forests in New Zealand are destroyed for the benefit of foreign investors. Or that we run a risk similar to the horrendous disaster in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Caribbean. After all, the oil companies will look after us… *snort!*

 

  • Because National is not a hands-on government to create jobs and support local businesses. But if you’re a private school or Warner Bros, then the question becomes, “How much did you want me to make that cheque out for?”

 

  • Tony Ryall wants $30 million shaved from the Health budget (where else will we get the cash to subsidise those lovely furry Hobbit movies?!). So  grommett operations for kids may be cut. Hey who needs a pesky grommett anyway – and did I say how cool Hobbits are…? And of course those seven New Zealanders who are suffering from the terminal Pompe disease… they aren’t as cool as Hobbits.

 

There’s more.

But I think you, the reader, get’s the point. (Unless you’re a dedicated National/ACT supporter – in which case don’t you just lerrrve those cute Hobbits?)

But it seems that the bad news and continuing incompetance and just sheer lack of bright ideas from National is becoming too much for even National’s traditional cheer leaders…

Fran O’Sullivan wasn’t impressed. Not by a long shot. In fact, she seemed a bit ‘put out’ by Key’s inaction (as if it had suddenly dawned on her),

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Time for Key to call an economic summit

Full story

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For Fran O’Sullivan – who is widely noted as a bit of a Nationalphile – to be chiding her beloved Dear Leader indicates that even his adoring legion of glassy-eyed admirers are starting to feel frustration. When O’Sullivan criticises Key for “waffling” and then berates Key for “simply shrugging his shoulders” – then we know that not only is the honeymoon well and truly in the past, but the ‘marriage’ is verging on a trial separation.

O’Sullivan didn’t mince words when she bluntly stated that “faith is no excuse for a failure to act” and demanded that  “it’s time, surely, for Key to call an economic summit to address the issues New Zealand faces“.

Good call, Fran.

A few years too late, but hey, some of us are a bit slower than others.

Meanwhile…

Right wing/all-over-the-place  media “personality” and talkback host, Kerre Woodham wrote an extraordinary column on 23 December, last year. Had it been written at any other time than two days before Christmas – when 99% of the populace is bleary eyed with the so-called “Festive Season” (said through gritted teeth, I might add) – her words would have had far more clout.

In fact, I could just barely recall her column piece and retrieve it from my Bookmarks (filed under WTF?). For the reader’s edification – read and enjoy (if you’re a National/ACT supporter you may want to put down your deluxe, Jackson-autographed, mink-lined Hobbit and read this bit),

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Kerre Woodham - Nats run out of petrol

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If Kerre Woodham speaks closer for the Middle Classes, then National should be in high-gear panic mode by now. Her attitude was summed up thusly,

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

 There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.”

Source: IBID

That, readers, was the sound of a Middle Class person coming to the realisation that our esteemed Dear Leader; dodgy Party; and worthless policies – are a fraud.

That, readers, was the realisation by a Middle Class person that National was not about to meet their aspirations.

It is the same sound of  National’s ‘House of Cards’ crashing that we heard in the late 1990s. A crash which culminated in National’s election defeat on 27 November 1999.

When bene-baiting right-wing talk-back hosts like Woodham can make statements like,

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.”

Source: IBID

– then we know that the Middle Classes are starting to wake up. And they’re noticing that the Emporer is naked and it ain’t a pretty sight.

Next…

Businesspeople are running as fast as their feet can carry them – to a joint inquiry run by the Opposition Parties in Parliament – and it’s a brave/stupid/both National Government that ignores the signals,

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Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

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When a businessman – in this case managing director Gordon Sutherland –  says,

We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

– then the Nats are treading on very thin ice to ignore such messages.

National is supposed to the the Party for business. So when business people begin to turn on the Nats – that’s a pretty bloody big signal that it’s the beginning of the end for this government. And considering Key has stated he will not lead National from the Opposition benches (see:  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election) – it’s ‘bye-bye’ Dear Leader.

Once he’s gone, the Nats will have left in their wake a poorly performing economy; high unemployment; growing income divide; higher child poverty; businesses about to collapse (Mainzeal already gone); and a raft of other tragic consequences.

The 2011-14 Key-led  administration will be remembered in the same way many New Zealanders view with derision the Bolger/Shipley-led National government from 1996-99.

