Quote of the day

May 22, 2015

. . . An enormous gulf has opened up between what used to be the core Labour voter, particularly in provincial regions, and the metropolitan elites, with their state-funded salaries and public sector pensions. The consequence is the current generation of Labour politicians are stumped when it comes to enunciating policies for the delivery of a better life for working people.

There is now a fundamental unease in the NZ population the collectivism inherent in the original concept of the welfare state doesn’t necessarily deliver the results originally envisaged. It is based on evidence the safety net the welfare state was intended to provide has been turned almost into a lifestyle for many who spend years on benefits. Now when the Govt says testing for spending effectiveness (in welfare programmes) will be core to the new processes it is introducing, and funding will be re-prioritised to providers to get results, Labour doesn’t seem to have an answer, or an alternative. . . Trans Tasman


Labour’s lost constituency

May 14, 2015

Does this sound familiar?

. . . The real problem facing Labour isn’t that the party turned its back on working-class voters — it’s that working-class voters turned their backs on the party, and have been doing so for nearly 50 years. . . 

Labour’s epic crisis is not a case of ‘left-behind voters’ but of a ‘left-behind party’, rejected by the very people it was founded to represent. . .

Labour was being sustained by the middle classes, while lower classes went back to the thing they’d been doing for decades: deserting Labour.

The Blairites are often accused of ruining Labour, abandoning its traditional voters and ideals. This turns history upside down. New Labour is better understood as a response to something that had already happened: the slow but sure abandonment of Labour by working-class voters, which left Labour a shell, ripe for a takeover by a middle-class professional set. It was working-class voters who sealed Labour’s fate, not Labour that sealed theirs.

This isn’t semantics, this question of who abandoned whom. Yes, it’s all interrelated: working-class voters deserted Labour because they felt the party had in some way screwed them over. Chicken, egg, etc. But understanding that working-class voters have been turning their backs on Labour for ages is important, because it shows that the crisis facing this party today is more profound — infinitely more profound — than the current post-election soul-searching lets on.

For what we have is a party whose foundation stone, whose very reason for existing — to represent the working classes — no longer exists. Labour is facing more than a crisis of communication or a dearth of likeable leaders. It’s facing a crisis that is about as existential as it is possible to get: what becomes of a party whose founding constituency just isn’t into it anymore?

All the talk of reviving Labour with a re-injection of New Labour or Blue Labour or Brownite Labour is like discussing what colour lipstick to put on a corpse. Labour is dead. Its soul — working-class voters — has gone. It’s now little more than a zombie party being puppet-mastered by metropolitan elites and the media classes in a bizarre political danse macabre. A Frankenstein escaped from the 20th century. Well, they can keep it, these Labour-sustaining luvvies, because working-class voters have no more need of it: they’ve made Labour a left-behind party.

Brendan O’Neill is writing about the British Labour Party but much of what he says applies to its counterpart in New Zealand.

It was taken over by different sectors using the party to advance their interests rather than a united group with a vision for the country.

Hat tip – Utopia


Quote of the day

May 8, 2015

. . . But it brings me back to the heart of this issue, which is that Labour always wants to spend more, regardless of whether it works and regardless of whether it changes anything, and it cannot stand it when it thinks someone may be being careful with the spending. . . 

The great thing is we have a country where there are thousands of people with thousands of new ideas about developing the economy. It is my job and the Government’s job to support them. Labour’s view is that the country should wait around for Grant Robertson’s new idea, and apparently his new idea is work. Labour has discovered work; it is just that it is against all of the policies that create work. Bill English


Better results not ideological obsessions

April 30, 2015

A new funding system for people with disabilities was the subject of this exchange at question time yesterday:

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister of Finance: Is the Productivity Commission report released yesterday indicative of a Government agenda to privatise the welfare system?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): No. It is indicative of a Government agenda to get better results for people who really need them. We are happy to debate the kind of toolset that the Productivity Commission has laid out, but I would like to signal to that member and to the Labour Party that we are focused more on getting better results and less on their ideological obsessions. What we are doing is building a system that allows Governments to invest upfront in personalised interventions for the child, the individual, or the family for a long-term impact, and to track the results of that investment. The Productivity Commission has produced a framework that gives the Government a wider range of tools. It has been heavily consulted on with the social service sector to a draft form, and now it will be further consulted on before it gives us a final report. But I expect at the end of that that the Labour Party will be out of step with pretty much everybody by sticking to its 1970s models.

