Anyone’s who’s sat through a meeting where your attention isn’t fully engaged on proceedings knows the urge to have a long blink.
This looks more than a very long blink.
Are we paying him to sleep?
Anyone’s who’s sat through a meeting where your attention isn’t fully engaged on proceedings knows the urge to have a long blink.
This looks more than a very long blink.
Are we paying him to sleep?
Colin Craig is a younger, fresher option for people who might have been attracted to Winston Peters.
Craig’s Conservative Party has been getting headlines and that’s bestirred a New Zealand First MP to go in search of one too.
He found it in NZ First will stop farm sales to foreigners:
. . . New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of farmland to non resident foreign buyers, its primary industries spokesman Richard Prosser says.
“Under a New Zealand First-influenced government there will be no more sales of farmland to non resident foreigners, full stop.
“This road leads to peasantry and New Zealanders being tenants in our own country,” Prosser said.
Not surprisingly the rhetoric isn’t supported by the facts:
Though there is no formal record of how much land is owned by offshore investors Overseas Investment Office land information manager Annelies McClure said “Current best estimates are that between 1% and 2% of New Zealand farmland is held by overseas interests.”
That figure excludes forestry and land, such as areas of native bush, not in productive use. . .
Prosser’s rant has been prompted by plans for Synlait Milk to sell to the Pengxin Group.
He doesn’t factor in the foreign exchange this will bring into the country and what those who sell their shares might do with the money they’ll get for them.
But then that wouldn’t get the attention-grabbing negative headline he wanted.
It might not do him and his party any good though because the Conservatives are not keen on foreign ownership either.
The Press, which is very familiar with insurance issues in Christchurch was less than impressed with Labour’s plan to establish a state-owned insurance company.
. . . The proposal for a new state-owned insurance company – KiwiAssure – would, Cunliffe says, be an effort to address problems over the responsiveness of private companies in settling claims and of the price of insurance. But in a market as competitive as the New Zealand one is, the price of insurance is determined by risk and the cost of covering it on the overseas reinsurance market. That applies whether the entity is private or state-owned. A state-owned enterprise required to lower its prices or be more generous towards customers than competitors could only do so at the expense of taxpayers.
As for the implication that a state-owned enterprise might provide a better customer experience in general than a private company, that only shows how far Auckland is from Christchurch. There are many in Christchurch who have dealt with EQC who could put Cunliffe right on that point. . .
The Herald is equally unenthusiastic about the idea:
. . . Ironically, the frustrations experienced by home-owners in Christchurch have much to do with government insurance in the form of the Earthquake Commission. . .
Nothing in the policy announced by Mr Cunliffe at the weekend dealt with any of the real insurance policy issues arising from Christchurch. The announcement was little more than a replay of a commercial for KiwiBank which, like it or not, could be saddled with the insurance company. “KiwiAssure will work for all New Zealanders,” Mr Cunliffe declared. It would be “a service-focused, state-owned company that has their best interests at heart”. It would “keep profits from this crucial industry in New Zealand”.
Wisely, he did not quite claim it would offer cheaper premiums than existing companies. Christchurch had an insurance company that did that. AMI had come to dominate the local market by undercutting competitors and the earthquake exposed its inability to meet all of its liabilities.
The AMI experience is salutary for national taxpayers, too, when they hear Labour’s assurance that its company would not carry a government guarantee. The present Government quickly came to the relief of AMI’s policy holders, taking over the worst liabilities and selling AMI as a going concern to the multinational IAG. It is hard to imagine a Labour Government acting any differently if a state-owned insurer fell into the same trouble.
Insurance is almost the last business that should be nationalised. Its purpose is to share risk internationally. Labour’s company, like KiwiBank, might appeal to those who dislike profit-seeking private enterprise and prefer to deal with a state agency, but they will be under-written by a global insurance network of private enterprise. The profits of insurance provide security for all its subscribers.
The illusion of a “home-grown alternative”, as Mr Cunliffe calls it, has a powerful commercial appeal.
Members of the Insurance Council do not relish competing with a new state company for that reason. Taxpayers should be wary too. When a political party goes into business for no reason better than ideological satisfaction, it is likely to create a commercial lemon requiring ever more capital to survive. Let us hope this is one we will never see.