Going by the next story, however, Key is already despised by a wide sector of the community.

But more to the point, that hostility is no longer held in check and is being voiced out loud,

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Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

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What we are seeing now seems to be a  seismic shift in public opinion on Key and National. But more importantly,  where only a year ago people were reluctant to voice their dissatisfaction or hostility in public – now that shyness is disappearing. People are pissed off and they know who to vent at,

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In 2008, Key raised levels of expectation to new heights (see: A fresh start for New Zealand).

With promises of higher wages and other warm-fuzzy, populist nonsense, people voted for him in droves. Their expectations were raised as Key’s supreme self-confidence;  personal rags-to-riches story; and plausible rhetoric made them line up and put their trust in him.

The trouble with raised expectations, though, is that failing to deliver “the goods” results in an inevitable backlash. Not just at the ballot box, but in terms of vitriol. We tend to pull people of a pedestal mighty quick, if they stuff up.

National’s failure to meet those expectations may already be a foregone conclusion, as NZ Herald columnist, John Armstrong wrote on 22 December last year,

A slight sense of desperation was evident in National’s reaction to this week’s release of the Treasury’s latest forecasts.

National is not going to let anything stand between itself and its Holy Grail of a return to Budget surpluses within the next three years.

What was once merely a target now seems to be an obsession. The reason is straightforward. Some major economic indicators are starting to confirm anecdotal impressions of an economy close to tipping into recession,

National is therefore clinging ever tighter to the increasingly vain hope of balancing the books by its target date of the 2014-15 financial year.

Meeting the target is all part of National’s branding as the party of sound economic management. Failure on that front would be a major blow to its credibility.”

See: Gloom sets scene for tumultuous 2013

If meeting an accounting target is all that National has left – Shearer better start packing up now. He’ll be in the Prime Minister’s residence at the next election.

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References

Interest.co.nz: Stats NZ reports 23,000 jobs lost

NZ Herald: Time for Key to call an economic summit

NZ Herald: Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

Fairfax media: Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

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TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

6 December 2012 9 comments

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TPPA - Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

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The debate of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is hotting up.

Recent pieces in the NZ Herald by Professor Jane Kelsey and right wing columnist, Fran O’Sullivan, gave opposing views on  the current secret negotiations.

As usual, Professor’s Kelsey’s column was a reasoned, critical analysis of the potential consequences of  a TPPA on our society, and economy. Kelsey deals in facts and her writing did not disappoint. (See: Jane Kelsey: Pacific deal masks bigger plan)

By contrast, O’Sullivan’s pro-TPPA piece was a bizarre rant and whinge as to why Auckland University was not promoting pro-TPPA arguments. As if it was compulsory for Universities to promote and advance right-wing, “free” market ideology and agendas?   (See: Anti-trade camp running debate)

Another piece in the Herald, by lawyer Daniel Kalderimis, assured us that  disputes between investors and states were  real, but could be addressed.

No one would sanely deny that there aren’t risks.  But the key question is are those risks a deal breaker or can they be mitigated? I think they can be mitigated.”

See: TPP risks can be mitigated – expert

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Kaldermis is a trade lawyer who makes his living  from “mitigating”  international investor-nation disputes.

(The vultures are circling already…)

Another somewhat equally ludicrous pro-TPPA piece came from Stephen Jacobi, executive director of the NZ US Council and the NZ International Business Forum, on 18 Ocober,

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Stephen Jacobi - TPP - more trade, less conspiracy

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Jacobi’s statements demand a critical de-construction…

A recent survey of 1018 New Zealanders found that over 60.5 per cent believed New Zealand needed to do more to connect with global markets. While 85.7 per cent could not name the deal under negotiation with the United States and other Asia Pacific economies, when prompted 51.6 per cent said they had heard of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). 56.3 per cent said they supported TPP and only 13.4 per cent said they opposed it. 30.4 per cent said they had no view or didn’t care. “

It’s hardly surprising that the issue of the TPPA does not rate more highly in New Zealander’s consciousness.

With few exceptions, our media has been woefully lacking in promoting informative debate on complex issues faces this country.

Fairfax media has been gutted, as sub-editors and other reporting staff numbers have been seriously cut back.

