National losing the middle?

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, October 28th, 2014 - 133 comments
Categories: housing, john key, national, workers' rights - Tags:

In its first term, National was very careful to be incremental – Key hung to the middle, chipping away carefully at workers’ rights without doing anything dramatic.

Having gained the public’s trust by continuing (outside the House) to be a clown they’d like to have a drink with, they went with one big hit with Asset Sales in the second term, but snuck in Charter Schools and started moving more on their hidden right wing agenda (one covered on this site before the 2008 election).

Now, with almost a majority in their third term, and enjoying a weakened opposition from Labour’s fractures, they’ve got bold.

Selling off State Housing wholesale, at the State’s expense is, as John Armstrong says, ideology for ideology’s sake.

It makes less economic sense than Bill English’s claim that council planning is the major cause of inequality, it will deprive the poor of housing, and weaken society’s fabric. It would be one thing to sell the housing to the social sector and build new, but Bill intends to sell to anyone, and take the money and run to keep their lowered taxes for the rich.

They’re seeking to undermine collective bargaining and remove tea breaks, to try and finally destroy the unions who are so vital for workers pay and rights.

All this while they’re still dealing with Dirty Politics, and the revelations of their undermining the media, the fourth estate.

Perhaps this is because they can see that Dirty Politics will undermine them and they need to get through as much as possible in their 3rd term? Move the goalposts and leave the next government with more than it can undo?

Ultimately they know from the likes of One’s Vote Compass that people’s beliefs lie more with the left, so they always have to beguile with false economic competence.

But the economy’s already not doing as well, the deficit is widening, the rock star is running out of puff.

But how can we keep them in check for the next 3 years?

133 comments on “National losing the middle?”

  1. just saying 1

    …without doing anything dramatic

    …That impinged on the immediate and medium-term safety and comfort and freedoms affecting you and yours, Bunji, – I’m sure they didn’t.

    But for a good 25% of us they did. We exist Bunji. Stop erasing us.

    • Bunji 1.1

      I’m not saying they didn’t do damage, but did it in a way that didn’t scare the horses. as it were. They keep working by marginalising (and doing real damage to) some, but leaving the mass undeterred, even as their rights are slowly chipped away at too.

      I’m hardly agin you. No need to get personal.

    • AmaKiwi 1.2

      35%

      Labour 25% + Greens 10% = 35%

  2. BM 2

    I don’t see the losing the middle bit?

    State housing is not middle
    Unions are not middle.

    • karol 2.1

      Do you really think middle NZ are that callous and uncaring about the declining circumstances of the least well off in NZ?

      Do you really think the declining circumstances in work, housing and daily living of the least well off will not impact negatively on the lives of middle NZ?

      • BM 2.1.1

        Do you really think middle NZ are that callous and uncaring about the declining circumstances of the least well off in NZ?

        People have become a lot more self focused especially with the Americanization of kiwi culture.
        The old socialist ways of doing things died in the 1970s.

        Just thinking about how attitudes have changed I’d say rugby would have played a big part in NZ previous socialist structure.

        Kids got to mix with other kids from all sorts of backgrounds as well as learning the value of team work.

        It certainly is something that is lacking these days

        • Tom Jackson 2.1.1.1

          Well, the Americans have become less so in recent years.

          • BM 2.1.1.1.1

            Yeah, but they were way out there on the right, moving towards the center is a good thing for the US.

            • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.1.1.1.1

              The US is NOT moving to the centre lol! Unless you count tear gassing black citizens and international journalists “the centre.”

              And let’s not get started with the wars of empire, which we are about to join.

            • Tracey 2.1.1.1.1.2

              is that what makes you self centred and unrelenting in posting un verified information as fact?

        • karol 2.1.1.2

          Having grown up around rugby clubs, in a rugby household back then, it was hardly a “socialist’ culture.

          There was still a lot of dismissiveness of low income workers.

          • BM 2.1.1.2.1

            Certainly there were wealthy clubs and poor clubs.

            But there was also middle clubs where there was a mixture of everything.

            You’d get better off kids mixing with poor kids and therefore better off parents mixing with poorer parents.

            There’s now a complete disconnect to the different layers of society, peoples perceptions are based around what they see in the media which as you know can be far from factual.

            • karol 2.1.1.2.1.1

              True. My father was middle class professional, and we mixed with families of tradesmen, etc. via my father’s sports clubs, including rugby, and with families of school friends and in my neighbourhood.

              But my father was still disparaging about low income factory workers, and had a very capitalist world view.

              It was not socialism. It was more an ethos of mixed welfare state capitalism.

