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Nats’ policy cupboard bare as crisis strikes

Written By: - Date published: 10:40 am, October 3rd, 2011 - 37 comments
Categories: brand key, Economy, election 2011, privatisation - Tags:

A little birdie tells me there’s an election in a little under 8 weeks’ time. Labour is releasing a couple of major policies a week (most recently: aged care, women, and Canterbury). The Greens released their massive jobs package policy last week. ACT is deciding its policy by knifefight. But what about National? They’ve released NO policy since June.

You’ll remember Ben Clark did a piece a couple of weeks ago on the lack of National policy on their website. The criticism clearly stung because the formerly empty policy page now looks full. Except, it’s just full of Budget press releases and targeted mailings they did at the time. National hasn’t announced any new policy and looks very unlikely to do so.

It would have seemed like smart politics until last week. Strategy 101 (in politics and any relational pursuit): minimise your weaknesses  and play to your strengths. Until last week, National’s weakness was it’s policies that people hate (‘if you vote for National, you’re voting for asset sales’ needs to be on big billboards everywhere) and the fiscal constraint which means it can’t afford another taxcut bribe. It’s strength was Smiley McSmilesalot.

It makes for terrible government but it did make for effective politics.

But then he went and described his economic policy as ‘muddling through’. Then Labour went and listed exactly where that muddling through had gotten us (47,000 fewer jobs, GDP per capita down 3.6%, wages down 3.2%, $37 billion more government debt, international indebtedness projected to rise forever). And, then, Key made the worse mistake of his career: doing a vacuous hour-long radio chat-show on the station he bailed out at the very time the country’s credit rating was being cut.

Strengths can easily become weaknesses in this game. Suddenly, the media and the public are demanding strategy and solutions from the government as the economic crisis that everyone but National saw coming hits us. And their response so far has been to pretend it isn’t happening. Sunny optimism no longer cuts it. The government is caught in the headlights and is about to get us all knocked flat.

– Dean

37 comments on “Nats’ policy cupboard bare as crisis strikes ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    “Suddenly, the media and the public are demanding strategy and solutions from the government as the economic crisis that everyone but National saw coming hits us.”

    I disagree.

    National were pre-loading the borrowing and their justification for it is that they were expecting borrowing costs in the 1st half of the year to be cheaper than in the 2nd half. They were right. If you were forced into a position where you had to borrow, then their move was prudent – they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place, but they made the best of it.

    • Zorr 1.1

      What were they borrowing FOR though? And that is part of the issue… if you don’t really have a plan for how you are going to invest that money then all you are doing is loading up on debt no matter whether the interest rate is a better deal or not. On your argument, I should go out and get a mortgage today because the interest rates are so good… not taking in to account that I don’t really have a house I want to buy.

    • Blighty 1.2

      I’m confused.

      Lanthe says the Nats were right to borrow while the borrowing is good. That was their clever plan knowing these problems were coming.

      But Key and English say that the downgrades won’t push up borrowing costs therefore, there was no need to preload – and just last week were saying we were sitting pretty with nothing to worry about.

      • Lanthanide 1.2.1

        “But Key and English say that the downgrades won’t push up borrowing costs therefore, there was no need to preload – and just last week were saying we were sitting pretty with nothing to worry about.”

        Key and English also say that the credit downgrade is because of wider global economic conditions and that they don’t need to change anything they’re doing.

        My actual point is the the interest rates are likely to be higher in the 2nd half of the year, but that doesn’t mean it’s because of the credit downgrade. It’s simply because of the wider global economic conditions.

  2. Galeandra 2

    Their pre-loading is based on an assumption that ‘something will turn up’, a style of thinking that is a wondrous return to the borrowing in the boom-bust cycles that Piggy used to be such a whizz at all those years ago. He borrowed so many deutchmarks and yen (hardening currencies) that eventually Roger was able to justify selling off most everything to reduce our debt. How comforting it is to see such astute management, what a pity that we can’t all just turn out the lights and head for Hawaii – or Geneva, Sir Michael- when it,once again, doesn’t work. AFKT is a wee bit ahead of his time, but after another 10 years of rocky contraction, we’ll all be ready to join him living on the bones of our arses in a world without much of anything…..

