web analytics
The Standard

Key’s bunker of spin

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, September 27th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: brand key - Tags:

Way back in August the National Business Review ran a well researched (but off-line) story by Matt Nippert titled Panic station: policy quashing on the ninth floor of the Beehive

And I must say it’s an interesting view into the strange bunker of spin that is the Prime Minister’s office – an office in which it seems the spin doctors are firmly in charge of government policy:

Every morning of almost every weekday at 8am, Captain Panic Pants, Hansel and Gretel, John Key and Wayne Eagleson attend a strategy meeting where risk aversion flatlines good ideas.

“Captain Panic Pants” is also known as Kevin Taylor, Mr Key’s chief press secretary.

Hansel and Gretel are the little-known but high-powered duo of Phil de Joux and Sarah Boyle who hold, respectively the position of deputy chief of staff and senior adviser.

All three, along with chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, work on the ninth floor of the Beehive in the opaque but politically dominant Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

But these so-called “good ideas” seem to be the kind of ideas that would make Roger Douglas proud:

The scaled-down – and then jettisoned – plan to expand mining, the shelved proposal to part-float state-owned enterprises and the wholesale rejection of any policies contained in the 2025 Taskforce are among the examples cited by sources of well-grounded policies that met their end at the hands of the PMO.

As an anonymous Auckland businessman tells it:

The people who are reading your paper are the sort of people who feel they should be able to pick up a phone and call someone and get something gone. And they can’t do that at present.

I’ve heard similar things from business contacts – they’re not happy that they aren’t getting what they want from Key (although the attack on work rights has helped a little). They also know there’s not a lot of depth of support for him in his own caucus.

But Key knows he’s all that National has got going for them which probably goes some way to explaining why he is so careful to manage his image. After all if he’s not delivering the shock and awe policy that business is demanding he better be providing votes and a hope it will come soon.

Right now Key’s tied to the need for a second term. But if he’s not going to stick around after that (and more than a few National party insiders say he won’t) there’s not a lot to hold back all those “good ideas”.

14 comments on “Key’s bunker of spin”

  1. Dancr 1

    So how long can they keep this up? Will it last through the campaign next year? Or will those outside influences be seeking to get some committments down on paper as the manifestos get put together…

  2. tc 2

    This comes as no surprise, Sideshow’s only ever been in it for his own egotistical reasons, he doesn’t need the bucks (he’d make more in his old job anyway) and doesn’t want the grief he’d bring on himself if he actually did some of that policy stuff like heaven forbid…make a decision.

    Style over substance and watch him smile and wave at every PR opportunity (see here’s me with Bernie F1 Ecclestone….choice eh) is all anyones getting from clueless.

    Out of the mouths of babes last week, a child watching him observed how tired and ragged he looks after some real work in the field at chch…. so off on holiday again.

  3. roger nome 3

    I want to see National campaigning on “privatisation by stealth” next election. “The Hollow Men” shows us that the idea of doing this in a second term is popular in the National hierachy – and last election Key was at pains to make it clear that there would be no privatisation in the first term. Seems likely doesn’t it?

    The sad thing is, that with Phil Goff as the main opposition leader he could get away with doing what most New Zealanders oppose for a few more years yet.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      Cheers Bryce. It’s interesting to see your analysis of it as a product of the political professional class however I can tell you that Sarah Boyle is certainly ideological – a trait that combines with her professionalism to make her very effective.

  4. J 5

    Key is if nothing a financial man, he knows the only way out is stimulus and higher taxes on higher incomes but how can he do that and stay leader.

    Yet that is pretty much the way to play yourself out of a a long lull in market activity, stoke the fire until it starts burning again and ask the higher incomed to bear some of the pain of the economic loss.

    After the wall street crash the domestic economic society has to be studied in a very, very transparent way.No dropping taxes and hoping anymore.

    • bbfloyd 5.1

      Doesn’t say much for us does it? vote the man out for doing the right thing… that is, if he did it…

  5. Jim MacDonald 6

    Re “business contacts – they’re not happy that they aren’t getting what they want from Key”

    I have some business matters that can do with policy changes and I think I would be better off approaching Goff and Labour MPs who would more successfully seek consensus from a wider range of interest for policy action.