The ODT raises concerns:
. . . The suggestion KiwiAssure will be run by Kiwibank is not sensible.
The success of Kiwibank will be put at risk by tacking on an insurance company with a domestic focus.
Voters only have to look at the downfall of AMI, a Christchurch-based insurance company which substantially undervalued its reinsurance obligations and ended up with the Government – and taxpayers – having to step in to bail it out.
Of course, a government bail-out is exactly what will happen to KiwiAssure if it does not spread its reassurance risks widely.
Reinsurance for a totally-owned government-controlled insurance company will be expensive.
There can be no discounted policies on offer; it does not make sense.
Residents of Christchurch, and other cities and towns, should be asked how they feel about the state-run EQC, or the many people waiting for some help from ACC, to get some indication of whether they feel comfortable with a state-owned insurance company looking after their interests.
Overseas-owned insurance companies, although receiving much criticism for the slowness of their reviews and delays in payments, at least have a global reach of funds on which to draw. . .
Labour’s insurer will be completely exposed to events in New Zealand, a country at major risk of incurring heavy losses from natural disasters. . .
The Auditor General’s report on EQC said its response in Christchurch had been mixed.
There is nothing in the report to give any confidence in a new sate owned insurance company.
Labour leader David Cunliffe tried to get some traction for the idea in Question time yesterday but gave Prime Minister John Key an opportunity to remind everyone of the risks instead:
. . . According to the public register, believe it or not, a total of 96 insurance firms have a full licence from the Reserve Bank’s carry-on insurance business in New Zealand. I have heard of a group proposing to set up a 97th insurer. The only point of difference is that that insurance business would put hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money at risk by entering a market in which that group has no expertise and for which it cannot offer any competitive advantage. That cavalier attitude to taxpayers’ money comes from who else but the Labour Party. . .
Hon David Cunliffe: Is it not true that the Prime Minister called Kiwibank a “failing institution” after almost a million Kiwis signed up as customers; therefore, why could not KiwiAssure also provide a locally owned, competitive, and high-quality option in the insurance market?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is great that it has taken to supplementary question No. 4, but we will get to the heart of it. These are the reasons. For a start off, let us just take Kiwibank. Yes, it is a good little business. I might point out, though, that it has taken $860 million of taxpayers’ money and it has never paid a dividend in over 10 years. Secondly, the insurance market is hardly a free ride, because insurance companies happen to be in the process of paying $20 billion out in Christchurch. So if we had KiwiAssure, which the member wants to talk about, then New Zealand taxpayers would be paying a fortune into Christchurch. Thirdly, it is a competitive market at the moment. So if one assumes that they are just going to lay off their risk, they will be laying it off with the same reinsurers. Fourthly—
. . . Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To my fourth point as to why an insurance company would be a bad idea—name another major bank that operates in New Zealand that has an insurance company. It would not make sense to lend money [Interruption]—no, lend money—and actually have the insurance on the same property they are renting. They do not do that. . .
Finance Minister Bill English got a further opportunity to reinforce the risks in the proposal:
David Parker—Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with IAG’s submission to the Commerce Commission that “there is real potential for major banks to begin underwriting their own general insurance products, and to compete directly with the incumbent insurance companies at the underwriting level as they already do at a retail level of the insurance market”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): I have no responsibility for the opinion of IAG New Zealand but I can give the member the benefit of the experience of watching and working closely with the Reserve Bank to reduce the risks of our banking system to the New Zealand taxpayer. There have been 3 or 4 years where capital requirements have been increased, the core funding ratio has been increased, and we have put in place an open bank resolution system. The idea of a bank taking on more insurance risk is about the dumbest proposal that could possibly be made in the light on the events following the global financial crisis. The member should think very carefully before putting forward a policy that heads in exactly the opposite direction to where every other country in the world is heading.
Hon David Parker: Am I correct, then, to infer that he does not support the creation of a Kiwibank-style insurer to serve New Zealand consumers, which would reduce the dominance of overseas-owned insurers, keep profits in New Zealand, and bring added competition, added flexibility, and choice to New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is exactly the misleading pitch around this proposition. If there is one thing every taxpayer in the developed world now understands but the Labour Party does not, it is that the risk would be on taxpayers—taxpayers in Ireland, Spain, the US, and the UK. A billiondollar impost on New Zealand taxpayers arises exactly from financial institutions taking too much risk and loading it on to the Government. That is why his proposition is stupid. . .