              • Chooky

                well I have to say NZers have different experiences …and maybe the rural sector was different because people depended on each other

                …..both my parents came off farms ( which had been in their famiies for generations )and they went to State schools….and my Father was a good rugby player…. I was never brought up with any feeling of superiority towards workers or racism or sexism….in fact my father worked on the railways and in the freezing works as well as becoming a fisherman…and he worked the farm…both my parents were Labour socialists …in their families were a physicist PhD and teachers and policemen and farmers…i think my experience would be the experience of a lot of old rural NZers…i could never understand snobs…in fact i was brought up to think the snobs and sexists and racists and property developers were uncouth…we largely took people as we found them….recognising that some were not so well off and needed a helping hand…we also recognised that some were the author of their own misfortune….eg booze( today it would be drugs)….and this could happen to both the wealthy and the poor

                …while I was not brought up with sexism or racism or class snobbery consciousness….i recognised it was around…just not in my immediate sphere

                • karol

                  My background, growing up in a mixed class suburb of Auckland, and attending state schools, was very mixed. My parents attitudes often seemed contradictory to me, resulting in endless arguments in my late teens and early 20s.

                  My father wasn’t a snob, was very helpful to all kinds of people, and wasn’t very much into material possessions. He was a member of the local working men’s club where he spent quite a bit of his time. We mixed with a whole variety of people from different backgrounds.

                  Yet, he was pretty right wing in many of his views – was a Muldoonist. He mixed with working class men, but was disparaging of unskilled manual workers, especially Maori and PI people. He mixed with Maori and PI people, but preferred them if they behaved according to his perceived Pakeha standards.

                  I suspect he was like a lot of Kiwis of that time. It wasn’t some left wing paradise, but there was general acceptance of many fairly social liberal views and practices.

                  • Tom Jackson

                    You middle class pseudo lefties are too much, Karol. 😉

                    My dad was a manual labourer and a communist! 🙂

                    • minarch

                      My great grandfather joined the International Brigades in Spain,

                      While my great-grandmother ( and infant grandfather ) stayed home and threw flower pots @ Oswald Mosley !

                  • Chooky

                    @karol…yes i recognise the type….my Father had Maori ancestry and was very proud of it….New Zealand certainly was a mix…and increasingly there was intermarriage between Maori and Pakeha which broke down racism and class snobbery imported from Britain

                    …. there was definitely sexism out there ….women had to be careful where they went at night and who they mixed with as teenagers …there were horrible rapes and murders

                    …but my feeling was that sexism and sexist values sprang directly or indirectly out of Old Testament Christianity….luckily for me NZ was pretty secular and my parents were not very religious …or at least took the fundamentalist Church goers of the times with a healthy dose of skepticism and critical thinking….liberal New Testament Christian values were accepted as being good and worthy …..my Mother was a fan of Lloyd Geering and Rachel Carson

                    • karol

                      Well, when I look at my family history, it was also a mix of middle and working class, even before my grandparents and great grandparents came to NZ.

                      Two of my Scottish grandparents were from Scottish working class families and very much into egalitarian principles. They moved up into the middle classes after coming to NZ.

                      The other side of my family, back in the UK included a very middle class line, plus a working class line – and that included campaigners for the poor and working people.

                      NZ tended to be colonised by that kind of class mixture.

            • Tracey 2.1.1.2.1.2

              next you will tell us cricket was an egalitarian game.

              did you never hear how rugby players and admin spoke of league players

        • Tom Jackson 2.1.1.3

          That’s part of it. Another is cultural fragmentation. Everyone used to watch the same news broadcasts from necessity (there was nothing else on). Increased media variety has caused a small number of people to become hyper-informed compared to, say, 1970, and a larger number of people to become very uninformed about politics and current events.

          Democracy only really works with a single public agora where issues are discussed and defined, and when even those who don’t care have to walk through it on a consistent basis. There is zero prospect of that returning – the internet is a series of echo chambers.

          • BM 2.1.1.3.1

            I completely agree, every one’s doing their own thing now.

            I blame the interwebs .

            Knowledge is bad, ignorance is bliss.

            • Tracey 2.1.1.3.1.1

              no, everyone isnt doing their own thing now. some are and they tend to be white middle and uper classes…

            • minarch 2.1.1.3.1.2

              “Knowledge is bad, ignorance is bliss.”

              straight from the ministry !!

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.4

          EDIT: That’s weird – the whole comment disappeared despite the comment still being here.

          The old socialist ways of doing things died in the 1970s.

          Nope. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s and with them went any hope for our future as capitalism will now destroy everything as it always does.

          [lprent: Don’t ask me. We have been known to hit the wrong button on the odd occasion (trash, unapprove, spam), but we usually say why commentators are finding their comments disappearing (except for first timers).

          Almost all of the time it is a problem on the client side, just like the double and triple bounces are (I finally figured out what has been happening with those). ]

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.4.1

            Oh, I don’t think it had anything to do with you guys. It’s like the server got the request post a comment but didn’t receive the actual comment. So, yeah, does actually sound client side now that I think about it.

      • Sabine 2.1.2

        Yes, Karol they are. As long as they have theirs, i.e. still manage to service their mortgage, the payments on the 4 wheel drive for mum and the nice Holden/Ford/Audi/insert your type of car on finance for dad, still manage to go to the doctor and dentist, as long as they can keep up appearances they will not give a flying poo about those that are going to fall off train or have already fallen off.

        In fact, they will bemoan the bad decisions those mothers/fathers took having children they can’t afford, they will claim that having a TV, a car, and a fridge is a sign that the poor ain’t poor – or at least not as poor as the untouchables in India – and as long as the poor still have a phone – on prepaid, a car – without warranty and rego, cause to expensive, and a fridge – albeit empty, they will claim that there is no poverty in this country.

        Middle NZ has giving the finger to NZ, and they will only cry when they will loose their “PAID” tea breaks. They will only cry when their mortgage rates go to a point where they can;t afford to pay anymore, at that stage however it will be too late for all.

        the blonde Orate housewife, mother of three, driving a gas guzzling Keeping the wife safe type of Humvee, really believes that the mothers and fathers on the benefit have taken wrong decisions. They should not have kids they can”t afford. They should drive a smaller car. They should not go to eat at MacDo’s. They should not go to Rainbows End for a birthday etc etc. Never does she once realise in her righteousness that she is one accident, one job loss away from being one of those mothers that made a bad decision by having three children that she could never afford on one salary. They are righteous, they are fundamentally opposed to helping people in distress, they are selfish, and that is what they have voted for.

        Time to take of the rose colored glasses Karol. The NZ you dream off only existed because Labour had guts and courage. The current left has neither.

        • vto 2.1.2.1

          jeez that is one hell of a lot of assumptions about some people.

          how do you know they all think that way Sabine?

        • vto 2.1.2.2

          and what does being “blonde” have to do with anything?

          Eh?

          or do you base your opinions on the colour of people’s skin and hair?

          wtf you on about?

        • Tom Jackson 2.1.2.3

          M. Piketty has shown that their situation is becoming more precarious.

          • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.2.3.1

            Just look at the US. Plenty of the middle class US$40K pa set being made redundant, and having to rejoin the workforce as the minimum wage US$20K pa set. If they can get a job at all.

            This is the new normal of the extractive oligarchic state.

            • Chooky 2.1.2.3.1.1

              @CR….you have to wonder if oligarchies learn anything from history…it is only a matter of time imo before ordinary Americans say enough is enough….and rise up

              • Draco T Bastard

                you have to wonder if oligarchies learn anything from history

                No, they don’t as any reading of history will show. They always, always, destroy the society that they exist in by their greed for money and power.

              • b waghorn

                Can you imagine the carnage when they do rise up with the amount of guns floating round

              • AmaKiwi

                The US has become a fear culture.

                Frightened people strike out in anger.

        • JeevesPOnzi 2.1.2.4

          I have to agree.

          I just have to.

          I see and engage with them all around me. Among friends, acquaintances,their friends, colleagues…. Ignorance is their bliss.

          The difference between the middle class and the poor is little more than some bad luck.

          A car accident- a very sick child- redundancy- a spouse’s affair- or any other derailer-

          Your cashflow stops- Your credit card interest goes through the roof- your mortgage holiday comes to an end- you get a fine for no rego-
          You spend 40 hrs a week looking for work (like its your profession-yes)
          THat’s if you’re not still sick
          You sell the car to pay the most critical debts
          The bank forecloses- sells in a depressed rural market- you end up with $50k to show for 20 years in your home.
          Fair enough- you are now debt free and cash richer than you’ve ever been- if you discount your mental state and the stress you and your family have been through.
          And you start again- in a rental-looking for a job, and again consider that leaving your partner and kids to work in Aussie is a viable option, or getting a bedsit in a NZ city, or holding a Stopsign by the roadside- but you also realise that very soon you’ll be at the end of something magical and entering into something called reality for those less fortunate.

          Unless lady luck happens to deal you an Ace…..

          And only those who have suffered it really believe it.

          • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.2.4.1

            Many many stories like this. For such people working until 70 or 75 will be the new reality. If they don’t break down first.

            Thanks for lifting the retirement age, Labour.

          • Chooky 2.1.2.4.2

            +100 JeevesPOnzi

        • Murray Rawshark 2.1.2.5

          +1 Sabine.
          Sometimes generalisations are quite useful.

      • Malcolm 2.1.3

        I’m with you on this one karol. I always tell people who push the right-wing world view that they need to realise one important thing: It puts a real kink in your day when you have to step over people who are starving in the gutter!

        I’ve worked in Brazil, where the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is pretty dramatic. The place is a really good illustration of what happens when you allow social inequality to get out of control (not that they’ve ever had it there). The last thing I want is for NZ to head down the same path.

        • Murray Rawshark 2.1.3.1

          Brazil is getting better and will keep doing so as long as the Tucanos don’t grab the presidency again. Aotearoa is getting worse and will keep doing so unless something radical happens, like Mana getting a dozen or more MPs. Or a revolution, but I won’t hold my breath. Aotearoa and Brazil could well have very similar societies 20 years from now.

    • karol 2.2

      By the way, the “middle” referred to in he front page graphic, is not about what you are referring to here.

      “Jokers to the left, clowns to the right, suck in the middle with you”

      • just saying 2.2.1

        Was the “suck” a typo or a joke?

        It’s weird, that song has been going round in my head for days. Because I have managed to get myself stuck with a group in the middle where I don’t belong, and I’m in the process of bailing out.

