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The right bring out the big guns

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, May 25th, 2021 - 39 comments
Categories: Budget 2021, Carmel Sepuloni, jacinda ardern, labour, Maori Issues, Maori seats, national, Pacific, peter dunne - Tags:

This is day five of the post Ruthenasia era and the response from the right is really underwhelming.

I am not surprised.

There has been an epic change in public opinion about benefits.  It seems that Covid has made us realise that we are all in this together and that making sure those of us who are struggling the most have a decent quality of life is actually a good thing.

In February this year Radio New Zealand reported on a poll that did something radical, suggested there was a majority in favour of a benefit increase.  From Harry Locke at Radio New Zealand:

A survey has found seven out of 10 New Zealanders believe the government should increase income support for those on low wages or not in paid work.

The UMR poll was commissioned by a group of more than 40 organisations, including unions, social service providers, and kaupapa Māori groups.

It found approval for increasing income support was largely consistent across salary groups, age ranges, renters and owners; and across the political spectrum.

There was a majority of support by voters for the four major parties, led by Greens’ supporters at 89 percent in favour.

“This poll shows that ensuring liveable incomes for all would be a popular move for the government, across the board, as well as the right thing to do,” Janet McAllister from Child Poverty Action Group said.

“Even two-thirds (66 percent) of those with high household incomes – over $100,000 – agree the government should increase income support for those financially less fortunate than themselves.

“Our compassionate and inclusive approach to caring for the most vulnerable during Covid-19 outbreaks served us well. We must take the same common sense approach to ensure everyone, whether they are working, caring for children, living with a disability or illness, learning, or have lost their jobs before or because of Covid-19, has a liveable income.”

This finding strongly recorded a change in the public psyche.  Whereas 6 years ago too many of us were prepared to buy into the line that beneficiaries were inferior to the rest of us, the appearance of abject poverty on steroids and of kids living in cars and still trying to continue with their education, has made most of us realise that business as usual was not a good thing.

There has been some media commentary on the change but they are missing the big picture.

Including this effort by Andrea Vance.  She clearly does not understand the nuance of what has happened to Labour over the past decade.

She said this:

It has taken a parliamentary generation of chaos to get to this point. Robertson, Jacinda Ardern, and their fellow ministers Stuart Nash, Chris Hipkins, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davis entered Parliament as Labour reeled from the defeat of the Helen Clark-led administration.

For more than a decade, the party struggled to shrug off a reputation as weak on economics as it lurched between leaders.

In 2017, Ardern presented as the right candidate, striking at the right time with an image and message that resonated for that election cycle.

Across the world, voters were reacting against economic insecurity and inequality, blowing apart the boundaries of conventional politics.

Other democracies delivered Trumpism, Brexit, and the regimes of Jair Bolsonaro, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Narendra Modi, and Viktor Orbán.

New Zealand voters returned their own surprise: the Labour-NZ First-Greens Cerberus. Covid-19 and an apprehensive electorate further delayed Labour’s reforming agenda.

But Budget 2021 marks Labour’s return to its roots as the voice of those left behind. The political status quo of the last decade has been seduced by the idea that a booming economy vanquishes poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

She missed some rather important features.  For instance Carmel Sepuloni, who has driven is driving the implementation of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommendations also entered Parliament in 2008.

And Carmel said this in her Maiden Speech:

During the 1990s I saw the political and economic climate of the time pull the rug of dignity out from under the feet of hard-working New Zealanders. There is very little that can match the degradation felt when men and women are unable to provide for their families. Unable to cope with the miniscule weekly sum that my father was allocated to look after his family, he made the decision to leave us and seek employment in Australia. Yes, he migrated to Australia in 1995, not 2005.

I observed a National Party Minister sarcastically reciting in the House the other day: “I remember the 1990s.”, in a disdainful tone. Her banter signalled National members’ tiredness of being reminded of their wrongdoings from the past. However, let me draw on a well-known whakataukī. “Titiro ki muri kia whakatika ā mua”—look to the past to proceed into the future. This may be a Māori proverb, but it is a concept that is shared by Pacific peoples. The memories of our Pacific peoples are very long indeed. We strongly believe in looking to our pasts to find our presents and to inform the decisions we make, going into the future. With that in mind, it is of little wonder that the vast majority of Pacific peoples remain Labour voters—the dawn raids under the Muldoon Government and high unemployment rates and low wages of the 1990s have ensured this legacy. This is reinforced by the list of achievement for Pacific people attained under the leadership of the Labour Government over the past 9 years.

Is it not ironic that I discuss the appalling employment conditions of the 1990s under a National Government, in light of the response by the new National Government to the recession that we now face? In the early stages of the 1990s the National Government introduced the Employment Contracts Act, which was to impact negatively on the rights of workers. Now, in late 2008, the introduction of the 90-day bill, which also serves to negatively impact on the rights of workers, hails the beginning of another ominous National Government term.