    • vto 2.1

      “Their pre-loading is based on an assumption that ‘something will turn up’”

      Correct.

      And when all you have is hope then you have nothing (apologies to John Kirwan and his depression ads, but there you go – it fits).

      p.s. John Key doing an hour long talkback show host crapathon is the most bizarre thing I have ever known a NZ PM to do. And especially when he refuses to do hour long interviews on anything else whatsoever. What a wanker.

  3. queenstfarmer 3

    It’s largely because National is doing many of its policies, whereas all Labour can do is announce its policies which it says it will implement if elected. Christchurch is a good example.

    This is normal for Govt’s versus oppositions. It is generally only when Govt’s feel the need for a lolly scramble (Michael Cullen being the worst recent perpetrator) that a Govt might need to crank out the policy. Otherwise, unless it’s seeking a mandate (e.g minority floats of selected Govt assets), why wait?

    • Dv 3.1

      SO the downgrade IS a result of nationals policy!
      AND the next 3 years under nat will be more of the same.

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        According to Labour & Green activists, of course (I hope you don’t find this a revalation).

        • felix 3.1.1.1

          No it’s according to your own logic, dummy.

          • queenstfarmer 3.1.1.1.1

            Then you’re wrong. As I already said the other day, no-one knows whether any specific policy “caused” the downgrade. So the Greens could be right, it could be the absence of an earthquake levy. I doubt it, but the fact is no-one knows.

            Lift your game on your name-calling, too.

            • felix 3.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s in your comment above, dummy. Fuck you’re dense.

            • mik e 3.1.1.1.1.2

              QSFMore Borrow and hope Key appointing himself turist minister putin his expertese into lowering profitability in the sector spending too much time helping Hawaiis tourism sector

    • Irascible 3.2

      I haven’t really seen NACTional doing any policy implementation that has contributed to growing NZ’s economy or building its social capital unless preparing te country for sale to any foreign corporate who waves a wallet in Key & Double Dipton’s direction.
      talking of lolly scramble sweet throwers why not lay the blame at the feet of the Key led NACTional Party which threw loads of lolly into the air to benefit the wealth gathers who surround Key and contribute little to the health of New Zealand and conspire to build up the country’s debt with excessive borrowings.

      • queenstfarmer 3.2.1

        The minority floats of 4 SOEs is indeed part of it (your deliberate & hyperbolic misdescription of it may be a partisan talking point, but isn’t helpful to the discourse).

        What was the lolly scramble that NACTMaoriUnited did?

        • mik e 3.2.1.1

          QSF So selling your 1/2 truth, selling is selling you haven’t or any of your other trolls have the balls to tell me why you would sell off our best performing assets they are returning near 20% returns better performing than virtually any other companies in the country .One company is up 51% on last years profit while we are only paying 6% interest on dumb double dipping dipstick from dipton triple downgrade for your hollow argument K road dreamer!

  4. Bob Stanforth 4

    Or…

    In other news, labour flail around madly releasing policy to a voting public that frankly dont give a toss. In a desperate attempt to gain traction, labour MP’s took to berating retired butchers and calling for boycotts on shops run by jews, errr, tories…

    I suspect I know which one is more relevant and real to that voting public…

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1

      Actually polls show a lot of labour’s policies are quite popular. How popular do you think National’s asset sales policy is?

      • Bob Stanforth 4.1.1

        Put simply, it doesn’t matter. labour could quite literally be giving money away in the streets (well, they are trying, what with GST stupidity, tax free thresholds etc) and the electorate would still not give a toss.

        And you know why dont you ZB? Because labour demand the electorate believe in them. We dont. We see them for the venal pack of mean spirited troughers they are. And in our own polite way we stick two fingers up at labour and ignore the policy. Earn our respect, dont demand it.

        labour policy might be brighter, whiter and sunnier, but until labour rid themselves of aging stupidity and butcher hating morons, you arent going anywhere.

  5. Ahem.

    A word to those who merely write blogs, and don’t have any input to, or understanding of, policy development, policy analysis, or those endearing but endangered ‘policy wonks’ who used to inhabit our public service in vast numbers.

    ‘Policy’ is what drives politics – it is the description of the intentions of any given Ministry to act on those democratically mandated ides of the electorate.

