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Falling into a coma

Written By: - Date published: 7:20 am, August 4th, 2020 - 92 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, economy, Environment, labour, political parties, same old national, transport - Tags:

Why have we fallen into the most boring and predictable election we’ve had since Bolger’s second term?

Neither National nor Labour have put out fresh policy in months.

New roads don’t count as fresh anything. Nor do medium-scale regional projects.

Labour are still working on their manifesto with five weeks to go – so we won’t see fresh policy until the last four weeks.

National are, charitably, finding their way.

Labour’s campaign slogan “Let’s Keep Moving”, unlike the 2017 one, has neither impact nor meaning.

National’s one is so forgettable it may as well be one of those provincial town straplines like “Otorohonga: Keeping It Yay!”

If the election were held today, Labour would govern alone and the rest of Parliament would be both too close to call and irrelevant.

Yet we currently have no idea what they would do. Other than cut ribbons on the PGF projects that they began in the previous term.

Now, every election, MPs of a governing party will gee us up with bromides about complacency.

But there is zero sense of urgency from either side of the political spectrum.

Maybe neither side can walk and chew gum at the same time: complete parliamentary operations and clean up after their errant people, and also launch a campaign. But after a century of practise at it, both National and Labour should at least show they try.

It’s like our main political parties are so punch drunk from successive external and internal crises that they would rather just project deepfake holograms of themselves onto the tv but otherwise sleep it off on the couch and wake up on September 20th.

Maybe the TV debates will consist of animated cartoons between Ardern’s toothy smile and Collins’ arched eyebrow, hopping around smiling and winking.

We have the most popular prime minister in living memory, so hey maybe that’s all what we want.

It’s bred a sad inevitability to the result that’s now only barely interesting on the periphery of the 3-5% minors.

Maybe our shared overwhelming anxiety simply needs peace and hugs and smiles from our political order.

That would infer we prefer the comatose position too.

Yet this is our country:

  • The rich are getting waaaay richer, and our inequality continues to get worse across the entire OECD.
  • The child poverty stats have barely moved.
  • Almost every native bird species and most forests are rapidly declining.
  • The economy is in very serious shape.
  • The water quality is going south.
  • The queues for social housing have got worse.
  • Criminal gangs and hard drug use are growing.
  • Our universities are stuffed.
  • The animosity between town and country is unconcealed.
  • Local government is weaker and near-completely ineffectual.
  • Our health system has not improved.
  • Every single region in the country except Wellington is dealing with a major crisis.
  • Our main streets are dying fast.
  • Housing still bloats our wealth and starves our business of capital.
  • Our food banks have demand going through the roof.
  • Neither rich nor poor nor young can get out of the country.
  • And because of all of that and more, our youth suicide rate is up there with the world’s worst and points to a deep and pervasive hopelessness.

Without the successive crises we have endured, this government should be out on its ass for lack of measurable improvement on pretty much anything.

But wait …

Like the 1929 stock market crash, it was the years that followed in which the real economic and social depression occurred. So while we may have softened some of the current impact, the worst across the world is yet to hit.

We don’t yet have big rises in mortgagee sales – but they will come. We don’t yet have a property price correction – but it will. Our poor will stay hidden in squalid little rooms, rather than march in the streets, until there’s too many of them to fit.

In most previous governments, there would have been a huge national call to arms, with summits and unified departmental purposes, and seriously bold policy initiatives, and at the end of which everyone know that there was a plan, they were part of a team working on that plan, and they could get up the morning and know how they were assisting that team with their effort.

There’s no plan at all, other than: print money and stay disinfected.
They may have one, but none of my friends or work colleagues or relatives know about it, and it’s not coming through on the news or on social media.

There is no detectable intellectual or conceptual core to Labour or to National that would make us sit up and think and talk about it.

Nor – even in the current government – is there some brains trust pumping out the policy concepts and providing steerage.

We deserve more than: “We’re just coping …. so Let’s Keep Moving”
Moving where? Why? At what speed? Moving how? To what plan? Who with? How long for? And about this place we’re moving to: would we know when we got there?

We are a country in a grave crisis that is about to get so much worse.
We need politicians who give us certainty and coherence. We a plan, not just charm.

We need to shout at our politicians more.

We need to fire them out of the disgusting complacency they demonstrate.

We need this to be an election contest not a sleepover.

Citizens, wake the fuck up.

92 comments on “Falling into a coma ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    If we are "just coping" and the rest of the world isn't, perhaps we should stick with it!

    • Muttonbird 1.1

      +1. Envy of the world in an increasing number of ways. When the rest catch up our stock will go through the roof.

      Why jeopardise all that?

  2. duperez 2

    Of course all we want is having the 'most popular Prime Minister ever.' We've been to that movie before haven't we?

    That list of our challenges and what we need to address, are they new? How many would have been on the list 10 years ago? Anything not on the list which should be which would have been a decade ago?

    Granted we didn't attack a previous list because of attention to the biggest challenge and issue of the immediate past 65 years, whether we needed a new flag.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    I've been getting that impression too. I put it down to normalcy: a state of mind inhabited by mainstreamers (which category includes politicians). The power of this mass psychology lies in the fact that it is tacit. Nobody need think, they just do it on autopilot.

    Thus the reaction to the pandemic defaults to waiting for the return to normalcy. No need to be proactive. Just wait. Politicians see their solidarity in doing this with voters as a demonstration of unity.

    If they were to come out with a future plan, based on mass expectations that the world has changed, normalcy would evaporate. So allow the election to creep up while ensuring that voters are not spooked by being confronted with the real world.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      Dennis F yes

    • Austringer 3.2

      Been here in this land a long time from the time of Kiwi Keiths, final term, asked an old kiwi bloke, how come Kiwi!s allow a political party to control for four terms 12 years, well mate one thing you have to learn about a Kiwi, is give them an excuse and they will follow it meaning do nothing, like the Bird bury its-self and hide. One thing though is capitalism shall not hide when this global pandemic fallout happens on their profit margins, they shall adapt, and like in the past, pick the bones of the corpses and select the carcasses they see profit in and profit from.

      Why lackluster this election, well come Friday, it will kick – off proper and let!s see the wheel!s on all sides grind and groan as all policies they purport as change are just the same as all different chefs still turning out the same pig in a blanket.

  4. Muttonbird 4

    That Kelston education leaves a lot to be desired. There are 7 weeks until the election.

    Otherwise, good to re-read 1ZB talking points here.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    Shame the election is so tedious for some…many of us are ok with steady as it goes just to make completely sure bloody National is kept away from Govt. Political struggle can indeed resume on Sept. 20. Citizens in number are so pleased this Govt. has kept the lid on Covid so far in defiance of world trends.

    Neo liberal hegemony and a Parliamentary consensus to retain it, have existed for 36 odd years now, the Labour caucus is full of centrist managerialists–so a great leap forward is not to be expected without significant community organisation and public action and support.

    These columns have been loaded to the gunwales with suggestions of what to do about “covid capitalism” and the shit storm about to hit NZ. Mine are…
    –Basic Income for all citizens/dis-establish WINZ/MSD, a new social security agency
    –Massive state house and apartment build
    –Greens Policy on Unions and workers rights
    –Investment in regional and national rail, not roads
    –Repeal structural Neo Liberal laws and entities, State Sector Act, SOEs, Reserve Bank Act etc.
    –Rebuild a manufacturing sector, and expand IT industry
    –Fare free public transport, free education, dental care and Wifi.
    –Train/re-train a flexible, mobile, workforce for seasonal horticulture and infrastructure requirements
    –Pay and treat carers and cultural workers properly

    There is a chance for massive transformation, nationalisations, returning power generation and supply to full public ownership, basing life on sustainable regions and local communities and local manufacture again. The horses will stampede if that kind of socialism dare speak its name prior to this election–recall the horror a CGT provoked? Really if this country cannot provide a great living for 5 million, there is something very wrong–oh thats right there is something–capitalist ownership and appropriation of socially produced wealth!

    National’s dirty tricks dept. will likely have its filth sprayer on triple turbo boost right up to the election, so it is not a guaranteed result at all till the results are counted.

  6. We in New Zealand will have a real election with people able to cast their ballot without the virus or being shot at or bullied in any way. We can express our feelings with equanimity.

    Most of us have made our decision and have no need to shout and perform.

    The Government said "They have our back" so by and large, we have theirs.

    A symbiotic relationship to get through this 1 in 100 happening. Covid-19 is raging elsewhere, while we are in an oasis.

    That is part of this false calm, which I think will be broken when Parliament rises in a week, and the campaign begins.

    There is nothing certain in life Ad, except death and taxes. Shortly we will argue about the former and try to dodge the latter through the Government Border Plan.

  7. Muttonbird 7

    Farrar watch:

    David had been unable to attack Labour on tax because Labour hasn't released a tax policy.

    David is now demanding Labour tell us what they won't do because 'that is policy too'. For the right wing, attacking Labour on tax is central to their campaign effort but right now they are swinging blind and it is upsetting them.

    Jacinda Ardern has stated Labour will not be campaigning on major policy because their focus is on the already enormous task of Covid-19 recovery.

    It will be interesting to see what form the Topham Guerin Facebook ads take in the next 7 weeks.

