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Nats’ ‘NZ sucks’ campaign vs the facts

Written By: - Date published: 1:45 am, October 1st, 2008 - 69 comments
Categories: election 2008, national - Tags:

08wire produces some of the most well-thought out and best argued pieces on the blogosphere, as well as great videos. Well, I know what to do when I see gold  – thief it.

From 08wires’ post, here’s a table of arguments that comprise National’s ‘New Zealand sucks’ campaign and how they stack up against the facts:


I would add that, contrary to National’s ‘NZ sucks’ campaign, we have one of the world’s cheapest electricity, incomes for all are growing rapidly after falling for most during the 1990s, and our growth rate in the last 9 years had been faster than Australia, the US, the UK, and Japan. Turns out we’re a great wee country.

Now, National knows that its claims are untrue. The Tories lie to you because they hope people will vote against the Government if they can create dissatisfaction with the state of the country, albeit based on falsehoods.

It would be really cool if these kind of basic, easily found facts were provided by media when they report the latest attack in National’s ‘New Zealand sucks’ campaign. Kiwis deserve to have context when assessing the validity of politicians claims.

[Update: AK reminds me that, again contrary to what National would have you think, our healthcare system is better than Canada and the US’s, and as good as Australia’s]

69 comments on “Nats’ ‘NZ sucks’ campaign vs the facts ”

  1. Oh yeah,

    I have never seen so many wingers in a country that to me feels like paradise.
    Coming from overcrowded super expensive underpaid Holland me and my husband can actually save on one middle class income and eat home grown organic food with a view to die for and a community that cares for me as I care for them. Awesome.
    The only thing we saw wrong here was the fact that New Zealand’s housing market was as inflated as the US market so we are renting.
    We are renting a house superfluous to requirement for as long as we want in the middle of nowhere. Absolute Paradise.

    Kiwi’s you don’t know how lucky you are.

  2. Warriors 09 2

    So then why are so many NZers going overseas, and being replaced by people from 3rd world countries who fail to replace the skilled people we lose everyday?

  3. Worker 3

    The cover up by Clark and co over the Peters scandal, plus Peters threats to the media clearly show NZ’s ranking in Corruption and Press Freedom is no longer valid.

    [Tane: FYI, ‘Worker’ is a right-wing troll previously banned under another pseudonym. This time it’s not Matthew Hooton.]

  4. 08wire 4

    Steve – Thanks for the props and the link. Glad we’re agreed on the stupidity of this Nat campaign.

    Warriors09 – As the good folk at The Standard have pointed out multiple times before, the proportion of people leaving NZ isn’t at all unusual, if you look over the cycles of the past thirty years. But nice try.

  5. 08wire 5

    Worker – Actually the corruption rankings were released only a week or two ago. But nice try. And did you notice Peters’ angry words with the media having any effect at all on their propensity to write articles critical of him and of the government? Of course not. Why? Because the press really is free here.

  6. lprent 6

    SP: That is thieve it rather than thief it. Damn I think that the ‘sod and Billy have infected me with something.

    W09: Because Kiwi’s like to fly especially when young and they tend to do it as a job or for advanced education rather than a holiday. So they get into a occupation that is too specialized or get into relationships, and don’t come home for a while.

    Aussie is more of a special case for us. That is really internal migration because of the way our two societies are joined at the hip. It is pretty easy to see when you look at the age distributions, and it tends to be quite cyclic, usually correlated with mining booms in aussie.

    What else do you expect from a population that is descended from migrants? Other migrant nations have the same issues, but they tend to do more migration internally in larger societies. What is probably more surprising is how few do it.

    [Tane: I think he was misusing it for effect. Like ‘youse’.]

  7. randal 7

    just go to twiedme onions and you will see the biggest collection of whiners and whingers you have ever met in your life. They reaaly show off the nasty misanthropic underbelly of this country and the rubbish that they fantasise about. The whining is almost pathological and somehow manages to catch the attention of the jimmy olsens of this world but that seems to have been nipped in th bud for this election at least.

  8. Julie 8

    It seems to me that one could do a fine parody of the NZ sucks stuff by using sports comparisons instead eg:

    National says we suck at:
    Rugby (currently hold the Tri Nations and the Bledisloe Cups)
    Netball (recently beat the World Champions)

    For a nation the size of NZ if we aren’t first at something it doesn’t actually follow that we suck completely. Frankly given our many disadvantages (geographic and otherwise) I think we punch above our weight in many areas.

