National’s policy vacuum

Written By: - Date published: 5:13 pm, June 9th, 2008 - 52 comments
Categories: national - Tags: , ,

From the editorial in the ODT today we learn that Bill English is keen to dampen down concern within the party at the lack of policy, telling delegates at their southern conference: “We pick the timing [for policy release] – not Labour, not the media, not the public.” He signaled it may be released very late and warned the party faithful that “you are just going to have to put up with that.” Nevertheless the calls to come clean are increasing.

Mr English told party delegates in Dunedin, National does not want to “kill [voters] with detail, but we do want to make clear what our direction is.

And that direction uses words you are used to: they want to see a bit of ambition; they want to see examples of higher expectations, more self-reliance, a bit more private enterprise.”

But this patronising recipe reads as if it was written by an organisation determined to avoid confrontation or contention at all costs, and is a dishonest basis for seeking high office.

52 comments on “National’s policy vacuum”

  1. Monty 1

    Calls from the left do not count for Jack. I read the comments on the Herald web-site and there seems to be overwhelming support from those who want to get rid of Labour (about 55% according to the latest poll) for national to sit tight. We understand that the left are frustrated, but we do not care.

    I am wondering when Labour are going to release all their policy? Have not seen much yet. What is Cullen holdiong back? What Bribes is he going to offer his core supporters (so even more do not fly to National)

    We can wait – The only vacuum that is operating around here is the vacuum of Labour’s election policy platform.

    Besides until the Fiscal updates are released about a month before the election the policy should not be released just in case Labour have totally wrecked the economy as they did (Cullen Clark and Goff) in 1990.

    Good on National for holding back – it is fun to see the left cry foul expecially as this is exactly the tactic they have used in the past.

  2. Nationals ‘policy vacumn’ must be really starting to hurt….Labour.

  3. If a party won’t release its policy in time for voters to have a good look at it, no one in their right mind should vote for them.

    National fascinate me.

    Their members have no significant part to play in policy making or approving. They have no say in the selection of more than ONE of the list candidates (actually their local candidate). They have no say at all in the ranking of the people on the list. They can’t elect the leader or deputy leader of their party and have no say in who it is.

    On policy, most National MPs – even spokespeople – don’t know what it is and don’t appear to have much to do with it.

    It certainly makes me wonder who is really pulling the strings…and why no one in the National Party seems at all concerned about the apparent lack of democracy or tranaparency in their party.

    The blind faith in the unelected and unaccountable (to party members) “Leader” is quite disturbing to behold.

    Sheeple appear to be blue.

  4. Policy Parrot 4

    I wonder if [it] is covered under The Contractual Remedies Act 1979, the basics being:

    (a) there was a misrepresentation;
    (b) made by or on behalf of another party;
    (c) made to the person; and
    (d) it induced them to enter the contract.

    therefore if it doesn’t work in the way its expected to, we can ask for a product that does in fact deliver what was expected. No puffs or schills.

  5. Paul 5

    Guys I commented on this this morning.

    I think it’s astounding that a paper as conservative with possibly the biggest rural readership in the country, encompassing areas as Blue as Blue like Tarras and Lauder to go so far as to be this critical of National.

    The condescending attitude that National is showing to all of the electorate is becoming embarrassing.

    When English makes comments re the lack of policy like;

    “You are just going to have to put up with that.” and

    “National does not want to “kill [voters] with detail, but we do want to make clear what our direction is.”

    they are taking us all for fools, and if there’s one thing that pisses the public off more than anything is an MP or party taking the piss out of the people.

    If they want my or any ones vote, they must announce policy, they don’t get votes by right, they get votes by choice.

    When the hell are they going to add “No Confidence” at the bottom of the voting papers – I’m on the verge of ticking that column.

    (sorry for the pimping link)

    http://concernedoflinwood.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/national-is-taking-you-for-a-fool/

  6. andy 6

    Calls from the left do not count for Jack. I read the comments on the Herald web-site

    And how much does the herald poll count for jack s*^t too!

    We understand that the left are frustrated, but we do not care.

