Written By: - Date published: 4:49 pm, December 17th, 2008 - 39 comments
Categories: housing, national - Tags:

I haven’t commented on the maiden speeches yet (we’re doing some analysis later) but I can’t let this stand. Aaron Gilmore, the bottom-ranked National List MP who got in by 39 votes, is having his maiden speech. He started by remembering growing up in a state house, going to school, a teacher giving him some lunch. He said the lessons he learned were hard work and that compulsion is bad.

Umm, no lesson that strong public services, like state housing and education, are essential to give young people a chance in life?

No. Instead, he’s an MP for a party that is committed to cutting those services. Now, he’s rich he’s determined to pull the ladder up after him. Well, that’s gratitude for you.

39 comments on “Gratitude”

  1. infused 1

    You’re becoming more of an idiot every day post.

    IrishBill: You have forgotten this is our space paid for by us. That means some civility toward your hosts is in order. You’ve shown none. You’re banned for a fortnight.

  2. Well, I have a lot of catching up to do if I want to be ready for the Nats’ list in 2017.

  3. Zorr 3

    If SP is becoming more of an idiot, then why do you still read what he writes? Doesn’t that put you both on an equal footing? One for the writing and one for the continued reading of it?

    Personally, I agree with SP. Every time I hear the “rags to riches” story from people who want to remove (or move further away from) the advantages/opportunities they got under previous systems now that they have the money just makes me sick to my stomach. I work hard, and if I ever get to the point where I am a relatively wealthy man I will owe some of that to government support through some tough times.

    The funny thing I have noticed recently is that the National government got elected on a platform that, amongst other things, was a repudiation of “nanny state” mentality. However, the moment a person loses their job they go straight to the government/state services with cap in hand for some money to get them through.

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    Errrr… it is possible to believe both that compulsion is bad and that compassion is good… including compassion with an element (as small an element as possible) of compulsion, such as taxation redistributed as benefits.

    It’s even possible to want to see genuine beneficiaries receiving much more than they do at present while also wanting WINZ (or whatever acronym they’re booking their latest flash conference under) to actually get off its collective arse and root out those who are rorting the system… thus enabling the deserving to receive more without compelling the rest of us to pay more for it.

    I know it doesn’t quite fit the prevailing world view round here, and that it’s hard for some to hold two slightly contradictory positions when it’s so much easier to slide into the warmth and comfort of a bit of anti-Tory prejudice, but there are those of us who at least try…

  5. Janet 5

    I think we are really fortunate to have people with the intellect, analytical ability and generosity to provide the useful and articulate political commentary that Steve and the other writers provide on this site.

  6. Zorr 6

    @Rex: I think the majority of people when presented the arguements both for and against any form of welfare state would choose some form of welfare as most people have at least the imagination to put themselves in the shoes of someone struggling between jobs. There does need to be a serious move towards a solution for the long term unemployed and the unemployable, however the answer doesn’t lie in just stricter WINZ rules. A lot of issues can arise from untreated mental conditions or societal issues which are often picked up in other ways (such as anger issues) yet go untreated because often it just leads to intervention by the Police in the form of an arrest or something.

    @infused: Gotta love a troll that can barely string a sentence together.

    I ultimately wish that the opportunitys that I have today are passed down to my children, and to other peoples children, so that our society as a whole can prosper and grow healthier. Knee jerk reactions to long term issues are not solutions and shouldn’t be viewed as such.

  7. George Darroch 7

    also wanting WINZ (or whatever acronym they’re booking their latest flash conference under) to actually get off its collective arse and root out those who are rorting the system

    I can understand that sentiment. But those that express it haven’t had much involvement with the business end of WINZ lately, because there is already a lot of proof required before even a cent is handed over at most WINZ offices. It’s pretty stressful and demanding for those in need. What frustrates me is a lack of evidence in policymaking, and an excess of rhetoric (none of the parties in Parliament are strangers to this problem).

    Trying to make it even more difficult would make some far right ideologues happy, no doubt, but would not improve the lives of New Zealanders (well, apart from those who would be paying marginally less tax). But that might be the point.

  8. gobsmacked 8

    I’m not quite sad enough to listen to all the maiden speeches, but from the bits I’ve heard, every National MP had the same tedious template. I’ve only heard one (Nikki Kaye, briefly) make any acknowledgement of the liberal wing (feather) of the party. Lots of conservativism, plenty of cliches and platitudes, a dose of fascism (Louise Upston), but independent minds and libertarian principles … none.

