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English, Guy, Groser, McCully, & Smith to follow Jones, Carter & Ririnui?

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 pm, June 13th, 2010 - 142 comments
Categories: accountability, parliamentary spending - Tags: ,

Update: Goff has announced Jones, Carter, and Ririnui have been demoted. The heat should now go on Key to act on his Ministers.

Phil Goff is back in the country and, as predicted, his first move is going to be to take their portfolios off Shane Jones, Chris Carter, and, probably, Mita Ririnui for their misuse of their credit cards. The attention will now turn to the abuses of those who haven’t been punished.

Tim Groser and Murray McCully have charged thousands of dollars in personal alcohol to their ministerial cards.

There is no sensible way we can say that using the ministerial credit card to watch movies in hotel rooms is a sackable offence while using the credit card to buy bottles of booze in a hotel room is not. Either watching a movie and getting something from the minibar is an ‘incidental’ of ministerial travel within the definition set by the rules or they are personal activities – there is no substantive difference (once we can get past the Right’s hypocritical wowserism) between the two. The Right is trying to defend Groser and McCully by saying that they work hard and just want to relax. The response to that is surely the same as the criticism of Jones – if you want to buy something to relax, use your own money.

Carter’s attitude pisses me off. He says he’s sick of being cast as a “luxury-loving gay boy”. Yeah, sure, there is a homophobic-baiting element to the Right’s singling out of Carter (and to a lesser extent, Charles Chauvel) but the fact is Carter has been incredibly loose with taxpayer money and even now doesn’t seem to realise that he’s not met the public’s attention.

He’s a good local MP and there’s no reason for him to resign from Parliament (btw, why are people talking about who is next on Labour’s list? Carter holds Te Atatu and his resignation would spark a by-election) but it’s right that Carter be demoted.

Carter will be punished for the wasteful attitude he has had to public money. The same profligate attitude is seen in current ministers.

Nathan Guy had ministerial services pay $7,000 to rent a house that he never moved into and sat empty for months and is now being paid $30,000 a year to live in an apartment in Wellington that he owns. (strange, couldn’t find this story on Stuff any more)

Guy’s greed, of course, sits in the shadow of Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English. Like Jones, Ririnui, and Carter, English paid back some of the public money that he took for living in his own house back but, as with Labour’s former ministers, that doesn’t erase the problem.

Nick Smith wasted $207,000 of taxpayer money on a defamation case. The insult was that Smith wasn’t even trying to get off paying damages. He was dragging the issue out trying to negotiate a smaller payout, and ended up with one that was less than the money he costs us paying for his lawyers.

Labour has not denied there is a problem with its MPs’ behaviour. They are acting. What about National? Will they hold their people to account?

142 comments on “English, Guy, Groser, McCully, & Smith to follow Jones, Carter & Ririnui?”

  1. kaiserm 1

    the ministers won’t be dropped, they might get demoted portfolios like Mallard did a couple of years ago but they won’t be dropped. They are strong individuals in the business world, to drop them would lose Key support within the National party. However, he may also give them a kick one or two spots down the list to teach them a lesson as well… like what Jones will get. Frankly, I’m willing to bet Carter will announce his resignation for the next election on the ‘gay’ pseudo argument and probably I’d be willing to also bet the Nats in the possible poo (I believe the Laundry charges are acceptable personally) will do some fell good thing like give an equivocal amount to charity or the like…A problem in Labour is of course that Party politics are quite controlling on the front bench, National is rather more discretionary to the PM on that…Key will move to his pace and that pace i think will keep Groser as a trade or other foreign issue minister and will also keep McCully in a high level role…maybe a move to defence or justice

  2. SHG 2

    Carter will be punished

    You misspelled “persecuted”.

    for the wasteful attitude he has had to public money.

    You must be confused. This is all because he’s GAY.

  3. Help me out here – if you charge something to a work credit card that is personal, and then you pay that back in a timely manner (i.e. before any interest accrues) then wtf is the problem. Happens to me all the time with my business, and vice versa – work stuff goes on my personal cc and then I reimburse myself when the bill comes in. DIFFERENT STORY if you only reimburse when you get caught out 6 months (or 5 years) later. That is at best sloppy, at worst, dishonest.
    But do we want our MP’s, or worse, prospective MP’s, scared off a parliamentary career by a witch hunt? Do we also want them to spend so much time bean counting that they don’t do any real work?
    And now that we have been through the receipts of the current govt who have been in power one year, and contrasted that with the previous govt’s 9 years, why stop there? Keep going back. Shock, horror! Koro Wetere charged a tub of comb-over gel to the taxpayer in 1985!
    I am writing this from Greece where people are REALLY pissed of at their politicians for ripping of the taxpayer. We are incredibly free from corruption, and scrutiny is good, but a bit of perspctive is needed.

    • QoT 3.1

      The problem is when your employer/business explicitly says it is not acceptable to charge personal items even with the intention of reimbursing them.

    • Help me out here if you charge something to a work credit card that is personal, and then you pay that back in a timely manner (i.e. before any interest accrues) then wtf is the problem.

      The problem is that what you are suggesting is totally against Ministerial Services rules Richard. And to make matters worse, ministers in both the current and former government were repeatedly warned that what they were doing was against the rules, yet the kept doing it anyway.

      Phil Goff was right when he talked about a “sense of entitlement”, except that it wasn’t restricted to Phil Heatley!

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.3

      Any personal expense is expressly forbidden, even with the arrangement you mention. And when its public expenditure that means its unauthorised and may be illegal.

      • ianmac 3.3.1

        See my post re Public Address Post from Graeme Edgler. May be not as balck and white as you think. Post no 12

    • J Mex 3.4

      As well as being expressly forbidden, politicians appear to have been incredibly lax in paying their money back (if at all). After more than a year seems to be the norm for some.

  4. Bored 4

    Will there be any consequences for the National trough slurpers, not a snowballs chance in hell. They will carry on blithely sittinng on a big lead in the polls.

    One very good point you make I will add to at the risk of pissing off a lot of people. “Carter’s attitude pisses me off. He says he’s sick of being cast as a “luxury-loving gay boy’……

    A little navel gazing by Labour might reveal sectors of the public exemplified by Joe and Julie Average (who have a couple of kids, pay tax, work hard and have not very much and live what they see as a normal life) looking on at sectors of the Labour party in some bewilderment. Joe and Julie probably have a gay brother, or friends. Julie also has a radical feminist mate who argues against the patriarchy whilst bringing up a child in a single mother environment. The Averages accept this as normal but cant for the life of themselves understand why their friends put themselves on what they see as a higher pedestal, and politicise things the Averages accept as normal. And their mates seem to be in full flower in the Labour party. What really gets to the Averages is that they are now beginning to feel second rate to their friends sectoral interests.

    National has gay MPs, they dont however stand for a sectoral group other than the broad right. Labour needs to take note and get rid of the public perception that they stand for anything other than a core left constituency. I for one dont give a stuff if a Labour MP is from Mars, but if he starts harping on and pushing for Martians to get a better deal for me he can go forth.

    • Hanswurst 4.1

      Right now I am looking at you in some bewilderment, since I cannot think of a single way in which radical feminists or gay people were put up on a pedestal by the labour government. It seems like just one of those many memes that was bandied about – especially during Brash’s stint as National leader – and has somehow stuck.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1

        Key goes to the same gay events as Clark, so where is this pedestal. There is no gay marriage! So what exactly was the ‘better deal’ you claim, they still have lesser rights than you have

        • Bored

          Hi GW, read it again, the “pedestal” and “better deal” is a perception, not a reality. Therein lays the problem, leave a perception for too long it becomes accepted as a reality. The Nats have been very good at playing this, mud as they say sticks.

          • Ari

            I’ve yet to come across anyone in person claiming this old ridiculous old strawperson that essentially boils down to “they’re just pretending to be queer for all the social benefits it brings”.

            Of course, even online nobody seems to want to be pinned down on exactly what these benefits are, and why I haven’t got mine yet. While the idea might have gained some currency in general, it’s just baseless prejudice, and as people actually get to know each other properly, it will become increasingly ridiculous. Sure, Labour could learn some things looking at how it succeeded as a prejudiced-based smear, but that doesn’t mean they should ever pander to it. They do more than enough of that sort of failed politics as it is.

  5. jcuknz 5

    Shame you couldn’t photoshop in a New Zealand banknote, or is it a sign of the times that the US dollar is better recognised or just a fear of prosecution for copying the kiwi version?
    Removing opposition spokesmen is of little effect except to those concerned. Removing hard working ministers is serious and not warrented … a telling off yes along with a requirement for them to modify their behaviour..

    • Marty G 5.1

      jcuknz. buy me photoshop and i’ll change the currency for you.

      So, you’re arguing for lesser punishments for those in more important positions… interesting new double standard thre. I thought we demanded higher levels of behaviour from people in more important position.s And do you see these Nats getting a telling off?

      As far as Key is concerned they’ve done nothing wrong. Stark constrast with the Labour leadership’s approach.

    • rainman 5.2

      McCully… a “hard-working minister”…? Bwhahahahahahahahahahaha!

      You would have to look hard to find a more useless bludger and sucker of the public teat.

  6. RedFred 6

    Shame Jones & Double Dipton English should both be getting Rimu Rash on the back benches but only one will be, why?
    Only one got caught with his trousers down!

  7. Bored 7

    Hans, as you say memes stick, perception becomes reality. It doesnt make them true, but it does get votes which is precisely why I raised the issue.

    My take based upon long experience as a Labour member and activist is that the party accomodated every “identity” group it could, for probably the best of reasons. Labour have been very keen to promote any sectoral identity group as part of their broad church, for example they created the Ministry of Womens Affairs. Theres the Rainbows and various Womens groups within the party aswell. The pedestal I talk about is that the electorates perception is that the “identity” comes first, the party second. Thats where the perception begins, and the reality is the meme you hear in any tea room in NZ when Carter is mentioned.

    My point about Carter and the politics of identity is that it is no longer (if it ever was) electorally viable, it does not draw any votes away from the right to Labour. It might be more electorally viable to submerge “identity” in favour of broader unanimity.

    • Lew 7.1

      Bored, interesting comment.

      There are a couple of factors to this. Firstly, social conservatives such as the Nats and strict economic Marxists who consider anything other than class to be a distraction targeted identity politics as a symbolic issue, and indicator of where the party’s “real” loyalties lay and arguing that various “special interest” tails were wagging the dog. Although this bore no actual relationship to reality, Labour did a spectacularly poor job of articulating their progressive (rather than Marxist) platform in ways which (generally socially conservative) working-class folk could understand and support. Essentially it got played as a zero-sum calculus: they’re getting more, so we’re getting less. It’s a travesty that this was permitted to stand, because it’s just bullshit, but there it is. And so it came to pass that when the biggest and most vocal “special interest” of all came along, Labour had no immediate electoral choice but to demonise them, passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act, declaring the māori party last cab off the rank, etc. For the record, although I supported the vast majority of Labour’s socially liberal policy platform, I accept it was deleterious and should have been less ambitious. In particular, I recognise that the s59 repeal (although I was a very strong proponent of the complete ban on discipline) was a bridge too far, and the Borrows Amendment should have been accepted at the earliest possible opportunity. But perhaps more importantly than all this, the vision needed to be sold better, and more attention put into gaining the consent of the electorate, less on ramming it down their throats. As nice as it is to pass good legislation against the wishes of the general public, it’s their country, and if you can’t convince them to come along with you, you have no business passing anything.

      But I disagree with you about identity politics being viable. It’s much more viable than a bland Marxist class-war focus in which diversity gets sacrificed to the common cause. Like it or not, people identify according to aspects of themselves other than class — although class remains a central element. Any programme to appeal to people must necessarily take cognisance of this fact, and use it as a strength rather than trying to suppress it and fight it. Labour can’t win without strong support among women, particularly those who benefitted from pro-family policies like WFF (a class-gender crossover area); but most of all, Labour can’t win without Māori (and like it or not, topics like the foreshore and seabed and Whānau Ora are class-ethnicity crossover areas).

      More to the point, Labour is not any kind of socialist party, much though the Marxists might with it were so. It’s a modern progressive party with social liberalism on a base of class analysis, and that’s what it has to be in order to succeed. Liberalism is the political baseline of virtually every successful democratic movement in the western world, even those who term themselves ‘conservative’. By abandoning these liberal notions of identity Labour undermines its own brand. So while I accept that the balance needs to change, it’s crucial that the party not realign itself with the paleo-socialists who’re only a couple of steps away from thinking that women whould be in the kitchen, homos should be in the closet, maaries should be on the marae, and all of them should just suck it up and be happy as long as the working class can earn a decent living.


      • Bored 7.1.1

        Thanks Lew, you state the argument far more eloquently than I have. I am not sure that I agree totally with you on the viability of identity politics, but the end picture you draw is certainly highly undesirable. My biggest issue is still how Labour gets over that meme and gets back to an electoral perception of shared inclusiveness, even if it involves by necessity as you point out some “identity” politics.

        • Lew

          For my money the thing is to attack the zero-sum division between the “special interests” of identity politics and “ordinary kiwis”, and point out that, in fact, the zero-sum division is between “ordinary” kiwis and those who think themselves to be better than ordinary. “The many, not the few” is a pretty good way to do this, and I think it’s a strong platform. But because they haven’t repudiated (and can’t repudiate) the worst excesses of Clark’s latter years in government, it’s not gaining any traction: they’re still seen as the party of 2008. And they’re playing the same electoral game: wait for the opponent to slip up, point and laugh, repeat.

          So I think at present that the salvation of the party is in a 2012 leadership struggle with actual genuine (metaphorical) bloodshed, a reinvigoration of what the party is and who it stands for.


          • Bored

            What is this 2012 leadership struggle of which you speak, please elaborate…..whats wrong with now? Can we do the repudiation at the same time?

            • Lew

              Heh. 2012 is not when I think it should happen, it’s when I think it will happen. It should have happened in the last few months of 2009. That having been said, any replcement leader would have been turned into mincemeat by now, so it was a choice of two bad options. But in any case, it can’t happen until the party’s figured out the answers to those questions itself, and what (if anything) ought to be repudiated. So it can’t happen yet, because deep ambivalence appears to remain.


          • mickysavage

            the worst excesses of Clark’s latter years in government

            As seen through admittedly rose tinted glasses those years are looking better and better …

      • RedLogix 7.1.2

        For all your precious identity politics Lew…the rich keep on getting richer and the rest of us keep getting poorer. What use of freedom in name only, when the all that’s on offer is still wage-slavery?

        All that identity politics has really delivered for us is create social rifts down which conservatives have been happy to drive wedges of resentment and envy.

        • Lew

          It’s all very well for white middle-class middle-aged educated men to decry identity politics as a red herring and talking about “us”. You don’t see the value, because you already had yours.

          Yeah, the rich got richer and the poor poorer, but they did before, as well. At least nowadays women feel like they don’t have to pretend their overworked, underpaid husband doesn’t beat them, and people don’t get fired from their jobs and denied social standing because of who they like to fuck, and Māori are allowed — even encouraged! — to speak their language and generally behave as if they have a culture worth valuing. Those things matter. Stand against ’em if you want, but please don’t claim to do so as a progressive.


          • Bill

            Speaking as a piss poor working class male…

            What’s with the straw man ‘Left as Marxist’ angle Lew?

            Spouting shit along the lines of “paleo-socialists who’re only a couple of steps away from thinking that women whould be in the kitchen, homos should be in the closet, maaries should be on the marae, and all of them should just suck it up and be happy as long as the working class can earn a decent living” leads one to wonder if you have any knowledge or insight to the world beyond the cozy ‘civilised’ confines of your social liberalism.

            Indigenous rights, women’s rights and gay rights largely grew from strands of the same left that you seem so keen to denigrate and dismiss.

            Nobody these days…or at least nobody who anybody takes seriously…elevates class above and beyond and to the detriment of race or gender politics.

            And nobody who deserves any respect writes off massive swathes of the left in such a thoughtless way as you just did above.

            If there are aspects of some Marxist cults or whatever that you have nothing but disdain for, then fair enough. Target them and their unsavoury political expressions. But don’t be all jumped up and claiming that your way is the only way and all of the rest of us on the left are just ‘paleo-socialists’, ’cause that ironically, makes you appear of the old school ‘party line, only line’ type who I suspect are the ones you seek to target in the first place.

            There are differences and there is common ground. Accept the former and meet on the latter where possible ( and it’s not always possible for a variety of reasons) or be part of a dynamic that breeds fragmented and ultimately failure ridden action.

            • Bored

              Bill, I dont entirely agree with Lew on identity politics. Lew made a very good point however saying “Labour did a spectacularly poor job of articulating their progressive (rather than Marxist) platform in ways which (generally socially conservative) working-class folk could understand and support’. Labour’s failure to recognize that the core constituency of the left (working class folk) did not understand or support what the last Labour government set out to achieve was fatal. It would seem to me that the lesson has neither been perceived nor learnt.

            • Lew

              Bill, I don’t think this is a dominant strand in NZ’s left politics. I know it’s not. But I think it is a resurgent strand, because of the perceived failure of socially-liberal identity and postmateral-infused class analyses such as those employed by Labour (and previously the Alliance and Greens). I think there are a lot of people on the left (and there certainly are around here) who are arguing for all the “immaterial” and “symbolic” stuff to be discarded in favour of a “pure” class-based analysis which does very explicitly privilege class above everything else. Goff’s late-2009 speech provided a slight indication of this.

              I’m also quite aware of my caricature, and I’m not writing everyone (or even “massive swathes”) off as such. But I am writing off those who say “nothing else matters”, because I’m explicitly not arguing that class doesn’t matter — it must cohabit with identity politics, and common ground must be shared; uncommon ground yielded and taken in good faith. On this we agree; even if we disagree about the balance (and probably about the policy implementation).

              The great golden age of the Seventies wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. “Back to basics” nostalgia is a tempting refuge in times of political struggle such as these. I think this resurgence must be vigorously opposed. So I’m opposing it.


              • pollywog

                i’m redder than you…

                …oh fuck off, i’m so red i’m a bloody beetroot

                fair enough, you win…:)

              • Bill

                @ Lew

                Immaterial and symbolic stuff should be jettisoned in favour of more substantive class/gender and race analyses. The dynamics of these three things are not separable. They reinforce and compound the deleterious effects of each other. Community should be in there too as a matter of course.

                Labour threw away class analysis which left them holding only less than coherent bits and pieces…their identity politics…which couldn’t be fully understood or acted on because a part of the context that they existed in was being denied.

                But I wonder about personal sexuality or personal disability or whatever and am reminded of a storm of protest from the gay community in the US when a photograph of a bomb was published that somebody had graffitied with some sexual reference…I can’t remember the wording. Nothing about war or whatever. Just the fact that the graffiti was potentially insulting to them as gays.

                And I hate the seventies. Most of the wider left were far too enamoured by and pathetic apologists for that massive dungeon off over the East of Europe. Funny and revealing how when it all collapsed only a tiny minority on the left looked to party and take advantage of the wonderful and unexpected opportunity, while most curled up in attitudes of abject defeat…a position they maintained or came out of only to become staunch advocates of the Market and Capitalism and Third Way nonsense.

                • Lew

                  Bill, the point is that much of what the Marxist left derides as symbolic and immaterial actually isn’t to those involved in those struggles. The problem is that when all you (not you personally) have is a class analysis hammer, everything looks like a class-struggle nail. Class struggle did piss-all for indigenous rights until the Māori renaissance, which has succeeded in progressing indigenous rights matters in both material and symbolic terms despite the ongoing advances of neoliberalism and the general weakness of class politics during this time. You might not think so, but it’s my view that if the Māori renaissance had been too-firmly ensconced within a class-oriented political movement, it would have been buried in the name of solidarity. That’s the sort of imperative I see beginning to rise up again, and what I object to.


                  • Bill

                    I agree. Maori couldn’t work with the old school authoritarian left for the reasons you mention…indigenous rights would have been subsumed by class analysis. The same happened with regards feminism.

                    I tried to work with the authoritarian left and eventually gave up because they are so irredeemably fucking stupid and destructive towards the very things that they claim they want to see succeed.

                    With the withering of the authoritarian left that used to dominate, possibilities for a broader left movement blossom. There is no reason why feminists, Maori, liberals and the non-authoritarian left can’t work together.

                    Oddly, it is now the liberals who pose the greatest threat with regards wanting to stamp a definitive identity on any movement or protest…as the authoritarian left used to…be that through the parliamentary political parties jumping on bandwagons and seeking to take a hold of the reigns, or simply the penchant for setting up liberal style organisations that are structured in such a way as to prescribe and proscribe; rely on hierarchy and legal recognition and embrace a tendency to self promote as a ‘proper’ structure that should then assume a guiding role and take control of the reigns.

                    • Lew

                      Bill, do you post here using two different email addresses, or is there another Bill (with a purple avatar wotsit?)