    My vote still has not been cast. Dude you sound like a teenager, ‘I am not talking to you your not cool…..’

    Informed choice is obviously not ok on the blue team, must follow party line.

  7. Steve Withers show that his knowledge of the democratic principles of the National Party is as scant as his knowledge of how Labour chooses its Leader and Deputy.

    You want policy?

    Diddums….our time frame not yours.

  8. Julie 8

    Good to see that questions are being asked, editorials written, cartoons drawn, etc. I have been so sick of Key’s extended honeymoon.

  9. outofbed 9

    So if there were any policy , who would write it for National ?
    I know that in the Green party its the members

  10. coge 10

    Better no policies than Labour policies. That’s what the electorate is saying.

  11. andy 11

    Outofbed

    its the white guy with short hair and a suit (possibly portly and with glasses), you know, um, er, eh, what’s his name?…..

    /sarcasm

  12. outofbed 12

    It was a serious question actually, they most have some process surely ?
    There would be hell to pay in tThe GP if the leadership dictated policy

  13. outofbed 13

    If it is the leadership what is to stop some rich bloke buying their way into a safe seat through anonymous donations and dictating the party line hook line and sinker ?
    That would be not very democratic would it ?

    CAP elegant railroad Its alive i tell you its alive

  14. milo 14

    If you want policy announcements for the voters to examine, then call an election. Pretty simple really.

  15. andy 15

    milo

    good point, how does a private citizen not in Government go about that?

  16. milo 16

    Hah! Nice argument Andy. But I rather think it is Labour calling for policy releases, and their cheerleaders chipping in. There will be plenty of time in the election campaign for individuals to compare the parties and make a choice.

    Or if the blog owners are that interested in policy, how about discussing the tax policy of Labour’s coalition partner, United Future?

  17. lprent 17

    [lprent: Been having a few problems with comments not saving or giving strange error messages or being tossed into spam.

    I’ve deactivated the plug-in that I suspect is giving the problem (Bad Behavior) and I’ll monitor this evening to see if it gets rid of the problem.

    Needless to say this was on the afternoon that I was rushing code testing so I could get time to put new tires on the car (ouch my poor wallet).]

  18. Dean 18

    Poor Mr Withers.

    “It certainly makes me wonder who is really pulling the strings and why no one in the National Party seems at all concerned about the apparent lack of democracy or tranaparency in their party.”

    How much did you rage against the machine when Clark backtracked – sorry, I’ll put in in language you people can understand – flip flopped on the smacking debate?

    None. That’s how much you care about who’s pulling the strings.

    Policy Parrot:

    “I wonder if [it] is covered under The Contractual Remedies Act 1979, the basics being:

    (a) there was a misrepresentation;
    (b) made by or on behalf of another party;
    (c) made to the person; and
    (d) it induced them to enter the contract.”

    Your bare faced hypocrisy knows no bounds. I wonder if those terms are covered by cases the police said were actually prima facie?

    Would it include Clarke’s promise to lift NZ out of the OECD economic doldrums? Or was that National’s fault again? Probably not, but I notice people like you are pretending that that clanger never happened, either.

    The lack of intellectual honesty and the double standards people like you and Steve Withers display is quite simply breathtaking.

  19. Monty 19

    That reminds me – where is Labour’s policy of the last nine years ensuring security of supply for electricity. Labour have lived in a vacuum for nine years when it comes to policy to make sure that we have enough generation to get us through the dry years. But since they came to power Labour have not changed the RMA so the dams could be built, they have bought train sets instead of focusing on economic growth. You want policy? – Well John Key and National have announced that the RMA will be reformed as an urgent priority. That action alone (as well as the greenies being sidelines into obsecurity) will mean dams can be built (and damn the fantails) and meet the demand of industry and fuel economic growth.

    Where is Labour’s policy on electriticy supply other than “advertising to use less”. That is the reason why Labour are polling sub 30% and will soon drop to sub 25%.

    For may part I refuse to do my bit to bail Labour out. I will turn up the heater, leave the lights one and cook with the oven as much as I ever have. I encourage all righties to do the same so that Labour may be destroyed once and for all because of their inaction.

