She said & he said

August 31, 2008

What really happened between Helen Clark and Winsotn Peters on Friday?

Stephen Franks has a transcript of their conversation here.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock.


Last cab slams door

August 31, 2008

If Hone Harawira’s views are shared by his Maori Party colleagues Labour will not find them a willing coalition partner:

“They’re suffering from the arrogance of being in power too long. At the moment they’re a coalition corpse. They’re gone, and anybody who is associated too closely with them is likely to be gone as well.”

“Clearly we’re not going to be the party that wins the most votes, but we are hoping to be the players after the election, and we are doing all that we can to take the seven [Maori] seats and put ourselves in a position where we will not be the last cab off the rank, but be the first limousine,” said Harawira.

Helen Clark may rue her description of the Maori Party as the last cab off the rank before the last election because one of the cab drivers has just slammed the door on her. Although one of the other drivers may be prepared to open it again:

However Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the Maori Party as a whole had no view on whether there should be a change of government, and that was for voters to decide.


Lost way lost support

August 31, 2008

Invercargill MP Eric Roy has a shearing handpiece on the book shelf in his Wellington office. It’s to remind him where he comes from, why he’s in parliament and who put him there.

MPs who forget those things lose their way and that’s when they lose their supporters.

The Ex-expat  expresses this in a letter which would be instructional reader for all politicians. I don’t agree with all her points, but I am copying it below without comment because it’s a message from the heart which crosses political boundaries – give us something to vote for, not just something to vote against.

A Letter from a Labour Voter

Dear Labour,

I have confession to make, I don’t want to vote this election. You have no idea how much it pains me to make that admission not only because I have a number of friends who will contest this election under the Labour banner and I want them to do well, but because I genuinely believe that the best chance New Zealand has to succeed as a nation is through the re-election of a centre-left government. It’s just right now there doesn’t seem to be a party out there articulating a centre-left vision for the country.

And that’s what is missing from your constant bluster about ‘slippery’ John Key and his band of evil Hollow men with no policy, a vision for me and other left wing voters to vote for rather than a dystopia to vote against. Because the attacks, while fun and politically necessary on occasion, are hardly rousing stuff when that’s all you talk about and I must confess that I don’t bother reading your blog, The Standard, much because of it. It’s a shame because the Standard has interesting analysis on there from time to time but any lucid points are diluted by the sheer number of posts that attack John Key and National in even the most ridiculous of circumstances.

I suppose this negativity is likely a reflection of MPs and Ministers in Wellington who are probably scratching their head wondering why, after nine years of hard-fought funding increases and liberal reforms to New Zealand society, people aren’t dancing in the streets about all that you’ve achieved.

And to be fair to your administration, the New Zealand I returned to last year is a very different country to the one I left in 2002. The place seems so much wealthier than when I left. Not the kind of wealthy where millionaires live in secluded compounds just a few kilometers away from the kind of poverty and hopelessness that made me cry in so many parts of Asia. But a wealth that sees most of our population well fed, mostly healthy and highly educated, and most importantly working in real jobs rather than pretend work in order to receive an unemployment benefit. What I found the most amazing was how many large public infrastructure projects, like spaghetti junction in Auckland, which had been started in the 1970s and left to stagnate in the 1980s and 1990s have been slowly been completed in the past few years thanks to your administration. Likewise you get a thumbs up from ex-expat for concluding a huge number of significant treaty settlements and Free Trade Agreements.

But thing is, I and other voters still want more. The reason we want more is because we didn’t elect you to maintain the status quo, we elected you to build a better society and we know that there is still so much work to be done. I want to know why I’ve spent 18 months being dicked around by the health system for elective surgery I can’t afford to pay for privately and my health insurance policy won’t pay for either. I want to know why broadband in this country is so hideously slow, expensive and in many places non-existent. While we are at it, how come you haven’t gotten around to reforming our heinous abortion laws despite having a supposedly all-powerful women’s caucus?

Most importantly you started your tenure in office with a vision to use a politically incorrect term, ‘close the gaps’ between various sectors of New Zealand society. Sometime during your term in office you stopped talking about the vision even though you and the people who voted for you still believe in it. And while it has taken you nine years in power for that rich poor gap to close for the first time in twenty years, there are still huge gaps that need to be closed. Perhaps the most gaping is in education where we have a system that fails half of the Maori Boys that go through it. I don’t need to lecture on what happens to those boys later in life. But the thing is, the people who are voting for you need to know that reason we need to put money and new ideas into fixing this problem is not because it is ‘politically correct’ but because it is the correct political principle.

