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Lies, Damned Lies, and National Party Campaign Advertising

25 October 2011 4 comments

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National currently has a set of eight billboards, each featuring Dear Leader’s face, plus a short “statement of intent”, such as “Balance the Books Sooner“, “Building Better Public Services“, etc. They’re catchy and  positive-sounding.

But when compared to National’s real track record over the past three years, the current crop of National Party election hoardings is right up there with Soviet-style propaganda and Orwellian Double-Think. The phrase  “barefaced strangling of Truth”  comes to mind.

Let’s ‘test’ National’s “statements of intent”…

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The first question is “sooner than who“? No one else is currently in government. And when Labour’s term of government ended, they had paid down net debt to about 5.6% of GDP. In dollar terms, Labour paid down NZ’s sovereign debt from approximately $25 billion in 2001 to about $10.2 billion by 2008.

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NZ Net Sovereign Debt 2001 - 2009 (Source NZ Treasury)

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Considering that only half of our sovereign debt  – $18.4 billion – is due to the cost of rebuilding Christchurch,  the remainder is due to two tax cuts (April 2009 and October 2010) which we could ill-afford as a nation. Those tax cuts mainly benefitted high-income earners and the top 10% of this country’s wealthiest.

The top 150 “rich listers” wealth increased by a staggering twenty percent in just this year alone.

So really, we are borrowing money from overseas, to stuff into the pockets of the richest people in this country.

Does that sound remotely sensible?

The second question is who pays to “balance the books”, after borrowing billions to pay for tax cuts?

Answer: who do you think?

So the next time you see one of these billboards, promising  to “Balance the Books Sooner” – don’t forget why those books need “balancing” in the first place, and who will be paying for that “balancing”.

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When I see this billboard around town, all I can see is this: “EXPORT MORE REAL JOBS”.

Like the case of the contract for new  rail wagons that was awarded to Chinese companies, rather than our own workers in Dunedin and the Hutt Valley. Result; around 70 jobs lost.

Little wonder that Dunedin’s mayor, David Cull was angry,

This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”  Source

Minister of Transport Steven Joyce responded by saying,

The reality is KiwiRail has been treated like Cinderella for too long. This Government will not place requirements on KiwiRail which we don’t on any other government or private-owned company.” Source

It’s obvious how little Steven Joyce cares about his fellow New Zealanders losing their employment.

It seems we’re already very good at exporting… Dairy products… Seafood… Timber… And jobs.

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All I can say to this is that starting the rebuilding seems to be taken an awful long time.

In the meantime, we’re losing timber sawmillers through lack of demand. At a time when the construction industry should be going through massive growth – we are seeing Fletcher shares dropping in value and uncertainty in the industry. How can Fletcher’s profits be falling at a time when an entire city requires re-building???

Other jobs are also being lost in Christchurch. And the dole queues grow.

But yet again, it seems that this government is quite content with “exporting” jobs to overseas workers.

Despite Dear Leader’s cheery (if vacant) smile on the billboard, there seems little to be happy about. Certainly the lack of leadership, action, and jobs is nothing to be happy-clapping about.

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This particular billboard has a weird, dark, ominous feeling to it.

What, precisely, is the “welfare incentive to work”? If National is hinting that it plans to abolish or reduce social welfare – let them come out and announce it to the public.

At the same time, they can announce where the neccessary 154,000 new jobs are, to take on the unemployed.

Let’s not forget that those on unemployment are not there by choice. Let’s not forget that the December 2007 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey unemployment rate stood at 3.8%.

Then the full impact of the banking crisis and global recession hit us.

Unemployment reached7.3% in the  December 2009 Quarter Household Labourforce Survey.

As of August this year, the jobless rate has fallen to 6.5 per cent – just under twice that of 2007.

So, Mr Prime Minister, an “incentive to work” can be something as simple as having jobs available. But having contracts to manufacture rail wagons going to China, or allowing Irish builders to work on Christchurch’s reconstruction will not be very useful to anyone.

Threatening the unemployed with “the stick” is not as effective as offering them a “carrot” – a job.

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Building rail“?!

What new rail are you referring to, Dear Leader???

In fact, as far as I am aware, Mr Key, your government is cutting  back on funding public transport in Auckland,

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Full Story

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Telling fibs again, Dear Leader?

As for the rest,

  • Building roads. Yes, you are. But wouldn’t greater investment in public transport make more sense?
  • Fast broadband. Again, yes. This government is subsidising  telcos to the tune of $1.5 billion to build a fast broadband network throughout the country. (I thought subsidies were a naughty thing in the world of the free market?)

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This one is probably one of the top two most asinine claims for National to be making. The voting public would have to be practically braindead, with the IQ of a wild mushroom, to put any credibility on this statement. Of all the campaign statements that National has ever uttered, nothing screams Arrogance! better than this billboard.

Less debt“? “Less debt” than who – Rarotonga?

The government’s borrowings have exploded almost exponentially, until we currently owe $18.4 billion to various lenders overseas.

If  more borrowing equates to  “less debt” , I’d like to see my bank manager agree to lend me a few million!

