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Game on

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, October 2nd, 2011 - 56 comments
Categories: economy, election 2011, john key, national - Tags: , ,

The weeks of the RWC were supposed to be a politics-free zone. Bread and circuses, maybe even an ABs win to take the rugby-loving part of the country into the election in an up-beat sort of mood. All of which was electoral gold for the incumbent Nats.

It didn’t turn out that way. Right out of the gate, with the chaos of the opening night, politics was forced to the front and centre. Then Murray McCully shafted Len Brown, and gave free reign to the Nats’ inner despot, “taking control” of Auckland.

And now, one of the biggest possible political bombs has been dropped in the middle of the RWC. After all their boasting, posturing and dire warnings, the Nats’ “management of the economy” has copped the big thumbs down from two international credit rating agencies.  Suddenly the National ediface is looking a bit shaky. You don’t need to take my word for it – the weekend papers are full of it. Here’s John Armstrong:

It’s game on for election as credit ratings cut

As much as Bill English downplayed yesterday’s downgrades of New Zealand’s credit rating, the double whammy from Standard & Poor’s and the Fitch ratings agency inevitably casts a big shadow over National’s claim to be the most competent manager of the economy.

Labour has been arguing – with some justification – that National has not made the hard decisions needed to address imbalances in the economy such as the mountain of private debt. On that score, the chickens have certainly come home to roost for National in the form of the rating downgrades.

John Key’s unfortunate talk of “muddling through” the fallout from the international debt crisis has come back to bite him, big time.

Labour is right.

While National has remodelled the tax system, it has refused to confront issues such as raising the age of eligibility for superannuation – something Standard & Poor’s tacitly noted.

National has instead weakened savings mechanisms such as KiwiSaver and the Cullen superannuation fund. National might argue otherwise, but selling chunks of state-owned companies and chopping back the public service do not add up to be solutions to New Zealand’s economic woes.

In contrast, Labour is walking its talk. With its capital gains tax and a yet-to-be-announced savings policy which may well contain some stick – in the form of compulsion – as well as some carrot, Labour is at least addressing the areas where the hard decisions will have to be made. …

The blowtorch is now on National. It can no longer cruise through the election campaign. It is going to have to come up with answers to satisfy the ratings agencies. And they are not answers which are going to be all that popular.

I think John is wrong about that last point. The Nats will definitely try and muddle through to the election without making tough decisions. The downgrade damage is unavoidable, but they won’t want to add to it. Anyway, Fran O’Sullivan:

Downgrade gives Key’s foes great ammunition

Putting off campaigning until after Cup no longer an option for Nats

Our admirably happy-clappy Prime Minister will not want to pass up the chance to cheer on the Vodafone Warriors at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney tomorrow night. … But what Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings have done with their separate decisions to drop New Zealand by one credit rating notch is hand Key’s political opponents a useful weapon to challenge his Government’s economic management. …

But this [RWC] wonderful six-week interlude of bread and circuses does not disguise the fact that New Zealand is now facing some very big challenges which cry out for concerted Government leadership.

The Key Government is doing very little in a concerted way to tackle youth unemployment, which is back at the heights which shamefully damaged the confidence of an earlier generation in the early 1990s.

The Government remains in stalemate with the international insurers while Christchurch business leaders such as Peter Townsend warn they are getting increasingly worried about the risk of capital and talent flying out of the stricken city. There is little real urgency.

And it is too pussy-footed to make the harder policy choices that will get the country’s finances back into the black faster, raise national savings at a faster clip and shore up New Zealand for the longer term.

Even Bill English – who stressed yesterday that ratings downgrades demonstrated New Zealand is not immune to the global backdrop – has a difficult time puncturing Key’s Pollyanna-ish armour. …

It is now increasingly important that public focus does go on both National and Labour not to try to sugar-coat the fiscal realities as they each did before the 2008 election. … Three years on, and the world is on the verge of a double-dip recession. But this time round Key can’t duck shove Governmental responsibility for our finances on to Clark.

Like Armstrong, I think O’Sullivan is way too optimistic in expecting action from the Nats. Muddling through has worked brilliantly for them by the only criteria that they care about – poll ratings. Why change a winning strategy? As long as the media keep portraying Key as a “great bloke”, everything will be fine. For the Nats. Not for the country.

