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Ripples in History

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Question: What is the difference between Free Trade and Fair Trade?

Answer, later.

On 26 December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved. Two years earlier, the Berlin Wall had been physically torn down by jubilant Berliners. (The symbolism of the Berlin Wall as divisive and an affront to the human spirit seems not to have be well understood by the current demagogue-President of the United States, who is maniacally pursuing his own version of a Dividing Wall between neighbouring nations.)

The reasons for the collapse of the Soviet system have been well traversed. But in the end, it boiled down to a simple reality: people simply no longer believed in, or cared about, the Soviet brand of authoritarian “socialism” and apathy reigned (as related to me by Hungarians in the late ’70s and early ’80s).

As the former Soviet Union broke apart and it’s bulwark of Eastern European nations looked westward for  their future, the fallout from the demise of one of the three great super-powers created ripples that would last for decades. Some of the unintended consequences are still not fully widely appreciated.

The United States, for a while, was hailed as the “the sole global superpower“. Writing in 2012, Mikhail Gorbachev said;

This event led to euphoria and a “winner’s complex” among the American political elite. The United States could not resist the temptation to announce its “victory” in the cold war. The “sole remaining superpower” staked a claim to monopoly leadership in world affairs. That, and the equating of the breakup of the Soviet Union with the end of the cold war, which in reality had ended two years before, has had far-reaching consequences. Therein are the roots of many mistakes that have brought the world to its current troubled state.

Declarations of an “American victory” were somewhat premature. In reality, with the rise of the Chinese economy and a resurgent Russia, the 21st Century would be anything but American.

The break-up of the former Soviet Union was also hailed as a “signal” to  humanity that the experiment of  collectivisation and state ownership of all means of production was a failure. As Indian Marxist, E.M.S. Namboodiripad wrote in 1991;

Today, however, talks are going on that not only have the socialist experiments in the USSR and Eastern Europe failed, but world socialism has collapsed. Adversaries of the socialist movement argue chat, far from the Soviet Union being the starting point of humanity’s transition from capitalism to socialism, the socialist countries in Eastern Europe including the Soviet Union have begun their march from socialism to capitalism. From this they go on to add that the theory of Marxism-Leninism itself has failed.

We Marxist-Leninists are above all realists and, as realists, we concede that the recent events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are a major setback to world socialism. We are therefore engaging ourselves in the process of a deep examination of the reasons why these developments took place and whether the trend that manifested itself in these developments can be reversed.

But there were other strands of fallout. The term “socialism” became – as the word “fascism” was after 1945 – a disparaging epithet to throw at one’s political rival. Post-Soviet Union, “socialist” and “socialism” was equated with failure.

Socialism could no longer be seen as a credible alternative to the fad of neo-liberal, free-market, globalisation sweeping the world. Championed by Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the US, it reached New Zealand’s shores in the mid-1980s.

The NZ Labour Party – supposedly a social democrat/socialist party for the working class – implemented radical liberalisation of trade, banking, commerce, labour laws. Economic “reforms” went hand-in-hand with social reforms such as the 1986 Homosexual Law reform in 1986, de-criminalisation of prostitution/solicitation  in 2003, and the marriage equality act in 2013.

The Labour Party had been well and truly captured by apostles to Thatcher and Reagan. It could no longer conceivably be called a social democratic or socialist party.

Aside from the short-lived Alliance Party (which imploded in 2002 over New Zealand coalition government’s decision to participate in the invasion of Afghanistan), the only other Parliamentary parties that feasibly represented left-wing voters were the Mana Movement, led by MP Hone Harawira, and the Green Party.  The Mana Movement itself was destroyed after an unholy alliance in 2014 between Labour,  National, NZ First, and the Maori Party to support the Labour Party candidate, Kelvin Davis.

Which currently leaves the Green Party to represent the Left of Aotearoa New Zealand’s political spectrum.

The Green Party itself is currently under attack from both ends of the Body Politic in this country.

Some media pundits and the Right  are calling for the Greens  to return to their “environmental base” whilst the Left are decrying the Greens as not left-wing enough.

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Meanwhile, the rise of populism and the far right paralled the spread of neo-liberal “reforms” around the world.

In 1998, only two nations in Europe – Switzerland and Slovakia – had governments made up in part by populist parties.

By February of this year, the number of  European nations with populist parties in coalition governments had increased to more than eleven. (More, if countries like Russia and Ukraine are included.)

Europe’s populism has been matched with Trump in the United States;  Erdogan in Turkey; Duterte in the Philippines; Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, etc. Throughout the world, populist parties – mostly (though not always) of a right-wing persuasion – have been on the rise.

The most obvious causes for the rise in right-wing populism has also been well-canvassed;

Most have tapped into a backlash against immigration and a globalized economy that many people feel has left them behind..

[…]

The common thread dates back to the 2008 financial crisis, which opened the door for many populists. Rising inequality and the perception of an unjust — if not corrupt — response to the crash eroded trust in the ability of established leaders to address shifts in the global economy, including technological change and the rise of China.

In Hungary, right-wing populism has taken on a distinct air of neo-fascism;

The biggest advances have been made in central and eastern Europe. All four so-called Visegrád countries are governed by populist parties including Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz in Hungary – where populist parties secured 63% of the vote in this year’s elections – and Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice in Poland.

Both parties only started showing their true colours – populist, culturally conservative, authoritarian – after they were first elected. They are now attacking core liberal institutions such as the independent judiciary and free press, increasingly defining national identities in terms of ethnicity and religion and demonising opponents, such as the Hungarian-born Jewish financier George Soros, in language reminiscent of the 1930s.

The public backlash against immigration, globalisation, with a concomitant loss of well-paying jobs, and the flow of wealth to the top 1 Percent is well known, understood, and documented;

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What is not well understood is why voters have generally turned away from traditional left-wing parties and policies, and increasingly voted for right-wing (and often far right-wing) populist parties.

In Europe, the backlash against orthodox neo-liberalism/globalisation resulted not in the election of a left-wing government – but in Brexit. In choosing to shun the European Union, British voters by a small majority literally walked away from the continental bloc.

Whether consciously or sub-consciously, this blogger contends the public view the Left as having failed the ultimate  test. The former Soviet Union – a super-power in the 20th century rising from a feudalistic monarchy to becoming a nuclear-armed, space-faring nation with global influence and aspirations – failed. And it failed dramatically with the whole world watching.

Since 1989/91, the televised spectacle of the collapse of the former Soviet Bloc has imprinted itself in the psyche of most of the world’s population. The message was made abundantly clear as the Berlin Wall came down; the Red Army retreated from Eastern Europe; and President Gorbachev passed laws making his Soviet Presidency redundant: the Left were unable (or unwilling) to staunch the neo-liberal/globalist orthodoxy.

Indeed, in almost every country, neo-liberalism/globalisation had ‘captured’ supposedly social democratic or centre-left parties such as the Labour Party in UK; the Democrats in US; Labour in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, etc.

Thus the parliamentary wing of  social democratic/centre-left offered no solutions. They were seen by the voting public as part of the problem.

If Nature abhors a vacuum, the same applies to the Political Environment. The fall of the former-Soviet Union created a political vacuum on the established Right-Left continuum.

That political vacuum would soon be filled as people sought solutions to what many perceived as an attack on their national identities; falling standard of living; unfulfilled aspirations; unresponsive traditional political parties, and the rise and rise of a tiny wealthy elite.

So it came to pass. The vacuum was filled, as it was in the 1920s and ’30s, by populist parties and demagogic leaders who offered quick-fix, simplistic solutions. Cue: the trumpets of nationalism, racism, intolerance of minorities, and the emboldening of even worse extremism on the far-right and alt-right.

To compound the worsening political climate, the Left continued to make itself largely irrelevant to the everyday struggles of working and middle class New Zealanders.

A cursory look at blogposts on The Daily Blog, for example will quickly reveal that up until recently (17 April, to be precise) most blogposts were fixated on the issue of “free speech” and the Green Party. Green Party MP, Golriz Ghahraman, to be concise.

Meanwhile, out in the Real World…

teachers, mid-wives, and medical professionals were on strike for better pay.

… the environment continued to be polluted out of existence.

greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise.

mental health continued to be in crisis.

… savage covert cuts to disability funding were planned.

homelessness was still a ‘thing.

… our security apparatus failed us spectacularly by spying on the wrong people.

… the coalition government buckled to property speculators.

For many on the Left, though, the priority was “free speech”.

If ever there was an instance of a public “Meh!” moment,  this was it.

Just as the GCSB, NZSIS, NZ Police, and Uncle Tom Cobbly were all distracted by Greenpeace, environmental activists, journalists, bloggers, Maori activists, Christchurch Earthquake  survivors, et al, instead of keeping an eye on white supremacists/neo-fascists – the left-wing blogosphere was seemingly distracted by it’s own Shiny Thingy.

The recent furore on the issue of “free speech” and the Green Party’s call to address hate speech appeared to suggest that Aotearoa New Zealand was about to become a quasi-Stalinist state with bloggers and journalists rounded up and despatched to re-education camps on Stewart Island. The unhealthy obsession with the Green Party – Green MP, Golriz Ghahraman, to be precise – drew anger usually reserved for the likes of Don Brash, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner, et al..

Although, with considerable grim irony, some on the Left were quite happy to protect the “free speech” for the likes of Southern, Molyneux, Brash, et al, whilst launching tirades against Ms Ghahraman.

There remains an ongoing systematic vilification of Ms Ghahraman instead of addressing the issues surrounding “free speech/hate speech”. Some of the vitriol heaped on Ms Ghahraman took on sinister under-tones of misogyny and racism.

That some of the personal abuse has appeared on left-wing forums is especially troubling.

Yet, despite hysterical screams of outrage that the Green Party was advocating stifling “free speech”, a closer examination of their proposal was anything but.

In a recent post on social media, Ms Ghahraman posed a valid question;

“You’re not allowed to harass, or to make up lies that harm an individual. It’s against the law.

However you are allowed to spread hate and lies about a group of people based on their religion or gender, without consequence.

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So why are individuals protected from defamation,  or harassment,  but whole groups of people aren’t?”

The capitalist system is built on the primacy of individualism, property ownership, and reputational interests (which has a direct bearing on an individual’s commercial activities).

To protect that fundamental underpinning of capitalism, the rights of the capitalist individual was elevated above all else. Including above the needs of society itself.

In October 1987, British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher – architect of Britain’s neo-liberal, free-market “reforms” – was famously quoted in an interview saying;

And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first…”

Western law reflects the capitalist precept that the rights of individuals are recognised – but groups of people are not. (Class-action lawsuits are a rare exception, usually reserved for physical loss, such as mechanical failures, financial malfeasance, medical botch-ups, etc.)

Under the capitalist system, social groups are a nullity under the law.

Recent high-profile public defamation lawsuits have centered on Matthew Blomfield, Earl Hagaman, and Colin Craig.

All three cases involved lawsuits claiming defamation; suffering because of harmful untrue public statements, and sought awards for damages.

The case of Mr Blomfield successfully suing far-right blogger, Cameron Slater, was recently commented on The Daily Blog. Comments posted after the main article generally approved of businessman, Matthew Blomfield’s victory.

Yet, the right to sue does not extend to groups based on religion, ethnicity, gender/sex, etc.

That privilege is reserved solely for individuals. Those individuals are usually wealthy, white, and not women.

That was the point Green MP, Golriz Ghahraman was making. Or trying to make, as the issue was drowned out amidst a hysteria that veered well into moral panic.

It is salient to  note that “free speech” advocates remain mostly silent on this issue.

Free speech is not absolute. A person can be hauled before a court and sued for considerable sums of money if found guilty of defamation.

The legal system protects the rights of individuals.  Groups – not so fortunate. Because as pointed out above, capitalism is about the Individual. Groups – not so much.

At the beginning of this blogpost, I posed the question: What is the difference between Free Trade and Fair Trade?

Free trade is unfettered. It protects and serves the interests of  corporations. The goal is to maximise profits for individuals (shareholders) at the expense of all else.

Fair trade serves the interests of communities, as well as individuals in those communities. The goal is to better the lives of people, but not at the expense of all else (eg, the environment, workers’ rights, etc).

The Left prides itself on the point of difference from the Right in that we act for the collective good. The primacy of the Individual, at the expense of the greater good, is not something we generally look favourably upon.

We want our trade to be fair. Should we expect less for our public discourse?

It is a contradiction to our much vaunted progressive values that we extend the right to Individuals to legally defend themselves in a Court of Law against defamation and harm – yet deny that same right to groups who might also suffer defamation and harm.

We talk the talk when it comes to collective action for the greater good. We demand the right for workers to act collectively and join unions. We demand adequate taxation to pay for public education, healthcare, housing for the poor, environmental protection, support services for the disabled, etc, etc.

Yet, when it comes to walking the walk to extend the right to legal protections for groups –  some (many?) on the Left balk at extending the same legal rights extended to Individuals – usually wealthy businessmen or politicians in positions of power.

The irony is inescapable; that some on the Left seem wholly comfortable with wealthy businessmen being privileged with a legal right to defence against harmful speech that entire groups of people are not.

If we, as a society, are willing to have defamation laws available, they must be available to everyone, groups as sell as wealthy individuals. The law must be for all. Or not at all.

Those days of privilege can no longer be tolerated.

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References

CNN: Fall of the Berlin Wall – On 29th anniversary, it’s a different world

Norwich University: Exploring 5 Reasons for the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Noam Chomsky: Barack Obama and the ‘Unipolar Moment’

The Nation: Is the World Really Safer Without the Soviet Union?

E.M.S. Namboodiripad: ‘An Experiment that Failed’?  (alt. link)

Huffington Post: Trump Knocks Socialism And Bernie Sanders Does Not Look Pleased

NZ Herald: Prostitution decriminalised, brothels to be licensed

Scoop: Why The Alliance-Left Rebelled

Fairfax media: Winston Peters backs Labour’s Kelvin Davis

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

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

Mediaworks/Newshub: Lloyd Burr – The Greens have lost their way

The Daily Blog: If you think that the NZ Green Party (who are just as wedded to neoliberalism as Labour is) are your new political home, you are delusional

The Guardian: How populism emerged as an electoral force in Europe

Bloomberg: The Rise of Populism

Wikipedia: Right-wing populism

Vox: Forms and sources of inequality in the United States

The Irish Times: Conor O’Clery – Remembering the last day of the Soviet Union

Radio NZ: ‘No mandate’ for capital gains tax – PM

Fairfax/Stuff media: Secondary school teachers to strike, citing lack of patience with contract negotiations

Radio NZ: Midwives to strike next week

Fairfax/Stuff media: Resident doctors call back planned pre-Easter strike

Mediaworks/Newshub: New Zealand’s ‘dirtiest industry’ blasted over environment report

Climate News Network: Human carbon emissions to rise in 2019

Noted/The Listener: Youth mental health is in crisis and NZ is failing to keep up

NZ Herald: Limited showers, no meal prep – ‘Ruthless’ plans to cut disabled care revealed

NZ Herald: New report reveals the sharp end of homelessness in Wellington

Mediaworks/Newshub: Jacinda Ardern announces Royal Commission into security agencies after Christchurch attack

Twitter: Golriz Ghahraman – Hate speech – 8:47am  17 April 2019

Margaret Thatcher Foundation: Woman’s Own – interview – 31 October 1987

The Daily Blog: The Human Rights Review Tribunal has upheld a complaint against Cameron Slater and order that he pay $70,000 damages to Matthew Blomfield, one of the highest awards ever made.

