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Commentators waking up

Written By: - Date published: 2:23 pm, August 14th, 2010 - 36 comments
Categories: economy, labour, Media, national - Tags: ,

One of the stories last week was how little Labour had been damaged by the Carter “affair”. If anything, the opposite. “Labour’s support up after tough month”. “Labour make gains in polls”. “Goff upbeat as polls show swell in support for Labour”. Phil Goff spoke of a mood swing against the government.

In this context I was interested to note in the papers today a couple of usually National-enamoured commentators waking up and smelling the coffee. John Armstrong takes the Nats to task for their scare-mongering on benefits:

The “future liability” of $50 billion in benefit payments is a case in point. Many news organisations covering Monday’s release of the discussion document highlighted that figure. It gave a fresh angle on what was otherwise a rather long rehash of old arguments about the consequences of being dependent on a benefit and the desirability of finding paid work.

But the $50 billion figure is rather meaningless. You could add up the lifetime costs of paying someone state-funded superannuation, but that would not be a reason on its own for no longer paying it.

Beneficiaries are in a different political category to pensioners, however. The $50 billion figure has been concocted to paint the benefit system as an intolerable financial burden.

The Nats tried exactly the same trick with ACC, and good on John for calling them on it this time. The other interesting comment was from Fran O’Sullivan, who cuts to the chase – it’s the economy stupid. “Labour gets back into the game”:

But the real thing Goff has going for him is the “fourth dimension of politics” – time. Confidence is eroding and unemployment surging as the New Zealand economy enters a long and bumpy phase.

Finance Minister Bill English is softening up the public for some prudent – but tough – times ahead. In recent days, international worries have re-emerged that the world may be on the verge of a double dip recession; a factor that should prompt the Reserve Bank to call a halt to interest rates hikes. In this environment Goff and his finance spokesman David Cunliffe, who is taking a higher profile these days, will be tempted to exacerbate the public’s concerns over their capacity to absorb mounting bills – rising mortgage rates, increased power and fuel bills and the upcoming GST hike.

It’s good to see this recognised too. Yes Key’s polling is still high, but it is falling, and time is on Labour’s side. Had the Nats been good managers of the economy they could have had two or three terms sewn up. But they aren’t, they are truly dismal. So there’s a simple message for Labour to hammer from here to the next election. National are not responsible for creating the recession, but they are responsible for having no plan to deal with it, and thus wasting the opportunity to rebound. Instead, we are stuck in the doldrums, with a double dip recession looking increasingly likely. Commentators are waking up, the public won’t be far behind.

36 comments on “Commentators waking up”

  1. BLiP 1

    Wait a few months and their tax cuts will be swallowed instantaneously by the car reggo and the local body rate increases. There’s nothing like being a few dollars short of a drink that focusses the mind of a journalist.

  2. Smith 2

    Firstly, no one thinks that national has been “truly dismal” at managing the economy. At worst, national is perceived by most as having done a mediocre to an average job to rebuilding our economy after the international meltdown. It’s a partisan hyperbole to suggest that they’ve been “dismal”.

    On the other hand, Labour have done nothing to suggest that they have an alternative vision for the economy which is any different to what national is currently doing. For Labour to actually take any advantage of National’s failure to provide an economic platform, they need to produce their own set of policies and hold National to account according to this alternate vision. They will not win the election, or make the economy enough of an issue, by simply berating the government over GST and over unemployment, without providing any solution of their own to what the country is facing.

  3. Yovetto Brivano 3

    Firstly, no one thinks that national has been “truly dismal” at managing the economy. At worst, national is perceived by most as having done a mediocre to an average job of rebuilding our economy after the international meltdown. It’s a partisan hyperbole to suggest that they’ve been “dismal”.

    On the other hand, Labour have done nothing to suggest that they have an alternative vision for the economy which is any different to what national is currently doing. For Labour to actually take any advantage of National’s failure to provide an economic platform, they need to produce their own set of policies and hold National to account according to this alternate vision. They will not win the election, or make the economy enough of an issue, by simply berating the government over GST and over unemployment, without providing any solution of their own to what the country is facing.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      It’s a partisan hyperbole to suggest that they’ve been “dismal’.

