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Remember 1984

Written By: - Date published: 6:52 am, March 19th, 2012 - 70 comments
Categories: david shearer, Left - Tags:

Labour moving to the right would be a disaster for the left. It doesn’t need to, in order to lead a winning coalition at the next election. The last time a small cabal in Labour tried that strategy was in 1984 – it proved to be a disaster for New Zealand and for the Labour Party.

The years after 1984 were when we fell behind Australia, where a different Labor government didn’t follow Douglas’ crash through followed by crash, but modernised their economy sensibly in an Accord with the union movement. Here the Labour Party left government in 1990 in a landslide after the 1987 crash exposed the fallacy of self-correcting financial markets, and the result was Ruth Richardson, the mother of all budgets, the formation of ACT and nine years in the wilderness for Labour.

I worked to elect Labour in 1984 as a member of the Party staff. Election night was exciting and euphoric; but I well remember finding a copy of “Economic Management”, the Treasury briefing paper that became the actual policy of that government, on the party photocopier on the Monday after. I still remember thinking – “My God what have we done!” I leaked it to Rob Campbell – those were the days! I then spent three years fighting the Labour government policy in order to re-elect the same Labour government.

I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else.

Right now, I find it ironic that as the Labour Party goes through a consultative review of all its processes and structures, including its approach to policy formulation, at the same time  we are seeing a series of hints in the media about what changes Labour may make to its policy – mostly about ditching one or another element of the policies Labour took into the last election based on a policy process that was forged out of the experience of the 1980’s. We all know how it works: insider talks to insider talks to media – but the end result is a leaky ship, and they tend to sink, even if slowly.

I’m not actually sure that what we are seeing at the moment in the Labour leadership is a definitive shift to the right – more like a tentative search for the marshmallow centre, so beloved of the political media. As a strategy, it is a recipe for failure.

Shearer said in his speech that his passion was education, and that:

Study after study shows that the most important ingredient is the quality of teachers. We need to value teachers. We need every teacher in our classroom to be a good one.

I couldn’t agree more. So I looked for the single thing that he would actually do if he was Prime Minister that would make a difference, that would make sure that every teacher in our classroom would be a good one. What was his answer? A bit of weeding. You don’t make a good garden just by weeding.

And what has happened? All the media has fastened on the throwaway line about getting rid of bad teachers, to the point where John Armstrong calls it auditioning for a place at the National Party cabinet table. We can’t blame the media – that was all there was on offer.

The Labour party, due to celebrate its centenary in four years time, deserves better. Peter Fraser would be rolling in his grave. We need some substantive policy, that will make a real difference. There is plenty of experience about what would make a difference in education the the party; David Shearer should make use of it, to tell us what he would actually do – just wanting to make a difference doesn’t cut it.

We also need to recognise that the left now has to pick up from and moderate the excesses of global financial capital in the 21st century, rather than the excesses of industrial capital in the 19th and 20th centuries. But Labour’s values and principles of fairness and social justice remain the same. That is what I would like to hear more about from Shearer. Serious stuff with some serious answers, in the style of Savage, Fraser and Clark. He should take all the time he needs.


70 comments on “Remember 1984 ”

  1. Gee Mike does this mean you are now supporting Cunliffe?

  2. Tenfoot Bella 2

    ‘Take all the time he needs’ – seems like a slow learner to me.

  3. mike 3

    As a fascinated but strictly amateur political junkie I find it difficult when our party tries to accommodate the views of disreputable bastards who sneer at our every attempt to be ‘inclusive’. When our movement first forced its way into the political power mix it did so on the back of hard bitten ANZAC soldiers and hard labouring workers. Wide education for all was one of their foremost demands, and their efforts sent us all off to universities where we learned respectability and individual responsibility. Now we’re experts in walking a mile in another’s shoes, and we’re taken advantage of at every turn by a scurrilous, scheming bunch who see in us a chance to make a million for themselves. We have never had a better chance that this to turn back to the roots of our belief and deliver for those who, like us, need collectivity to gain their rightful slice of the pie. Free market bullshit has been exposed, at last, as being morally and economically corrupt, and we should take advantage of that by hardening up our approach to what political power means for us rather than keep pandering to the views of empty rapacious people like those on the right. Sure they’ll scream like banshees to try to frighten people, but, hell, they do that anyway whatever we do. I’m tired of us being ‘nice’ all the time, those soldiers and workers weren’t ‘nice’ and ‘reasonable’, and although those aspects of our beliefs are vital they needn’t figure at the shop window of our political movement. Where’s Bob Hawke when we need him?