Justrade: Prof Jane Kelsey & Jim Stanford

Additional

Green Party Aotearoa: Golriz Ghahraman speech in response to the Christchurch mosque terror attacks

Fairfax/Stuff media: MP lacks credibility in urging hate speech law

NZ Herald: Political Roundup – Outlawing hate speech and hate crimes

NZ Herald: Christchurch mosque shootings – Does New Zealand need hate speech laws after terror attacks?

Other Blogposts

Pundit: Doesn’t hate-speech need to include some hatred?

The Standard: Reflections on Free Speech and Public Discourse

The Standard: The Green Party on the Mosque murders

TDB:  Hone Harawira – Blaming black boys for a white boy massacre

TDB:  Recognising Hate Speech When You See It.

TDB:  Green Party start their campaign to curtail free speech – the danger of Millennial micro aggression policing culture defining hate speech

Previous related blogposts

National – the Party of free speech?! Yeah, right.

“Free speech” – The Rules according to the Right

The Christchurch Attack: is the stage is set for a continuing domino of death?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 April 2019.

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= fs =

Simon burns his Teal Coalition Bridges

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Act I – Post-election, Dealing the Cards

During the post-election coalition negotiations last year, there was much entrails-reading of which way NZ First would move to form a new government. Labour and NZ First? Or National and NZ First?

Then came the novel suggestion from several  media and mostly right-leaning political commentators – all with singularly hyper-active imaginations – of a potential  National-Green Coalition government. This was mentioned by Laura Walters and Katie Kenny, on 24 September (2017), both writing for Fairfax media; former National PM, Jim Bolger on 25 September, talking with John Campbell on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint; Bill English on 25 September; National’s deputy Paula Bennett on 29 September;  Jim Bolger again on 1 October; Fairfax’s Tracy Watkins on 2 October, et al…

The ‘cheerleaders’ were lining up to “encourage” (and in one instance, demand!) the installation of a ‘Teal’ Coalition.

Even former cricketer-turned-Mediaworks-AM Show presenter , Mark Richardson, offered his one cent worth of advice to Green Party leader James Shaw to  “be a risk taker and back yourself” by coalescing with the Nats. (Though Richardson admitted that a decision by Shaw to coalesce with National would “blow his Party to smithereens“. This did not seem to perturb Richardson, a self-confessed National Party supporter.)

Tracy Watkins had to concede that any coalition deal with the Nats was a lengthy, but guaranteed,  political suicide mission, “National has used up all its future coalition partners. United Future and the Maori Party are gone and ACT is on life support“.

Strangely, Shaw’s response was utterly predictable. He would take a phone call from then National-leader Bill English… but…

“It’s my responsibility to do so. And we’ll have to see what they’ve got to say. But one of the things I will be saying in return is ‘You know we campaigned on a change of government and you know what was in our manifesto … and how incongruous that is to what the National Party policy programme is’.”

Act II – Was a ‘Teal’ Deal the Real Deal?

So how viable would a coalition have been between two political parties that – on the face of things have as much in common as a chicken and a platypus?

Not much, it would seem.

On several occassions,  National’s current caretaker  Leader, Simon Bridges criticised the Green Party’s policies on social issues;

In terms of the Greens, if they were a true environmental party that wasn’t focused on other bits and bobs, they could be a party that we could work with and work with strongly,” Bridges said on Tuesday.

And;

You’ve seen me say that I think actually there is a role for us in the environment.

I do have problems with the fact that they’re more than simply an environmental party – a lot of other stuff I disagree with, but on the environment we know… New Zealanders care passionately about this.”

And;

It’s a deep red rather than Green. I’m interested in working with them on genuine conservation, environmental issues but not picketing on the streets.”

The sub-text of that narrative was for the Green Party to neuter itself. As James Shaw had to point out to Simon Bridges – much like an exasperated parent patiently explaining something to a young child;

“History has shown that people want to vote for parties on a range of issues. We’ve always said that sustainability is a function of society, of the environment, and of the economy, and you can’t disaggregate those things,”

It would not be dissimilar to the Green Party dictating to National to abandon it’s close links to corporate interests, the farming sector, and other pro-business lobby groups. A point made by recently-elected Green Party Party co-leader, and former Daily Blog contributor, Marama Davidson;

“They’ve got to change a lot. It’s not good enough that Simon’s trying to position himself as all of a sudden caring about our rivers and our water, when his very policies under his party led to the exact environmental degradation that we’re seeing. He wanted to open up drilling to our Maui dolphins’ home.

They don’t understand the connection of the flawed economic model that led to the environmental degradation in the first place. They would have to change a lot, and I don’t think that’s what they intend to do.”

So how ‘green’ is our true-blue National Party?

Act III – National plays the Green Card

On 28 April, at a so-called “Bluegreens” Forum – a greenwashed front for the National Party –  Simon Bridges made much of his party’s “green credentials“;

“Good environmental practice is crucial for securing the type of future we want for our children and grandchildren.

My view is that people aren’t used to hearing a National Party leader talk like this, but I’ve said right from the start that the environment is important to me and the National Party … The environment isn’t an optional extra.

Climate change is going to be one of the most challenging issues of our time. We’ve made some good progress in recent years, but we need to do much more.

We now need to wrestle emissions down, just staying stable doesn’t cut it … We need to incentivise households, businesses, scientists and entrepreneurs to be developing and implementing technological solutions.”

Note; the reported comment from Bridges – “Good environmental practice is crucial for securing the type of future we want for our children and grandchildren” – is almost a word-for-word repeat from last year’s National’s Environment policy on their website;

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Most crucially, note Bridges reference to needing “ to incentivise households, businesses, scientists and entrepreneurs to be developing and implementing technological solutions“.

Developing and implementing technological solutions” – not reducing reliance on fossil fuels. For National that was a No-Go Area.

Not so for this coalition government.

On 12 April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced  that “There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted“. She said;

“This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand – we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change.”

More than “a step”, it was a bold leap – perhaps one of the most radical since New Zealand declared itself a nuclear-free nation on 8 June 1987. Climate change officially became this generation’s “nuclear free moment” on 12 April 2018.

Without doubt, it would be an expensive proposition to forego possible, undiscovered, oil reserves that might be worthy millions – billions! – to our country.

But the cost of runaway climate change; increasing CO2; rising temperatures and sea levels; more energetic storms; growing threats of flooding and coastal storm surges; harsher droughts; heavier rains – would  cost us billions as well. With rising sea levels and more powerful storm surges, thousands of homes were now within coastal danger zones;

“Climate change will increasingly create severe risks for New Zealand’s coastal housing stock. Even a small amount of sea-level rise will substantially exacerbate the costs of flooding and storm surges. Under the most optimistic emissions scenario studied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global average sea levels will likely rise by between 44cm and 55cm by 2100, and around 1 m with continued high emissions. Across New Zealand, for regions with high-quality data, there are 43,683 homes within 1.5m of the present average spring high tide and 8,806 homes within 50cm.”

According to the Ministry for the Environment, the cost of not addressing climate change threats cannot even be accurately ascertained;

The costs of inaction are difficult to quantify as they depend on the actions that the whole world takes to reduce emissions, not just New Zealand. The costs of inaction will be large but are hard to predict accurately and hard to express in monetary terms. This is also the case for modelling co-benefits of action such as air quality and health benefits. Current research and model development is beginning to address these complexities.

As a rough indicator, the cost of the Christchurch earthquakes was estimated to be about $40 billion (in 2015 dollars), which includes $16 billion  for residential construction. Around 10,000 homes were demolished due to earthquake damage. Compare that figure with Motu’s; “43,683 homes within 1.5m of the present average spring high tide and 8,806 homes within 50cm“.

Regrettably, National’s green rhetoric and Simon Bridges’ pious claims were not matched with more recent stated intentions – intentions that pose a direct threat to the long-term environmental well-being of our country as well as the entire planet.

Despite Simon Bridges asserting that “climate change is going to be one of the most challenging issues of our time. We’ve made some good progress in recent years, but we need to do much more” – National was going to do everything in it’s power to oppose practical solutions to reduce climate gas emissions.

Bridges point-blank refused to “do much more“.

Act IV – Blue card trumps Green for Bridges?

Soon after Prime Minister Ardern issued her government’s 12 April Declaration, Bridges responded like a child with his favourite toy taken off him;

If we are the Government in two years we will change it back.”

Bridges’ double-speak on environmental matters was pointed out by Fairfax’s Laura Walters in no uncertain terms;

Bridges had made a point of talking about National’s future environmental direction, and saying he would be open to working with the Green Party in the future – something the Greens have said was unlikely to happen.

However, when he was asked about his plans for the environment on Thursday, he was not able to point to any policies, or general policy areas.

In case Bridges protests at being “unfairly misquoted” in the media, his follow MPs were also vociferous in their opposition to the coalition government’s decision to curtail further offshore oil and gas exploration. In a recent press release, National’s Energy and Resources Spokesperson, Jonathan Young, said;

“The Government’s decision to ban gas and petroleum exploration is economic vandalism that makes no environmental sense […]

This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high paying jobs and $2.5 billion for the economy.

Without exploration there will be no investment in oil and gas production or the downstream industries. That means significantly fewer jobs.

This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.”

And in a bizarre twist, National’s own Climate Change spokesperson, Todd Muller, also condemned winding back New Zealand’s fossil fuel industry. In the same press release as Jonathan Young, he said;

“The decision makes no sense – environmentally or economically – because less gas production means more coal being burnt and higher carbon emissions.

Many overseas countries depend on coal for energy production. Those CO2 emissions would halve if they could switch to natural gas while they transition to renewable energy.

By stopping New Zealand’s gas exploration we are turning our backs on an opportunity to help reduce global emissions while providing a major economic return to improve our standard of living and the environment.

We need to reduce global CO2 emissions. But there is no need to put an entire industry and thousands of New Zealanders’ jobs at risk.

The Government’s decision today is another blow to regional New Zealand, and Taranaki in particular.

It comes hot on the heels of big decisions that reduce roading expenditure, cancel irrigation funding, and discourage international investment in the regions.”

Todd Mueller has the wrong job title. With his unwavering support  for the fossil fuel industry and increased roading expenditure, he should be National’s Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions spokesperson. Nothing that Mueller has said would lead to any reduction in dangerous emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The press release from Young and Mueller was also dated 12 April;

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– the same day Prime Minister Ardern released her statement to wind-back oil and gas exploration off our coast. This indicates how long and hard Young and Mueller must have thought deeply on this matter  before issuing their press release.

Not content with being advocates for the fossil fuel industry, Simon Bridges announced eighteen days later that a National government would over-turn the coalition government’s regional fuel tax in Auckland;

“A re-elected National Party will overturn the Government’s regional fuel tax to leave more money in the back pockets of hard-working New Zealand families.

Regional fuel taxes are unfair on New Zealanders. They are regressive, and hit poorer New Zealanders the hardest.

The fuel taxes the Government has announced will leave a typical Auckland family around $700 a year out of pocket.

The regional fuel tax is simply punishing Aucklanders for the Government and the Council’s lack of fiscal discipline.

[…]

And to Councils I say don’t get used to this raid on the back pockets of hard working New Zealanders because a re-elected National Government will repeal this tax.”

Bridges attacked Auckland Mayor Phil Goff;

“Auckland Council is a clear case in point. We know it is a free spender of rate-payers money. It was true under Len Brown and it’s true under Phil Goff.”

Which contrasted with former National Party leader and PM, John Key, who all but endorsed Phil Goff’s bid for the mayoralty in 2015;

“Phil Goff has been a very long standing member of Parliament. It was quite a combative relationship when he was leader of the opposition, but there’s no question he had a big work rate and he was a very effective minster.”

Simon Bridges obviously didn’t get the memo from Key’s office that Goff “was a very effective minster“.

It is also worth remembering that when National was in power, they also raised the petrol excise duty by nine cents per litre over a three year period, with Road user charges increasing similarly. In March 2009, National’s Transport Minister, Steven Joyce announced;

”Our preference is for a simpler system which delivers benefits to road users across the board.” From 1 October this year motorists will pay an increase of 3 cents per litre in fuel excise duty and drivers of diesel vehicles will pay the equivalent in road user charges. A second 3 cents increase will occur at October 1 next year. Each 3 cent per litre increase includes an annual increase of 1.5 cents per litre scheduled by the previous government.

…these smaller adjustments to roading excise and road user charges across New Zealand will make more funding available for roading across the country.”

Evidently, increasing fuel excise taxes for more roads (and thereby more cars) is a good thing. But increasing  fuel excise taxes to fund public transport initiatives – thereby assisting in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – is a bad thing. How else could one interpret National’s contradictory statements and policies?

National took matters a step further when they announced on Twitter a petition to persuade the coalition government to reverse it’s decision to ban offshore exploration;

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This wasn’t just Opposition for the sake of opposition. National’s petition signalled a deep ideological opposition to any steps  that would reduce the production of fossil fuels  in this country. The prospect of losing revenue from this industry – despite being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – was simply too much for National to contemplate.

National was signalling to all and sundry that given a choice between maintaining the fossil fuel industry and keeping the revenue stream from it – or beginning a slow phase-out and reduced revenue, the winner would always be industry.

And the environment be damned.

So much for the pious sentiments from Bridges at the National’s Bluegreen Conference;

“Good environmental practice is crucial for securing the type of future we want for our children and grandchildren.”

So with National’s antipathy to taking the crucial, hard steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, what was National’s reasoning to entice the Green Party into a coalition deal (or at least a confidence and supply arrangement)?

The answer came from Bluegreens co-chairman, Geoff Thompson. Thompson was unequivocally clear in his stated intention to using his front-organisation as a way for National to return to power;

“We’re a well-liked party … but it’s not good enough. Forty-four per cent [in a recent poll] doesn’t get us there so we want to expand and we see the environmental side of the party, that’s us, as being an opportunity for that expansion.”

For National, “to expand … we see the environmental … as being an opportunity for that expansion” was the answer.

Appealing to the Green Party to work with National would have been made with generous offers.

But the reality is that the Nats would have demanded that the Greens abandon;

  • their “red green” “bits and bobs” social policies;
  • their policies to move away from oil and gas exploration;
  • and policies to improve public transport in Auckland through regional fuel taxes

In short, the Green Party would have found itself neutered on their environmental as well as social policies.

That would have left the Greens with no alternative but to dump their coalition deal, thereby probably triggering an early election. And we all know how voters treat small political parties that cause early elections.

Simon Bridges and his National Party have demonstrated through their opposition to abandoning offshore oil and gas exploration permits that they have very little interest in environmental issues. It is even doubtful they will ever fully  honour the Paris Climate Agreement.

As early as 2012, National had already broken it’s commitment to include agriculture in the emissions trading scheme;

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National’s behaviour in the last few months have proven that a coalition with the Green Party is not only impossible – but fraught with danger of broken promises and backsliding on environmental commitments.

National would always give pre-eminence to industry; fossil fuel production, and building roads.  Environmentalism, alternative fuels, and public transport would always taken second priority – if at all.

Epilogue – Whatever the game, Physics Wins. Always.

In June 2016, atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million (ppm) at NIWA’s Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, Wellington;

It came a year after it was crossed at the Mauna Loa station in Hawaii, which has recorded a 24 per cent rise in carbon dioxide levels since it began gathering data in 1958.

[…]

Last month, the level was passed at the Australian monitoring station at Cape Grim, Tasmania.

Like something out of Neville Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel, “On The Beach“, but instead of a deadly radioactive cloud, heightened CO2 levels have reached Australia, and shortly thereafter, New Zealand.

In April last year, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory detected CO2 reaching 410 parts per million for the first time in our recorded history.

We should be recording that level about now, here at the bottom of the world.