      No, it isn’t – just fact.

      Admittedly, Labour (and other parties) haven’t quite clicked to the reality that capitalism is delusional and so are still speaking the same language as NACT. Not really looking at necessary change but just how to shift things about so that capitalism can continue for a bit longer.

      • Herodotus 3.1.1

        DTB the current system may not be perfect, yet no one has put forward an alternative and a means of transition from current to proposed, what the benefits are of this new system.
        Capitalism works like any other ponzi scheme, as long as there is ongoing growth this system is perfect. Unfortunately as financial institutions become global and inter country barriers were destroyed, the wealth was albe to be concertrated into fewer and fewer bank accounts.
        Remember in 99 we (NZ) were aspired to progress up the OCED rankings, was that not Labs economic plan ?
        Both Nat and Lab feeding off the same sours tit (Capitalsim)

    • BLiP 3.2

      Firstly, no one thinks that national has been “truly dismal’ at managing the economy.

      Is this statement an example of what’s called “The Black Swans Syndrome”?

    • Armchair Critic 3.3

      Firstly, no one thinks that national has been “truly dismal’ at managing the economy.
      Well if that were true then I would be nobody. I’m not nobody, nor am I a dyed in the wool Labour supporter. Count me in for the “National = truly dismal” team.

  4. BLiP 4

    And then there’s Tracy Watkins defending the elimination of in-house policy development while interviewing her keyboard:

    In a revealing speech this week, Mr English spelled out the Government’s thinking: instead of relying exclusively on the public service for policy advice, he said, the Government used a mix of officials and people who were experts in their fields, either from the private sector or academia.

    This had meant a more open process after a decade of very tight discipline in the public service where policy formation took place behind closed doors, Mr English said.

    WHAT was revealing in his speech was not the process – that is well known – but that Mr English so openly acknowledged its usefulness to the Government as a way of avoiding any backlash.

    The example he uses, the Tax Working Group, is certainly a success story – it released a series of papers over some months which, according to Mr English, “generated a consensus that there were indeed genuine problems that needed to be fixed”.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Another great example of Blinglish talking out his arse again. The TWG didn’t generate a consensus, what it did was tell Blinglish and the other idiots in NACT what they wanted to hear.

    • marsman 4.2

      The Dom-Post is so far up NACT’s arse it’s scary

  5. illuminatedtiger 5

    Labour do have time going for them but it’s all going to mean nothing if they don’t hold onto Goff.

  6. rainman 6

    Commentators are waking up, the public won’t be far behind.

    I wish I shared your optimism.

    no one thinks that national has been “truly dismal’ at managing the economy.

    Sorry Yovetto, but bzzzt, wrong. I do, for one, and I am certain I am not alone. The very worst thing New Zealand could have got at the last election, going into the teeth of this recession/depression, was a conservative free-market government. I’m no Labour fanboi, either, but if you really thought that the Nats would make the mess better (for most), you’re an idiot.

    In fact, that would be a worse reason for voting Nat than liking “that nice Mr Key”.

  7. infused 7

    If you’d listened to talk back on Friday, I don’t think you’d say that. Everyone sees through Labour. They summed it up pretty well.

    • illuminatedtiger 7.1

      Everyone? Or just the closed minded, bigoted wingnuts who listen to talkback radio?

    • Frank Macskasy 7.2

      Talkback radio should come with a mental health warning. It is the happy hunting grounds for mostly poorly educated, perpetually-angry, and/or delusional. It goes hand-in-hand with conspiracy theorists and Ian Wishart’s “Investigate”.

      I guess it has a role to play… but I tend to avoid it like dog poo on the footpath. Can be very messy.

