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Muller is floundering

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 pm, June 30th, 2020 - 47 comments
Categories: China, grant robertson, jacinda ardern, national, todd muller, winston peters - Tags: , ,

Poor Matthew Hooton must be wondering about what he has let himself in for.

Because it seems pretty clear, even at this early stage, that Todd Muller will not be the saviour for the National Party that they were hoping for.  They may as well give up now and regroup so that after the election they can make the ex Air New Zealand guy leader.  Or Judith Collins.  Or someone else.

Two incidents yesterday showed why.  One was the leaking of National’s internal poll results.  55 Labour to 34 National is not the leadership bounce they were hoping for.  And Muller reluctantly disclosing it, and someone leaking that Muller reluctantly disclosed it suggests that the wounds evident in National’s caucus immediately after Simon Bridges was dumped have not healed.

Then yesterday afternoon in the house Todd Muller was destroyed.

Here is the video.

Hansard is interesting:

It started with this question from Winston Peters:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Prime Minister, should we, despite there being a spike in COVID-19 cases in Beijing, open our borders with China, as Mr Muller from the National Party suggests?

Todd Muller: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Apart from knowing me for 30 years and he still can’t get my name right, that is not what I have said, and I have never said that directly.

Peters then raised a point of order relating to whether or not Muller was telling porkies.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A member’s word must be taken, but if that question has been put at least four times in this House—and the Hansard will attest to that—on the fifth time he can’t ask us to surely believe his word.

And Labour’s research unit went into overdrive and immediately fed Grant Robertson with the relevant media source:

Hon Grant Robertson: What is the Prime Minister’s response to the statement from National Party leader, Todd Muller, that it was critically important that we considered broadening the bubble beyond Australia: “It’s totally appropriate that Australia is our number one priority, but concurrently we need to be thinking around ‘so how do we open up to China, what does that look like?”

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I would confirm what I’ve said many times in this House: regardless of the overseas country we are considering, the criteria needs to be the same—that is, the safety of New Zealanders, the ability to keep our economy open, and our ability to move around domestically freely. Importing cases puts all of that at jeopardy.

Muller chose to continue to ask when the Government is going to open up the border.  This was an incredible line to keep pushing given that National had the Government on the ropes last week because the border was not sufficiently sealed.  Big business may want to open up the border but I can guarantee you that the vast majority of ordinary kiwis do not.  And he kept feeding Jacinda home run ball after home run ball.

Todd Muller: To the Prime Minister, again, could she please confirm for New Zealand what is the criteria that would meet her satisfaction for the border of New Zealand to be opened to other countries?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: For the third or possibly fourth time: a country or state being free of community transmission, the ability to rapidly contact trace along the same criteria that we have in New Zealand, and the ability for rapid turnaround of testing so that we can be assured of the public data for any country being accurate data from which we make our judgments. To come back to the principle of what the member seems to be getting at, the suggestion that somehow New Zealand is standing in the way of opening up a trans-Tasman bubble is simply incorrect. There are two issues at play. One, community transmission in Australia—the idea that we would open up to the entire nation right now I think is out of step with where the New Zealand public is, and would threaten our position. Secondly, the possibility of state-by-state openings is not a matter for New Zealand; it is a matter for Prime Minister Morrison and is up to him. If the member takes issue with that, he should contact his counterparts in Australia.

Winston also had a dig:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister, on the question of opening up the border with China, has she seen the Stuff article of 25 May—that’s last month—where Mr Muller said, “How can we move into other countries, like China, in due course”?

Nick Smith then chose to raise a point of order on the basis that quoting Muller in questions was an attack on him.  I kid you not.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer to Speakers’ ruling 159/5, that states: “It is not reasonable to use questions from the governing party or its support parties to attack other members of the House.” …

I am not sure that Nick’s interjection was helpful.  Maybe he was trying to help Muller.  Maybe he was pointing out what an own goal Muller had just scored.

Even now it is clear that Todd Muller does not have the ability to match Jacinda in the house and National must be dreading the thought of what will happen in the campaign debates.  And going on yesterday’s performance his tenure as opposition leader may be short lived.

47 comments on “Muller is floundering ”

  1. Incognito 1

    Maybe Paula could do an Amy Adams and not leave come back when Todd is rolled? It is not too late, Paula; nice dance moves, BTW.

    What I can say, at the end of the day, is that rattled people make mistakes. Woodhouse, Paul ‘the Wizz’ Goldsmith, Kaye, and Todd must be very rattled.

    I think somebody should rattle their cage some more.

    PS they have found Woodhouse’s invisible man. He’s been hiding in Parliament all that time masquerading as a National MP.

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/invisible-man-national-mp-jian-yang-reporters-two-year-attempt-get-him-front

  2. Treetop 2

    When it comes to giving business certainty when the border is going to be opened how long is a piece of string?

    Even if there was a comprehensive plan to open the border for business, at anytime the plan could be paused or modified due to Covid-19.

    I cannot see any way to prevent the virus from entering the country other than mandatory isolation for 14 days and testing at day 3 and 12. This can only work if people are compliant and there will be some cases which are not detected.

