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Labour Conference

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, November 30th, 2019 - 97 comments
Categories: election 2020, housing, jacinda ardern, labour, poverty - Tags:

It’s a weird moment for the Labour Party at Conference this weekend.

We’re successful and the leadership is outstanding. Haven’t been able to say that for a decade.

Economy is doing fine, unemployment is low, crime is low.

The government is popular, and the Coalition has been unified.

The Prime Ministers’ crisis leadership has been exemplary.

Her emotional intelligence in leadership plays like Rachmaninov on a black grand piano.

The Coalition agreement promises have been largely fulfilled.

Labour’s financial stewardship has enabled headroom in the “bank” if something goes wrong (in most 6-year sets something usually has).

The Opposition have scored no hits, no Ministers have resigned.

Labour goes into election year in a really good space, and 2021 promises a seriously good year for the government through its Auckland-based events.

The Party will get a new President after the last one was basically fired.

They haven’t really made much impact on poverty or homelessness, the big transport projects are quite a while away, few of the working groups have fixed anything, and Labour are no challenge to any major status quo.

But it’s the most successful and popular centre-left party in the world.

Weird.

97 comments on “Labour Conference ”

  1. Antonina 2

    Weird indeed!!

  2. A 3

    Well…housing. The changes to the tenancy laws are a big deal, but the market needs to make the correction not the govt.

    • Siobhan 3.1

      "the market needs to make the correction not the govt."

      Haha!!

      Best joke all week on The Standard!

      Keep 'em coming.

      Though, unfortunately the Labour Government would seem to fundamentally agree with you..

      so if you don't already own some crappy rentals in the main cities pretty much any where, maybe its time to invest in some dodgy motels out in the main centres most far flung provinces…the Govt. seems pretty happy to prop up those markets with accommodation allowances, subsidies to bring your business up to being 'fit for purpose' (ie Warm Homes) and emergency accommodation funds.

  3. adam 4

    Centre right government in economic terms.

    • Sanctuary 4.1

      It is a neoliberal, Blairite and managerialist party, but without the messianic cultism that engulfed Blair or the need to explain why it remains so wedded to the neoliberal status quo.

      That is because we were barely affected by the GFC, sailing through on Cullen’s healthy surpluses, timely Keynesian spending of that surplus (due to the Christchurch earthquake, not to Bill English – he is Rogernome who would have happily inflicted austerity but for the earthquakes and John Key’s desire to remain popular) and the FTA with China.

      Despite what we might wish for in terms of radical reforms, the economic status quo is not yet discredited here in the way it has been in the USA and the UK.

      So we are left with a neoliberal, progressive and mildly reformist government that has left the main opposition with nowhere to go – Christchurch destroyed the political right’s main narrative that Ardern was unfit to run the country – which is why Bridges has sought succour in his God, and retreated to wingnut biblical authoritarianism to shore up his base and to to shore up his job by continually outflanking Judith on the right.

      • pat 4.1.1

        Not a bad summary….though not sure neoliberalism is sufficiently discredited in UK or US yet

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          I also thought it a good summary. Agreed about the UK, they seem still by and large content with the status quo. Interesting to watch US and UK politicians be able to push back publicly though. NZ doesn't yet have that.

          • adam 4.1.1.1.1

            Gotta wonder how many suicide's and homeless that will take?

            But to think this government is left is deluded – when we are talking economics this government is doing virtually nothing for the poor. What scraps they have offered, have been gobbled up by greedy landlords, the banks, and real estate companies.

            It's business as usual, and if your disabled, poor, brown or a single mom – a big middle finger is still squarely pointed at you.

          • Siobhan 4.1.1.1.2

            Half the country voting for Brexit is hardly a vote of confidence in the status quo.

            And the fact that Corbyn even exists..despite being labeled 'unelectable' and the worse thing since Hitler on a daily basis, and thats from the 'liberal' Guardian..again, hardly a vote for the status quo.

            If even Bloomberg can give print space to nationalization you know the 'Top' is getting nervous.

            https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-10-02/jeremy-corbyn-s-labour-party-are-onto-something

            • weka 4.1.1.1.2.1

              My point was more that given Corbyn won the Labour leadership, has survived and has garnered a lot of support, and is presenting a viable alternative to neoliberalism, how come more people aren't voting Labour?

              Brexit is a very complex dynamic and I don't believe it's possible to separate out the racism, issues with immigration, dissatisfaction with neoliberalism, poverty and so on. Brexit may be a rejection of the status quo but it's not inherently a progressive one.