56 comments on “Game on ”

  1. r0b 1

    “free reign” – I think I’ll leave it in and pretend the pun was deliberate. 

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    The game is indeed on. There is much more bad news for National coming up in the next 8 weeks.

    • mik e 2.1

      Dan carter out of world cup watch Keys rhetoric change to prepare us for disappointment he an expert at that. He has been conning us for three years about this brighter future all talk and no delivery.last words in parliament and we are going to win the world cup as well will have him worrying !Ipredict

  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    While the masses were being distracted with bread and circuses some REALLY NASTY stuff was being done.

    I received another alert today with respect to the sneaky tactics the government is using to widen the scope of the control their neofascist state has over the people.

    Subject: Fw: food bill

    Hi Everyone,

    This is really important – remember the Therapeutic Medicines Bill that caused a riot when the government wanted to restrict and/or delete valuable herbal remedies and alternative medicines.

    Well if you thought that was bad – this is horrendous.

    This is an urgent call to action, this will affect every living person.
    How are the lemons looking in your neighbourhood? Good? How about the smell of that birthday cake someone baked for you? Mmmmm, delicious, can’t wait till they give it to you?

    Feeling thirsty, for water perhaps? Soup kitchens? Food not bombs? Community gardens? How about all those cheap bagged fruits at roadside stalls, or that bread the op shop was giving away that the bakery didn’t want at the end of the day? You like saving seeds from your garden and sharing them with other gardeners or seed banks? food co-ops?

    How about having a wee bake sale for the community group fundraiser? You like food to be free, cheap, and accessable from a variety of sources? How about a bit of variety in the types of plants you can grow and consume? Might use Natural medicines? If you answered YES to any of the above then the Food Bill 160-2 (2010), Government Bill could have a major impact on your life.

    This is a Bill before parliament that has already passed through one reading and recommendations of the assigned committee have been made to parliament..
    This means it is due to go for its second reading at parliament with the recommendations integrated into it. It could easily be mistaken for a Bill designed with public safety in mind, but a closer look reveals that in fact this Bill would put an end to a basic right: that of freely sharing our food, seeds, and natural remedies and an end to the lemonade stand?.

    Furthermore, anyone selling their own produce would be required to gain legal authorisation to do so, at a cost of course,
    and heres the clincher : small growers and sellers at say, farmers markets, will be hit with increased costs of compliance, that would of course push up food prices hurting the growers, sellers, and buyers of produce.

    Not being legally allowed to share seeds without authorisation will discourage diversity of seeds, pushing heirloom varietys already rare into the too expensive basket, thus encouraging homogenisation of seed stock. This of course will provide massive market advantage? to multinational seed corporations such as Monsanto who not only can afford the costs of compliance but whose aims include narrowing and controlling the plants grown for consumption through Genetic Engineering, and controlling available seed stock by supplying seed for plants that will not self seed, thus enforcing our dependence on them. Basically it reinforces the capitalist anti-people mantra of profit over people in a very serious manner.

    Now, you may wonder why the NZ government would want to do such a thing, there are many reasons, but the reason being presented is that we (the state and thus its citizens) must comply with the the rules set out for us in an agreement with the World Trade Organisation the the NZ government is a signatory to.
    If all this seems somewhat surreal or overwhelming to you, you are not alone. This Bill is not yet law, and despite formal public submissions being closed, it is not too late for those opposed to the Bill to make our voices heard and have a very real impact on parliament as they consider its merits.

    What can we do? Well, there is plenty we can do to deal with this attack on these, our fundamental rights to sustenance. And while there is very narrow provision within the law to opt out of this proposed law being enforced upon individuals this simply is not enough, it must be stopped! This is a call out to everyone to get ready to take action.

    Sign the petition on line: http://www.petitiononline.co.nz/petition/oppose-the-new-zealand-government-food-bill-160-2/1301

    We wholeheartedly encourage everyone with the means to communicate to call a community meeting or get together with friends to discuss what you are willing to do to protect our food from their greed. Remember, the more of us that stand together, the harder we are to ignore or push around.We must take action!
    There is some helpful analysis and other useful information available here: http://nzfoodsecurity.org/

    • AAMC 3.1

      “Not being legally allowed to share seeds without authorisation will discourage diversity of seeds, pushing heirloom varietys already rare into the too expensive basket”

      Which is why we should all be buying and storing organic seeds, growing them and saving them, so we can ignore this law and distribute seeds if it is policed at it’s full potential.

