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Government barely survives first year

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 am, December 19th, 2009 - 38 comments
Categories: act, national/act government - Tags: ,

Audrey Young finally gets around to mentioning how close the government came to imploding last month:

Rodney Hide survived moves to oust him as Act Party leader last month after Prime Minister John Key privately indicated National’s deal with Act would be off if the minister were dumped.

And it is believed that at the height of controversies in the two support parties – the Act leadership and the Maori Party’s turmoil over MP Hone Harawira – Mr Key briefly considered a snap election to gain National an outright majority.

This is the kind of shenanigans that we usually see in the dying days of an administration. The Key government seems to be on an accelerated schedule, compressing the worst case life-cycle — from honeymoon, to out of ideas, to corruption, disillusionment and coalition instability — into just one short year.

And as Andy pointed out in comments: “Would have been nicer to know at the time that Rodney is the lynch pin to holding this government together. I am sure its just me but didn’t we get the live blogging of the ‘challenge to Goffs leadership non event’ in real time, but nearly calling a snap election is so yesterday”…

38 comments on “Government barely survives first year”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Absolutely disgusting that our MSM didn’t mention it at the time. Just goes to show just how partisan they are and that nothing they say can be trusted.

    • gingercrush 1.1

      Because probably no one in the MSM knew this at the time. Has nothing to do with the media being partisan or that they can’t be trusted. But more to do with these things didn’t get leaked till later. Hence why now is when they’re getting reported on.

      • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1

        Because probably no one in the MSM knew this at the time. Has nothing to do with the media being partisan or that they can’t be trusted.

        Spot on ginge.

        But more to do with these things didn’t get leaked till later.

        The parlor game then becomes asking “who leaked?”

        It makes ACT look pretty darned dysfunctional when you’ve got The Roy Roger Duo trying to roll him. Leaving aside the absolute nuttiness of these clowns who somehow imagine that they don’t owe Hide their survival, those pair are the braintrust/core of the institutional ACT party. If it was ol garret or whatever the hell his name is, you could put it down to him being a rebel outsider that the party can’t control, but Roy and Douglas?

        Given there’s that much crazy going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an ACT source for the story. There seems to be some ego flying around anyhoo.

        If it was the Nats, then that’s some crafty skullduggery going on.

        If ah put my speculatin hat on I see that Duggie an Heather just knows as much as they knows anything that they really do owe their existence to Hide. They may well have more support within ACT, but ACT need Hide’s seat and everyone knows it. So why would they feel the courage to do this?

        Ol’ John Key might’nt have been in the business for ever, but he remembers the “No Brash, No Cash” episode well enough. He knows that ACT used to get quite a lot of cash money support, and that they used to be above that 5% back in those days of cash support. He also knows that that money shifted to National when Brash took the helm. If he suspected that money might be prepared to shift back, what better way to keep it at home than to tell it that if it runs away from National, it finds itself on the cross benches?

        But all in all I suspect an ACT source, They have more true believers of different flavours likely to go all crazy.

        What’s your guess on the leaker?

        (as an aside, and for what it’s worth, that “hence why” construction often gets your sentences into trouble. Just go with “hence” and it becomes much easier, eg Hence they are being reported on now. )

        • gingercrush

          I believe someone in National leaked it. I also think very few National MPs were aware this even occured therefore it has to be someone very close to the Prime Minister or its just McCully being McCully.

  2. felix 2

    Remember kids, after a snap election it’s a new term – all bets are off, no promises no guarantees.

    Now we know the slippery fuck is ready and willing to go down this path.

    • Bill 2.1

      Good (and unsettling) point there Felix.

    • Lew 2.2

      Casting envious glances across the Tasman where if you fail to pass the same bill twice, you get a new election.


      • Rich 2.2.1

        That’s at the discretion of the Australian government. If they can’t get legislation through Senate, then they have the option of a double dissolution, or they can just let it rest. There haven’t been many double-dissolutions, and I notice there’s little sign of one to get the ETS through.

        Failure to pass supply might lead to them resigning, or being sacked by a governor-general working in cahoots with the CIA. Allegedly.

