John Armstrong pretty much called it on Saturday:
If this weekend’s National Party conference runs true to recent form – and there is no obvious reason why this year’s gathering of the clan will depart from that script – it will be so stage-managed that any vitality or vibrancy will have been sucked out of the affair before it has even begun.
It will make one of those heavily choreographed North Korean rallies which pay homage to the unfailing vision, wisdom and superhuman feats of the latest despot to emerge from the lineage of Kim Il-sung look like an exercise in spontaneity.
And thus it came to pass. The nearest things got to challenging was when English warned of a possible Auckland housing crash. As far as I can tell the only policy announcements were some signature beneficiary bashing, and then this:
John Key announces measures to spread migrants, investments outside Auckland
In his keynote speech to the National Party’s annual conference on Sunday, Prime Minister John Key said about half the 10,000 annual intake of skilled migrants currently settled in Auckland. Currently those who get a job offer outside Auckland get 10 bonus points towards their residence application, but from November that would triple to 30 points towards the 100 they require.
Hmmm – sounds familiar. From just last year in fact:
Labour would encourage immigrants away from Auckland and into the provinces through increased incentives
The Labour Party says if elected to government it will entice immigrants away from Auckland by increasing incentives for them to accept jobs or establish businesses in regional New Zealand. … Labour says it will increase incentives through the points system for migrants to accept jobs or establish businesses in the regions. This will be adjusted as required to ensure migrants go where they are most needed.
Good of the Nats to pick up sensible policy from Labour, but that was pretty much it. Vernon Small weighs in:
Not so much ‘the elephant in the room’ as the dairy cow at National conference
OPINION: The roughly 700 delegates at this year’s National party conference looked no less prosperous and no less confident than ever. And so they should, given their continued strength in the polls.
But beneath the meticulous stage-management there were some undercurrents of unease, especially about the state of the economy. Oh, and some moments that bordered on the bizarre, leading one senior figure in the party to dub it “infotainment for the delegates”.
Ouch. So, nothing here to dispel the perception of a government that is out of ideas and deep in third-term arrogance. The most arresting image of the conference came from the protest outside:
Widow, daughter’s message for PM
Eight-year-old Skyla Frater and her mother, Deborah McMillan, had a message for Prime Minister John Key this morning outside the National Party in Auckland this morning about weakening health and safety proposals.
“We’re here to show National that we are not going to be quiet,” Deborah McMillan of Hamilton said. ” We are not going to give up. We are all going to stand together and keep fighting for change.”