In need of govt that knows what it’s doing

August 27, 2019

Kerre McIvor has tuned into a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t know what it’s doing:

She says that the previous National Government felt more like they were in control of the steering wheel.

“This Government, I just get a sense they have no idea what they are doing.” 

She also took aim at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her refusal to answer questions. 

“I don’t get the sense she’s across her job.”

“You would think even she could set the agenda and put it to him and get the people to brief you. Just one solid answer would be fantastic.

“You’re in charge of the country, act like it!” 

McIvor says that Labour probably didn’t expect to be in Government after the last election, but that was 18 months ago and they should be up and running now.

“I get the sense that they are still trying to get their heads around the job, but this is their job. This is what they have been training all their lives to do – be the Government – and they aren’t doing a very good job of it.” 

I happened to tune into Newstalk ZB yesterday morning when this was being discussed. In spite of pleas from McIvor for people to call and counter her view, almost every call and tweet agreed with her.

Labour wasted almost nine years in opposition with in-fighting. It did little to no policy development and the problems with that have been compounded by its coalition partners.

Bill Ralston opines:

. . .It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the lack of planning and joined-up thinking is a result of the fact that the three political parties in charge have wildly disparate views on what should be done, and, in many cases, nothing is done to genuinely address a problem because one or more of them will block the others’ programme.

The only part of Government that seems to be working in high gear is its publicity machine. Press conferences are held, photo opportunities delivered, media releases pumped out and the appearance of action is created. However, when you look closely, too often you see the scheme just announced is largely cosmetic and does not address the core of the problem. Worse, public money is devoted to a cause but there is no advance planning as to how it should be put to best use.

It seems to me that the Government is making it up as it goes along, occasionally content to be seen to be doing something about problems but not really addressing the causes, because the coalition parties cannot agree on policies. . . 

How long before this starts to show in the polls?

 

While the government is floundering, National is working hard to develop policies and yesterday announced its economic discussion document.

Simon Bridges started by explaining something the current government doesn’t understand: why their economy matters:

A strong economy means New Zealanders have more in their back pockets to afford the things that matter to them.

Whether that is putting more food in the table or being able to afford nice things for your kids.

A strong economy also means we can invest in the things that matter to New Zealanders.

But a strong economy, first and foremost, needs confident thriving businesses that are willing to invest in new technologies, create more jobs and pay higher wages.

National recognises that Government does not drive the economy.

The economy is driven by all of the people who have good ideas, get up early, work hard, invest their time and money, take risks and try and build opportunities for themselves and others. It’s driven by the people in this room.

New Zealanders need a Government that backs them to compete on the world stage and provides the foundations they need to get on with doing business.

New Zealanders also need a government that knows what it is doing, where it wants to go and has a plan for getting there, none of which this government does or has.

Some of the commitments in the discussion document include:

  • Requiring all government departments and government agencies to pay their contractors on time and within 30 days;
  • Establishing a ‘Small Business Payments Guarantee’;
  • Repealing 100 regulations in our first six months of office;
  • Eliminating two old regulations for every new regulation introduced in our first term;
  • Requiring quality cost-benefit analysis for any major new regulation;
  • Māori land reform; and
  • Ensuring the Treasury has a greater focus on providing sound advice on the effectiveness of Government spending, identifying wasteful spending and driving higher productivity in the public sector;

We’re also proposing or asking for New Zealanders feedback on:

  • Considering new innovative approaches to infrastructure funding;
  • Pricing mechanisms to manage the flow of traffic that are revenue neutral;
  • Allowing savers to deduct the inflation component from their interest income;
  • Accelerated depreciation of business assets;
  • Removing the ability for Governments to give preferential pay agreements to union members during public sector wage negotiations;
  • Bank account number portability; and
  • Removing all remaining tariffs.

And we’re re-confirming a number of previous commitments, including:

  • Indexing tax thresholds to inflation;
  • Repealing the Regional Fuel Tax;
  • Overhauling the Resource Management Act;
  • Reintroducing targets in health, education and law and order;
  • Encouraging direct investment in productive assets by overturning the Government’s foreign investment changes;
  • Repealing the ban on oil and gas exploration; and
  • Repealing recent Government changes made to the Employment Relations Act, such as removing 90-day trial periods.

Some of this continues work National did in government, some of it is new.

All of it shows a party far more prepared for government and running the country than the ones that are supposed to be doing it now.


Who is the real Cunliffe?

May 19, 2014

Michael Fox and Tracy Watkins ask – will the real David Cunliffe please stand up?

That’s the message from experts who claim the Labour leader is failing to connect with the voting public because he’s not being true to himself. . . 

Former TVNZ political commentator turned media trainer Bill Ralston said Cunliffe came across like he “doesn’t know himself”.

“He always appears to be acting. You know, ‘I’m going to be angry now, I’m going to be funny now, I’m going to be serious’. I don’t know what or who the real David Cunliffe is but we haven’t seen him yet. It’s that inauthenticity that’s the issue. He just is not pitching himself as a normal person.” . . .

Could it be that’s because he doesn’t really know who he is?

Like him or loathe him, there’s no doubt who John Key is and what he stands for. The National Party values are his.

But one of the criticisms often thrown at Cunliffe is that he tries to be all things too all people, saying one thing to one audience and something different to another.

It really is difficult to know who he is and what he believes in.

Both leaders came from poor backgrounds and through family support, education and their own efforts have succeeded.

The PM is comfortable with his own success and is passionate about helping others make the best of themselves too.

Cunliffe over states his CV one minute then tries to minimise his wealth and success the next.

Rather than being proud of what he’s achieved he appears to be embarrassed, even ashamed about it. Instead of using his success as a positive example to inspire others as the PM does, Cunliffe tries to pretend he’s like most of his constituents who have considerably less.

He comes across as a man who isn’t comfortable in his own skin and is unsure about what he stands for.

But does he even believe what he’s saying?

Writing about the difference between Cunliffe and David Shearer – when the latter was leader, Rob Hosking observed:

It is just they do not hang together as a coherent programme. Economically, they are contradictory and they will cause more problems than they solve.

And this is the first difference between the two. Mr Cunliffe is economically qualified enough to know they are incoherent and will strain against each other. Mr Shearer has no such knowledge and probably believes what he is saying. . . .

As noted, Mr Cunliffe is economically savvy enough to know all this, and is shameless enough to peddle it to people who do not know any better.

If he’s not comfortable and sure about himself, is it any wonders voters aren’t comfortable with or sure about him either?

How can you believe what someone’s saying if you can’t be sure he believes it himself?

 

 


Moral fervour

November 13, 2013

Trans Tasman opines:

Moral fervour has its place, but it is something not to be totally trusted. Self righteousness should never be allowed to become mob rule. Society’s norms should be enforced with a degree of legal detachment, lest righteous condemnation be allowed to turn into lynch mob justice.

So it was possible to feel a smidgeon, just a smidgeon, of sympathy for talkback hosts John Tamihere and Willie Jackson this week. They found themselves on the receiving end of a nationwide, social media wide storm of condemnation for their on-air antics in the wake of the “Roastbusters” rape allegations.

But any sympathy should be minimal. The pair are not exactly strangers to these types of  on-air controversies.

Fellow babyboomer broadcaster Bill Ralston  described them, in a friendly way, as some of the last bastions of 1950s male attitudes, but this is hardly an excuse. One would expect the two to have noticed one or two changes since then. Implicit in the way the two questioned one of the rape victims on the air – and also in some commentary elsewhere – is the notion the girls in some way contributed to their predicament.

Now, contributory negligence is a useful concept in civil law, but hardly applies to criminal matters such as rape – unless it is assumed, from the outset, men have as little control as, say, an out of control machine. Tamihere has form in the misogyny area: he famously called women in the Labour Party “front bums.”

Well, now he and his partner are off the air, for acting like a pair of total back bums.

Quite.


Clark part of Auckland housing problem

July 29, 2013

The imbalance between supply and demand for houses in Auckland which is the biggest factor behind swiftly rising prices there didn’t happen overnight.