Even television current affairs programmes ( The Nation, Q+A, and Think Tank) are relegated to early morning time slots on the weekends.

The only in-depth, serious  coverage on radio is by Radio New Zealand.

This blogger recently had an opportunity to listen to what passes for “News” on ‘The Rock‘ – a Wellington radio station. It’s two-minute long hourly “news” programme consisted predominantly of crime stories. Items of a political nature or social issues are rarely, if ever,  canvassed.

Talkback radio? Idiot voices screaming at other idiot voices on issues that idiots know little about.

No wonder that the most critical trade agreement in our history is about to be passed, and “30.4% said they had no view or didn’t care“.

If New Zealanders realised that our medicines might increase by 50%, 75%, 100%, or X% – then perhaps more New Zealanders might care.

I know! Let’s put it into terms that even the most dimmest low-information voter can compehend,

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TPP could quash film funds

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Amokura Kawharu said her conclusions were based on the leaked text of the investment chapter.

“If that is the final form for the TPP then there will be an extensive provision in there prohibiting what are called ‘performance requirements’.”

It prohibited incentives for supporting local industry.

See: IBID

So there we have it; no government subsidies = no movies = we can kiss bye-bye to our little hairy-footed mates if the TPPA goes through.

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The Hobbit Banned

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That should grab our collective attention by our short’n’curlies.

Returning to Mr Jacobi’s written piece in the Herald,

The Government will need to decide what best meets New Zealand’s interests in this area but it is more likely to do so in the context of domestic policy processes rather than a trade negotiation.”

That is either highly disingenuous – or Mr Jacobi has an almost quasi-religious faith in our government.  Which is strange, as neo-libs generally have very little faith in the State and are constantly railing that private enterprise “does it better” than governments.

At any rate, the last 30 years of de-regulation, resulting in thousands of jobs being lost to overseas nations with cheaper labour costs, prove the lie to that claim. If governments’ policies were truly determined by “ what best meets New Zealand’s interests …in the context of domestic policy “, neo-liberal de-regulation would never have been implemented on such a wide-ranging, destructive scale in this country.

Successive governments since 1984 have been hand-cuffed to de-regulated marketplace and fiscal policies.

That’s also why this process needs to take place behind closed doors, at least until consensus is forged.

This is not the same as secrecy – it’s no secret TPP talks are taking place in Auckland in December.

Wha-???

A process taking place behind closed doors is not the same as secrecy?!?!

Since when was the definition of secrecy re-written without anyone’s knowledge?

What other definitions has Ms Jacobi re-written, on the sly?

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So let’s not forget; for TPPA supporters, something taking place behind closed doors is not the same as secrecy.

”  At that time any public stakeholders who register their interest will be able to meet with negotiators as they have done in every other negotiating round. “

Meaning what, precisely? Will that allow journalists; members of Parliament; and other interested parties the right to full disclosure of information regarding  the TPPA?

If not, then Mr Jacobi’s comments are meaningless drivel.

” Those on all sides of the TPP debate will do so and they should, to ensure negotiators are aware of their concerns. New Zealand negotiators are extremely open to this and meet regularly with those for and against TPP.

Ok, now Jacobi is of into La La Land, on a Jet Star flight of fancy…

I wonder who, precisely,  New Zealand negotiators are meeting regularly, who are “against the TPP“?

Once their job is complete the fruits of their labours will need to be presented to Parliament for ratification and all New Zealanders can participate in the select committee process.  That’s how we make treaties and change laws in this country.  “

Yes, Mr Jacobi, that is precisely “ how we make treaties and change laws in this country” – on Planet Key.

Unfortunately, things are not quite so rosy and wonderfully democractic in New Zealand, Planet Earth.

For example; public submissions on the issue of partial privatisation of our state assets numbered 1,400. Less than 1% were in favour of privatisation.

National has ignored the remaining 99% of submitters and is proceeding with asset sales. (See:  Asset sales protest gears up)

Where is the “participation in the select committee process” that Mr Jacobi speaks of?

The bigger picture behind all this is why New Zealand needs to participate in trade negotiations at all. The answer can be found in the difficult economic environment in which we find ourselves today. All around the world governments and citizens are asking what can be done to boost economic growth, create jobs and meet the expanding social needs of our communities.”