Hon BILL ENGLISH: . . . Secondly, what is surprising here is that when we have had the biggest manifestation of risk, it going wrong, and its impact on taxpayers in 100 years, the Labour Party still does not get it.
Hon David Parker: Why should anyone accept what the Minister of Finance says about KiwiAssure when 10 years ago he was pouring scorn on Kiwibank, saying it was “a small bank that has got no long-term viability.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is a small bank and it has never paid a dividend. It is great that it meets the needs of New Zealanders but it is certainly not an argument for creating a parallel insurance company. It is absolutely clear from our experience with the Earthquake Commission, AMI Insurance, and South Canterbury Finance that when the taxpayer has to underwrite this kind of risk, it can go wrong and taxpayers can be up for billions of dollars. Having low-income people working in the rain, paying their PAYE, and underwriting financial risk is as dumb an idea as you can have in the 2020s.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why would any sane New Zealander believe that last diatribe given that just 10 years ago, when the Cullen fund was announced, he said the very same thing about that, then went down just last week to its 10-year celebration and humbly had to admit what a fool he was?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, as the member will know, because he was there, I did not say that. I did praise Dr Cullen for finding a way of stopping the Labour caucus spending billions of dollars in surpluses. If Dr Cullen had been there, he would have said that that was why he set up the Superannuation Fund—to protect New Zealand from the Labour caucus.
The one thing that is saving us from Labour’s cavalier attitude to taxpayers’ money is the proviso on the policy that a business case stacks up.
It is very unlikely a business case will so this isn’t so much policy or a promise as an attempt to get votes in the Christchurch by-election the outcome of which will be settled well before the business case is found to be faulty.
The business case for #gigatownoamaru stacks up well.
People on the left hoping Labour’s rise in recent polls was pointing to certain success in next year’s election will have been disappointed by the results of two polls released yesterday:
The Fairfax Media poll, showed Labour and National were both up a couple of points.
. . . Labour is up two percentage points to 33.6 per cent since the last Fairfax poll, completed in August before the leadership spill that saw Cunliffe replace David Shearer.
But National is also up two points and holds a huge 17 point lead over Labour, winning the backing of more than 50 per cent of committed voters. . . .
Most of Labour’s support appears to have come at the expense of the Green Party which does nothing for the left block.
The One News Colmar Brunton poll showed a gap of only 11 between National and Labour:
Support for Labour and its new leader has stalled in the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, with neither the party or David Cunliffe making any gains over the last few weeks. . .
But when it comes to preferred Prime Minister John Key still appears to have the golden touch, up one to 43%, while Mr Cunliffe hasn’t built on his strong start and is unchanged at 12. Winston Peters is steady on 4%.
In the Fairfax poll National had enough support to govern alone but that is very unlikely to be reflected by actual support in next year’s election.
Under MMP support for minor parties will determine which party governs.
In the second poll the right and left can both get to 60 but that’s not enough:
National has 58 seats and with one each from Act and United Future the centre right can muster 60.
But Labour’s 43 seats plus the Greens 16 and Mana’s 1 also gives the centre left 60.
The Maori Party with its three seats and New Zealand First could be the kingmakers.
This assumes NZ First doesn’t get over the 5% threshold and that Act and United Future both win a seat.
Before anyone gets too excited about the results, it’s only a couple of polls and the changes are in margin of error territory.
At best it shows that changing leaders hasn’t made much difference to Labour and if Cunliffe had a new leader’s honeymoon it’s over.
But we’ve more than a year until the next election.
Winning a third term was always going to be hard but not impossible for National and that hasn’t changed.
Quote of the day:
“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with. . . ” John Key.
The USA has the Tea party. In Peters we’ve got the Mad Hatter.
Winston Peters will again leave voters in the dark over his post-election intentions.
We have this old fashioned perception of democracy and that is we wait until the votes are counted.
This isn’t more democratic, it’s less.
Letting voters know a party’s position about potential coalition partners gives them information on which they can make an informed decision.
Some voters might support a party that will support one party but not another.
But what Peters says is irrelevant anyway.
This is the man who said he wouldn’t accept the baubles of power then not only did but clung onto them after he’d been stripped of his ministerial power.
