It’s only one poll

October 14, 2019

The slide has started:

The age of Jacindamania is over. Brand Ardern has taken its biggest knock yet – and when Labour’s magic weapon loses its power, the party does too.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows just how wounded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Labour have been after the string of crises that have beset them.

Labour was the only party to lose support in Newshub’s poll. It’s now on 41.6 percent – smacked down by 9.2 percent.

Most of that went to National, which is on 43.9 percent – up 6.5. This is enough to overtake Labour, and that’s manna from heaven for the Nats and leader Simon Bridges. . .

It’s only one poll,  has a margin of error of 3.1%, and remember the last Newshub-Reid Research Poll, had National much lower and Labour much higher than the TV One poll that came out the same night.

On this result Labour and the Green Party could still form a government and National and Act would be a couple of seats short.

But while Party support ebbs and flows the trend is more significant, and this echoes other polls which show Labour losing support.

And support for the Prime Minister tends to peak and then fall.

Personality matters but it doesn’t pay the bills and while warm words are well received they can’t counter the fact that the year of delivery has been one of disappointments.


Too much of a good thing

October 9, 2019

The government has posted a $7.5 billion surplus:

The Government has unveiled a bumper $7.5 billion surplus and the lowest debt levels in almost a decade, the latest Crown accounts reveal.

That level of Government surplus has not been seen since at least 2008, just before New Zealand felt the full effect of the global financial crisis. . . 

It’s taking all that money yet failing to deliver on its promises.

Surpluses are good, but $7.5 billion looks like too much of a good thing.

The government is either taking too much, spending too little, or both.

National’s Economic Development spokesman Todd McLay says:

“The Government should be looking to stimulate the economy by letting New Zealanders keep more of what they earn.

“Instead, it has piled on more and more taxes to the point where Grant Robertson is sitting on a big surplus while those living outside Wellington’s beltway struggle with rising living costs.

“One of the reasons debt is lower than forecast is because the Government is failing to invest in the infrastructure New Zealand needs.

“It has cancelled or delayed a dozen major new roading projects right across the country and replaced them with projects that weren’t ready, and won’t be ready for some time yet.

This isn’t just taking more tax and doing less with it. Stalling new roading work risks a loss of skilled people who will head overseas if there’s a gap between current projects finishing and new ones starting.

“Meanwhile, the Government has been piling on taxes. It has legislated to milk an extra $1.7 billion from motorists through fuel tax hikes and extra GST, while its misguided housing policies have pushed up rents and burdened landlords with extra costs and regulation.

“National legislated for tax relief that would have put more than $1000 a year extra into the back pockets of New Zealanders. This Government cancelled that. 

“We will index tax thresholds to inflation so that New Zealanders aren’t taxed more by stealth every year because of the rising cost of living.”

Sound economic management requires much more than creating surpluses.

The government must take enough, but not too much, and it must scrutinise all its decisions to ensure its spending effectively and prudently.

The large surplus suggests the government could be investing more in infrastructure and filling some of the gaping holes in the health system.

It also shows it is taking far more than it needs and it could be leaving us all with a little more of our own money by way of tax cuts.


Labour pains National delivers

July 31, 2019

Is this how the National Party and its supporters are seen from the outside?

This is not the kind of stuff to you would expect to get the National Party faithful standing and applauding. It’s not a law and order policy or tax cut or a primary sector subsidy – it’s new health spending. This is the kind of thing Labour does.

Is it any wonder National is perceived as having a good head but too often not credited for having a heart if this is how a political commentator thinks?

Compassionate and effective social policy is what any good government does and it’s what motivates most members of any political party – making the country better for people.

National usually gets credit for economic management but, as the above comment show the reason that matters and what it is able to do and does do with the money it carefully manages, is lost.

A growing economy, and the policies that contribute to that are important not as an end but as the means to pay for the social policies and infrastructure that makes life better for people.

This government would have us believe it’s the first government to care about wellbeing.

Every New Zealand government in my memory has cared about wellbeing and done its best to improve it, albeit with varying success.

Making life better for people was the aim of Bill English’s social investment initiatives. They aimed to not only make life better for the people who were helped into independence, but better for us all by reducing the long term financial and social costs of benefit dependence.

Under this policy the number of people on benefits, and the long term cost of that, were dropping. Under this government both are increasing.