  8. Fisiani 8

    The whole point of this post is so whacked that it defies logic and common sense.It ignores the evidence ofeconomic salvation. The intelligent National plan which is well underway in turning around the economy from disaster into triumph is in the initial or planting phase. The economic benefits of a high wage economy, a better standard of living and greater employment are soon to bear fruit. The saviour of the NZ economy, Bill English, surely to be Sir Bill one day, outlined the multipronged plans underway in his recent(12/8/10) speech to the Australia New Zealand School of Government.

    take the blinkers off and enjoy the benefits that even the misguided are due


    • Lanthanide 8.1

      Compare and contrast The Green New Deal with what National has announced and is doing, and you’ll see that this criticism is valid. Even if National are actually going a good job as you allege, they have not communicated their goal clearly or given a detailed schedule or analysis on how they are going to achieve it.

    • Armchair Critic 8.2

      Interesting, Fisi. Read the speech (though I should be working and comment as follows:
      It ignores the evidence of economic salvation.
      There is nothing specific about evidence of economic salvation. I’m guessing that this is because no evidence that things are actually improving, but feel free to provide another link.
      The intelligent National plan which is well underway in turning around the economy from disaster into triumph is in the initial or planting phase.
      I’m still waiting to see evidence of plans. Funny thing is, National have had the opportunity to outline a plan at question time in parliament over the last three weeks. And they haven’t. In fact, when questioned they have openly told the questioners that they won’t answer and have said they are “brushing-off” the questioner.
      So I’m waiting for targets and a timeline. They’re fairly standard tools for business, and National are the more pro-business of the two parties that could realistically form the bulk of any government, so national shouldn’t have any trouble whipping a plan together. Targets, dates, methods, and backed up with policy changes and funding.
      The economic benefits of a high wage economy, a better standard of living and greater employment are soon to bear fruit.
      Yet, strangely, Sir Doctor Bill (as he soon will be) fails to tell us how soon is soon, in his speech.

    • KJT 8.3

      Nice piece of satire.

      • Luxated 8.3.1

        I was thinking much the same thing, in fact I still can’t tell if it was meant to be satirical or not (except that I’m too familiar with Fisani’s writing to believe that).

  9. Fisiani 9

    There are 7 parties currently represented in government. Which one has never ever been in Government ? Voters and governments have consistently seen through the Greens at every election.

    Hope you enjoyed Bill’s great speech. Mostly he is too hard at work saving NZ rather than talking. The time for doing is now the time for communicating is next year.

    • Anne 9.1

      Fisiani said:
      “… Mostly he is too hard at work saving NZ rather than talking.”

      Anti-spam: garbage 😀

    • illuminatedtiger 9.2


    • Saving NZ as in Jesus saves at the First National Bank?
      Bill English is only interested in saving his class of farmers, corporate leaders, bankers and middle class hangers on. The rest can go hang.
      Poring over the tea leaves of media commentators is a waste of time. Come the election theyll be rooting for the NACTs or if they implode for Labour under Goof.
      Using the media to win elections is deeply patronising to the voters as no more than election fodder.
      If Labour stood for any principles such as equality, equality of opportunity, full employment, a graduated income tax, capital gains tax on property speculators, nationalisation of key sectors of the economy, state provision of adequate education, health and housing etc it wouldnt get a good hearing from the media commentators.
      They only respect Labour as a me too capitalist party that protects the interests of the their paymasters corporate NZ.
      But that wouldnt matter becasue the majority of NZers who are workers would tell the media where to shove their patronising bullshit.

  10. belladonna 10

    I take issue with the tendency to dismiss talkback participants as bigoted wingnuts/taliban talkback etc.
    Talk back radio is rightly known as ‘the people’s parliament’ and while a lot of callers are often rightwing there are often intelligent points of view from the left, who, lets face it, have nowhere else to put forward their point of view, apart from The Standard of course. If you care to listen you will hear the voices of many frustrated leftwing callers who, in spite of the predominance of right wing hosts will put forward their point of view to at least to try to bring some balance into the media.
    The right’s concerted attack on the left via radio, tv and internet have gone a long way in promoting the Key government – time to turn the tables I think.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Talk back radio is rightly known as ‘the people’s parliament’…

      No, it isn’t. Talkback radio doesn’t get enough listeners, never mind actual debates, to be classed “as ‘the people’s parliament'”.