                  • RedLogix

                    Class struggle did piss-all for indigenous rights until the Māori renaissance, which has succeeded in progressing indigenous rights matters in both material and symbolic terms despite the ongoing advances of neoliberalism and the general weakness of class politics during this time.

                    Not from where I’m standing. Sure it’s advanced the cause of a relatively narrow band of upper class browns who’ve always enjoyed firmly entrenched privilege within their own tribes…but for the very ordinary maori guys who are my neighbours, they’ve gone backwards. And badly. Joblessness among Maori is as bad as it ever was.

                    And what has it gained women that their newly found freedom’s in the workplace have been converted by the capitalists into such low wages that supporting a family now demands both parents slave at underpaid jobs? A lot of burned out, post-feminist women are now realising what a piss-poor bargin that has turned out to be.

                    And for the LGBF community, while the real advances in legal protections and social status have been welcome… it’s been easy for reactionaries to play the envy card when ordinary families struggle with the sheer grind of day to day living on an inadequate income, are darkly led to wonder how much easier life would be if they too didn’t have kids to pay for.

                    And then while mired hopelessly in all that frustration and stress, we loftily told them they couldn’t smack their kids anymore. Or at least that’s how the reactionaries spun it to them. It was so easy.

                    Consider then if class struggle had been not cast aside as so much useless flotsam in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Imagine if instead wages share of GDP was still 65% instead of the miserable 44% it is now; imagine if we didn’t have to endure the smarmy Paul Reynolds fly fishing in the Greenstone (something most kiwi families can only dream about) while smoothly buttering us up for another round of corporate plunder.

                    Imagine if the CTU had stood up to the ECA instead of cynically abandoning the unions to collapse into almost complete irrelevancy and working people to a sullen, voiceless resentment.

                    If nothing else, documents like “The Spirit Level” have demonstrated beyond all debate…that economic inequality is a fundamental driver of social dysfunction across the board. Deal to the prime and general case of inequality first and all the other special interest cases of injustice become ammenable to better and lasting resolutions at the same time.

                    • Lew

                      RL, you prove my case by just talking about economic matters. Economic matters aren’t the only matters, and that’s exactly the problem with this analysis.

                      Your line of reasoning seems to be that Māori and women and queers who chose anything other than working-class solidarity made the wrong decision, and for their own good ought to have just stayed in the kitchen, the closet and the marae and been grateful for the general betterment of the working class which resulted from their doing so. Their own specific needs — which by and large did and do not accord with those of the working-class majority — be damned. As if the advances which accrued to them somehow prevented economic advancements.

                      You can’t blame the ECA and the demise of Marxism on the Māori separatists or the bra-burning lesbian feminists. You can blame it on the socialists who, in every single long-term state-wide case, failed to demonstrate that their system was superior to — or even competitive with — the alternatives.


                    • RedLogix

                      Your line of reasoning seems to be that Māori and women and queers who chose anything other than working-class solidarity made the wrong decision, and for their own good ought to have just stayed in the kitchen, the closet and the marae

                      One free years membership of the Straw Man Writers Guild in the post for you Lew. No-one wants to take away those important symbolic and legal gains, but the truth that you seem to disdain so much is that in the absence of parallel economic gains….these victories have been largely phyrric.

                      And because special interest groups are such easy targets for the reactionaries to play divide and conqueor with…it has been a strategy that leaves the left wallowing rudderless in this sort of divisive debate.

                      You can’t blame the ECA and the demise of Marxism on the Māori separatists or the bra-burning lesbian feminists.

                      More straw; I’ve said nothing of the kind. In the meantime the continuous stream of scorn and derision that you heap on anything to do with the wider economic case of social justice; your snide ‘paleo-marxist’ line as only the most recent example, leaves the fundamental cause of social discoherence untouched.

                      You accuse me of being white, educated and privileged and thus unqualified to judge the value of symbolic progress to women, gays and maori. Fine, but get the log out of your own eye, because as a single male with no dependents you are equally unqualified to judge the value of decent wages and conditions to the ordinary mums and dads who comprise the vast majority of voters in this country.

                      It’s your brand of ‘elitist, arrogant, special interest pleading’ that repels these working and middle class New Zealanders away from the left in droves…because they can sniff a zero sum game from a mile off. They live with the stench of them day in, day out.

                    • Lew

                      Careful with the generalisations, pop. If I’m a single white man with no dependents, who the hell are my wife, daughter, and the other who’ll be here in six weeks? You can try to paint me with the out-of-touch urbane unattached high-living liberal brush all you like, mate, but you couldn’t be more fucking wrong. The reason you haven’t seen me at the pub since some time in 2008 is because I’m bringing them up and paying a mortgage in precisely the sort of circumstances to which you refer. It’s nice to see that you’ve conceded your own biases, though. That’s something.

                      As for pyrrhic victories, I’ll ask you a question I first asked a long while ago, and still haven’t gotten a straight answer about: how much economic transfer to Māori would have made the death of te reo worthwhile? Answer that for a start; and then you can set about explaining what the hell gives you the right to make that judgement for Māori. Pick a similar issue for other groups and repeat until you get the point: your needs are not theirs. You advocate for yours, they advocate for theirs, all of you work together when they accord, and negotiate when they don’t. That’s how society works.


                    • RedLogix

                      You can blame it on the socialists who, in every single long-term state-wide case, failed to demonstrate that their system was superior to — or even competitive with — the alternatives.

                      It may be too soon to tell. After all neither the Russian or the Chinese experiments were anything like the modern forms of liberal social democracy the modern left is committed to. For a start neither society had any democratic tradition, for a second they had no liberal one either. Nor was it especially helpful for the Russians to endure not only a 19% death toll due to Mr Hitler’s depradations, but to piss away quite so much of their GDP in a pointless arms race with the Americans. (And it’s too soon to really declare the USA the winner of that little game either…it’s only the US Dollar’s status as the global reserve currency that is propping up their otherwise hopelessly bankrupt economy.)

                      In one of the last chapters of “The Spirit Level” the authors draw attention to an intriguing analysis. Having detemined a minimum threshold of GINI for a stable society and a maximum sustainable carbon/resource footprint for environmental sustainability; only one nation currently meets both criteria similtaneously … Cuba.

                    • RedLogix

                      The reason you haven’t seen me at the pub since some time in 2008 is because I’m bringing them up and paying a mortgage in precisely the sort of circumstances to which you refer. It’s nice to see that you’ve conceded your own biases, though.

                      Well good for you…sincerely. And no doubt a decade or two of that will bring further insights. And blimey it was you who started in on the ‘biases’. Play fair if you want a civil debate.

                      I’ll ask you a question I first asked a long while ago, and still haven’t gotten a straight answer about: how much economic transfer to Māori would have made the death of te reo worthwhile?

                      That’s easy…none. Who for a moment claimed that? But mutatis mutandis…what value is te reo to the 25% odd Maori who are chronically jobless or underemployed?

                      And more importantly, who are you to make that choice for them? Cos when I talk with my neighbour, while he was a foundation pupil at the local Kohanga Reo in our town and I know he values that….its a decent job is what he really talks about.

                      You advocate for yours, they advocate for theirs,

                      And the capitalists play each off against the other. That’s how the game really works Lew.

                    • Lew

                      RL, the difference is that I’m not presuming to lecture rental-property-owning boomers on what’s good for them, or anyone about what they oughta do from a position of ignorance of where they see value. I’m speaking for my own, and saying others should kindly stick to speaking for theirs. What value is the reo to those Māori without a job? Ask them. There’s a considerable diversity of opinion, but I think you’ll find most wouldn’t swap it for a job down at the meat works.

                      As for your analysis of Cuba, Russia and China — they didn’t ever have a liberal or democratic tradition, it’s true. I’d argue that post-Hitler (and post-Stalin), no country with a liberal or democratic tradition would willingly centralise state power in such a way as to permit such elite impunity. In other words, if it’s the autocratic authoritarian sort of socialism or none at all, I’ll happily take liberal-democratic capitalism with all its failings, thanks. I’d rather the capitalists play us off against each other than be dictated to by some ideologically correct apparatchik who presumes to know me. And if it’s not going to be authoritarian socialism, but another kind, then if you could kindly point me out an example of the other kind I’d appreciate it, because there are precious few in evidence. Cuba certainly isn’t one.

                      Of course, those aren’t the options on the table — but the point is that the left has to get with the times. If socialism is to be the non-authoritarian kind, it needs to succeed — and endure — by consent of the governed. The facts are that people identify on non-class grounds, now, to a larger extent than they ever did. Whoever wants to can be pissed off about that, but it doesn’t really matter. Ignoring — or trying to change by hectoring, rather than persuasion — people’s deeply-held beliefs about what matters will just result in people voting for the parties who treat them with a bit more agency. Perhaps socialism of a sort could succeed on such grounds. But it won’t until those promoting it abandon the belief that they know what’s right for everyone else.


                    • Ari

                      And for the LGBF community, while the real advances in legal protections and social status have been welcome it’s been easy for reactionaries to play the envy card when ordinary families struggle with the sheer grind of day to day living on an inadequate income, are darkly led to wonder how much easier life would be if they too didn’t have kids to pay for.

                      Uh, the queer community (I think you wanted a T there, not an F) has families too, they just don’t handle the nuts and bolts the same way as everyone else does, and they have to struggle through some legal and logistical hoops in doing so in addition to the same economic and social struggles everyone else has.

                      You know, I agree with you to an extent that class and economics are essential tools in understanding politics, and a complicating factor in so many of life’s struggles. But something you seem to fail to understand is that the additional struggles that identity can pile on often complicate the class analysis and vice-versa- these factors compound each other when they intersect, they don’t just add together. If society doesn’t care for (or actively persecutes) the homeless, queer teens losing their homes if their parents react badly becomes a much bigger issue, and it’s one that’s indelibly tied to identity, and it can wipe out support networks of even the otherwise most privileged of teens. When we march the long road of social progress, we solve those sorts of problems in the long term and remove a little bit more of the disparity that you see purely in class terms, and we do it in a way that ensures everyone feels like they’re getting their share.

                      Trying to divorce identity from politics is like trying to herd sheep without understanding their psychology. You don’t plant a banner and say “okay sheep, we’re heading into THIS field.” You have to take into account the motivations and pressures already acting on people if you want to be able to lead them- and proposing to fight economic inequality is proposing to lead in one sense or another.