Carmel Sepuloni: Does the Minister intend to establish a voucher system for social services in New Zealand?29 Apr 2015 Oral Questions Page 11 of 15 (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes. We are under way in establishing a voucher system particularly for people with disabilities. It is called Enabling Good Lives. It has been broadly welcomed by the disability sector. I suspect that the mass adoption of it by the Australian Government in the form of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going to put a lot of pressure on New Zealand to further develop a sophisticated voucher system for people with disabilities. The reason why is that it gives them some choices rather than being subject to a system where the Labour Party tells the providers—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Jami-Lee Ross: What progress has the Government made in delivering better outcomes from social services?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We have made considerable progress in focusing on our customers—that is, getting to know much better the circumstances and prospects of those most vulnerable New Zealanders. For instance, a child under the age of 5 who is known to Child, Youth and Family, whose parents are supported by a benefit, and where either parent is in contact with the Department of Corrections—and there are a lot of those families; around 470 of them in Rotorua, for instance—is around five times more likely to end up on a long-term benefit and seven times more likely than the average to get to be in prison before the age of 21. In the light of that information, we feel a moral obligation, as well as a fiscal one, to act now to reduce the long-term costs, and we are not—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the findings of the draft Productivity Commission’s report he commissioned that the Government faces incentives to underfund contracts with NGOs for the delivery of social services, with probably adverse consequences for service provision; if so, does he agree that greater contracting out could harm service provision?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I agree with the first one but not the second one. The Government often does deliberately, as a result of Government policy, actually, pay less than the full cost of services, and often the users of those services need a higher level of more sophisticated service that what we currently offer them. There is no evidence at all that contracting out, as the member calls it, will reduce service provision. Sometimes that is the right way to do it. For instance, the Government owns no elderly care beds in New Zealand. It is all contracted out. That has been a bipartisan approach for many years with a highly vulnerable population. There are other areas where there are benefits from competition and also benefits from cooperation.

Jami-Lee Ross: What results has he seen from investment in Better Public Services?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: One of the first results we are seeing from taking an investment approach to public services is a much better understanding of our customers. The reports, now published 6-monthly, into the welfare liability have lifted the lid on a very complex ecosystem of dependency. Now we are starting to take initiatives in order to change the way that system works. For instance, around 70 percent of the people who sign up for a benefit in any given month have been on a benefit before. They are long-term regular and returning customers. In the past we have thought that because we found them a job once, that was the end of it. In fact, they need sustained support and employment, and we expect to be taking more measures in order to back up that initiative. But there will be hundreds of others that will involve contracting out, will involve competition, will involve the private sector, and will involve better results. . .

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the finding of the report, which he commissioned, that “Problems with contracting out are often symptoms of deeper causes such as the desire to exert top-down control to limit political risk.”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes.

Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree that the Government needs to take responsibility for system stewardship and for making considered decisions that shape the system, including taking the overarching responsibility for monitoring, planning, and managing resources in such a way as to maintain and improve system performance?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, the Government can do a better job of what the Government does. We are still unravelling the damage done by the previous Labour Government to our social services delivery, where that Government turned it into what I would call a dumb funding system. Communities and families have an important role as well as Governments—in fact, a more important role. In fact, one of the programmes that the commission refers to is Whānau Ora, which is designed around the radical proposition that a lot of our most dysfunctional families can actually heal some of their own problems and improve some of their own aspirations. . .

This exchange shows a stark difference between National and Labour.

National is determined to improve the delivery of social services, give people with disabilities more choices and reduce dependence.

Labour which is still ideologically opposed to private provision of services even if that gives better results.

And it’s not just Labour which has the wrong idea of welfare and the government’s role in services.

Lindsay Mitchell writes on Green MP Jan Logie’s contention that social problems aren’t solved one individual at a time:

If problems aren’t solved “one individual at a time”, when it is individuals who abuse or neglect each other, when it is individuals who successfully resolve to change their behaviour, what hope? And why have role models eg Norm Hewitt to show what individuals can achieve? Why have organisations like AA who focus on each individual owning and addressing their problem; in living one day at a time to break their addiction?

Logie believes in deterministic explanations for human behaviour. Causes are outside of the control of the individual. For instance, colonisation and capitalism cause social chaos to entire groups. Therefore the largest representative collective – government – must play the major remedial role.

And she has the gall to talk about private service providers securing an “ongoing need for [their] services”.

When for the past forty odd years  government policy has been creating and increasing social problems through the welfare state.

This reinforces this morning’s quote from Thomas Sowell: Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.


One against too many

March 29, 2015

The Northland by-election delivered a 4,000 vote majority for Winston Peters which is being described as a hiding for National.

But how could our candidate, Mark Osborne, counter all of the left plus some of the centre and centre right who might, or might not, not have understood the consequences of their voting?

One against too many others united in opposition to him was too much.

Given what he was up against and how little time he had, he did well, but sadly not well enough.

I’m not pretending this is anything but bad for National. The party will be doing serious soul-searching and must learn from this.

But National isn’t the only loser.

After the knee-capping by Labour leader Andrew Little, that party’s candidate wasn’t expected to do well but just 1,315 votes must be galling for Willow-Jean Prime.

What does the result say for the left as a whole? The Green party didn’t stand and Mana scraped up only 55 votes.

This wasn’t a win for the left who have lost any moral high ground they might have had from which to criticise National for not campaigning to win electorates.

Previous Labour leaders struggled against Russel Norman who did a better job in Opposition and now Little will have to counter a stronger Peters.

What does this result do for Northlanders? They’ve now got an MP who doesn’t live in the electorate and who will be distracted by his party-leadership responsibilities.

They’ve got two and a half years to work out whether that’s what they need.

And New Zealand, after nearly getting a majority government on election night is back to where it was in the last term with National dependent on Act and the votes of at least one other party to pass legislation.

Ah well, that’s politics and today we’ve got sport to enjoy – Go the Black Caps.

 


Little hints

March 9, 2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,621 other followers

%d bloggers like this: