- Date published:
7:56 am, July 2nd, 2016 - 38 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national - Tags: andrea vance, brighter future, claire trevett, lies, long years, post-truth politics, truth, vernon small
John Key and the National government have always attacked facts, scientists, lawyers, journalists and other experts that they don’t like. Just ask Mike Joy, Bradley Ambrose, Jon Stephenson, Rodney Harrison QC and others.
But lately National’s denial of the facts has gone to a whole new level: Inequality not growing, Govt claims. Just as a reminder, the new Statistics NZ report shows that “Wealth distribution in New Zealand is at its most uneven in more than a decade. Statistics New Zealand shows the top 10 per cent of people have almost 60 per cent of wealth … Labour market and household statistics manager Diane Ramsay said it was the biggest divide between the rich and poor since 2003”.
What to make of a government that denies its own official statistics?
Perhaps questions such as this have been puzzling others recently too. Andrea Vance:
Opinion: A post-truth era in politics
We are living in a post-truth era… and it has infected New Zealand politics.
The campaigns of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers have been a triumph of emotional populism over cold, hard facts.
And our MPs are running around the Beehive with their pants on fire. Reporting on politics now feels like dispatches from an alternate universe.
In this distorted reality there are imaginary MSD squads flying in to help the homeless, and new emergency beds that already existed.
There is no evidence that inequality in New Zealand is rising, despite actual evidence on the widening wealth gap from Statistics New Zealand.
And in this brave new era, politicians prefer the anecdotal evidence of café owners over Treasury commissioned reports on the ineffectiveness of the 90-day trial.
The Government can disown previous statements (work trials were never about creating jobs, the foreign trust regime is “world class”, we’ll only be in Iraq for two years).
And serious flaws – such as the Ombudsman’s conclusion that the MFAT leaks inquiry “failed to have proper regard to relevant evidence in making its findings” – were merely “procedural issues” that journalists had “misinterpreted” anyway. …
House antics rather like trial over Queen’s tarts
The release of tax consultant John Shewan’s report into foreign trusts sparked scenes in Parliament reminiscent of the trial to find out who stole the Queen of Heart’s tarts in Alice in Wonderland.
Key was the Mad Hatter, trying to insist he had not said things he had said – or at least he had not meant what he was said to have meant when he said them.
The report was effectively confirmation of much that Key had denied was wrong with the foreign trust regime. Shewan found that although New Zealand was not technically a tax haven, the disclosure regime was so weak there was a perception of New Zealand as “generally a soft touch”. He also said while there was no evidence illicit funds were being stashed away, it was reasonable to assume foreign trusts were indeed being used to hide funds or help tax evasion.
Key’s response was to agree to make the changes Shewan had recommended while arguing there was barely a hair-width’s difference between what the report said and what he had said.
Shewan described the disclosure rules as “inadequate” and “not fit for purpose in the context of preserving New Zealand’s reputation”. When Key was asked how this fitted in with his own description of those rules as “broad and deep”, the PM put on his tap shoes and danced up a storm on the head of a pin. …
Foreign trust review brings out the worst in our political leaders
… the Prime Minister was blatantly claiming black was lily-white with his continued insistence – against all the facts – that the current rules for foreign trusts is a “full disclosure” regime.
Key should acknowledge there is a world of difference between holding information, ready to disclose if asked, and actual disclosure; just as there is gulf between what we have in place for foreign trusts now and what Shewan says we need – which the Government has largely committed to putting in place.
If for no other reason, than that nobody likes being treated as stupid.
Well and good that journalists are starting to pull Key up on his blatant lies (sorry – “post-truth politics”). Would that they had started eight long years ago, when Key was spouting this sort of bullshit unchallenged:
I’ve had nine years of being told what lightbulb I can screw into the house, what shower I can take, what food I can eat, what things I can do, what thoughts I am allowed to have.
Vintage post-truth politics that! The seeds of dirty politics and the “brighter future” that we now inhabit.
But I digress.
The second theme of this post is false equivalence. Each of the three scribes quoted above also writes on Andrew Little’s supposed claim that John Shewan did not request an apology (Shewan had in fact made such a request). The implication in all cases is that Little was lying, and therefore just as bad, just as “post-truth” as Key and the National government. I don’t know what Little was asked, what he knew / remembered, or what he said, but I find it difficult to believe that he decided to simply lie about the matter.
If he did deliberately lie he was of course quite wrong to do so, and it would be a very worrying sign for his leadership. But it would still not be equivalent to, not even the faintest palest shade of equivalent to, the behaviour of this execrable government that lies and denies reflexively and at all levels, and has been doing so for eight long years. Pretending that it is equivalent does no favours to a country that desperately needs a change of government.