Like Humpty Dumpty, what Winston says means just what he chooses it to mean so an indication of what he’d do after the election would be worthless anyway.
Winston Peters has let his distrust of business and ignorance design a flawed superannuation investment policy:
A new superannuation fund to save billions of dollars for KiwiSaver contributors over the next thirty years will be a central plank for New Zealand First at the 2014 General Election. . . .
Mr Peters told delegates that private funds managers were sucking the lifeblood out of KiwiSaver, and in five short years had already taken $325 million in management and investment fees.
“Independent forecasts show that over the next thirty years these funds managers will take more than $22 billion from KiwiSavers and there is no government guarantee that the remaining funds will be safe.
“There is huge pressure from the finance industry to get their hands on more retirement funds. The figures show these companies will make spectacular profits at the expense of people saving for their retirement.
“Our plan is to change KiwiSaver so that it is a truly government-backed and managed retirement fund. Because of the economies of scale, and the elimination of hordes of ticket clipping fund managers, costs will be greatly reduced. People who pay into KiwiSaver will get their full return.”
Has he any idea of the cost of this? Can he guarantee the bureaucrats who will be managing the funds will be any less expensive and any better at investing than private fund managers?
Under the New Zealand First plan, KiwiFund will be government-guaranteed and it would invest substantially in New Zealand.
“People saving through KiwiFund will be buying back New Zealand. KiwiFund will invest in buying back farmland, state assets and critical infrastructure. Funding will also be provided to support smart local companies to develop new products and create jobs.
A government guarantee passes the risk to taxpayers.
Super funds invest overseas for very good reasons. Funds based only, or substantially, in New Zealand would be vulnerable to natural or financial disasters here, some overseas investments insulates funds from that.
Having financial eggs is several baskets is a sound and sensible investment strategy.
Landcorp, the state owned farm company, makes less than 1% return on assets. How will KiwiFund’s farms do better than that?
Who will pick these smart, local companies and what guarantees will there be that they will provide sustained returns necessary to make superannuation sustainable?
“We have to invest in our own future. Overseas pension funds and corporate investors can hardly believe their luck – and are buying up everything they can in New Zealand.
“New Zealand First says its time to stop this sell out. We are already well down the road to serfdom in our own country.” . . .
Other people risking their money in our businesses isn’t a sell-out. It’s welcome inward investment which boosts share prices.
How much does he think these assets would be worth without overseas investment?
Mr Peters warned there would be “howls of outrage” from the private funds managers who would “fight to the death” to retain their $22 billion gravy train.
“In the United States, private funds managers lost billions of dollars of pension funds during the 2008 financial crisis. We simply cannot afford to let that happen to the retirement savings of New Zealanders.
And how would he guarantee that public funds wouldn’t do the same in the next financial crisis?
“KiwiFund will enable us to build a high performance economy from which all New Zealanders will get the benefit,” said Mr Peters.
KiwiFund would nationalise private savings.
It would jeopardise superannuation and threaten its sustainability by increasing the risk and reducing returns.
Investment policy must be based on sound financial sense not xenophobia and populist bias against business.
Peters says KiwFund will be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.
Labour and the Green Party might be stupid enough to agree to it, National wouldn’t.
But history tells us what Winston says is a bottom line now and what actually is if he’s in a position to negotiate after next year’s election won’t be the same thing.
Winston Peters hopes to have at least 16 MPs in his caucus after next year’s election.
If New Zealand First’s form is anything to go on that would be quantity rather than quality.
Labour and the Green Party it will almost certainly need as a coalition or support partner both want to increase taxes.
Superannuation is based on the average after tax wage.
When taxes drop and the average after tax wage increases, as it has under National, superannuation increases too.
When taxes increase, the average after tax wage falls and superannuation will too.
This is the law of unexpected consequences that hits policies based on ideology rather than reason.
How will they explain an income drop to the 65+ age group who are already wary about Labour’s suggestion that the age of superannuation should increase?
What baubles and election bribes will they have to throw Winston Peters’ way to get him to agree to a super cut when the New Zealand First constituency is in the age group most likely to be detrimentally affected?
John Campbell’s confrontation with John Key on Campbell Live last Wednesday was a wonderful example of how not to do an interview.
Campbell was crusading, confrontational and angry. He made his views on the GCSB Bill blatantly obvious.