    I have seen footage of countries where cases are at such a high level that people are unable to do much to prevent cases from increasing.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    A fair critique. Muller seems insufficiently nimble in how he responds. I presume the pandemic has not closed down China trade and he's just keen to know how business folk can go there & develop enterprises. The PM replied by listing the key principles of public policy involved. He ought to have followed up with a question to identify what the business folk will have to do in practice – that's what they probably want to know, eh?

    • Tricledrown 3.1

      It was the hollow man in the quaranteen hotel.

      Where you find Hooton you will find the hollow man.

    • RedBaronCV 3.2

      Well if business folk want to go to China all they have to do is get on a plane and go there -providing China has it's border open. Then pay for quarantine when they come back. Are they too thick to work that out by themselves?

      • Dennis Frank 3.2.1

        Folks have learnt from past experience I suspect (`never trust a bureaucrat') so I imagine he was trying to represent them on that basis to make the thing explicit. Or maybe he was just grandstanding. Understanding the mind of any politician is pure guesswork, eh?

  4. Muttonbird 4

    Incredible that Muller has been forced into a cabinet reshuffle after just 3 weeks. Is this going to be a regular occurrence?

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/07/todd-muller-hints-at-couple-of-changes-in-upcoming-caucus-reshuffle-as-questions-swirl-on-m-ori-representation.html

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    " I have never said that directly", said Todd, which might perhaps be true, but Winston didn't accuse him of saying it directly. Winston said:

    "open our borders with China, as Mr Muller from the National Party suggests?" and went on the demonstrate that Muller certainly had suggested just that on several occasions. The texts flowed quickly into the phones of Labour MPs, in order to inflame Muller's self-inflicted wound.

    Todd certainly fluffed it yesterday in the House and his performance there was wan, un-engaging and tepid. His own team look dispirited. I'm amused by the training Muller and Kaye have received around delivering their questions/accusations with the air of faux gravitas, the drawn-out tail to each question and the whiff of superiority left hanging in the air, briefly, at least until Jacinda begins to apply the air-freshener.

    • JanM 5.1

      At least we are now spared that frightening rictus grin from the recently departed Paula

  6. Hooch 6

    The headline gave me visions of Muller wading around a tidal inlet with a torch and spear. Blindly jabbing at moving objects and continually missing. Anyway, who are we opening the borders for? There can’t be any demand from hordes of tourists willing to travel currently? International students? Apart from enriching university chancellors where is the benefit? If you look more broadly they just put pressure on student accomodation, driving up rental prices. Get taken advantage of in low paying jobs or immigration scams. Actually now I can see why National would want them back.

    • Ed1 6.1

      Has anything happened regarding America's cup people? They can presumably book a hotel, hire a plane and come in and pay for controlled isolation – would we have a problem with that?

    • NZJester 6.2

      The headline gave me visions of Muller wading around a tidal inlet with a torch and spear. Blindly jabbing at moving objects and continually missing.

      Actually I don't think he was continually missing as you have suggested, I think he hit a few of those moving objects he saw. But those moving objects he jabbed at and hit where his feet. ;-p

  7. Regarding Nick Smith claiming that repeating Muller's words is actually an attack on him, I can only defer to the late comedian Peter Cook:

    "I've lived a long time; I've been distorted, I've been misrepresented, and I've been quoted accurately, which is perhaps the most appalling."

  8. AB 8

    If Muller fails, does that actually harm Luxon's chances? They both seem to be out of the same stable – middle-aged business guys with a a Key-derived schtick. Luxon might be more polished (not just cranially), but it's essentially a repackaging of the same thing.

    • Poission 8.1

      They both seem to be out of the same stable

      They are from the so called managerial elite , a set of qualities that could be automated (as it requires no sentient thought).

      John Raulston Saul defined the functional set as thus.

      Because the managerial élites are now so large and have such a dominant effect on our educational system, we are actually teaching most people to manage, not to think. Not only do we not reward thought, we punish it as unprofessional.

      Our élite is primarily and increasingly managerial. A managerial élite manages. A crisis, unfortunately, requires thought. Thought is not a management function.

      • mikesh 8.1.1

        Back in the sixties Antony Jay wrote a book on management titled "the Yogi and the Commissar". The Yogis were the ideas people, thinking and creative; while the commissars were the managerial types, good at pushing things along and getting things done. Jay argued that businesses needed both types.

        Jay, incidentally, was co-scriptwriter of the TV series "Yes Minister".

  9. ianmac 9

    Isn't a Business man one who sets up a business and takes risks and works hard to be successful?

    Muller has never set up a business and taken no risks and has not worked hard to be successful. He has been part of management teams on existing businesses though and "above" all the grind and nitty gritty. Now Luxton….

    • woodart 9.1

      top post ianmac. successful businessman(?) or management clone. key, luxon, etc are NOT businessmen. they havent started and run a business, done the gst,hired staff, made out wages, done the ird thing. paid the rent etc. bollocks to this endless claim of businessmen. riding a desk in somebody elses ship, is completely different.

  10. weka 10

    Even now it is clear that Todd Muller does not have the ability to match Jacinda in the house and National must be dreading the thought of what will happen in the campaign debates

    The schadenfreude is in this is very strong.