    • Vicky32 3.2

      Signing now…

  4. AAMC 4

    English made it very clear on Q&A that he was going to do nothing in response to downgrade as they were already on the right track.

    The Narrative now sits with you Labour, don’t drop the ball. As Seumas Milne wrote in the Guardian -‘Those who grasp that the crisis is transforming politics will shape its future’

  5. Ianupnorth 5

    Remember the power of social networking – get succinct, factual and acceptable messages out there!!

  6. That’s ’cause you can’t have all circus and no bread.

  7. Anthony 7

    Labour caucus just need to keep their discipline (or get some) and not give the Nats any more free passes in the media.

  8. U 4 United 8

    Why didn’t your lot tell Demonic Fenton that there isn’t supposed to be politics during the RWC? Why does Labour have that absurd black sign endorsing the ABs?

    • thejackal 8.1

      You mean the sign that says; WHEN THINGS LOOK BLACK, WE’RE AT OUR BEST. GO THE BOYS… OMG! Labour supports the All Blacks… Time for you RWNJ’s to fully freak right out. I guess National’s equivalent would read: WHEN THINGS LOOK RED, WE PASS THE BUCK.

  9. Cloaca 9

    Can somebody tell me that Standard & Poors got the Credit Rating right for AMI ? Why should we take any notice of an American Agency who only do things the American way – and what a stuff up American is, with no room to improve. “God Help America” should be their national anthem. Nobody else will.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      All the credit rating agencies are corrupt lackeys of the bankster occupation.

      They gave the toxic/false assets of securitized subprime mortgages (mortgages which the owners woud never be able to repay) AAA ratings: higher than NZ.

      Fuck them all.

  10. fender 10

    I thought at the time it was an odd suggestion to make RWC duration a political free time, I was rapt when Goff told phoney Key to get real, the running of the country outweighs a sporting event even if PM had ambush marketing plans.

  11. felix 11

    Key is in Australia with his new mate Peter Leech for the NRL grand final.

    He managed to find 20 minutes in his oh-so-busy schedule to chat to his other mate Murray Deaker on the radio today about how he’s a league expert now as well as an honorary all black.

    Your tax dollars hard at work.

    • queenstfarmer 11.1

      Yeah, it’s not like Helen Clark ever attended an NRL grand final featuring the Warriors.

      Oh wait, not only did she do just that, she also took 3 ministers with her:

      Prime Minister Helen Clark and three Ministers will cheer the Warriors at Sydney’s National Rugby League (NRL) grand final.

      Ms Clark confirmed yesterday she would be at Sunday’s game, with Sports Minister Trevor Mallard, Transport Minister Paul Swain, and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Mark Gosche.

      So that leaves the only salient part of your comment as the deliberate childish misspelling of Peter Leitch’s name, which seems appropriate for your level of discourse.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        Let’s ignore the whole rest of the comment about Key appearing on the radio and putting on airs, then.

        • felix 11.1.1.1

          Airs is right. He even said “one of the boys” (implying an all black in the context) had texted him to let him know about Dan Carter’s injury.

          Because sure, the first concern of the all black squad is letting Johnny pisshead know what they’re up to.

          The guy is a joke.

        • queenstfarmer 11.1.1.2

          Appearing on radio? Well that’s a fair point then – after all it’s not like Helen Clark ever appeared on the radio.

          And of course Helen Clark was never “matey” with the Mad Butcher, or associated with league. I guess it was another Helen Clark who launched Peter Leitch’s autobiography, and another Helen Clark who was the honorary patron of the NZRL for 6 years while PM.

          My advice to Felix would be to stick to childish name-calling.

          • felix 11.1.1.2.1

            It’s all Key does, framer.

            I explained that below but the sentences were a bit long and you probably got distracted by a the trip-tropping of hooves.