      • Bunji 2.2.2

        To be fair, I had trouble coming up with a picture for “middle”.

        Although Key is certainly a joker on the right, and some of the Labour caucus have been clowns… (although they’re not really to the left of me…)

  3. karol 3

    And this from RNZ Morning Report this morning about the increasing numbers of people in Auckland living in caravan parks because they have nowhere else they can afford to live.

    Penny Hulse puts the responsibility ultimately at the government’s door. She says Auckland Council have been doing what they can and are monitoring the situation closely. But the last local government amendment bill removed social welfare from council responsibility.

    The mention of Wiltshire Village at the bottom of the RNZ article is odd. It’s a retirement village. So while it’s not desirable for elderly people to be homeless, it has nothing to do with housing for the young families that are currently living in camping grounds.

    • hoom 3.1

      Its a very important point that National has messed with the Local Govt Act making clear that Local Councils are not supposed to be providing housing for poor people.

      Especially in context of Blinglishes’ bogus blame of Councils.

      Was quite impressed with the guy from I forget which organisation but one of the private providers who the Govt is trying to dump this stuff on, basically was not impressed & wishing that Govt would actually step up to the plate.

    • boldsirbrian 3.2

      The war over the provision of social housing continues throughout New Zealand. Government abdicating responsibility, and Local City and Regional Councils also considering abdicating responsibility.

      Auckland City does have an appalling record on the provision of social housing. And the need for more is both evident from the Morning Report, and from any rudimentary analysis of demographics over the coming decades.

      But the current battle over social housing is now being fought in Hamilton.
      Right now. This week.
      What happens in Hamilton will likely have ramifications for the rest of New Zealand. A small council of right wing nutters will influence New Zealand policy in more ways than their tiny brains can understand.

      Make no mistake. Housing is the main issue that should be concerning parties of the left. Housing is the main problem affecting the growth of poverty. It overshadows other issues such as living wages, lack of jobs etc, that are also extremely important.

      In ALL areas of New Zealand, there is an urgent need to grow the stock of available social housing including pensioner housing.

      The Hamilton City Council is currently doing (or has already done) secret deals to sell their entire stock of Pensioner homes.

      344 units currently undervalued at an average of only $70000 each. And that they intend to sell with a discount! Rumoured values are that they will sell them all at an average price of $35000 to $40000! The council, just really do not want to have anything to do with the poor (They are also passing legislation to get rid of the homeless being visible in the Central City)

      The Council is totally heartless and without compassion. And throwing away millions of dollars simply to get quick money to fund the Mayor’s legacy project of beautifying the Waikato River, is just simply adding insult to injury.

      The recipients of this gift will be “worthy” organisations such as the Catholic St Vincent de Paul group and the Baptist Church wanting to work with Habitat for Humanity. These organisations do NOT have the interest of those needing social housing. If they did have they would buy additional units now to add to the stock. That they are only purchasing them now is simply because the Right Wing council is effectively encouraging them to buy.

      What hope is there for social housing when the Government and City Council are putting up their hands saying “Not Us”. And other social housing providers (such as St Vincent de Paul and Habitat” will now put up their hands and say they are already doing a lot.
      But they will have done nothing to help with the growing need for housing.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Rally against the sale of Pensioner housing;
      Thursday 30 October Midday,
      Garden Place, Hamilton

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      .

      • karol 3.2.1

        It sounds like Hamilton has a right wing council that is doing the government’s bidding.

        Any council that tries to go against that will have a battle with Key’s government on their hands.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1

          It sounds like Hamilton has a right wing council that is doing the government’s bidding.

          I’d say that any right-wing council is an extension of the National Party.

          • tc 3.2.1.1.1

            Hamilton got plenty of help from incumbent Nat MP’s (McIndoe etc) during the recent council / WDC elections.

            These councillors are also refusing to state which way they voted on a contentious sale of public land with an existing community facility on it.

            Transparency when it suits them and don’t get on the wrong side of Hardaker……sound familiar ?

            • Skinny 3.2.1.1.1.1

              Mayoress Hardarker had a reputation as a nutcase by fellow Tron lawyers before she conned the public into voting her in. She needs to be kicked to the gutter for this latest attack on the poor.

              The activist base in Hamilton need to plan their campaign to rid the city of this evil woman, and roll a few of the self serving Councilors too that back her. Nic Marryatt (son of the former Christchurch CEO) is running a great campaign fighting these right wing mongrels.

              Well done Nic it’s been a while since we had a beer together. If your in my neck of the woods up north cobber do stop by. Ya Green mates are always welcome at my place too.

            • The Al1en 3.2.1.1.1.2

              “These councillors are also refusing to state which way they voted on a contentious sale of public land with an existing community facility on it.”

              Which land is this?

              • Skinny

                All too much of a cosy arrangement between the Mayoress and her flunkies with no transparency. Be the same Councilors who tried to reduce rates for city retail landlords, as it transpired some of these ‘same Councilors’ had conflicts of interest, having reasonable portfolio’s of retail building ownership.

      • KJS0ne 3.2.2

        I knew it, I knew they’d sell those state houses for penny’s on the dollar to their mates. This is a play straight out of Yeltsen era Russian Federation.

    • Chooky 3.3

      +100 yes good that radionz is looking at this issue finally….a pity they didnt hammer it before the Election

  4. les 4

    at least Key has warned his team about ‘arrogance’ in this 3rd term,so thats a relief.

  5. just saying 5

    I think we owe the New Zealand Labour Party a big slow-handed clap for handing the wealthy and the National Party as their representatives, the state housing estate on a plate – basted and garnished.

    When it repeatedly refused to talk about state housing, for six fucking years. When it decided to propose supporting those most in need via a trickle-down scheme in which they would subsidise the children of the comfortable middle-class into brand-spanking new houses to start their portfolios with. When it decided that some sections of the population were acceptable collateral damage in propping-up the tender sensibilities of the “middle”……

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      +11111

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.2

      $400,000 houses are affordable homes, don’t you know.

      The question which needs to be constantly asked now: is Labour a solution, or the impediment to a solution.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        Labour has been an impediment to a solution for the last thirty years. I had some hope that DC would correct that but the present leadership contest has dashed that hope.

    • Chooky 5.3

      when i was a kid , even the poorest of poor families ie those with too many children and a drunken father and a mother addicted to drugs (most unusual at the time) had a good solid State house to live in and a good solid high quality local State School to go to….so there was equality of sorts

      ( and I might add i knew kids from well off farming families who had an alcoholic parent ..but who went to private schools..i dont think they were any more successful than the working class kids…and in some cases far less so …because the addictions continued)

      …. quality State housing and State education should be available and an absolute minimum for every New Zealand child…this should be a bottom line for a self respecting Labour Party

      (….and imo it is/was a disgrace the Labour Party was not willing to work in ith the Mana/Int Party)

      • philj 5.3.1

        Chook, good comment. Housing, edukashun, and food. Basics, but we need more than bread alone.

  6. Sabine 6

    It should be pointed out ad nauseam and until kingdom comes, that the only reason National has state houses to sell – ie. assets, is because previous Labour Governments have build them.

    Can anyone of our resident Blue Shirts point us to an asset that was build under a National Government that could be sold to increase the coffers of the state and keep the tax cuts for the rich?

    Anyone?

    • wekarawshark 6.1

      I was going to say the Clyde dam, but it’s already been sold. How about other Think Big projects?

    • Bob 6.2

      Let’s start with:
      Methanol plant at Waitara
      Ammonia/urea plant at Kapuni
      Synthetic-petrol plant at Motunui
      Expansion of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery
      Expansion of the New Zealand Steel plant at Glenbrook
      A third reduction line at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter
      The Clyde Dam.

      Now, let’s spin this question around, are you saying you would you prefer one million dollar 3 bedroom state house, to three $333K, 3 bedroom state houses?
      Are you saying needy families should miss out because we would have to sell one house to build three, because that would be classed as Asset Sales, and asset sales are bad in all circumstances?

      Now I admit Bill English sounds very cagey on the details around this, but if these sales mean an overall increase in State Houses, this is surely a good thing isn’t it?

      • tc 6.2.1

        look forward to your answers on behalf of Bill there Bob……anytime suits.

        based on their existing track record of dwelling creation don’t hold your breath.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2.2

        if these sales mean an overall increase in State Houses,

        [citation needed]

        English isn’t “cagey on the details”: he’s lying, or if I’m to be charitable, delusional. Destroying the village to save the village is the kind of trite cak that only ever appeals to ideologues, enablers or dupes. Smash the weak to test an idea…

        Which is Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English? Troughing little career chancer? Machiavellian tool of the wealthy? True believer?

        A nasty piece of work? Or a scared silly right wing brain well out of its depth?

        • RedBaronCV 6.2.2.1

          No english needs to pocket the cash. The Nacts have borrowed $80billion and keeping it at the same rate for the next three years means he has to borrow around $40b . So unless he wants a credit downgrade he has to pocket state house cash topped up by ACC and the Cullen fund investing solely in Govt bonds.

          Nact are leaving behind a hell of a fiscal mess.

      • Ad 6.2.3

        If… then surely?

        Sucker.

  7. Wairua 7

    I reckon this individualistic computer culture is part of the problem – isolating people while fostering the illusion of community.

    • Molly 7.2

      While overdependence of such forms of communication might have that result – TBH, reading and sometimes commenting on places like The Standard, has kept me sane over the last few years.

    • Chooky 7.3

      +100 Waiua…computer and media culture…the new opiate of the people!…..the trouble is how to organise people to take action against this John Key Nact selling off of State houses

      @ yes Molly…agreed also! I also find rt and the Keiser Report very good for getting an international perspective on what is happening here in microcosm down under

  8. KJS0ne 8

    Isn’t it a bit close to an election where National almost won an absolute majority to be saying they’re losing ground among the very people who handed them another 3 years?

    • KJS0ne 8.1

      Not that I disagree with anything that’s been said in the post, I think the Nat’s media machine and Labour still being scattered as ashes in the wind means exactly what was said, that National do not need to continue the pretense of being a party of the middle class. Historically political parties do not usually make a fourth term (even if the law permits it) so the third term is where you put into place all your really unpopular legislation that benefits your core constituency (the 5% and the corporations.) But we’re a long ways off all those self-deluded middle class folks who think they benefit from a National government actually turning their back on it.

    • Colonial Rawshark 8.2

      Yep – its almost laughable or self delusional to say that the NATs are losing ground electorally.

    • Tracey 8.3

      absolute majority…

      a couple of banks say a record breaking majority

    • McFlock 8.4

      ye-es, but it’s also worthwhile to point out that the nats came almost as close to losing the election as they did to gaining an absolute majority.

      But the next three years are going to mean an awful lot of suffering for many people, sadly. The problem is how to get those people voting, rather than dropping out.

  9. PFJ 9

    If you go back to a speech by Key in 2007, can’t find the link right now but he said the policy was to sell state houses to the occupiers. If he were to stick to that it would have a spectacular effect in bringing people out of poverty and into the property owning class
    in a very short time. The money was to have been reinvested in new stock. Instead we have English planning to sell at market rates to anyone which will immediately leave the occupiers out in the cold literaly, and English will have billions to spend with nothing to show for the spend afterwards.

    • karol 9.1

      John Key’s speech to the National Party conference 2007:

      Unlike Labour, National has a concrete plan for making housing more affordable. It has four parts to it:

      Ensuring people are in a better financial position to afford a house.

      Freeing up the supply of land.

      Dealing with the compliance issues that drive up building costs, and

      Allowing state house tenants to buy the houses they live in.
      […]
      No 4. We will allow Housing New Zealand tenants who want to purchase the house they live in, to do so. Under National, they can own the place they call home. We will reinvest the proceeds straight back into replacement houses for those desperately needy families on the waiting list.

      It’s a win-win for everyone. The state housing stock is maintained, some families get to experience home ownership for the first time, and the most vulnerable in our communities get to move off the waiting list into affordable housing.

      Thanks for the tip to look for this.

      • Tracey 9.1.1

        but the bit he forgot to mention was he will sell them to tenants at market value…

        remember when mums and dads could buy shares first… and then the market. same scam

    • Murray Rawshark 9.2

      A Russian family I know bought their state house in the 90s, so they were being sold well before 2007. They only managed to do it because they arranged the sale of half the property before they’d bought it. This sale paid their deposit and a bit more. The value soon went up enough that they were able to buy a flat in Epsom so their daughter could go to some flash school. Starting as refugees, they did OK financially out of our welfare state. Now they live in Germany and still hold the properties, which have obviously increased heaps in value.

      • Molly 9.2.1

        Friends of mine purchased their state home in Meadowbank in the 90’s with a 10% incentive to do so ($25K for the $250 purchase).

        They managed to meet the criteria, as one was self employed, and houses were empty because of market rents.

  10. Ian H 10

    National’s argument is that they’ll continue to assist with housing but don’t see why the government needs to actually own the bricks and mortar in order to do it. Housing can be provided via rent assistance etc. Of course the danger with rent assistance programs is that they can easily become a welfare program for landlords. But that is a much more nuanced argument than presented in the article.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      And this is what happens when that’s tried.

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.2

      Housing can be provided via landlord assistance etc.

      Fixed it for you. What’s “nuanced” about private greed? It’s private greed.

      You recognise that its just a way of funneling public monies into private property portfolios. It’s the National Party way, after all.

  11. Ad 11

    Opposition through parliament is finished for this term. Over. Rally all you like.

    Bunji’s question is accurate.

    So let me give you a story. When Mayor John Banks sold off most of Auckland Council’s public housing, there was an uproar, but nothing anyone could do. Until that point, Auckland Council had the ability to really lead social housing across the city. None of the post-1989 Auckland Councils came anywhere near.

    The Minister of Ponsonby Baptist, Mike Riddell, went to a Council meeting and made a massive speech about th callous cruelty of what they were doing, where it would send the mentally ill and disenfranchised, and threw a large handful of 50c pieces on the Mayors desk.

    After that, Mike went back to his church and informed them that they were going to start buying these houses. They formed the Community of Refuge Trust. They subsidised mentally ill people in managed houses, and subsidised families as well. There’s a film Mike wrote about it called The Insatiable Moon.

    Now, 15 years later, they own over 120 units, and a going into partnership in south Auckland for far more. They are one of the most significant housing NGOs.

    Become your own activism. Forget parties and parliament for a while – it will achieve nothing for you or parliament. Take three years and form your own thing.

  12. Tania 12

    Sometimes I think if the left cant be bothered to vote we deserve what we get

  13. coaster 13

    National are a centre right party with a pm who is trying to appear centrist, and has done it very well. At some point the message fails, as they always do with a falsehood. Then nz will look to the left, people havnt changed, they still have needs and wants, and the majority have a conscience and feel bad for hurting others. People want a fair go.

    national has had slow incremental change, just like when chip packet contents went down, but the bag size changed and the price changed.

    eventually everyone noticed.

    national isnt loosing the middle, there message is failing, albeit slowly

    • Ian H 13.1

      National are a centre right party with a pm who is trying to appear centrist, and has done it very well. At some point the message fails, as they always do with a falsehood. Then nz will look to the left,

      Centrists go for the party closest to the center. If National drifts to the right then yes, centrists will look at what the left has to offer. But if, when they take that look, all they can see is a Labour party way out there and miles from the center, then why would they think for even a minute about switching. The further left Labour goes, the easier it is for National to drift right and bring the center with them .

      • miravox 13.1.1

        Pick your centre. Germany and Austria are by definition centrist with both having grand coalitions of their versions of National and Labour. Both countries are way to the left of the New Zealand right-wing government with it’s hard right tack on Act party.

        • Ian H 13.1.1.1

          Yep, the centre of German and Austrian politics is further to the left. And the centre of US politics is further to the right. So? The centre of NZ politics is where it is and it isn’t going to change very fast. It is rooted in fairly stable things like our culture and history the way Kiwis look at the world. New Zealanders are not suddenly going to turn into Germans or Austrians dragging the centre of our politics to the left. Nor are they going to suddenly turn into Americans shifting our politics to the right.

          I hope this isn’t the hook you are hanging your hopes for the future of the Labour party on. The centre of politics shifts only slowly. If Labour wants to reclaim the centre then it needs to move to where the centre is. Sitting out there on the hard left waiting for the centre to move to where the Labour party is would be a pretty dumb thing to do.

  14. fisiani 14

    National is a centre right party. From my observations close up 80% centre and 20% slightly right. Virtually all would be Democrats in the USA. The last sentence is not mine. It was uttered by Thomas Friedman the Pulitzer prize winner who visited NZ in 2012. So many posters here are deluded about what constitutes the Right. A few skinhead nutters in Christchurch and members of the Libertarian Party.
    Labour and the Greens are fighting for 600.000 votes on the Left and National are garnering 1,000,000 .
    If Labour want to win then they have stop crying wolf over tea breaks and become more like National.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1

      Cabinet papers saying this legislation will help employers cut wages. Economists pointing out that wage stagnation , not innovation, accounts for the profits garnered by wingnut dogma.

      Shall they stop mentioning facts too, on your planet?

    • KJT 14.2

      Which just shows how thoroughly right wing, moneyed interests, have bought US politics.

      US politicians should wear sponsors T shirts to show who has paid them. Just like our National party.

    • KJT 14.3

      The bloke who said this.

      “must sacrifice some degree of economic sovereignty to global institutions (such as capital markets and multinational corporations), a situation he has termed the “golden straitjacket”.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Friedman

      FIFY

    • Draco T Bastard 14.4

      I’ll put it this way for you:

      Reality —————————-Labour———completely fucken delusional————National

  15. Ad 15

    The US is no useful benchmark of NZ politics.
    It is not our origin, and under MMP it is not our political destination.
    Spectrums of extremism as Fisiani applies are irrelevant.

    Consider that NZ, even compared to Australia, has a really high percentage of very, very activist governments since Seddon. Only Holyoake’s last PM term stands out as a bit plodding.

    Whatever the reasons for it, governments here come in with strong intent to operate all levers at their disposal, do so with force upon the structures, and retreat only once they’ve exhausted us.

    We’ve always been observed as a set of political experiments, by foreign observers and Cabinets alike. We’re politically very unusual. We are our own political culture.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      That’s all a bit Hari Seldon isn’t it? I’m unconvinced that there’s anything uniquely New Zealand in the way right wing dogma degrades reality.

      • Ad 15.1.1

        In the end what is the point of comparing our political economy to others?

        All we can deal with is our own agency, our own structure, our own crowds and power.

        Hari Seldon is your default for the melancholic left because he gets to be the visier for history, like the Angelus in Walter Benjamin. The left hasn’t been able to either forecast crisis or, when it happens, use it well, for nearly 50 years.

        The left have the will to make change, but must be effective at it even when there is no crisis. Currently there’s no effective avenue for doing this on a national level.

        • les 15.1.1.1

          perhaps you could be so kind to tell us about the defining policies the NZ National Party have introduced that have made a difference to the standard of living in NZ.Not bribes like Muldoons super.Real change that has made a positive difference.

          • Ad 15.1.1.1.1

            Pretty pathetic if you could interpret that comment as supporting one party or the other. Start developing some interpretive skill.

            But since you asked, try this:
            – National has generated more national parks and conservation parks than Labour, either numerically or in hectares
            – National introduced MMP
            – National reformed Auckland – and yes it works better
            – National formed most of the electricity infrastructure, including the reticulation network
            – National forged a series of relationships with major New Zealand industrialist and pastoralist families, and helped grow many of them into powerful multinationals

            Don’t have to like all of it, but trying to demonize National into being devoid of care or policy virtue is just tame.

            • les 15.1.1.1.1.1

              you are not a comedian are you?Of your 5 ‘points’ ..1-what does ‘generated’ mean?2-any regrets?>3)says who?4)Max Bradford..!4)..5)like?Pathetic if that is all you can muster for the decades of power they have enjoyed.

              • Ad

                Just once even try to step up to the plate.
                All the weeping just keeps you on the bench.
                Pathetic.

                • McFlock

                  So what do you think holyoake or even muldoon would think of the last half dozen years? Outstanding success for the country, or a travesty of economic mismanagement and deplorably unethical behaviour?

            • Ergo Robertina 15.1.1.1.1.2

              ‘– National formed most of the electricity infrastructure, including the reticulation network’

              By the time the National Party formed in 1936, most urban areas were connected to the electricity grid and were reticulated, and had been for quite some years.
              http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/energy-supply-and-use/page-5

            • les 15.1.1.1.1.3

              a liitle more context… Bill Birch, then a senior National Cabinet Minister, had said MMP would be “a catastrophic disaster for democracy”, and Ruth Richardson, former Minister of Finance in Jim Bolger’s government said MMP “would bring economic ruin”. Peter Shirtcliffe, chairman of Telecom New Zealand at the time and leader of the CBG, said MMP “would bring chaos”.[5]

              typical spin.

    • just saying 15.2

      What levers did the Clark government operate?
      Seemed to be mostly a holding pattern from where I was standing.

      • blue leopard 15.2.1

        I think context is quite important. The Clark government was operating when neo-liberalism was very strong. To achieve a holding pattern is a reasonable achievement in those conditions, however I think they did make small inroads into the narrative, aswell, so that is even better.

        Just from my memory of the Clark government: they managed to stop always catering to the ‘business roundtable’. They didn’t join that illegal war. They raised the minimum wage substantially throughout their tenure (not, perhaps enough to keep up with soaring costs, but more than any other government had for a long time), they took interest off student loans, achieved the lowest level of joblessness for decades, paid back a hell of a lot of government debt, they set up channel 7 TV, and introduced support for low waged people (WFF). All these things were achieved despite the same-old arguments being screeched by National & their business cronies. All these things created better conditions in New Zealand for many and helped the country get through the GFC too i.e. set up positive conditions for the future.

        I also liked the way Clark supported the arts. I do still wonder whether Clark’s attitudes toward the arts created the basis for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and other major film achievements becoming a reality.

        • blue leopard 15.2.1.1

          p.s. they started closing the wealth disparity gap, largely due to WFF.

          http://closertogether.org.nz/nzs-income-inequality-problem/

          • Ad 15.2.1.1.1

            And goes right into the GINI coefficient and the public health long range stats.

          • Ergo Robertina 15.2.1.1.2

            Several years ago when Grant Robertson was health spokesman, he said of Lab5 that it made progress on reducing income inequality, but did not address asset inequality.

            • Ad 15.2.1.1.2.1

              The deep Spirit Level, beginning its hard downhill acceleration

            • Colonial Rawshark 15.2.1.1.2.2

              Lab5 slowed down the growth of income inequality but it was a bullshit, fragile, 2 dimensional and temporary change.

              Mainly it was fueled by massively increasing private debt to push money into circulation thus reducing unemployment. Mixed with rapid increases in the minimum wage. But that’s all circumstantial, not structural. Change the circumstances and income inequality starts rocketing again.

              I say 2 dimensional – because ‘net worth inequality’ really shot up during the Clark years. You owned a couple of houses in 1996 or 1997? You had your retirement made by the end of the Clark years. If you weren’t a home owner – sorry. You got left behind as a lifelong renter.

      • Ad 15.2.2

        Where exactly were you standing?

        Within thirty seconds I can give you massive interventions:

        – Kiwisaver
        – Kiwibank
        – Hobsonville
        – Treaty Settlements
        – Working for Families
        – China Free Trade Deal
        – Rugby World Cup secured
        – Lord of the Rings secured
        – Rolling back corporatisation of health
        – The Growth and Innovation Framework
        – Defence procurement for the Navy and Army greater than Vietnam War

        Not saying its Das Capital made manifest, but these are not the list of a managerial government.

        • blue leopard 15.2.2.1

          That is much better than my list. 🙂

          • Chooky 15.2.2.1.1

            +100 blue leopard and Ad

            yes I have very little patience for those that bag Helen Clark…her Labour Governments were way preferable to what we have now!

            ….and she did not take us into that illegal war in Iraq…she had principles and guts!

        • Colonial Rawshark 15.2.2.2

          Good list. All done with a happy capitalist market driven framework though.

          Notice for instance how Kiwi Bank hasn’t been effective in slowing down billion dollar Aussie banking profits.

          And how re-equipping the NZ Defence forces was a boon for…overseas based military industrial complex.

          Or how WFF helps subsidise employers who pay less than the living wage.

          Rugby World Cup secured / Americas Cup secured / Lord of the Rings secured. How socialist it is to help large corporate enterprises make even more money!

          China Free Trade deal. Yeah. Labour thumbs up free trade. Major achievement. Dairy farmers say thank you.

  16. fisiani 16

    http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/34565

    Really losing the middle………

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