Mr Jacobi is being hopelessly naive if he believes that free trade agreements “create jobs”.

Well, they do, actually. They take jobs from countries such as New Zealand – and create them in low-wage countries such as India, Pakistan, Fiji, China, etc.

In fact, the United States seems to have not done very well out of a previous free trade agrement called NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement),

NAFTA’s opponents attribute much of the displacement caused in the US labor market to the United States’ growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. According to the Economic Policy Institute, rise in the trade deficit with Mexico alone since NAFTA was enacted led to the net displacement of 682,900 U.S. jobs by 2010.  Critics see the argument of the proponents of NAFTA as being one-sided because they only take into consideration export-oriented job impact instead of looking at the trade balance, also known as net exports. They argue that increases in imports ultimately displaced the production of goods that would have been made domestically by workers within the United States.

The export-oriented argument is also critiqued because of the discrepancy between domestically produced exports and exports produced in foreign countries. For example, many US exports are simply being shipped to Mexican maquiladores where they are assembled, and then shipped back to the U.S. as final products.  These are not products destined for consumption by Mexicans, yet they made up 61% of exports in 2002. However, only domestically produced exports are the ones that support U.S. labor. Therefore, the measure of net impact of trade should be calculated using only domestically produced exports as an indicator of job creation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s study, 61% of the net job losses due to trade with Mexico under NAFTA, or 415,000 jobs, were relatively high paying manufacturing jobs.  Certain states with heavy emphasis on manufacturing industries like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and California were significantly affected by these job losses. For example, in Ohio, Trade Adjustment Assistance and NAFTA-TAA identified 14,653 jobs directly lost due to NAFTA-related reasons like relocation of U.S. firms to Mexico. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, Keystone Research Center attributed 150,000 job losses in the state to the rising U.S. trade deficit. Since 1993, 38,325 of those job losses are directly related to trade with Mexico and Canada. Although many of these workers laid off due to NAFTA were reallocated to other sectors, the majority of workers were relocated to the service industry, where average wages are 4/5 to that of the manufacturing sector.

See: NAFTA’s effect on United States employment

An increase in domestic manufacturing output and a proportionally greater domestic investment in manufacturing does not necessarily mean an increase in domestic manufacturing jobs; this increase may simply reflect greater automation and higher productivity. Although the U.S. total civilian employment may have grown by almost 15 million in between 1993 and 2001, manufacturing jobs only increased by 476,000 in the same time period.  Furthermore from 1994 to 2007, net manufacturing employment has declined by 3,654,000, and during this period several other free trade agreements have been concluded or expanded

See: North American Free Trade Agreement

And our free trade agreement with China is resulting in similar loss of jobs,

An announcement today 430 jobs are set to go at Fisher & Paykel Appliances’ Dunedin factory, virtually spells the end of the line for whiteware production in New Zealand.

F&P is following the lead of New Zealand garment manufacturer Icebreaker which does design and research in New Zealand but manufactures in low-cost China.

See: Fisher & Paykel move ‘damages iconic brand

How many jobs were “created” in Dunedin’s Hillside railway yards, when contracts to build locomotives were awarded to Chinese manufacturers? See: Dozens of railway workshop jobs to go

How many jobs were “created” by Rakon Industries, as they shifted their production to China? See: Rakon blames job cuts on high dollar

How many jobs did Dynamic Controls “create” when they shifted manufacturing to China in 2007? See: Jobs to go in closure of Dynamic Controls wing

And the list goes on… 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost, since 2008.   ( See: National’s Hands-Off Approach Failing New Zealand)  Many of those jobs have been ‘exported’ to China, since the FTA was signed between that nation and New Zealand on 7 April 2008 and came into effect on 1 October of the same year. (See: New Zealand–China Free Trade Agreement )

So is Mr Jacobi lying or woefully ignorant of the facts? Let the reader decide.

Next, from Mr Jacobi,

A conservative estimate is that TPP could add $2.1 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2025 or just under 1 per cent of GDP.”

Really?

Who gets that $2.1 billion, Mr Jacobi? Is it workers? Local businesses here in New Zealand? Or corporate shareholders somewhere else?

And how many more unemployed, Mr Jacobi?

Who pays for thousands more unemployed? The taxpayer no doubt.