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    “We need some substantive policy, that will make a real difference”

    So why did you support Shearer Mike? Why support the election of a guy who hadn’t even been a MP for three years who was going to use the same stupid people with the same stupid strategy as Goff and sadly has the same achilles heal (nice guy poor public speaker and is not a leaders arse).

    “But Labour’s values and principles of fairness and social justice remain the same.”

    Sadly we need some one who is articulate who can make these values relevant not someone who recites Keys slogans. Shit oh dear! What a mess. People/Small business people are starting to realise that tax cuts and slashing public spending is not the answer. I have had two people in the last week say this both then went on to say but I think Labour stuffed up electing Shearer.

    Sadly of coarse it was not Labour who elected Shearer it was a small majority of self serving MPs had it gone to the members we would have got Cunliffe.

    • Hami Shearlie 4.1

      CGE, I’m agreeing with you yet again – we all saw this coming but the mps’ wouldn’t listen – self interest, future career prospects and petty jealousy of David Cunliffe saw them elect Shearer – we’ve hardly heard a peep out of him this last 4 months and now the media have said the honeymoon is over!! – Commentators all said if he didn’t turn things around dramatically in a year, then the knives would be out for him – well, only 8 months to go – more waffle, dithering etc no doubt. Cunliffe must be swearing and laughing at the same time – what a disaster! And do we think Grant Robertson will have the cheek to go for the leadership in 8 months – scarily, we do! The voters in the centre that Labour crave so much just won’t accept a gay leader, that’s for sure! Cunliffe is looking better and more charismatic with every passing day!

  5. vto 5

    back to the future
    and forward to the past
    is all man does
    and why nought ever last

  6. Roflcopter 6

    We also need to recognise that the left now has to pick up from and moderate the excesses of global financial capital in the 212st century

    Kudos for thinking that far ahead 🙂

  7. McFlock 7

    If the Labour Party no longer wish to represent workers, could they please change their name so somebody else can do some good with it?

  8. Blue 8

    Well, now you know what Shearer meant by ‘making Labour a broad church’, Mike.

    To be honest, now that Labour has gone down Shearer Road, there is no turning back. He wasn’t the right guy for the job, and now his only hope is that John Key’s popularity begins to fall of its own accord, and that he picks up a few centre votes with some well-placed dog whistles.

    It might be enough to just squeak him over the line into Government in 2014.

    It won’t be the stuff lefty dreams are made of, but hell, you and the Labour MPs made your bed.

  9. Dr Terry 9

    I hate to say, “I told you so” for that sounds arrogant. Nevertheless, I very much agree with comment from Dr Brian Edwards in this morning’s Herald. At this moment (whilst hoping I prove wrong) it looks as though the choice at the next election may be between two paries of the Right, take your pick.
    With regard to the issue of “good and bad teachers”, who was it that “taught teachers to become teachers”? Maybe the fault (if there is one) lies there. Surely in course of preparation unpromising people would not be accredited? I can only suggest that we scrutinise the preparation adequacy of those who desire to become teachers.
    In conclusion, as things stand, think very hard about supporting the Greens!

    • Bored 9.1

      The Greens? I worry that they will be the velvet glove nice middle of the road bearded types who will cut a “fair” deal with the commercially backed parties….and lose all in the process.