  9. higherstandard 9

    complaince = compliance

    Have you got any links to any parties in NZ that have actually said NZ is performing poorly compared to the rest of the world in those particular areas you quote ?

  10. Glenn 10

    “Straw man”: look it up. Also, you might want to reacquaint yourself with the distintion between “government” and “nation”. Do you really believe that National is campaigning on a platform of “New Zealand sucks” and attracting the popular support that it is?

  11. insider 11

    L’etat c’est moi, surely Glenn?

  12. insider 12

    Along with “by definition I cannot leak”

  13. ak 13

    Great work – yes, time to positively promote the incredible achievements of the last nine years (and don’t forget the Commonwealth Fund studies et al that consistently put our health system at or near the top, and r0b had some great lists a way back) and contrast them with the negative scaremongering tory piffle of the last three years in particular.

    Room for both approaches: maybe a “Tui”-type campaign comparing tory statements to FACTS with “Whom to trust” as the by-line….. followed by a “flip-flop” chart with “before and after” statements by the Slippery Men…… and maybe an “Honest John” split-screen series on the Ashcroft, Transrail, Springbok Tour, Crosby-Textor etc lies…followed up in the latter stages with a snappy summation of the main gains and vision for further progress.

    Now’s the time to pamphlet and advertise hard. The money trader’s taken another punt by pushing this shady “abolish the Maori seats” dogwhistle while telling the MP the opposite in private: the media will ignore it of course, but it’s time for Labour to shove ’em while they’re on a knife-edge.

  14. HS. Just go and look at the national party’s press releases, not a day goes by that they don’t have a moan based on some misused stat.

    the basic argument is this ‘thing x about NZ sucks, that’s why everyone’s leaving, it’s the gummit’s fault, we’ll makes it better, how? trust us’

    I can only assume ‘complaince’ is a pun on 08wire’s part. Thief is intentional.. its how we used to speak in the old schoolyard… all the formal english and brilliant prose is merely an act I put on for youse.

  15. higherstandard 15

    Sp – so that’s a no then

  16. oh, HS, do you think ‘easily found’ should be hyphenated? /easily-found’?

  17. Felix 17

    SP: It’s “it’s”.

    Really, I don’t know why we bother…

  18. weka 18

    incomes for all are growing rapidly after falling for most during the 1990s,

    Except for benefits.

  19. Billy 19

    Damn I think that the ‘sod and Billy have infected me with something.

    You shouldn’t have drunk the pedantry koolaid.

  20. weka. true, but far fewer people are on benefits and the people that are have lower housing costs, higher tax credits… so disposable incomes for those people have risen rapidly too

  21. the sprout 21

    I guess a strict adherence to the truth is not really a campaign option for National.

  22. Strings 22

    Which Canadian Health System are you referring to? Your rash comment regarding a “Canadian” service shows the lack of research here, every province has its own system and service.

    When my family and I were covered by OHIP (The Ontario Health Insurance Plan)we received the best service we have experienced in the world; something my wife (a nurse) tells everyone who raises the issue of how good or bad the NZ health system is.

    As for how good things are – lets just wait till the Crash of ’09 hits, and then we can start to judge ourselves and our standard of living. As long as it’s possible for a couple to earn $150,000 a year AND STILL RECEIVE A WELFARE PAYMENT I know things are NOT GOOD.

  23. Strings, bro, I know more about the Canadian healthcare system than you would think, and more than I care to. Follow the link, the ranking is not mine.

    And you can’t get WfF on $150K.. look it up on the IRD site.

  24. Andrew Bannister 24

    I used to try and point out the great things about NZ at Kiwiblog and the lot would fly into a tail-spin. There is nothing a whining pessimist hates more than good news.

  25. r0b 25

    our healthcare system is better than Canada and the US’s, and as good as Australia’s

    And note (from your link) that this is achieved with by far the lowest per capita level of funding, hence our health system is outstandingly efficient.

  26. Phil 26

    I tend to be naturally suspicious of this kind of country ranking system. There are all sorts of measurement issues that make these things notoriously difficult to nail down with a ‘hard-number’.

    Here’s an interesting thought experiment;
    On a ranking of race relations, I would expect NZ to do pretty well. Certainly, we have far better race relations that somewhere like Japan, or parts of Europe. Does that necessarily mean that we shouldn’t be doing more, or even regressing in this area?