Meanwhile, that $2.1 billion heads of to Never Never Land

But the strangest, most laughable comment from Mr Jacobi comes when he admonishes TPPA critics with,

Rather than giving in to doomsday scenarios we should listen to New Zealanders who instinctively know that trade works and this country’s economic livelihood is to be found in global markets.”

Yeah, we can’t have “doomsday scenarios”, eh, Mr Jacobi. Like the muppet who made this moronic comment,

No one wants to see prices go up or the internet collapse.”

See: Stephen Jacobi: TPP – more trade, less conspiracy

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Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

Additional

Gordon Campbell on the NZ Herald’s attack on Jane Kelsey (29 Nov 2012)

Gordon Campbell and a Canadian analysis of the TPP (3 Dec 2012)

Gordon Campbell on Tim Groser’s ‘political projectile vomiting’ about the TPPA (4 Dec 2012)

 

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“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 21 comments

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In politics, there are several ways to discredit your  opponant or critic;

  • Humour

David Lange was the past-master of the one-liner riposte. His classic, “I can smell the uranium on your breath”, is now firmly ingrained in our culture.

  • Attack Reputations

A favourite of Robert Muldoon, who had little reservation in undermining, or even destroying, a person’s reputation if they crossed him.

  • Buy them off

Our best and most experienced journalists gave up their professions to join the Dark Side of politics, and become Press Secretaries and spin doctors for politicians, government departments, SOEs, and corporations.

Some of the most well-known media names from the  ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s now work for employers who do not want the public truthfully informed on certain matters.

  • Deride & Dismiss

If you can successfully paint your critic or political opponant as a “loony”, incompetant, naive, or possessing some  other faulty character-trait, then you may persuade the public not to listen to them.

The  Right deride the Greens as “tree hugging socialists” – and other epithets – when attacking their policies. Even when said policies are clearly delineated and sheer common sense – the derision and dismissive retorts are by now an automatic kneejerk from the Right. No thought required.

  • Off to the Gulag!

Very popular with the old USSR, and still in heavy usage in the last remaining Stalinist regime in North Korea. The Chinese have their own Labour Camps (prisons) for their political prisoners. And even the United States – the Land of the Free – has their own dirty little ‘secret’ at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Probably not feasible for dear little New Zealand… yet.

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National’s tax-payer funded  spin doctors have been working overtime this year on new angles for their Ministerial Masters to use to  dismiss the growing clamour of criticism against their policies, and more increasingly, criticism of John Key’s style of leadership.

With National dropping in the polls and Key’s popularity  not what it once was,  it is fairly obvious that critics are starting to hit home – and the Tory hierarchy is worried.

One response has been the Deride & Dismiss tactic.

Increasingly,  Dear Leader and his ministers have taken to referring to critics and political opponants as “conspiracy theorists” – a jibe designed to make someone appear to be on the fringe of politics; slightly unstable; not thinking rationally; and espousing ideas unsupported by facts.

It’s like suggesting that your opponant or critics believes in fairy tales. And it’s becoming more and more common,

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Mr Key is rejecting all their allegations.

“It went through the normal tendering process, Sky City was the only bidder prepared to look at a deal that didn’t involve government resources. They can run around as much as they like looking for conspiracies but they’re never going to find one”. ” – John Key, MSN News, 19 April, 2012

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But despite the paper, he denied there was any connection between him calling off the business case and SkyCity indicating it was considering extending its centre. “Not despite your wildest conspiracies, no,” he said. ” – Dominion Post, 24 April 2012

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But I would say it’s a really positive thing to do. You can make a difference. And it’s like the convention centre. People want to chase their tails in conspiracies. There is no conspiracy. The conspiracy is we haven’t had a convention centre for decades. We will get 160,000 visitor-nights. They will spend roughly twice as much as everybody else. The Government has got no money to pour into it.” – John Key, The Listener, 23 June 2012

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There is no conspiracy here. There’s a failure by an individual, there’s a cock-up, but there’s not a conspiracy.” [re, GCSB] – John Key, TV3, 29 September 2012

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Yeah the conspiracy theorists won’t like it they’ll be on TV tonight saying ‘yeah you know Dotcom’ and all this sort of carry on but they live in fantasy land.” – John Key, TV3, 1 October 2012

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There’ll always be conspiracy theorists out there but I’m interested in jobs, not people who live in Fantasyland and want to make things up.” – John Key,  Fairfax media, 2 October 2012
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Meanwhile Mr Key is writing off the concerns around Dotcom as “conspiracy theories”.