      It will go like this: “We want you to be nice to the environment but we know you need to pollute and mine a little bit in order that everyone is happy, the economy goes and my Greenish mates can wear hemp suites and drive electric cars….. so you can do that to 5% of the resources”…..(10 days later) /…”Oh I understand that unless I let you use 10% there will be a melt down and the hemp suit supply will fail, and the electric car wont be powered”……(10 further days)…etc etc etc.

    • Vicky32 9.2

      In conclusion, as things stand, think very hard about supporting the Greens!

      Absolutely not! From what I can see, they can’t be trusted.
      Interestingly, I saw something on Facebook today – the Child Poverty Action person was extremely puzzled – he’d got hold of the actual wording of Shearer’s speech, and was very taken aback to see that the things the media have glommed on to, such as not taking GST off fresh fruit and veg., are not things Shearer actually said!
      I am taken aback by the huge numbers of posts on the Standard from those declaring Shearer a rightie, Labour f**ked and the Greens as the only answer. It seems to me, that the Greens are far likelier to be ‘right by stealth’ than Labour ever was except in ’84…

  10. Its no good moaning and complaining just get to your local Review meetings and demand that we members want to run our party,
    The constitution needs changing and the party list certainly needs a complete review.

    Its our party not the party of the elected MPs. This needs to be told in no uncertain manner, When we regain our party back then we can start thinking of leading a long term government ,

    • Bored 10.1

      In 1984 I enthusiastically voted for Lange, an end to the dark years of old paternal NZ as it was under Holland / Holyoake and Muldoon. I was in my early 20s and thought we had seized the future….yeah right.

      In the late 80s I was running an LEC and saw the membership crash, delivering leaflets for the 1987 election I got accosted and abused by working people and unemployed (of whom there were a lot). I think back on it, Labour was a “broad church” then, the “Rogernomes” literally turned the party into those who stayed because either they agreed or had nowhere else to go, and those who walked.

      Labour has never recovered, 9 years of “moderate” government under Clark saw only a softer approach (aided by good economic times) but no rolling back of the basic neo lib principles. Until I see an overt policy agenda announcing the reform of all of the major tenets of the Douglas / Richardson regimes I will not be helping out.

      • Foreign Waka 10.1.1

        Absolutely feel the sentiment, remember so well the shock of the Mother of all budgets and the feeling of betrayal at the time. The sadness of Mr Lange being stabbed in the back (so to speak), the dishonesty within the party as well as their presentation to the people. I belief that is a wound that never really healed. But I also remember that the Income vs Living expenses ratio was way better than today.

    • Anne 10.2

      Well said pp. I’m off to our electorate meeting in a day or two to do exactly what you said – if I get a chance. If they fluff around – like they apparently did to begin with in Sth Auckland – and start aspiring eloquently about b—-y aspirations, I might have a few words to say about that too. 😉

      • mac1 10.2.1

        Have a good and productive meeting, Anne, and looking forward to your comments here. 🙂

      • lprent 10.2.2

        I wasn’t that impressed with the meeting out south. The one in central was better. But really the format of such meetings is a bit too limiting.

        I suspect that the approach is to use the online system to make a written submission. haven’t looked it up yet. But apparently it will take written submissions from anyone..

        Was LEC tonight. I am a bit short of time these days so I tend to multitask through meetings, listening whilst coding and/or researching what to code next, moderating and/or reading news. Limiting factor is vodafone’s poorly performing data network which just seems to flake out periodically.

  11. Cactus Kate 11

    Thanks Mike.
    If Labour return to 1984 they’ve got my vote. Maybe even two ticks.

  12. Michael Wood 12

    It’s fair to be cautious, but I think that this and some of the other commentary is a bit over the top.

    I would note that large parts of the progressive policy framework that Labour took into the 2011 election (ie: capital gains tax) would appear to have the support of the new leadership. In some cases these are measures that the 5th Labour government was unwilling to touch for fear of alienating the centre.

    If there is a “lurch to the right” then that will be resisted, but the evidence of a 1984-style ideologically driven cabal is just not there.