      The right’s concerted attack on the left via radio, tv and internet have gone a long way in promoting the Key government…

      Yep, complete with the MSMs complicit endorsement.

  11. axeman 11

    This talk about commentators leading the public is desperate. Try taking into account the ‘silent majority’. You know, the ones who voted ABL (Anyone But Labour) at the last election and will most probably vote the same way at the next. They won’t be taking any notice of a couple of peripheral hacks.

    • mcflock 11.1

      The silent majority who were firmly committed to voting ABL last time were previously committed to voting ABN a few times before that.

    • loota 11.2

      I think the support of a few ‘peripheral hacks’ is one of the things that National counts on in its strategies. NAT will be concerned if that support appears to soften, and will put a lot more effort into wining and dining said hacks.

      • Craig Glen Eden 11.2.1

        The tide is indeed starting to turn as the consumer realizes the nice vacuum cleaner salesman has sold them a dud. Despite all the noise and lots of suction nothings getting cleaner.

        Oh how they wish they hadn’t given the old one away, they had had it for a while but it always did the job.

    • Pascal's bookie 11.3

      “This talk about commentators leading the public is desperate. Try taking into account the ‘silent majority’.”

      Quoted for teh lulz.

  12. deemac 12

    having knocked on hundreds of doors over the last few weeks to ask voters what they are concerned about, not one mentioned Carter. One woman (a Green voter) said she didn’t think much of Goff. Dozens and dozens mentioned various threats to their personal well-being: job security fears, food prices, GST, ACC levies, health service rationing, rates rises…
    Not scientific but rather more likely to be representative than Talkback radio!

    • ZB 12.1

      You’d think after a decade into the 21st century we’d have a well thought out technological innovative political landscape, but no! People fear job loses, food rpices, GST, etc, etc. Seems we have advanced a whole lot but returned to the nasty days of the industrial revolution where elites won’t listen and the economy runs for a few wealthy groups. But note, I said seems. More dithering on the part of government and the press as they all mark time waiting for an answer to arrive.

      Fact is we need to let capitalist from the roots take back the markets and end reliance on foriegn capital, foriegn ideals, foriegn elites. Enough with ACT reciting word for word US think tanks. Enough of one free market to rule them all.
      Capitalism has become stagnated by computers cutting up economic activity into profits and risks, handing the profits to the market players and the risks onto the people.

      How can an individual lower their energy costs if they have to wait for a government to enact a ‘socialist’ big government plan to subsidies the cost of insulation, surely the market should be handing out insulation just to reap the cost savings – if this computerised derivative market were operating according to the labeling on the packaging!
      How is it a person has to wait for government to introduce trams, didn’t we have trams long ago, why aren’t we using mass low energy transport systems invent at a time of low energy!
      Because the markets don’t work, if an investor wants to spend money they can’t go up against current incumbent actors in the market place, we have internal trade barriers against putting a hole down the road and linking up homes on our own in co-op broadbanding. the market should have offered a simple bag of electronics and wires long ago, why we ever needed to wait, was down to telecoms deciding they wanted a very nice big piece of the pie thank you.

      Capitalism has become a infested by parasitical elites who use internal trade barriers to ring fence their fiefdoms.

      If people want a greener world, if they’ve wanted it since the sixies why hasn’t the market been able to offer them it?
      Because we do not yet have a capitalism, we’re so far from a free market, that free market advocates are all controling rightwing nuts!

      end rant

    • Herodotus 12.2

      So deemac how did you explain that these same issues were also in existance when Lab where in power, jobs, servicing of health, taxes increaseing, the rich being protectedby both Nats and Lab. Life just getting harder with no help from NAt=Lab
      So all we have over the last few years been able to work out is that Lab and nat have no means of progressing NZ and relieving us of these worries.
      When NZ works it is just right time right place, no strategic planning from a government.

  13. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 13

    You might be right, Rob. Only commentators at the Standard have been boldly proclaiming that “people are waking up” at least since:


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