  6. felix 7

    “Why haven’t you fucked New Zealand yet?”

    “Well, we can’t because of Pillow Pants”

  7. Rex Widerstrom 8

    I started reading this post imagining its seemingly obvious conclusion would be that hollow men still run National. But then, when right wing business types rail against the ameliorating influence of these types, suddenly they’re all that stands between us and a raft of Act-like policies.

    It’s a situation neatly summed up in Bryce Edwards’ article (linked by him above) which I’d recommend reading. he concludes:

    When a party contains a mix of professionals (of the ‘Political Class’) and ideological ‘true believers’ wanting to change society, then a clash is inevitable. This is clearly what we’re getting a glimpse of this story.

    So what do we want? A largely unknown collection of people for who (paraphrasing Edwards) career matters most, at the expense of policy? Or a coterie of ideologues, safe in their list positions and safe seats and determined to remake NZ in an image which suits them and their equally unknown backers?

    What about neither? If this is the choices we face no matter who we elect (and, as Edwards says, Heather Simpson and her team were any equally pernicious influence on Labour, and Margaret Pope was widely held to have controlled Lange) then isn’t it time we remodelled the system so we have a say more than once every three years?

    The ideologues would be free to try to convince us of the validity of their competing visions, but we’d have the final say. And the faceless “Political Class” woud be reduced to carrying out the wishes of their employers, not insidiously shaping them.

  8. marco 9

    I know a Nat party insider with a different take on things. His prediction before the last election was if they lost the election, the party would split in two. The left of the party would follow Key and the right would head toward English. The simple fact is the right of Labour and the left of National would sit quite comfortably together. They are prevented from doing so by the members of each party that would like to stick to their roots.

  9. Lazy Susan 10

    I don’t think Key has any firm ideology or any great “ambition for NZ” – he just wanted to “have a go” at politics.

    His main goal at the moment is to not frighten the horses, running into next year’s election, and secure National a second term. If he achieves this, and it’s by no means certain that he will, I believe he will step aside within a year. He’s astute enough to know that a second term will see the National dogs unleashed.

    Key only ever took on the role of PM because he liked the idea of it. He will want to make sure his legacy is the guy who made the National party electable again – not the leader of a wrecker government that unleashes a far right agenda on the citizens of NZ.