                      As for capitalists playing us off each other, it happens, sure, but only because we have this little oppression Olympics going on already, where some people are concerned with what the One True Struggle of life is- is it men oppressing women, or class struggles? Is it colonialism or heteronormativity? We all have our own theories as to what lies behind inequality, but the oppression Olympics is useless- the reality is that engaging in it denies the personality of our own struggles and the individual reality. If we want to make progress, we need to focus on listening to each other’s experiences, and agreeing on problems to solve and actions to take that conserve the big-tent thing we like to operate under.

                    • Bill

                      “If socialism is to be the non-authoritarian kind, it needs to succeed — and endure — by consent of the governed.”

                      What? So non-authoritarian socialism entails a heirachy of the governed and governing? How does that pan out to be non-authoritarian, or more to the point, how does that pan out to be anything other than authoritarian codswallop?

                      As far as how people choose to self identify, what has that got to do with meaningful or useful analysis? If I choose to identify as a gay white cripple, does that invalidate all class, race and gender political analysis? Does my choice of self identity lend anything meaningful to understanding the broad and persistent dynamics we are subjected to?

                      And any meaningful idea of socialism would view your following nugget as bizarre or anathema… “But it (socialism) won’t (succeed) until those promoting it abandon the belief that they know what’s right for everyone else.”…insofar as socialism is about not being subjected to illegitimate authorities or directives.

                      That there are no state wide non-authoritarian examples of socialism is due to state structures being hierarchical and therefore locking everything into some degree of other of authoritarianism. You might as well have asked for an example of piping hot ice cream.

                      Try the Venezuelan experiment as an example of, not non-authoritarian state socialism because such a thing makes no sense, but the power of the state being used to undermine the state by and while promoting community embedded institutions that, it is hoped, will replace and render obsolete the old state institutions and their attendant corrupt bureaucracy…ie community institutions that are non-hierarchical, meaningfully socialist and ultimately not subject to arbitrary market ‘moods’ shifts and perversions.

                    • RedLogix


                      Uh, the queer community (I think you wanted a T there, not an F)

                      Maybe I was having a Little Green Footballs brainfart moment.:-)

                      has families too, they just don’t handle the nuts and bolts the same way as everyone else does

                      Yeah I know that maybe I wasn’t being clear. What I was trying to convey was how easy it is to use that kind of thinking to stir up this kind of divisive resentment. It’s wrong of course.

                      When we march the long road of social progress, we solve those sorts of problems in the long term and remove a little bit more of the disparity that you see purely in class terms, and we do it in a way that ensures everyone feels like they’re getting their share.

                      Sounds fine in principle (not being sarky) but in the meantime the rich keep getting richer. Point is, the portion MOST of us are getting our ‘share’ from is shrinking. Buying into, denying or minimising that fact is exactly the kind of thinking the capitalists love.

                    • Carol

                      RedLogix said:

                      If nothing else, documents like “The Spirit Level’ have demonstrated beyond all debate that economic inequality is a fundamental driver of social dysfunction across the board. Deal to the prime and general case of inequality first and all the other special interest cases of injustice become ammenable to better and lasting resolutions at the same time.

                      I DO think wealth and income inequality is a MAJOR problem the world faces, along with environmental and scarce resource issues. But, having grown up lesbian in far more sexually and (gender-ly) repressive times than we live in now, I don’t think it’s so simple that if you sort out the economic inequalities, all the rest can be sorted out more easily.

                      It’s not an either/or situation. I’ve known gay young people, from comfortable middleclass backgrounds, who have topped themselves because of their sexuality. And I’ve met a few young teenagers who’ve been kicked out of their homes by their parents for being gay. I’ve also had more than one gay & lesbian friend who’ve been gay bashed. There’s other ways life can be made unbearable for people other than not having enough money.

                      Many young people still find it hard to be out. The suicide rate amongst GLBT young people is still way higher than for other young people. Even for LGBT people who do have work or access to studying, various forms of discrimination can be an extra stress that pushes some people into the realms of being unable to cope with their work or studies – obviously impacting on their capacity to earn a living in one way or another.

                      When people are finding their lives unbareable for reasons other than lack of money, telling them to stand in line until other people’s problems are sorted out is really not helpful.

                      But I also think the neoliberal shift has been quite accommodating to identity issues. The neolibs seemed to decide it was too popular to deliberately go against it, and many neoliberals have no problems with powerful women, black/brown people or GLBT people. Although, they have also tended to throw in their lot with social conservatives and religious fundamentalists.

                      Unfortunately some GLBT people can also be racist, or elitist wealthy people. I guess it’s because various oppressions are inter-linked, but not totally inseparable, or completely reducible to another form of oppression

                      But, as a matter of principle, IMO, I don’t understand how people can experience one form of oppression or discrimination and not be anti- any form, including those of income inequalities. And I don’t understand why it’s not possible for the left to support all other progressive issues. It’s about being aware of the different ways varous inequalities operate, and acting accordingly.

                    • Bill

                      Ah fuck. Going to jump in again.

                      Ari & Red.

                      Does exploitation affect more or less everyone?

                      Does discrimination of gays?

                      Is the impact of exploitation itself altered in any way by the politics of gender? Or the politics of race?

                      Or, put another way, are the effects of exploitation shaped by factors other than class location and financial capital?

                      Does social capital have an effect on the impact of economic exploitation?

                      What about personal capital? Physique, intelligence, psychology etc?

                      Does geographical location make a difference to how economic exploitation will play out on you?

                      And can you replace/switch economic exploitation with the terms of race or gender etc in the above examples and still make sense?

                      The problem ( as I see it) is that large sections of the left denied the existence of class, of economic exploitation altogether….and because of that their elevation of identity politics became increasingly incoherent and less meaningful than if they had kept in tact the whole frame of reference…which is a subtle mix of class, gender, race and community factors whose relative emphasis’s shift according to the particulars of a given situation.

                      eg. In my situation both gender and race are not as pronounced in terms of factors that inform my understanding of my situation. They are not absent, but they are not as pronounced than if I was say, a black woman.

                      But where to draw the line?

                      Does religion deserve a prominent place in any analysis or does that get subsumed or explained by patriarchy…or the politics of race/colonisation…or capital…or community/culture….or all of these with no set hierarchy of what would be a de facto principle tool of analysis or understanding?

                      Insofar as religion is not recreated in subsequent generations through the impact of systemic dynamics…like class, gender, race and community are, does it matter or contribute to our understanding of broad dynamics to the same degree?

                      And are queer politics really in the same boat as religion? Important to particular individuals in their life but not so important for understanding ongoing dynamics that perpetuate and recreate through generations.

                    • RedLogix

                      It’s not an either/or situation.

                      No I don’t think so either. I really don’t. But the fact remains, and I state this with respect, that all the significant gains made by the left since the 70’s have been around what we’ve been calling ‘identity politics’. (I don’t like the term but it’s a jargon we all understand.)

                      While at the same time the left’s economic agenda has been all but abandoned.

                      And I don’t understand why it’s not possible for the left to support all other progressive issues.

                      Cripes…you really don’t think it’s love you’re getting from the Nat’s do you? Sure they’ll be ‘accommodating of identity issues’, because as long as they have a grip on the levers of power and money they really don’t care about anything else. Money is the only way they measure and value people; identity doesn’t come into it.

                      And they don’t put anything at risk to advance your cause either…do they? Nothing that might actually alienate their reactionary support base.

                      As for the left not supporting ‘other progressive issues’…words fail me. You seem to have extensively re-drafted a lot of history there.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Red, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I still don’t really see how the problem is identity politics.

                      I don’t see why IP needs to be abandoned or even downplayed. If it’s right and just, it’s right and just, and not doing it would be wrong. I don’t accept that there is an either/or between identity politics and economic justice issues. It’s all a part of the same bag, stemming from the same principles. We don’t seek economic justice issues out any airy fairy stuff beyond that people should have the opportunity to live their lives in a fulfilling and meaningful way.

                      It is most certainly true that the right use identity politics as wedge issues, but that doesn’t justify watering it down, let alone repudiating it. To do so is just to accept defeat on those issues as well. There will always be something that the right will use as a wedge.

                      We can only beat the wedge by getting voters to vote left in spite of it.

                      There are for each individual a priority of issues. That’s why the wedge works. National won’t/can’t offer anything positive to the strugglers aside from the illusion of tax cuts. They win them over by pretending that the identity politics issues are what is keeping people back. Pretending that the left is for an elite and effete bunch of single, childless, pontificating arseholes out to destroy their way of life and blame them for all the evils of the world while handing all their money to brown slackers who want to oppress them. They pretend that they will stand up for them and stop this nonsense. And it’s all bullshit.

                      We know it’s a pretense because that the right never actually gets around to repealing any of the identity politics / ‘family values’ stuff. (and as an aside all that family values’, ‘moral majority’, ‘mainstream kiwi’ ‘battler’ talk is very much identity politics in a pure form. Think about all those who refuse to tick a box marked ‘pakeha’ on a census. Identity.)

                      The right’s strategy works because many are prepared to believe their framework. I don’t think we can change that in any great hurry. The way these fears are overcome is through leading on the issue. (eg, people today too young to remember homosexual law reform, are never going to be sold on repealing it, it’s always the next step that gets them riled up and fearful).

                      The left’s problem is not that people think they fight for the rights of the wrong people, but that too many people don’t see the left as also fighting for them. That’s not ‘identity politics’ fault. It can only be a failure of the left to actually fight for people.

                      My point is this:

                      If people are uncomfortable about GLBT issues, or feminism, or issues of racism, or any of these things the right uses as a wedge…

                      …then that’s showing their priorities, and that’s ok. The left does need to win these voters however, but it can’t and shouldn’t do so by abandoning the left’s other components…

                      …it must win those voters back by appealing to their priorities such that voting for the right will lose them their priority ie fighting for them as well.

                      If we can only win them over by abandoning what it is to be left, then we can’t win.

                      If voters would rather have bigotry than economic justice, that’s one thing, but is suspect that’s not what’s going on. I suspect that people feel they aren’t going to get economic justice from the left and that’s why they are susceptible to wedge politics.

                      As much as Cullen shifted things leftwards, to the point that Key was left gabberring about stealthy commun1sm, it never really got sold as a ‘fight to protect battlers from those bastard righties’.

                      People struggling want politicians to fight for them. That the left hasn’t been able to articulate that for many people isn’t the fault of identity politics.

                    • RedLogix

                      Carol, PB,

                      I’m not the one painting this as an binary choice. Nothing I’ve said supports that at all.

                      This would be a sterile debate, except for one incontrovertible fact; the economic gap between rich and poor has never been greater, while the overall status of the IP issues we are referencing here …has never been better.

                      Does this mean I’m asking anyone to set aside a cause that is important to them personally? Not at all.

