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National’s rhetoric problem

Written By: - Date published: 7:48 am, September 21st, 2019 - 19 comments
Categories: national, phil twyford, same old national, Simon Bridges, transport, uncategorized - Tags:

It is regrettable, and not helpful for a properly functioning democracy, but National’s rhetoric is getting more extreme, and getting to the pants on fire stage. As well as being unnecessarily personal.

Take for instance this tweet sent out on Thursday.

There was one slight problem.  GDP actually increased by 0.5% in the latest quarter and has risen by 2.1% in the past 12 months despite Trump’s trade wars and the pending disaster of Brexit. Compared to many of our overseas trading partners we are doing remarkably well.

And there was this further example this week involving the NZTA board which Chris Bishop tweeted on in this way:

I was intrigued by this.  Was it true?

Well there were six new appointments made and five directors had their roles completed.  But this was in the nature of a refresh and not a summary sacking.

Of the existing directors:

  • Brian Roche remains as chairperson.
  • Nick Rodgers had indicated in August that he was going to retire this week.
  • David Smol and Sheridan Broadbent were short term appointments.
  • Leo Lonergan and Vanessa van Uden and Mark Darrow were appointments made by Bridges himself.

All of their terms had expired.  And none of them had asked to stay on.

It is common when there is a change of government and a change of direction for boards to be refreshed.   In fact National tends to get rid of directors unceremoniously and immediately.  Labour tends to be much more gentle and lets people serve to the end of their terms.

And there was this particularly egregious example of a self own.

Maybe Jordan was not aware that outgoing director Vanessa van Uden was also a member of the Taxpayer’s Union board. Surely they have met.

Bridges’ attack was aimed at Patrick Reynolds.  From Stuff:

Bridges had accused Twyford of appointing “enthusiasts” to the board, specifically Patrick Reynolds, a well-known transport blogger, whose appointment Bridges called “farcical”. 

I beg to disagree.  Patrick has considerable experience in transport and urban design issues and you only have to read his posts in Greater Auckland or the Spinoff to appreciate the quality of his thought processes.

And attacking a politician is one thing. But attacking a board appointee who has no ability to respond?

Is a picture appearing?  Being a Board member of the Taxpayer’s Union is fine but appointing someone who has immersed himself into understanding the relationship between transport and urban form is somehow verboten.

Come on National.  You can do better than this.

19 comments on “National’s rhetoric problem ”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    That dumping of Mike Williams from board appointments was back in Dec 2008, after he didnt take the hint

    "Speaking on Agenda yesterday, Mr Key said he was not aware of Mr Williams resigning, and indicated he faced being sacked if he did not.

    He said it was appropriate for any appointees from "political favour" to step down in a change of government. "

  2. Stuart Munro. 2

    National runs on the spoils system, like any other group of plundering brigands.

  3. mac1 3

    "Come on National. You can do better than this."

    In Wanaka, when he promised a birthing unit building, Bridges is reported thus. "He also spoke of the importance of having targets and performance measures."

    Now, note the conversion in National thinking about targets and performance measures. They can do better.

    In 2013 the National government was criticised by the Children's Commissioner for not having the very same thing. English refused to set targets and performance measures on child poverty. Paula Bennett was the Minister then and was criticised here on the Standard in 2013 for the same thing. Note in this Standard post the reference to a Herald article by reporter Simon Collins which gives detail on National’s refusal to have targets and measures. (in areas where they were shaky, it seems to me.)

    Outsourcing poverty: Paula Bennett’s shame

    The cynic in me points out the difference in National's policy when in government and when in opposition!

    Can they do better in government? pfffft!

  4. Graeme 4

    Vanessa van Uden was our mayor in Queenstown Lakes from 2010 to 2016. During that time she was variously known as V. van Uturn and V. van Useless, and for looking after her mates.


    Also spent an inordinate amount of council funds and time trying, unsuccessfully, to protect the local Placemakers branch from competition of Mitre10 and Bunnings.