    • daveo 12.1

      Capital gains isn’t progressive. Especially if it’s used to balance tax reductions elswhere. Even Brash likes it.

      • Michael Wood 12.1.1

        Going from a situation is which income is taxed but not wealth, to one in which both income and wealth are taxed is progressive by most measures.
        What you may or may not do with other taxes at the same time is another question. For my money I think it is unhelpful for Labour to buy into the argument that the tax system as the place to improve living standards (however you do it). I’d prefer we increased wages through reforming a manifestly unjust labour market.

    • newsense 12.2

      A two parter.

      Michael, as a good Labour man can you tell me at a time when a regressive tax system has been introduced by a right wing party in the GST hike and ‘revenue neutral’ tax cuts Labour is not backing moves to make NZ slightly more egalitarian?

      A CGT is a useful, but slow mechanism. It is also being used as an excuse to off set elsewhere.

      There appears to be evidence that the fruit and veges move and the tax-free threshold have substantial benefits. This has been characterised as a very left (and therefore terribly wrong) daliance by Labour.

      I personally see these as the kind of New Zealand values the government should be investing in. Is the Labour Party planning to be reclaiming our heritage here (a heritage which National didn’t change drastically through much of the 20th century) and rewrite this narrative? Somehow the narrative of tax cuts as investment is a very strong one, but the narrative of the public good of targeted social investment in a fair society is weak and struggling to remain on its feet.

      Is it the lack of work on (and belief in?) this narrative what makes it ‘unelectable’, not that it is of itself?

      • Michael Wood 12.2.1

        Yes there should be a very clear and unambiguous narrative about reducing inequality. My point really is that it is over-egging it for people to pronounce the end of social democracy as we know it because of one high level speech. I simply don’t think that the major focus that Labour brought to the issue of inequality in the 2011 campaign is going to go disappear.

        I agree with your point that the narrative of tax cuts good, public investment bad is damaging. It’s one reason why I don’t think it helpful for us to be pitching ‘our tax cuts’ (fruit & veges, first $5000) against ‘their tax cuts’ (higher income brackets). It fundamentally legitmises their positioning. See above for my thoughts on a better focus for our efforts.

        Like you I’d rather we developed a strong narrative around what we can do together through good public investment and fair institutional structures.

        • Colonial Viper

          I think it is unhelpful for Labour to buy into the argument that the tax system as the place to improve living standards (however you do it). I’d prefer we increased wages through reforming a manifestly unjust labour market.

          But why not use both Michael? Why doesn’t Labour use every tool in its disposal, every bullet in the economic armoury, every lever in the fabric of society, to reduce societal inequality broadly, substantially, and rapidly?

          I have no idea where you get the idea that modifications to the tax system should not be used as a tool (somehow you appear to think that Labour’s support for tax cuts for the poor somehow legitimises National’s tax cuts for the rich, I mean WTF logic is that) along side every thing else.

          Like you I’d rather we developed a strong narrative around what we can do together through good public investment and fair institutional structures.

          It’s too fucking late for this approach. It takes years and years to plan and enact good public investment and fair institutional structures, and years and years more for their benefits to be realised. You are talking as if Labour has the next 25 years to undo the neoliberal damage of the last 25 years.

          Here’s a newsflash: using your strategy, it will take Labour 6 years to build up what National can tear down in 3. National can make neoliberal changes like selling off Mighty River Power and Solid Energy that Labour will likely never be able to undo, even if it wanted to.

          My bottom line assessment is this: National acts faster, more single mindedly and more effectively at enacting the changes that their core supporters want to see happen, than Labour ever has been at enacting the changes that Labour’s core supporters want to see happen.

          All respect to the campaign you ran mate, but your analysis and consequently your overarching conclusions are problematic, to put it mildly.

          • Michael Wood

            Where I am coming from is that I want to see deep-seated structural change. To achieve that we need have a clear strategic focus, rather than just punting up every single good policy idea that we have and hoping that some stick

            I have reflected a lot in the 2011 campaign, which I lived and breathed for most of that year, and am convinced that one of our problems was that we had a long list of (often worthy) individual policies, but lacked the small number of over-arching messages and measures that would have clearly defined us and have given people hope and confidence.