    • Lettuce 7.1

      “It will be interesting to see what form the Topham Guerin Facebook ads take in the next 7 weeks.”

      'Vote for Judith – she's the one! (even if her own party thinks she's a ….)'

    • Enough is Enough 7.2

      We are in the middle (or perhaps even the beginning) of the biggest economic and health crisis of our generation, and the Prime Minister is saying there won't be any major policy announced in the campaign. Did she misspeak?

      Now, more than ever is the time for big bold policy that will address the generational imbalances in our economy, and get us through the toughest period we will ever see.

      But the PM is essentially BAU, there will be no new policy.

      I'm dumbfounded.

      If some truly believes in creating a fair society, (and is not simply tribal Labour) how can that person give their vote to any party other than the one party promising real change, the Green Party ?

    • bwaghorn 7.3

      Follow the national party working memes on fb to see what the strategy is .

      As coping mechanism for witnessing it I report most of them as false news .

      • Muttonbird 7.3.1

        I'm not very active on Facebook. I do have an account or three (deleting accounts is almost impossible) but I only use one, and that for messenger.

        Aesthetically I find Facebook horrible to look at. Visually it's very confusing and shouty. Also, I hate Zuckerberg's algorithms suggesting what I might like so he can profit from common traders trying to peddle unwanted goods.

        I know what I like, and I know what I don't like.

        What I don't like is that guy increasingly being in charge of user profiles when signing on to forums and other platforms.

        Particularly when his service allowed the murder of 51 Muslims to be live-streamed across the globe.

  8. You_fool 8

    I think the issue is two-fold

    1. We as a nation have just been through some stressful times, and still are. This has caused some fatigue and mental deflation; we as a whole just don't have the emotional reserves to start being worked up about stuff (and esp. us middle class white folk). Thus there is no great middle-NZ voice being projected by the media to drive the politicians into overdrive
    2. The opposition is in chaos, so there is effectively no one holding the government to account or creating any feasible alternative. With the chaos being the focus of the media (who need to have some stories) that also turns people off the bigger picture. The sex and other follies makes for an interesting and quick giggle for the story, but overall turns people off politicians in general. Furthermore, without the drive from the opposition, it gives the current government no urgency to show their own credentials, nor should they. Never interrupt an opponent when they are making a fool of themselves.

    I think some of this will change once WinnieFirst lets himself off the leash. People are writing him off, but this 2% of the vote is what he has with basically 0 campaigning, or screen time over the past few weeks. Once he feels he can start lambasting the Labour caucus and greens and talking up how he is the one keeping the other 2 from going off in great big purges, then we will see what % he will pull. Until then, this election campaign has not started.

    NB: It is a very sad state of affairs when the best opposition mp may very well be the deputy PM

  9. Tricledrown 9

    Advantage without Winston The handbrake Labour will get more done.

    Printing money like the Labour Social Credit coalition did in the 1930's would provide enough capital to house, get rid of poverty etc without having to open our borders like Helen Clark is suggesting.

  10. Maurice 10

    By and large we get the politicians we deserve … and this time around we are going to get them good and hard!

    A Tempest and Tsunami of destitution is rapidly approaching … as we still huddle on the couch rotting our minds with TV "politics"

  11. Sacha 11

    Most people do not vote based on policy. Sorry if that spoils the entertainment for those of us who do.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    It's not that you don't have a point, but have you tried getting angry at MPs? It is not a particularly effective way of interacting with them – they are accustomed to a hostile press and a hostile gallery, and relatively few of them are discriminating enough to tell the difference between a ranting nutter and an outraged constituent with a list of concerns that should have been addressed decades ago.

    Neoliberalism has destroyed what little functionality our parliament may have once possessed. It has encouraged a shift in expertise and responsibility away from ministers and into the unelected hands of a technocratic civil service – which works to some degree in fields sufficiently rigorous, like medicine, to train actual expertise, but fails miserably in areas like economics, where performance is more fungible.

    The only real cure is to generate a substantial new party on the Left, the territory abandoned by Labour. Those tired old neoliberal pensioners are not going to go to work short of an existential challenge, and Labour has gone so far to the right there simply isn't room for a functioning party to starboard.

    Of course the kind of mass movement required to create new parties usually arises in response to conspicuous failure – and you may be sure Labour will rush to paper over the post-covid cracks to mute any such response.

    Thirtyfive years ago when I started raising the slavefishing issue with MPs, I had rather hoped to see some action before so many of my former colleagues and union members had been driven to final acts of despair. But the trust I naively reposed in the democratic process proved to be misplaced. And do you know, to this day, Labour MPs still won't reply to my correspondence. I do not enjoy the representation for which these persons have been so generously paid, nor yet the ordinary civility they owe to all New Zealanders.