              • weka

                To answer my own question, I think there are issues there of the conservative nature of the English (the Scots show that this isn't a UK-wide issue). So MSM and dirty politics, sure, but I think there is something about the underlying nature of the society. NZ has the same problem, Overton Window and all that.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        Ardern is doing a great "cult formation"; most simply term that good leadership.

        They have a few weak portfolios, but not many. All you have to do is go through the portfolios; the weak ones are Social Welfare, Transport, and Commerce. Even Housing is improving now. The rest have had plenty of reform and fresh money and are doing fine.

        The "economic status quo" isn't being broken and remade, but there's plenty of policies enacted to assist us with it around the edges. This is as "left" as we are ever going to get.

        "Managerial" is perfectly appropriate for NZ now – in no small part that is why they are the most successful social democratic party in the world.

        • greywarshark 4.1.2.1

          Interesting points and summaries Ad and weka and Sanctuary up top – 4.1 i think.

      • John Clover 4.1.3

        An interesting opinion piece but surely the current govt is not running the country but the country is running itself despite the clueless govt,

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 4.2

      Centre-right – completely agree.

  4. Stuart Munro. 5

    Labour have done well in restoring their fortunes and have made a great many positive incremental changes, though serious outstanding issues remain.

    A lot of the credit lies with Jacinda, whose leadership and communications style is less the alpha preferred by conventional HR hacks than a Taoist simplicity and sincerity.

    The party still lacks the economic heft to unpick the conventional folly that is neo-liberalism, but at least it is no longer entirely closed and defensive. It might be able to begin to develop such expertise.

    In the meantime we're thirty years behind where we ought to be as a country, impoverished by Rogergnomics, rendered homeless by rampant speculation, and have made little or no significant progress on sustainability.

  5. Kay 6

    It is beyond incomprehensible why David Clark has not been sacked by now. He's not 'honourable' enough to resign himself. Or even reshuffled out of health. One can only assume there are no other takers for that particular portfolio.

    • Marcus Morris 6.1

      You obviously feel very strongly on this issue – can you illuminate your condemnation. Please point out where he has failed.

      • mike 6.1.1

        Ooops Marcus, Kay’s deathly silent.

        Bee in the bonnet?

        • Kay 6.1.1.1

          I'm not deathly silent. There are other things to do besides sitting in front of the computer all day. Like scrubbing mould off the walls, you know, fun stuff.

          I suppose I did set myself up there by not providing citations, examples, illustrations etc. Thing is, as soon as I do it will bring some very cruel and nasty people out of the woodwork (you know who you are) and I really don't feel like associating with them. You know full well what my comment is in relation to, and if you genuinely don't I'm sure you're capable of finding out.

          • Marcus Morris 6.1.1.1.1

            I don't go in for nasty rejoinders – not my style and it is a lovely day in the garden where I have been doing a few odd jobs. Considering the state of the countries health system when Labour took office, and you know what I mean I am sure, you must have been a thorn in the side of the last government as you harangued them over all their shortcomings.

            • weka 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Just sly rejoinders then?

              Kay doesn't strike me as particularly partisan. She will apply critique to whichever politician or party needs it. But if you are for some reason worried that she doesn't hold National to account simply because she criticised a Labour MP, here's a comment of hers from 2017 about National,

              John Key’s legacy

              • Marcus Morris

                Not sly either but merely making a point and if you go back to Kay's scathing and unsubstantiated opening gambit, then my comment is not out of line.

                • weka

                  it's problem sometimes here when people think that criticising Labour = supporting National. Lots of lefties here criticise Labour all the time (and the Greens). I think it's a mistake to assume that someone having a go at Labour is right wing.

                  • weka

                    Also, I know the issues Kay is referring to, because she has posted here in depth in the past. I also have some sense about why she doesn't want to get into it again. Again, it's not helpful to assume that she is a Nat supporter because of that.

      • alwyn 6.1.2

        I see that the DHBs are reverting to the policies they were using under the Clark led Government.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/117817711/dhb-will-remove-reference-to-private-provider-following-patients-complaint

        Put everyone who needs surgery onto the waiting list. Then at the time when all Ops should have been done you simply drop them of the waiting list or, as in this case, tell them they should now get it done privately and pay for it themselves.