At the moment the other side seems to have large numbers of your voters convinced that tax cuts are the way to go to make their lives better. So much so you that you performed a political harikiri, a tax cut of your own, in order to do so. But as you rightly point out to National, you can’t cut tax without also cutting the government services that will hurt your voters the most. What happened to that vision and connection that filled us with such hope in 1999? I’m not sure about the others, but you lost me when the principle of ‘sustainability’ became the political issue that we were willing to burn so much of our political capital in order to achieve.

I hope that I’m wrong about all this and there’s a grand plan in Heather’s top drawer for the next three years that will inspire me and other people to vote you because we want to. Because right now I feel like I am casting my vote on the basis of loyalty rather than inspiration and that’s not really much of reason to drag myself to the polling booth at all.

Regards,

Ex-expat.

PS. You overuse of the ‘slippery’ tag is right up there with the right’sLiarbour‘ for sheer irritation value.


Is nothing sacred?

August 30, 2008

Michael Jackson  is going from bad to verse – he’s set the works of Robert Burns to music.

I wonder if while doing so he pondered on: O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!


Saturday’s smiles

August 30, 2008

A back country sheep farmer was grazing his flock on the long acre of a
remote pasture in outback of Otago when suddenly a brand-new and shining 4WD emerges from a dust cloud.

The driver, a bloke in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, Bolle sunglasses and
Yves St Laurent silk tie, slides down the window and says, “If I
tell you exactly how many sheep and lambs you have in your flock, will
you give me a lamb?”

 

The farmer looks from the man to the peacefully grazing herd and
murmurs, “Why not?”

The well-dressed bloke whips out his notebook, connects it to his mobile
phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS
satellite navigation system to get a fix on his location which he then
feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an
ultra-high-resolution photo. Then he opens the digital photo in Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. Now he accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC-connected Excel spreadsheet on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturised LaserJet printer, turns to the drover and says, “You have exactly 2,586 sheep and lambs.”

That’s right.” says the farmer. “Well, I guess you can take one of my
lambs,” And he watches the man select an animal and stuff it into the
back of his 4WD.

 

Hey,” muses the grazier, “If I can tell you exactly what you do for a living, will you give me back the animal?”

 

The man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”

 

“You’re a bureaucrat from Wellington” says the farmer.

 

“Wow! That’s correct! But how did you guess that?” the bureaucrat asks.

No guessing required.” answered the farmer. You showed up here even though nobody invited you; you wanted to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter than me  you are; and you don’t know a thing about sheep. Now, give me back my dog.”

 


Casualty list

August 30, 2008

Stuff has a list of Helen Clark’s ministerial casualties. The ones who have been sacked, suspended, stood down or forced to resign under her leadership since 1999 are:

June 28, 2000 – Dover Samuels

October 31, 2000 – Ruth Dyson.

February 23, 2001– Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle (Alliance)

July 23, 2003 – Harry Duynhoven.

February 20, 2004 – Lianne Dalziel.

November 4, 2004 – John Tamihere

May 16, 2005 – David Benson-Pope.

October 19, 2005 – Taito Phillip Field

March 20, 2006 – David Parker.

July 27, 2007 – David Benson-Pope (again).

August 29, 2008 – Winston Peters.

If losing one minister may be regarded as a misfortune and two looks like carelessness, what can be said about losing a dozen?

The explanations for the ministerial falls from grace on Stuff is here and The Herald has photos here.


Meanwhile out in the real world…

August 30, 2008

I’ve just picked up today’s papers from a dairy and commented as I passed them over to the young bloke serving me that these are interesting times politically.

He replied, “What’s happening?”

I pointed to the front pages of The ODT, Press & Southland Times I’d just handed him and others on the counter in front of him with their respective headlines: PM Moves to Control Damage; PM Forces Peters to Step Aside; and Peters Goes Quietly Despite Still Claiming Innocence.

The young man said, “What’s he done now?” and then, “Are there elections this year?”


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