It is a grim reminder that rising CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide wait for no man (or woman). Not even for Simon Bridges.

Meanwhile, NIWA reported that January 2018 was New Zealand’s hottest month on record;

NIWA figures show average temperatures for the month of January across the country was 20.3°C.

The temperature for January normally averages 17.1°.

NIWA climate scientist Gregor Macara said the month’s temperatures were unprecedented.

“It was unusual that the entire country seemed to observe temperatures that weren’t only above average, but really considerably above average.”

“The majority of observation stations we had observed temperatures more than 3° above normal and in fact there are quite a few sites that were 4° above normal which were essentially unprecedented – particularly for this time of year,” he said.

While we baked, Simon Bridges and his cronies in the National Party were planning to over-turn any practical steps taken by the current coalition government to do our bit to try to reduce CO2 emissions.

This is why any talk of a Greens coalition with National is ludicrous.  National’s policies, ideology, and base-support is not compatible with environmental protection.

National is part of the problem.

The Joker in the pack

From April 2014;

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“Out of touch” doesn’t even begin to cover Simon Bridges and the environment.

 

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Note: All National Party webspages have been downloaded and saved for future reference. (They have a ‘habit’ of disappearing after a while.)

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References

Radio NZ: NZ First to meet National and Labour today

Fairfax media:  The coalitions that could form NZ’s 52nd Government and how likely they are

Fairfax media:  The day after the election

Radio NZ: Former PM Jim Bolger on how to deal with Winston Peters

Newsroom: National single-minded about its only option

Fairfax media: National wants conversation with Greens, official talks yet to begin

Fairfax media: Greens have a responsibility to talk to National – Jim Bolger

NZ Herald: Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Politically Correct – Green Party won’t pick up the phone

Fairfax media:  AM Show host Mark Richardson’s advice to Green Party leader – ‘Be a risk-taker’

Fairfax media: Mark Richardson declares himself as a National supporter, does that matter?

Fairfax media: Bridges offers olive branch out to Greens, only to be quickly shot down

Mediaworks: National open to working with Greens, NZ First – Simon Bridges

Mediaworks:  National needs to ‘change a lot’ to get Greens onside – Marama Davidson

Fairfax media:  National Party ‘resetting our approach to environmental issues’ – Bridges

National Party: 2017 Environment Policy

Beehive.govt.nz: Planning for the future – no new offshore oil and gas exploration permits

NZhistory.govt.nz: New Zealand goes nuclear-free

Fairfax media: How climate change could send your insurance costs soaring

Motu: Insurance, Housing and Climate Change Adapation:Current Knowledge and future research

Ministry for the Environment: Modelling the economic costs of New Zealand’s intended nationally determined contribution

RBNZ:  The Canterbury rebuild five years on from the Christchurch earthquake

NZ Herald: Christchurch Earthquake: 100,000 homes damaged, 10,000 unsavable

Fairfax media:  Nats would reverse Govt’s decision on oil and gas exploration

National Party: Gas and petroleum decision is economic vandalism

National Party: National to overturn Government’s regional fuel tax

NZ Herald: John Key willing to work with Phil Goff

Ministry of Transport:  Increases to petrol excise duty and road user charges

Beehive.govt.nz: Regional fuel taxes replaced

Twitter: National – Sign our Petition

Ministry for the Environment: The Paris Agreement

Radio NZ: Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses

NZ Herald: Scientists record symbolic milestone, and it’s not one to celebrate

NIWA: Baring Head greenhouse gases

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist: The continuing relevance of “On the Beach”

Scientific American: We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2

Radio NZ: January 2018 NZ’s hottest month on record

Mediaworks: Minister didn’t know park was in drilling plan

Additional

Monkeywrench (Sandor.net):  The Politics of Green Coalitions – rethinking our strategy and positioning

Monkeywrench (Sandor.net):  Which way Winston, and what’s in it for the Greens?

Ministry for the Environment: Overview of likely climate change impacts in New Zealand

Other Blogs

The Standard: How a National/Green coalition could work

Previous related blogposts

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

ETS – National continues to fart around

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 May 2018.

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Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

12 October 2017 4 comments

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You can feel mainstream media’s frustration with the news-vacuum created by the two week period necessary to count the approximately 384,072 (15% of total votes) Special Votes that were cast this election.

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Winston Peters has announced on several occasions that he will wait until the Specials are counted and announced by the Electoral Commission on 7 October,  before making any announcements on coalition;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said…”

And you know what? He’s 100% right.

All the media pundit speculation; all the ambushing at airport terminals; all the annoyingly repetitive questions are utterly pointless. Peters simply cannot say anything meaningful until 7 October because the 2017 Election has not yet fully played out.

This is not a game of rugby where, after eighty minutes, a score determines a winner and loser (or draw).  In this game of “electoral rugby”, the score will not be delivered for two weeks.

The media – still feeling the adrenaline from Election Night “drama” – appears not to have realised this. The 24-Hour News Cycle is not geared toward a process lasting days or weeks.

One journalist writing for the NZ Herald, Audrey Young, even suggested that initiating coalition talks before the Specials were counted and announced was somehow a “good thing”;

It is surprising that NZ First has not begun talking to National yet, at a point when it has maximum leverage.

Not doing so before the special votes runs the risk having less leverage after the specials are counted should there be no change in the seats, or in the unlikely event of National gaining.

That bizarre suggestion could be taken further; why not announce a government before any votes are counted?

Pushed to maximum absurdity, why not announce a government before an election even takes place?  Banana republics fully recommend  this technique.

It says a lot about the impatience and immaturity of journalists that they are demanding decisions on coalition-building before all votes are counted. It is  doubtful if any journalist in Europe – which has had proportional representation far longer than we have – would even imagine  making such a nonsensical  suggestion.

Little wonder that Peters lost his cool on 27 September where he held a press conference and lambasted the mainstream media for their “drivel”;

“Now frankly if that’s the value you place on journalistic integrity you go right ahead, but the reality is you could point to the Electoral Commission and others and ask yourself why is it that 384,000 people will not have their vote counted until the 7th of October. 

Maybe then you could say to yourselves that may be the reason why New Zealand First has to withhold its view because we don’t know yet what the exact precise voice of the New Zealand people is.

All I’m asking for is a bit of understanding rather than the tripe that some people are putting out, malicious, malignant, and vicious in the extreme.”

The mainstream media did not take kindly to the critical analysis which they themselves usually mete out to public figures. They reported Peters’ press conference in unflattering terms and a vehemence usually reserved for social/political outcasts who have somehow dared challenge the established order of things;

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The Fourth Estate does not ‘do’ criticism well.

Even cartoonists have piled in on Peters, caricaturising him for daring to impede the [rapid] course of democracy;

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Or satirising Peters for being in a position to coalesce either with Labour or National. Despite this being a feature of all proportionally-elected Parliaments around the world, this has somehow taken the mainstream media by surprise;

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Perhaps Winston Peters was correct when he accused  New Zealand’s mainstream media of continuing to view the political landscape  through a First Past the Post prism;

“You ran a first past the post campaign in an MMP environment. And things suffer from that.”

Without a hint of self-awareness of irony, the usually insightful Bernard Hickey  offered this strangely familiar ‘advice’ to Peters;

It could have been so different. He could have simply said he couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose. Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance.

Really? “Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance”?!

How many timers did Peters tell journalists  that he “couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose” and how many times did those same journalists (or their colleagues) persist?

I have considerable respect for Mr Hickey’s researching and reporting skills. He is one of New Zealand’s most talented journalists/commentators.

On this point, however, he has over-looked the stubborn persistence of his colleagues in their unrelenting demands on Peters.

That media drivel has extended to journalists reporting on a non-existent, fabricated “story” – a potential National-Green (or “Teal”) Coalition.

Nowhere was this suggestion made seriously – except by National-leaning right-wing commentators, National party supporters, and National politicians. It should be blatantly clear to the most apolitical person that,

(a) such a coalition has been dismissed by the Green Party on numerous occassions

(b) such a coalition would be impractical due to wide policy differences between National and the Greens

(c) such a coalition scenario was being made only as a negotiation tactic by National to leverage against NZ First, and

(d) such a coalition would offer very little benefit to the Greens.

Green party leader, James Shaw, had to repeat – on numerous occassions – that any notion of a National-Green deal was out of a question;

“Our job is to form a government with the Labour Party, that’s what I said on election night, that’s what I campaigned on for the last 18 months and that’s what we are busy working on.

I said on election night that I think the numbers are there for a new government and that’s what we are working on, so everything else frankly is noise and no signal.”

This did not stop the mainstream media from breathlessly (breathe, Patrick, breathe!) reporting repeating the “story” without analysing where it was emanating from: the Right. Or who it would benefit: National.

Writing a series of stories on an imaginary National-Green coalition scenario, Fairfax ‘s political reporter Tracy Watkins could almost be on the National Party’s communications-team payroll;

Metiria Turei’s departure from the Greens co-leadership seems to be what lies behind National’s belief that a deal may be possible – she was always cast as an implacable opponent to any deal with National. James Shaw is seen as being more of a pragmatist.

But National would only be prepared to make environmental concessions – the Greens’ social and economic policy platform would be seen as a step too far. Big concessions on climate change policy would also be a stumbling block.

On both those counts the Greens would likely rule themselves out of a deal – co-leader James Shaw has made it clear economic and social policy have the same priority as environmental policy.

There is a view within National, however, that a deal with the Greens would be more forward and future looking than any deal with NZ First.

One concern is what is seen as an erratic list of NZ First bottom lines, but there is also an acknowledgement that National was exposed on environmental issues like dirty water in the campaign.

That’s why National insiders say an approach to the Greens should not be ruled out.

But Watkins was not completely oblivious to the Kiwi-version of ‘Game of Thrones‘.  She briefly alluded to comprehending that National is pitting the Greens against NZ First;

Senior National MPs have made repeated overtures through the media that its door is open to the Greens, who would have more leverage in negotiations with the centre-right than the centre-left.

Watkins and her colleagues at Fairfax made no attempt to shed light on National’s “repeated overtures”. She and other journalists appeared content to be the ‘conduit’ of National’s machiavellian machinations as prelude to coalition talks.

Such was the vacuum caused by the interregnum between Election Day and Special  Votes day.  That vacuum – caused by the news blackout until coalition talks begin in earnest after 7 October – had obviously enabled sensationalism to guide editorial policy.

Writing for another Fairfax newspaper, the Sunday Star Times, so-called “journalist” Stacey Kirk cast aside any remaining mask of impartiality and came out guns blazing, demanding a National Green Coalition;

They should, and the reasons they won’t work with National are getting flimsier by the day. But they won’t – it’s a matter that strikes too close to the heart of too many of their base – and for that reason, they simply can’t.

[…]

For all their dancing around each other, National is serious when it says it would be happy to talk to the Greens. But it’s also serious when it says it knows it has to make big environmental moves regardless.

If the Greens are serious about putting the environment above politics – and the long-term rebuild of the party – they really should listen.

Kirk’s piece could easily have emanated from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive – not the Dominion Post Building in downtown Wellington.

The media pimping for a fourth National-led coalition, involving the Greens, would be comical if it weren’t potentially so damaging to our democracy. Media are meant to question political activity such as coalition-building  – not aggressively promote them in an openly partisan manner. Especially not for the benefit of one dominant party. And especially not to install that political party to government.

One person went so far as launching an on-line petition calling for just such a coalition;

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The organisor is one, Clive Antony, a Christchurch “organic fashion entrepreneur”. (That’s a ‘thing’? Who knew?)  Mr Anthony explained why he wanted a “Teal” coalition;

“I genuinely think there is common ground between the National Party and the Green Party, which could result in practical policy wins for New Zealand. Environmental issues such as carbon neutrality and social issues like child poverty come to mind.”

Mr Anthony happens to be a National Party supporter.

Mr Anthony failed to explain what National has been doing the last nine years to protect the environment; why rivers have continued to be degraded; why the agricultural sector has been left out of the emissions trading scheme; why National has squandered billions on new roading projects instead of public transport; etc, etc. Also, Mr Anthony has failed to ask why National has not willingly adopted Green Party policies in the last nine years.

What has stopped them?  Party policies are not copyright.  After all, you don’t have to be in coalition with a party to take on their policies.

Although it helps if National were honest enough to release official reports in a timely manner, instead of the public relying on them to be leaked;

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This is how National demonstrates transparency and integrity.  This is the party that attempts to suppress critical information on climate change.

This is the party that some media pundits are clamouring to enter into a meaningful working relationship with the Greens.

As former Green MP, Mojo Mathers pointed out on Twitter;

“Oh my, National love the Greens now do they? Pity they couldn’t show some love for the environment over the last 9 years. #NoGreenWash

Dirty coal. Polluted rivers. Industrial dairying. Rising emissions. Billion dollar motorways. Seabed mining in blue whale habitat and more.”

Another, former Green MP, Catherine Delahunty, voiced what probably 99.9% of Green Party members are thinking right now;

“I would rather drink hemlock than go with the National Party. The last thing I want to see is the Green Party or any other party propping them up to put them back into power. They’ve done enough damage.”

Green Party (co-)leader, James Shaw, was more diplomatic;

“A slim majority of voters did vote for change, and so that’s what I’m working on… We campaigned on a change of Government, and I said at the time it was only fair to let voters know what they were voting for – are you voting for the status quo, or are you voting for change?”

Other individuals pimping for a Nat-Green coalition are sundry National party MPs such as  Paula Bennett or former politicians such as Jim Bolger.

All of which was supported by far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s “intern staff”, on the “Whaleoil” blog;

Currently we are sitting in wait for old mate Winston Peters to choose who is going to run the country. After watching all the pundits in media talk about what the next government would look like, it started to annoy me that everyone has been ruling out a National/Green coalition and rightly so as both parties have basically written it off.

[…]

A quick Blue-Green arrangement with the appropriate Government Ministries assigned to Green Ministers would kill the NZ First posturing dead and would probably be the death knell for NZ First forever once Mr Peters resigns.”

National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, was also actively pimping for a National-Green Coalition;

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When even the far-right are salivating at the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition, you know something is seriously askew.

However,  judging by comments posted by Kiwiblog’s readers, the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition does not sit well with his audience.

As an interesting side-note, both Whaleoil and Kiwiblog both published their first stories on a Blue-Green coalition around 27 and 28 September. The Tory communications-strategy memo talking up a Blue-Green scenario appears to have been sent to Slater and Farrar at the same time.

It beggars belief that very few media commentators have picked up on what is really the bleedin’ obvious: National’s strategy is obviously a ploy to leverage against NZ First.

Of all the pundits, only one person seems to have sussed what was really happening and why. Otago University law professor and political commentator,  Andrew Geddis,  put things very succinctly when he wrote for Radio NZ on 30 September;

Media coverage of the post-election period echoes this existential angst. With Winston Peters declaring that he – sorry, New Zealand First – won’t make any decisions on governing deals until after the final vote count is announced on October 7, we face something of a news vacuum.

Commentators valiantly have attempted to fill this void with fevered speculation about who Peters likes and hates, or fantastical notions that a National-Greens deal could be struck instead…

That is as close to sensible commentary as we’ve gotten the last two weeks.

The 2017 General Election may be remembered in future – not for Winston Peters holding the balance of power – but for the unedifying rubbish churned out by so-called professional, experienced journalists. In their thirst for something – anything!! – to report, the media commentariate have engaged in  onanistic political fantasies.

They have also wittingly allowed themselves to be National’s marionettes – with strings reaching up to the Ninth Floor.