        At least under the National Government you knew where you were. If they put you on the waiting list you would get the op done. If you couldn't get it done under the public system you would be told there and then. You wouldn't get led up the garden path and then dumped many months later the way Labour is, and was under the other MP named Clark, doing.

        Of course "Doctor" Clark should go.

        • Marcus Morris 6.1.2.1

          Read the article you referred to and can see no reason why Dr Clark "should go" and suggest that Mr Loerscher is probably a Nat supporter who deliberately set up this "stunt" in the hope of embarrassing the government. More telling was, once again, the reference to long term underfunding – a fact which "right" leaning people find very difficult to accept.

          • alwyn 6.1.2.1.1

            There are a few things you should consider. The first is the quote near the end.

            "On Thursday Stuff revealed that Hawke's Bay patients were having their hopes dashed by being put on waiting lists for elective surgery when there is no chance they will be seen within the four month threshold."

            Why have they gone back to this appalling system which was the bane of the days when Annette King was the Minister? If you aren't going to provide the OP then tell people at the beginning.

            "Mr Loerscher is probably a Nat supporter who deliberately set up this "stunt"". You know him do you? And do you really think their are people who will risk losing the sight in their eye just to embarrass your favorite politicians.Come on, do you really believe that?

            Finally the problem appears to be a shortage of staff, not a shortage of facilities such as operating theatres. This Government has been there for just over 2 years. They have had plenty of time to increase the pay of doctors and nurses and perhaps we would have seen the exodus of such people to Australia staunched.

            Take the money out of the NZF slush fund. That appears to be providing little or nothing to the regions. And while they are about it why don't they tell the truth to the people on the West Coast. There is no possibility of recovering anyone from the Pike River mine and spending years, and many many millions pretending they will is nasty, futile and a total waste of time and money.

        • Incognito 6.1.2.2

          So, in your opinion, Alwyn, David Clark should go because a patient faced undue delays with non-urgent elective surgery and wrote a letter to the Minister to complain about it?

          It appears that Dr Loerscher has made a submission the Health Select Committee in 2017 about Fluoridation of Drinking Water. Is he friend of yours?

          • alwyn 6.1.2.2.1

            I have never heard of him. And when did he go from the "Mr" in the story to the "Dr" you seem to be referring to? Sure it is the same person? And why does it matter anyway?

            Do you know something about him that the paper doesn't seem to? Mate of yours is he?

            And it isn't just him apparently. The DHBs seem to be reverting to the bad old days of the Helen Clark Government in their bullshit about the waiting lists where people simply get dumped off them after many months waiting. That is why he should go. It isn't just one person is it?

            See the first quote in my comment at 6.1.2.1.1

            • Incognito 6.1.2.2.1.1

              I have no idea what “the paper” knows but I can use a search engine and so can you or “the paper” if you could be bothered. No, I’m not sure it is the same person but fairly certain – I did say “[i]t appears”. Does it matter? It satisfies my curiosity if that’s o.k. with you.

              Your comment @ 6.1.2.1.1. is unhinged. You seem to remember fondly the 9 years of National in Government as blissfully waiting list-free years. There’s fine line between being nostalgic, sentimental, and clinging on to fantasies.

              You also seem to be blissfully unaware that under the current Government the DHBs reached agreements with doctors and nurses.

              Do you have access to the outside world, Alwyn, or do you live in an unlit cave in the wilderness?

              • alwyn

                "as blissfully waiting list-free years".

                I have commented on this site about the difference between the Clark and Key.English Governments as related to the waiting lists practices for operations in the Public Hospitals. You could readily find these comments if you are so good at using a search engine.

                I never said that the National Government was waiting list free. They most certainly were not. They, and Labour, both promised that if you were on a waiting list you would not spend more than six months on the list.

                The difference was in how, or whether, you got on the list and what happened after that.

                Under Labour they happily put everyone on the list. However if you didn't get the op within 6 months they simply removed you from the list and sent you back to your GP.

                Under National they did not put everyone on the list. They were honest and told you that you were not going to get the operation under the criteria in use. If you did get on the list you had to wait but you would get the op finally inside the 6 months.

                They were much more honest about it and if you weren't bad enough to get it in a DHB you at least knew that and could look at other options.

                I'm afraid that you are fantasising about what I think. Try harder in future or go and have a look at what I have said over the years.

  6. weka 7

    Nice post Ad. The two big, glaring issues for me are welfare and climate. Welfare isn't just an issue of Labour not having raised benefits, it's also largely about the attitude of Sepuloni. Both in her siding with stupid and punitive WINZ/MSD actions, but also her insistence on using management speak and talking about beneficiaries as if we aren't in the room. This is going to be a real problem in the election, because few people trust her now.

    I hope next year is the climate election and that Labour have a good way of working with the Greens going hard on that.

    Both of those are of course influenced by NZF. Best thing that could happen for the left now is a L/G government so we can see how much of the first term was the Peters effect.

    • Ad 7.1

      It was hilarious on RNZ three days ago hearing Sepuloni defending why she has only implemented 3 of the 31 recommendations from her own Welfare Advisory Group. FFS we are at almost full employment, we've raised the minimum wage, inflation is dead, so why can't they raise the benefits and make the life of the poor less miserable?

      I'm otherwise reasonably impressed with the Greens and NZF in the performance of their portfolios, and otherwise kept their heads above polling water.

      • weka 7.1.1

        one of the problems Labour faces is that if they raise benefits rents will rise. I don't think this is what has stopped them, but it is still something that has to be resolved when they go to raise benefits. There are lots of other things they could be doing in the meantime, that they're not. It's really odd.

        • Ad 7.1.1.1

          Has that been a consequence previously?

          • weka 7.1.1.1.1

            Benefits were cut in 1990 and afaik apart from one exception there have been zero benefit rises since. There is an annual increase of a few dollars, that is now indexed to wages I think (thank-you Labour).

            The one exception was National raising benefits for *some, not all beneficiaries, but that rise would have been negatively affected by how benefits are calculated eg where National said we're giving $25 to these specific beneficiaries, not all of those specific beneficiaries would have gotten the full $25.

            I saw some discussion on twitter that when student allowances were raised (might have been in the same budget) Wellington students were saying how fucked off they were because their landlord had increased their rent. Anecdotal, but from people actually affected.

            • Ad 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Your claim was that when benefits go up, rents rise.

              Anything on that?

              • weka

                You asked for historical examples and I pointed out we've never had any benefit rises so there can't be historical examples.

                The student allowances is the closest real life example I can think of, but if you want to dig into it, look at the criticism of Accommodation Supplement from anti-poverty activists who say AS should be abolished.

                My main point is that benefits and the housing crisis are intricately entwined in multiple ways and that raising benefits requires strategy. Irrespective of why Labour haven't raised benefits already, that's still an issue.

                • James Thrace

                  Easiest thing for the government to do is make it illegal for landlords to increase rent for six months before and following the increase to state provided welfare, at a level that is more than 30% the state increase.

                  That way a $50 per week increase in student allowance is not met with a $50 pw rent increase, but instead no more than a $15 pw increase. Still a rort, as no increase to increase rents following state increase, but this way it limits the rapacious greed.

                  • Incognito

                    The Government recently announced changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 one of which is to limit rent increases to only once every 12 months.

                  • weka

                    this is a good idea I hadn't heard before, thanks.

                    Maybe no increase at all for a period of time. Benefit increases sometimes don't equate to cash in hand (because of how the supplementary benefits are calculated) eg a $50 core benefit increase might not mean the beneficiary gets an extra $50 each week in their bank account.

            • John Clover 7.1.1.1.1.2

              As a public servant my flat-mate knew our rent would go up whenever he got a raise. He is dead now but spoke of past years when increases in pay were often preceded by rent increass, often before he got his increase..

              That might be fair enough but rent is only part of a person's expenditure and increases in other things went up too.

              One of the reasons why I question the unon 'sucess's' in gaining rises for their members.

              • weka

                Yes. The housing crisis is the elephant in the middle class living room that people are drying to redecorate around. I’m doubtful that poverty can be addressed without serious state intervention into rent and mortgage rates (among other things).

                • John Clover

                  Not the subject of this thread Weka, sorry ….BUT the solution, or part of it, is the provision of Govt Housing stock, for rent and sale. Much more of it as not everybody has the nouse or energy to build their own home as I did twice, for my family and retirement.

                  I am not a tradie by the way just an office type.smiley

                  • weka

                    Building more social housing is a really good thing. I'm less convinced about home ownership unless a brake is put in place on the property market. Building more houses that are treated as investment income for retirement and/or lifestyle begets increases in the value of houses which makes more poor people. Vicious cycle. The Greens are working on rent to own schemes, which seem a better thing. I also think collective ownership models would undercut the boom as well.