            My advice to you is to take a course in basic reading comprehension. If you vote Labour (actually anyone but National) you might be able to take a night school class next year.

            Helen Clark is a big league fan and a long time Warriors supporter.

            Key is a tourist.

            Keep up the comparisons, they’re always enlightening.

          • AAMC 11.1.1.2.2

            It’s got nothing to do with Helen Clark this Helen Clark that, it’s about whether Key is doing an adequate job.

      • felix 11.1.2

        queenstframer, there’s plenty more in the comment but you’re too dense to absorb it.

        The comparison to Helen Clark is indeed worth looking at. Her colleagues and adversaries alike recognise and admire her tireless work ethic, attention to detail, and inside-out first-hand understanding of everything her govt did.

        In Key’s case, by contrast, these celebrity appearances are all he ever fucking does.

  12. Pro_Rata 12

    I was amused to see Key (‘Le Clef’) hosting a radio show with upbeat patter as economic rating downgrades were announced. He sounded well-coached, not surprising as Nat president Joyce is a former disk jockey.

    It gets worse .. Dan Carter is out of the world Cup.

    Nothing is inevitable, but the last time our ‘tout negres’ lost the cup, rape crisis centres were overwhelmed in the South Island and other parts of the country reported abnormally high rates of sexual assault.

    Who would wish to be a working girl, keeping the economy ticking over, in such an environment ?

  13. Leopold 13

    RWC?

    Nous dansons sur un volcan! as le Comte de Salvandy observed in 1830

  14. fender 14

    OMG is TVNZ Keys propaganda machine? First hes in news item holding stolen baby at Sydney stadium talking crap then its revealed new poll has him running away with election, how can this be? Dont those polled have a clue about this governments poor results? No of course they dont TVNZ dont report relevant information, they too busy acting as Shonkeys propaganda machine.

    • Puddleglum 14.1

      The poll shows National’s support hasn’t changed – 56%.

      Labour down 1% to 29%, Greens up 3% to 9% (so Labour-Greens up 2%). Confidence in the economy has reduced – 45% say they expect it to be better in 12 months compared with 49% saying the same in August.  35% now think it will get worse compared with 31% in August.

      Key is up 6 points to 59% Preferred PM. Goff steady on 8%. 

      Edit: Oh, and ACT is on 1% (down 1 point)

      • mickysavage 14.1.1

        Confidence is the most important measure.  When the people are confident for their future they do not change their vote.  Confidence slipping normally means a reduction in support in the next month or two.  Here’s hoping.

  15. randal 15

    Of course it is game on. National have shown themselves to be a party of nowhere men. Hamburger heatley was trying to get teev time last week but he came across as a cross between a retread tyre salesman and a fairground barker.. As for TVNZ they fancy themselves as having an oversight role in the lives of all new zealanders and its about time their bums was kicked as well.

  16. HC 16

    New polls out tonight, both showing the National (Socialists) are leading and taking the election in November in great strides.

    Yeah, polls are generally conducted between 3 and 7 pm, when landline customers are phoned by polling services asking an array of questions, taking around 15 to 25 minutes.

    The likely respondents that are home then, that have landlines, who put up with such nuisance calls, even answer questions patiently and seriously for up to 25 minutes, tend to be senior citizens or mature baby boomers who have nothing much else to do, got their mortgages paid off, dislike “bludging” beneficiaries, love Don Key (wave and smile always appeals to elderly ladies), are not worried about losing jobs, do not care much about the long term future of NZ (due to not many years left to live) and tend to be a bit more on the “conservative” spectrum.

    So any surprises?

    Those that do not respond, decline to be involved, have no party preference, are not home, are too busy working and studying to survive and invest in their future, they may not even be included.

    Truly representative though in a modern “benign” dictatorship led by a catwalking, rugby uniform wearing wannabe PM. All is well in Aoteaoroa NZ. You are in safe hands, trust me and I will see you through (until I catch the plane out to Hawaii).

  17. Anne 17

    Those that do not respond, decline to be involved, have no party preference, are not home, are too busy working and studying to survive and invest in their future, they may not even be included.

    Add to that list the huge no. of people who can no longer afford landlines and who are likely to be Labour/Green voters. The poll companies claim they take that into consideration. Pfft… how can they do that when they can’t even contact them. The sheeples like to go along with winners… so it’s a given they are influenced by the “outcomes” of these polls.

