There’s a danger in being a government that does nothing except pay off its rich mates, and that’s losing faith with the conservative base. They aren’t rich enough to win from the pay-offs and they expect fairness and decent public services. Garth George is the slightly mad, always irritable voice of this demographic, so it’s worth watching as his initial love for John Key wears off to be replaced by despair (and rising anger) at Key’s failure to deliver the brighter future he promised.
At the time the coalition was formed I was warm in my praise of it, but now I’m beginning to wonder whether Mr Key and National, in apparently trying to please as many people as possible, are pleasing nobody.
I’m beginning to wonder, too, at the direction – if any – the Government is taking New Zealand.
Garth, and many others who supported Key, are realising what the rest of us knew all along, that Key has no plan for the country, just a plan to keep himself in power.
it is perhaps disconcerting to watch the stop-start, one step forward, two steps back activities of Mr Key and his ministers.
For instance, one minute we are told by Gerry Brownlee, the Minister for Economic Development and Minister of Energy and Resources, that national parks are to be opened up for development, the next minute Mr Key takes a couple of steps back and hints the proposal could be watered down.
This is a PR game. Come out with a scary proposal and then water it down, the result seeming more moderate than if it had been presented at first without the softening up phase. The problem is, this is a purely PR strategy. It doesn’t actually do anything for the country.
Then there’s the kerfuffle over a review of the SuperGold card after the suggestion by Transport Minister Stephen Joyce that it’s free travel entitlement is costing too much….
However, this week Mr Key felt it necessary to say the free travel was not under threat, although he qualified that by saying that it would “be my expectation” the free travel provision would survive next year’s election.
Pussyfooting again. It has always been difficult to get a straight answer from a politician, but the utterances of Mr Key and some of his offsiders give political dissembling a whole new meaning.
Key has made an art form of saying he expects that black will be white, finally offering grey, and in the end delivering a blank canvass.
Then there’s the suggestion of an increase in GST, apparently to be offset by lower income taxes and, thank God, an increase in pensions.
This, it is said, is to be “revenue neutral”, which makes me wonder why the Government would bother with it considering the widespread opposition to it.
How taking our money out of one pocket and putting it in the other advances fairness in the tax system is far beyond me, and is simply further evidence of a government that seems to be stumbling and fumbling about, trying to find answers when it doesn’t even seem to know the questions.
It’s true that the tax money go round will have no effect on growth and won’t create more jobs. But it does have a purpose – a massive transfer of wealth from poor and middle New Zealand to the rich.
Maybe National feel it’s OK to piss off the Garth Georges because they have nowhere else to go. But I wouldn’t be so sure. Fail them enough and in 2011 they’ll look at Goff, a man with a history of delivering on his promises, and consider voting Labour, or they’ll go to a fringe conservative party or they’ll do what so many disenchanted members of Labour’s base did in 2008 – stay home.