  20. Felix 20

    Yeah that should do it Monty.

    As an added bonus you can complain ad infinitum about how hard you’re struggling to pay the power bill under a Labour govt.

    What a good Kiwi battler you are.

  21. ak 21

    Say what Deano?

    Clark backtracked… flip flopped on the smacking debate ?

    You mean that “smacking debate” that National said was “evil legislation” that was going to criminalise thousands of good parents – right up until the entire National caucus voted for it? That one? That flipflop?

    The lack of intellectual honesty and the double standards… is quite simply breathtaking.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself Dean.

    Meanwhile, back to the post, good to see your leaders’ true colours coming out at last with this ringing endorsement of kiwis’ opinions:

    English: We pick the timing – not Labour, not the media, not the public.

    (The nerve of that public eh Dean and Mont? Right on Mont – full speed ahead and damn the fantails. What treasures you two are. And disposable.)

  22. Monty 22

    Don’t worry about me Felix – I still think petrol is cheap – and I don’t give a shit that it costs $150 to fill my Petrol tank on my 4 litre ford explorer. Electricity is still cheap as well – Tax is my single biggest cost although I do what I can to minimise it (interest is tax deductable). A good Kiwi battler? – well white middle class – hardworking, independant and both my wife and I have six figure incomes. But wee did drag ourselves up by the bootlaces both of us. I may whinge – but in reality I am hardly affected by the rising costs of living, unlike the average Labour voter on struggle street. But then if people vote labour then i have no sympathy for them and their sad moaning about how life could be better. I just appreciate the fact that they pay more tax they can afford to fund Cullens socialist utopia and my Kiwisaver account(although I probably more than pay my share there.

  23. r0b 23

    Gosh the good old Tory “I’m OK so screw you mate” line is getting a good outing tonight! And it’s as attractive as it ever was.

  24. Monty 24

    I am the one being screwed – you want to see the amount of tax my wife and I both pay. I have resisted sending in a invoice of $80,000 plus gst to be able to avoid this government getting any of my

  25. Dean 25

    “You mean that “smacking debate’ that National said was “evil legislation’ that was going to criminalise thousands of good parents – right up until the entire National caucus voted for it? That one? That flipflop?”

    I’m sorry, I think you misunderstand.

    Yes, National flip flopped on it. Big time.

    So did Clark.

    Are you able to admit this, or do your political preferences deny you this opportunity?

    I eagerly await your reply.

    (Here’s a hint: not everything has to be a Labour Good, National Bad argument.)

  26. r0b 26

    Yes – the poor people can go screw themselves. When I see the parasite brother-in-law living off my hard earned taxes

    Not that you will care, but I’m sorry for you Monty.

  27. gobsmacked 27

    Monty, are you sure you want to vote National?

    Today’s Waikato Times:

    National MP Dr Paul Hutchison says Sir Roger Douglas’ track record as a former finance minister will count against him when the pair contest the Hunua seat.

    Dr Hutchison suggested the Act Party member’s performance in David Lange’s Labour Government of the 1980s was remembered with contempt by many voters.

    “I think he has somewhat unrealistic and extreme views that won’t carry a lot of people with him,” Dr Hutchison said.

    He said Sir Roger, who is tipped to be in line for a top-three placing in the Act Party, would go about politics in a “much more abrupt and unpragmatic way”.

    “He would be wanting to bring in voucher systems in health and education that would be unacceptable to most people.

    “Judging by his past actions (as finance minister), he’s been very abrupt and it has resulted in a lot of heartache for a lot of people.”

    Contempt? Extremist? Heartache? So say the Nats.

    What say you, Monty old chum?

  28. Monty 28

    I say bull shit – Roger Douglas was rightly knighted for his service to NZ. After 12 years of Labour demonising (but refusing to change his policies) too many ignorant people blame Roger for the problems that NZ experienced through the 1980s and 1990s. The reality is that he restructured the economy which has delivered benefits that has allowed Labour to enjoy nine years of growth.

    The economy he inherited was a basketcase. Although with hindsight things may have been done differently, the end result has been good.