    Getting angry at them doesn't help though – they have chosen to be irrelevant, and other paths must be found for resolving serious issues. Or they will not be resolved.

  13. ianmac 13

    The quiet before the storm?

  14. ianmac 14

    And didn't the Key Government go into Elections with little or no Policy?

    • mosa 14.1

      " didn't the Key Government go into Elections with little or no Policy "

      Yes because it was all about planet Key and being the next messiah he was able to give the impression of creating miracles while only tinkering for their wealthy supporters.

      He was an ex currency trader so the economy was in good hands so why bother with policy !

      • Peter 14.1.1

        You too will be laughing at the feigned anguish from the likes of Farrar.

        He'll be going to bed each night praying that Judith insinuates a Labour MP is having an affair. Judith will be going to bed working out how she can insinuate a Labour MP is having an affair of has done some heinous deed. And how she can do that with subtlety class and nuance knowing she's just making it up. And working out which dickwit journalist will be her vessel of delivery.

        Or maybe Farrar will be working out how to say, "Our lack of policy is much better than your lack of policy and we know we can be more trusted more to deliver it."

      • halfcrown 14.1.2

        I really like that Mosa can I quote you to some of my pea-brained Tory mates.

    • Stuart Munro 14.2

      He'd talked a lot about housing – which was and is a plausible stimulus area – worked for Savage after all. But at the end of the day he was just a self-enriching crook.

  15. observer 15

    It's not really a coma, it's just closing your eyes, not looking:


    Sure, this is the government, not just the dominant party, but there's hardly a lack of information there.

    Ardern is doing it right – governing. Labour starts the campaign on Saturday.

  16. In 2019 general elections both Labour in the UK and Labor in Australia put out big progressive manifestos full of policies that were easy to attack. Both LOST.

    Labour in NZ has seen this and will not make the same mistake-boring steady as she goes with Covid competency as a bonus will win it easily for Labour in September.

    If you want to vote for a progressive party there is always the Greens with their very sensible Wealth Tax, for instance.

  17. "We need to shout at our politicians more. We need to fire them out of the disgusting complacency they demonstrate."


  18. Paul 18

    What worries me is if the government will revert to a bland version of neo liberlism post election including some aspects of austerity due to Covid. In the background right now things like cuts to school property funding are being readied for post election. If the government decides that we all have to repay the cost of Covid as soon as possible then there is only tax increases or cuts in services. We will see the leopards spots post election.

    • Paul, why on Earth would they do that?

      After giving schools up to $400 000 each for maintenance, Labour are hardly likely to take it back. That would happen under Goldsmith as treasurer, wanting 80 billion cuts!!!

  19. Enough is Enough 19

    Labour is at the peak of their powers right now. They will never again have so much political capital, and the opportunity to make meaningful reforms.

    They seem to timid to grasp that opportunity, which is a huge let-down.

    • JanM 19.1

      It's about the timing, I suspect. I wouldn't be wanting to wind Winston up too much for the next week or so, never mind giving too much for Judith to chew on just yet

      • observer 19.1.1

        Of course it's about timing.

        National are playing the tired old game of demanding now what they know will be announced later (this weekend, with the campaign launch).

        We can choose to play along or not. I choose not.

    • ianmac 19.2

      Labour had to consolidate over this term and manage the disasters. My guess is that some tax changes will be hinted at just before voting day. So the second term will be all for refreshing and not the status quo That National is aiming for.

    • Gabby 19.3

      Well they'd be mad to launch some programme that the gnatsys could twist into some dire resurgence of red clawed communism and wokeness now wouldn't they.

      • Enough is Enough 19.3.1

        National is fucking irrelevant in this election. There is no scenario under the sun that sees them getting into government.

        So why be afraid of how they will try to spin meaningful reform. Let them call Labour red clawed communists. Who cares what they say?? They cannot and will not win and I don't know why people waste their time worrying about how a 25% party will frame progressive policy.

        • Gabby

          Saying you think they're irrelevant doesn't make it so. You're sounding a bit like the emotional staffer who rickned ministers could 'dismiss' criticism and questions.

        • Patricia Bremner

          National voters are Kiwis as well. Farmers horticulturists and business have a large National voting base, some have swung behind this Government.

          Jacinda has done a great deal to assist with micoplasma bovis and the nate system, pest control and stock tracing. Many in business and farming have had free accounts help, online help and some now realise she is impartial a fine listener and actively works with others to problem solve.

          There has been a shift in spite of the south being very stuck in their ways, and slow to change.

          Labour and Green party vote is critical to true lasting change. So Jacinda has spent time reassuring people that we can control the virus so our local economy will still flourish, while we learn to stress our environment less, but we need to diary our contacts, and follow developments in Victoria as a reminder.

          Further, we will keep positive, grab new opportunities, do what we can on a personal level to learn employ buy make and grow. Being nimble innovative and using the internet in new ways. This will be hard, but by cooperating, valuing others and accepting the major changes ahead, we will thrive.

          There is a new pride in our country and our Leaders. The Labour Party is growing so we need the Greens at 9% at least to balance the new centre right voters.

          So the Green's party vote is critical in my view, as that will indicate a true shift.

  20. AB 20

    There's a problem with releasing policy – the response to it from the media, opposition and the public almost never relates to the broader intent or strategic purpose. Instead, because our culture is so hyper-individualised, we get endless stories about someone who might be disadvantaged by it. Often these individuals are rare/marginal cases, or the apparent injustice is the result of deliberate misinformation, but the damage is done. CGT pretty much bit the dust for this reason.

    So it is better when you are in a strong position to make yourself a small target and don't release much policy. Key was good at this – didn't say much about policy and then once in office quietly went about advantaging his social class.

    It's not good and it will take some sort of crisis to tip us out of it. Ironically, the quality of Labour's decision-making around COVID-19 has so far averted the crisis that might have required them to be more forward on policy announcements.

    • greywarshark 20.1

      That seems a good pathway for strategical moves about policy. What Key did worked, we shouldn't be slow or too proud to pick out the pearls from the mush.

      Perhaps it is a time for some of Sun Tzu's strategies:

      “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
      ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

      “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
      ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

      What about this from Lao-Tze or Tzu (Tao Te Ching)

      “If you understand others you are smart.
      If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
      If you overcome others you are powerful.
      If you overcome yourself you have strength.
      If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
      If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
      If you don't lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
      If you die without loss, you are eternal.”
      ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

      “Be careful what you water your dreams with.
      Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream..
      Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success.
      Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
      ― Lao Tzu


      • Grafton Gully 20.1.1

        Thank you Sun Tsu and Lao Tse. And thank you Jeremiah.

        29 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

        30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;

        31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?


        • greywarshark


          That is comforting. It is interesting to know how long people have been agonising over seemingly intractable problems. The trouble is for us that we haven't got centuries stretching ahead of us to muddle around in.

          And the other thing is, that we practically know all we need to know to get things right, and it does our heads in when we see the repetitive process that societies go through, developed or undeveloped, and always trying not to see clearly. Just watch tv and the alternate 'realities' until we can say honestly, 'I don't know' what to do. There are too many things vying for our attention now. Giving up tv would be a start and going and watching the actors in person.

  21. I don't find it surprising that the leadership of a precarious three-way coalition of unalike-minded parties hasn't put together an impressive policy programme that it plans to carry out. The amount of common ground between all three is minimal.

    Sure, in the last couple of months Labour's poll support has put it in a position where it could release a bold plan of action, but those same couple of months have also kept it busy dealing with the crisis that's given it the big rise in support, so it's no surprise their policies don't reflect that.

    I hope they are already talking to the Greens about a coalition without NZF after the election, at which point they can start implementing some of those big ideas that have been held back this term.

  22. If the Greens don't take a healthy bite out of Labour's support this election — e.g. Chlöe for Auckland Central, then Labour will be content to sit on their laurels and grow fat on a safe centrist managerial do-nothing cruise control.

    I suppose it's better than a destructive bunch of morons from National taking over, but it's also a huge wasted opportunity for significant and lasting change to improve the lives of millions of Kiwis who missed out on the John Key lolly scrambles property bonanza of the past two decades.

    • Dennis Frank 22.1

      It's a compelling graph. Dunno how much blame really belongs to Nat/Lab govts – neoliberalism, which they share, is the real culprit. Think of it as a control system directing the puppets who serve it.

      The only way for politicians to escape total control is via a competing ideology. Some would claim that socialism fulfills that function for Labour – but we haven't had any Labour politicians advocating that this millennium eh? So it's a false claim.

      Prices are driven by the balance of supply & demand. So as long as there remains the structural imbalance produced by net immigration, the graph line for us will climb steeply. Peters claimed he would solve this problem. He failed. I suspect NZF's poll ratings are the consequence. He'd blame Labour neoliberals for stopping him. True?

    • Peter 22.2

      Can someone get in touch with Liam Vincent and tell him there wasn't any such thing as homelessness and child poverty. Those things didn't actually exist, they we're just terms made up by Labour especially for the election.

      Had they existed I suppose they would have taken some time to become established but eliminating them if they had become established should her been a cake walk in two and a half years.