The National-Green Coalition fairytale promulgated by some in the media was a glimpse into the weird world of journalistic daydreaming. In other words, New Zealanders just got a taste of some real fake news.

Like children in the back seat of a car on a two-week long drive, this is what it looks like when bored journalists and media commentators become anxious and frustrated. Their impatience gets the better of them.

And a politician called them on it;

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When the antiquated, binary system of First Past the Post  was replaced with a more sophisticated; more representative; more inclusive MMP in the 1990s, our political system matured. Our Parliament became more ethnically and gender diverse. We even elected the world’s first transgender MP.

MMP is complex and requires careful consideration and time.

It is fit-for-purpose for the complexities of 21st Century New Zealand.

The Fourth Estate is yet to catch up.

 

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References

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

NZ Herald:  Winston Peters – 7 per cent of the vote, 100 per cent of the power

Newsroom:  Winston’s awful start

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters launches tirade on media, stays mum on coalition talks

TVNZ:  ‘Next question!’ – belligerent Winston Peters has press pack in stitches after shutting down Aussie reporter

NZ Herald:   Attack on media, some insults and stonewalling – Winston Peters comes out firing in press conference

Newstalk ZB:  Winston Peters hits out at media in fiery press conference

Radio NZ:  Green Party dismisses National-Green speculation

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Fairfax media:  National says don’t rule out an approach to Greens on election night

Fairfax media:  Stacey Kirk – Honour above the environment? Greens hold a deck of aces they’re refusing to play

NZ Herald:  Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Govt sits on climate warnings

Twitter: Mojo Mathers

Radio NZ:  ‘Snowball’s chance in hell’ of a Green-National deal

Mediaworks:  ‘I will hear the Prime Minister out’ – James Shaw

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters’ super leak ‘great gossip’ I couldn’t use against him – Paula Bennett

Fairfax media:  Greens have a responsibility to talk to National – Jim Bolger

Radio NZ:  Special votes – why the wait?

NZCity:  Have patience, says Winston Peters

E-Tangata: Georgina Beyer – How far can you fall?

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  What could the Greens get if they went with National not Winston?

Kiwiblog:  How a National-Green coalition could work

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – Let’s seriously consider David Farrar’s offer to the Greens and laugh and laugh and laugh

Liberation:  Cartoons and images about negotiating the new government

Previous related blogposts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 October 2017.

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Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

3 October 2017 1 comment

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Red-Green, Blue-Green?

There is mischief-making afoot.

Suggestions for a National-Green coalition are being floated by various right-wing commentators, National Party figures, and some media pundits. Despite Green Party Leader, James Shaw, repeatedly ruling out any such possibility – the suggestion continues to circulate.

On  election night, as TOP leader Gareth Morgan realised his party would not reach the 5% MMP threshold, he made the bizarre comment that the Greens should join with National in a formal coalition;

“I want them [the Green Party] to do what we would’ve done if we had been above five, and say to National who are gonna be the Government it’s very obvious, we will work with you, we need to work on the environment no matter who the Government is.”

To which Shaw predictably responded;

“My view is that he would have been better off backing a party that had similar ideas, like us.”

This was reiterated for the NZ Herald;

Shaw said he would not being making contact with National, but he would take a call from National leader Bill English.

“It’s my responsibility to do so. And we’ll have to see what they’ve got to say. But one of the things I will be saying in return is ‘You know we campaigned on a change of government and you know what was in our manifesto … and how incongruous that is to what the National Party policy programme is’.”

On 25 September, right-wing political commentator and mischief-maker, Matthew Hooton, again raised the proposal for a National-Green coalition on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel;

“And then there’s the other one, of course, there’s the National-Green option, which is  favoured by National party members… it’s an interesting one…”

On the same day, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, former PM Jim Bolger repeated the National-Green coalition possibility to host, John Campbell;

“…The Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they, unique in the world as a Green party, should only link themselves to left-wing politics. Whereas  the environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.

And I just wonder whether or not they won’t reflect on towards the National government that signed up to the Paris Climate Accords and have set in place the process to reach  the goals that was set out there.

So I’d imagine in a quiet back room the Greens might be saying, ‘Why? Why are we saying we can only go with one party?’, eg the Labour party, and you might watch this space if I was you, John.”

Bolger’s hippy-like ‘Mother Earth’ musings was followed by Tracy Watkins. Writing for Fairfax media on 25/26 September, she still laboured under the impression that a National-Green coalition was a real ‘thing’;

Like Winston Peters, the Greens could theoretically hold the balance of power, after National made it clear it is more than willing to talk turkey with the minor party.

[…]  Some senior Nats consider a deal with the Greens more desirable than a NZ First deal – the Green’s environmental platform is seen within National as something it could accommodate, particularly after the clobbering it took over clean water during the election campaign.

That highlighted to National that its credibility on environmental issues and New Zealand’s 100 per cent pure brand needs some serious work – and a Greens deal would be a simple way to enhance its environmental credentials.

There is also recognition that a deal with the Greens would be more forward looking and more likely to ride the mood for change than a deal with the NZ First, whose policies are more backward looking.

Peter Dunne followed on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 27 September, with his call for a National-Green coalition;

“The best option in my view … is for the Greens to be very bold, work out that they could make significant changes on climate change policy, and go with National.”

Note that this suggestion came from Peter Dunne, who recently chucked in his own political career rather than facing  Labour’s Greg O’Connor at the ballot box.

Where was Dunne’s own boldness?

What happened to his own United Future Party?

Even a chat-show’s sports commentator put his two cents worth in. The AM Show’s Mark Richardson suddenly decided that commentating on grown men kicking balls around wet paddocks wasn’t enough of a challenge for him. Duncan Garner decided to prompt Richardson to offer the public his  suddenly new-found “political expertise”.

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Mark Richardson, Sports Presenter (now moonlighting as a political pundit)

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Richardson complied, and sagely advised;

AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson is dipping his toe into the political pool again, this time splashing his ideas at the leader of the Green Party.

Introduced by his colleague Duncan Garner as a “political expert”, who has “decided that you [Green Party leader James Shaw] should listen to him and this is what he wants to say.”

The cricketer-turned-broadcaster challenged Shaw to form a coalition government with National, following the stalemate reached in Saturday’s election.

I just want to say James,” said Richardson, directly to camera, “be a risk taker and back yourself, but not only back yourself, back that band of hopeful young administrators you take with them (sic),” he said.

How ‘delightful’ that National supporters and other sundry right-wingers are encouraging the Greens to be “bold”  and “risk takers”. After all, if such an unlikely coalition were to eventuate, the damage wreaked upon the Green Party wouldn’t impact one iota on the likes of Morgan, Hooton, Bolger, Dunne, Richardson, et al. But it sure as hell would destroy the Greens and eliminate the Labour Party’s only reliable potential coalition partner.

Game over for the Left.

So no surprise that a whole bunch of people on the Right and media have suddenly focused on the Green Party;

  • For media pundits, they are suffering from boredom and a debilitating psychological effect called ‘lackofheadline-itis’. With coalition negotiations unlikely to commence until Special Votes have been counted and announced on 7 October, manufacturing “news” by positing a fantasy fairy tale of the Greens linking up with National creates headlines. It’s as close to fake news as we’ll get with the msm.
  • For National Party supporters – such as AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson (see above) – such a deal with the Green Party would lend legitimacy to a fourth term National government. Make no mistake, the Green Party is a powerful brand, and the Nats want it. Badly.
  • For the National government, should any  such a coalition eventuate, the kudos for any environmental gains would inevitably be snapped for themselves, as it did with the home insulation deal it made with the Green Party in 2009;

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Success for that  programme was claimed solely by the Nats;

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But as the fate of small parties such as ACT, United Future/Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party demonstrated with crystal clarity, snuggling up close to the National Party goliath is akin to trying to cuddle up to a ravenous lion. It will not end well.

Just ask Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox.

So National would benefit two-fold.

By contrast, it is unclear what gain (if any) the Greens could hope to achieve.

National and sundry right-wing commentators should knock off trying to use the Green Party as pawns in any negotiations with NZ First. Trying to use the Green Party as “leverage” will simply not work. The Green Party refuses to be anybody’s “lever”.

Just to be absolutely clear – because evidently, having it in writing, in black and white, on the Green Party website – is insufficient for some people;

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Matthew Hooton can’t count

Also on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel on 25 September, right-wing political commentator,  Matthew Hooton, stated that National’s vote on Saturday was better than previous elections;

“Admittedly partly as a result of the decline of the Conservative Party, National has won more votes, got a higher proportion of the vote than it did in 2014 and 2008…”

It is unclear what Hooton has based that assumption on, as his statement is contradicted by the Provisional Results from the Electoral Commission.

According to the Commission’s website, the National Party gained the followed percentage and individual votes for 2008, 2014, and 2017;

Election Year Party
Votes
%
Votes
2008 1,053,398 44.93%
2014 1,131,501 47.04%
2017* 998,813 46.0%

(* Preliminary results)

The numbers are clear; National’s vote has fallen by 132,000 and their percentage of the Party Vote has fallen by over one percentage point from 2014. (And whilst National’s Party vote percentage was higher this year than 2008 – they still suffered a drop in actual votes by 54,585.

Even the demise of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (aka, CCCP) failed to lift National’s poll results.

Whichever way you look at it, the tide is beginning to ebb on National’s fortunes.

Stuart Nash wins Napier outright

Following the 2014 General Election, I pointed out that Stuart Nash’s win in the Napier seat was due more to Garth McVicar splitting the right-wing vote, allowing Labour to slip through to victory. As I reported on 26 September, 2014;

Nash did not “win” Napier.

The National candidate, Wayne Walford lost the electorate when Garth McVicar from the Conservative Party split the right wing vote in the electorate. Remember; electorate contests are still fought using First Past the Post – not by any  proportionality or preferential voting.

The actual results were;

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

Add McVicar’s 7,135 to Walford’s figures, and the combined 17,443 would have trounced Nash easily.

On Election Night 2017, Stuart Nash did not had the benefit of a popular Conservative Party candidate splitting the right-wing vote. Instead, he won the seat outright;

Candidate
 Stuart Nash (L)
18,407*
 David Elliott (N)
14,159*
 Laurence Day (CCCP)
200*

* Figures provisional.

 

Not only did Nash retain his overall majority, but McVicar’s 7,135 votes from 2014 appears to have been evenly split between Nash and Elliott.

This time, Nash can legitimately assert that he won the Napier seat without vote-splitting creating an artificial majority, as happened three years ago.

Winston Peters waiting for Special Votes

It’s not often that I agree with NZ First leader, Winston Peters. But on 27 September he told the media;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said… please don’t write the kind of thing saying someone has moral authority…we are not first past the post here.”

He’s right.

Until Special Votes are counted, making statements to the media is an exercise in futility. It would be pandering more to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle rather than offering anything constructive to the public.

At this point the media will have to exercise patience and simply accept that until Special Votes are counted, nothing can (or should) happen.

The democratic process cannot; must not; should not, revolve around the 24-hour news cycle.

The Curious resignation of  Wayne Eagleson

Something very, very curious has transpired in the dark coridors of power in the Beehive. The Prime Minister’s Number 2, right-hand man, Wayne Eagleson  announced his resignation on 25 September.

Eagleson was one of several high-ranking National figures who were informed that Winston Peters had received a superannuation overpayment.

On 26 September, both English and Eagleson vigorously denied leaking – or having knowledge of who might have leaked – information on Peters’ superannuation overpayments;

It didn’t come from the National Party.” – Wayne Eagleson

No, not all. I take people by their word that no action was taken by my staff in making that information public.” – Bill English

Now, aside from the fact that Bill English has already shown himself willing and capable of telling lies, by repeating Steven Joyce’s fabrications over Labour’s “$11.7 billion hole” and “increased personal taxes”, there remain an interesting question regarding the statements made by the Prime Minister and Wayne Eagleson.

Namely this: How can either English or Eagleson know with absolute certainty that the leaking of Peters’ personal superannuation details did not come from someone/anyone connected to the National Party?

If they truly  know – with 100% certainty – that no one in the National Party leaked the information; how do they know this? How is that possible?

In fact, it is not  possible.

In that respect, both English and Eagleson are covering up the possibility that the leak emanated from someone within the National party or government.

And if both men are willing to take that small step to cover-up the merest possibility of an internal National Party leak… would it be too much of a stretch to assume that one or both are fully aware of who the leaker is?

Why did Eagleson resign – especially at this very crucial time of coalition negotiations?

And what does Winston Peters know of why Eagleson resigned?

One salient fact fact is indisputable: someone did leak that information. The question is not who was responsible – but who else knew who was responsible.

Wayne Eagleson knows more than he is letting on, as does Bill English.

Winston Peters has had his ‘utu’.

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References

Mediaworks:  A phone call between National and the Greens would be a short one

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon Political Panel – 25.9.2017 (alt.link)

Radio NZ:  Former PM Jim Bolger on how to deal with Winston Peters (alt.link)

NZ Herald:  Green Party leader James Shaw rules out contacting National

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Radio NZ: Morning Report –  Dunne predicts ‘blood on the floor’

Fairfax media:  Mark Richardson declares himself as a National supporter, does that matter?

NBR: Govt launches ‘Warm Up NZ’ programmed

National Party:  10 ways National is helping families get ahead

Green Party:  How you vote has never been so important

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2011 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2008 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Electoral Commission: 2014 Election Results – Napier (Alt.link: Wikipedia – Election Results – Napier)

Electoral Commission: 2017 Election Results – Napier (Provisional)

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

Mediaworks:  Bill English’s chief of staff quits – but wants NZ First deal first

Radio NZ:  Timeline – Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments saga

Mediaworks:  As it happened – Parties prepare for election negotiations

Other Blogs

The Standard: How a National/Green coalition could work

Previous related blogposts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 September 2017.

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One Day Out with Green Team #5

25 August 2017 2 comments

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Hutt Valley, 19 August – As part of my contribution to the Green party election campaign, I joined the Green’s Billboard Team #5. Our team was assigned to the Rimutaka Electorate – and it was an eventful day…

We began at 10am, assembling at a private residence in the Lower Hutt suburb of Woburn. Teams were assigned suburbs throughout Lower Hutt and the Rimutaka Electorate.  Vehicles were loaded with timber; corflute sheets of varying sizes; nails, and tools. The weather was cloudy, but sunny and the day continued to warm.

But we were on limited time. The weather forecast was not brilliant for the afternoon. We would have to do as much work as possible in the limited time available.

Team number 5 headed north.

Our first stop; Waiwhetu Road in Lower Hutt, to replace a small corflute with a larger one on a private residence’s fence. Private residence’s fences are a fast, cheap, easy way to put up billboards. Usually no framing is required, just nails or staples. Five minutes and the job is done.

Then on to Upper Hutt.

The team had previously erected several billboards over the previous weeks and were well-experienced in the technique. Recent rain had softened the ground, making it easier to drive in the stakes to which legs and support-struts were attached;

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Frank Macskasy The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com election 2017 - billboards - green party

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(Note: not all team members were included in these images. Some did not want to be photographed, others were working on other billboard frames.)

The soft ground that made our work so easy would  prove to be problematic later on.

Several households throughout the electorate were  happy to have smaller corflutes attached to their fences;

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The team moved to existing billboards, repairing damage caused by vandals in one instance – and by recent windgusts in another. At Gibbon Street, Green Party members charitably re-erected an ACT Party billboard that had been knocked over by vandals;

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Support for the Green Party took an unusual turn when – at one house – I was invited to come for dinner later. (I declined the gracious offer.) It was a difficult decision; the aroma of a spicy Indian dish wafted through the open door as we sought permission from the home-owner to place a placard on her fence.