    Thus, policy drives ‘legislation’ – except, of course, if you happen to be ShonKey and his amazing troupe of dancing ministers, who jump at his whim to push through undeclared and unscrutinised legislation under urgency in the final weeks of their very unimpressive term in Government. Failing to campaign on policy is an arrogant abrogation of democracy.

    ‘Policy analysts’ are those poor people in the Ministry (thus, public servants who don’t get elected in, they get employed on their academic qualifications, experience and ‘on-target’ policy area knowledge) who have to turn a pieceof hurriedly-written and urgency-passed legislation, into something that can be churned out through their Ministry’s H/O into some form of practical action to be taken by regional offices, or in the case of Health and Education, the hospitals and schools, universities, technical institutes and research establishments of our country.

    Sacking 2400 or so public servants whose jobs represent advice the Government does not want to take is a retrograde act, demeaning both the wealth of public sector knowledge of vital parts of our Ministries, and the practice of democracy through elected representatives passing legislation mandated by popular vote, after campaigning on policy issues.

    Knowing the National Party’s policy platforms is a basic right for voters.

    Voting ‘National’ because your parents/uncles/grandparents/directors did/do is merely ideological foolishness, which indicates some form of cognitive impairment that makes one wonder if all these people who suggest that campaigning without mentioning ‘what we intend to do when elected’ are sound of mind, or indeed whether the levels of cognitive dissonance within the National Party hierarchy have risen to hitherto unforseen levels of stupidity.

    Yep, my ability to restrain my sarcasm has finally snapped.
    No, I won’t be repeating this in my blogposts over at g.blog.
    But feel free to drop by on the off-chance I get more sarcastic and less self-controlled in the remaining eight weeks.

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    National most assuredly have a set of policies and they are work to a very clear agenda. The only problem for National is that thier policies and their agenda are repugnant to the majority of NZers, so the whole process has to be done surrepticiously.

    National policy is geared to

    1. promoting the interests of international money-lenders

    2. facilitating the looting of the last of NZs natural resources

    3. enslaving as large a portion of the populace as possible by corporations -making them dependent on corporations for energy, food, water, eduaction, health etc.

    In order to further this agenda of covert fascism National pursue the strategy of keeping the general populace dumbed-down, uninformed, confused, deluded, distracted etc. as is clearly demonstrated by National supporters who comment on this forum.

    National know exactly what they are doing because they have had decades of practice and employ some of the best propagandists in the world.

    One only need look at the lunacy of the Rugby Wolrd Cup to see how easy it is to dupe the average NZer into supporting a corporate money-making scam. Repetitive neuro-linguistic programming, some bits of coloured cloth, appeals to patriotism …….

    Right now there are billboards telling the ‘slaves’ that National are building a better future’: a lot of the ‘slaves’ believe it.

    “The chocolate ration has been increased from 25 grams per week to 20 grams per week.” It’s all Orwellian.

    And the whole system is going down. National’s plan is the ensure the elites profit from the collapse and are insulated from it.

    A vote for National is a vote for covert fascism morphing into overt fascism.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      +1

      Now all we have to do is get everyone else to realise that. It doesn’t help that the major “left” party seems to be doing the same thing as National.

    • marsman 6.2

      +1. Spot on comment. How to wake a ‘sleeping’ nation?

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    By the way. Labour were little different when in office. Labour facilitated the agendas of global corporations and money-lenders, and sacrificed the environment to the interests of coporate looters.

    Labour had no strategies for dealing with the collapse of complex systems associated with decline on global oil extraction, and Labour totally ignored all those who repeatedly raised Peak Oil and environmental degradation as the key issues of the times.

    It’s just that more crumbs fell off the edge of the table into the slaves’ mouths under Labour.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Just had this conversation with Labours Jordan Carter:

      Jordan Carter
      Elegant and accurate critique of Bronwyn Howell’s mistaken analysis of Local Loop Unbundling http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/telecommunications/opinion-in-defence-of-local-loop-unbundling

      Draco
      LLU is a waste of time. The only rational telecommunications structure is a single network/ISP – a state monopoly in fact.