                      But as I said above, the left’s economic agenda has been all but abandoned in this country. Hell I’m not asking for much, not some kind of utopian marxist wet-dream…just a turn-around in the statistics that now has NZ has about the sixth most unequal OECD nation on earth, and rapidly getting worse.

                      If the left stands idly by while that reality persists… the bad consequences will undo any and all the gains of the great liberal experiment.

                      I suspect that people feel they aren’t going to get economic justice from the left and that’s why they are susceptible to wedge politics.

                      Sheesh…I wonder why. Do you imagine it might have something to to with the left’s almost total silence on the issue?

                    • Lew

                      Ok, short replies now. I’ve written enough today.

                      Bill, it’s hard to argue sensibly with someone who seems to think that any hierarchical society is by definition authoritarian, and that socialism is about not being subject to any form of coercion. They might mean that to you, but they don’t mean that to history.

                      RL, let me see if I can state our respective positions succinctly and hopefully in a neutral fashion. We agree (again : ) that it mustn’t be one agenda to the exclusion of others. But we disagree as to the balance, with you believing that the material agenda has been sacrificed for the non-material. That I can agree on. Where I claim to be in the right is that, on grounds of liberal consent, people must be permitted to choose which issues they want to care most about and not be dictated to or badgered by others for their choices. A claim of principle. You argue that it would be better for everyone if they coordinated their emphasis on the one common underlying material factor which forms the root of the other problems, and you argue that this end justifies the less-than-liberal means of its achievement.

                      Ok, so not all that succinct.


                    • RedLogix

                      You argue that it would be better for everyone if they coordinated their emphasis on the one common underlying material factor which forms the root of the other problems, and you argue that this end justifies the less-than-liberal means of its achievement.

                      Two thoughts.

                      1. The evidence stronglysuggests that the material factor cannot be discarded either. Something like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; ie self-realisation is all very well, but tends to mean less when the house is cold and damp, dad’s boozing/hitting up, and this week’s income has gone before it arrives…again.

                      2. Yet surely you know I’m not advocating a totalitarian solution. Again the nations that “The Spirit Level” repeatedly identifies as performing best, the Nordics, Canada, Japan and so on…none of them look remotely like the authoritarian hell-hole caricatures you seem to have in mind.

                      Consider digging into the reasons why you believe economic socialism can only be imposed by illiberal means. Maybe because historically its been the territory on which the right WILL fight back, and viciously.

                    • Lew

                      RL, I’m not suggesting material concerns be discarded — I’m saying that, if they’re that important, people will prioritise them without a need to weight them above other concerns.

                      I also know you’re not advocating a totalitarian solution. And yet you’ve only recently started making reference to those liberal-social democracies; normally you’re more inclined to talk in terms of socialism. I get the sense that, for you, they’re points on a continuum, and that socialism in practice is just a couple steps along from social democracy. But as a student of totalitarianism, I can’t accept that. They’re different things, and what separates them is (broadly speaking) a commitment to liberalism above Marxist praxis. So when I see arguments for praxis to take precedence over liberal principle, I go on the defensive. Liberal democracy is worth defending.

                      I’ve talked at length (sorry if you’ve read this all before) about the reason socialism turns nasty. It’s not because the capitalists fight back, it’s because (in the traditional schema) when the electorate gets cold feet (as it inevitably does), those in charge of the state have to clamp down to prevent the counter-revolution. (You might argue that the electorate gets cold feet because the capitalists fight back, but my coun ter to that is that if you can’t win the battle of ideas for the electorate’s favour, you have no place governing anyhow). The unfixable problem of socialism in practice is that people won’t choose it, and even if they choose it, they won’t stick at it. So for a socialist state to “succeed”, the electorate needs to be coerced (at least for a while, until the initial upheavals are settled and people can see how wonderful it is). But monopoly power to suppress a counter-revolution is concentrated in an elite who are not responsive to the wishes of the electorate (and if they were, people would be able to just vote them out and produce a counter-revolution at the ballot box), and this means those elites enjoy impunity. Because they enjoy impunity, they never give up that monopoly power to crush a counter-revolution, and because they wield that power, there’s no way to make them give it up. So socialism in practice, per Marx, requires authoritarianism to prevent it from being killed at birth.

                      Normally at this point people take great umbrage and tell me that this isn’t what socialism is about, and then we go down the tiresome path of listing every single long-term state-wide socialist government in the history of the 20th Century and see almost precisely the same pattern. And then they say “but it needn’t be so!”, at which point I ask them to specify how (and why) the elites will relinquish their power and their impunity in an alternate socialist schema. Because without such an “out” mechanism, I can’t support any such scheme. No amount of temporary economic justice is worth the potentially permanent loss of liberal democracy.

                      Of course, that’s not what you propose — you propose a more leftist social-democracy. But the problem is that you see it as being on the same scale as socialism, just not quite so far along. I don’t. So while I agree that those countries you mention above (not so sure about Japan — that place has some pretty serious authoritarianism going on) are those New Zealand should be emulating, the problem with your line of reasoning as I see it is that they are not meaningfully any more socialist than New Zealand or Australia is, unless you take a lunatic Randian’s definition of the term. I agree they’re a goal, but I don’t agree that socialism is the way to emulate them.


                    • RedLogix

                      The unfixable problem of socialism in practice is that people won’t choose it, and even if they choose it, they won’t stick at it.

                      So in essence you are exactly what Chris Trotter has already told you, a conservative but you just don’t realise it yet. Because this line of reasoning concludes that people are always innately greedy, selfish and grasping and can never change. That is the very definition of the status quo. And you’re busy here defending it to the death. And given that you have clearly, openly stated a preference to being governed by capitalist elites rather than socialist elites…I’m entitled to ask why you even bother to maintain the pretence of being left wing. It really is beginning to look more and more like a cover.

                      Yet you of all people must know that what people believe, what priorities they choose, is a malleable thing. Indeed of all things about being human, what choices we make are the one thing, the only thing we have any control over. If you reject that thesis, then you have rejected the entire liberal concept from beginning to end. If,as you so eloquently describe, a person has the capacity and right to choose to advance the non-material interests of a culture or an indentity , there is no logical basis to reject the the idea that they could not equally connect and identify with a class conciousness either.

                    • Lew

                      RL, leaving aside for a moment the irony of Chris calling me a conservative… perhaps I should have said that it’s not that they won’t stick to it, but their sticking to it can’t be assured because, yes, people are fickle and malleable and prone to doubt. Another problem with socialism is that it doesn’t really work if you do it half-arsedly — unlike Rogernomics, which despite being interrupted pretty much got the marketroids the economy they wanted, it’s not so with socialism. I’m not defending the status quo as it is, I’m defending a framework within which the status quo can be changed. I don’t hold to the view that liberal-social democracy results inevitably in neoliberal hell; in fact, it manifestly doesn’t, as those examples you cite demonstrate. The system, by and large, gives its people what they ask for — in Tocqueville’s formulation, “the governments they deserve”. Numbers rule in a democracy — or they ought to rule. The working classes outumber the elites by a huge margin, but the Left is very poor at using this fact to its advantage.

                      Indeed of all things about being human, what choices we make are the one thing, the only thing we have any control over. If you reject that thesis, then you have rejected the entire liberal concept from beginning to end.

                      Yes! And yet, this is what I see so many people doing when they argue against non-material issues: denying (or otherwise seeking to curtail) peoples’ choices by insisting that they fall into step behind the great materialist banner.

                      If,as you so eloquently describe, a person has the capacity and right to choose to advance the non-material interests of a culture or an indentity , there is no logical basis to reject the the idea that they could not equally connect and identify with a class conciousness either.

                      Absolutely true, and with those who wish to prioritise the class consciousness for themselves I have no quarrel. Where I get off the big red bus is when they seek to exercise that choice for others. I’ll say it again, because I think this is often misunderstood: I don’t want the class analysis to be subsumed by identity. I want them to coexist, because they can’t succeed without each other.


        • just saying

          I’ve never undrstood how ‘identity politics’ and socialism ever became an either/or thing in the first place. The two have never been mutally exclusive.

          I agree Labour has been far too far to the right economically, but that’s got nothing to do with its policies that have allowed the marginalised and disadvantaged some of the rights and freedoms traditionally enjoyed by rich white men.

          Together we make an overwhelming majority, and if the Tories are using wedges of resentment and envy wihin the majority to divide and conquer, maybe that’s because the resentment directed at ‘identity’ groups should be directed at the economic policies that continue to see the rich get richer and the poor (ever-increasing in number) poorer.

          • Bill

            “Labour has been far too far to the right economically, but that’s got nothing to do with its policies that have allowed the marginalised and disadvantaged some of the rights and freedoms….”

            The drift to the right in economic terms has much to do with understanding rights and freedoms. As I’ve commented just up there somewhere, by removing class from the analysis, a coherent understanding recedes….in the same way as meaningful understanding or analysis recedes when gender, race or community are discarded from the framework of reference.

            And without understanding, it is difficult to build on gains or even map a vague trajectory to a future destination that will not recreate the conditions that gave rise to the environment we wish to alter.

            • just saying

              I’ve always seen ‘identity politics’ as part of the wider struggle, that’s the way I’ve understood it. But ‘identity groups’ have had to struggle against discrimination within the left. Just think about discrimination against women in the history of the union movement. Being conscious of the politics of being shat on from above, doesn’t necessarily entail a consiousness of who, we ourselves, might be shitting on.

              So it pisses me off to hear the usual subjects being blamed for economic swing to the right, and the ever-increasing crushing amd impoverishment of the working class, as if giving up their new-found rights would somehow magically reverse the trend.

              I grew up in the seventies and well remember the cruel conformity that the working class often violently enforced against anyone who was different, with the same sense of entitlement they railed against in the ‘owning class’.

          • just saying

            Dunno what’s happened to all the ‘reply’ buttons.
            This is in response to Redlogix above:

            You don’t get it. Why should your neighbour have to choose between te reo and a job? This is a false dichotomy if ever I saw one. None of the ‘special interest’ rights (and for those affected they are a lot more than symbolic) have caused the swing to the right.

            And if the right is whistling why do you have to run?

            When Goff apologised to ‘the working man’ for the social-liberal policies of the labour Party he was continuing the same divisive dog-whistling. As a Rogernome, he was in a position to apologise for some of the actual causes of the right-wing changes that have increased the gap between the haves and have-nots. But he doesn’t want to tackle the real causes. He just wants to be in government to continue the work.