Around mid-day, a small disaster struck the team. The ground on which our vehicle had parked was softer than we had thought, and quickly became bogged down. No amount of muscle-powered pushing and other ‘tricks’ worked.

At that moment, Labour’s Rimutaka MP, Chris Hipkins and his wife and child were driving past in his trademarked red 4X4.

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He slowed and leaned out his window;

“Do you guys need any help?”

We all nodded. No way were we going to turn down his offer of assistance. Besides which, there was probably a clause in the Labour-Greens Memorandum of Understanding on this kind of scenario; “each Party will help each other out in the event of getting bogged down in mud“.

Yep, it’s there. Somewhere.

After some careful towing, Chris managed to extricate our vehicle. Had the election been that day, we probably would’ve voted for him on the spot, in sheer gratitude.

Thanks, Chris! Labour-Green co-operation at it’s finest!

So on top of putting up a dozen billboards on frames and fences, Team #5 managed to engage in some inter-party co-operation; Green members re-erecting an ACT billboard, and a Labour MP coming to our rescue!

Now if only Parliament could work like that.

Postscript

If we want to change the government, we have to work for it. That means going out and campaigning for Labour, the Greens, or Mana Movement. It won’t happen by itself – only People Power can do it.

We have four weeks to do it, people.

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Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 August 2018.

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From TV’s “The Nation” – Patrick Gower and James Shaw have a heart-to-heart

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Saturday, 12 August – On TV3’s ‘The Nation, Patrick Gower interviewed the Green Party’s remaining co-leader, James Shaw;

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For a while, the interview was low-key, with Gower exercising old school  journalistic professionalism. It’s as if someone slipped him a nice camomile tea laced with a couple of shots of  bourbon and just a smidgeon of valium.

The interview progressed well, with James Shaw being somewhat irritatingly ‘coy’ about the Green’s campaign re-set. Gower kept his frustration in check as Shaw did the dance of the Seven Veils, but without the peeling-away of said veils.

Then, at 6:10 into the interview, there was this jaw-dropping exchange between Gower and Shaw;

Patrick Gower: Well, an important aspect of that is what Metiria Turei’s venture around this benefit fraud was all about, which was empowering the disenfranchised. Now, where do they sit — those people that she tried to reach, or, as you’ve argued, did reach now they’ve seen someone who’s stood up for them slapped down and destroyed, effectively? What message does that send to those people that you were trying to reach that this is what happens when someone speaks up for you?

James Shaw: Yeah, Patrick, I have to say that’s been a huge personal concern for me is — what message does that send? And so it is a really important part of our campaign that the people that have come forward over the course of the last four weeks in response to Metiria’s campaign who said, ‘Finally, I feel like there’s someone in the House of Representatives who actually represents me,’ we are going to be speaking directly to those people and say, ‘The Green Party is here for you. We still stand for you.’ And it is our goal to end poverty. I mean, Metiria herself said that is was always bigger than her.

Patrick Gower: Yeah, but what do those words mean when what they see is she stood up for them and she was taken down by her own party in some senses? You guys didn’t stand behind her.

James Shaw: Patrick, we absolutely stood behind her. She had the full support of me, the caucus, the party executive. I mean, we had thousands of volunteers all over the country.

Now – what’s wrong with Gower’s comments?

Why – when listening/reading his words – does one feel rising nausea and anger?

And why does the word “hypocrisy” ring loud?

Perhaps I’ve crossed over into a Parallel Universe… Bernie Sanders is still President of the United States, right?

 

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References

Mediaworks/TV3: The Nation – Patrick Gower interviews James Shaw (video)

Scoop media: The Nation – Patrick Gower interviews James Shaw (transcript)

Previous related blogposts

Some background info for Guyon Espiner

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei! (Part Rua)

The most grievous betrayal of all – two so-called “Green” MPs who should know better

Metiria Turei has started something

 

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Acknowledgement for cartoon: Toby Morris, Radio NZ.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 August 2017.

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Metiria Turei has started something

17 August 2017 4 comments

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When Metiria Turei announced her resignation as co-leader of the Green Party, on the afternoon of 9 August, it could be said that the bullies had won.

The reactionary media pack – led chiefly by so-called “journalists” Patrick Gower, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner, Tracy Watkins, and  John Armstrong – had joined the hunt. They scented blood. The prize?  Who would be first to announce her resignation. Watching and listening to Gower almost salivating as he put the verbal “ultra-violence” boot into Metiria was nauseating.

The political Right-Wing – led chiefly by ACT’s sole MP, David Seymour – not only clamoured for her resignation, but actively promoted rumour after rumour to undermine her reputation. Mischief-making falsities from the Right is done with malice and glee. Especially if the “fake dirt” can be thrown anonymously via social media.  Seymour’s role in this is even more jaw-droppingly hypocritical when one studies the lengthy list of former, disgraced ACT MPS – and there have been several, for such a minor party.

Various sundry vociferous critics from the “Moral Majority” – led chiefly by Joe and Jane Bloggs – pakeha, middle class; home-owning; privileged. They have never know hunger or having to choose between paying the rent or new shoes for the kids. For them, the mantra is “can’t afford to feed kids – don’t have them”.  (Which is code for “fuck off, we don’t want to see you poor people because it makes us feel guilty and we don’t like it. You’re in our Comfort Zone”.)

Fellow blogger, Martyn Bradbury described that relentless attack on Ms Turei thusly;

It is a grim reality of the double standards that are always used against the Left in politics. The truth is that this was a class attack by rich white male broadcasters who used their privilege to launch a character assassination against Metiria for daring to give beneficiaries hope that the way they are treated will be finally discussed.

And that is precisely the point. This was never about Metiria having to lie to Social Welfare when she was 23.

It certainly wasn’t about her so-called “electoral fraud”. Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders live overseas and are actively encouraged to vote in electorates they haven’t resided in for years. The Electoral Commission even encourages citizens to vote in electorates they are absent from;

Enrol and Vote from Overseas

Just because you are out of the country doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having your say in New Zealand’s elections.

[…]

Your electorate will be the one in which you last lived for a month or more. 

All quite legal.

But when a mischievous young person does pretty much the same thing as a prank, to support a joke political “party” – people lose their minds?!

Ms Turei was certainly not the first woman on the Left to be vilified. Before her, there was Sue Bradford. And before her, Fran Wilde. When Conservative New Zealand is threatened by women who “cross the line”, it reacts brutally.

Ms Turei not only “crossed the line”, she was an uppity brown woman who got lippy and insolent to The Established Order of  Things.  The Establishment slapped her down – hard.

As Stephanie Rodgers wrote for Radio NZ;

I will remember that for 30 years, no one really challenged the brutal reality of life for the poor in New Zealand. We lamented child poverty rates. We railed against increasingly draconian policies and re-brandings. But there was a gentlemen’s agreement that things weren’t that bad, the system did what it could, it was just so complicated, we can’t simply give people money, they’ve got rights but they have responsibilities too.

I will remember that as soon as someone – a Māori woman who survived poverty and didn’t forget where she came from – said ‘This is fundamentally wrong, and we must do better,’ she was finished.

The “weapon of choice” to take down this uppity woman was not Ms Turei’s political opponants in the National/ACT Party (though that stooge, Seymour, certainly did his masters’ bidding). That would be too obvious. New Zealanders with a vestigial sense of fair play would quickly recognise a political “hit job” carried out by the governing party. Especially with Paula Bennett apparently having a few of her own skeletons stashed away in her closet.

No, retribution would be exacted by New Zealand’s own “Media Elite” – prominent personalities from TV (Garner, Gower, and Hosking); print media (Tracy Watkin and John Armstrong), and the usual goon-brigade of semi-articulate radio “talkback” hosts.

Radio NZ was largely exempt from the media pack hunting down their quarry. Until 10 August,that is. On a programme called ‘Caucus‘, Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin discussed Metiria Turei’s lying to Social Welfare in her 20s.

Driving home this evening, I listened to the three of them discussing Metiria Turei’s lying to Social Welfare in the 1990s. I listened and listened, and became more incredulous and angry with each uttered word.

I switched off the car radio. Outside, the dismal grey sky occassionally sprayed sheets of rain over me as I and  thousands of other vehicles slowly moved along the  Motorway. “60K” the illuminated overhead signs demanded.

Sixty?

We should be so lucky! We did 30 or maybe  40 and were thankful for it.

Despite the gloomy grey sky, blanketed with bulging dark clouds, it was a damn sight more cheerful outside than in my  vehicle, having listened to three journalists who I usually hold in high regard. It was darker, gloomier, and worse inside than out.

For the first time ever, I had willfully switched off a Radio NZ political programme. Listening to three, privileged, well-paid, middle-class, pakeha professionals pontificating on the sins of a 23 year old young maori woman two decades ago was more than I could stomach.  Louder than ever, Herman Melville’s now-oft repeated quote bounced around inside my head;

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”

Maybe I’m wrong and I don’t know the full extent of the lives of Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin – but that’s the point. We don’t know their lives.

The Inquisitors who have hounded and interrogated Ms Turei have done so with utter impunity as to how they lived their lives in their teens and twenties. Perhaps they lived their lives faultlessly.

Because – and here’s the point – the journalists and media personalities are not investigating anything Ms Turei did in her adult years, especially as a Member of Parliament.  They are scrutinising her past life.

It was a time when every single one of us cocks-up one way or another. (I certainly did. I haven’t worn my halo since puberty.)

Case in point; all three likened her transgression to lie to Social Welfare with Bill English’s rorting of the Ministerial Accomodation allowance in 2009;

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Note how then Dear Leader, John “Pull the Other One (pony tail)” Key phrased English’s deliberately rorting the system as an unfortunate distraction“.

At least Ms Turei never called her lying to Social Welfare as an unfortunate distraction“. Can you imagine the reaction of the Establishment Media?!?! They would have burned her alive at a stake on the Parliamentary forecourts.

But the point here is that Bill English was 48 when he rorted the Ministerial accomodation allowance.

Metiria Turei was 23.

Please Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin – tell us how they are remotely similar? If you can explain this to us, the Unwashed Masses, perhaps we can begin to glimpse your reasoning to hound this woman till she finally cracks and resigns.

Because I really, really, really want to understand.

The next complaint they had was the messy nature of Metiria Turei’s “back story”. Lisa Owen referred to “missing bits of her story” and “gaps” in her life.

Well, that’s a surprise, isn’t it?

That young people have messy lives that are often not tidy; not neatly packaged for future scrutiny; and often much of what we’ve done as young adults totally eludes our memories.

My own life has been “colourful” to put it mildly. Much of it I can recall. Much of it, I’ve forgotten or the details are hazy. If anyone asked me what I was doing when I was 23, I might offer basic facts – but certainly not details.

Most normal, rational, fair-minded people would find it  utterly unreasonable to expect the often chaotic lives of young people – especially those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap – to be recalled two decades later. Especially by an unrelenting media pack demanding minute details.

John Key’s “poor memory” was a standing joke in this country. The most famous example when he couldn’t recall the last time he had txt-messaged a far-right blogger. It had been only 24 hours previously. But he said he “forgot”;

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Screw that. We know he was a lying, manipulative con-man. But he got away with it because he ticked all the right boxes;

  • Establishment
  • Wealthy
  • Powerful
  • White
  • Male

On top of which, he was further rewarded with a knighthood. (I didn’t know liars were knighted.)

By contrast, Ms Turei was anything but but any of the above.

As  State House Tenant Advocate, Vanessa Kururangi, blogged recently;

If you’re brown, don’t dream of conquering mountains.
If you’re a woman, don’t you start having an opinion.
If you’re intelligent, play that shit down.
If you have stretch marks, you don’t stand a chance.
If you have aroha, don’t share it with others.
If you extend your arms, it had better not be for a handout.
If you have a voice, keep it zipped.
If you have a skeleton, best you bury the whole house, not just the closet.
Also, learn to lie.

“Learn to lie”. That last one is a lesson all our politicians have had beaten into their skulls by events  over the last two weeks. Lie like John Key when he “forgets” stuff. Tell the truth – and prepare to be excoriated.

None of which stopped Espiner, Owen, and Watkin from holding her to a higher standard than Key. None of them paused to think; “Hang on, are we really expecting too much from a young woman in her early 20s who lived like most young people who have no perception of long-term consequences?

They’ll deny it was a witch-hunt, of course. All of them will; Tracy Watkins, John Armstrong, Mike “I Love John” Hosking, Duncan Garner, and Patrick “I’m Holding The Line” Gower, as well as Espiner, Owen, and Watkin, and a few others who I cannot be bothered to list.  Otherwise known as the “Media Elite”.

But of course it was.

Meanwhile, stories of poverty continue in our daily media. There is much hand-wringing, soul-searching, and those same  Media Elite wanting answers to questions.

Metiria Turei may not have had the answers. But she knew the welfare system is broken and keeps people mired deeper in poverty, creating new cycles of despair, lack of hope, violence, hunger, disease…

Metiria Turei may not have revealed every intimate secret she had at the time. Why should she? Does poverty really mean having to give away your privacy so that privileged folk in the Middle Class can pass moral judgement on whether you are worthy of charity. That’s really going ‘Victorian’ on poor peoples’ asses.

Maybe it would be fairer if, when a Media Elite asks a poor person who they’ve been fucking recently, that Media Elite can swap his or her details at the same time?

Like this;

Patrick Gower: “So tell us, Wretched Poor Person, who’ve you been having sex with while on the DPB?”

Solo Mum: “I’ve had sex three times, Mr Gower, Sir, with the same person.”

Patrick Gower: “Away with you, Woman of Loose Morals!” [Turns to TV camera] “In the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to say I had sex with my partner, Mary the Merino, but no suck luck. It’s just me and my right hand, folks. Now back to the studio.”

Too much information, right?

But that’s how much the media demands to scrutinise the lives of the poor – especially those on welfare. As if receiving a state benefit demands surrendering privacy.

In case certain individuals from the Media Elite believe I’m being crude and unfair – damn straight I am. The last two weeks have shown me what the new standards are. I’m quite capable of playing by those rules.

On the day that Ms Turei announced her resignation I was thoroughly ashamed to be a New Zealander.  I saw the nasty, vindictive, petty-minded elements of our society. And the Media Elite played along; encouraging it; enabling it.

A day later, as I talked to grass-roots Green Party supporters, and read the comments of other people on social media, I began to hear the voices of the better nature of New Zealanders.

And you know what, my “friends” in the Media Elite? You can’t do a damn thing about it. As “Bill” from The Standard wrote;

Something’s happening right under our noses in New Zealand and a fair few people are missing it. When Metiria Turei highlighted the fact that New Zealand’s Social Security system is deployed as a weapon against poor people, 30 years worth of pent up frustration and/or remembered experiences from innumerable people suddenly found an outlet.

Metiria Turei has started something. You can’t stop it.

You can’t stop us all.

 

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Postscript – Minister for Sheer Hypocrisy Speaks Out

Former welfare beneficiary and now Deputy PM, Paula “Good Time Party Girl” Bennett recently admonished Metiria Turei, lecturing her on the Protestant work ethic;

“ I was often on benefit, I had jobs and I was always trying to get off when I was on, because I wanted to work and didn’t want to be on a benefit.”

Which seems in stark contrast to an earlier remark that Bennett made to NZ Herald journalist, Amelia Romanos, in February 2012;

“ Then I pretty much fell apart because I was exhausted. I went back on the DPB.”

So, Bennett wasn’t “always trying to get off when I was on, because I wanted to work and didn’t want to be on a benefit“. Sometimes she got a bit tired.

