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Rodneytactics, Rogernomics and dog-whistle DonKey

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, May 18th, 2009 - 26 comments
Categories: national/act government, privatisation - Tags: , , ,

rodneyandrogerThe tactics used by Rodney Hide to ram through the Auckland SuperCity legislation without reference to a select committee or referendum should not surprise anyone.

Rodney’s just a puppet – the master is the man who sits behind him in Parliament and beside him in the ACT caucus – the Honourable Sir Roger Douglas.

Douglas spelled out the tactics in late 1989, in a speech entitled “The politics of successful structural reform“. It was given in Queenstown to the Mont Pelerin society, formed to celebrate the legacy of the right-wing economist Hayek.

The whole article should be required reading for anyone with an interest in New Zealand politics. Here’s a taste, some of his ten principles for successful structural reform:

Second Principle:

“Implement reform in quantum leaps, using large packages. Do not try to advance one step at a time. Define your objectives clearly and move towards them by quantum leaps. Otherwise the interest groups will have time to mobilise and drag you down.”

Third principle:

“Speed is essential – it is impossible to go too fast.”

Fourth principle:

“Once you start the momentum, never let it stop rolling.”

Fifth principle:

“Consistency + credibility = economic confidence.”

Buried inside this one: “the fiscal gains from corporatisation or privatisation will vanish without trace if expenditure in an unreformed social services sector is left to rise without regard for efficiency”

The speech was given at the end of 1989 – Douglas had been sacked as Finance Minister, reinstated to Cabinet as Police Minister whereupon Lange resigned, the sale of infrastructure assets to Fay and Richwhite et al was well under way, and Labour was headed for landslide defeat in 1990. Roger was on the way out.

douglas_richardsonBut then there was Ruth Richardson. Ruth was there with Roger at his speech. You can find this photo of them at the Mont Pelerin meeting on his website. She was the next one to apply Roger’s political lessons in the “mother of all Budgets”, until she too was sacked by Jim Bolger after National’s close shave in the 1993 election.

Now it’s Rodney’s turn – ram it through before anyone gets a chance to object.

Why? For exactly the same reason as Roger and Ruth. The last set of significant publicly-owned New Zealand assets available for privatisation are with local government – roads, water and waste.

But ACT could not do this without National. Roger’s is the true face, Rodney’s the puppet, and John Key is the false front – the cabinet veneer if you like.

We are now seeing the real agenda of another right-wing National Party government.

Key’s promise before the 2008 election not to privatise anything in the first term of government can now be seen for what it always was – a dog whistle to the Auckland financial elites that assets would be got ready to be put on the block in the second term.

That is the real reason for the urgency, lack of consultation and over-riding Local Government Act requirement for a referendum so the people of Auckland get a say – there is no other.

26 comments on “Rodneytactics, Rogernomics and dog-whistle DonKey ”

  1. Ianmac 1

    Rushing stuff through does work. Notice how agitated some get over the “small stuff” but for the time that the big stuff to be absorbed and then acted upon, we are already onto the small easily understood “Small Rankin Stuff” again. Don’t magicians use this to distract from the trickery?

  2. burt 2

    Douglas must have been stoked when he found out after the election that Labour had been less than honest about the state of the economy again. Once again the Labour party have given him a mandate for radical change.

    Why did Labour do that to us twice?

    If I write more cheques than I have money in the bank should I blame the bank for hitting me with overdraft fees or do I take some responsibility for willfully ignoring the state of my own account?

    • r0b 2.1

      Why did Labour do that to us twice?

      It’s National 1 and Labour 1 on that score Burt. This time round it was in PREFU as usual (no matter how much National would like to have you believe otherwise).

      Once again the Labour party have given him a mandate for radical change.

      The Nats have a mandate for tax cuts (oops!), and for not being Labour, nothing more. They certainly don’t have a mandate for running Auckland out of Wellington with an un-elected cabal.

    • Margaret 2.2

      Bert, you sound like mana from heaven for National, no idea what you are talking about and swallow everything you are told.
      The Books really went into the red as much as they have because of the greed before need merchants of the American system which has caused this economic depression and Nationals ultra hard right, are trying to implent here while hiding behiond John Key.

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    “Once again the Labour party have given him a mandate for radical change.”

    Excuse / = mandate.

  4. Nothing like blind and meaningless slogans to get behind!

    What exactly is the referendum going to vote on? Seeing Labour wasn’t all that flash on democratic processes itself (oh, you’ve forgotten??) a referendum must be reduced to a yes/no question.

    So what exactly is the referendum going to achieve until there are plans in place – which is happening now.

    And one those plans are in place, aren’t there going to be select committee hearings?

    It’s good to see the past criticisms of KB for what they were – hollow. Not only is there virulent opposition to anything that is proposed by the Government (perfectly acceptable of course) but we now play games with the PM’s name yet the same tactic last year sent the BOFH sysadmin into spasms.

    As I’ve said before, National has been so inept over the last week there’s no need to shoot yourself in the foot.