      Judith Collins led the news today talking about Labour having no policies. She wasn't on the news talking about homelessness and child poverty and her party's plans to deal with them so I guess that means they don't exist.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.3

      That Adam Parsons thread is a good and simple explanation of why we can't afford the private owners. As the owners get more so they buy up more allowing them to get richer from not actually doing anything to produce wealth but by bludging of the true wealth creators – the poor.

      Of course, as the private owners own ever more the poor are pushed aside while their incomes decline in real terms and thus we see ever more and increasing poverty.

      If we truly want to fix this then we'll rein in capitalism so that its not so destructive, so that it doesn't reward bludgers as well as it does today.

      • roblogic 22.3.1

        A simple and obvious fix is to stop the egregious tax breaks around negative gearing. This is a bizarre and iniquitous rule that encourages all sorts of bad behaviour.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Roger Douglass showed all the signs of being a religious convert. He went from a keynesian perspective with doubts to a free-market ideologue pretty much over-night and then made all the mistakes that such an ideologue would make and encouraged by his new mates in business.

          Great for the bludgers, not so great for the country.

          And he probably still doesn't understand the damage that he did as that would require him to go against his beliefs. We don't just see authoritarian followers in conservative parties.

        • RedLogix

          It's because landlords leverage every rental property to 100%, claim back interest cost on the rental and use that interest refund to pay off their own mortgage, and so on.

          Pernicious nonsense.

          1. No bank I know of will lend to 100% at normal interest rates. The ASB for instance typically will only go to 60% on commercial lending.

          2. Interest is treated as deductable business expense across all categories; there is no reason to make an exception for residential rentals.

          3. If you really are leveraging to 100% then your business cash flow will most likely be negative; you will be propping up the business with cash from other income. There will be no fat refund checks.

          The vast majority of landlords are ordinary working people who are trying to build a modest extra income for their retirement; this routine demonising of them from the left needs to be wound back. No industry is immune to criticism, but this is not one of the big concerns facing NZ right now.

          • Incognito

            The IRD refund on claimed expenses is nowhere near 100% either.

          • roblogic

            Criticism of the "trickle up" culture of greed that is dividing NZ and causing widespread poverty and suffering is unlikely to abate until the govt gets off it useless arse and does something about our world leading statistics on inequality, suicide, children with 3rd world diseases.

            While acknowledging that the tweet I posted may be erroneous, I do not apologise for advocating the cause of Kiwis stuck in the rent trap. If this is the future of NZ, landlords need to jack up their ideas and stop moaning when renters win a small concession for their rights.


            • RedLogix

              Yes NZ has a housing crisis; it has many factors feeding into it, but the 'rent trap' is only a symptom not a root cause.

              A large fraction of the problem is simply this; NZ is a well governed, secure and high trust nation that people want to live and invest in. At the same time we have an irreducible geographic scarcity of good build land for building and high natural hazards.

              Our building industry is altogether too complacent and lacks innovation, resulting in poor productivity and high costs.

              Regulation (like the RMA) while having good intentions, all to often acts as another unreasonable cost.

              Combine this with a relatively low wage economy and you have a perfect storm of root causes for the housing crisis. Blaming landlords for all of this is completely misdirected.

              • Draco T Bastard

                but the 'rent trap' is only a symptom not a root cause.

                No, it's definitely part of the problem:

                Unearned income is derived from control of an already existing asset, such as land, buildings, technology, or money, that others lack but need or want, and who can therefore be charged for its use. Those who receive it are ‘rentiers’.

                They are parasitic. As with rent, interest and profit from ownership of technology, the money gained can only have value if there are goods and services to buy with it, which means that those who have to produce these in order to make a living have also to produce extra to provide the rentier with unearned income. Rentiers free-ride on the labour of others.

        • Andre

          Using losses on a rental property to reduce tax on other income was stopped in April 2019. Now losses on a rental property are ring-fenced to property income, so that losses on a property can only be used against future income from that property (or possibly also against current income from other properties, it's not completely clear from a brief look and I can't be arsed looking further).


  23. Corey Humm 23

    I think Labour have got burned far too many times on tax policy and major policy and are so popular right now that releasing policy might be counterproductive because they might win without any, I think Ardern is taking a leaf out of Helen's book , only make promises you know you can deliver.