    I hope I just happened to miss the better ones – if not, it’s a pretty scary caucus. Nick Smith and Simon Power are now the good guys? Help!

  9. deemac 9

    by contrast with the very average (and occasionally even bizarre) maiden speeches by Nats, the new Labour intake have been very impressive, with Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern outstanding

  10. Rex Widerstrom 10

    Zorr, George Darroch:

    I know it’s only anecdotal but when a perfectly fit and extremely healthy layabout (who happens to be the partner of a family member) can go from ‘course’ to ‘course’ avoiding work; when he can have a job for a matter of a week or two and then lose it without seemingly being penalised; when his partner (who does have serious health problems) is in receipt of a benefit (and thus is on WINZ’s radar) but is forced to work part time to feed and clothe their two children while he plays video games… then I don’t see a lot of evidence of a tough regime at WINZ.

    However I agree, Zorr, that a proportion of unemployment – and homelessness, and crime, and a lot of other social problems – are due to undiagnosed mental illness or other social constraints (hard to apply for jobs if you have no fixed address…).

    I should therefore have added that WINZ also needs to get off its arse and take a broader view, referring people to agencies that an assist with these difficulties and monitoring the outcome vis a viz work suitability.

    And George, you’re dead right about the inability of rhetoric to solve the problem. I’m utterly unimpressed with any party’s efforts to date.

  11. Westminster 11

    I think there have been some great speeches from all sides of the House. I thought Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga’s speech was particularly good and Grant Robertson justified Labour’s faith in him. There are always a few clangers, though. This Parliament looks like being no exception. I am less worried about National’s back bench than I am it’s mid- and front benches. There a few beacons of intellect and wit sitting in a pool of mediocre sludge.

  12. gingercrush 12

    What the hell does 39 votes have to do with anything? That doesn’t make him any less of a MP. Haven’t listened to the speech so therefore don’t know what context it was said. But I largely suspect you’ve overblown what was said. And what he said didn’t seem to be that bad anyway. Though, of course just being a MP for National in your eyes makes him somehow wrong.

    And the number of maiden speeches I’ve heard from National has been great. And not at all average or bizarre like deemac makes out.

  13. George Darroch (at 5:36): You’ve hit that nail on the head. Much of what National believe need doing is based on exactly that: belief. They have scant regard for the facts as we saw clearly in parliament over the past 2 days.

    Gerry Brownlee has been an absolute disgrace in the ignorant and false statements he has been making about biofuels relative to New Zealand. But he 9and his party) couldn’t care less what they facts are. They have their ill-founded beliefs and they don’t need or want anything else.

    Incredible, really. But there it is.

  14. Kerry 14

    I’ve heard alot of these maiden speeches and have yet to here a coherent one from the tories!

    Blah blah i grew up in a state house…i know what its like to have very little….so sick of it!!

    The upshot is that if you grew up in a statehouse and joined the nats you have obviously been licking the lead paint that was used on the kitchen cupboards in that statehouse.

    Now alot of them are in statehouses which we pay for…….and theres Gerry Brownlee costing us a fortune cause we are no doubt going to have to repile his ministerial residence when he’s booted out in 3 years.

  15. Tim Ellis 15

    I didn’t listen to Gilmore’s speech, but like others I don’t know what being National’s lowest-ranking successful MP has to do with it. Is the middle-class Stuart Nash supposed to have less entitlement as an MP because he is neither working class, nor highly ranked on Labour’s list?

    I look forward to reading Gilmore’s speech. I very much doubt however that he is advocating a worsening state education system, or demolishing state housing. The National Party throughout their campaign advocated better resources for schools, an increased standard of education for children, and ensuring that numeracy and literacy rates improved. Likewise National has promised to focus on improving state housing stock so that fewer state house tenants live in the squalor they are now in, rather than parade about the country opening new subdivisions while ignoring the $2 billion deferred maintenance bill.

    SP I know you like to demonise the National Party, but it might be nice for a change to see you accept that people like Gilmore do believe in improved services for the poor and needy, but just disagree with you about the best way to provide them. It might make for a polarising debate to try and demean people like Gilmore but I don’t think it achieves any greater understanding.

  16. Pascal's bookie 16

    ooh look children it’s Tim Ellis flying by again in his famous agitpropticopter!

  17. Lew 17

    Kerry: Look up Melissa Lee’s. It’s a cracker.