This morning Rachel Smalley’s interview (not yet online) with the Prime Minister was a complete contrast.
She was calm, measured, and gave no indication of her views on the issue.
She was after information, not confrontation, and she got it.
That included a repeat of the explanation of what access to metadata will mean under the new law:
Mr Key says the cyber-security function is to “protect” information, rather than accessing content.
He says the GCSB will be able to look at some email metadata, but that will not include addresses, the times emails were sent or received, or their content.
“Essentially it flows through a filter, and as it flows through that filter, it doesn’t record for anything other than a hundredth of a second,” he told media.
Whether or not viewers were reassured by what the PM said will almost certainly depend on their bias.
A lot, though not all, of the opposition to the Bill is politically motivated and Labour has made the mistake of opting for short-term point scoring rather than taking the opportunity to look like a government in waiting.
The wee parties can do what they like knowing they’ll never lead a government but sooner or later Labour will.
It could have looked like it was fit to do so by working with the government to address legitimate concerns about the legislation.
Instead of which it’s just playing me-too to the Green and Mana Parties and New Zealand First with David Shearer just another opposition party leader like Russel Norman, Winston Peters and Hone Harawira.
In even the best relationships it can be a bit difficult when the ex comes for a visit.
It’s hard for the new partner not to feel second-best and that the ex is more articulate, more respected, more popular.
Labour leader David Shearer would be forgiven for feeling a bit like this when Helen Clark, the woman he succeeded, returns to New Zealand and is fêted by the media.
This week he has even more reason to feel that way because in the interview on Q & A she undermined the opposition to the GCSB Bill.
. . . Helen Clark told Corin Dann that there is a need for a GCSB and she’s urging dialogue across the political divide.
“The answer is yes, you do, because you need that foreign intelligence, and not least for safety and security reasons. I think the real issue is, is there a gap in the law, which the Kitteridge Inquiry apparently found that there was, and if so, how do you deal with that and do you take the opportunity at the same time to write in more controls to protect the privacy of the individual? That, as I see it, is the debate raging at the moment.”
Ms Clark says when her government brought in the 2003 GCSB legislation ”that actually took GCSB out of the shadows and made it a government department with its own Act, which was good. But, you know, in retrospect, as Miss Kitteridge has found, perhaps there was a gap in the law. So that has to be dealt with, but I think it’s really important to try to reach across the political divide when you’re dealing with these issues.”
Ms Clark says, “Try and take the politics out of it and look at what do we as Kiwis need to protect our interests and how do we protect the privacy of individual Kiwis who should never be caught up in a giant trawling exercise across their communications.”
Shearer and Labour had the opportunity to be the grown-ups in opposition by acting like a government in waiting on this issue.
Instead they’ve just been playing political catch-up to the Green Party and Winston Peters who know they’ll never have to lead a government.
They’ve missed their opportunity to get better legislation and because of that have been wasting their time and our money filibustering on the Bill which will eventually pass anyway.
Is there more than a little irony in the outrage over the release of a journalist’s phone records when journalists in general try to find secrets as part of their work and the one in question was dealing with leaked material on spying?
The snooper has been snooped upon and to her credit, Andrea Vance can see the potential for wry humour:
In other circumstances I could probably find something to laugh about in revelations that the journalist who broke a story about illegal spying was snooped on by Parliament’s bureaucrats.
Let alone the irony that the reporter in question previously worked for the News of the World, the tabloid at the centre of a privacy violation scandal. . .
But she’s angry and has a right to be.
Journalists are paid to find out things people don’t necessarily want other people to know.
To do this they use sources who may wish their connection with the story to remain in confidence and the release of Vance’s phone records is an abuse of that.
The opposition is trying to find a conspiracy at the highest level, the government and parliamentary services say is was a mistake by someone at a low level.
The seriousness with which the matter is regarded is confirmed by the referral of the whole matter to parliament’s Privileges Committee.
Is it too much to hope that it might also find out how Winston Peters knew about the phone records long before the matter became public?
There are many questions and different versions over what was done by whom, among them is whether Peters did really get any records.
However, if he did, it’s difficult to believe that it was by accident.
This puts me firmly in the minority.