As for “lower interest rates” – obviously no one in the National Party campaign committee passed this by the Finance Minister, Bill English,

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Full Story

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Can I send impending increases in my mortgage rates to Bill English or John Key to pay?

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Again, I’ve no idea what this statement is supposed to mean; “staying strong on crime”.

Does it mean locking up offenders for longer periods?

Does it mean more prisons?

Well, not according to Bill English, who recently admitted that prisons were a “moral and fiscal failure”,

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Full Story

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And the Prime Minister has recently suggested that we might not need any new prisons,

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Full Story

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So what, exactly, does “staying strong on crime” mean? Well, nothing really. It is basically a meaningless utterance that panders to the red-neck, lock’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key element in our society. As long as these low-information voters are kept happy, National is assured of a few more votes on Election Day.

This last billboard is probably the one that would most rankle with many people – especially those 2,000+ who have lost their jobs in the last few years, as government cuts back on state workers,

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I’m not quite sure with how a “better” public services can be “built” when this government has effectively been gutting it. Despite clear committments from John Key and Bill English that National would only cap the civil service and not cut numbers,

National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.” – Bill English

If National is elected to lead the next government, I personally guarantee that we will:  ensure government spending is focused on frontline services such as health a education by capping the number of bureacrats…” – John Key

That promise has been well and truly broken.

Sacking over 2000 workers who have worked with dedication and loyalty is hardly a fitting reward.

For such political statements to be made successfully, and without looking like liars and fools, politicians require only that the Voter has not been paying attention. Otherwise politicians would not dare put such rubbish out for  public consumption.

It’s simply amazing what garbage politicians will feed us, if they think they can get away with it.

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Additional

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Common Sense prevails!

Merje DDM, which grew out of the collapse of buggy maker Tritec, focuses mainly on providing seating for theatres and auditoriums in New Zealand and Australia, but has now completed a new range of train seats developed from the ground up. 

The firm has its origins in Brugger, a big Hutt Valley supplier of seating components in the 1960s, when many of the world’s car makers had factories in the area. 

Brugger was later sold and renamed Kenson Industries. As protections on the vehicle sector were removed, Kenson began moving into other areas, including other types of seats, plus buggies for infants. 

When that company collapsed in 1998, some of the remnants were gathered together to become Tritec. Based in Gracefield, Tritec built up a large business focused on buggies, but it also fell into receivership in 2008. 

It was later bought out of receivership by another Wellington company, Phil & Ted’s, which was mainly interested in the Mountain Buggy brand, closing the production side. 

Miles Fowler, who used Tritec to make theatre seats which he then sold in New Zealand and Australia, faced losing a key customer, so negotiated to keep some of the manufacturing capability, taking over the seat-making business. 

Merje – a name made from the initials of Fowler and another director Jesse Paenga, along with their partners – was formed and the firm does most of its business providing seats used in theatres and lecture halls, with one of its largest customers Victoria University. 

“They tend to be quite large projects, but there is often gaps between them,” Fowler said. 

This gave the company scope to submit a proposal for the AK carriages from KiwiRail, a contract which was first mooted to Tritec. One of about 30 initial proposals, Merje was one of three firms short-listed for the train project, providing samples used elsewhere in the KiwiRail network. 

It designed a product that is largely locally made and which is now being delivered. 

Fowler says a key advantage of the company’s seats was the fire- proof graphite foam from Acma Industries, another long-established manufacturer, based in Upper Hutt. 

Palmerston North’s Fibreglass Developments provided the fibreglass backing of the seats, while other firms in the region provided components used in the seats. 

“A couple of things came from Auckland, but essentially they’re 100 per cent manufactured here. We try to stick as close as we can to the Wellington, Lower Hutt area.” 

Fowler said Merje, which has about a dozen staff, was expected to have turnover of about $3 million this year.

Which underscores the fact that local industries can build stock for our railways. We do not have to “outsource” major rail manufacturing contracts overseas to places like China or South Korea.

The $29 million cost of giving Chinese firms a contract for 300 new flat-top wagons was not just monetary – but it has cost fellow 70 New Zealanders their jobs in Dunedin and Wellington. Plus probably more, in terms of flow-on jobs generated from losing such a lucrative contract.

We will not grow our economy, nor generate jobs, if we continually opt for “the cheaper option”. There has to be a will and conscious decision to make job-creation our #1 economic priority. Any government that does not understand this is bereft of understanding, and derelict in their duty.

The people of Dunedin made their feelings known on this matter at a public rally on July 9

Labour MP David Parker addresses the rally.

A section of the crowd listens to the speakers.

Hillside boilermaker Stuart Johnstone and twins Skye and Kane get their message across in the Octagon on Saturday.

As Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said on the day, the decision to award a contract to overseas firms and cut back on local employment was “short-sighted, simplistic and destructive”. He further added,

“This issue here is about the sum total of all those things, and much much more. Communities need to work, in both senses of the word.” (Text of full speech.)

“This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”, the Mayor has demanded.

Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said,

 “… the threat was not just to Hillside jobs, but about 120 other job losses that would follow.  We cannot afford this to happen.

Indeed, we cannot.

Exporting jobs is not the answer.
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