    Because fot he massive leftward swing the Labour Government has taken NZ, National needs to carefully manage a massive swing back to the right – but like labour took NZ left by stealth, so to much National take NZ right by stealth. Dis-association with Roger is unfortunatley one of the prices that must be used to acheive this objective.

  29. lprent 29

    I heard Brownlee on the radio about the low hydro lakes.

    As per normal he was doing the usual beatup. But absolutely nothing about what the tory energy policy was. They don’t appear to have any on the national website. Just some vague kite flying in speeches. For instance what does this actually mean.

    The introduction of incentive mechanisms to enhance flexibility and give greater impetus to conflict resolution.

    It was about the only thing that I saw that actually referred to anything substantive. The rest was simple tinkering on things that make little difference. They were just soundbites.

    If they want to be considered as a governing party, shouldn’t they have at least some idea about what they’d do?

    Cartoon is good. Perhaps Bill could do his bit and stop hawking vacuums?

  30. mike 30

    The only thing that matters is the Nats having its policy released before election day so people can decide who they vote for.

    Why do Labour think everything needs to be finalised now?
    It’s quite entertaining listening to the left cry about it but it is getting a tad boring now.

  31. lprent 31

    I think that the best suggestion on the radio was that Brownlee should do a rain dance. At least that’d be more entertaining than his current beatup lines.

    It’d make more sense than their posturing about weather patterns. This happens every time there is an El Nino. We cop drought’s and low hydro. It is relatively inevitable because it isn’t economic to maintain excess capacity during the other years. What we have is plans to cope with the dry years. Those are kicking in now.

    It isn’t like they have any constructive ideas. The Nat’s are turning into being great opposition whingers (especially about the weather). They just don’t look like a government.

  32. hmm 32

    the problem is this:

    (i) National doesn’t release policy, you criticise it for creating a policy vacuum

    (ii) National does release economic policy before the pre-election budget documents then you’ll criticise them for putting out economic policy based on costings that aren’t likely to be right in October/November

    It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t and that’s why they’re not listening to you and the commentators about releasing more policy.

    Further National were significantly burned in 1990 when they put out costed policies early and then found that a Cabinet with Clark as Deputy PM and Cullen and Goff in high places had mislead the public about the dire state of BNZ. Now that’s not likely to happen again because of the reporting requirements under the Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by the Nats in 1994 but it does suggest that political parties need to be cautious about releasing fiscal policy frameworks unless they have the most current and up to date picture – which will be provided by the pre-election books.

  33. coge 33

    Helen Clark needs to formally address the nation, acknowledging we are facing numerous crises. Then she must articulate & enact decisive & effectual solutions immediately, to restore public confidence in this labour led govt. Clark’s leadership is missing in action. It is Labour suffering from a vacuum. A leadership vacuum. This is hugely apparent throughout the political spectrum.

  34. Monty 34

    Lprent – I do look forward to the Standard post of the electricity crisis (yes Corporal parker Panic NOW). But as I pointed out earlier the National Government will reform the RMA that alone will allow a major hurdle to be removed so that generation may be built. (better than buying a train set.

    Labour however are the government now and Labour have spent the last 3 months denying the crisis. I have spoken with two government departments this morning and both are calling this a crisis. The other two I deal with would also call this a crisis. So where is Labour’s policy on security of generation supply been for the past 9 years? They have been hamstrung by the Greens and too spinless to upset them in the interests of politics rather than punching through legislation for extra generation.

    [the Electrcity Commissioner on Agenda on Sunday provided a very professional and thorough explanaiton of the current situation and, like every responsible commentator, has not called the situation we are in a crisis. That is simple panic-mongering by National. The lgihts are not going to go out. And Monty, I don’t hear any power company saying it has less capacity than it would like because of the RMA. There is sufficent capacity, even in a drought year like this one, to get us through. SP]

    [lprent: Monty – why ask an implied question when you already know the answer?. The posters do their posts about what and when they feel like it. This is an opinion site, not a news site. There is no requirement for them to try and stay on top of breaking news. Indeed I prefer that they didn’t because it sometimes takes a while for the actual facts to make it past the news hysteria.