                    • John Clover

                      I guess home ownership is a dream of most for the simple economics but it should be up to the individual rather than govt to provide. But unforuneately this govt seems to be on the ownership bandwagon which is a waste of govt resources in fixing the housing shortage. Plus also instead of building basic housing the Greens seem to have encouraged de luxe housing which results in much slower construction..

                    • KJT

                      The Greens had nothing to do with specifying the standard of housing, apart from adequate insulation, which is hardly, "De lux".

                      Kiwibuild is a labor policy.

                      Green policy is State houses. Lots of them. Which, as we showed in the 50's, is the only real answer.

              • KJT

                The frequent strikes and lockouts in the 70's and 80's were blamed on the Unions, but the real cause was continual price increases.

                Rather than wages driving price increases, as often claimed, it was the other way around, with wage increases lagging well behind, prices.

        • McFlock 7.1.1.2

          I suspect a lot of folk underestimate the work that goes into government policy implementation, as well as the number of filters that are in place.

          There are a few things that can go through private members' bills. That requires a member to spend a lot of time and attention on the issue, running it by caucus to look for conflicts, and so on. After that, it's the bureaucracy's problem to implement.

          But for the rest to go through ministerial level implementation, it involves the minister spending time on research, clear direction, getting ministry advice, advice from other stakeholders, consultation documents, receiving papers, figuring out who enforces or monitors it and the impact on them, balancing budgets, lobbying for funds if required (and everyone else is lobbying for the same funds for their own projects), etc etc etc.

          The easy bit is coming up with the idea. The difficult bit is finding someone in either the bureaucracy or the government benches (and at a high enough level for both) to champion it. I know a number of projects or pilots that got implemented (not going to name any) because one person in the right place worked on the person with the power to implement it.

          I don't get the impression that most of this government are shirkers (well – Shane Jones, maybe). But while folks can do more than one thing, some of the inaction in some areas will be because it's on a "to do" list. Eventually. Unless something else gets in the way. Even if it's not blinkered by ideological what-have-yous.

          On the rental/benefits side, I figure the best order of implementation is to increase supply or lower demand before raising benefits. E.g. the ending of no-cause evictions will slow down demand, while the reduction in frequency of rent hikes to once a year would increase the lag between benefit raises and those rent hikes.

          • weka 7.1.1.2.1

            Add to all that is that Labour are working with a civil service that was neoliberalised by 9 years of FJK. I think there are still good people working in MSD, but I have no doubt that there are senior people who would prefer to have Bennett in charge. I don't know how this is supposed to work, because the person skilled at implementing the Bennett reforms isn't going to be the right person to reform the reforms. I'm guessing this is what is happening in Auckland eg with the queues, and with the limiting food grants by using Otago Uni's food survey as justification.

            On that last point, the main problem I have is Sepuloni not going for the low hanging fruit. That she sided with senior management over the food grant issue was unconscionable. Sh reversed that position a week later, and I don't know why. Maybe she was badly advised at the start, or she realised she was going to lose the battle publicly, or maybe caucus told her to pull her head in, who knows. But this is the stuff that should have been sorted out by now. I can cut a certain amount of slack because of the state of the dept post-Key, and because of the Peters effect, and because of the complexities you name around running one's portfolio, but in the end it just looks ideological.

            Re rent, one other option is that they reinstate the hardship grant so that the people who need the assistance can get it but it won't be obvious to the public who gets extra assistance, so possibly not so easy for landlords to rort. But yes, whatever they do with welfare, they have to do something about housing pronto.

            • McFlock 7.1.1.2.1.1

              The other issue that comes to mind is that while I don't know about most ministries, the ministry of health seems to be under permanent restructure. So people avoid the precarious employment if they can, go on secondment to avoid the flak (and that often ends up in a permanent move), or otherwise disappear every couple of years. So little things about how do they deal with data requests for research vs OIA requests gets lost with the departing institutional memory. And the point of a bureaucracy is to do things predictably – as in "that's what we've done previously". Sometimes that gets in the way, too. So maybe in Sepuloni's case the initial response was the justification for the action from the ministry, and the change was when non-ministry advisors told her why it was bullshit and how she could order the change to what is essentially an operational matter.

              It's not nearly so accurate on a day to day basis as tories would have us believe, but Yes Minister does have a lot of truth to it on occasion.

              • weka

                That's been my experience with the MoH too, for a long time. It's one of the more concerning things about neoliberal fuckery with government departments, esp the loss of institutional memory. I'd love to know if that has happened with MSD/WINZ.