    I think it's a shame. The cautious approach of not releasing major policies that will shake things up may actually be what alienates voters, because voters more than ever want the transformational change Jacinda campaigned on, half the country supports higher tax rates on the rich, water quality is more concerning than ever before, welfare is no longer a dirty word as covid has created solidarity and people who have never been on welfare are seeing how hard it is on welfare, healthcare is more important than ever and mental health has never been more acceptable to talk about, I think people actually are huddling towards labour because they expect Savage or Kirk style transformation … Though I could be wrong and they want a center to center left govt that is anti austerity and won't rock the boat to much but I honestly think labour announcing major policies wouldn't shift the needle much to national I think people want that tbh

    I think Labours plan is to maximize the center left to center right swingers with steady as she goes policies and pushing national to the center right to right. Leaving the greens to maximize the left and transformational vote with policies labour would like but are afraid to get burned on and come a potential coalition say those policies are dead rats they have to swallow and if labour gets a full sole majority have the greens recharge themselves in opposition and hold a fire to labour as an insurance policy for a third term.

    I do hope once national looks truly hopeless enough Nat voters go to NZ f to keep them in parliament and not to waste the right vote because it'd be sad if every party that goes into coalition dies and parliament would be boring without Winston and nzf might be a potential partner somewhere down the line but ugh it looks bad for them.

    I think labour owes it to my generation to offer some transformational policies. Hopefully they'll atleast steal some of the greens policies if they get a full majority

    • Ad 23.1

      You're pretty spot on there.

      Good points.

      • greywarshark 23.1.1

        Corey H

        ..because [some] voters more than ever want the transformational change Jacinda campaigned on, half the country supports higher tax rates on the rich, water quality is more concerning than ever before

        Half the country wanting something doesn't mean it will win as a policy. It has to be a very worthy percentage – and people voting who back it.

        In UK they got an indicative response from the country about Brexit of about 51% which meant that nearly a half didn't want it. And people were told lies, so they didn't know what they were voting for at all. But they got their half plus. Will NZs turn out and back reality, I hope so.

        I fear that roblogic is close to the truth.https://thestandard.org.nz/falling-into-a-coma/#comment-1737219 -The first para.

        • roblogic

          Unfortunately so. Grant Robertson is of the neoliberal school and while I think Jacinda's heart is in the right place the Lab caucus has shown they are too timid to implement actual policy with balls unless there's a crisis blowing up in their face. Can't fault their stimulus and growth initiatives but where oh where is the regulation of cartels, hoarding, speculation, exploitation that screw over ordinary kiwis in so many industries.

    • Sacha 23.2

      parliament would be boring without Winston

      Quite prepared to sacrifice your entertainment in exchange for sound governance for all of us, thanks.

  24. McFlock 24

    National tried to fire first, and realised that their "ROADS!" policy manifesto was tanking them as badly as their caucus meltdown.

    To some degree, Labour releasing policy too soon just gives the opposition time to pivot and find the weaknesses that will connect with voters. But the delay also gives Labour's coalition partners time to separate themselves from government policy, with their own policy announcements.

    But I hope there will be a tranche of big policies from Labour a few weeks out. But then if they're still on >50% in early september, why break what ain't fixed? No policy is a blank cheque for govt.

  25. In Vino 25

    It seems to me that security from Covid19 was wisely chosen as Labour's priority.

    Evidence is emerging of nasty brain, lung, etc after-effects of Covid, even among the young. 2nd wave Covid is nastier to 'vulnerable' oldies than the first wave? Vaccine progress is not totally promising; the worst scenario is that there never is an effective vaccine.. reinfection could yet kill many previous survivors? We don't yet know.

    Covid does not appear to be waning anywhere, as was expected earlier on, when it was expected that by September the world would be emerging from the worst of it. I don't think anyone expects that now.

    Until Covid future becomes clear, I think our social concerns

    are in fact secondary.

    Labour should stick to that one priority: I think that more and more of our population will come to sympathise, unless a sudden, miraculous cure is found.(Tui moment.)

    Hard on National – their supporters want the borders open for the good of business.

    Many long weeks till the election, and just one week is a long time in politics.

    But I fear that Labour's current policy statement may turn out to be the best that will be made.

  26. Hanswurst 26

    I think it has a lot to do with expediency. Labour may be able to govern alone after the election, and therefore have no other parties to blame for failure to deliver on bold policy, so they'll hold back on that. Additionally, of course, any bold policy announcements will probably eat away at their support, reducing the likelihood that they will be able to govern alone. In the much more likely event that they are forced to coalesce with one other party, they will probably want to have as sure a bet as possible as to which one. They may well have calculated, then, that their manifesto, which will presumably be released as late as possible in order to cater for as many of the opposition attack lines as possible, should best be filled with bland generalities that they can market as being fulfilled, no matter how the cards fall in the election.

    On the flip-side, there is little real pressure for them to pull anything out of the policy hat, since National have nothing to apply it with, beyond Collins whining, "Where's your policyyyyy?" in the probably vain hope that such a tantrum will induce Labour to blink, and provide her with something to get her teeth into (shiver looking for a spine to run up, anybody?).