“I’d caution New Zealanders not to buy into conspiracy theories too much,” he says. ” – John Key, TV3, 4 October 2012

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Even Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald columnist and bearer of the Honorary Captain Key De-Coder Ring, joined in to support National’s spin-dictoring.

The conspiracy allegations against Key are over-egged.” – Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald, 3 October 2011

As these quotes show, Key has been using the “conspiracy” pejorative as often as he can get away with it.

Without indulging in conspiracy theories, one could almost come to the conclusion that “Conspiracy” and “conspiracy theorists” are the magic words in 2012 – as determined by National’s back-room spin doctors. These guys have been racking up serious over-time to create the right things for Key and other National ministers to say.

Anyone criticising Dear Leader is engaging in “conspiracies” and accusations against National are “conspiracy theories”.

Got that?

Good.

Otherwise it’s off to the Gulag for you!

Meanwhile, here is one example of pre-scripted spin being delivered incompetantly, by an incompetant Minister. Listen and weep, for our taxes are paying for this woman’s salary,

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[click on image to link to TV3 video]

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Paula Bennett: one strike and she’s out.

19 September 2012 10 comments

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National’s diversionary strategem of inferring that our high rate of unemployment is a deliberate life-style choice, and the fault of the unemployed, continues unabated. In large part, with few exceptions, this strategem of Divert & Deflect, is aided and abetted by a compliant media.

People like  Fairfax’s Tracey Watkins,  and NZ Herald’s John Armstrong and Fran O’Sullivan, have been unquestioning in their slavish “reporting” of  National’s assault against the unemployed.

The latest from  National Politburo member, Comrade Bennett, is a new  diktat  imposed upon the unemployed that  ” cancels payments for those who refuse [an]  offer of ‘suitable’ job “,

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Full tragic story

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To repeat and quote Bennett, when she stated on TVNZ’s Q+A on 29 April,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. “

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

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#1 – Where are the jobs?

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Where are the jobs – especially the 170,000 that Dear Leader Key promised us last november?

This is not just a rhetorical question – National was re-elected upon their (undeserved) reputation as “prudent stewards of the economy”. And a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

That they have failed to produce these new jobs, is an understatement. Unemployment continues to rise.

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc (May 2012)

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc (August 2012

And redundancies continue on an almost daily/weekly basis,

So, where are the jobs,  Comrade Bennett?

Never mind turning down one job – with 162,000 unemployed all competing for a small, limited number of jobs – most jobless people will not even have the luxury of one job offer.

This blogger has a sneaking suspicion that Comrade Bennett is referring to pseudo-“jobs”,

  • telemarketing (best done at dinner time)
  • door-to-door salesperson (households love to greet strangers on their doorstep, flogging vacuum cleaners)
  • prostitute (highly skilled/motivated to satisfy clients’ needs;   someone with passionate  people-skills)
  • chimney cleaner (for small-builds, to facilitate easier access up chimneys)
  • rent-a-womb (for rich, childless couples – males beneficiaries may be excused from this, at WINZ discretion)
  • fruit picker (traditionally seasonal work – but still doable in winter time, lack of fruit is NO excuse!)

All growth industries, no doubt.

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#2 – An alternative to the ‘One Strike’ policy?

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The WINZ Charter, as follows,

What you can expect from us

We will:

  • give you prompt and efficient service
  • let you know about our services and how we can help
  • give you information that is correct and easy to understand
  • give you the assistance you are entitled to
  • explain your rights and obligations
  • explain why we ask you to do certain things
  • listen carefully so we understand what you are telling us
  • be understanding and caring about your needs
  • be respectful, friendly and professional in the way we serve you
  • tell you who may be able to help if we can’t.

You have the right to:

  • be treated with courtesy and respect
  • cultural sensitivity
  • use any of our services
  • be given information about the services we offer
  • be given correct information and entitlements
  • be listened to
  • be given fair, non-judgemental service
  • have your information kept private and confidential
  • have any decisions we make explained to you
  • have a support person there whenever you deal with us
  • make a complaint or ask for a review if you disagree with us.