    Not many we sorry to see her go.

    Had a crack at getting Todd Barclay's job too, again unsuccessfully, but popped up on NZTA board shortly after.


  5. mauī 5

    Shock horror, the New Zealand party of Gross Hypocrisy strikes again!

    Nice to see someone who really knows their stuff, won't tell outright lies and isn't a tool of the business elite on the board.

  6. mac1 6

    Further on National's rhetoric.

    Where is the stinging condemnation from Paula Bennett upon the proven allegations spoken of by a judge for years of sexual misconduct by a leader of a friendly-to-national fellow conservative party?

    And also why have the media not asked Paula to comment upon his proven peccadillos?

    Hypocrisy much?

  7. Ad 7

    NZTA would be in a far better space right now if this government had wiped their board clean with their own people.

    Same for most other SOE boards. 2 years in and the boards stacked with National appointments don't execute fresh policy and do resist change.

    It's slowed this whole government agenda down.

    I do get your point about tone Mickey, but this government has generally mismanaged command of the governance levels.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Do you reckon Ad that Labour has done a softly, softly and gently, and should have been firm and purposeful to make the most of their miniscule three years to initiate their better policies in for all to see?

  8. MickeyBoyle 8

    What was the GDP per capita statistic? That is more indicative of the economy as a whole and is the measure in which Robertson and co used to attack National on.

  9. Incognito 9

    National’s rhetoric problem is exemplified and amplified by their Leader’s rhetoric. Nothing is safe from their politicising propaganda machine as is clear – do we need to make it any clearer? – in Frank Macskasy’s excellent blogpost (https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/simon-bridges-the-15-march-christchurch-massacre-and-winning-at-any-cost/).

    A big plank of their rhetoric is “good, law abiding people” (read: National voters) versus everybody else (read: non-National voters). It is an excellent binary proposition that fits in well with and is propagated by partisan politics using wedge, polarisation, tribalism, propaganda, et cetera, and assumes that there is no crossover possible, that there is no middle or common ground. Suffice to say, the media love it (too).

    As a side note, I disagree with this:

    Just to remind everyone that the (alleged) Christchurch shooter was also a licenced, “good, law abiding person” – right up until he pulled the trigger at his first victim. Then he wasn’t.

    IMO, this is like the “pretty legal” meme that is a legalistic ‘escape clause’ for morally- and ethically-challenged people and actions. In other words, as long as you don’t get caught, as long as long as you don’t get found guilty, you have done ‘nothing wrong’. It could be an extension of National’s mantra: if you don’t know about it, it won’t hurt or bother you. The cognitive dissonance is strong with National, but they don’t know it 😉

  10. Matiri 10

    IMF have just given NZ's economy a big tick, with special mention of the well being budget. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/399270/tick-of-approval-from-imf-for-nz-s-economy

  11. Give yourselves a treat: read the comments under Soimun's tweet.

    Hilarious and reassuring – kiwis not so easily fooled.

  12. greywarshark 12

    John Key's particular rhetoric problem within the umbrella of Nationl's rhetoric problem, means a doubling of the problem.

    And that can have bad effects on those who attempt to bring sunlight to dark places where money laundering is done. (See 10 above where Matiri has link, says IMF have given us a tick. So we’re good, or making the right noises – ‘wellbeing budget’, so safe to have dealings with for business anyway.)


    It is widely believed she was targeted because of her ongoing investigation into Maltese government corruption and international money-laundering.

    She spoke about the scandal on RNZ in 2016 following publication of the Panama Papers, which showed that the Maltese energy minister and prime minister's chief of staff had secret New Zealand trusts called the Haast Trust and Rotorua Trust.

    In June the Council of Europe human rights watchdog said the failure to identify who was behind the culprits raised questions about the rule of law in the country.

  13. Peter 13

    If National have an Idiot Quota on working groups it appoints when it's elected Jordan Williams is in with a chance of a position.

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