    Given the answer to that question, why should we not do more to reduce, say, compliance costs?

  27. Tane 27

    In other news, crime is down, yet again.

  28. weka 28

    weka. true, but far fewer people are on benefits and the people that are have lower housing costs, higher tax credits so disposable incomes for those people have risen rapidly too

    Housing cost lower? I don’t think that’s true for anyone, anywhere in NZ is it? Particularly not beneficiaries as the accomodation supplement hasn’t risen to match housing cost increases. Plus Special Benefit is gone so people in hardship are getting less support.

    I think it’s still fair to say that most beneficiaries are not better off now in income terms, and certainly haven’t experienced a rapid rise in disposable income. I get what you are saying with your post, and broadly agree about what National are doing and why it’s wrong. It was just the global statement that everyone has better incomes now. They don’t and I think that sentence should have been written more carefully.

  29. roger nome 29

    So phil takes the classic kiwiblog “my personal prejudices are worth more than research conducted by reputable international organisations” approach. Nice one phil. When the truth doesn’t support your desire for more money, you fall back on denial. Pathetic.

  30. Paul 30

    in many countries (the US for example) you can claim your spouse and kids as tax exemptions (even for people earning $1M) – NZ has a wonderfully simple tax system – but as a result we do some of these social policy things a different way though things like WFF

    So people earning over $150k receiving a break from the govt for their kids is not that unusual

  31. Tane 31

    Phil, no one’s arguing we shouldn’t strive to do better where possible.

    But the point we on the Left are trying to make is that the crap you keep hearing from National and its mates about NZ being a socialist suckhole where crime is out of control and corruption is rampant is, well, crap.

    Also, the ‘economic freedom’ indicators show we already have an overwhelmingly pro-business environment, often at the expense of workers. So the argument that businesses are being suffocated by pro-worker legislation and we need to ‘rebalance’ the employment relationship is bullshit.

  32. deemac 32

    great post – and great destruction of the pathetic counter aguments.
    I think Kiwis should travel MORE not less so that they can truly appreciate how much better NZ – for all its faults – is than anywhere else
    (could do with better weather though – I blame Helen Clark…)

  33. Tripod 33

    Arg, all the anti-Aotearoa whining from the right is so lame.

    Clarkistan, blah, blah, blah, “brain drain” to Australia, blah, blah, blah, Cullen and his train set, blah, blah, blah.

    The only bad thing about New Zealand is these narrow-minded, self-interested pathetic little people infatuated with the pursuit of wealth and convinced of their own superiority. If they want to leave the country it suits me.

    For example, the comments on the rape of that 12-year old girl in Otahuhu on Kiwiblog yesterday made me sick to my stomach.

  34. happy 34

    Having travelled the world – there is not a country I would prefer to live in than beautiful NZ. I am quite happy to have lower pay or even higher taxes to pay for the privillage and cannot believe that people find so many little things to whinge about – What I am concerned about is the possibility that all the good work that this government has done over the past nine years could be destroyed so easily by this National Party governing the country – it frightens the life out of me!

  35. Tripod.. I hadn’t heard Clarkistan before. It’s an upgrade on Helengrad at least.

  36. Anita 36


    Housing cost lower? I don’t think that’s true for anyone, anywhere in NZ is it? Particularly not beneficiaries as the accomodation supplement hasn’t risen to match housing cost increases. Plus Special Benefit is gone so people in hardship are getting less support.

    I believe that state house rentals were significantly lowered in 1990 with the return to income-related rents an the abolishment of the preceding National government’s market-related rents.

    I sometimes forget just how awful the conditions the Bolger/Shipley governments imposed on the poor were.

    P.S. Can anyone remember who was responsible for National’s market-rentals for state houses?

  37. Bill 37

    I’ve given it a lot of thought and in the interests of adding some uncontroversial substance to this post, I give you a (fairly) comprehensive SUCKS list

    The media SUCKS
    General level of ignorance among people SUCKS
    My last boss (like many before) SUCKS
    Parochialism SUCKS
    1080 SUCKS
    Not being able to catch a train (Te Wai Pounamu) SUCKS
    The level of racism SUCKS
    Poverty SUCKS
    Employment legislation SUCKS
    User Pays SUCKS
    The price of books SUCKS
    The hypocrisy of ‘clean, green’ SUCKS
    Legislating ‘cotton candy wool safety’ SUCKS
    The supermarket SUCKS
    The cost of getting between the islands SUCKS
    My vacuum cleaner SUCKS (badly)
    What Nat are banging on about SUCKS (equally badly)

  38. Tane 38

    Yeah, my vaccuum cleaner’s broken too. Sucks.