The big difference between this government and the last one, is that National understands the difference between the quality of spending and quantity and that sustainable wellbeing depends on a foundation of a strong and growing economy.

By contrast, the current government thinks more spending is better spending regardless of the results and the cost to those who pay.

National governs with head and heart, the Labour-led one puts feeling ahead of thinking.

That’s why National is able to deliver but in the long term Labour only pains.

National Finance Spokesman Paul Goldsmith explained the link between the economy and services in his speech to the party’s annual conference.

You will have noticed a strong economic theme to the start of the conference.

It’s true, we in the National Party do bang on a lot about the economy.

It makes me think of my old Nana, who always said, ‘money isn’t everything’.

Of course it isn’t.

As one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, put it, ‘it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, if you’re not loved by the people you want to love you, life is a disaster’.

It’s similar with countries. Good government is just as much about preserving and enhancing what is special about this country.

That, to me, is the quality of our environment, our social cohesion, our relatively high trust and low corruption traditions, our commitment to the rule of law, freedom and tolerance of different views, our sense of security.

All these things are incredibly important and should never be taken for granted.

So the economy is not everything, but it is important.

Not because we revere the great machine for itself – it’s simply a means to an end.

The economy is about people. It’s about you, me, our families and our neighbourhoods.

To me, the point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well.

A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have.

A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed.   

That’s not what we believe.

Work itself, in its countless varieties, brings the opportunity to make a contribution to our world and the people in it, whether we’re providing someone with a new hip, a new app, or a cup of coffee with a smile.

And third, if we do well, we can afford to have some fun in our leisure time, and maybe if we have some energy left do something in the neighbourhood; on the barbecue for the school committee, or whatever.

That, to me, is the good life to which we aspire. 

As well as generating work and opportunities, good economic management and a strong economy enables the country to have better public services that improve our lives – a quality education, access to world-class healthcare when we need it, decent transport infrastructure so we can get home on time, the reassurance of superannuation when we’re old.

There are times in everyone’s life when we need help. At certain times of their lives some people can’t look after themselves and their families; the stronger our economy is, the more we can help.

Now, good economic management is not just about spending money, it’s about generating it. . . 

What’s the goal? To deliver a strong economy and world-class public services that enable Kiwis to look after themselves and their families, to find satisfying work, and to lead full lives.


Nathan Guy to retire

July 30, 2019

Former National Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy will retire from politics at next year’s election.

Mr Guy became an MP in 2005 and a Minister in 2009. He has held the Otaki seat since 2008 and will have served 15 years in Parliament by next year’s General Election.

“I have been extremely fortunate during my time in Parliament and am proud of the work I have done in my Otaki electorate as well as for New Zealand as a whole,” Mr Guy says.

“My number one priority has been to support the people of Kāpiti and Horowhenua, and it’s been a pleasure to have helped thousands of constituents with their wide-ranging issues. I’ve also enjoyed the interactions had with locals at weekend markets, special events, in the streets or on the side-line.

Mr Guy says highlights include winning the Otaki seat and being a Minister for nearly nine years.

He won the seat from Labour’s Darren Hughes.

“During this time I’ve worked with six Mayors, seen huge growth and development in the electorate and had wonderful staff supporting me at my offices in Paraparaumu and Levin.

He served as Minister of Primary Industries, Internal Affairs, Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs, Civil Defence and Racing in the John Key and Bill English-led National Governments, and has also been Associate Minister of Transport, Associate Primary Industries, Associate Justice, and Associate Economic Development.

“As Primary Industries Minister I am proud of my work leading the Government’s response to a blackmail 1080 threat to infant formula, that kept overseas markets open and ended in a successful prosecution

“I have, and will continue to be a strong supporter of rural communities, especially as Minister through adverse events like the dairy downturn, prolonged North Canterbury drought, earthquakes and floods. I advocated hard for water storage projects and helped secure funding for a variety of projects including Central Plains stages one and two.”

Mr Guy believes National can win the 2020 General Election because of the talented, hard-working group of MPs who are focussed on delivering policies that will make a difference to New Zealanders.

He has made the announcement now to give National time to select a new candidate that will continue to work hard to represent the people of Otaki.

“My family has been amazing in their support over the years, and it will be a big change especially for my children who have only ever known their dad as an MP.