      Jordan Carter
      Read the piece by Ross Patterson, who shows why you are wrong. 🙂

      Draco
      http://tinyurl.com/3mpxa38 Competition in natural monopolies increases costs. LLU is an attempt to decrease those costs.

      Jordan Carter
      that’s only a static analysis.

      Draco
      …by reducing the duplication of networks. But further costs are still involved because some of the network [i]s still…
      …duplicated and further costs are still incurred through the duplication of services via the competing ISPs
      Simple logic really and yet the politicians and economists have been arguing against it for the last 3+ decades

      Jordan Carter
      but again – that only applies to what is a monopoly. The local loop is one. National interconnectivity isn’t.

      Draco
      having multiple interconnect networks adds extra costs as well that won’t be there in a monopoly and…
      …as the telcos don’t do the innovation in the hardware, Lucent, motorola, nokia etc do, we don’t get any benefits from the extra costs.

      Jordan Carter
      static analysis again

      Draco
      So, you’re denying that doing twice as much work using twice as much resources costs twice as much?

      Jordan Carter
      no – I’m saying that static efficiencies are only part of the story.

      Yeah, they just don’t get it 🙁

      • Afewknowthetruth 7.1.1

        DTC

        Half of them don’t get it because they don’t want to.

        The other half don’t get it because they don’t have the necessary intellect.

        Your story reminds me of the session I had with Ross Robertson.

        I raised a dozen issues crucial to our times and his response to every one of them was: “I don’t know anything about that.”

        Harry Duynhoven, on the other hand, agreed with me to my face and then shortly afterwards did the opposite.

        These bastards, and others like them, are quite happy to see society driven straight off the cliff and their own children’s futures ruined.

        Unfortunately, most NZers are the same, quite happy to see society driven straight off the cliff and their own children’s futures ruined.

        • vto 7.1.1.1

          “Unfortunately, most NZers are the same, quite happy to see society driven straight off the cliff and their own children’s futures ruined.”

          Don’t be silly Mr Few, of course they aren’t. But they are blindingly ignorant of many many things going on in the world along the lines you say. Whenever I try to have a conversation with most people about this then unless they are already well versed in the topic they are either completely uninterested because of its complexity / conspiracy / remoteness / diversion from the next drink / etc or they shout back a whole bunch of unrelated one-liners which never provide for conversation or debate (exactly like trying to debate something on kiwiblub).

          So yep, it never gets very far and wont until it is upon them / us.

          • Afewknowthetruth 7.1.1.1.1

            vto

            I used the word ‘happy’ in a loose sense. You could substitute ‘blissfully ignorant and don’t want to know the truth’.

            The result is the same.

            Over the past decade I have met with every argument and every form of denial there is, so I was able to include them all in ‘The Easy Way’.

            ‘Having been transported across Europe in railway wagons, most Jews arriving at camps in Poland had their possessions and clothing taken from them. Even as they stood naked in the ‘shower’ rooms, many had little idea what would happen next. Only when the gas canisters began releasing their poison did they fully comprehend the nature of their predicament.

            All the evidence indicates it will be much the same for the bulk of humanity when it comes to dealing with the major issues of our times. We now face the most testing time in all of history, for which everyone who is in a position to prepare should do so. However, it seems that only when everything they think they have has been taken away from them, only when they have lost everything they think they are entitled to, will most people realise the full extent of their predicament. It seems that only when they have lost ‘everything’ will most people living in industrialised societies fully realise the extent to which they have been lied to and misled. ‘

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.2

          Half of them don’t get it because they don’t want to.

          The other half don’t get it because they don’t have the necessary intellect.

          Some of them don’t get it because of what their leaders (don’t want to disbelieve their leaders) and economists (taking an authority figure at its word rather thinking about what’s been said) told them.

          1,000,000 economists can be wrong: the free trade fallacies

          Those “in the know” understand that this is not an isolated failing. The Neoclassical model that dominates economics today is riven with logical and empirical fallacies. If economics were a real science, it would have long ago been overthrown and replaced by something more realistic.

          As long as the government keeps listening to and believing these fallacies then no progress can be made to a sustainable society. Of course, the business “leaders” don’t want to change as this false model rewards them greatly even as it destroys all life around them.