    What a cynical and conniving rort!!

    • Vicky32 17.1

      Add to that list the huge no. of people who can no longer afford landlines

      That puzzles me greatly! I am on UB but will never give up my landline, as mobile calls are far too expensive. (I have a mobile too, but never use it for calling, only texting.) I could never be without a phone, for medical reasons.
      The more important thing I think, it that polling companies have phone numbers listed by addresses, and I have only twice in 15 years living here been asked to take part in a political poll. Polling companies know full well this is a state housing area, so they don’t call us! The first time, after I had given my Labour/Green answers, the woman who had called told me that her supervisor had just told her that my answers would not be used as “We have enough from your demographic”. I find that far more interesting than any assumptions about landlines – which are not necessarily true. Everyone in this State housing street, almost all of us on benefits – have landlines, mostly for the same reason that I do.

      • Anne 17.1.1

        I think most of those who don’t have landlines are part of a younger generation Vicky32. I have a landline too – which I can’t really afford any more – but this is what I am used to… Younger people on the other hand often can’t afford both a landline and a cell phone, so they choose their cell phone. These are the ones who never get polled, and they are an ever increasing portion of the population demographic. Note I also included the Greens in my comment who, I’m sure, would feature significantly among them.

        • Vicky32 17.1.1.1

          Younger people on the other hand often can’t afford both a landline and a cell phone, so they choose their cell phone.

          I believe that’s the case with my son and his flatmates, although in their case, being young health professionals, they have more money than I have ever seen in my life!
          I stick with my landline as it’s much cheaper otherwise I could never afford it. (I have just the phone, no add-ons, so $44.00 odd a month.) My mobile is a prepay, my son uses it to phone me, as we have this Best Mates thingy, otherwise it too would be unaffordable.
          I had a friend (one of many who have had such experiences) who was stretched out on her kitchen floor with an ectopic pregnancy, who nearly died because although her daughter found her, Chris was practising false economy – no landline phone, and the daughter had to struggle (at 5 years old!) to find a neighbour who was at home, to call an ambulance. My own son had an accident at 3 years old, and because the ex refused to have a phone, I had to do the same. The only number I can afford to call on my mobile is 111!

          • Anne 17.1.1.1.1

            Yep. It’s so unfair on those who can’t afford landlines (or broadband) but that’s NAct type market-forces for you. I splashed out on broadband – which is what I really can’t afford – but I wouldn’t be without it now. It has opened up a whole new world for me. I can access information that I never could before.

            • Draco T Bastard 17.1.1.1.1.1

              Broadband is far more important than a land line now. Of course, we’re finally starting to see plans that use the broadband to supply a land line as well and that starts bringing the whole lot down in price. Won’t be long before “phone” lines cease to exist.

              also cellphone calls/txts on prepay deals can be rationed according to income – landlines are a fixed “pay up, now!”

              Orcon has a mobile plan that has a zero monthly charge. Pay by the minute but charged after use rather before. I find it more convenient than pre-pay as I don’t have to worry about how much is left and when I need to top up to keep the number.

              • Herodotus

                The cost for fibre – Data package fee, wiring of data box in house and fibre from house boundary to house, then retrofit fibre internally or wireless house link. and if there is a power failure there is a phone failure as the phone runs thru the fibre box. Unlike currently that a power cut does not inpinge on the phone (Unless you have a wireless that is plugged into a power point)
                DTB go to a new sub division and see the costs that are faced. Developments I have some understanding of – the uptake of fibre is not great owing to the costs.
                Then there is the new junction boxes that have to be established around communities, and the fibre that is blown has a limit in the distance it can travel to the properties boundary. The confusion as to who does what: is it Telecom, Chorus or Worldxchange.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  The confusion as to who does what: is it Telecom, Chorus or Worldxchange.

                  All caused by the stupidity of selling Telecom in the first place and then hoping that competition would make things cheaper rather than realising that competition would actually make things more expensive as it did in the 19th century. And no party anywhere, except possibly The Alliance, even considering the the rational option of bringing the whole lot back into public ownership and going back to a monopoly provider.