            Don’t disagree with you about the need to act more decisively when we win power, I just want us to be strategic about what really makes a difference and achieves lasting progressive change.

            Given that, I support a full review of our positioning. I’ll be arguing that we should be bolder and more progressive, and to be honest that is where everyone should be focussing their energies instead of making Godwin-esque comparisons to 1984, when the current leadership has only just got its feet under the table.

    • QoT 12.3

      “large parts … [mentions a single policy] … would appear …”

      Mmmm, I love the smell of wiggle room in the morning.

  13. Hillary Jones 13

    The Pink Postman is right, but why do I feel it will make little difference. Labour has a proud heritage but many of the current MPs have little sense of that history. Russell Norman very cleverly mentioned MJ Savage at least twice in his first speech of the Parliamentary session. Shearer seems to want to forgot those who have gone before him. He needs to up his game and those who supported him need to make sure mistakes like the Private Members bill do not happen again.

  14. fisiani 14

    National is a Centre party with a few Right wing elements. That is why is has won the elections of 2008 and even more so in 2011.
    Some people who post here describe National as being Far Right. If they were Far Right they could not have won such a high vote. ACT is still not far right and only won 1%
    Shearer believes in the Centre. That’s why the Nats rejoiced when he won the role of leader of the Labour Party. We are realistic enough too know that we will eventually lose in perhaps 2020. We are keen that Labour has moved by then enough to the Centre that it no longer matters. What was great about Shearer’s speech was that he did not mention the unions once. He did not harp on about Labour’s history. Shearer is ok.

    • McFlock 14.1

      National is a Centre party with a few Right wing elements. 

      And Genghis Khan was business-friendly with a proactive entrepreneurial policy. 


      • fisiani 14.1.1

        And the first entry by McFlock (perhaps a Scottish Shearer) is the forerunner to Godwin’s Law. A bit dated reference but still a goodie.

        • McFlock

          Oh, you were being serious?
          Seriously, what would National have to do in your eyes to move to the “right”?  

          • fisiani

            You asked. Banning trade unions. Abolishing benefits. Compulsory military training. Controlling the press.
            These would all be considered Far Right. National is NOT Far Right.

            Let me be absolutely clear- 99% of the political viewpoints in NZ would easily fit within the Democratic Party in the USA.

            • McFlock

              Didn’t ask “far right”. Asked what National would have to do to be nudged “right”, rather than being “centre”.

            • Colonial Viper

              Let me be absolutely clear- 99% of the political viewpoints in NZ would easily fit within the Democratic Party in the USA.

              Yeah except the Democratic Party is the party of the bankers cartel. And they’re pretty damn friendly to Big Oil as well.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.2

      National is a Centre party with a few Right wing elements.

      Ah, no. National is a radical right-wing party with some confused conservatives hanging on. In fact they’re almost as far right as Act and Act are almost as Authoritarian as National hence the abbreviation to NACT.

      If they were Far Right they could not have won such a high vote.

      That makes no sense as they are a radical right-wing party and they did get lots of votes. I suspect it has to do with them hiding all their policies and pretending to be centrist (otherwise known as lying).

      • fisiani 14.2.1

        What a waste of time to flick to a made up slide based on shonky input.

        • Draco T Bastard

          A simple psychological test with results based upon NACTs policies so if it’s shonky then that’s where it came from.

        • felix

          Oh dear, fizzy has already decided the truth so all evidence to the contrary can now be dismissed.

  15. It’s perfectly correct to point out that Labour already swung to the right- the far right, even, in 1984. What’s missing from that narrative is that Labour has never really completely swung back to the left since. All of its ideas about protecting workers, valuing education, are stuck in centre-right mindsets about free markets, (but only among western democracies that also support corporate power) about maintaining and expanding corporate jobs by conceding to corporate control. Helen Clark was a great Prime Minister, but she was also a very centrist one. Labour needs to either concede that it’s now a centrist party, or move back to the left.

    You can tell which I’d prefer, I imagine. I think to win, Labour needs to reconnect with the geniune, left (and not just left-of-centre) voters in New Zealand, who essentially right now have the choice of voting Green or staying home if they’re not satisfied with centrist or right-wing narratives and policies of the Labour Party. It needs to tell its own story about how it will make New Zealand a great place to live, and give us better prosperity without resorting to raping our country with mining or other dirty resource extraction like Australia has.

  16. Vicky32 16

    I was moved to find Shearer’s speech, as the Poverty Action person did, and read it, and I am seriously unable to see why all these people are screeching about how it’s a gallop to the right, Shearer = Roger Douglas etc. What exactly did he say that’s so wrong?
    It’s a fact that there are bad teachers. During L’s school days, I encountered some of them – two stand out. The dumb blonde (Gina someone I think) had her spelling and grammar corrected by a number of 6 year olds.
    Another dumb blonde reacted to my complaint that a certain child was bullying L., with the assertion that said boy was the grandson of a famous luvvie, (an artist, I think) and ‘would never do that!’ The woman  was a snob pure and simple, and it mattered far more to her that she had sons and grandsons of arty types and Shortland St actors in her class, than that she was supposed to educate all of the class…, even the DPB kids.
    I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that all the people yelling that Shearer must be far right because he dared to say that there are some bad teachers, are IMO idiots at the least.
    “Right now, they’re following the money, and that means we’re turning out an army of accountants.”
    How do you reconcile that (taken from the speech) with your ‘Shearer the rightie” meme?

    • QoT 16.1

      You seriously have an issue with blonde people, don’tcha, Vicky? Not to mention exaggerating the other sides’ viewpoint – “screeching about a gallop to the right” must be up there with “plenty of so-called prochoice people are actually pro-death”.

      I’m not here to engage, btw, just to troll your more pointless comments because I would hate to think a newbie might stumble on them and think you were some kind of serious commenter.

    • Shearer is a centrist like Clark- this speech is just a continuation of the status quo in regards to Labour Party leaders, and doesn’t lead me to be any more worried than I already was about the direction of the party. If Labour wants to succeed, I think they need to veer left and pick up people who aren’t voting, leaving NZ First the centrist vote.

      Shearer comes from the orthodoxy of the Labour Party, which is its right wing. That’s not the same thing as the commentary from the right-wing press that he’s one of them- Shearer is clearly a pro-labour centrist. I find that meme ridiculous.

      • Colonial Viper 16.2.1

        Shearer comes from the orthodoxy of the Labour Party, which is its right wing.

        Nah frak off, the orthodoxy of the Labour Party is clearly left wing; perhaps you are talking about the orthodoxy of the Labour parliamentarians and elite in the party.

        I can go out tomorrow if you like and find you a dozen formerly loyal Labour voters, bedrock working class everyone of them, who will all clearly state that they never left Labour, Labour left them.

        • Those are Labour’s base, which is a very different thing from the orthodoxy of its caucus, which is far more centrist than Party members seem to be- I’ve never met a member of the Labour party I haven’t been largely in agreement with, to the point where I wish that Labour would just listen to its members.

          I’m not saying Labour itself is centrist, but its leaders and most of their supporters have been in every election I’ve voted in. They’ve been decent to their base, but they’re still just problematic enough that I can’t really consider voting for them myself.

        • bad12

          We could not have put it any better ourselves,from stuffing Labour election literature in suburban letterboxes many years ago we have reached one David Shearer in today,s reality as leader of the NZ Labour Party,

          Such inspirational utterings from Shearer in His first major speech of His leadership simply leads us to the conclusion that Sir Roger,(spit),Douglas Labour caucus still holds sway, we see no move away from the neo-Liberal economics, just a blind ignorance of the damage done,

          Us lot would first entertain a vote for ACT befor one for Labour, (the previous home of our votes),befor either of course we would take to our nether regions with a rusty razor,

          Wakey wakey Labour….