          • Afewknowthetruth 7.1.1.2.1

            DTC

            Yes. Modern economic is a complex system of lies and fabrications geared to facilitating the conversion of resources into profit for individuals and corporations.

            Fractional Reserve Banking is a fraud.

            GDP is a faux measure of economic activity, amd certainly does not measure progress.

            CPI is a fraudulent measure of inflation.

            Modern economics takes no account of a wide range of inputs from nature and assumjes that nature will clean up any mess created by industrialism for free, what is refered to as externalising costs.

            Modern economics is founded on the bizarre theory of perpetual growth on a finite planet, which is clearly an absurdity.

            Nevertheless, as you point out, all politicians and official bodies are firmly locked into the nonsense exponded by mainstream economists, which is exactly why there is currently no future for western societies.

            As you put it: ‘ business “leaders” don’t want to change as this false model rewards them greatly even as it destroys all life around them.’

            The ‘good news’ is that the destruction can only go so far before the system implodes on itself as a consequence of lack of resources.

  8. I tend to look at finance this way, security vs dependency. Borrow billions in an economic crisis is dependency and no security because it has to be paid back. Sell state assests and then dependency because of the loss of revenue long term. A job gives security but when there are no jobs there is dependency.

    Innovation will give security but there is no capital available for this when there needs to be.

  9. mik e 9

    Treetop the only thing innovative about National is how many photo ops the PM can conjure up

  10. HC 10

    The cupboard is anything but bare. It is full of poison like arsenic and other delicacies yet to be served! Do not be misguided or gullible. The policy release strategy of National is well structured and was planned well ahead.

    Drip feeding is the method. A bit of calming talk, then a bit tough hard medicine.

    The asset sales are know, soon comes the real biggie! The welfare reform plans to revamp the whole social welfare system. Paula Pancake is working overtime, together with a team of selected ministers, to hammer out and polish the armourments before they will be shown.

    There will be tough, tough, though “love” for every beneficiary, but it will be dressed up in politically correct smart talk, with smiles and waves.

    One benefit for all, top ups only under very strict rules, work testing for almost all, and all will be justified with – guess what – the need to live within our means and to save state expenditure! The credit downgrades serve Don Keypone very, very well to ride that one through. I can already see him on the tv screen, together with dear Paula, who fills 50 % of the screen surface. He will be giving her a warm handshake, maybe even a passionate hug. For all that great hard work she put into National’s Masterpiece. The “welfare reform” of the Century, or “MOTHER OF ALL ROBUST WELFARE REGIMES”. “A RELENTLESS FOCUS ON WORK!” Look out for it in the coming weeks, and watch this space.

  11. Paul 11

    2 Afewknowthetruth
    What is your solution?

    • Afewknowthetruth 11.1

      Paul.

      The same thing I say day after day, week after week. Widespread application of the principles of Permaculture and Powerdown. Mind you it’s now too late for most people. P&P were what I was advocating 5 years ago when ‘nobody’ was listening but there was still time to implement them. Most people have fully committed to unsustainable arrangements and are about to get ‘wiped out’ because they would not listen and are still not listening.

      If I were in power I would have to start with telling the general populace the truth. That is something the vast majority of politicians and candidates seem incapable of.

  12. Afewknowthetruth 12

    More good news this evening. Most Asia-Pacific markets are down around 2% on the day’s trade and the sell-off continues in Europe, also down around 2% at the moment, reported as the ‘worst quarter since the dot.com meltdown’.

    So a few more billion or trillion of imaginary money have been ‘liquidated’ and ‘evaporated’.

    The only problem is, TPTB will create a few more trillion out of thin air to prop up the markets if they fall too quickly.

  13. Afewknowthetruth 13

    Dow was down nearly 2% and the Kiwi dollar was down again overnight. More droughts and fires in some places, and torrential rain and flooding in others as climate instability gets worse.

    What is the government’s response to the ever-deepening worldwide financial and environmental crisis?

    Pour another $5 million into the RWC black hole and squander a bit more of our last precious resources to keep the masses distracted from the real game! This government may soon overtake the Clark government, which poured an extra $30 million into the black hole of the America’s Cup after NZ lost it.

    The government’s funding of energy literacy and permaculture? $0 million, of course.

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