    It is essentially guaranteed that public or union pressure will be applied meaningfully, because there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what people should beangry about, or with whom. In that regard, there is no real difference to the Key years.

  27. georgecom 27

    One thing to recognise is that a number of Labour initiatives from 2017 remain unfulfilled which could be enacted in the next house. the 2020 manifesto should include at least some of that unfinished business. The tramline to the airport, fair pay agreement legislation are 2 I can think of. A relook at taxation and the idea maybe of a land tax or the . Kiwi cough Build in some new aspect perhaps.

    • Hanswurst 27.1

      Wouldn't that be fairly dangerous, though? If they reaffirmed their policies from 2017, it would provide Collins with more oxygen to talk about where they haven't measured up this term.

  28. Hanswurst. I agree about Judith.

    But… trying to compare Jacinda Ardern's Leadership with John Key's. Where are the points of similarity? That man was a wolf in sheep's clothing. He used people, schemed, pushed all the boundaries with John Banks and the residents of Mclellan Cr. All of that was for his own ends. He made promises to Christchurch and we know how that went. His “hats” helped him shelve responsibility and his stupid flag planking and his treatment of journalists who dared to tell the truth. His use of Edge Farrar Whale oil and Judith’s behaviour.. Nuff said. They don’t belong in the same room.

    Jacinda Ardern has made an impression on all who have met her. There is no fudging of goals. Read the budget. She governs for all, with truth and kindness.

    So many here want "revolution" in some form. Revolutions seldom end well.

    • Hanswurst 28.1

      I didn't compare Ardern's leadership with Key's. I compared the state of grass-roots advocacy then and now.

      ETA: I also missed out the word “no”, in a part of the sentence that should have read, “It is essentially guaranteed that no public or union pressure will be applied meaningfully […]”.

      • "grass-roots advocacy" and "no consensus on what people should be angry about"

        During Key's time there was growing anger about the social dislocation and inequity, the use of Dirty Politics and wealth at all cost approach.

        When statistics were selectively used and or ignored.

        Advocacy for the poor and for children was non existent in Key's time. " Self reliance" was the call. "Aspire to better"

        Jacinda Ardern said "It takes a village to raise a child" clearly favouring community over individualism.

        She says we not I.

        Anger is being expressed towards New Zealand First for blocking ideas most thought were necessary. His boasts about it have clearly annoyed many of his previous supporters. The current shift is definitely left of Winston, and his fight over his pension problem disclosure and his "Foundation" have put a full stop there.
        I will however, always be grateful he chose Jacinda and Labour.

  29. Observer Tokoroa 29

    Patricia Bremner

    In my opinion, reads exactly where our population is gathering. Very similar to the Jacinda Ardern's approach of tackling issues and finding solutions, Quickly and excellently.

    Bremner Writes:

    "National voters are Kiwis as well. Farmers horticulturists and business have a large National voting base, some have swung behind this Government.

    Jacinda has done a great deal to assist with micoplasma bovis and the nate system, pest control and stock tracing. Many in business and farming have had free accounts help, online help and some now realise she is impartial a fine listener and actively works with others to problem solve."

    Jacinda's approach is so well placed within today's issues. You calmly study a problem – and you Fix it.

    You do it for all the many things that arise. You do it for All. Jacinda is incredibly young. Amazing ! given what she has achieved here and why she is renowned World Wide.

  30. Uncle Scrim 30

    Not sure what the opening paragraph means about Bolger’s ‘second term‘ (1993-96). Both the 1993 and 1996 elections were close and fascinating. The Alliance and NZFirst got 26% between them in 1993, the last FPTP election, though only 2 seats each. Bolger’s Nats only got 35% to Labour’s 34%but won. And the first MMP election in 1996 was definitely not coma-Inducing.

    should be since 1990? That one was a foregone conclusion.

  31. Tricledrown 31

    Rob Fyfe has given the public service a broadside for being stubbornly slow at reacting to the needs around rebuilding our economy and the processes to open our borders safely.

  32. Observer Tokoroa 32

    Here and Now

    I am so pleased with you Patricia, and the Prime Minister, looking at the "here and now". Thereby achieving real results with real solutions in the most important things.

    Covid 19 is a beast. People such as you Patricia deal to the present and get massive results. Kids do not know what Neo junk is- Nor Liberalism. Nor do they want the sour taste of sour milk, of the sour past.

    We say to the Kids – Give us your smile and your energy. Waste not and want not.

    We are one Nation supporting each other. That is what we are. We move forward accordingly.

    ThankYou Patricia Bremner.

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