            • OnceWasTim 7.1.1.2.1.2

              Not a bad summary @ Weka. I'm not sure that Labour have yet come to realise who their worst enema is – it's a neo-liberal, managerialist (often bullying) public service (in the senior ranks at least where it matters).

              I feel sorry for JA at times. She's openly acknowledged that she didn't realise how long things seem to take. Probably she should delve a little deeper and the answer will become obvious. It's why I've always thought the first thing the government should have tackled was PS reform. After all, it's pretty much how the late 80's neo-libs were able to implement their agenda and make it 'orthodoxy'.

              You mention MSD, and MoH. One of the worst is MBIE, but its a broad spectrum drench.

              I agree one of the best outcomes would be a L/G coalition (at least until NZ1 sorts its shit out and reads up on fascism – Tracey Martin especially, who may very well become no1 on my greatest politician's disappointment list – maybe she should get while the getting is good).

              So let's hope with the election of Claire Szabó, some deep thought and planning, there'll be another term.

              And your point about the low hanging fruit is an opportunity lost – there has actually been quite a bit of it – now all gone to waste. As is your point about lost institutional knowledge

              Sometimes I actually wonder whether there are some in the senior ranks of the PS are just deliberately trying to sabotage, or whether they're just muppets who've risen to their positions as desciples of the Peter Principle. There was another case just this past week FFS under I L-G's porfolio (as if there hasn't been very many). It's getting to the stage where there has been so much of it, it's hard to imagine it's anything other than intentional

        • A 7.1.1.3

          Yea, it is odd.

      • Antonina 7.1.2

        Progress in the Welfare portfolio has been very slow and disappointing.After 1999 the Clark govt managed to replace the existing culture at MSD quite quickly , this Minister seems to support the status quo.

  7. Peter 1 8

    Does anyone here believe that this government will be returned at the next election, because as an old lefty I don't think they stand a chance

    • RNZ: Government signals big new infrastructure spend, looser purse strings

      Finance Minister Grant Robertson flagged extra spending in his speech to the Labour Party's annual conference in Whanganui.

      He said Cabinet had committed to a boost to infrastructure as part of the short to medium term spending plan.

      "We are currently finalising the specific projects that the package will fund but I can tell you this – it will be significant."

      The government had heeded the calls from the construction industry for "greater certainty" about the pipeline of transport projects from 18 months' time, he said.

      "We will give that certainty".

      It made sense to take advantage of low government debt and the very low cost of borrowing, said Mr Robertson.

      "Right now, we can borrow at an interest rate of 1.3 percent for ten years. Just think about that for a minute – when we came in to office, this was up at 3 percent," he told delegates.

      "We have the lowest borrowing costs in New Zealand's history, so it is time to invest."

      There will be no details until the next update on the government books – the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update on December 11 – when Mr Robertson will release more details about the areas of spending, and the price tag.

      This on top of healthy surpluses at the moment could make Labour-Greens hard to beat next year.

      And Bridges /National are making it easier as they lurch towards ‘populism’. The may get a few votes off NZ First, but they risk losing the centre.

    • Marcus Morris 8.2

      There is also a very old saying that says "Politics is the art of the possible" and I believe that this government is sticking to that adage with good effect. To redress the social imbalance brought about by thirty years of neo-liberalism is going to take much more than one term in office and I like to think that the majority of fair minded New Zealanders, whether they be Labour, Green or NZF supporters understand this. There might even be a few of those on the other side of the political divide who think the same way, although, just as in all the so called Western democracies, we tend to be tribal. As we write it is hard to believe that Republicans in the States and Conservatives in the UK have the ability to think rationally – but there, I am displaying my own bias.

    • mac1 8.3

      Apart from the consideration of a list of achievements that has some quality, and a very popular PM, this old lefty who has voted in 52 years of FPP and MMP elections since 1968 knows there has been only once a one-term government in that time- 1972-75.

      The polls put us level with or ahead of National as a party and the three party coalition is way clear.

      I may be a 'boomer' but I'm not a 'doomer'!

      The opposition looks a bit like England in the field at the moment in Hamilton. Trying hard, bowling on a good pitch, two batsmen well set, hot and coming off a walloping in the last test. (I'll leave the analogy there save to say that we must keep the faith and our eyes on the ball!)