“I’m excited about what the future may hold and want to thank the people of Horowhenua and Kāpiti for their support. I will always advocate for the region I’m so proud to call home.”

I have always found Nathan very approachable and there is no doubting his commitment to and advocacy for the primary sector.

The announcement says he’s retiring from politics, that’s not the same as retiring.

He is a farmer and will have plenty of other opportunities should he choose to pursue them.

National leader Simon Bridges has announced a minor reshuffle in the wake of Nathan’s announcement.

Nathan has been a champion for rural New Zealand. As a farmer and a businessman, he understood more than most what the sector needed and he delivered for them.

“Today I am announcing that his portfolios of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety will be picked up by Todd Muller. He will also keep his Forestry portfolio. Todd is a hardworking and high performing MP who is deserving of a promotion. I have no doubt that Todd will hold this Government to account on behalf of rural New Zealand.

“The Climate Change portfolio will be picked up by Scott Simpson, which will tie in well with his work as our Environment spokesperson. Scott is passionate about the environment and leads our Bluegreens team. Scott will continue our pragmatic approach to climate and environmental issues.

“The Workplace Relations and Safety portfolio will go to Todd McClay, which will fit well with his work as our Economic Development spokesperson. With business confidence already at record lows, New Zealand businesses cannot afford this Government’s radical industrial law reforms.

“National is the strongest team in New Zealand politics. Today’s reshuffle shows that we are brimming with talent and have the best people to hold this shambolic Government to account.”

All three are well-suited to these portfolios.


The other Simon

July 29, 2019

There’s the Simon Bridges some of the media portray, the one they say won’t make it to the next election as leader let alone ever be Prime Minister.

Then there’s the other one, the one those of us at the National Party’s annual conference saw and heard, the one who looked, and sounded like a Prime Minister in-waiting.

He was warm and witty, informed and intelligent, passionate and polished.

Simon got standing ovations before and after his introductory speech on Saturday, the first helped, a little, by the introduction his wife Natalie gave him.

He got standing ovations before, during and after yesterday’s key note address.

They weren’t orchestrated, they were spontaneous demonstrations of appreciation and support from party members.

Last week, several commentators previewing the conference wrote about disunity and leadership doubts. Neither were evident at the weekend and the only questions about leadership were asking why there were any questions.

The enthusiasm and unity at the conference were due to several factors including the content and delivery of all the speeches, and the demonstration of the work that MPs are doing to prepare for government, the diversity and the unity.

But the most significant factor was that we saw and heard the other Simon, not the media manufactured one but the real one and there was no doubt how popular he was.

You can see and hear yesterday’s speech here and read it here.


Bottom line is you

July 28, 2019

Definition of bottom line: the fundamental and most important factor.

National’s message is simple: whether the you is singular or plural, what really matters is people.


The Genter pay gap

June 27, 2019

Labour and the Greens like to think they’re champions of women but there’s a Genter gender gap at the Women’s Ministry:

Women’s Minister Julie-Anne Genter has confirmed that women are paid less than men at the very Ministry that is focussed on eliminating the gender pay gap, National’s Women’s spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Julie-Anne Genter told a Select Committee that the men at her Ministry are paid six per cent more than the women. The pay gap at the Ministry has changed in favour of men since this Government came into power.

“If Julie-Anne Genter wants to have any credibility criticising private businesses or other Government departments, she needs to sort out her own Ministry first.

It’s so much easier to talk about the theory than to have it work in practice.

“This is another example of hypocrisy by Green Party Ministers who have swallowed more dead rats than a hungry stray cat. They supported the Waka-Jumping legislation, they didn’t get their Capital Gains Tax and there’s been no progress on the Kermadecs.

“Under a National Government the Gender Pay Gap decreased from 12 per cent to 9 per cent. It hasn’t changed under this Government.

“There are only 30 per cent women in this Government’s Cabinet, fewer than under the National Government. The Prime Minister has the opportunity to address this tomorrow in her reshuffle.

“The Greens were incredibly vocal in Opposition but they’re finding the reality of Government much harder. It’s time for them start walking the walk, because until now they’ve been all talk.”

One of the reasons the two women who were demoted from Cabinet haven’t been replaced is because the most likely candidates are men.

That poses a problem for a PM and a party that worries more about gender than ability and performance.


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