So bad so soon

June 19, 2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Is he jumping or being pushed?

December 3, 2011

TVNZ says Pita Sharples will happily stand down as co-leader so new blood can come in.

TV3 has a different slant:

. . . it seems the Maori Party do not want Dr Sharples as co-leader any more and  his position will come up for grabs.

The male co-leadership will be contested by Te Ururoa Flavell – the only  other male MP in the Maori Party.

Sharples said before the election that this would be his last term and it makes sense to hand the co-leadership over in plenty of time for his successor to make his mark.

But being happy to stand down is not the same as not being wanted, so is he jumping or being pushed?

UPDATE: The Dom Post says internal struggles are plaguing the Maori Party but offers nothing in the story to back that up.

Could it be the media trying to find conflict where none exists?

 


Election editorials

November 28, 2011

The ODT – Three more years:

On any measure, the result of the 2011 general election is a resounding vote of confidence in the leadership and policies of John Key and the National Party. Not since the 1972 Labour victory of Norman Kirk has a single party reached such high levels of support, with National gaining 48% of the vote and 60 MPs in Parliament (pending the outcome of the special votes). The achievement is all the more remarkable given the challenges the country has faced during the past three years . . .

Timaru Herald – No real surpirses:

So now we know. The months of polling are over and we know for sure.

We don’t know everything, because special votes may slightly alter the picture, but we know John Key will be the one to form the Government that will take us through to 2014, when we’ll do it all again. It’s not a surprise, though some elements of the overall picture have been somewhat surprising, particularly the return of Winston Peters to Parliament on the bridge of the good ship NZ First, with a crew of seven supporting him.

For the great survivor of New Zealand politics, it’s a decidedly more comfortable ride than those of John Banks, Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira in their single kayaks. . .

The Press – A mother of a mandate:

As mandates go, they don’t get much bigger. How far will John Key push it?

In a hallmark of the Key style, he will take it as far as he thinks he can while carrying the public with him – but don’t take that as an indication he will go softly on asset sales.

Labour’s brave morning-after talk that it had won the argument on asset sales was nothing more than that – a chin-up exercise aimed squarely at the party faithful after an old-fashioned rout . . .

Dominion Post – Key has the right to sell family silver:

National has won the mandate it sought to pawn the family silver and reshape the welfare system. Prime Minister John Key would be wise to exercise it with discretion.

His party’s 48 per cent share of the vote in Saturday’s election is National’s best result since 1951. It is a personal triumph for the prime minister who has retained the confidence of the public despite having to make provision for the rebuilding of Christchurch in the midst of a global recession . . .

Manawatu Standard – City an atoll of red in an ocean of blue:

The blue tide on Saturday night came from all sides of the compass, but stopped just short of Palmerston North again.

Iain Lees-Galloway, the incumbent Labour member of parliament, somehow managed to not only stop the surge of National support over the country, he increased his majority from 1117 in 2008 to a provisional 3001, with special votes still to be counted.

National won the seat when it came to the party vote, which was probably the prime objective of candidate Leonie Hapeta, who at one stage looked like threatening to turn Palmerston North blue for the first time in decades . . .

Waikato Times – Challenge ahead for Nats:

 In many way it was the most predictable election result in years.

But while his party might have walked off with some 48 per cent of the vote, Prime Minister John Key might well be ruing his actions in the closing weeks, particularly around the now infamous “teapot tapes”. . .

Hawke’s Bay Today – Labour did Nash no favours:

The election delivered just one seismic jolt in Hawke’s Bay but it was one that many had predicted and the casualty, as was the case around New Zealand, was Labour. Actually there were two other casualties in the bailing out of parliament of Labour list MP Stuart Nash and they were the city of Napier and Mr Nash himself . . .  

Gisborne Herlad: Voter’s deliver big tick for John Key’s National Party:

The New Zealand public has given John Key’s National Party a big tick of approval, though not so resounding as to allow it to govern alone — unpopular asset-sale plans made that unlikely.
Mr Key has his mandate for partial privatisation of the state’s power companies and Solid Energy, though, along with radical reform of the welfare system. . .

NZ Herald – Demanding times ahead for National:

So the electorate did not want the National Party to govern alone. Other than that, which signifies its deep resistance to unbridled power, it has handed Prime Minister John Key most of what he wanted – and his opponents on the left nothing much at all.

The election result was encouraging for a party seeking a second term leading the Government. By increasing its share of the vote, and saving enough of Act and United Future to get it over the line, National has its majority. With the Maori Party’s three votes as ballast, it appears more than secure, unless special votes alter the seat allocation to National’s detriment. . .

 

 

 

 

 


Happy headlines

October 17, 2011

ODT – All Blacks muscle way into World Cup final

Too big, too strong and, most of all, just too damn    clinical. The All Blacks beat the Wallabies 20-6 in the World    Cup semifinal last night, and showed they have the muscle and    grunt to go with the renowned finesse in the side . . .

Southland Times – ABs trample over Aussies

France versus 4 million, the All Blacks have their date with destiny after surging into the Rugby World Cup final. . .

The Press – Screaming for All Black joy

After living through their city’s devastation, Christchurch residents could
finally scream for joy . . .

Dominion Post – All Blacks reward party faithful at fanzone

Clad in black, with faces painted in silver ferns, a crowd of thousands cheered the All Blacks to victory in Wellington’s fanzone last night . . .

NZ Herald – Epic All Blacks deliver on huge night

Yes we can and yes we did – in style . . .

And not so happy:

The Australian – Wallabies outplayed out smarted all blacked out

THE Wallabies’ World Cup campaign lies buried in the graveyard of Eden Park after they were bundled out of the tournament by the All Blacks last night . . .

Sydney Morning Herald – Great hope of rugby fumbles and bumbles when he was needed most

If that was Quade Cooper’s best game ever, as captain James Horwill fearlessly  declared it would be on match eve, then one can only wonder what  his worst has  been . . .

The Age –  Kiwis on the cusp after walloping Wallabies

AND yea, verily, it is written. Though long have our Kiwi cousins walked in the  shadow of the Valley of Death, through World Cup loss after World Cup loss, as  an entire people plumbed the depths of despair, now, now the hour is  upon them. The promised land is now just up ahead around the bend . . .

Peter FitzSimons gets full credit for graciousness in the last column.

 


Be careful what you vote for

September 3, 2011

The Dominion Post offers a warning to Labour supporters who are considering voting for the Greens:

Many of the Greens’ aims will appeal to disillusioned Labour voters looking for a new home, such as lifting 100,000 children out of poverty and tackling unemployment by creating “green jobs”. The issue in an election, however, is not what a party states as its goals, but how it hopes to achieve them. New Zealanders are lucky to live in a country where they get to choose who governs them. Those who have that privilege, denied to so many others, should use it to vote for what they agree with. Traditional Labour voters may well find good cause to vote Green this time, but they should do so because they want the Greens’ policies, not because they think Labour will lose.

Some of the increased support for the Greens will be from people who agree with what they stand for.

But some will be from people who have given up on Labour and are looking for an alternative.

In 2002 people who decided that National couldn’t win cast votes for the wee parties – Act, whatever United Future was called then and New Zealand First. Two of them went into government and all three lost most of those votes at the next election.

If, as the polls suggest, National forms the next government, the Green Party is more likely to stay in opposition or play a minor role in government.

Whatever it does, people who give it their votes not because they agree with it but because they’re disenchanted with Labour, risk a result they won’t like.

Casting a vote intelligently requires looking past the feel-good ideas to what a party really stands for and what that will do for and to the country.

Influencing a party also requires more than casting a vote against it.

Real influence comes from active support and engagement through good times and bad and working to ensure you’re able to vote for a party with which you agree.


Small correction for big mistake

June 27, 2011

Some newspapers have a regular column in which they correct errors they made.

A journalists’ chat group of which I’m a member informs me that one of the corrections in a recent Dominion Post was over its beat-up on dairy farmers not paying tax.

The story was a front page feature of the print edition and is still online

I didn’t see the correction but I understand from chat group comments it got a much more modest placement in the paper and if it’s online I haven’t been able to find it.

That appears to be a very small correction for what was a very big mistake.


8/10

May 5, 2011

The DOminion Post still hasn’t taken pity on political tragics by reinstating its weekly political triva quiz but it has got a royal wedding quiz.

Not sure if my score of 8/10 means I know too much or not enough.


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