      • Marcus Morris 8.3.1

        Love the cricket analogy. 72 -75 was an aberration. Had Norm Kirk lived he would have wiped the floor with Muldoon. Muldoon ran probably the nastiest campaign in this country’s history – like Trump, full of "fake news" and Bill Rowling was far to nice to offer stern opposition. Had we had MMP then, Muldoon would have lasted only one term as well. Those of us who were around then (many "old lefties") will remember the "Citizens for Rowling" campaign which was supported by a large number of New Zealand's leading "thinkers".

        • Anne 8.3.1.1

          Bang on Marcus Morris.

          The death of Norman Kirk paved the way for Muldoonism and the nastiest nine years in the political history of this country.

          Three things stand out for me.

          1) The destruction of the Kirk govt.'s superannuation scheme which would have changed the economic fortunes of this country for many years to come.

          2) The decimation of political consensus and stability deliberately generated by Muldoon purely for political gain. eg. the Springbok Tour fiasco months out from a General Election.

          3) The calculated and deeply corrupt cover-up of the truth about the Erebus tragedy once again for political purposes. The full story has yet to be told.

          • mac1 8.3.1.1.1

            And see what the Kirk government did still resounds. Bringing home the troops from Vietnam. Sending a frigate to protest French South Pacific bomb testing. Refusing a Rugby tour from a country whose government was racist and oppressive.

            That's what I remember. There was a lot more good policy and achievement.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Labour_Government_of_New_Zealand

          • Marcus Morris 8.3.1.1.2

            Thanks for reinforcing that Anne.

          • John Clover 8.3.1.1.3

            One of the good thing in my life was the rolling back of Kirks siper scheme as I could and likely would have joined my NatProv as part of it.

            Instead after all these years I now have both Super and NatProv, which leads me to support increases in benefits for those who were not able in their working life to save as I was and did with NatProv.

    • …as an old lefty I don't think they stand a chance

      There's something about the left – we can read

      "Economy is doing fine, unemployment is low, crime is low.

      The government is popular, and the Coalition has been unified.

      The Prime Ministers’ crisis leadership has been exemplary."

      and think "We're doomed – doomed, I tell ye!"

    • Ad 8.5

      2nd term no problem.

      Anyone would think you're commenting from England.

    • A 8.6

      Yep, I think they will. Strong leadership counts for a lot.

  8. Kevin 9

    The most disappointing government since 1984.
    at least with National you know what you are going to get.
    This was a government formed to get power no matter what and have done nothing with it. Political capital frittered away and consigned an entire generation to renting for life.

    Better than National in power, barely.

    • bwaghorn 9.1

      Three years ago climate change barely got mentioned and there was no housing crisis . Kiwis and the press freely talk about both now . Before you can change things you need people on side in a democracy.

      That's leadership in my veiw that has come from labour.

      • Sacha 9.1.1

        Leadership on climate change? Even Grant Robertson in today's announcement credited that to the Greens. Cooperation is good though.

      • John Clover 9.1.2

        No housing crisis pre this Govt> rubbish! You must be joking.

    • observer 9.2

      "at least with National you know what you are going to get."

      Of all the reasons to criticise the current government, that really is the most stupid.

      Sure, we would have got more inequality, more people priced out of a home, more easy money for ponzi real estate, more money flowing offshore, more pain for tenants, more environmental destruction, more shameful cowardice on climate change, horribly reactionary social policies (on abortion, cannabis, prisons, gender inequality, you name it) and overall, a nasty right wing government that would have been an international embarrassment.

      But that's OK, because … we would have known about it. Yay.

      • Kevin 9.2.1

        So where’s the transformation we were promised?

        Or is that just a casualty of political expediency?

        Power for powers sake far more important than actually doing anything with it.

        • Ad 9.2.1.1

          Which policy transformation area you were thinking of?

          This is not a government using power for the sake of it.

          Here's what they've done so far.

  9. Anne 10

    Surprised no-one has mentioned the election of Claire Szabo as the new president of the Labour Party.

    She's the best thing to happen to Labour this year. Strong, fiercely intelligent and knows exactly where she's going and how to get there.

    The combination of Jacinda and Claire will be extremely hard to beat so:

    watch out for the fake claims and innuendo. Her father was an Hungarian refugee after the Hungarian uprising of the late 50s and early 60s. So, don't be surprised if the underground right-wing network rates her as a closet communist or some such…. 😉

    • weka 10.1

      Hooton is typing up the memo as we speak.

      I don't know anything about Szabo. What's her background?

      • Anne 10.1.1

        Hi weka,

        The quote below from an item I linked to on OM today (@ 8) is a good a rundown of her background:

        She grew up in Papakura and describes herself a Hungarian-Kiwi.