    Love the post title btw, Muller, the name that keeps on giving. I'm surprised we don't have a Hooton/Muller portmanteau. Hoomull? Mulltoon? Hootler?

    • Incognito 10.1

      Hooty and the Blowfish

      • weka 10.1.1

        lol.

        Hootonanny.

      • Three things which told me he wasn't an improvement on Bridges….

        1. Muller chose his friend Hooten as his advisor.

        2. Muller supported Woodhouse in his lack of community responsibility and his homeless man perfidy.

        3. Muller's hubris .

        • Incognito 10.1.2.1

          I hear you but I do think he’s an improvement over Simon. It is the rest of the bunch that is not adapting to the circumstances and in typical Darwinian style will lead the party to a downtrou in September. The party blames (it on) the leader, the leader falls on their sword, the party selects a new leader. Rinse, spit, and repeat.

          • weka 10.1.2.1.1

            Even if they bought John Key back they wouldn't beat Labour. Muller is probably the best replacement for SB, who had to go. Don't know why people think Muller would bring about a fast recovery.

          • Patricia Bremner 10.1.2.1.2

            The Party has an idea of a Leader. Acceptable to their base, religious, "Strong" so same type gets chosen, it is a trap for closed minds.

            That has left out the following….quick thinking, communication, leadership skills, valuing people, policy and planning skills. delegation skills, just to mention a few things.

            But yes, perhaps on reflection Muller would not drive the length of the North Island under lockdown, ….. then again, he is sure he is born to lead… …where is the question. He often looks lost, as though this is all much harder than he thought.

            • roblogic 10.1.2.1.2.1

              Shows that "business experience" is over-rated compared to experience of the daily rumble of political debate and the hard work of policy development, keeping up with current affairs, and connecting to the electorate. Also grace and quick wits in front of a camera.

              Muller makes Bridges look actually competent, even tho he was yapping and petulant, he at least knew how to play the game.

  11. observer 11

    Today was Muller's last chance to tackle Ardern in the House, before a 2 week break. He asked the same question 4 or 5 times, all scripted and ineffective. I've never seen a leader of the opposition do patsy Qs to help the PM, until now.

    He seems to over-estimate his own talent, by some margin.

    • Incognito 11.1

      Shame, the Greens should have given them more of their QT.

    • Chris 11.2

      Long may he stay leader of the nats.

      • Barfly 11.2.1

        Longer May he Burn In Hell

        • rod 11.2.1.1

          I expect Toddy will be wearing his MAGA hat on the 4th of July smiley

        • Incognito 11.2.1.2

          FFS! What has Todd Muller done to you to deserve this curse?

        • Chris 11.2.1.3

          The left need people like Muller to hang around as long as they can. I was disappointed when Bridges left but quickly rejuvenated by Muller's performance. I will miss Paula. I'd like her to change her mind. If she had the ability to analyse things a bit more deeply she'd realise Muller's chances of sticking it out are slim and she'd likely have a good chance of making it back. But I guess that's the trade-off when you're wanting low-calibre performers to stay put. At least we've got the advantage of having an opposition with little depth – or a lot of depth, depending on how you look at it.

  12. Just Is 12

    I see Muller has reverted to the National party default setting for attacking Labour today, the usual Tax increase scaremongery, he's trying to attach the Greens policy to Ardern and the Labour party, Ardern responded accusing him of "spreading blatant misinformation" during a time of unusual circumstances.

    Personally, I think if Muller and his party were to change their strategy from constant criticism to asking "How can we help the Govt and NZ" during this once in hundred year pandemic in a non partisan way, displaying true Leadership, cooperating for the sake and bebfit of the country, putting petty politics aside.

    I think that tactic would increase Mullers popularity overnight, but unfortunately, it's not in their DNA, it's a fight to the death and always, always oppose for opposition sake.

    • I Feel Love 12.1

      Just Is, totally, I felt back when Lockdown started Bridges should have stood with the PM, united front, ra ra ra, might have made a difference. As mentioned above it seems the Nats have a narrow view of what a leader is, not understanding that things change, tastes change, but National doesn't. I guess Key did it when he supported Bardford bill way back when, it was big news. I couldn't stand Key, but he certainly was a clever operator.

      • Just Is 12.1.1

        They just can't help themselves, playing attack dog is all they know, literally, as their concern for for everyday Kiwis is non existent, self indulgence and the born to rule mantra is all history will record, they had many opportunities, Bridges proved he was incapable, Muller has been a major disappointment for everyone.

  13. Brian Tregaskin 13

    I expect the Reid Research (TV3) poll will show us the trend –Can National still hold on to 38% or be close as last weeks Colmar Brunton poll.

  14. newsense 14

    Who has been in parliament the next longest after Winston? The others all left long ago. I mean Bolger was PM in the distant past, but him and Peters are contemporaries.

  15. observer 15

    Simon stares down Todd, and gets the job he wanted, but was originally refused by Muller. Score one for Bridges.

    Muller gets it wrong in all possible ways: the Right think he's caved to the "PC mob", but his front bench is unchanged.

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