  39. Bill 39

    But that slippery wee merchant banker who wants to be PM just chugs. 3rd vertebrae and all? Doesn’t suck

  40. Quoth the Raven 40

    SP – That would make a good flyer for your Campaign Hub site.

  41. Simple (renamed RC) 41

    cheapest electricity-so the market does work?

  42. Daveski 42

    I note that the most critical metric – our OECD ranking – isn’t included in your chart even though that is obviously at the heart of National’s claims.

    No where have I seen a NZ sucks viewpoint expressed by National. A brighter future seems means we can do better.

    You are right to point out that in some areas we can justifiably show that we lead the world.

    You are patently wrong to suggest we couldn’t do better economically as a country.

    What is wrong with wanting to do better?

    [Daveski. How is the OECD per capita GDP ranking the most critical measure? Surely, it’s our GDP per capita relative to others, not a ranking that would matter. It’s worth pointing out that we are the smallest, most isolated first world country on the planet and we do bloody well in these circumstances. Indeed, our economy grew faster in the 2000s than Australia, the UK, the US, and Japan, whereas we fell behind under National. SP]

  43. Tane 43

    You are patently wrong to suggest we couldn’t do better economically as a country.

    What is wrong with wanting to do better?

    No one’s suggested that we couldn’t do better. We’re pointing out that National is deliberately lying to try and foster discontent with the Government for its own electoral purposes.

    Contrary to National’s spin, New Zealand’s actually doing pretty bloody well.

  44. Ianmac 44

    Recently Key said on TV that there were more important issues to deal with, other than his “minor” transgressions. Among other things he said “with violence spiraling out of control….” This is often repeated with the help of the media endlessly reporting on violence. No-one seems to challenge this yet the stats show that at the very least we are no worse off than before.

  45. Daveski 45

    We’re pointing out that National is deliberately lying to try and foster discontent with the Government for its own electoral purposes.

    Take out the word “lying” and that’s an effective representation of what an opposition should do. I wonder what the reaction will be here if Labour was in opposition – should they not attack the government? Wouldn’t they only supply figures that support their pov?

    SP – Agreed re the tyranny of distance. However, NZ did perform significantly better in the past and it was Labour who aimed to improve NZ’s OECD ranking (something that is conveniently overlooked).

    I don’t disagree that with your view that NZ is competing well in areas.

    My point is that the Nats are not running a NZ sucks claim – that is Standard spin (by this I mean a line supported by more than one poster because I know the mantra … the Standard is NOT a machine!).

    I also think this is where the left strategists are missing the plot. Don’t try to tell people how well we are doing when the general feeling is that things are getting worse. The left’s problem is not the “lies” that National are spinning but their own spin about how well they have done – regardless of any selective stats you can point to, there is a groundswell of concern about how we are travelling.

  46. Retarded Child. Well, we do have relatively cheap electricity but the proce of that electricity has risen rapidly since the Bradford reforms. It just used to be really cheap.

    Daveski. Yeah, stop calling a lie a lie and it does sound better.

  47. r0b 47

    My point is that the Nats are not running a NZ sucks claim

    Of course they are. On and on and on and on:
    A never ending muddy river of sodden sullen negativity.

  48. Daveski 48

    rOb and others

    More selectivity avoiding the practical point I’ve made – what is an opposition supposed to do?

    Check out the Labour site … same negativity on the right hand panel. It’s politics, not tiddlywinks to quote St Tana.

    Rather than choose media releases, why not look at the slogan:

    “Choose a brighter future” …

    A never ending muddy river of sodden sullen negativity.

    BTW What’s Labour’s slogan???? Trust???

    Surely even you lot can see humour in that 🙂

  49. They read like they are someone else.. so, to put it bluntly, they should go somewhere else..

    Here’s the original twist — yeah like you never knew before. Nice read.

  50. Felix 50

    “Rather than choose media releases, why not look at the slogan:”

    And that’s about all I need to know about Daveski…

  51. Edosan 51

    Alright! We’re the best in the world at corruption!