  18. higherstandard 18

    “I think we are really fortunate to have people with the intellect, analytical ability and generosity to provide the useful and articulate political commentary that Steve and the other writers provide on this site.”

    Ha comedy gold.

  19. Rather than concentrate on the speeches I always thought we should concentrate on the substance.

    This week National has essentially gutted this Country’s attempt at becoming carbon neutral. Biofuels are gone, thermal power stations are back, the economy is more important than the environment even though without the environment it is stuffed, and the ETS is gone so that we can spend 5 more years talking about the problem without actually doing anything about it. And eco lightbulbs are gone so that idiots can exercise their “rights” without thinking about the environmental repercussions. That really grates, environmental sustainability ought to be compulsory. You should not allow stupid people to make ill informed decisions that affect us all.

    I will now pause and pick my spleen up. Why does Australia suddenly look attractive?

  20. gomango 20

    micky – you obviously haven’t picked up on the news out of australia then.

  21. vto 21

    SP, sometimes it feels like you really do not like certain types – based on their middle classness, whiteness, stateless or otherwise homesnesses, and etc and other stuffs. An odour of contempt wafts at times.

    As Horton the elehant said.. a person is a person no matter how small.

  22. gomango

    I have, and our response is even worse …

  23. jake 23

    if you’re actually interested in these speeches, they’re all up at I haven’t seen the speeches from other parties, is anyone putting them up?

  24. Ianmac 24

    Funny how some on the right leap to attack those who rort the system as evidence or excuse for ummmm? The fact is that every society has the no-hopers but the vast majority are well intentioned. Fine. Clean out the tiny pool of the rotten rorters. But if you measure in terms of money, consider the vast pool of millions and millions rorted by big rich folk with cheating investors, avoiding tax. The majority of bensficiaries are deserving.

  25. mickysavage and gomango: There’s one for the books. In less than year, Australia has gone from climate change luddites to leading now-backward New Zealand.

    …and the issues that decided our election (fundi-Christian lies about “anti-smacking” and a make-believe ‘nanny-state”) were trivial and small-minded compared to the real difficulties New Zealand faces…and this government’s failure to even UNDERSTAND them….never mind effectively address them.

    Gerry Brownlee’s leading the charge of the arrogant dim-bulbs….and it’s so sad to watch the arrogant, snorting ignorance on parade. His claims about biofuels were either cynical lies or the man is grossly incompetent…….and we can’t rule out both.

  26. DeeDub 26

    Actually I fear with the Nats it’s equal parts stupidity and mendacity….
    a bloody dangerous combination. Just sprinkle with the usual ‘born-to-rule’ Tory arrogance and bring the country to the boil.

    Eeeuww and I just sat through Melissa Lee’s 17-odd minute maiden effort. Turgid. I kept waiting to hear what she believes in . . . but it was just an obvious Nat party political broadcast.

  27. George Darroch 27

    Rex, I’m sure you’re right. There are people scamming the system.

    You have provided evidence of a tough regime – one that has little regard for people’s actual circumstances, and one that sticks to the rules even at the cost of hardship for a mother with young children who has to work.

    It’s also a regime that is soft if you can exploit the rules which must be obeyed, as some (such as your example) clearly do.

    Of course, the solution isn’t to make even more strict rules for that woman and plenty others like her. It’s probably to make the system more relaxed, and allow WINZ to question endless courses (although I thought there was a requirement to pass, and a limit on how many weeks…), and give more to the struggling.

    But I’m not an expert on the subject. If you asked the; WINZ case managers, the City Missions, the beneficiary advocates, and the researchers at Auckland University, about how to target the slacker while looking after the mother, you’d probably get rich answers, filled with complexity. You might get simple answers, or something surprising. Which is kind of the point, as others have reiterated. Life is complex, the obvious answer often isn’t the right one, and you should listen to as many people as possible before making a decision. Even the ones you disagree with (they often have a point worth addressing, even if they get it mostly wrong).

    Labour consistently shut out their critics in the last few years. I remember a human rights advocate friend of mine talking about how her productive and open relationship with the minister had evaporated over time. It wasn’t isolated – many people I knew had the very strong impression by about 2005 that Labour had no intention of ackowledging their cause or complaint unless it suited them to do so. National need to wake the hell up and realise that this style of Government (we know best) is going to cause them no end of difficulty over time.

  28. Sarah 28

    Deemac’s first comment is evidence to why this website is slowly being considered an echo chamber. In his clear-seeing eyes, the Nat’s can never do anything right. Even their maiden speeches.