    • r0b 4.1

      What exactly is the referendum going to vote on?

      No credible argument against referendum

      That is a single yes or no question – “Do you support the super-city that the Government proposes?’ – and it would provide some basic accountability on the Government to come up with a proposal that Aucklanders can support.

  5. lukas 5

    Hang on a second. This is just the legislation regarding the administration of the city whilst the legislation for the structure of the new City goes through a special select committee.

    It is ridiculous to delay this bill like labour have, the bill that they should have looked to slow down is the one that will lay out the governance of Auckland.

    • Rich 5.1

      The interim changes aren’t neccesary. The existing councils are perfectly capable of carrying on as usual until new arrangements have been properly agreed and put in place.

      There is no great urgency to this – the governance of Auckland might not be optimal, but will do perfectly well until something better is put in place.

    • Maynard J 5.2

      lukas, the bill passed gives Hide the power to presonally select a committee that can veto any council spending over $20,000.

      Are you sure it is “just” ‘the legislation regarding the administration of the city’?

      Labour didn’t want to slow down the bill that is going to select committee and at least gets public input (although tokenism at best judging by NACT statements on it), just the one rushed through all readings under urgency that gives what seems to be a dictatorial amount of power to some of Hide’s friends.

  6. StephenR 6

    But ACT could not do this without National. Roger’s is the true face, Rodney’s the puppet,

    How can Hide be a puppet if they both believe in the same stuff (financially/economically/whatever)?

    • George D 6.1

      No puppet.

      But it’s pretty hard to conceive that Douglas isn’t helping set the ACT Party agenda and Hide’s local government secret agenda.

    • felix 6.2

      Wodney’s never been anything more than a populist looking for a constituency. His “belief” is just what it needs to be for the constituency he stumbled upon but it could have just as easily been anything else.

  7. Natpicker 7

    Ask yourself who benefits from the mendacious Roger and his pathetic sidekick Wodders? It wont be Burt or his blogging mates, they will only get small change for their tacit support of Douglas and crew.

    It always amazes me who politically aligns with those who would see them in the gutter aswell without a second thought. So Burt and crew, look forward to your small crumbs from the table of the rich.

    • BLiP 7.1

      I too am amazed with the cretins of the right. Their mealy-mouthed muttering of of long disproved economic tosh indicates a lack of any real intelllectual firepower. Its almost as if they believe that if they vote for the rich they too will become rich, and everyone that’s as clever as them will be better off; they are ambitious and seek to emulate their masters, caught in the “aspirations going forward” spiel. Coupled with the “shock” of the current economic depression, they’re like startled possoms. Poor dears.

      As you say – good luck to them and their crumbs. Me, on the other hand, well, I’d prefer the full menu of rights, thanks very much.

      As for the current legislative blitzkrieg, I reckon Paul Holmes gave the best answer as to why its going on: because they can at the moment, “the teflon is still intact”. He’s actually talking about the appointment of Rankin, but he’s right about the implementantation of the program as highlighted in John A’s post, (top work if I may say so).

      The Politics of Successful Structural Reform is a fascinating tract but its an old game that’s been going on the last fifty years . I doubt Douglas even understands it; he just spouts the shite, like his fellow Vichy Kiwis.

  8. Natpicker 8

    On another note…to the author. Really pleased you put this up. It is really impossible to understand the New Right revolution of the last 30 years without understanding the role of Mont Pelerin, Hayek and Popper et al. They really deserve praise for being the ultimate revolutionaries (that hurts to say), BUT they have raised the bar and set the standard for a successful revolution.

    What you see from Mont Pelerin advocates is the synthesis of prior revolutionary strategies and theory, including Jacobin extremism to protect the revolution (the means justify the ends) and the Leninist dedicated cadre of revolutionaries setting the agenda and creating the environment to force change. When you analyse the agenda you could add Benito Mussolini to the list (he privatised, corporatised, de unionised etc as did Hitler)…..quite an achievement, all in the name of “freedom”.
    Thats the parentage of the thinking….scary dont you think?

  9. gobsmacked 9

    Hold the phone! Looks like the Nats are having a wee problem with Rodney’s toy …

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2419170/Supercity-announcement-delayed

    Hmmm … a row in Cabinet. Maybe one of the names for the Transition Agency was suggested by Paula Bennett?

  10. toad 10

    Maybe Rankin had been proposed for the Transition Agency too – after all, she is on the ARC so has some knowledge of Auckland local government.

    ARC minutes show she has managed to attend 5 out of 18 ARC Emvironmental Management Committee meetings in the past 12 months – a 28% attendance record! And maybe just what Rodders wants – no input into the decision, but then turn up at the end to rubber stamp it.

  11. Stephen Whittington 11

    You claim that the Mont Pelerin Society was set up to “celebrate the legacy of the right-wing economist Hayek.”

    That is incorrect.

    First, by this stage Hayek had written one popular book – The Road to Serfdom – and hardly had any legacy of which to speak.

    Second, the Mont Pelerin Society sought to avoid any orthodoxy but instead to argue for and debate classical liberalism. The idea that all members agree on everything is silly (in fact, in the first meeting, Ludwig von Mises stormed out after accusing the rest of them of being socialists!).

    The first draft name was the Acton-Tocqueville Society, but it was decided that naming it after two people would detract from its philosophical message.

    • Natpicker 11.1

      Stephen is probably right here BUT the important thing is the power of the ideas that Mont Pelerin adopted, and the ideological and membership cross over they made with other groups. The ideas and ideologies of Hayek, Freidman, Adam Smith etc, their adoption by groups such as the Adam Smith Society, Bildeberg, Mont Pelerin, Chicago School etc, the cross polination of membership within these groups, the co option of Reagan, Thatcher etc etc…..it was and is all very well integrated.

      What we are talking about is a declared and “open” attack on social democracy, upon the vocabulary of politics and economics. The reason we did not see it coming until too late was because whilst it was “open” it was not explicitly declared, debated or publicised. Revolutionaries dont debate ideas, they have their own “truth”. With the media owned by proponents of the New Right (i.e the financial beneficiaries) control of ideas in the public domain was easily maintained…..all undemocratic states and institutions utilise propaganda and this was a great example. think the term TINA (there is no alternative), Goebbels would have been proud of them.

      • Margaret 11.1.1

        The reason this is happening is the noecons are also liars, did they not say vote for them and they woyuld keep everything on track, they would not change Labours agenda but continue things as they were at election time, does what is happening look like what Labour would do, I think at least Labour would give the people a choice, after all they are the Party for the people as National is the Party for business, big business that isd.

  12. nice to see some historical context John A – thanks. awful to see history repeating itself, but good to see the acknowledgement of neocons repeating past mistakes.

  13. ripp0 13

    Standout in the above read – thanks to blogger ‘John A’ for eliciting the term from Blip – was “vichy kiwis”.

    I’d generally agree with the blogger’s assertions save what I see as glossing over the present PM’s role. .

    Take him as an opportunist – why else would an affluent person pursue the political grind that his skills undoubtedly face on a day-to-day basis..?

    That said, what else is he, what are those skills..? And it seems to me that what has been stated above bears little relation to these questions.

    The point of privatization/s and corporatization/s is performance. Advocates of both claim the private and corporate sectors better performers than state and other so-called socialist organizations.

    Crucially this performance, however, is seldom the result of those structures. And more likely the result of individuals. Leaders, as the management jargon has it.

    So.. the private performance of individuals within a private firm or corporate’s directorate along with – in these times – their sole-charge CEO and/or CFO.. is the BIG DEAL for today’s opportunists.

    And do I mean their performance.

    And flaws. Yea, especially their (often slavish) intellectual flaws.

    How many, for example, of the global corporate sector have a thorough-going understanding of financial instruments like credit default swaps. Of the exchange-traded traffic..? Of the OTC – aka privately-traded traffic..?

    In part a rhetorical question since sound foreknowledge would never have allowed, let alone enabled massive growth in these corporate treasury ‘extraction tools’.

    Which come into play for major margin (profit/s) on financial default — NON-PERFORMANCE.

    Let’s be clear, what I am saying is that privatization/corporatization has elsewhere become the means to an end. An end which has nothing whatsoever to do with Hayek and the MPS and any amount of politicians’ claim to economic salvation.

    Corporatization and particularly ‘privatization’ within these structures has become the end whereby a new means to grab wealth and power by default for an even smaller wealthy elite now exists.

    Not to overstate this, but what is happening in enzed in these times is to my mind no more than a growing exposition and development of this ego-centric process.

    Yes, it takes us back to around Smith and Riccardo’s days and in this self-propelling mechanism enjoins a fraternity of diverse ‘others’. Should an author ever write a story around these ‘heroes’ I’d venture to say how these characters truly deserve each other..

    Starting at the end.. the means then…Future citizenry will look back at key-the-kelly capable of holding a loaded pistol to the head of corporate stagecoach passengers and, having ransacked their lives, demanding default margins(performance*) into henchmens’ sacks.. thence smiling as ever finding himself waylaid in escape by skull-thuggery, of which those responsible by their own hand for the Auckland supercity legislation are exemplary..

    * Sayeth one, Rodney Hide, to RNZ listeners: “I believe in the freedom to make mistakes.” — post-November 2008 General Election.

  14. Natpicker 14

    RippO is onto it, having spent a lifetime in commerce as a senior manager I can comfirm how close to the bone he is. Most CEOs I have worked with, been associated with, are well educated in narrow specific methodologies (MBA etc) but poorly read and educated in anything else. Most show traits Ripp calls nicely egocentricity…..psychopathy seems quite a prevalent trait, not universal but quite common. It shows in a lack of empathy and the ability to justify antisocial calls that only benefit themselves.

  15. randal 15

    cut to the chase
    both of them are just acquisitors hiding their avarice behind a spurious political philosophy

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