It has been building for more than a decade and local and central governments should have been addressing the issue years ago before it got this bad.

Who was leading the government for nearly a decade as the prices soared?

Oh yes, Helen Clark and she’s part of the problem of houses owned by foreigners.

Rob Hosking points out:

It’s a mark of how bogus the housing debate has become that Labour’s figures about foreign owners of New Zealand houses almost certainly include former leader Helen Clark and her four houses. . .

Labour says more than 11,000 foreigners own houses here they don’t live in.

. . . What Mr Shearer didn’t say is the figure comes from “non-resident” taxpayers who pay tax on houses they own in New Zealand.

Most of those are ex-pat Kiwis who are renting out property they own here while working overseas.

How could Labour put out a policy so badly researched?

This conversation on twitter explains it:

 

  1. Shearer’s ‘foreign investor’ figures are mostly expat Kiwis – people like Helen Clark & her four houses [PAID] http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/shearers-foreign-investor-figures-are-mostly-expat-nzers-rh-p-143493 …

     
  2. .@robhosking This is frustrating. It took you less than a day to find the holes – why aren’t Labour peer reviewing before policy release?

     
  3. @MeganCampbellNZ Own arse. Both hands. Lack of a GPS navigational device not to mention basic hand/eye co-ordination.

But it gets worse – Labour’s policy is not only based on faulty figures, it also contravenes the Free Trade Agreement with China that was negotiated by the last Labour government.

  1. Lemme get this right. Labour’s housing ban stops expat Kiwis from buying homes here but the FTA lets Chinese buy, along with Aussies? WTF?

     
  2. @BillyRalston very slightly rushed out policy, you reckon?

     
  3. @toby_etc I think someone in Shearer’s office had a brain bypass.

     
  4. @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc C’mon you can’t put this FAIL on the ‘office’. Good politicians ask questions &understand own policy

     
  5. @MeganCampbellNZ @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc EXACTLY. Blaming minions is what Aaron Gilmores of this world do, not would-be PMs.

Oh dear, faulty figures based on incomplete understanding and no idea about the FTA a Labour government negotiated – is anyone in Labour thinking?

Hat tip: Keeping Stock

P.S. – in case you think I’m guilty of Clark derangement syndrome.The post is to show Labour’s shortcomings – in government for not recognising and acting on the growing imbalance between supply and demand of houses and now for this ill-thought out policy –  not to comment on her investment decisions about which I have no criticism.


Question of the day

July 23, 2013

Bill Ralston Bill Ralston@BillyRalston

Why is @RusselNorman answer to everything to tax us more? Hey, Wellington’s had a quake, quick let’s pay more tax. Odd.


Green without the red

July 11, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . However, in recent years, I have found the voice of the green movement becoming increasingly illogical and hysterical . Not that I disagree with everything campaigners say . .

. . . Doctrinaire greenies need to realise that if we cannot carefully and sensibly exploit our minerals, oil and gas reserves, we are doomed to remain a nice lifestyle block in the South Pacific but never an economic unit. Bill Ralston in The Listener (not yet on-line).

Few would disagree with the need to tread lightly on the earth. But the strident end of the green spectrum turns to red and doesn’t appear to understand that economic and social considerations should be taken into account and balanced with environmental ones.


Media need thicker skin

May 17, 2012

Quote of the day:

The media’s role is often to be “hostile, aggressive and antagonistic” to governments and politicians when they merit it. That comes with the job of being the “Fourth Estate”. I was once so hostile, aggressive and antagonistic” that Prime Minister Jim Bolger banned me from his press conferences.

It is the media’s job to apply scrutiny, to critique, and to commentate on events and individuals. It is just a shame that it cannot stand it when others do the same to them.

Message to Media: Stop being so pathetically thin-skinned and get on with the job. Bill Ralston

He was commenting to the reaction to Prime Minister John Key’s observation that the media is tougher on a second term government.

He made the comments during an interview with Leighton Smith:

He is quite clear he is making observations, not complaining, that he wasn’t ” bent out of shape by that” and he expected it.


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