        • gingercrush

          They’d be stupid to go to an election early because it would allow the Liberals to concentrate all their lines around Global Warming/Climate Change. Better to let the issue die off some and go for the earliest possible election date without actually going early.

          When Labor will have a better chance at having the numbers in the Senate.

        • Lew

          Yeah, but the point is that they get to say ‘we didn’t choose this election, it was caused by opposition intransigence’; an advantage Key didn’t have.


          • gingercrush

            Well potentially they could have pointed to troubles with both coalition partners and that both parties internal troubles meant the government no longer had a mandate to govern and therefore would have to go to an election.

            It would have been a disaster for National. Turnout would be very low and all likelihood would be the same two coalition partners.

            • Lew

              Agree. ‘coalition problems’ are a failing of political management — which is the mast Key has nailed his colours to.


      • millsy 2.2.2

        I wondered why elections in Australia were at rather erratic intervals.

        • Lew

          The double dissolution isn’t the reason for that, millsy. Last time it happened was before the Howard era.


  3. randal 3

    this government promoted itself as vibranting vibrators but unfortunately the battery has gone flat.
    and they dont know how to get it re-charged.

  4. Classical Liberal 4

    Hey r0b

    Only have one problem with your analysis – its not that they are out of ideas, I don’t think they had any to start with.

    • Janice 4.1

      Yes they had one big idea – to get elected by promising everything they thought people would respond to. .

      • Lanthanide 4.1.1

        Yes. I can’t help but be cynical about their “ultra-fast broadband” promise. Of course it’s going to take 10 years, and probably isn’t going to happen the way they said it would, and won’t be as fast as they said, either.

        IMO it was a blatant bribe to get 18-30 year old males who download crap off the internet and play games and have 0 interest in politics to go “oh, I’ll vote for National because they’ll make my internet fast”, because obviously Labour wasn’t offering this demographic anything particularly compelling.

  5. gingercrush 5

    Most interesting to me about this event has been watching the far-right fanatics online exploding over how good it would be to be rid of Hide. That they actually believe they can just put someone into Epsom and win it is well laughable. Its Epsom. You only won Epsom in 2005 because National gave hints to vote Hide in. National only has to put someone even half-decent and campaign strongly for their candidate and they win Epsom again.

    I’m not convinced they understand politics sometime. They still don’t seem to understand why Helen Clark was so popular. They still seem to think National can implement some far-right agenda and remain electable. I think elements of the left share the same problem with Key and this government.

    • felix 5.1

      It’d be pretty funny to watch them try it on in Epsom without Rodders and the nod from National.

      What do you reckon Act’s polling would look like without him? 0.5%

      • Pascal's bookie 5.1.1

        Some of them are reckoning Boscowen pull it off, he’d prolly be their best hope. Bur he might just find himself running against National party candidate Rodney Hide standing on the hustings with Key at his side.

        • felix

          Now there’s a funny thought!

          Thing is, Rod’s real value to National is the extra four MPs he carries around. They’d more likely run him elsewhere and give Boscowen the nod.

    • blacksand 5.2

      I dunno, Brash was one of the names suggested and I could imagine him holding the seat for ACT. I’d always assumed that Epson returned Rodney to help a Nat/ ACT govt, not for Rodney per se. But I do agree that ACT couldn’t put up just anyone…

      • Lew 5.2.1

        Rodney Hide won Epsom partly because National stood a lightweight against him, but partly because he demonstrated that he had the chops to be a good electorate MP representing that electorate, and partly because it was positive-sum, since he’d bring several cronies with him into Parliament.

        Any other ACT MP who expects to win Epsom will need two of those three things. I think the Nats would stand another incompetent against Brash if he were to stand — someone like Melissa Lee, perhaps. But Brash would have a tough job to convince the people of Epsom he was an effective electorate MP, since he butchered a strong position in 2005 and let Helen Clark in for a third term. Also, with Brash at its head, ACT would struggle to attract the positive-sum support Hide did. He’s built ACT’s profile up by hard graft, good political instinct and (until recently) standing on his principles. Brash can do none of these things.

        So I simply don’t see ACT as having a hope in hell but for Rodney Hide, tarnished as his reputation is. I agree Heather Roy is a competent MP, but she’s not demonstrated herself to be a leader. Perhaps it’s in there, but I haven’t seen it.