Then we see the reason behind the response:
Mr Key says National supporters want him to do a U-turn on previous promises and work with Mr Peters, if it means stopping a Labour-Greens government, and a 3 News/Reid research poll backs this up. . .
“I think partly it reflects that the country doesn’t want to see Labour and the Greens in office,” says Mr Key, “and so if it means having to deal with New Zealand First, a lot of our supporters would prefer to see that situation.”
If it makes National supporters prefer Peters the thought of the LabourGreen alternative must make them feel very, very bad.
It would be a bit like preferring tripe and liver to starvation.
Would that statement be any more believable than his declaration that he wouldn’t be seduced by the baubles of office in 2005?
Does anyone remember a sign with the word no?
Jane Clifton explains the motivation for opposition behaviour over Peter Dunne’s resignation:
What’s really going on here is a three-way game of whack-a-mole. Labour, the Greens and Winston’s New Zealand First are odds-on to form the next Government, but as coalitions go, it’ll be a shotgun wedding. There are outbreaks of cooperation, and the official line is that a Labour-Green ceasefire is in place. But at bottom, none of these parties’ main players rate, respect or trust one another. They are on the same side on most issues – ie, whatever National does is evil. But they’re also in predatory competition with one another.
All of which makes Parliament’s battle-lines oscillate alarmingly. Things can seem relatively straightforward when a party recognises that its enemy’s enemy is its friend. But when that “friend” turns out to be more inimical than the enemy, what then?
There would be even more inimical participants if the Maori and/or Mana parties were added to the mix.
Labour is in the process of trying to figure out whether it can help engineer the squeezing out of one or other of its potential partners so it only has to swallow the one set of policy dead rats in government. So whose rats would be the least obnoxious? At the moment, you’d have to say Team Red is fantasising about not having to work with Team Green and thinking that maybe Winston – the devil it knows from past Beehive iterations – is the better option.
If he’s the better option it doesn’t say anything good about the alternative.
The Greens would be exponentially more demanding than Winston. The fact that co-leader Russel Norman is still evangelising the wonders of quantitative easing represents a gigantic elephant room-mate for the putative Labour/Green/NZ First finance minister. The Greens would, of course, like that to be Norman, and there’s another almighty conflict to resolve before even getting bums on seats in the Cabinet room.
The Greens would also hold out for a massive progressive tax realignment that would quickly alienate a chunk of Labour’s salaried and small-business support base, and doubtless reinvigorate the population drain to Australia. The Greens would demand nothing less than a fiscal upheaval.
All of which would provide National with plenty of ammunition to scare voters from listing to the left.
A red government would be bad enough for the country, add green to the mix and you’d get something altogether worse.
It really would be better not to go there.
Trans Tasman observes John Campbell’s attempt to pin down Winston Peters:
For those who have been around for a bit, Peters’ mix of belligerence and incoherence is getting more and more like 1970s-80s trade unionist Jim Knox. Certainly Campbell, whose mien is usually bubbly and engaging even with the most difficult subjects, gave an impression of a man in a wrestle with a particularly large and truculent molasses-coated rhinoceros. . .
My memories of Knox are mercifully dim, but I can recall enough to suspect Peters won’t be flattered by the comparison.
Over at Opposable Thumb, Denis Welsh also paints a word picture:
. . . But the days are long gone when he seized on something really meaningful, and it’s a sign of how impregnable the National government has been to his usual tricks that all the old shark can do now is sink his increasingly blunt teeth into a fellow minor party. Shark bites minnow: this is news? The more Peters attacks Dunne, the more he shows how weakened he has become. And as it also grows clearer with every day that he has no more of substance to throw at his victim (admitting he hasn’t got all the dirt he needs would have been unthinkable once), so we witness the sad spectacle of a veteran showbiz star no longer able to wow the crowds in the same dazzling way. The old soft-shoe shuffle, so slick before, looks worn and creaky now. One is reminded irresistibly of John Osborne’s play/film The Entertainer, in which a faded music-hall performer past his prime keeps wheeling out the same tired old jokes and routines, to increasingly thin applause. Peters has so lost the plot this time, in fact, that he’s in serious danger of rousing public sympathy for Dunne. . .
A truculant molassess-coated rhinoceros; an old shark with increasingly blunt teeth; the old soft shoe-shuffle . . . looks worn and creaky now.
These aren’t descriptions of a man on the way up and in politics if you’re not going up you’re going down.
