In what is sure to be an interesting test of our amnesty, I want to point out that Steven Joyce is probably the most over-rated politician in living memory. The man has literally never achieved anything. He lost the unloseable election, his fossil fuels-centric economic policy is a predictable failure and he has completely failed on jobs. And what’s he managed on Novopay?
Steven Joyce came to the job with the background of being a successful businessman and National’s campaign strategist in 2005 and 2008. But scratch the surface –
Joyce went from being a small time radio host to owning the RadioWorks empire in the 1990s. When you read the bios on him, how this transition happened is seldom mentioned. What happened is he exploited Maurice Williamson’s shabby selling off of the radio spectrum to get a hell of a lot of value while paying the taxpayer next to nothing. Winston Peters related the story nicely earlier this year:
Mr Steven Joyce poses as a self-made millionaire, but every morning he rises, he points his head towards not Mecca but Pakuranga, and he goes down on his knees and he thanks a man called Maurice Williamson, who in the early 1990s was Minister of Broadcasting and under a Vickrey sales process gave him, literally, broadcasting licence after broadcasting licence for a pittance. Mr Joyce bid the highest bid, but under Mr Williamson’s programme he was required to pay only the second-highest bidder’s bid. Do you like that? Do you like that? So he bids $1 million for the licence, Mr Banks bids $100,000 for the licence, and I bid, say, $50,000. Mr Joyce, in this case, gets the bid because he had the highest bid, but he pays Mr Banks’ bid of $100,000. What do you call that? It is a rort, and that is how he became this extraordinarily wealthy, self-made man, who now knows all about exports too, because, apparently, he is in exporting. We know what he is exporting: people
So, Williamson was doing these ‘efficient in theory, incredibly open to rorting in reality’ spectrum sales and Joyce puts in crazy bids knowing that hardly anyone else would be bidding and walks away paying hardly anything at all. Williamson should have got a valuation and then negotiated with buyers who would exceed that value – instead he gave the spectrum to a National crony for peanuts. In return, National got a radio network that ran a hell of a lot of National propaganda (I still remember the Brash interviews on The Rock – the DJs trying so hard to make him cool). That’s only lessened very recently, once Joyce had been forced out.
The ‘self-made man’s next triumph was as campaign manager in the 2005 election. He was obsesses with ‘optics’, which is why he had Brash climbing in and out of tiny cars and walking planks, and talking about his candidates’ testicles on TV. Cutting a dirty little secret deal with the Exclusive Brethren was his biggest triumph. The irony was the EB’s ‘campaign’ was a bunch of hysterical,counter-productive nonsense in unreadable pamphlets. And when it came out – as anyone with any game would know was inevitable – it cost National the election. The aftershocks later cost Brash his job.
What about 2008, you say? Yeah, cause running small target with a photogenic leader against a third term government was soooo hard.
Which brings us to Joyce’s performance as a minister. What has he actually done?
Can anyone name an achievement of Steven Joyce as a minister of the Crown?
How’s the economy going? How’s the mining, oil, and gas agenda going? It takes someone pretty special to fail to get a fossil fuel agenda humming in a world of increased resource scarcity.
All Joyce seems to have produced is a lot of bluster. He even wrote the bluster down and put pretty pictures around it and called it the 6-point Business Growth Agenda. In its short life so far, the only work we’ve seen out of Joyce’s Mobie super-ministry is the six turgid volumes of this agenda – which has blossomed into Joyce’s ‘300 initiatives‘ (not to be confused with his completely different 120-point economic development action plan).
If making ever more detailed lists of petty things you would like to do was a virtue, Joyce would have been in the running for pope. But it’s not, it’s just a cheap trick that the useless learn to look busy when they’re achieving fuck all.
And Novopay. Two months and nothing has happened. No decision on whether to keep or ditch the system. No fines for Talent2. It’s clear what Joyce’s strategy is – wait for the fixing process that had begun before he got the job to work out the bulk of the bugs, declare victory, and claim the credit for himself.
But let’s go back to Joyce’s core role – Economic Development. Effectively – Minister for More Jobs.
How’s he doing? 30,000 jobs lost last year, including 17,000 in manufacturing. Let’s assume Joyce works a 60 hour week – that means every hour he spent as Economic Development Minister, 10 jobs were lost last year.
Mining, always a minor employer and completely inadequate as a cornerstone economic policy, is also losing jobs. The foreign oil companies have come, had a sniff around and left. The coal companies are on the verge of collapse.
The fossil fuel agenda has failed. Meanwhile, a real large-scale employer, manufacturing, has been ignored and hung out to dry by Joyce. Which didn’t stop him skiting yesterday when some tinpot surveys suggested things were looking up:
And, then literally 2 hours later, this happened:
Christ, what a fuck up.