  29. Paul Robeson 29

    You still here Sarah?

    I notice in focusing on Deemac’s ONLY comment you missed the post and the rest of the comments.

    We’re still waiting for the Nats to rush in the pay rises for teachers you were promising us. Or maybe that was Don Brash at the Knowledge Wave conference. I forget. Something about ‘I believe the teachers are the future…” I think you said.

    Anyway. State houses to silver spoons in the Nats is the topic. Doing away with the welfare state that has provided for me. that kind of thing.

  30. Mr Magoo 30

    People actually watch maiden speeches and think they mean something??


  31. ieuan 31

    Does the fact that you come from a working class background mean that you have to be beholding to working class ideals (whatever they may be)?

    I for one come from a working class family but now enjoy a good standard of living, ownership of property and a business and (I am sure) in the eyes of many of the contributors here have crossed over to the other side.

    Life has taught me two good lessons that I will be ingraining in my children:
    (i) Get an education,
    (ii) Get off your butt and work for what you want.

    I think these lessons apply whether your thinking is left wing or right wing.

  32. Mr Magoo 32


    Does your thrid one include using your elevated position include stepping on the heads of others and removing the things that helped you get there?

    Because that was the actual argument. Not the staw man you just proposed.

  33. ieuan 33

    Mr Magoo, who is stepping on who? And who is removing what? Some examples please not just recycled generalisations.

  34. ak 34

    Good comments re welfare, George and Rex: indeed “rich answers filled with complexity” is exactly what you will find daily at the coalface.

    As one who has had more than a few dealings with “WINZ” (now DWI btw) clients ranging right from the dim days of the “Labour department’ and “welfare”, I can assure you that the number of genuine “slackers” is minimal. Blame and denigration is easy, and tempting in many cases: but behind the bravado I have yet to find a genuinely satisfied malingerer intent on remaining on the Unemployment Benefit forever (and I’m sure this would apply to your relly, Rex; as you noted earlier, the sanctions regime can be quite severe – those “courses” will not be allowed indefinitely)

    One constant I have noticed over the years is a universal sense of shame and reluctance to ask for assistance – which varies in intensity depending on the department’s, the media’s, and politicians’ pronouncements. During the eighties and especially the nineties, the “benny-bashing” from “above” was rife; it pervaded society – including department offices, from the bejangled harridan down. For the vast majority of beneficiaries this led to self-blame and increased misery on a massive scale – and did less than nothing to reduce the numbers.

    Say what you will about Labour, but in this humble observer’s opinion their efforts in changing the “culture” of DWI and introducing Working for Families has done more in “misery reduction” than any government in my memory.

    For this reason Helen now hangs proudly right beside and level with Michael Joseph in this house – and will do long after this motley, “compassionate”, fire-at-will bullet-point tory gaggle has mangled its final platitude.

  35. Chris G 35

    How he got in is admittedly irrelevant. But nonethless the point is that often the nats harp on about the good work of teachers around them and public service. Yet, as SP points out, they are under a party that his historically shown itself to weaken the public service. Rather silly.

    I heard Boscawen’s speech with him harp on about teachers and a state school, yet his party would advocate (And probably the Nats) bulk funding, which incase you weren’t aware most teachers hate and it didnt work.

  36. twisted 36

    Indeed. How dare he escape the poverty cycle and do well for himself.

    Dirty, Filthy little tory!

  37. Matthew Pilott 37

    Sarah’s comment is evidence to why Trolls are slowly becoming extinct – too dumb to reproduce.

    Twisted – you think the help his family received from the state played a part in that? Ah… do you think at all? Jury’s out thus far, reasonable doubt and all that.

    [lprent: Plus the secret surgery I perform when they’re not looking.]

  38. Chris S 38

    Twisted, you missed the point. Purposely, I believe.

    Yes he’s done well for himself by moving up the ladder. But to do so he depended on certain state services (education, housing etc…) that he doesn’t seem to acknowledge.

    Now he stands for a party that, in the past, have been determined to take these hand-ups away from people, or at least make them a lot less effective, hence the “pulling the ladder up after him” remark.

  39. Santi 39

    When I read the heading “Gratitude” I thought for a moment you were talking about Cullen & Clark, the toxic duo, who have left behind a weak and ailing NZ economy (let alone the not disclosed holes in it).

    Shame on socialist Labour for not being honest.

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