        ACT could parachute another leader in. But who? They don’t have a solid, consistent support base. The left and economic centre hate them for obvious reasons. The social centre distrust them despite significant political capital burned to present a duplicitous ‘social liberal’ and ‘tough on crime’ policy platform. The conservatives tend to dislike them because they still fundamentally hold and advocate a bunch of liberal policy preferences, although some can live with that. The orthodox economic marketeers on the right like them, but in general they choose National as a matter of pragmatism. Libertarians and associated ideologues consider them craven sellout scum. It’s a thankless task knitting all those factions together.


        • lprent

          Did you notice that when Rodney was apologizing for the wee expensive overseas trip, that it was almost entirely directed towards his electorate. There is a pretty good reason for that, and I don’t think that the apology overcame the loss of the perk-buster image.

  6. gobsmacked 6

    What this story really reveals is John Key’s true attitude to the Maori Party.

    He could easily have told ACT where to go and carried on without calling an election. He has this supposedly “special relationship” with Turia and Sharples, and so the government’s majority in Parliament was not threatened.

    Instead, he was prepared to throw the Maori Party to the wolves. Maybe they would have done well at the ensuing election, maybe not. But if asked, they surely would have said “No election, thanks. We don’t need one. Just get on with repealing the Foreshore & Seabed, and enhancing our mana. Like you promised.”

    National and the Maori Party have a “No surprises” agreement. Waking up to a snap election would have been one hell of a surprise.

    • felix 6.1

      Very good points. Shows just what a fig leaf the Nat/maori love-in really is.

      edit: Yay, edit!

      [lprent: Performing miracles since birth. ]

      • gitmo 6.1.1

        LP – Soiling yourself is not a miracle.

        Soiling a politician from a great height is worthy of consideration.

        [lprent: keeping a site running on the smell of an oily rag is also a miracle worthy of consideration. So is maintaining a comments section worthy of reading. 😈 ]

  7. Adrian 7

    If Key called an election early because of Hyde rorting and National won Epsom it would not have gained him any overall electorate vote but possibly lost him Act, Peters could have ridden in over the 5% on the back of the dodgy forests deal which a lot of iwi missed out on and aren’t too happy. Labour would have picked up votes simply by not pissing the populace around and Key would have lost share for the same reason + Supershitty, I think some canny operator(s) in the Nats didn’t want a bar of it. It could easily have been Nat 44%, Labour 35%, Green 7%, (on the back of Copenhagen) NZF 5%, Alliance 1 seat, Dunne 1 seat, Maori party? Bloody interesting, bring it on!

  8. Adrian 8

    Jim’s still alive isn’t he?

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    This story is just too damn funny.

    When does a PM get a veto over a coalition party’s internal discussions?

    When they give him one, that’s when.

    Key’s got godcomplex, and ACT lacks spine.

    That kind of makes it look like National leaked the story, but you read what ACTies are saying and they hates them some Rodney Hide.

    Could be multiple sources.

    Nelson Muntz lol’d

  10. Anne 10

    Pascal’s bookie @ 9.50pm.

    You’re right on the button!

    Rodney Hide worked for Alan Gibbs as an economic adviser back in the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s Gibbs – assisted by a few wealthy mates – bankrolled Act into existence and Rodney was installed as a full-time political operator. He entered parliament in 1996. Gibbs and co. continued to keep the party afloat, but switched most of the money back to National when Brash arrived on the scene. We’re talking huge bucks where these types are concerned of course and Rodney is their man in government!

    So who’s the puppet on a string? John Key.

  11. Oh yes Anne and John Key is doing a fantastic job breaking in far reaching right wing economic policy, slashing taxes and benefits, selling off all those state assets and doing all the things that we wish he would. – Yeah right….puppet.

    • Pascal's bookie 11.1

      Youse should roll Hide anyways Kate. Put John in his place then. Let him know he has to dance with them what brung him.

  12. Anne 12

    Nah Kate.

    They let him off the hook this term – too dangerous. He would have frightened the voters away. It’s all on next term!

  13. Anne 13

    That is: if they make it to a second term.

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