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Nat tactics Ngaro and third term arrogance

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, May 24th, 2017 - 41 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, national, same old national - Tags: , , , , , ,

Nat MP Alfred Ngaro gave the country a reminder of Nat tactics when he threatened Labour list candidate Willie Jackson with losing Government support for his Manukau Urban Māori Authority interest in a charter school and Whānau Ora contract. Being quite so open about it was a PR disaster:

It’s a third-term thing – why Alfred Ngaro hurt National

Alfred Ngaro has apologised to his Cabinet colleagues for his conference blunder. But the damage has already been done. The junior minister delivered a speech at the weekend where he openly bragged about him and his colleagues having the power to punish anyone that bagged the Government by withholding their taxpayer funding.

How can it hurt National? Because it feeds the perception of third-term arrogance and bullying that are the enemy of any third-term Government.

Ngaro might be sorry now but the circumstances of his original threat – not one delivered il sotto, in a smoky room, but from the stage to a crowded National Party conference – leaves worrying questions over whether his is an isolated view, or reflective of a wider culture among his colleagues. …

Oh it’s a wider culture among his colleagues. National has a long history of this sort of attack, going all the way to the top (and it’s still happening: “Five of nine NGOs contacted by Checkpoint with John Campbell today said they strongly believed being critical of the government could affect their funding.”)

Yesterday, more than a week later, Ngaro grudgingly fronted up with another apology directed mainly at the embarrassment he has caused the Nats. It’s not enough (Bill Ralston of all people):

Nine year itch: What Alfred Ngaro revealed about the National Government

Did Alfred Ngaro accidentally reveal the way the Government controls its critics?

A third-term government is a little like a bad marriage. It all started out lovey-dovey cuddles and kisses and then, by the ninth year, the itch set in with a large dollop of complacency and arrogance.

That may explain the behaviour of Alfred Ngaro, the Cabinet minister whose speech to a National Party regional conference last weekend contained a none-too-subtle threat that the Government would deny funding to individuals and organisations that were critical of them in election year. “If you get up on the campaign trail and start bagging us,” he said, “then all the things you are doing are off the table. They will not happen.”

How any politician could stand up in a forum attended by note-taking journalists and boast about threatening, say, a Maori partnership school or the Salvation Army and still remain a minister is beyond me. His backside should have had a smouldering imprint of Prime Minister Bill English’s boot on it. Instead, he was mildly rebuked and an internal audit made of funding that he had not yet granted or denied during the five months he had held the voluntary sector portfolio. …

English should have fired Ngaro and it speaks volumes that he hasn’t.

See also Alfred Ngaro refuses to apologise for claims media manufactured housing crisis

41 comments on “Nat tactics Ngaro and third term arrogance ”

  1. Bearded Git 1

    English has cut the funding to Environmental Legal Assistance from several million to $750k a year which means small community groups can now very seldom get legal or expert assistance in the Environment Court where they usually opposed landscape-spoiling plans by developer mates of the Nats.

    It was too controversial to delete the fund totally, so he has made it next to useless.

    The Labour/Green bloc needs to reinstate this funding on September 24th.

  2. Jilly Bee 2

    It appears that Alfred’s sister hasn’t endeared herself to her travelling group – can’t find any mention on the NZME or STUFF websites. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/331438/traditional-artwork-lost-during-trip-of-a-lifetime-gone-sour

    I’ll refrain from making a comment – I may get a tad defamatory!

  3. Sacha 3

    If the Nat caucus had more than one PI ready for cabinet, Ngaro would be gone.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Nine year itch: What Alfred Ngaro revealed about the National Government

    It’s not a nine year itch at all – it’s National’s Modus Operandi. Anyone who says otherwise is either delusional or trying to find excuses for their objectional behaviour.

    • tc 4.1

      Leopards and spots

    • McFlock 4.2

      Well, I think the itch might be at the electorate/media side. Petulant Bean got away with petty abuses of power for vengeance, and wasn’t forced by the boss to pretend to apologise. But the nats have been scratching this media scab for days.

  5. ‘ English should have fired Ngaro and it speaks volumes that he hasn’t. ‘

    This,…. tactical downplaying by Bill English is typical of his modus operandi – particularly with a general election only months away. Even more reason to fire English and the National party in September.

    We don’t want a ‘yes’ minister PM and a govt full of toadies – we want an actual govt. This country’s got big problems now and we want to start seeing them get fixed.

  6. David Mac 6

    Governments have no money, they’re broke. We entrust them to operate the zipper on our purse.

    I think Alfred forgot to disconnect his brain from his mouth and spat out an embarrassing Freudian Slip. Burnt the cakes.

    At the beginning of their reign I believed when they said “We” they were thinking in terms of Team New Zealand, all of us, the owners of the purse. Now when they say “We” it feels like they’re talking about the people that were at the meeting that afternoon.

    It’s not your money Alfred, none of it is.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      National never talks about all of us – they only ever talk about themselves and those they consider ‘important’.

      • David Mac 6.1.1

        Yeah…but can you see any other colour than ‘Blue jersey, stink’ /Red jersey with green stripes, cool?

        I thought they did ok at the kick off. At that time other governments were gutting social expenditure, they borrowed money to keep the welfare machine ticking over as it was prior to all the bankers getting caught with their pants around their ankles.

        At the time I recall thinking, team NZ, ok, cool. I haven’t felt that way for some time.

        • Draco T Bastard

          but can you see any other colour than ‘Blue jersey, stink’ /Red jersey with green stripes, cool?

          Yes I can because I look at what people do and not what they say. Everything that National does benefits themselves and the rich.

          I thought they did ok at the kick off.

          They didn’t. Right from their assumption of power they started going wrong. Like the tax cuts that they gave to the rich while increasing taxes upon the poor and then had to borrow to cover basic government expenditure.

          At the time I recall thinking, team NZ, ok, cool. I haven’t felt that way for some time.

          You must be one of those ones that never thinks about how policies affect other people and only about they make you better off. It is this selfishness, this blindness that destroys societies.

          • David Mac

            Government policy adjustments have next to no bearing on my personal life Draco. I realised pretty early on that if I was going to lead the adult life I wished for I would die waiting for a government to make my dreams come true. I care about policies because of how they influence the lives of those I care about. I’m a socialist Draco, I stand for us, not me.

            • Draco T Bastard

              I see we, the people, as the government not some pratts in suits in the Beehive and that part of being the government is that we work to make society viable for everyone and making a few people rich, as National does, does the exact opposite.

  7. Ad 7

    More a “young Minister thing”.
    The extreme contractarian social welfare government we have leaves no room for real politics.

    Politics meaning accountability to democratically-elected people. In a democracy, not a vast set of commercial contracts.

    I look at what Willie Jackson and the whole vast media+urban Maori chief he is, and he is up to his neck stinging all sides to gain maximum coin for himself.

    He’s no milquetoast. And I don’t think he has enough accountability to anything.

    If I were Minister, I wouldn’t issue the threat in public, but sure as he’ll I’d issue it. Often.

    Because they either answer to mere contract representing only law, or as Minister they answer to me, representing taxation and the Public.

    • Muttonbird 7.1

      What an idiot comment. ‘If you were minister, that’s what you’d do’?

      I’m beginning to understand you more and more – morally corrupt and very suited to National who you praise quite a bit.

      • Ad 7.1.1

        We are too used to the funder-provider contractarian model here.
        And it’s all far too cosy.

        Note Auckland Transport have now agreed to put out to the public every single contract no matter how large or small. They are responding to very serious corruption charges, from which two staff are now in jail. Penny Bright may be a total nut job, but she was prescient on this one.

        Note also the Auditor General is going to be very lucky to keep his job, because he was supposed to come under high parliamentary scrutiny ex-MoT. But that failed.
        And the reverberations of that are still going on around Wellington.

        There is insufficient political scrutiny for the contracts that now keep our entire social welfare system afloat. And of course you will have realised that the cash-for-services relationship between iwi organisation and the state is codependent. Meaning, addicted to each other.

        The smell of corruption has been sinking into this country for a while. Need I mention Serco. Need I mention how we are sinking in the global corruption rankings. Lack of direct political accountability is at the root of much of it.

        Hold a freaking blowtorch to them all.

        • Muttonbird

          That’s fine but not what Ngaro was saying. Nowhere did he talk about increased scrutiny on the efficiency of NGO contracts, rather that they’d better not criticise the government because their funding might be cut.

          I find it strange you’d equate Serco with the Salvation Army and I find it strange you lament the fall in NZ corruption rankings while advocating Ngaro’s Sicilian approach to government contracts.

          • Ad

            The net effect of Ngaro was the same: every NGO is on notice to perform. This is what political scrutiny feels like. He shouldn’t have done it in public. Others like Joyce and English are more subtle.

            You only find the equivalence strange because you don’t understand the funder-provider model inserted into public sector life in the 1990s. It infects every NGO that takes a contract from the government. From the Salvation Army to the fishing industry, from Whanau Ora to some minor weeding contractor.

            • Muttonbird

              No. The effect of Ngaro’s outburst was that every NGO is on notice to perform the National government’s agenda without criticism or complaint.

              Somewhere you have become confused and accept the falsehood that the National government represents the best interests of all New Zealanders.

              • Ad

                Wait till there’s a change of government. Everyone who supports the Coalition will expect the same as Ngaro.

                Jackson is just a rich snowflake with entitlement issues and a megaphone.

                Ngaros only problem was getting caught.

                NGO’s understand Goethe’s Faust more than most.

                • Muttonbird

                  That the work and philosophy of social NGO providers aligns more closely with the values of Labour and Greens that National is not the fault of Labour, nor the Greens.

                  I expect a Labour Green coalition to encourage efficiency in social NGO providers rather than threaten like you and the National government seem to prefer to do.

                  • Ad

                    You have a grand veil of foolishness over your eyes if you think NGOs are necessarily more Labour or Greens oriented than they are National. They are, after 30 years of it, deeply built to withstand them all. They understand how gold silence really is.

                    Even more foolish if you think this kind of behavior doesn’t happen behind closed doors across both sides of the house. Only the Greens have yet to be introduced to ruling in the hard sense. And I think they will take to it like the proverbial to water.

                    The depth of the state-NGO codependence means that if the whole country is to be changed – i.e. manifesto policies – public sector reorientation is the easiest bit. If they don’t, National’s cartoon advertisement of no-one rowing together will be true. Those reminding within Labour who have had Cabinet experience know what needs to be done, and it’s as pretty as making sausage.

                    • Muttonbird

                      You’ve been defended here by moderators as being ‘complicatedly left leaning’ but all I see is the same jaded, corrupt, bureaucratic, and frankly right-wing thinking which has plagued New Zealand over the last 9 years.

                    • mickysavage []

                      Believe me he is way more complex than that …

                    • Muttonbird

                      It’s all a bit of a secret, isn’t it? For what it’s worth I think Ad’s inconsistent and rambling utterings don’t contribute to a change of government and in fact seek to preserve the status quo.

                      So I don’t see how he can be considered of the socially conscious left, complex or otherwise.

                    • RedLogix


                      Personally I would like to see way more political diversity here. Ad is well within my comfort zone.

                    • Muttonbird

                      Yeah right RedLogix. You’ve got all the political diversity right there in one poster, Ad, who swings from anarchic left one day to NGO bashing ACT right the next.

                      I just see no consistency and therefore no consistent values or vision.

                    • Ad

                      Muttonbird, have a sit down and really, really learn how government works. You are just out of your depth and it’s painful to watch.

                      If there is to be a change in government, and if it is to be anything more than tinkering, they are going to have a fight nearly as hard as that which faced Roger Douglas in 1986, and it will be stilettos at dawn every meeting. And they will last a term, tops.

                      If there is to be a change in government which instead does its best and does some good – just like Helen Clark and Michael Cullen – then they are going to let them know that the joint has changed.

                      Sure, bite the hand a little. It’s part of democracy. But draw blood, and next morning they will wake up with their balls in the fridge.

                      That is not jaded. That is the definition of reform.

                    • greywarshark

                      Why does Ad at 6.43 have a different icon/gravatar to the one at 7.50?
                      Is there another Ad? Or are you coming in from different email addresses?

        • greywarshark

          Try not to run down people who are working for a better system and government please Ad. It is hard enough to make any way against the mean-spirited RWs without a LW mouthing off about other LWs who are doing different things.

          • mickysavage

            I believe Ad is saying pick your targets. Shouting corruption loudly continuously will not have the same effect.

            • Ad


              Fuck I hope Robertson does a decent job tomorrow.

              It’s all to play for out there.

  8. Michael 8

    As Jan Logie pointed out, Labour has form for this behaviour, too. It found threatening NGOs highly congenial whenever they wanted to point out that its actions did not match its rhetoric. Perhaps the phenomenon is endemic within politics. Anyway, the people to watch are not Ngaro and his ilk, but the National Party cronies appointed to various quangos, like Community Trusts: they have immense power over funding allocations to NGOs, very little accountability, and a keen appetite for taking revenge on people who do not display fealty. A serious problem, but one that existed under Labour too. The absence of any serious plan to change the status quo is another reason for not voting Labour in 2017 – it won’t change the government.

  9. Keith 9

    National don’t fire anyone for the plethora of reasons they should. That would be an admission they are wrong. They don’t do wrong. There would have been half the caucus dismissed otherwise. Offenders instead go to the naughty boy/girl corner for time out and are them promoted.

    Anyway Alf is THE most honest individual in the National Party. Whether he wanted to be or not!

  10. John 10

    Didn’t Shane Reti the MP for Whangarei do something similar in the Northland by election when voters were complaining about dusty roads affecting their kids health. Somebody recorded his phone call exposing him.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Got link?

      • North 10.1.1

        Shane Reti denies bullying……..


        Words chosen cleverly with deniability allowed for. ‘Consequences’ still firmly out there though.

        • North

          Re 10.1.1……..all the worse for making himself the interface. Paraphrasing – ‘I, me, Dr Shane Reti, I can help you. But then, depending [???], maybe I can’t help you’. How stink they are…….little soldiers of the font of their power. Not for anyone but them, their powerseeking selves.

      • Jason Warrington 10.1.2

        “If you think there is no drug and gang problem in Northland, you haven’t been talking to police, teachers, health workers, social workers, forestry workers, local contractors, prison warders or rental owners. So Mr Reti, you seriously need to get out more.”


        One nasty guy is Reti. The columnist got fired after this recent opinion piece was published in the local paper. Very inconvenient a columnist having a crack at you closing in on a general election. Plenty of local tories whispering about this latest incident. Cannon fodder for opposing candidates, be watching with interest what develops given he has prior form.

  11. Tracey Martin fired this cracker of a broadside at National M.P.’s over their colleague Alfred Ngaro.

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