  17. prism 17

    Most studies show that to raise standards of living in a country, wide basic education is needed. In poor, traditional societies this applies especially when education is extended to the females. But then what is done with the education matters for giving a boost to the nation. Having a goodly number of young people with qualifications is of no use if there aren’t the jobs for them.

    India has been through this and is becoming a financial powerhouse. But I think they are fleeter of foot than us. In this small country the government won’t even tilt the scales in our favour and buy services and goods overseas that would be well made here.

    David Shearer talking about education and advancement is just repeating a well-known factor in social science. It’s nothing new and as for talking about bad teachers, well wasn’t it Labour that mainstreamed pupils with intellectual handicaps. Pepper potting them round schools and classes means that they are an extra burden to the teacher and often a block to the rest of the class’s advancement. No doubt the response will be silence, or a tongue-lashing for not accepting all the current approach around this.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      This is all shit, why is there even cause for a discussion about whether or not Labour is drifting rightwards.

      Why is there instead no doubt that Labour is returning to its roots, that it is about to fulfil to the maximum its mandate and potential to represent the working classes and the under classes, while showing NZ a future beyond an age of industrial and energy depletion.

      Instead we are all left here arguing whether the future direction of Labour is going to be significantly shite, or just passingly shite.

      This year is proving to be a fucking waste of my time and energy.

  18. the sprout 18

    hear hear – well said MS

    burning the village to save it has never made sense

    labour moving further to the right, being already pretty well in the centre as it is, would be a monumental cock-up.

    current labour MPs and future hopefuls remember – support a rightward shift and say goodbye to future hope of life as an MP

  19. Jenny 19

    There are some people that are quite pleased at the news that David Shearer and Labour are “rethinking” their election-time promises to exempt fresh fruit and vegetables from GST.

    Call to keep GST simple

    As well as praising Shearer for his “rethink” the currency speculators and financial traders who brought the world economy to it’s knees are calling on their agents in the state, to make efforts to protect their rackets.

    It seems that using all their contacts and influence and behind the scenes lobbying power inside our main political parties is not enough. To get their way, it appears that these ‘lobbyists” are quite prepared to politicise the “impartial public service” as well.

    None other than the so called “non-political” Treasury head, Gabriel Makhlouf, is the public servant fronting for this extremist right wing political taxation agenda.

    In a brazen move not seen since 1984 under Don Brash, in a widely reported speech which he delivered yesterday in Queenstown, rather than acting as an arm of government subservient to parliament, the head of treasury is publicly trying to set government policy.

    Like his political soul mates Roger Douglas and Don Brash, Makhlouf is a supporter of a “flat taxation system”, (like GST), where the majority of the tax burden falls on the less well off and “wealth is rewarded”.

    Though generally supporting “tax cuts”….

    There is one tax cut, that this crowd definitely do not want to see.

    Any tax cut that makes it easier for ordinary flax roots kiwis to put food on their tables will be opposed by these fanatics with all the religious zealotry of protecting holy writ.

    New Zealand’s GST is the best value-added tax in the world and should be protected from any exemptions that undermine it.

    Gabriel Makhlouf

    Considering his comments opposing removing GST off basic foods it comes as no surprise that Maklouf is also bitterly opposed to any sort of Financial Transactions Tax on the operations of the speculative bankers and financiers who generate massive profits for themselves tax free, but nothing but debt and financial ruin for everyone else. Gabriel Makhlouf argues that these speculative profits must be left untaxed, while the food we eat must remain taxed heavily taxed.

    Though duty bound to protect and raise government revenue and income, Gabriel Makhlouf is quite prepared to let this massive tax stream go untapped.

    However, in his speech in Queenstown, against the main thrust of his argument, Treasury head Gabriel Makhlouf, is prepared to look at increased taxes on mining and mineral extraction. In light of his right wing monetarist political views, one has to be suspicious of his motives…..