            Why don’t you tackle some of the causes of the problems you are talking about. Or does attacking ‘special interest’ groups just feel good

            • lprent

              Reply is meant to still be there. There were a pile of changes on the weekend. I will check. What operating system and browser

            • lprent

              They run out after the nesting gets too high. They show up fine on the 4 combos I tried

            • RedLogix

              You don’t get it. Why should your neighbour have to choose between te reo and a job? This is a false dichotomy if ever I saw one.

              Well of course it is. I was only making an answer to Lew’s hypothetical question which set up the false dichotomy in the first place.

              And if the right is whistling why do you have to run?

              I think anyone who knows me here would find that unlikely…on the other hand yes the right’s dog-whistles are almost always aimed at getting the left’s natural constituency to run about attacking each other.

              • Lew

                It wasn’t a false dichotomy, because a common cry from certain quarters of the Marxist left is: “Stop worrying about those immaterial things, concentrate on what matters.” Well, if Māori in the ’70s had dedicated their hours to something other than re-establishing their language and culture before all the old people died out, then they wouldn’t have it. It’s as clear a demonstration you could want of the fact that material things aren’t the only things worth fighting for.


                • RedLogix

                  Well, if Māori in the ’70s had dedicated their hours to something other than re-establishing their language and culture before all the old people died out, then they wouldn’t have it.

                  As someone who has actually had the privilege of sitting near and experiencing the spine tingling power and potency of one of those kaumatua from that era…what makes you think I would wish for that heritage to have been lost?

                  You keep painting me over in images of your own making.

                  On the other hand can I ask you to imagine how much easier it would have been to preserve that heritage, if so many Maori had not also been living in with poverty, fighting a daily battle with crime, lousy education, miserable housing, a poor diet and appalling health statistics.

                  How much easier the task would have been if it had not been a race against time, if so many of those last truly great, and dare I use the word authentic, kaumatua… had not all been dying at such ridiculously young ages.

                  • Lew

                    I’m not making any such suggestion, of course, it’s a thought-experiment to demonstrate the point of principle. It’s frankly absurd that I even have to explain the principle, but unfortunately I frequently seem to need to do so. Not so much with you, RL.


          • Carol

            Cripes you really don’t think it’s love you’re getting from the Nat’s do you? Sure they’ll be ‘accommodating of identity issues’, because as long as they have a grip on the levers of power and money they really don’t care about anything else. Money is the only way they measure and value people; identity doesn’t come into it.

            I don’t even know how you got this from anything I’ve said. I was talking about SOME neoliberals who I think are not personally prejudiced. Most will use identity issues if it suits their main economic priorities. But they also rely on support from social & religious conservatives. There’s a whole load of reasons why I’d never vote for a right wing party.

            And I DO think income inequalities are a MAJOR problem that needs fixing right now, in NZ & internationally. But if you make it THE foundational political issue as an underlying political philosophy, then you adopt their values – ie putting money before everything else.

            Then what Pascal’s bookie said.

            • RedLogix

              I don’t even know how you got this from anything I’ve said.

              We really are talking past each other aren’t we?

              But if you make it THE foundational political issue as an underlying political philosophy, then you adopt their values ie putting money before everything else.

              That’s a decent point. Let’s try a thought experiment.

              Imagine that one person owned the whole world. All power and status would accrue to him (hard to imagine it being a ‘her’ 🙂 )Wealth would be the only possible measure of human worth and dignity.

              Imagine now that all wealth was divided exactly, absolutely equally among all people. Money would then have no relevance in terms of valuing human worth and dignity.

              This suggests that as societies become more unequal money tends to be the dominant value, while more equal societies might see it as less relevant.

              PS And if anyone thinks the right doesn’t use IP to drive wedges….have a think about the photo used in this article.

              Now what is the correct strategy to mitigate this kind of attack?

              • Carol

                RL, short answer because I have a load of work to attend to over the next few days:

                I don’t think we disagree that much. I also tend to prioritise the struggle against neoliberal wealth & income inequalities these days. But I also don’t cease to struggle against continuing repressive & regressive tendencies in relation to identity issues; ‘race’/ethnicity, gender, sexuality.

                It seems to me, where we differ is more in degree and underlying focus, rather than the practical approach to many issues. You do seem to make material & economic issues as foundational. And the litmus test for you seems to be to all back on the impact on the nuclear, heterosexual family (Mum & Dad and kids), in harsh economic circumstances.

                For me there is a constant interaction between material/economic conditions and cultural phenomena (which includes identity issues). Both need to be attended to, often at the same time. And for me the litmus test is to look at how something affects all sectors of the community. No unfair hardship is acceptable.

                ‘All that is solid melts into the air.’

                • RedLogix

                  And the litmus test for you seems to be to all back on the impact on the nuclear, heterosexual family (Mum & Dad and kids), in harsh economic circumstances.

                  Is there any reason why these people should be excluded from the debate, and do you suspect it might have something to do why they don’t vote for the left anymore?

                  Besides, surely it’s obvious that the economic agenda applies to everyone, regardless of identity.

                  Like you I’ve work to do…thanks all for a good solid discussion. I’m wrapping it here.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Now what is the correct strategy to mitigate this kind of attack?

                It works because people percieve that the left is fighting for them instead of us. It sets up the right as fighting for us against them.

                It can only work on people who don’t think the left is fighting for them. If they think the left is also fighting for them, the wedge works the other way.
                ie if people think the left is fighting for them, why should they do anything but laugh when the right try and pit them against other sections of the left?

                The fault isn’t with the left for fighting on identity issues, but with the left for failing to also fight for the people suckered by the wedge. It needs to do both.

                Blaming identity politics for the sucess of the wedge, avoids the left facing the fact that their own messages and policies are not seen as fighting for the people they are suppposed to benefit. Blamimg identity politics buys into and endorses the message behind the wedge.

          • just saying

            I think I’ve sussed out the no-reply problem. Does the reply button only appear once the edit period has elapsed?

            Anyway, again, I’m replying to redlogix above.

            I think I know where you’re coming from. My brother hates (and I mean really Hates) Helen Clark and voted National as the strongest possible protest because he works ruining his body 65 hrs in a six day week (80 with drive time), to barely break even – no luxuries and without some basic necessities too.

            And he looks around and asks who the party that’s supposed to be looking after him were working for and he sees now assertive Maori and gays and women…….. all the people that, let’s be honest, he always felt superior to, strutting their stuff, and feels what’s been taken from him has been given to them. Now he’s the marginalised third class citizen instead of them.

            The smaking legislation was just the last straw for him as a well-meaning dad who hit his kids as he’d been hit, and now he’s told that he’s a bad parent, and who was all that hard work been for after all?

            There are big elements of sexism, heterosexism racism etc, but he’s a good person who’d give the shirt off his back for anyone in any of those ‘identity’ groups if he found them in need. All those isms have been ignited by the injustice of the situation he finds himself in, and he blames them.

            But the thing is he’s directing his rage at the wrong targets. Labour wasn’t looking out for people like him, but that wasn’t because they’d sold out to ‘identity’ politics’. It’s because labour lost it’s way in the eighties, and has been too busy hob-nobbing with the elites – the moneyed elites, and has bought into their bullshit. This has absolutely nothing to do with the progressive legislation that Labour has passed. It’s because Labour sold it’s soul to big money.

            And guess what? nothing’s changed, except now Goff is trying to appeal to people like my brother by pandering to his prejudices, with no intention of changing the actual causes of the problems he faces.

            The “many” he glibly talks of includes the elite lording over us from the top where they’ve always been. The “few” in reality are the poor, the sick, all those at the bottom of the heap. And people like my brother will be slaving all the harder to avoid falling off the world and becoming one of them.

            Except this new tactic will not win his vote, no matter how inflamed his prejudices become. Because he’s not an idiot.

            • mickysavage


              The anti smacking legislation resulted in a miniscule number of extra prosecutions. It was not the armageddon that the right said it would be. Your brother ought to get upset about things that actually affect him.

              Just saying.

              • RedLogix


                Hey I deeply admire and respect your stuff here mickey. I understand exactly what and why you are defending the S59 repeal.

                Recall how I too have spent literally months dying in a ditch defending that groundbreaking legislation.

                I’m proud we got there, but please, please ….be open-eyed about the cost. And how it has been used against us. Just telling this man he is wrong isn’t going to work.

              • just saying

                I don’t agree with him Mickey Savage, I’m just saying I can see where he’s coming from. I’m proud of that legislation. But I’m proud of my brother too, for all his faults.

            • RedLogix


              I like that. Those are honest words from the heart that feel exactly right.

              There’s likely some around here who’ll be thinking it doesn’t pass some sort of intellectual sniff test…but they ignore it at their own cost.

              And guess what? nothing’s changed, except now Goff is trying to appeal to people like my brother by pandering to his prejudices, with no intention of changing the actual causes of the problems he faces.

              Yes of course…that puts into words exactly my misgivings about where Labour is at right now, and why they still languish in the polls at the hardcore remnant of their tribal support base.

      • jimmy 7.1.3

        liberalism is way to much of a loaded word to be calling the ‘baseline’ of every democratic movement in the western world. The everyone being treated equal/blindness to history part of liberalism just doesnt sit well with minority rights as everyone being treated equal usualy reqires socialism in some form to make up for the economic deprivation throughout history. Gay rights are an outlier in this case (deprivation isnt passed down the generations) and liberalism is their path to freedom but indigenous, womens, enivormental, and virtually all other identity groups focus most of their energy on economic deprivation once the equal rights part is ticked off.

        • Lew

          Jimmy, I think this view takes too narrow (perhaps too classical) a definition of liberalism. I’d argue liberalism has grown beyond it, and there’s now a brand of liberalism for almost all seasons — such that even neo-authoritarian movements like the build their church on its rock (even while they howl and demonise the “liberals” in the White House); while more classical social definitions of liberalism are blended with less-economic definitions in modern progressive movements.

          Whether this dilutes the meaning of liberal too much for it to remain useful is a question you might argue, I suppose, but I’d disagree.


          • jimmy

            Cheers for the reply. Your right in saying that id say the meaning of liberalism has been taken over by anyone and everyone, hence my distaste for alot of talk about liberalism. But in saying that progressive movements are less economically focused you are asking progressives to do what the (neo)liberals say i.e. get the politicians out of economics.

            In my view the time has never been better for progressive politicians to really demonstrate the power of progressive economics (i.e. economics that increases quality of life instead of simply increasing accumulation).

        • Carol

          Gay rights are an outlier in this case (deprivation isnt passed down the generations)

          There are plenty of gay people with children, especially lesbians. And female-female couples tend to doubly experience the effects of gender inequalities with respect to income.