What was that you were saying to Ms Turei, Minister Bennett?

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References

Radio NZ:  ‘Outside opponents want to see us fail’ – Metiria Turei

Electoral Commission: Enrol and Vote from Overseas

Radio NZ: How Metiria Turei saved the Labour Party (audio)(alt.link)

Radio NZ:  I will remember Metiria Turei differently

Fairfax media:   Bill English buckles over housing allowance

Mediaworks/Newshub:  John Key ‘genuinely couldn’t recall’ text messages

Radio NZ:  Deputy PM on Turei’s benefit dishonesty

NZ Herald: Bennett rejects ‘hypocrite’ claims

Additional

The Spinoff:  The sins of Metiria, Bill and John – sense-checking the fact checkers

Other Bloggers

Gordon Campbell on the Turei finale

Bill:  Corbyn-esque NZ

Chris Trotter:  Avenge Metiria!

Vanessa Kururangi: “A Guide To Politics – Rules on How to Survive”

Curwen Rolinson:  Jacinda Effect > Metiria Affect – Why The Greens’ Polls Are Down

Previous related blogposts

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei! (Part Rua)

The most grievous betrayal of all – two so-called “Green” MPs who should know better

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 August 2017.

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The most grievous betrayal of all – two so-called “Green” MPs who should know better

12 August 2017 7 comments

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Right-wing rednecks – I can deal with.

Beneficiary-bashing bigots – no problem.

Well-meaning ignorance – a bit of a challenge.

But what I find difficult to comprehend is when we face betrayal from our supposed comrades; people who supposedly share our values, and are travelling the same struggle-road.

I refer to (now-ex-)Green MPs, Kennedy Graham and Dave Clendon who dropped the political equivalent of a barrel-bomb into the middle of the election campaign with this jaw-dropping act of betrayal;

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They issued a joint statement stating;

“We do not believe that lying to a public agency … can ever be condoned.”

That one simple line speaks volumes about the self-sense of privilege exhibited by these two men. Obviously they have never had to face the prospect of choosing to lie to WINZ – or telling the truth and risk cutting their benefit and reduced income.

Their self-righteousness in siding with “public agencies” over the poor; the powerless; the abused; the dispossessed makes them unfit to be in any political movement professing to be progressive.

They should join National, or even better, ACT.

I am livid with anger at the selfish actions of these two. I have given my weekends to help erect Green Party billboards. I have helped draft letters to newspapers defending Metiria Turei from the reactionary media pack who are hounding her. I plan to give up my time to help the Green Party as much as I possibly can with leafletting and doorknocking.

And then these two fucking clowns; on parliamentary salaries; living comfortable, privileged lives – undermine everything that I – and thousands of other volunteers – have done?

To hell with that. To hell with them. To hell with their self-serving, pious self-righteousness.

And to hell with these selfish desire for revenge.

Yes, that’s right – revenge. Both of these two dickheads have been dropped down the Green Party list rankings from 2014;

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Clendon and Graham are both non-entities; non-performers who were dropped down the Green Party list to make way for more talented candidates. That much is obvious.  Also obvious is the retribution they have exacted for their demotion. They must have waited very patiently for the right moment to plunge the knife into the backs of their colleagues; the Party, and it’s supporters and volunteers.

Metiria Turei’s confession was the moment they had been waiting for. A gift for traitors to exploit.

Whilst Ms Turei faced her reactionary critics in the Establishment Media – she left her back exposed to these contemptible  cowards.

The damage that Clendon and Graham may have done to our chances to change the National-led government is much, much worse than Metiria Turei’s recent admission to lying to social welfare. They may just have thrown National a life-line. With polls on a knife-edge, one or two percent is all it takes to decide if our Prime Minister is Bill “Double-Dipper” English, or Jacinda “Let’s Do It” Ardern.

This is an act of betrayal that is much worse than anything National may have dished out to us in the last nine years. We know what to expect from the Tories and their fellow-travellers.

But to be stabbed in the back by people we trust to represent the poorest people in our society – is treachery beyond polite words.

This is my second draft at writing this. My first attempt is not printable except maybe on Whaleoil. (And even Cam Slater might have asked me to “tone it down”.)

Kennedy Graham and Dave Clendon can fuck off.

Just. Fuck. Off.

 

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Two Green MPs call for Turei to step down

Green Party: 2014 Party List

Green Party: 2017 Party List

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 August 2017.

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Time to speak up for Metiria Turei! (Part Rua)

11 August 2017 1 comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The Editor
The Wellingtonian

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It astounds me that several reactionary media “personalities” have demanded Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, to resign from Parliament because she was forced to lie to social welfare so her benefit would not be cut.

In 2009 then Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English was caught claiming a ministerial housing allowance for a Wellington property he already owned through a family trust. After public anger mounted, he was eventually forced to repay $32,000 to the taxpayer. (“Bill English buckles over housing allowance”, Dominion Post)

This despite his ministerial salary of $276,200 per year – plus perks, gold-plated super scheme, and free/subsidised air travel after he retires from Parliament. (“Key backs $900-a-week subsidy for English home”, NZ Herald)

Meanwhile, Metiria Turei, a 23 year old solo-mum, struggled to make ends meet and put food on the table. All this during Ruth Richardson’s infamous benefit cuts. Thousands of families were forced deeper into poverty, and the effects are still with us today with rising homelessness.

Despite this, the Establishment Media led by Duncan Garner, Mike Hosking, and Patrick Gower mount a nasty vendetta against her?

Their actions illustrate precisely why Ms Turei voluntarily disclosed misleading social welfare in the mid-1990s; the stench of double standards is stomach turning.

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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Several media “personalities” are demanding that Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei resign from Parliament because she happened to register and vote in an electorate she did not usually live in?

How many thousands of New Zealanders live overseas and still vote in the last electorate they were registered in, prior to emigrating?

In 2005, then Opposition-leader, John Key, was guilty of the same “crime” Ms Turei is now accused of, as the media reported;

“National Party rising star John Key won’t be able to vote in the Helensville electorate he represents in the election this year… The former banker, who owns six New Zealand homes, said he made the change to clear up potential misunderstanding. Mr Key and his wife, Bronagh, are listed in electoral rolls for 2002, 2003, and 2004 as “residing” at a Waimauku address in the Helensville electorate, but have never lived there.” ( “National MP’s home away from home”, NZ Herald)

The matter of “multiple residences” did not stop Key from becoming Prime Minister three years later, and later knighted.

But if a poor, young, brown woman does the same thing, the Establishment Media goes crazy?

The Electoral Act 1993 is clear:

“A person resides at the place where that person chooses to make his or her home by reason of family or personal relations, or for other domestic or personal reasons.”

It is time for the media hysteria to stop and focus on the real critical problems confronting us as a nation. Enough fake news!

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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Metiria Turei’s honest disclosure of her interaction with WINZ in the 1990s may have caused an unintended consequence.

In being upfront and honest about her indiscretions with WINZ, she has sparked a storm of hysteria from reactionary “media personalities”, right wing politicians, conservative commentators, and those who gleefully sit in judgement of others.

As a consequence, she has become a warning to other politicians that truthfulness, openness, and candor will not be rewarded.

Every other politicians will look at the witch hunt pursuing Ms Turei and double-down on keeping secret their secrets.

Politicians will become even more risk-averse to telling the truth.

The next time a politician is challenged to be more open, the fate of Ms Turei will cross their mind and serve as a grim warning; honesty is not well rewarded in politics. It is brutally punished.

So. Which politician would like to raise his/her hand to reveal some skeleton from their closet? Someone? Anyone?

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: 4 August 2017
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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National as been very quiet over Metiria Turei’s admissions of neglecting to tell WINZ that she had flatmates, so her DPB would not be cut. In the early 1990s, welfare had been savagely cut in Ruth Richardson’s notorious “Mother of all Budgets” to a level where starvation and homelessness loomed to rising numbers of unemployed.

By the end of 1991, nearly 200,000 Kiwis were out of work as free-market policies were thrust upon us.

Perhaps National does not want to draw attention to Deputy PM, Paula Bennett, who was also on welfare at the time? Questions have been raised over Ms Bennett’s activities at the time.

Some in media have been less reticent. Certain reactionary “media personalities” have attacked her mercilessly. No doubt these same (predominantly white, well-paid, middle-aged male) critics lived saintly lives when they were in their 20s? Of course they did.

She was 23 when she filed an incorrect address so she could vote for a friend in the McGillicudy Serious Party. The whole point of McGillicudy was to take the mickey out of politics.

When did some lose their tolerance for youthful silliness to such a degree that, decades later a pack would be baying for her blood?

-Frank Macskasy

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: North and South <north&south@bauermedia.co.nz>
date: 5 August 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
North & South

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Recent disclosures by Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, that she was forced to lie to social welfare in the 1990s has provoked the usual outrage from the reactionary Establishment media. Media “personalities” Patrick Gower, Duncan Garner, and Mike Hosking – all affluent white men – are baying for her blood.

However, this is not about so-called welfare fraud. This is about one gutsy woman speaking out against a broken welfare system. Since Ruth Richardson’s disastrous benefit cuts in 1992, thousands of families became mired deeper in poverty; creating worsening homelessness; hungry and barefoot children going to school; and a rise of poverty-related disease.

It is in this environment of punishing the poor and those who lost their jobs during the ideological re-structuring of our economy, that has pushed many to lie or with-hold information to WINZ. It is a matter of sheer desperate survival.

Not that Messrs Garner, Hosking, and Gower would know anything of surviving poverty. Their homes are warm; their beds comfy; their bellies full. When Fairfax political journo, Tracy Watkins joined the media feeding-frenzy, accusing Ms Turei that she “failed the most basic political test – the hypocrisy one”, it was probably written after a nice meal, with a glass of ‘cheeky pinot’ (or was it a Brown Bros riesling?) on her work-desk at home. (“Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble”, Tracy Watkins, Fairfax)

No cold, damp homes or empty stomachs for these Media Establishment journos, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM, Paula Bennett, has been noticeably low-key on this issue.

Herself a former DPB beneficiary, Bennett made full use of social welfare to obtain a free University education through a Training Incentive Allowance (TIA), and a Housing NZ grant to buy her own home. (“Bennett knows about life on Struggle St”, Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald)

As Social Welfare Minister, one of her first acts in 2009 was to terminate the TIA. No other solo-mum or solo-dad would have the same chance she did.

There have been questions asked about Bennett’s activities whilst on the DPB. Those questions remain unanswered. Unlike Metiria Turei, the Ministry of Social Development appears to show no interest in our Deputy PM’s past.

While Bennett keeps her head down, her “attack dogs” in the Establishment media are ripping into her opponant, Ms Turei.

After all, how dare she speak out about the grim realities of living on welfare?

Such is Ms Turei’s real “crime”.

-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Fairfax media:   Bill English buckles over housing allowance

NZ Herald:  National MP’s home away from home

Legislation:  Electoral Act 1993

NZ Herald: Key backs $900-a-week subsidy for English home  (alt ref: The Indian Weekender:  Know your leaders – Bill English and Paula Bennett)

Fairfax media:  Tracy Watkins – Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble

NZ Herald:  Fran O’Sullivan – Bennett knows about life on Struggle St

Additional

NZ Herald:  Political Roundup – The Consequences of Metiria Turei’s benefit confession

Previous related blogposts

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

Tips from Paula Bennett on how to be a Hypocrite

Some background info for Guyon Espiner

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

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“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over

 

humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the

 

habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed,  and well-fed.”

 

– Herman Melville, 1819 – 1891

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 August 2017.

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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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A Study in Party Stability

2 October 2014 7 comments

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In terms of long-term stability, one party above stands above all others, with the exception of personality-driven groups such as NZ First and United Future. That party is the Greens.

If the Labour Party wants to look elsewhere for solutions to their problems, they need only walk down the coridor at Parliament and knock on the doors to Metiria Turei and Russell Norman.

The Greens’ record speaks for itself…

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2008

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2008 - Labour - Clarke - Cullen - Greens - Fitzsimons - Norman

(L-R) Helen Clarke – Michael Cullen – Jeanette Fitzsimons (retired 2009) – Russell Norman

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2009

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(L-R) Phil Goff - Anette King - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) Phil Goff – Annette King – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2011.

2011 - Labour - Shearer - Robertson - Greens - Turei - Norman

(L-R) David Shearer – Grant Robertson – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2013.

 

(L-R) David Cunliffe - David Parker - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) David Cunliffe – David Parker – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2014.

 

(L-R) ? - ? - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) ? – ? – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2017 .

(L-R) ? - ? - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) ? – ? – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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In the meantime, Labour’s ritual post-election  self-flagellation and purging of their leadership damages their standing in the public’s eye even further. The words I’ve been hearing in the last 48 hours are “clowns”, idiots”, and a few others that are unmentionable around kids.

If the Labour caucus don’t support their own leader – especially when times are tough – why should they expect the voting public to take their  leadership choices seriously? After all, with four leaders gone in six years, it would appear to be a temporary position at best.

The only thing that Labour is proving by it’s actions is that it cannot cope with defeat; cannot build positively; and most important – will not support it’s elected leader when he needs it the most. Not exactly an inspiring message to send to voters, eh?

Remind me why the public would think that this is a team worth supporting?!

No one benefits from this circus.

Except of course, Cameron Slater, David Farrar, Simon Lusk, and their parasitic mates. For them, despite Nicky Hager’s expose, this has been a dream-come-true. For the apostles of Dirty Politics, Christmas has come early.

Gift-wrapped and presented by the Labour Party caucus and hierarchy.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Cunliffe resigns as leader of Labour

NZ Herald: Timeline: Labour’s years of leadership pain

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 September 2014

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A positive story of political co-operation!

28 August 2014 2 comments

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20-september

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Wellington, NZ, 23 August – The following is a true story and shows how the natural inclination of the rank-and-file of our main left-wing parties is to work together…

I’ve been in contact with both the Green Party and Internet-Mana, to offer both parties a spot on my front lawn for election billboards.

The Green Party was the first to respond, and I outlined my idea to them that I wanted a billboard frame to be erected on an angle, so that Internet-Mana would build the second “arm” of a V-shape frame, and attach their own election corflute. The plan;

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election frame construction

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The Green’s billboard team were agreeable to the idea, and a couple of members arrived two days ago to erect their hoarding frame.

Before they started their work, one of the team members – Ian –  knocked on my door to advise that they had a spare hoarding frame. He offered a suggestion – and what followed was perhaps the most remarkable and positive story relating to this election campaign.

One facing was covered with the main Green Party hoarding;

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Green Party

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– with a smaller, detachable corflute (the plastic sign) attached to the other side.

Ian’s suggestion? That the second facing of the V-shape could be used by Internet-Mana, when they arrived, to attach their own corflute sheet. The small “Green Party” corflute could be easily detached and stored away until collection on 19 September.

In effect, two Green Party volunteers with no allegiance to another political party, had decided to extend a helping hand and assist Internet-Mana’s own election campaign by putting up a wooden frame for them. Nothing was asked in return. It was sheer Kiwi good will.

It was an amazing experience and perhaps, sometimes, we forget the good people of this country who want to participate in our democratic process – and not just focus on those politicians who are self-serving and negative. Especially to allies on the Left.

Without naming names, certain other people on the Left might reflect on this story.

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 August 2014

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This is why I changed my views on abortion…

17 June 2014 2 comments

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no lies

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In my teens and early 20s, I was fairly conservative in some of my political views.

This is one reason why I changed my views on abortion, some thirty years ago;

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anti abortion meme - Green Party

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Any political group that has to resort to using lies to promote it’s agenda is not worthy of support.