    This shit head obviously wants to the government and the country to become dependent on mining for tax revenue, probably to such an extent, that like the current situation in Australia, any administration that tried to bring in environmental protections finds themselves hostage to the mining industry.

    • I actually agree with Gabriel that exemptions to food, even if restricted to unprocessed fruit and vegetables, are problematic. Unlike him, however, I think we should be getting rid of GST altogether and putting that tax burden onto pollution, waste, and specific luxury goods instead of useful consumption like food, clothes, and public transport.

    • Vicky32 19.2

      There are some people that are quite pleased at the news that David Shearer and Labour are “rethinking” their election-time promises to exempt fresh fruit and vegetables from GST.

      But where has Shearer spoken about this ‘re-think’? I thought it was meant to be in the speech, but it isn’t..
      Oh, and QoT, pull your head in you crazy old mare. (If you are in fact a woman!) For most of my life I was a blonde (a natural one, at that), from a family of blondes. 
      Yes, you are a troll, and I see, proud of it. Get a life.

      • the sprout 19.2.1

        QoT is an author on this site and a regular commenter, not a troll. insulting authors is an easy fastrack to a ban.
        i suggest you pull your head in.

        • QoT

          Thanks, sprout. I must admit I poked Vicky a bit, but given her history of throwing around shit like “dirty little Remmers blonde” and “if you are in fact a woman” I felt entitled, I confess.

        • Vicky32

          i suggest you pull your head in.

          And I suggest that before attacking me, you read what QoT herself said to me! She described her own actions as “trolling” me and further, quoted something I’d said months ago, something completely irrelevant to the discussion.
          Before you leap to the atack, and the defence of a poor wee lamb, make sure the lamb’s not a hyena in disguise. So, she’s a contributor? I have sent contributions, but they vanished into a black hole of Ignore. It appears no one here gives a f*** about capital punishment, hey?

          • QoT

            It seems pretty relevant to me, Vicky. After all, there was no need to refer to the two teachers you were slagging off as “dumb blondes”, and previously you’d attacked me as a “Remmers blonde” … seems to be a bit of a trigger for you, or at least a way you like to undermine people.

            But then I’m probably not even a woman, right? Why attack the message when you can just call the messenger a bitch, right?

            (Okay, I promise I’m done poking the defensive bear now).

            • Vicky32

              (Okay, I promise I’m done poking the defensive bear now).

              You’re poking a bear now? 😀 Tickets in yourself much? (I guarantee I am a quarter of your size..) 😀
              Your obsession with attacking me evidently doesn’t extend to reading what I say! You missed the part where I said that I am a blonde, obviously!

  20. Jenny 20

    Like you Mathew, “I think we should be getting rid of GST altogether”. However as being actively involved in the campaign to get Labour to shift from their support of GST, to agree to just removing GST off food was a huge struggle.


    Labour’s love affair with Roger Douglas’s flat tax legacy was hard to break. Many years of petitioning and personal lobbying of Labour MPs to show them research proving how iniquitous it is to tax food. And then finally to make a breakthrough. To now see all this work being carelessly tossed in the bin is very disheartening.

    • Oh, I absolutely agree that getting rid of GST is a huge ask and won’t be completed in one jump if we need to rely on Labour for it. I think we’d do better lower it in stages and introducing other taxes to replace it, then raising them as we progressively lower GST.

      • prism 20.1.1

        @Matthew Whitehead Agree absolutely. Let’s do it. Or not? Unfortunately not many good ideas ever seem to emerge into the light of day for long enough to be well discussed and actioned. Or if they are they get put through a hazing trial after which they retire bruised and battered to the remote cave they emerged from.

  21. Rosemary 21

    “Serious stuff with some serious answers, in the style of […] Clark.”

    You need to remember that under Clark Labour did more damage to our social welfare system that anyone can imagine a Labour government could be capable of. Sure, it all went unnoticed, but for the very reason it happened under Labour. But that’s probably why you missed it as well.

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