  10. Sarah Boyle used to be a select committee clerk. This is what happens when office clerks rule the world.

  11. david civil servant 12

    @tobefrank – and the Labour party used to be the government.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Hospital food plan hits another snag
    The Government has been left with egg on its face with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today giving a plan to outsource hospital food services the thumbs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Doing away with local kitchens by… ...
    11 hours ago
  • Hospital food plan hits another sang
    The Government has been left with egg on its face with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today giving a plan to outsource hospital food services the thumbs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Doing away with local kitchens by… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Wilkinson appointment wrong in principle
    The appointment of former Conservation Minister Hon Kate Wilkinson as an Environment Commissioner is wrong in principle, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker. “The doctrine of separation of powers requires judicial processes to remain separate and independent from the legislature… ...
    13 hours ago
  • McCully doesn’t deny bribe in Saudi sheep scandal
    “In Parliament today I asked Murray McCully directly: Why is he the first Minister in history to back a multi-million dollar facilitation arrangement which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe? says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.… ...
    13 hours ago
  • National must back our future doctors
    National must support our future doctors and agree to the calls from the Medical Students’ Association and the Young Nats to lift the arbitrary 7 year cap on student loans for medical and dental students, Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson David… ...
    13 hours ago
  • Taxpayer the loser after Government folds
    Steven Joyce today admitted the main exhibition hall at the New Zealand International Convention Centre is 19 per cent smaller than what was described at the time other bidders were edged out of the process, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David… ...
    14 hours ago
  • Govt’s lack of ambition for women
    Yesterday, the Government put out a media release entitled “Number of women leaders continues to grow”. It was to inform us that the percentage of women on state-appointed boards has increased to 41.7%, up from 41.1% in 2013. Well, woo-hoo… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    16 hours ago
  • Auditor-General exposes Key’s scapegoating of Council
    The National Government's blaming of Auckland Council for the city’s housing crisis has been exposed as scapegoating in the Office of the Auditor-General’s latest report, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Auditor-General says Auckland Council’s part in fixing the… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Reform – not money – needed for meat sector
    The National Government continues to throw good money after bad at the meat industry instead of addressing the fundamental problem of its dysfunctional structure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The latest Primary Growth Partnership grant to the venison… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Government cuts corners on school bus funding
    The safety of children – not cost cutting – should be the main objective behind the Government’s funding of school buses, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Buried in the detail of this year’s Budget are $19 million of funding… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Women the losers under National’s cuts
    National’s poor performance in appointing women to state sector boards is set to get worse with funding cuts to the nomination service provided by the Ministry for Women, Labour’s Woman’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Minister for Women Louise Upston… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Help sought by agencies now asked to help
    The organisation Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has tasked with setting up an emergency hotline for stranded Relationships Aotearoa clients has just lost a bid for a government contract to launch a new national helpline, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Wellington got loud again on climate
    On Monday night, in Wellington, I attended the last of the Government’s climate target consultation meetings. It was quite well attended with maybe 150 people, not bad for a second meeting with very little notice and, as far as I… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    21 hours ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “Our economy can no longer rely on… ...
    2 days ago
  • Ramadi proves Iraq deployment high risk, low benefit
    The fall of Ramadi and the collapse of the Iraqi Army proves Labour was right to be concerned about the deployment of our troops to Iraq, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “The fall of Ramadi brings IS fighters within… ...
    2 days ago
  • English admits new taxes on the cards
    Eight months after pledging “no new taxes” at the election Bill English today admitted he would bring in more sneaky taxes along the lines of the border tax, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Not only did National bring in… ...
    2 days ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping methods. “The Board’s draft 10-year plan document forecasts a cumulative… ...
    2 days ago
  • Teachers turn backs on new professional body
      The fact that just 56 per cent of nominations for the Education Council came from registered teachers shows the profession has turned its back on Hekia Parata’s new professional body, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Answers to written… ...
    2 days ago
  • No spade work done on big building plan
      Only a quarter of the 500 hectares of Crown land the Government wants to use for new homes is understood to be suitable for building on, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This was National’s bold new idea to… ...
    2 days ago
  • National: Seven KiwiSaver cuts in seven years
    National’s campaign of KiwiSaver cuts has reached seven in seven years as it dismantles KiwiSaver block by block, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “KiwiSaver is critical to establishing a savings culture in New Zealand but National has taken a jenga-style… ...
    2 days ago
  • Tolley’s actions contradict reassurances
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has serious questions to answer following the forced closure of Relationships Aotearoa just days after her reassurances she was looking at ways to keep the service operating, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.… ...
    2 days ago
  • SkyCity downsize another broken promise
    The downsized SkyCity Convention Centre does not deliver on the promised iconic world-class centre and shows the true extent of Steven Joyce’s incompetence, Labour Leader Andrew Little said today. “New Zealanders were promised an iconic world-class convention centre that would… ...
    2 days ago
  • Te Arawa partnership model a step closer
    Councils around New Zealand have an opportunity to improve their consultation with Iwi Māori by following Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa Partnership Model, Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Rotorua District Council will today decide whether to adopt… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour mourns Dame Dorothy Fraser
    Labour Leader Andrew Little said the party is today mourning the loss of the youngest person to join the Labour Party, Dame Dorothy Fraser, who went on to be a stalwart of the Dunedin community and tireless worker for others.… ...
    3 days ago
  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    3 days ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    4 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    5 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    6 days ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    6 days ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    6 days ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    6 days ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    6 days ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    6 days ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    6 days ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    6 days ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    6 days ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    7 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    7 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    7 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    1 week ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    1 week ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere