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National’s bad fortnight

Written By: - Date published: 2:03 pm, March 14th, 2008 - 33 comments
Categories: election 2008, national - Tags: ,

drop-the-ball.JPGA bad week last week from John Key got worse this week as other National MPs joined Key in a game of drop the ball.

Last week, Key didn’t know his party’s Waitangi and Maori seats policies, and was slippery on the Auckland Airport issue before finally coming down on the unpopular side of the issue, supporting foreign control of New Zealand strategic assets. This week, he was determined not to repeat the mistake. When the New Zealand Fast Forward R&D fund was announced to universally acclaim, there was no slipperiness. Key adopted the unpopular position immediately; opposing the Fund. He then made some comments about the Fund getting the money from the Reserve Bank that are truly bizarre coming from a guy who’s meant to know something about money.

Following Key’s example over the ‘wage drop‘ quote, other National MPs tried to expunge telling quotes from the record. David Carter told the Rural News that National would privatise Landcorp. When that was printed he was straight on the phone to the reporter attempting to have the quote retracted. Bill English, announced National would re-sell the railways if they are bought back off Toll and criticised normal government bond issuing before finding himself ‘pleading‘ with Barry Soper to not play an interview in which he let slip that ‘we aren’t that worried about whether the Crown needs to borrow a bit of money [for] tax cuts’. APN management helped Key cover-up his ‘wage drop’ quote, to journalists’ chagrin, but Carter and English have had no luck getting their damaging quotes ‘clarified’.

To top it off, Key’s ‘we won’t hire more prison guards and we’ll have doctors doing their own filing’ speech was overshadowed by National MP Brian Connell’s ‘fuck you, no fuck you’ interview with Kris Faafoi.

With the Golden Boy mask slipping, Key looks horribly underdone and inept under pressure, and his colleagues don’t look any better. Is this guy up to the task of campaigning, let alone being Prime Minister?

33 comments on “National’s bad fortnight”

  1. Daveo 1

    Don’t forget the AIA fiasco…

  2. Daveo 2

    Well fancy that- you had that after all. What about Bill saying he’d sell off the trains again?

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    oh yeah. cheers daveo.

  4. rjs131 4

    And dont forget the hammering in the polls. Whats the gap to Labour averaging out at?

  5. mike 5

    “Don’t forget the AIA fiasco ”

    Funny you mention that now it’s turned nasty for Helen…
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501782&objectid=10497961

  6. Daveo 6

    So right wing activist Bruce Sheppard doesn’t want the airport sale blocked. He was complaining before the vote and now he’s complain after. What’s new?

  7. Steve Pierson 7

    mike. I’m a shareholder and Bruce Sheppard doesn’t represent me. In fact, none of the AIA shareholders I know sold out to CPF. It was the institutions, not the people.

    rjs131. We haven’t had any polls since this last fortnight, but the gap narrowed in the lastest poll from Roy Morgan (see under polls)

  8. mike 8

    “mike. I’m a shareholder and Bruce Sheppard doesn’t represent me. In fact, none of the AIA shareholders I know sold out to CPF. It was the institutions, not the people.”
    So its OK for the Govt to have the last say in who you sell your shares to then Steve.
    Also 27’000 shareholders sounds like “people” to me.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10498122

  9. Steve Pierson 9

    yes. when i am an owner of a strategic asset, it is ok for the elected government of this country to say ‘hey, if you do that it will be bad for the country, so we won’t let you’, if that is the decision they make according the due process.

  10. mike 10

    Hey its your money Steve, I’ll stick to being a slum landlord….

  11. the sprout 11

    i thought Key dumping on Connell was another stupid move. there’d be plenty of politicians, National included, and voters, who would’ve thought “good one Brian” for him telling Faafoi to go take a flying feck.

    it really just looks like Key is taking a cheap swipe at Connell because he’s on the outer anyway, at the price of being seen to side with the media against one of his own. bad for morale, bad for the facade of loyalty, and bad for Key when he loses his rag over being hounded by a cameraman outside the dunny.

    Faafoi is defintely one of the better guys, but he wasn’t doing much for journalistic standards that day. Connell, dork that he is, was within his rights to bite back after such persistent badgering.

  12. BeShakey 12

    I think you underestimate English. I suspect this will be the start of an extended period of questioning around government debt. The aim isn’t to show that government debt is spiralling or that the government is borrowing to fund tax cuts, the aim is to confuse people and the media about what is going on (if you look at Hansard the discussions are fairly technical and I doubt many, including the media, would have followed them). Once that confusion is in place, National can announce that they are going to borrow to fund tax cuts but that its rich for Labour to criticse them for it when Labour is doing the same thing – to prove them wrong the media are firstly going to have to wade through all the detail, and secondly going to have to make it both accessible and interesting for the public.

  13. Scribe 13

    Steve,

    You’re free to write whatever you like (obviously), but you do nothing to advance your opinions when you embellish things or misrepresent people.

    Yes, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for National. And it’s legitimate to provide a list of the errors made.

    But, as far as I can tell, Connell didn’t drop the F bomb when interviewed by Faafoi (and I did a google search to check). Maybe you’re getting him confused with Steve Maharey in the House a few months back.

    And you know you’re misrepresenting Key when you allege he said “we won’t hire more prison guards and we’ll have doctors doing their own filing”.

    Bashing National is fine, but at least bash them based on facts, not embellishment or outright deceit.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    Scribe. whenever one writes a post you know there are certain trivial phrases on the side that some rightie will pick up and run with, rather than addressing the core of the post. You didn’t disappoint me:

    a ‘fuck you, no fuck you’ conversation is just short hand for a conversation that descends into trying to insult and embarrass the other person, rather than be constructive.

    Prison guards are part of the core public service that Key won’t expand, and if you hire more doctors but not more support staff, who will do the filing?

  15. sdm 15

    How about a post on 27,000 shareholders who acted despite Cullens political interference in a deliberate slap in the face?

  16. Steve Pierson 16

    sdm. if you think shareholders make the decision to buy or sell shares to slap politicans you’re in a dream world. Remember too, the Government changed the rules as a result of the Airport board changing its position on the CPF bid, it knew there was a good change of the bid gainng the support it needed, that’s why it needed to act.

    and if you want to see a post on that issue, write it on a blog of your own. It’s real easy to do.

  17. sdm 17

    Bruce Sheppard seems to think it played a large part. And when the government announced it, the AIAL share price dropped dramatically, making the Canadian deal seem more attractive.

    I decided to sell my shares after Cullen intervened.

  18. Macro 18

    Good on you sdm I see you don’t give a stuff about the country either! In the second world war germany and britian tried to smash each others airports out of existance. why? Because they were vital infrastructure. Now we don’t need to bomb them – we just need to buy them. I’m not saying the canadians will do anything untoward with our most used port of entry into the country, but we know that they will have a different take on what’s best for nz when it comes to maintenance and upgrading. Just like our Aussie owners of our railways and rolling stock have done. Their take on the assets is TAKE TAKE TAKE and stuff the people who were foolish enough to sell them in the first place.
    And that’s why the Govt quite rightly said you might buy some of it – but you sure as hell arn’t going to have any say in how its run.

  19. sdm 19

    Macro you are a moron. Its Labour and their allies who are looking to undermine NZ through the installation of policies that are anti-nz. Anti-business, anti-Kiwi

    As for take take take – try tax tax tax. The government can piss off – its not their asset to dictate how its run. Labour is anti-NZ, they are anti the shareholders, anti investors. They intervened only because they saw their were votes in it – however the polls show their support is dissappearing. Nobody has yet put forward an argument as to how this deal is bad for NZ.

    Oh and btw: I worked on the last two labour campaigns. Maybe I should air their dirty laundry, of which there is plenty…..

  20. CM Burns 20

    SDM labour and the Standard can be summed very well in this post by Robinsod.

    “Hey righties – if you want to talk “personal responsibility’ then you better send me a cheque asap ‘cos it’s my taxes that paid for your education. Oh and while you’re at it you better add in the dollars that paid for your doctor’s subsidies, the public infrastructure you use and maybe some interest as well.’

    Can’t you just hear the loathing in his post ……excellent !!

    [lprent: Once is enough (this is the second time I’ve seen it, See here). It gets the point you want to make across. Three times and I start thinking of you as a troll, and take what I consider is appropiate action (what you think is your problem). Is that clear?]

  21. r0b 21

    Macro you are a moron. Its Labour and their allies who are looking to undermine NZ through the installation of policies that are anti-nz. Anti-business, anti-Kiwi

    sdm, you say you used to support Labour. I’m sorry that something has made you so angry with them.

    As for take take take – try tax tax tax.

    This is a right wing lie you have been sold sdm. NZ does not have a high overall rate of personal taxation. See the graph in:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax

    … NZ is 3rd lowest of the 30 plotted.

    Labour is anti-NZ, they are anti the shareholders, anti investors. They intervened only because they saw their were votes in it

    You may not agree with Labour, but I don’t think you can argue that they are “anti-NZ” or “anti-Kiwi”. (Even if only on purely logical grounds, how can it be anti NZ if there are so many votes in it?).

    Nobody has yet put forward an argument as to how this deal is bad for NZ.

    Yes they have sdm, the debate has covered this same ground many times. You don’t want to hear the arguments, but they have been stated.

    Anyway, peace be with you, and goodnight.

  22. milo 22

    Not a bad post.

    I think the problem is that, to somebody like me, any criticism of Key rebounds to thoughts of what the incumbent government and its politicians have done. It’ll be interesting to see the polls. You are right, that there have been many missteps for National lately, but it just makes me think “Yes, Key is flawed. But you know what, anything but another term of the current mob.” Actually, I’d rather vote for the Maori party the the current government. At least Hone Harawira often makes sense.

  23. sdm 23

    “sdm, you say you used to support Labour. I’m sorry that something has made you so angry with them.”

    Well these things happen. In 2005 I was on a trail for Labour, worked very very hard. There are issues, for instance I feel that the power has corrupted, too many scandals, and its probably time for a change.

    As for the tax thing – I think having your top tax rate kick in at 60K is awfully restrictive.

    Anti-kiwi was perhaps a little harsh. I think they are about envy – oh well if you can afford to own shares you don’t matter. One does wonder why the Cullen fund sold its shares to the canadians and yet the government may veto it.

  24. r0b 24

    There are issues, for instance I feel that the power has corrupted, too many scandals

    I completely disagree there sdm. What scandals? I know that National have done a good job of creating the illusion of scandal where none exists (e.g. the “Owen Glenn affair” – what exactly did he do wrong again?). I know that Labour have passed some legislation that has been contentious, and the Kiwiblog Right have whipped up an orgy of pseudo indignation about it. But I don’t think there is substance to any single accusation of scandal.

    and its probably time for a change.

    I think that is the weakest of all possible arguments. We’ve had years of good government, falling unemployment, rising wages, sensible foreign policy. So, what, for no other reason “time for a change”. Let’s try a government of Hollow Men (if you want real scandal), that will privatise assets, keep a lid on wages, follow America into foolish wars, and all the rest. Why? Why? Why?

  25. higherstandard 25

    rOb

    What scandals – HBDHB as the most recent scandal although the doctored report will no doubt exonerate all it has a particular stench about it.

    Next how about the crisis in the hospitals in NZ at present despite the increases in funding poured into Vote Health the basic flaws in the system remain.

    And lets add in Labour’s illegal pillaging of the public purse for pledge cards – not just hollow completely fecking transparent

  26. r0b 26

    What scandals – HBDHB as the most recent scandal although the doctored report will no doubt exonerate all it has a particular stench about it.

    I haven’t been following this one HS, as I understand it there are accusations leveled at both National and Labour individuals, but no suggestion of central / government “scandal”. From the outside it sounds like politics as usual.

    Next how about the crisis in the hospitals in NZ at present despite the increases in funding poured into Vote Health the basic flaws in the system remain.

    New Zealand has one of the world’s best health systems. See for example a 2004 report issued by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund. Their survey ranked New Zealand’s health system second among the six developed countries it covered. Germany is ranked first. We came in ahead of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. See the report here:

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=364436

    Now the demand for health services is endless, the funding is limited, and so the system will never be perfect. But it is damned good. And all these beat up attempts to make political capital out of its occasional failures should be recognised for exactly what they are.

    And lets add in Labour’s illegal pillaging of the public purse for pledge cards

    National did the same for various pamphlets (not to mention it’s illegal GSTR overspend), and all parties (except the Progressives) overspent at the last election because the AG changed the interpretation of the rules after the event. No “illegal pillaging” involved, and though not legally required to, Labour has paid the money back.

    You want scandal HS? Have you read The Hollow Men? What do you make of John Key trampling on free speech by gagging a journalist?

  27. higherstandard 27

    Rob

    So politics as usual consists of AK partner being employed at the HBDHB despite advice that this could lead to perceived conflicts of interest issues and the current debacle where a board member gets to ammend and comment on a tender prior to its issue and then ends up winning the same tender.

    The failings of both King and Hodgson, but also Lind and Clarke seem numerous. Deleted e-mails, official advice ignored, preferential treatment, secret recordings, appointments without interviews, to name a few. – well if that’s politics as usual we’re in a worse state than anyone imagined.

    There’s coverage of this in that famous right wing publication the listner if you care to have a look.

    “New Zealand has one of the worlds best healthcare systems”

    I note you quote the commonwelth fund report – while I have not read this thoroughly I see that it ranks the countries in terms of patients’ reports on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care. While focusing on a limited slice of the health care quality picture—patient perceptions of care received—as well as a limited number of countries.

    Interestingly I see we come last in terms of Effectiveness: The indicators of effectiveness in the 2004 and 2005 surveys were grouped into four categories: prevention, chronic care, primary care, and hospital care and coordination. Compared with the other five countries, U.S. patients fared particularly well on receipt of preventive care and care for the chronically ill, although all countries had considerable room for improvement. Canada scored well on primary care, and Germany ranked first on hospital care and coordination. Across the indicators of effectiveness, the U.S. ranked first and New Zealand ranked last.

    I would question whether they are also aware of our current issues with severe staff shortages in hospitals and continued reliance on overseas trained medical staff some of whom are excellent some of whom are appalling.

    rOb I work in health sector this is not some right wing rant, the health system is in a very very serious situation and it is one area I’d like to see all the parties come togther and solve the very real issues that exist.

    Your ascertation that National did it to in terms of the overspending of public money somehow making labours specdig on the pledge card OK is beyond me and Yes I have read Hollow Men but only the TS Eliot version

  28. r0b 28

    HS: So politics as usual consists of …

    As I said HS this is not an issue I have followed (or intend to follow). You’ll pardon me if I don’t take your perception of events as gospel – I understand that there are accusations of impropriety all over the political spectrum. Instead of rumor-mongering let’s wait for the report eh?

    I note you quote the commonwelth fund report – while I have not read this thoroughly I see that it ranks the countries in terms of patients’ reports on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care.

    Yup, and true it’s only a limited range of countries, but coming in second and ahead of Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, doesn’t seem like the “scandal” that you want it to be.

    rOb I work in health sector this is not some right wing rant

    From the time you spend posting here can I take a guess that you work in health administration? What do you make of Key’s attack on the “back office” workers in the public sector?

    Your ascertation that National did it to in terms of the overspending of public money somehow making labours specdig on the pledge card OK is beyond me

    I’m not saying that two wrongs make a right, I’m saying that two (in fact many) wrongs show that the rules were not clear (specifically that the rules were not as the AG retrospectively decided that they were). For goodness sake, Rod Donald drafted the election spending legislation, and the AG later decided that Rod and the Greens (and Labour and National) interpreted it incorrectly. WTF?

    and Yes I have read Hollow Men but only the TS Eliot version

    Then with the greatest of respect, you know nothing about the biggest scandals of recent NZ political history, or the character of the National Party front bench.

  29. higherstandard 29

    rOB

    Misrepresenting my post is typicaal of the left – Yes I’m actually a medical professioanl so can comment on the DHB crisis

    ‘Let’s wait for the report’ which one the original or the doctored cak that will be released

    The commonwealth report …….

    You seem to have ignored the fact that in this report NZ was last YES last in the most relevant measure – effectiveness (prevention, chronic care, primary care, and hospital care and coordination).

  30. r0b 30

    Misrepresenting my post is typicaal of the left

    When did I do that HS? I said I was guessing, I guessed incorrectly, hardly a misrepresentation. Please calm yourself, it’s too nice a day for high blood pressure.

    Yes I’m actually a medical professioanl so can comment on the DHB crisis

    Anyone can comment on the DHB “crisis” (as you would have it).

    You seem to have ignored the fact that in this report NZ was last YES last in the most relevant measure – effectiveness (prevention, chronic care, primary care, and hospital care and coordination).

    NZ came second overall, but by all means pick the scale that we did worst in and focus on that! Read past the Executive Summary HS, and you will see that in sub scales of effectiveness we did very well (second best on “prevention”), and that in general the differences are minor – all the countries surveyed are effective at this level.

    I’ll say again, demand for health services is endless, the funding is limited, and so the system will never be perfect. But it is damned good. And all these attempts to beat up a “crisis” and make political capital out of it should be recognised for exactly what they are.

  31. AncientGeek 31

    Like rOb I haven’t particularly bothered following whatever is happening in Hawkes Bay district health board. From what I did read or hear, it looked to me like the DHB was over-spending, and Cunliffe removed the board and put in a manager to resolve the problem.

    Been done before for exactly the same reasons, eg in Auckland health board by Helen in the 80’s. Was an effective response then, and probably will be in the Hawkes Bay.

    Apart from that, it sounds like there is the usual local politics going on. Sounds like some of the board wanted to get rid of a member and found an excuse to do so. I’m more concerned about the over-spending.

  32. Ever so slightly wrong AncientGeek – this might put you straight….

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/03/more-from-mccully.html

    or this…..

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/03/listener-ii.html

    read with an open mind, and you might see why there are a few people on all sides of the political spectrum who are concerned about this.

  33. AncientGeek 33

    I2:

    The problem with both of those links is that they don’t address what I’m interested in – the over-spend. I’d have to look it up, but I remember it being in the order of 8 million over budget. The previous DHB over-spends I’ve seen have been considerably less. Points to something being very out of control in that board.

    stuff article

    In his list of reasons Mr Cunliffe singled out Mr Atkinson’s comment last week that “It was never a realistic goal to cut $5 million from the board’s costs, but it had factored that expectation into its budget to simply get the sign off from the health minister”.

    If I saw that statement from any budgeter, I’d willingly sack them in an instant. It shows a serious lack of integrity to write budgets that you do not intend to try to achieve.

    Neither of your links deal with the budgeting or financial problems at that DHB at all. They deal with Hausemann who, from what I understand, was stood down off the board at the time that budget was done.

    There may or may not be problems with conflict of interest. But at present that looks to me to be a smokescreen to prevent too close a look at the governance incompetence of the HBDHB board. It’d be interesting to look at the blowouts in the previous budgets vs reality of the board.

    BTW: You’re right in your implicit assumption that I don’t trust either McCully or Whale as being trustworthy sources. IMHO both have shown a track record of twisting anything to attack their opponents.

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