        "As the daughter of a refugee and a nurse, the wife of a teacher, and the working mum of two small children, I understand that everyday life can have its challenges," she said in her written statement to conference delegates.

        Mum worked night shifts and dad worked for the council. We lived in a council-owned house which we eventually bought.

        "This not only helped my family but taught me about the difference housing and home ownership can make."

        She has a music degree from Auckland, an education degree from Trinity in Dublin, a degree in commerce and administration from Victoria, and a masters in public administration from Harvard.

        At Habitat for Humanity, she oversaw the operations of 11 charities that delivered housing to low-income people in New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Nepal.

        Over and above that she is an easy person to talk with, doesn't put on airs and graces and is over-all a genuine and nice person. 🙂

  10. observer 11

    I'm getting really sick of this "What have the Romans ever done for us?" line.

    https://www.labour.org.nz/progress-2yrs-2019

    Every day the same nonsense is trotted out. Every day it is rebutted, as above. And then the next day it's trotted out again. That is not good faith. That is not "just asking the question". It's feeding a falsehood.

    And let's be honest, it's a very unsubtle propaganda tactic. Sub-text: part-time PM, photo op woman. Not up to the job. Unlike the super CEO that was John Key. Sleeves rolled up, getting things done … like a real man. Man.

    Enough already.

    • greywarshark 11.2

      What has not taking any notice of what is happening and why done for us? It gave us neoliberalism without much of a bleat; sold out by the sons and daughters of pioneers etc. Once Labour got a sufficient upper crust, it turned us into a nation where the lower orders are afraid to eat pies, because too many can lead to a grossly overweight nation malnourished of good food to keep us lean and fit for life.

      Now that Labour has got in again I think Observer is right. We have washed our dirty linen with our tears in public, and raged, waving our fists about. But we've largely let all happen, most unwilling to raise criticisms over the shushes from the somnolent public watching brightly coloured television; much more pleasant than the beige or grey shades of housing or cars outside reflecting the zeitgeist of NZs wealth creators and nation-builders.

      Enough already! The thought of losing the next election to the grey-zombies of National and Act etc. should concentrate our minds wonderfully.

      • greywarshark 11.2.1

        Happening LABOUR 1/12/19:

        aj 14 OM – Southland –

        Regional Economic Development minister Shane Jones was in Invercargill on Thursday to announce the fund would pump $4m total into the three sectors.

  11. Sacha 13

    Stuff's summary of the conference includes a photo of delegates' red dot 'votes' for the govt's most significant achievement – scroll down. Mental health and climate change win out. Building classrooms, not so much, interestingly.

  12. whetherreport 14

    Were there not sets of 99 Red Balloons at the NZ Labour conference?

    The pic not being wide angle, the reason why I guess they were not displayed.

    A well tailored new president for the party. Hope that she will at least be realistic.

    A verse, slightly modified for the economic casualty of war theme:

    99 dreams I have had,
    In every one a red balloon of balanced payments, and ledgers in the black

    It's all over and I'm standing pretty stunned,
    In this dust that was the dream of Aotearoa city farm

    If I could find a souvenir,
    Just to prove the world was here

    And yes found, here is a red balloon of global inter-generational debt,
    And so I think of you (the world) and let it go

    Our future in debt, but whose isn't?

    They estimate US224 trillion dollars of global debt as I type.

    So no real point Aotearoa squeezing itself too hard and missing out on more credit line.

    We do still attempt to pay our way, and the all good economic spin doctors know that it is the spirit of good intention that counts.

    • Ad 15.1

      That's the question.

      Great conference reset, but the policy launch was school maintenance, which moves zero votes because the teachers are already locked.

      • Incognito 15.1.1

        It was a very smart move and not like the usual cynical vote grab. They kept it simple, direct and transparent – no perceived favouritism (f)or direct political gain (cf. PGF). Schools knew immediately how much they had been allocated (thanks to MoE) and can start spending it straight away. School principals are beaming from ear to ear – think of all the final school assemblies at the end of the year. It goes to the heart of local communities. Even better is that the Government has the money. It has blindsided the Opposition (in a good way) and that’s political gold IMO.

      • Sacha 15.1.2

        Parents notice school maintenance. They also vote.

  13. John Clover 16

    "They estimate US224 trillion dollars of global debt"

    Just imagine the wasted effort in paying the interest on that?

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