At last the media is calling Winston Peters’ bluff.
John Campbell did an admirable job of attempting to get him to show some proof and give a straight answer.
Campbell wasn’t successful but at least he showed Peters obfuscating.
Three weeks ago, Winston Peters made a speech to Grey Power in Takapuna, entitled “Auckland, super city or sin city?”
In it, he used the word “China” 21 times and he asked the question “who’s running things here, us or them?”
Is there any other immigrant group that gets singled out like that?
It was all in a speech that refers to corruption, crime, money laundering, shady dealing, pokey machines, sex workers, cheating Asian students, a slave trade, drug importation and the seven deadly sins.
So Campbell Live asked Winston Peters for proof. . .
The video is here.
Did Peters really have access to emails between Andrea Vance and Peter Dunne or did he just make some lucky guesses based on their Twitter exchanges?
Mr Key said he did not believe Mr Peters had seen emails or other communications between Mr Dunne and the reporter, Andrea Vance, which Mr Peters has claimed contained personally embarrassing material.
“It’s normal modus operandi for Mr Peters, bluff and bluster and claims to have lots of information.” . . .
Mr Peters again refused to say what information he had, but said there were “countless examples” of others doubting his word in the past and he had proved them wrong.
I’d have said there were more examples of others doubting his word in the past and the doubters being proved right.
Labour leader David Shearer appears to be auditioning for the role of the invisible man.
He’s the leader of the opposition but Russel Norman and Winston Peters do a lot more visible, and audible, opposing than he does.
It’s easier for them, of course, they know they’ll never have to lead a government.
This gives them the freedom to make outrageous promises with the knowledge they can claim that being a minor partner requires concessions to excuse their inability to deliver on them..
Labour doesn’t have that luxury.
It is aiming to lead a coalition government and therefore needs to be more circumspect in its policy and practice.
That shouldn’t stop it formulating policy and taking action but in the last week it’s looked like the minor party playing catch-up and me-too in attacks on Peter Dunne, not the major one.
In this saga, Labour and its leader have been followers not leaders.
If it doesn’t start taking a more proactive stance, it won’t just be the invisible man, it will be the invisible party.
Do LabourGreen and New Zealand First understand what they’re doing in calling for a police investigation over the leaking of the GCSB report?
Brent Bryce Edwards rightly says they’re being illiberal:
“There’s always problems when the police get involved in the political and media realm. It can have a very chilling affect on politics and journalism,” Dr Edwards says.
Threshold not reached
Generally those that regard themselves as politically liberal will not want the police involved unless utterly necessary, says the Politics Daily compiler.
“Therefore the threshold for calling the cops into Parliament and newsrooms should be very high. It’s hard to see that this threshold has been reached in this case,” Dr Edwards says.
“Normally those that call the police in on their political opponents are from an authoritarian political philosophy. By contrast, liberals generally regard those that leak government department reports as heroic whistleblowers that are enabling the freedom of information and the right of the public to know what those in authority are doing.”
That was certainly the case when, Tracy Watkins reminds us, Labour’s Phil Goff was gleefully leaking sensitive Cabinet documents relating to Foreign Affairs.
He almost certainly got the papers from a public servant who, like an MP, is supposed to keep confidential matters in confidence and, unlike an MP, be non-partisan in his/her work.
The affair does underline the dichotomy we in the political firmament face over the issue of leaks, though. Labour and New Zealand First are harrumphing like scandalised Wodehousian aunts about Dunne’s behaviour. Yet both have received, publicised and gloated over similarly spicey leaks in their time.
Leaks have come to the Opposition from two of the most sacred departments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Security Communications Bureau, at times in farcical quantity. Information from these bureaucracies have the potential to harm this country’s security and trade.
It’s a very unhealthy sign that such officials are prepared to undermine the Government by leaking information that could also undermine the welfare of the country. Yet the Opposition has trafficked in them with abandon, and never has a single Labour, Green or NZ First politician called the police about such documents, as they have done over the Dunne situation.
Clifton goes on to remind us that leaks are undeniably desirable for the media and the public who learn from them.
Calling for a police investigation is at best baffling and definitely hypocritical when all three parties have benefited from leaks, the most recent being of the Henry report to Peters.
Would he like an investigation into that one too?