If an anti-abortion group has to rely on mis-representing another group’s policies to promote it’s own ideology, then that ideology is bankrupt.

That is why I went from being conservative to pro-choice. I could not sustain a belief that, as I gradually found out, was based on mis-information; exaggeration; and outright lies.

Pro-life?

More like pro-lies.

This is what the actual Green Party policy really states;

 

  • To support the freedom to have an abortion the Green Party will:

  1. Decriminalise abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act.

  2. Allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health, or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities (as is current practice).

Whether or not you agree with the Green’s policy is entirely up to you. I’m not here to persuade you one way or another.

But at least let your decision be made on the truth, rather than a lie.

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References

Pro-life.org: How Green’s became NZ’s abortion party

Green Party: Women’s Policy – Valuing Women

 


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 June 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 27 May 2014

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 27 May 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Our political commentators speak about the recent boost in National’s polling, the strengthening New Zealand economy, and the upcoming elections.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (21′ 30″ )

  • Budget 2014, Family Package
  • Polls
  • Election 2014, voting, Labour-Green Bloc, “Missing Million” voters
  • David Shearer
  • Environment, rivers, genetic engineering, nitrate pollution, Ruataniwha Dam
  • Resource Management Act reforms, Amy Adams, Peter Dunne
  • Mana Party, Internet Party
  • Green Party list
  • Winston Peters, Parliament

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Letter to the Editor: The power of the vote

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879.

FROM: "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Sun, 20 Apr 2014 14:38:19 +1200
TO: "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz> 

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The Editor
SUNDAY STAR TIMES

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This year, if every Labour, Green, Mana, and Internet Party
supporter finds just one person who didn’t vote in 2011,
and supports them to go to the ballot booth on 20 September
– we will have a new government as our Christmas present.

Then we can have a government that focuses on more jobs;
building homes for young New Zealanders; alleviating child
poverty; protecting the environment, and all the other
critical problems confronting our nation.

Those should be our priorities - not endless scandals;
corporate welfare; tax breaks for the rich; dodgy deals
behind closed doors; rising inequality; falling home
ownership whilst speculators profit; farms sold of to
foreign investors; threats to our coastline through
unconstrained deep sea drilling; polluted rivers and lakes;
and not enough jobs for the 168,000 unemployed in this
country whilst National allows cheap foreign labour for the
Christchurch re-build.

To every Labour, Green, Mana, Internet Party supporter; find
one person who did not vote in 2011 and encourage him/her to
vote for change. The power of the Vote is greater than many
realise - which is why so many dictators around the world
fear it.

We can have the country we want. But we're going to have to
work hard to achieve it.

-Frank Macskasy

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(Address & phone number supplied)

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Political Identification Chart for the upcoming Election

21 March 2014 1 comment

MEMO TO SOME LABOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Evidently, some folk in the Labour Party have difficulty in recognising who the real enemy are.

Accordingly, I have taken the step of borrowing from the World War 2 era, where the British War Office produced Enemy Plane Identification Charts to easily recognise British warplanes and not confuse them with their Nazi counterparts;

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enemy idenification chart

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To assist some Labour MPs, who seem to have comprehension and eyesight difficulties, I have designed an  easy-to-understand wallchart, to differentiate between the enemy (National, ACT, Peter Dunne, et al) and the Good Guys (their allies, the Greens and Mana).

It helps when you know who to ‘shoot’ at, and who to welcome as a potential Parliamentary ally. Accordingly, I present  the Friends & Foes Political Spotter Chart;

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political friends and foes spotter chart

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It helps the Cause not to shoot your friends.

Anyone who cannot tell the difference should not be on the political battlefield.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 March 2014.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – Russell Norman

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 4 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Green Party co-leader,  Russell Norman, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews  ( 30′ 55″ )

 

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National, The Economy, and coming Speed Wobbles

1 March 2014 4 comments

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The Nationalmobile

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For a while, the news seemed dire for the Left, and impressively positive for National;

  • A recent Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll put National on 49.4%  versus  31.8% and 10% respectively for  Labour and the Greens.
  • The latest Roy Morgan Poll had National at 48%, compared to 30% and 12% for Labour and the Greens respectively.
  • Annual average economic growth  was 2.6% to September 2013.
  • The Household Labour Force Survey for the December 2013 Quarter showed a drop in unemployment, from 6.2% to 6%.
  • Dairy prices (and thusly export reciepts) continued to rise.
  • The trade deficit continued to slowly improve.
  • And there was just enough ambiguity around recent child poverty statistics to allow National, and its drooling sycophants,  to claim that it was no longer a  growing problem (it was simply a constant problem).

However, is everything as it really seems? Is the news all rosy and are we rushing head-first toward the “promised land“, the much heralded, Neo-liberal Nirvana?

Or, are dark clouds beginning to appear on the horizon?

New Zealand’s economic recovery is predicated mostly on the Christchurch re-build, and piggy-backing on the global economic situation picking up. As Treasury reported in 2012;

The Canterbury rebuild is expected to be a significant driver of economic growth over the next five to ten years. The timing and speed of the rebuild is uncertain, in part due to ongoing aftershocks, but the New Zealand Treasury expects it to commence around mid-to-late 2012.

As predicted,  the ASB/Main Report Regional Economic Scoreboard recently revealed that Canterbury had over-taken Auckland as the country’s main center for economic growth.

Meanwhile, the same report outlines that Auckland’s “growth” is predicated on rising house prices. Economic “growth” based on property speculation is not growth – it is a bubble waiting to burst.

The other causal factor for our recovery is international. The IMF reported only last month;

Global activity strengthened during the second half of 2013, as anticipated in the October 2013 World Economic Outlook (WEO). Activity is expected to improve further in 2014–15, largely on account of recovery in the advanced economies. Global growth is now projected to be slightly higher in 2014, at around 3.7 percent, rising to 3.9 percent in 2015, a broadly unchanged outlook from the October 2013 WEO. But downward revisions to growth forecasts in some economies highlight continued fragilities, and downside risks remain...

Being  mostly an exporter of commodities (meat, dairy products, unprocessed timber, etc), New Zealand cannot but help ride the wave of an upturn in the global economy as increasing economic activity creates a demand for our products.

Any economic recovery, as such, has little to do with the incumbent government – just as the incumbent governments in 2008 and 2009 had little to do with the  GFC and resulting recession (though National’s tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 were irresponsible in the extreme, reliant as they were on heavy borrowings from overseas). We are simply “riding the economic wave”.

As the global up-turn generates growth in New Zealand’s economy, paradoxically that leaves us vulnerable to new, negative, economic factors;

1. The Reserve Bank has indicated that  it will begin to increase the OCR (Official Cash Rate) this year.

Most economists  are expecting the OCR to rise a quarter of a percentage point on March 13. As Bernard Hickey reported in Interest.co.nz;

Wheeler said in early December he expected to raise the OCR by 2.25% by early 2016, which would lift variable mortgage rates to around 8% by then. The bank forecast interest rate rises of around 1% this year and a similar amount next year.

2. An increase in the OCR will inevitably flow through to mortgage rates, increasing repayments.

As mortgaged home owners pay more in repayments, this will impact on discretionary spending; reducing consumer activity, and flow through to lower business turn-over.

Even the fear-threat of higher mortgage interest rates may already be pushing home owners to lock-in fixed mortgages. Kiwibank for example, currently has a Fixed Five year rate at 6.9%. ANZ has a five year rate at 7.2%. Expect these rates to rise after March.

If home owners are already fixing their mortgages at these higher rates, this may explain the fall in consumer confidence, as the Herald wrote on 20 February,

New Zealand consumer confidence fell from its highest level in seven years this month, while remaining elevated, amid a pickup in inflation expectations and the prospect of interest rate increases.

It may also explain, in part, this curious anomaly which recently featured in the news cycle,

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Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

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The Herald report goes on to state,

The smaller tax take was across the board, with GST 2.3 per cent below forecast at $7.5 billion, source deductions for personal income tax 1.2 per cent below forecast at $11.71 billion, and total corporate tax 4.9 per cent below expectations at $3.56 billion.

Treasury officials said some of the lower GST take was due to earthquake related refunds, and that the shortfall in Pay As You Earn might be short-lived. The corporate tax take shortfall was smaller than in the previous month…

  • A drop in GST would be utterly predictable if consumer spending was falling.
  • Personal income tax would be falling if employers were cutting back on part-time work available. Which indeed seems to be the case, according to the latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) Poll on unemployment,

Over the year, the total number of under-employed people increased by 27,200 to 122,600. As a result, the under-employment rate increased 1.0 percentage points to 5.3 percent.

Less wages equals less spent in the economy and less PAYE and GST collected by the government.

  • This would also account for the drop in corporate tax take falling by  4.9%.

The effect of the Reserve Bank’s decision to begin raising interest rates will be to dampen economic activity and consumer demand. This will be bad news for National.

3. An increase in the OCR will inevitably also mean a higher dollar, as currency speculators rush to buy the Kiwi. Whilst this may be good for importers – it is not so good for exporters. If we cannot pay our way in the world through exports, that will worsen our Balance of Trade; in turn risking our international credit rating; which in turn can  impact negatively on the cost of borrowing from off-shore (the lower our credit-rating, the higher interest we pay to borrow, as we are considered a higher lending risk).

This, too, will affect what we pay for our mortgages and capital for business investment.

4. As economic activity and consumer demand falls, expect businesses not to hire more staff and for fresh  redundancies to add to the unemployment rate. Unemployment will either stay steady later this year, or even increase.

Less people employed or a reduction on work hours for part-time employees will also result in a lower tax take.

5. As interest rates rise, in tandem with the Reserve Bank’s policy on restricting low-home deposits, expect home ownership to fall even further. This will increase demand for rentals, which, in turn will push up rents. Higher rents will also dampen consumer spending.

6. As the global economy picks up and demand for oil increases, expect petrol prices to increase. This will have a flow-through effect within our local economy; higher fuel prices will lead to higher prices for consumer goods and services. This, in turn, will force the Reserve Bank to ratchet up interest rates (the OCR) even further.

7. As businesses face ongoing pressures (described above), there will be continuing  pressure to dampen down wage increases (except for a minority of job skills, in the Christchurch area). For many businesses, the choice they offer their staff will be stark; pay rise or redundancies?

8. Expect one or more credit rating agencies (Fitch, Moodies, Standard and Poors) to put New Zealand on a negative credit watch.

9. According to a recent (21 February) Roy Morgan poll, 42%  of respondents still considered the economy their main priority of concern. 21% considered social issues as their main concern.This should serve as a stark warning to National that people will “vote with their hip wallets or purses” and if a significant number of voters believe that they are not benefitting from any supposed economic recovery, they will be grumpy voters that walk into the ballot booth.

Interestingly, the “Economy” category also included the social issue of “Poverty / The gap between the rich and the poor”.  16% believed that “Poverty / The gap between the rich and the poor”was a major factor within the economic situation – a significant sub-set of the 42%.

Add that 16% to the 21% considering social issues to be the number one priority, and we see the number of respondents in this category increasing to 37%. That is core Labour/Green/Mana territory.

10. National has predicated its reputation as a “prudent fiscal manager”  on returning the government’s books to surplus by 2014/15. As Bill English stated just late last year,

“We remain on track to surplus in 2014/15, although it will still be a challenge to actually reach surplus in that financial year.”

Should National fail in that single-minded obsession, the public will not take kindly to any excuses from Key, English, et al. Not when tax payer’s money has been sprayed around with largesse by way of corporate welfarism. Throwing millions at Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, China Southern Airlines, Canterbury Finance, etc, will be hard to justify when National has to borrow further to balance the books.

On top of which is the $61 billion dollar Elephant in the room; the government debt racked up by National since taking office in 2008. As Brian Fallow wrote in the Herald in 2011,

The concern about government debt is not so much about its level, but the pace at which it is increasing. In June 2008 net government debt was $10 billion, or 5.6 per cent of GDP, and gross debt $31 billon, or 17.2 per cent of GDP.

Since 2008, New Zealand’s sovereign debt has increased six-fold – made worse in part by two ill-conceived and ultimately unaffordable tax cuts.  Those tax cuts were, in essence, electoral bribes made by John Key to win the 2008 general election. (Labour’s paying down of massive debts it had inherited from National in the 1990s, plus posting nine consecutive surpluses, had come around to bite Cullen on his bum. Taxpayers were demanding “a slice the action” by way of tax cuts.)

That debt will eventually have to be repaid. Especially if, as some believe, another global financial shock is possible – even inevitable. With a $60 billion dollar debt hanging over our heads, we are not well-placed to weather another global economic shock. In fact, coupled with private debt, New Zealand is badly exposed in this area (as the OECD stated, in the quote below).

So the “good news” currently hitting the headlines is not so “good” after all, and many of the positive indicators have a nasty ‘sting in the tail’. As the OECD  recently reported,

The New Zealand economy is beginning to gain some momentum, with post‑earthquake reconstruction, business investment and household spending gathering pace.Risks to growth remain, however, stemming from high private debt levels, weak foreign demand, large external imbalances, volatile terms of trade, a severe drought and an exchange rate that appears overvalued. The main structural challenge will be to create the conditions that encourage resources to shift towards more sustainable sources of prosperity. Incomes per head are well below the OECD average, and productivity growth has been sluggish for a long time. Lifting living standards sustainably and equitably will require structural reforms to improve productivity performance and the quality of human capital.

As the election campaign heats up, expect the following;

  1. Greater media scrutiny on National’s track record,
  2. The public to become more disenchanted with Key’s governance as economic indicators worsen and impact on their wallets and purses,
  3. National (and its sycophantic supporters) continue to blame welfare beneficiaries; the previous Labour government; the GFC and resulting recession; and other “external factors” for their lack-lustre performance,
  4. Key and various business  figures to become more strident in their attacks on Labour and the Greens,
  5. A dirty election campaign , including a well-known extremist right-wing blogger releasing personal information on political opponants, which will backfire badly on National,
  6. National to fall in the polls; NZ First will cross the 5% threshold; and Labour/Greens/Mana to form the next government, with Peters either sitting on the cross benches, or taking on a ministerial portfolio outside Cabinet.

So it’s not the Left that should be worried.

National is on shakier ground than many realise.

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References

Fairfax Media: National on wave of optimism – poll

Roy Morgan: National (48%) increases lead over Labour/ Greens (42%) – biggest lead for National since July 2013

NZ Herald: Economic growth hits 4-year high

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2013 quarter

Fairfax Media: Dairy prices squash trade deficit

NZ Herald: NZ’s trade deficit remains despite better terms

Fairfax Media: Inequality: Is it growing or not?

NZ Treasury: Recent Economic Performance and Outlook

Fairfax media: Canterbury overtakes Auckland in economic survey

IMF: World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update

Reserve Bank:  Price stability promotes a sustainable expansion

Interest.co.nz:  Bernard Hickey looks at what the Reserve Bank’s OCR decision means for mortgage rates and house prices

NZ Herald: Consumer confidence slips as rates increase looms

NZ Herald:  Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

Statistics NZ:  Unemployment December 2013 Quarter

Roy Morgan: Economic Issues down but still easily the most important problems facing New Zealand (42%) and facing the World (36%) according to New Zealanders

NBR:  Govt sees wider deficit in 2014 on ACC levy cut, lower SOE profits

Fairfax media:  Public debt climbs by $27m a day

NZ Herald: Govt debt – it’s the trend that’s the worry

NZ Herald: Cullen – Tax cuts but strict conditions

OECD: Economic Survey of New Zealand 2013

Previous related blogposts

TV3 Polling and some crystal-ball gazing

Other blogposts

The Daily Blog: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows the Labour funk

The Daily Blog: Canaries In A Coal Mine: Has The Daily Blog Poll anticipated Labour’s Collapse?