So that we can help, you need to:

  • give us the information we need to assess your entitlements
  • make sure any information you give us is correct
  • tell us about any changes in your situation
  • keep any agreements you have made with us
  • attend and be prepared for our meetings
  • tell us if you’re unable to keep an appointment
  • treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

See: WINZ – Our Service Charter

I propose a minor amendment to the above Charter with one addition,

Our prime obligation to you:

  • we are committed to honouring the Prime Minister’s pledge to create new 170,ooo jobs
  • we will have one chance to provide suitable work from one of those 170,000 new jobs; at decent pay-rates; within reasonable travel time/distance
  • failure to comply will mean that the Minister of Social Welfare will have her Ministerial salary docked at the rate of unemployment benefit, for each week that you remain unemployed
  • if, after one year of  failing to honour our committment to you, and you are still unemployed, the Prime Minister will personally apologise to you, and will either provide a meaningful job for you, or support you into retraining at a nearby polytech or University, to be paid out of his own $50 million bank account

I think that amendment is fair, and puts the onus on to John Key and Paula Bennett to fulfill their obligations to us, the public, and to those people who voted National on the basis of creating 170,000 new jobs.

Let’s see National meet their obligations: 170,000 new jobs, as promised.

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Full story

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Other Blogs

Why politicians like the beneficiary debate

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The radio station, the newspaper columnist, and Dear Leader

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

Full Story

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In another of her  mouthpiece columns for the official Party Line,  NZ Herald columnist (and National Party fan),  Fran O’Sullivan wrote a glowing report on how jolly well John Key was doing,

”  Finally, the PM is putting a stamp on his Government as he lifts its tempo and gets some serious purchase on major issues.

So far Key is making reasonable headway as he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Cabinet ministers while they unveil pre-Budget announcements on hot issues, such as Paula Bennett’s on welfare reform.

However, two comments stood out in Ms O’Sullivan’s cheerleading piece.  One raised this blogger’s hackles – the other seemed totally at variance with reality.

The hackle-raising bit;

”  What is on the TPP table from the US perspective is a “gold standard 21st century deal” which is more focused on complex economic integration issues which impact on national sovereignty.

There will be much more water under the TPP bridge before a deal is cemented. And Key will have to deploy considerable salesmanship to make those tradeoffs (if the deal is done) palatable to New Zealanders.  “

Pardon?!

“Palatable to New Zealanders” ?!?!

What – pray tell – is Ms O’Sullivan referring to? What inside-info is she privy to, that us lesser mortals are not aware of?

One thing that we do know is that John Key  has absolutely no hesitation in doing back-room deals which he may believe “benefits the country” – but in the long-term would create a social/economic mess for a future government to deal with.

Let’s be clear: Key is a creature of the financial world where quick, short-term gains are the order of the day – and devil take the hindmost. And never mind the consequences.

That is how the global financial crisis came about; very shrewd, clever, highly educated men and women – doing dumb, irresponsible things.

The question that begs to be asked – and answered – what “unpalatable” things is Key contemplating? What the hell is he up to???

And what will it cost us?

Next – the bit that seems “at variance with reality”,

”  But Key has more than held his own on television programmes such as Campbell Live or on Radio NZ’s Morning Report against critical news presenters trying to expose chinks in his political spin.  “

Now, this blogger might be wrong, but when, precisely, did John Key last front to be interviewed or answer questions on Radio NZ?  Not just ‘Morning Report’ – but any part of Radio NZ?

Every time Key has been invited to speak on Radio NZ (aside from last year’s election campaign), he has refused point blank.

If Ms O’Sullivan is aware of something that this blogger has missed, then so be it. We would stand corrected.

In the meantime, the perception is that Dear Leader is “gun shy” of Radio NZ. His Smile & Wave persona doesn’t work quite so well on radio – especially when the interviewer is a professional. Not a right wing lackey and mouthpiece,  such as Leighton Smith on NewstalkZB.

Perhaps Key is aware that not only is his media “honeymoon” well and truly over – but divorce proceedings have begun.

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Related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Does this man never learn?!

Reference

Key gets serious over NZ’s major issues

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