    In the same way I don’t usually curtail the comments (except for my usual and well-known reasons), I don’t usually curtail the posters.]

  35. The market has been signaling since January that there was an impending electricity crisis. Using the electricity spot prices as a gauge this is the fourth and worst electricity crisis under Labours watch.

    Given the politicization of the Electricity Commission with several high profile departures of Commissioners one must question their impartiality.

  36. milo 36

    I do think Bryan makes some fair points. Some very fair points.

  37. Yes milo – repeating the phrase “fair points” with an intensifying modifier clear proves your argument.

  38. T-Rex 38

    Bryan – don’t you think it’s relevant that the three prior “crisis” you refer to didn’t actually result in any outages?

    Generators are free to install new capacity within the completely reasonable and vital limitations of the RMA if they think they’re going to be able to take advantage of a high spot price. They are doing so in a manner consistent with govt energy policy.

    Contact Energy has, over 18 months, switched its investment plans away from gas-fired generation to $2.5b of geothermal and wind power. CEO David Baldwin said it did so because there were strong economic and environmental reasons for doing so.

    source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4576581a1865.html

    Contact is a publicly traded company, they’re pretty much free to do what they want. If they haven’t put in a new 1GW coal power plant it’s because a combination of market dynamics and public sentiment have made doing so a dumb idea. To argue otherwise just proves you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    So no Milo, Bryans points are actually pretty weak. Generators have NOT been unduly stifled by the RMA by their own admission. There hasn’t been a strong case for massive investment in new generation for the very simple reason that no one wants to generate what isn’t needed. The nature of our generation is that it’s more volatile than some other options. The fact that for the last 7 years the spot price has been averaging around $100/MWH proves that the generators AND the government AND the electricity commission have it right.

  39. T-Rex 39

    As for you Monty, god you’re a pathetic infant.

    ‘I’m going to turn on all my heaters or lights just to make sure we do run out’.

    But why would you need to do that? It’s a crisis remember, we’re going to run out anyway! Or are you worried that there’s actually no problem at all, so you need to create one?

    Or… Do you think the government and electricity generators should work on the assumption that everyone in NZ is a selfish petty moron and will attempt to overload a well designed system out of spite.

    You’re attitude is akin to driving down a rainy road at 200kph then b*tching when you come off at a corner. Though somehow I suspect the metaphor will be lost on you… you would no doubt be in the papers lambasting transit for not using the petrol tax you’d no doubt like reduced to put in more barriers and regulating for higher traction tyres. Right?

  40. T Rex is inside a prison cell for paedophilia isn’t he ?
    [lprent: dad!]

  41. T-Rex 41

    AHHHHHahahahahahahaha

    So glad to have drawn your notice dad.

    Which one of your two functional neurons did that little gem come from?

    I’ll tell you the biggest difference between you an I d4j: I’m proud of who I am, while you have to live with perpetual and near total self-loathing.

    Actually that’s probably not the biggest difference, but it’s one of the major ones.

    On the off-chance that, for some reason, you don’t loathe yourself – don’t worry. I’m loathing you for two 🙂

    Sweet dreams, you retard.

    [lprent: You had provocation – but that was over the top.
    There are other ways to express the same thing without going that extreme.]

  42. T-Rex 42

    Lynn – Well, I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not really. His/Her reputation precedes. I’ll moderate it in the future.

    Really though, how much more mindless could a reply get?

    [lprent: I’m not asking you to be sorry – just moderate it. There are many ways to effectively say the same thing without flaming off. I used a single word (but that should be sufficient from me).]

  43. lprent 43

    I heard Nick Smith on the national radio about the lack of planting in forestry.

    As per normal he was doing the usual beatup. But absolutely nothing about what the tory forestry policy was. They don’t appear to have any on the national website. Just some vague kite flying in speeches.

    If they want to be considered as a governing party, shouldn’t they have at least some idea about what they’d do?

    Cartoon is good. Perhaps Bill could do his bit and stop hawking vacuums?

    It isn’t like they have any constructive ideas. The Nat’s are turning into being great opposition whingers (about anything). They just don’t look like a government.