  52. Daveski 52

    I don’t normally bite Felix but I will make an exception this time.

    There is no evidence of a NZ sucks campaign. The slogan is representative of the message that the Nats are endeavouring to communicate.

    r0b choose to use one element as it proved National was negative. I contrasted this with the Nats campaign message.

    Distorting, spinning, taking words out of context, misleading … the irony is that this is what many righteous individuals have claimed the Nats done when there’s plenty of evidence from both sides.

    There is a reason that the public rates politicians (of all persuasions) alongside second hand car dealers.

  53. r0b 53

    More selectivity avoiding the practical point I’ve made – what is an opposition supposed to do?

    Engage constructively. On a factual basis support what is good for NZ, oppose what is bad. Promote widespread intelligent discussion of policies and the factual evidence for them. Try to win the intellectual moral and philosophical debates.

    Crazy I know, it will never happen. Bland lies and whining negativity are much more effective. Sigh.

  54. r0b 54

    Rather than choose media releases, why not look at the slogan:

    “Choose a brighter future’

    r0b choose to use one element as it proved National was negative. I contrasted this with the Nats campaign message.

    Oh please – for real? You cling to “choose a brighter future”? That’s it? That’s your answer?

  55. Edosan. Yeah,easily misread table that one.

  56. Daveski 56


    Agreed and well said. But all politicians look to negate their opponents rather than simply do what is good for NZ.

    You wouldn’t run your local sports club along the Westminster lines … although that’s what seems to be happening with the Tasman Mako.

  57. r0b 57

    Agreed and well said. But all politicians look to negate their opponents rather than simply do what is good for NZ.

    Yes, but I don’t have to like it, and it does mean National is running “NZ Sucks” I’m afraid.

  58. Phil 58

    Alright! We’re the best in the world at corruption!

    Interestingly, the survey on corruption specifically asks for perceptions of corruption.

    It’s entirely possible that being 1st in the world for percieved incorruptability could just mean that those commiting corruption are just really really good at hiding it.

    [straw. clutch. SP]

  59. Daveski 59

    Sigh … my last post on this

    r0b – there has not been one shred of evidence that the Nats have run a NZ sucks campaign. They have used tactics to negate Labour’s achievements or lack thereof but that’s politics.

    National has attempted to run a positive campaign. Choose a brighter future. Whether you agree with that vision is a different matter.

    But National is not running a NZ sucks campaign – although it is running a Labour sux one.

    For what it is worth, I’ve voted for the Nats as often as I’ve voted for the Gordon Dinosaur Party.

  60. Felix 60

    Daveski: “There is no evidence of a NZ sucks campaign.”

    Yeah, as long as you only read the 4 word slogan and nothing else that the Nats say, right Daveski?

    I’m typing this bit really slowly just for you Dave – a positive slogan is not the same thing as a positive campaign.

  61. Phil 61

    [straw. clutch. SP]

    Over. Yourself. Get.

  62. Economic freedoms, tell that to the shareholders of AIA who voted for the Canadian pension fund deal.

  63. randal 63

    so it coms down to this in the end.
    who will benefit by the transfer of wealth if who ever becomes the government. who are you gonna call.

  64. Tony Norriss 64

    This article is a totally stupid way of looking at things. If you are unhappy about your relationship with your partner, will knowing that you are in the top 5% for happiness make you any more satisfied? I doubt it.

    I know, as a small business person, that the amount of compliance we have to put up with is a major strangle on our business. So what if we are highly rated for on this aspect worldwide? Knowing this does not make the amount of compliance any less, or less of a pain.

    Just because things look good comparatively with other countries doesn’t mean we should be satisfied with that and not try to do things better.

  65. RedLogix 65

    If you are unhappy about your relationship with your partner, will knowing that you are in the top 5% for happiness make you any more satisfied? I doubt it.

    On the other hand maybe discovering that I was in the “top 5% for happiness” might also cause me to reconsider my perceptions.

    I’ll put this another way. The one good thing about going to hospital is that no matter how bad you are feeling for yourself, invariably you get to see some poor SOB who is far worse off than you. Immediately you start feeling a WHOLE lot better….

  66. Helen has been a great Prime Minister and all I see coming from the National and ACT parties are the gutter personal attacks and slurs based on lies, gossip and inuendo. I find their tactics during this campaign have sunk to a new low and I think they will lose a lot of support from people who appreciate honesty and intergrity in our Leaders.

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