          • jimmy

            Yes you are right but the children dont have their parents sexuality impeding their development in the same way that the children’s sex or race does. As homosexuality occurs at random and children of gays are not pre-determined to be gay, homosexuals really dont face the serious economic inequalities that accrue over generations as in the case of women or Maori.

            We must make sure that homosexuals have every chance that straight people have, hence why liberalism is their path to freedom, but it would be unnecessary for them to ask for special economic treatment as they come from every social group equally.

            In your case of lesbian couples, presuming they have equal rights as straight couples they only have grounds to seek special economic treatment because they are women as they cannot be discriminated against for being lesbian.

      • Alexandra 7.1.4

        I despair that white middle class male lefties are unable or unprepared to consolidate class and identity, in relation to ethnicity and race. Particular when they seldom apply the same arguments in relation to gender politics. Is that because that battle has been fought by their white, middle class partners, daughters and collegues, and they dare not?

  8. gingercrush 8

    Nick Smith isn’t even an issue and I don’t see why he is included in with people who abused credit cards. His issue is quite separate. And while you may well disagree with the Labour Speaker allowing Smith use of tax-payer money in a court case. Its all quite legal and he didn’t abuse tax-payer money. An argument can certainly be made that politicians shouldn’t be rewarded legal costs etc. But we’re not even talking abuse of any money whatsoever.

    Anyway politics essentially comes down to what is politically expedient. John Key getting rid of three senior Ministers in Groser, McCully and English would be politically stupid. English is Deputy PM and Finance Minister. He’s also the most experience Cabinet Minister in Key’s government. You don’t get rid of that experience. English may well sound stupid at times but in terms of policy, he’s probably the best in Cabinet.

    McCully can survive anything and has survived everything. No matter how involved he’s been with every change of leader within the National Party and no matter how many policy decisions he does that are problematic or in this case abuse of a Credit Card. He will survive. In that no National leader would wish to make an enemy of McCully. For he’s a poisonous snake that will eventually get his own back time and time again.

    Likewise, Groser is too important in terms of Trade and negotiations overseas that removing him from Cabinet would be a mistake.

    All three will not go anywhere despite there being scandals attached to all three. To force any of the three to resign will give too much political clout to Labour. That’s thing thing about politics you don’t get rid of people when getting rid of them would cause too much damage to your own party. That’s why Mallard could find himself in trouble numerous times yet never actually went from Cabinet. Because like the three National Cabinet Ministers he was too important to the Party and Cabinet to be gone.

    Jones, Carter and Riririnui are going because for Labour its convenient to do so. Carter has damaged Labour too much and too many times. The guy was always going to be replaced only the Credit Card scandal has meant its being done sooner rather than later. To keep the guy around is a mistake when he doesn’t perform in the house, doesn’t have a great grasp of policy and when too much talent within Labour are sitting on the backbench. Riririnui is going because to be frank he won’t be around in 2011. Nobody actually knows him and his abuses were too stupid that to keep him would be an utter mistake.

    Jones of the three is the guy with talent (personally I never saw that talent but seemingly many others did). He goes because his scandal seems to be the biggest (even though its not) because he happened to be watching porn. Something that while most of New Zealand also watch porn. Politically its too radical that demoting him is the only option Goff and Labour have. Had he been kept around the media would have continue to go after him and unlike others within Labour he isn’t that important that he needs to be kept around.

    See Horomia who is unlikely to be going anywhere, despite his own credit card scandals being well scandalous. In politics he’s far too important for Labour that he neccessarily must be kept around. Labour is acting on those three because they have to. If they politically could get away with it none of them would be demoted (not now at least).

    • Marty G 8.1

      ministerial services signed off on the credit card expenses. Does that make them OK?

      Then how does the Speaker approving Smith’s lawyer’s fees make that OK?

      • gingercrush 8.1.1

        Ministerial Services also plainly fucking said Personal expenses should not be used on a ministerial credit card. They also didn’t sign off on everything.

        They are not the same thing no matter how you try and justify it. The Speaker is supreme authority in such matters and the speaker approving reimbursement of legal fees is entirely fine. Now whether that should be allowed is a matter entirely separate from abusing credit cards. But if you want to link any use of MP’s taxpayers money is somehow an abuse. We’d not have a single fucking MP in the house.

    • Croc 8.2

      I agree that McCully is untouchable. He wields a lot more power in National than a lot of people realise. He is one of the OG Hollowmen, and will be there for a long time yet.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.3

      Hey, nice summary of the situation- IMO this will all be a huge bonus for Goff as they were all pretty poor ministers and Jones IMO hasn’t got the political skills to lead anything. There’s going to be a huge cleanout at the top for Labour after next year. If they are to be credible next term they despeartely need to give some new guys the profile and experience that they will be needing in 2014.
      They will be needing some young Maori, PI and asian MPs- as they ones they currently have aren’t spring chickens.

  9. zimmer 9

    I have a work visa and personal one as well. I never have got these confused and if I did use the work one for private spending I would be in serious trouble. This is just the lefts excuse to try and make this matter grey when in fact it is black & white.

    • Marty G 9.1

      I’m not excusing Jones and the rest. I never claimed that they could have confused the cards. Try reading the post.

      I suspect you’re just trying to avoid the topic of National’s abuses of taxpayer money.

    • Zorr 9.2

      Or, maybe, you could read the actual words written and realize that we agree it is a black and white issue – and that Jones, Carter and Ririnui need to be admonished for their poor choice of use of the ministerial cards. However, once you admit the black and white of it all, it becomes super clear that this current government has its head deep in the trough and currently aren’t facing any negatives for this.

    • The Voice of Reason 9.3

      Nice frame, Zimmer, except it is not black and white at all.

      Most businesses scrutinize work credit card accounts for purchases that should be personal and ask for them to be repaid if they arise. It only becomes an issue if there is an argument about whether it is a genuine business expense or not, or, as in Jones’ case, it is obviously innapropriate spending.

      Use, then reimburse, is common practice and most MP’s will be familiar with this method from the jobs they had prior to becoming MP’s. A strict ‘no personal purchases’ is also common, but again, subject to scrutiny and appeal if there is a dispute as to the nature of the purchases.

      Given that the Labour MP’s actually paid back the costs well before this came out, the question of intent comes into the equation, as well. I’d suggest not repaying until sprung last week makes the Nats involved look like they intended to rip the taxpayer off.

  10. tc 10

    If one way or another Carter/Jones left parliament Labour would be better off by replacing them with up and coming talent as Carter’s had his day and Jones is simply a lazy corporate type already moaning he could make more money outside parliament…..go for it Shane, let someone more desreving through.

    The nat’s are all out of talent that’s why Basher/Crusher/AyiTolley etc all have senior ministerial posts before we scrape the barrell with the likes of Lee/Wong/Liga so they’ll tough this out.

    So Goff has no choice really…….claim the moral high ground and keep hammering Sideshow about doing about his errant ministers.

  11. joe bloggs 11

    btw, why are people talking about who is next on Labour’s list? Carter holds Te Atatu and his resignation would spark a by-election) but it’s right that Carter be demoted.

    The situation in Te Atatu may be so, but National narrowly won the party vote there in 2008 so it’s not a cert for Labour in any case.

    Jones and Ririnui are list MPs and eithers resignation would promote the next Labour list member into parliament.

    Jones has already made overt comments that he could be earning a load more outside the house – how long before he bails and Champagne Jude is returned to the high life again…?

    • Bright Red 11.1

      “The situation in Te Atatu may be so, but National narrowly won the party vote there in 2008 so it’s not a cert for Labour in any case.”

      lolz. That’s what you lot said about Mt Albert. That worked out well for you, eh?

  12. ianmac 12

    Pinched from Public Address Graeme Edgler post today and identified by Russell Brown:
    Noting that this is the considered report of the Auditor-General, never written lightly:

    [Para 90, page 19] In our view, circumstances can arise from time to time where it may be sensible to put items of personal expenditure on credit cards when there is a clear intention to reimburse the costs. However, this should be done only when necessary and should be clearly documented. (emphasis added)
    This makes it a whole different ball game?

    With respect to Graeme:

  13. ianmac 13

    OOps can’t edit the extra emphsis.

  14. Santi 14

    I look forward to see the daring Mr. Goff in action. Tui ad coming.

  15. Pat 15

    A good day for Goff. Flys in, mounts the high horse, and gets to look all decisive and leader-like. Better still, he gets the chance to ditch a nobody, a has-been, and a potential threat to his leadership.

    Tomorrow he can throw a positive light onto his new faces – probably Ardern, Robertson, Chauvel – and suddenly Labour’s front bench doesn’t look so crusty.

    • zimmer 15.1

      But the Labour front bench sure will look a whole lot queerer.
      1 poof demoted, 2 promoted. Gee, what a look.

      Grosser & McCully, if guilty should be demoted, I agree. But if entertaining it is a different matter. We can’t be too Scottish and hide in the loos when it is your round.

      [lprent: Lets demote one fuckwit – go away for 3 weeks. ]

      • The Voice of Reason 15.1.1

        Wow, racist, homophobic and inaccurate in the same comment. A new personal best, Zimmer?

      • Bright Red 15.1.2

        Lynn. That looks like banning behaviour to me. This isn’t the sewer, you don’t need racist homophobs when there are decent righties around.

        • zimmer

          Why is it homophobic? Stating a fact. Or did I hit a raw nerve?

          Maybe I should have used the word homosexual, not poof. At least that is more accurate. I think the electroate is sick of hearing the wo is me excuse if you are a homosexual.

          • Anne

            I second Bright Red.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Actually, it’s not just the words poof or queer that marks you as a homophobe. ‘Gee, what a look’ makes your bigotry crystal clear, fuckwit.

            • zimmer

              You are a fuckwit 2. Believe it or not, all of us are bigots in 1 way or another. Does not worry me at all.

              • The Voice of Reason

                “You are a fuckwit 2. Believe it or not, all of us are bigots in 1 way or another. Does not worry me at all.”

                Citation needed for the first sentence. Not denying it, just want to see what proof you’ve got.

                Second sentence is likely true, depending on upringing, age, etc. But most people recognise their failings and don’t repeat them in public forums, for fear of being exposed as a fuckwit, you fuckwit.

                Third sentence is evidently true as most of your comments suggest a personality free of self awareness, self restraint or social empathy. Have you considered becoming a National MP, as I’m told they are the three pre-requisites for selection.

          • Bright Red

            yeah. maybe if you hadn’t used derogatory terms it wouldn’t have been derogatory. Well done.

            But you did use a derogatory and you’re acting as if their more homosexual people on the front bench is a bad thing.