    If this seems repetitious, then it is. I copied a couple of earlier comments about Brownlee and energy. Then I changed to the appropriate spokesperson and topic.

  44. T-Rex 44

    No worries, will do.

  45. T-Rex: “don’t you think it’s relevant that the three prior “crisis’ you refer to didn’t actually result in any outages?” That sounds like the way a recidivist drink driver rationalizes their behavior: I have never killed anyone so I am doing no harm.

    A reliable and predictable electricity supply is not something that should be left to chance. Patrick Strange was saying a few days ago that will be fine…… as long no major piece of equipment fails. Sounds like perfect storm material to me.

  46. T-Rex 46

    A reliable and predictable electricity supply is not something that should be left to chance.

    By “chance” I take it you mean “a free market”?

  47. Juliet 47

    Hey Guys

    Great Blog. I must admit Labour are not my cup of tea. However National are down right dangerous in my opinion.
    They have no policy cause they are still the same as they ever were. Corporate shills. They still have dreams of trickle down like Bush does.

    This means cut taxes to the rich remove benefits and the poor will benefit.

    If you look back into history when the rich were the richest, the poor were actually starving. There has never been a case of trickle down working to help the poor and plenty of cases of peoples lives been destroyed by the rank greed of one small elite sector of the population.

    Its crazy logic because in democrcies where people can vote to ensure they get a piece of the pie and don’t starve we have the best economies of the world. We have people who can afford to buy which keeps the rich benefitting from trickle up which is a much more effective strategy for peace and prosperity.

  48. T-Rex 48

    I think that we do need new generation, but I also think you’re kidding yourself if you expect a hugely capital intensive industry to behave in an unconservative manner.

    Interesting tangent just while we’re here – do you think we need to find an alternative to oil?

    I imagine the biggest thing delaying investment in new generation has been the time taken to get the ETS ready for introduction. The reason for this delay is obvious – the importance of the scheme means a rushed job is hardly appropriate – but I can understand those responsible for investment waiting for clear signals before putting their money on the line.
    Makes you wonder about what Nationals unspoken-policy of delaying it even further would achieve…

    I often hear people say “the RMA is why we’re facing this power crisis”.
    What they usually really mean is “The RMA is the reason we can’t strip mine the west coast of the south island and build coal plants like they’re going out of style”. I’ve been to South Korea several times, and frankly, god bless the RMA. Don’t even get me started on China.

  49. TRex: we don’t have a free market, we have a market under the yoke of irrational ideological objections to building nuclear, thermal and hydroelectric power stations.

  50. T-rex 50

    Those objections arose from a free market environment.

    I agree there are irrational ideological objections, but there are also entirely rational scientific objections.

    Are you objecting to a cost being assigned to CO2-Emissions/Nuclear-Waste/River-Destruction?

    Surely you, at least objectively, agree that internalisation of costs is a good thing. User pays and all that…

    How the hell else do you expect a free market to work?

    At the moment people are deciding that they don’t like Nuclear waste, and don’t like CO2, and don’t want the few remaining largescale hydro feasible rivers we have dammed. If you’re right, then soon they’ll have to decide whether they dislike those things more than they dislike having a shortage of electricity. At least that would be their decision were we to assume the absence of the many alternatives.

  51. outofbed 51

    A serious question
    Can one of the resident National party supporters tell me who writes National party policy ?
    What is the process ?
    Is it half a dozen white middle aged men in a smoke filled room?
    or is it a democratic process ?
    If as a National party member you disagree with stated policies , say the Nuclear free NZ stance what is the process for you to be heard ?

    Not trying to score points this is a genuine question

  52. andy 52

    outofbed

    National policy spokes people that have permission to speak:

    John Key
    Bill English
    Simon Power
    Gerry Brownlee
    Murray McCully
    Maurice Williamson
    Alan Peachy
    Nick Smith
    Tony Ryall
    Lockwood Smith

    Those that we know are not in the ‘loop’:

    Georgina Te HeuHeu
    Kate Wilkinson
    Tau Henerae

    Does this help?

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