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The Cost of Living

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 February 2014.

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Tiwai Point – An exercise in National’s “prudent fiscal management”?

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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corporate welfare 1

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Timeline

3 October 2007: Meridian and NZAS/Rio Tinto sign agreement for the continuous supply of 572 megawatts of power to the Tiwai Point smelter for 2013 to 2030.

30 October 2011: National government announces partial asset sales, of Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand.

9 August 2012: Meridian Energy (electricity supplier to Rio Tinto) announces that Rio Tinto/Pacific Aluminium is demanding to renegotiate its electricity supply contract between the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter and Meridian.

10 August 2012: Rio Tinto CEO, Tom Albanese, warns that the smelter will be closed “if they cannot be viable, we have difficult decisions to make”.

7 September 2012:  Rio Tinto/New Zealand Aluminium Smelters  announces it will  make 100 workers redundant by November 2012.

7 August 2013: Rio Tinto/New Zealand Aluminium Smelters  announces 30 maintenance workers to be made redundant at the Tiwai Point smelter.

8 August 2013: National government announces agreement to give cash subsidy of  $30 million  to Rio Tinto, and Meridian Energy to supply the smelter with cheaper (price undisclosed) electricity than agreed in 2007.

9 August 2013: Bill English confirms that he has not sought a guarantee from Rio Tinto that jobs will not be lost at the smelter.

20 August 2013: National government announces details to sell 49% of Meridian Energy.

14/15 February 2014: Rio Tinto announces a   $4.43 billion ($US3.7 billion) annual after-tax profit. Rio Tinto shareholders recieve a 15% increase in dividends.

An exercise in National’s “prudent fiscal management”?

We were conned.

There is no other way to describe events between October 2007 and February this year; we were conned by a multi-national mining/metals giant that exploited National’s core-policies, for their own gain.

How else to describe the above events?

Once National announced their intention to partially-privatise Meridian Energy and float it on the New Zealand  (and Australian) stock exchanges – Rio Tinto realised that the price of Meridian shares would be determined by the income they derived from selling electricity.

As Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman stated,

”Rio Tinto took advantage of Mr Key’s obsession with asset sales by threatening to derail the sale of Meridian by closing the Tiwai smelter, so Mr Key gave them $30 million of public money.”

Rio Tinto was Meridian’s biggest customer, supplying  Tiwai Point  with approximately 15% of New Zealand’s total  electricity output. As such, Rio Tinto had Meridian  (and by proxy, the National Government) by the balls. And on 7 September 2012 and 7 August 2013, Rio Tinto squeezed.

By making  130 workers redundant, it sent National, and it’s compliant  leader, a clear message; “Don’t f**k with us, Johnny-boy. These 130 plebes are an example of what we can do to screw you over“.

Had Rio Tinto followed through on it’s threats (and make no mistake – they were threats), it would have brought down the government. That would have ended Key’s career and his reputation would have been in tatters. No Knighthood or beersies for Johnny-boy!

Key had no choice but to capitulate. Key admitted as such when he said on 14 February,

“At the end of the day I think the Government took a modest step to ensure there was a smooth potential transition there – that we didn’t have a glut of electricity we couldn’t use or that thousands and thousands of Southland jobs are out at risk.”

The resulting loss of 700 jobs at the smelter,  and a further 2,500 downstream throughout Southland, would certainly have been embarrassing for Key and damaging to National .  But this is a government that has overseen the sacking of approximately 3,000 state sector workers (up to August 2012) and 29,472 few jobs in the manufacturing sector, since 2006 (2013 Census results), so unemployment per se is not a problem that overly concerns right-wing government ministers.

What really threatened this government was Key’s reference to a “glut of electricity” – note the words. A glut of electricity would have de-railed the entire asset sales programme. Result; end of National; end of asset sales programme (and the neo-liberal agenda on the whole), and the end of Key’s career.

This shabby, self-serving, politically-expedient exercise, has cost us – the tax-payer – $30 million, plus an even cheaper electricity deal than probably anyone else in this country gets. No wonder the contract price is even more uber secret than the goings-on at the GCSB – the public would erupt in fury if they came to know what our electricity was being sold for, whilst the rest of us have mounting power prices, year after year after year.

Meanwhile, the lowest paid workers in New Zealand’s rest homes are paid just barely above the minimum wage;

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Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

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To which our well-heeled Prime Minister responded thusly,

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PM  No money for aged care workers

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To quote Dear Leader,

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.”

Interesting. Key and his Cabinet cronies found $30 million to throw at a multi-national corporation – which only six months later posted a $4.43 billion ($US3.7 billion) annual after-tax profit.

But no money for the lowest paid, hardest-working people (predominantly women) in our community. Key responded to Russell Norman’s criticism of the $30 million welfare handout,

“If Tiwai Point had closed straight away then hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs would have disappeared and the Greens would have said the Government doesn’t care about those workers and is turning their back on them so they really can’t have it both ways.”

If only we could believe Key. But considering that thousands  lost their jobs since the Global Financial Crisis, and National has not bailed out any other company, the Prime Minister’s protestations ring hollow.

In fact, it’s fairly well obvious that the taxpayer-funded payout to Rio Tinto had nothing to do with jobs or the Southland economy – and everything to do with the state assets sales. As David Hargreaves wrote on Interest.co.nz,

“So, it will cost you, I and him and her a combined NZ$30 million of our hard-earned to keep the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter open just long enough so that the Government can flog off 49% of Meridian Energy.

That’s about the size of the deal struck between Meridian and the company controlled by global giant Rio Tinto, with additional sugar coating supplied by the Government, courtesy of us.

From the point the Government first stepped in earlier this year in an attempt to ‘help out’ it was always obvious tax payers were going to be forced to front up with some readies for the pleasure of keeping the always controversial smelter running for a while longer.

I have no doubt that the smelter will be closed in 2017, which is now when the owners get the first chance to pull the plug.”

The most asinine aspect to this deal (and there are many) is that Finance Minister,  Bill English, told Radio New Zealand on 9 August 2013 that “ensuring the safety of those jobs was not part of the deal and no undertakings were sought on the operation of the company”.

No guarantee for preserving jobs?!

Question: So what, precisely, did $30 million buy?

Answer: Rio Tinto not rocking the boat and upsetting National’s asset-sales programme.

This was a most odious, repugnant deal.

Every New Zealander contributed some of their hard-earned cash, which ended up in Rio Tinto’s shareholder’s pockets.

All done to achieve the sale of state assets which we own.

John Key gave away our money; which ended up in shareholder’s pockets; to sell assets we own; to other share investors.

This is the crazy side of National’s economic policy. This is  corporate welfare and crony capitalism rolled into one. Which begs the question to National’s supporters; is this what they see as “prudent fiscal management”?

How “prudent” is it to pay a subsidy to a multi-national corporation, that posted a multi-billion dollar after-tax profit,  that will most likely close the smelter regardless in some near future date (2017?)?

And why was that $30 million not invested in other job creation industries in Southland, so that a multi-national corporation could not hold this country to ransom? After Rio Tinto and Warner Bros – who is next to hold a gun to our collective head demanding a taxpayer subsidy/payout?

This was an odious, repugnant and wasteful deal.

This should not be allowed to be forgotten this election.

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John Key says I'd like to raise wages but I can't

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References

NZ Herald:  Meridian boss hails deal with smelter

Radio NZ: Details of Meridian share offer announced

Radio NZ: National announces plans for asset sale profits

TV3: Rio Tinto seeks new Bluff smelter terms

TV3: Rio Tinto eyeing smelter closures

Australia Mining: Rio Tinto’s New Zealand smelter to axe jobs

Fairfax Media: More jobs to go in smelter revamp

Interest.co.nz: Govt pays NZ$30 mln to smelter owners in a deal that will clear the way for the float of Meridian Energy

Radio NZ: No job guarantees sought in smelter deal

Otago Daily Times: Rio Tinto profit more than $4.4b

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Statistics: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Dominion Post: 555 jobs gone from public sector

Fairfax media: Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

Fairfax media: PM – No money for aged care workers

Interest.co.nz:  Opinion: There was a certain inevitability the long-suffering taxpayer would be ‘invited’ to cough up for the pleasure of keeping the Tiwai Point smelter open

Previous related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

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The Cost of Living

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – David Cunliffe

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 25 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

 

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews (27′ 50″ )

A major policy statement by David Cunliffe;

@ 22.00:  “We will create incentives for private employers to be certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage  to all their employees, by giving them a preference in  Crown contracts.”

This will not only support firms that pay their staff properly – but will de facto give preference to local businesses to supply goods and services!

If this doesn’t motivate Small-Medium Enterprises to switch their allegiances from the Nats to Labour, I don’t know what will!

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Letter to the Editor: Simon Bridges is a very naughty little boy!

18 February 2014 2 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:54:16 +1300
TO:      "Sunday News" <editor@sunday-news.co.nz>

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The Editor
The Sunday News
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National's Energy Minister, Simon Bridges, continues to rant
that the  Green Party is somehow planning to print  "magic
money" with their recently announced policy to install solar
panels on 30,000 New Zealand homes.

He said,

"I have news for the Greens - if it's a lower interest rate
than normal, it must involve a government subsidy."

Really?

Is this the same kind of subsidy that National gave away to
home owners to install $1 billion worth of insulation in
cold and damp houses?

Or is it the same kind of subsidy that National handed out
to Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, and other private companies? Was
the $30 million of our taxes that John Key kindly gifted to
the Tiwai Aluminium smelter not a subsidy? Or the cheaper
power which National re-negotiated last year?

Ironically, the Green Party is not suggesting subsidies at
all, but allowing access to cheap loans that the government
already has access to. All loans would be paid back by home
owners - not tax payers.

The same cannot be said for the $30 million gifted to Rio
Tinto or the $160 million-plus to Warner Bros for the "Lord
of the Rings" and another $60 million for "The Hobbit". 

We won't be seeing that money back again any time soon.

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

Dominion Post: Greens’ solar pledge would ‘push up prices’ – Key

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The sacking of the national govt

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Letter to the Editor: John Key dazzles them with bullsh*t

18 February 2014 2 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor	
DATE: 	 Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:17:26 +1300
TO: 	 "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz> 

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Almost in a knee-jerk reaction, John Key is derisory of the
recently announced Green Party policy to offer low-interest
loans to home owners to install solar panels on their
properties.

Key said,

 "If you look at the big emissions at the moment in New
Zealand, it's Genesis through Huntly where they have coal
fired power plants, and the plan that [the Greens] have got
is going to reduce all competition and in my view, put up
power costs to consumers, not reduce it, actually locks that
in."

How the use of solar energy is going to "reduce competition"
and "put up power costs to consumers" is not only unclear -
but bizarre in the extreme.

Key appears to be floundering to create the flimsiest
possible excuse to dismiss the Green's policy initiative.

That is despite;

(a) solar panels reducing our reliance on hydro-dams, which
in drought conditions can interrupt power supply and push up
prices, 

(b) National having invested - in concert with the Green
Party - $1 billion dollars to insulate thousands of homes
around New Zealand.

The later home insulation plan involved non-recoverable
grants of up to $1,500 per household.  By contrast, the
Green's plan involves loans, not grants.

National seems wedded to giving our money away. This was
evidenced by Key's keenness to giving away $30 million to
Rio Tinto, and over $90 million to Warner Bros for 'The
Hobbit'. Those were our taxes given to private companies and
both  subsequently made billions in profits.

Perhaps Mr Key can answer a simple question; why does he
think the Green Party solar panel initiative will "push up
power prices", but National's home insulation programme
would not?

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

Dominion Post: Greens’ solar pledge would ‘push up prices’ – Key

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National's trickle down policy is a frozen tap

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Kiwiblog – still happily fomenting mischief…

18 February 2014 Leave a comment

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kiwiblog and Green Party

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Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…

Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,

“I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]

David Farrar  then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)

Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.

My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing  David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor  wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?

Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.

When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright  lies;

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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– then that speaks well for  his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present  a story biased according to his  own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)

On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,

“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”

This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)

David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection  is even more direct, transparent,  and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.

In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.

So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar  offered up this explanation,

“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”

Indeed.

The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,

"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate
decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this
committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party.

Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of
our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which
candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the
election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun.
Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list.

[...]

We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on
our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators,
bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given
this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and
list-ranking processes..."

One part of that statement leaps out at me;  “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”

What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.

If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.

David Farrar concluded by stating,

“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked “draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”

David Farrar may insist that he will not  “print anything I believe to be untrue”.

But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.

If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.

Perhaps Mr Farrar  should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.

Yup, it must be election year…

[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]

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References

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)

Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)

Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)

Previous related blogpost

2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)

Act proclaims new leader!?

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 17 February 2014

17 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 17 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (24′ 09″ )

  • Kim Dotcom/Russel Norman
  • Green Party in government
  • GCSB/surveillance
  • David Cunliffe
  • Fairfax/Ipsos Poll
  • Shane Jones/Countdown supermarkets
  • Labour’s “Best Start” Policy/Taxation
  • Passports/Syria/Al Qaida
  • Green Party Home Solar Policy

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Letter to the Editor: National’s response to Green solar policy is sheer hypocrisy!

16 February 2014 4 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor
DATE:    Sun, 16 Feb 2014 20:31:51 +1300
TO:     "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ HERALD

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The Green Party  policy, to fund the installation of solar
panels on 30,000 homes, is sheer common sense. As power
prices continue to rise and power supply is heavily reliant
on good rainfall in hydro-areas, anything that make homes
more self-sufficient is to be welcomed.

I was therefore stunned and flabbergasted to hear National's
energy minister, Simon Bridges, almost hysterical in his
condemnation of the Green Party,

    “Money doesn't grow on trees, even for the Greens.
This is just back to the old roll out the printing press and
start printing money from the Greens.”

Someone please take Mr Bridges aside and flash the National
Party's Energy Policy document in front of his baby-fresh
face and remind him that in 2009 National allocated $1
billion for home insulation, as part of an agreement with
the Green Party. In  a media release dated 16 May 2013,
Bridges waxed lyrical about the home insulation scheme,

    “Warmer, drier homes provide real benefits to New
Zealanders Mr Bridges says. As well as energy efficiency
gains, insulating homes reduces health risks such as
respiratory illnesses and serious diseases like rheumatic
fever. Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes will help boost
the health and well-being of New Zealanders living in poor
housing and is part of the Government’s response to child
poverty.”

So spending $1 billion  on home insulation is a good thing?

But lending for solar panels for our homes is bad?

Considering that the $1 billion spent by National was in the
form of non-recoverable grants (up to $1,500 per home),
whilst the Greens are talking about low-interest loans, it
occurs to me that the Greens are more fiscally conservative
than the money-splurging National Party, who waste
tax-dollars like it grows on blue trees.

This is the National Party that gifted $30 million to Rio
Tinto and over $90 million to Warner Bros to subsidise 'The
Hobbit'. Both Rio Tinto and 'The Hobbit' have  made billions
in profits.

I'd rather spend our taxes on New Zealanders rather than
subsidising billion-dollar  foreign corporations.

Mr Bridges - breathe through your nose!
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-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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For the actual policy launch, here is Russel Norman’s speech on a Youtube clip,

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References

TV3: How The Hobbit came to stay in NZ

Beehive.govt.nz: $100m for investing in warmer, healthier homes

Fairfax media: $1b Budget warmup

TV3: Labour backs Greens’ solar panel policy

Youtube: Solar Homes policy launch

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vote mana labnour green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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