      • Daveosaurus 15.1.3

        You seem to have an obsession about the sexuality of people you don’t even know. That really says more about you than it does about them.

        anti-spam word: “proves”. Does it ever…

  16. Rosy 16

    AND he has the grounds to talk to the electorate about national ministers and their lax ways with public money.

  17. SHG 17

    Boy, those choices are sure going to resonate with the electorate. Gotta check all the Labour boxes though – female, gay, brown, fat.

    Things are looking pretty grim for Labour these days.

    • pollywog 17.1

      Throw Darren Hughes in there as a ranga/ginga and you got em all covered.

      but still, if one looks across to the other side of the house. Theres not a lot of talent lining up there for inclusion on the first team.

      That tolley and bennett could blag their way on to the front bench says heaps about Nationals standards and welfare dependency for those who toe the party line over those worthy by genuine merit.

    • True Blue 17.2

      Did u see that little ginga hanging behind Goff & King with a big grin on his face last night on the news, what a suckarse.

      • Chess Player 17.2.1

        He smile too much – never trust anyone who smiles too much

      • Anne 17.2.2

        @ True Blue
        He’s the Chief Whip!
        He and Annette King went to the Airport to collect Goff.
        You are an ignorant a——e. Please stay with the wingnuts where you clearly belong.

        • True Blue

          Why does it take two to pick Goff up in Auckland, good use of taxpayers money, maybe he’s the baggage boy creepy little shit.

  18. The Voice of Reason 18

    Goff’s press release:

    New Zealanders have the right to expect the highest standards of Ministerial behaviour, and the proper expenditure of their funds.

    As a country, we have long had a reputation for good governance and honesty in the public sector.

    We need to work to ensure that we maintain this reputation.

    In any Government I lead, transparency will be important, not just when spending public money, but across everything we do.

    The release of credit card details of past and present Ministers will help entrench high standards. I welcome this.

    I also question whether it is necessary for Ministers to have credit cards, which has got a number of Ministers into trouble when they have been used for private expenditure, albeit later repaid.

    The release of records going back over six years shows wrongful use of credit cards on a number of occasions. I am requiring Members of Parliament in my caucus to take personal responsibility for their actions.

    I am going to hold Labour to account just as much as I hold the government to account.

    Many infractions were minor; some were serious repeated misuse of a credit card. None are excusable.

    I said before the release of the details that any public money spent outside the rules must be reimbursed. That remains the case.

    However, I am also imposing sanctions on three MPs not because the money has not been repaid, but on the basis of poor judgement.

    Shane Jones repeatedly misused his ministerial credit card and this requires a clear sanction.

    He will lose his front bench position and the two major portfolio responsibilities he holds.

    It is a mitigating factor that he had already paid the money back and that he has accepted total responsibility for his actions.
    The penalty imposed on him is severe but I want to send a strong message about the high standards I will demand of those who serve in the next Labour Government.

    I believe Shane has a lot of potential to offer Labour and New Zealand in the future.

    I believe he will learn from this experience.

    But he will now have to prove that he is worthy of future consideration and the onus will be on him to earn his way back into a future Labour ministry.

    Chris Carter also wrongly used his card on several occasions over six years as a Minister on things outside the rules for Ministerial expenditure. He has now repaid the money.

    These items by themselves would not warrant removal from the Foreign Affairs portfolio. However there has been public controversy around the frequency and cost of Chris’ travel as a Minister accompanied by his partner which damages his ability to continue in this portfolio.

    Chris has lost the portfolio and his front bench seat and will sit on the second bench. Given the importance he attached to his portfolio this will be a severe sanction for him.

    I want to acknowledge that he is an exceptionally hard working Member of Parliament well regarded for what he has done in areas like Conservation and Ethnic Affairs.

    Mita Ririnui wrongly used his Government credit card to purchase golf clubs and a bike. These are clearly personal items, involving significant expenditure and occurred on two occasions.

    He did not do so with any dishonest intent and reimbursed Ministerial Services for that expenditure at the time.

    However it was clearly outside the rules and he should have been aware of that and showed poor judgement.

    As a result he will lose his shadow portfolio responsibilities for forestry.

    Ultimately, it was clear what decision I needed to make in these cases.

    I feel very strongly about honesty, integrity and care of public money because these are values fundamental to our political system.

    New Zealanders need to know that they can trust their MPs. Setting and maintaining high standards of transparency and accountability are essential to this.

    • felix 18.1

      Your turn, Mr Key. Will it be yet another 180 turn?

    • joe bloggs 18.2

      Interesting press release:

      – a big serve for the Minister for Porn who “has to prove he is worthy of future consideration”
      – a swing at the Shadow Minister for Sporting Goods who showed “poor judgement”
      – praise to Carter for being “exceptionally hard working”, no mention of personal responsibility and plenty of blame pointed at public controversy

      Easy to see who holds the dirt on Goff in this relationship

      • SHG 18.2.1

        Not to mention the fact that Cosgrove, the Labour Minister who actually seems to have intentionally committed fraud in his credit-card expenses, has gotten away with it without even a mention from Goff.

        “Oh dear, the airlines have lost my luggage again, I’ll just have to buy another $1600 suit… no, there wasn’t anything else in there just a suit. So I haven’t actually been inconvenienced in any way, I just need another suit.

        Oh dear, it’s happened again!

        What do you know, it’s happened again! Boy, how unlucky am I. At least nothing other than my $1600 suit ever gets stolen, because the taxpayer can always just buy me another one.”

      • SHG 18.2.2

        Interesting press release:

        – a big serve for the Minister for Porn who “has to prove he is worthy of future consideration’
        – a swing at the Shadow Minister for Sporting Goods who showed “poor judgement’
        – praise to Carter for being “exceptionally hard working’, no mention of personal responsibility and plenty of blame pointed at public controversy

        Easy to see who holds the dirt on Goff in this relationship

        Homosexuals are the Labour Party’s sacred cows.

        It’s funny, once upon a time being gay made you an Untouchable, now in the Labour Party being gay means you’re untouchable.

  19. Zaphod Beeblebrox 19

    Does anyone see the irony that this week, Key will be appearing in Rustenburg to watch a football match. No-body in the press seems to worried about how much it will be costing to wine, dine and fly his entourage. The public benefit of him turning up to events like this and the Bledisloe Cup in Japan??

    • Lew 19.1

      PM being seen to be supporting the national team at world’s largest sporting competition in a fellow Commonwealth country with whom we have strong sporting, economic and cultural ties?

      Seems pretty valuable to me.


      • Bright Red 19.1.1

        how so Lew?

        • Lew

          One of the PM’s jobs is to represent his country at international events and supports its foreign emissaries. Don’t get much more international than this event.


          • The Voice of Reason

            Don’t we have ministers of Foreign Affairs or Sports who’d be better candidates for this junket? Doesn’t seem to relate to Key’s PM role or his Tourism portfolio, which is about attracting visitors here, not wasting tax bucks there.

            • Lew

              Suppose so, but it’s six and half a dozen, really. Head of governemtn can watch a football match and do photo-ops as well as a senior minister, and accords the event greater significance (which I reckon it deserves).


            • Adders

              Isn’t it really because Key’s met the Italian prime minister somewhere and now they’re chums because he has a big boat or something?

            • Chess Player

              From what I hear, he is taking his son, and it’s all going on his own credit card…

  20. Oh gawd

    I just heard Matthew Hooton opine that if Phil was tough on Carter, Jones and Ririnui he could see himslf as PM and get traction.

    The linking is at http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0009/2322594/ntn-20100614-1106-Politics-m048.asx

    I do not disagree but I am always worried when he gives Labour advice on what to do.

  21. freedom 21

    much happier Key goes to a footy match photo-op than another boy’s own war zone

  22. burt 22

    I think we should ask under the OIA for a list of all warnings and reminders to individual ministers and any that were warned more than once over a similar thing need to resign and we call an election.

    Of course it won’t be in the public interest to do that so I guess we just move on and the MPs change the rules to match the way it’s always been done. All happy with that?

  23. randal 23

    about time the meedja got off their bums and did some proper reporting instead of falling over themselves to get brownie points off the keys government for sloppy one dimensional tittle tattling and squealing to the public.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
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  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
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    5 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
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    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
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    5 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
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    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
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    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
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    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
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    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
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    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
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    7 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
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    7 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
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    7 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
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    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
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    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
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    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
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    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
    Kia ora koutou katoa I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders today to give you as much certainty and clarity as we can as we fight Covid-19. Over the past few weeks, the world has changed. And it has changed very quickly. In February it would have seemed unimaginable to ...
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    1 week ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
    New Zealand and Singapore have jointly committed to keep supply chains open and to remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the commitment. “This is an important collective response, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
    JOINT MINISTERIAL STATEMENT BY SINGAPORE AND NEW ZEALAND AFFIRMING COMMITMENT TO ENSURING SUPPLY CHAIN CONNECTIVITY AMIDST THE COVID-19 SITUATION  The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis.  As part of our collective response to combat COVID-19, Singapore and New Zealand are committed to maintaining open and connected supply chains. We ...
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    1 week ago
  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
    Travel restrictions, closing our border to almost all travelers came into force from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020 (NZDT).  All airlines were informed of these restrictions before they came into force. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says “The transit of passengers between Australia and New Zealand has been agreed upon and ...
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    1 week ago
  • $100 million to redeploy workers
    The Government has allocated $100 million to help redeploy workers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, with the hard-hit region of Gisborne-Tairāwhiti to be the first helped, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford, Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced today. Phil Twyford ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More support for wood processing
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is ramping up support for Tairāwhiti’s wood processing sector to bolster the region’s economy at a time of heightened uncertainty, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Following earlier announcements today of a regional support package for Tairāwhiti, Minister Jones has also announced a ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Govt steps in to protect Air New Zealand
    The Coalition Government has stepped in to protect Air New Zealand with a significant financial deal that protects essential routes and allows the company to keep operating. The Government and Air New Zealand have agreed a debt funding agreement through commercial 24-month loan facilities of up to $900 million*. The ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
    The Government has taken further measures to protect New Zealanders from the COVID-19 virus, effectively stopping all people from boarding a plane to New Zealand from 11:59pm today, except for returning New Zealanders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.  New Zealanders’ partners, legal guardians or any dependent children travelling with ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Action on indoor gatherings and events to protect public health
    The Government has reinforced its commitment to protecting the health of New Zealanders from COVID-19 through the cancellation of indoor events with more than 100 people.  “Protecting the health of New Zealanders is our number one priority, and that means we need to reduce the risks associated with large gatherings,” ...
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    2 weeks ago