              • Vicky32

                Won’t be long before “phone” lines cease to exist.

                I seriously hope not! Sometimes the old tech is best – I still have two typewriters (electronic and manual, and that way I don’t have to faff around with printers and their consumables), and I for the life of me don’t understand why TV is going to go digital, forcing everyone to get set-top boxes! If it ain’t broke, why “fix” it? When it happens, I’ll keep my TV for DVDs but for the rest, I’ll revert to radio 24/7… I’m lucky sight is not as important to me as hearing…

        • McFlock 17.1.1.2

          also cellphone calls/txts on prepay deals can be rationed according to income – landlines are a fixed “pay up, now!”

      • Herodotus 17.1.2

        V32 should you be afortunate to have copper replaced with fibre, or move to an area where fibre is the only option – there will be no landline options available. As areas that have fibre have only a dataline fee structure, you cannot just get a traditional landline. So a land line is under $50/month most datalines + box cost exceed $100/month. So for these their only other option is cellphones.
        I notice that no one is reporting this out – just how great fibre to the home is. It isn’t if you only use a phone

        • Vicky32 17.1.2.1

          So a land line is under $50/month most datalines + box cost exceed $100/month. So for these their only other option is cellphones.
          I notice that no one is reporting this out – just how great fibre to the home is. It isn’t if you only use a phone

          My giddy aunt! That’s something to worry about if I have to move… Cell phone calls are jolly expensive! Now I understand how it’s possible for someone to not be able to afford a landline… which had previously not made sense to me..

  18. Herodotus 18

    AA rating should be an issue.Yet we are now on the same level as Japan !!!! Yet nothing that has come out from labour is a game changer. Someone name a policy with how it is to be implemented by Labour that does not follow the Neo lib conformist thinking?
    CGT requires a working group before implementation. So when would a CGT pass and when could and real revenue for the govt be received? I would say 2020, at best (pity about those self serving exemptions, to tarnish the policy, I wonder how many of these exceptions benefit current politicians? ). So how is a $5k tax free threashold to be financed?
    http://www.interest.co.nz/news/51598/labour-leader-goff-calls-tax-working-group-tackle-tax-avoidance-take-pressure-middle-classes
    Be it Lab or Nat they follow the likes of the Un, IMF, World Bank we already have had much of our sovernity usurped away from NZ and decisions are being made by faceless organisations off shore.
    Iceland are experiencing this war head on – yet very little is being reported…..
    http://michael-hudson.com/2011/04/why-iceland-voted-no/

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      As has been said, a CGT doesn’t bring in a lot of tax itself but closes one of the loopholes that allow people to avoid paying tax increasing the tax take indirectly which will be an immediate change.

  19. Pro_Rata 19

    Manly have just won the final, so Key cannot vicariously feed off the winning mana of the Warriors

    • felix 19.1

      Too late for Key, he’s publicly tied to the Warriors now.

      His oft-touted political instincts seem to be failing him lately.

  20. JJ 20

    More jealousy of our popular and competent prime minister!

  21. ak 21

    So the Jonah Key kiss of death catches the Warriors in its relentless metastasis from Pike River to Christchurch, our credit rating, Don Carter and Ali McCraw or whatever their names are…..for God’s sake keep him away from the children…

  22. Rob 22

    John Key has to be the most vacuous PM NZ
    Has ever had
    Our credit rating has just been downgraded
    That and our high dollar makes us so vulnerable
    Can we ever expect him to show leadership
    And even consider showing up?

    • happynz 22.1

      Can we ever expect him to show leadership
      And even consider showing up?

      Not likely.

      What is it with the news programmes in this country, anyway? Not a peep last night nor this morning about the credit downgrade. Just more blethering about some poll showing what a magnificent bloke John Key is. One would expect this Dear Leader stuff out of North Korea. It’s creepy when it happens here.

  23. randal 23

    of course it is game on. national and their media pals thought they had it all sown up with a gallon of hair gell and teeth whitener and it was going to be a walk in the park. By now the voters have had enough of politics lite and lighter and the attempts by national to use gimps like hamburger heatley to put a face to their policies have seriously backfired. Its all over for national.

  24. sopa 24

    .. bar the counting

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