Vance does not appreciate or pay homage to the effect that Sepuloni and other members of Labour’s Maori Caucus and Pacifica Caucus have had on the party.  Currently these groups have 25 members in a caucus with 65 MPs.

The combination of Manaakitanga and Aiga and the importance of community mean that the Maori Caucus and Pacifica Caucus are unashamedly left wing.  And this is clearly affecting Labour’s policy direction.

If Vance’s take was poor Peter Dunne’s recent comments were off the chart.  He thought it was ironic that Jacinda Ardern remembered the damage caused by the mother of all budgets.  From Newshub:

“I thought it was a bit ironic – the Prime Minister recalling her recollections of the 1991 Budget as an 11-year-old … I think most of us would struggle to recall our recollections of significant political events at the age of 11.”

I don’t know what Dunne was doing when he was 11 but many activists I know were interested in politics even at a young age.  For me I was 11 at the time of the 1972 general election and the Time for a Change campaign that saw Norm Kirk’s Labour swept to power.  I can recall it vividly especially the euphoria of election night.  Hell I was even delivering pamphlets for Labour at the time.

Carmel Sepuloni spoke eloquently of her memory of what happened when she was a 14 year old.  And Jacinda was voted by her seventh form class the most likely to become Prime Minister because of her deep interest in politics while she was at school.  Dunne’s comment display a complete lack of understanding of what makes her work.

Dunne was famously described by David Lange as “[a] man whose life is so boring that if it flashed past he wouldn’t be in it.”  And I am not surprised that he cannot comprehend the idea that young people can be passionate about politics.  I met him in 1983 when he spoke to a Young Labour event and even then he was dour, full of himself, totally lacking in progressive political ideals and was displaying easily recognisable careerist tendencies.

And to the rest of the media.  Please pay more attention to Labour’s Maori and Pacific caucuses.  They are power houses in the parliamentary party.

39 comments on “The right bring out the big guns ”

  1. I knew all about Savage and Lee and the welfare state by the time I was ten years old. Stuff that happened decades before I was born. There are these things called books and even older people who do this thing called talk, Peter.

  2. Adrian 2

    I was 7 and on my fathershoulders outside the Marlborough Express office way past my bedtime watching the results of the1957 Labour victory come in and the absolute delight of the crowd and can remember thinking that boy this is exciting, and whatever it is, it makes people happy, so yeah, it was politics and I was hooked for life.

    • mac1 2.1

      Yes, Adrian. Same story but in Christchurch just turned eight observing my father's delight at the 1957 election result. Parliament was always on in our house and my father knew who was speaking. Nordmeyer's Black Budget affected me as I could not access English comics as well. In 1960, I remember the Tour issue, and in 1962 the Cuban crisis was very worrying.
      Like Jacinda, I every day copying my father read the newspaper, the Press. I attended my first street corner meeting, asking a question of Harry Lake, in 1966 and gave a lesson in politics to a National Party door knocker. At school I was known as the class communist and it was predicted I would become MP for Papanui! Like music, politics was part of the life of our family and an interest in both was kindled by parents and older siblings.
      My brother just rang and he told me of a 1960 election story when he heard a carpenter working on our shop floor tell a friend walking down to the school to vote that if he voted National he'd cut off his head with his sharpest saw! He remembered the door knocker story, too. So, Peter Dunne, who went to the same school that I did, should know that politics was part and parcel of Irish Catholic working class Christchurch.

  3. Descendant Of Smith 3

    One of my nicknames at primary school was red because of my socialist interests and my left leaning politics. Coming from poor families with histories of poverty, land deprivation, grandmothers raising children alone without any welfare system, violence, and so on there was a deep understanding of how state housing and welfare assistance had improved so many, many lives.

    An older person was recalling the other day where the tent cities were in the city they grew up in before state housing came along, likewise we grew up knowing people previously living in caves with whitewashed walls, we knew about polio, and the Spanish flu and rubella and vaccination – there things weren't mysteries at 7 or 8 let alone 11.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    When Dunne was 11 it would have been 1965. Im sure he has a personal recollection of the events like counter culture, protests and Vietnam war that were in the news at the time. I know that I do. In that era people had newspapers home delivered, my father also had a Time magazine subscription. Other people avidly followed pop music, for both it was a chance to follow something outside your own family and school.

    • "When Dunne was 11 it would have been 1965. Im sure he has a personal recollection of the events like counter culture, protests and Vietnam war that were in the news at the time. I know that I do."

      Peter Dunne may have been completely oblivious.
      As it was probably about this age that Peter Dunne picked up his life long interest in bowties. Requiring many hours spent gazing at his reflection in the mirror practicing how to tie them properly.

    • Jenny How to get there 4.2

      Never underestimate 11 year olds.

      Newsboys' strike of 1899

      From Wikipedia

      Newsboys' strike of 1899Newsboys and newsgirl. Getting afternoon papers. New York City. - NARA - 523329.jpg

      Newsboys and newsgirl getting afternoon papers in New York City (1910)

      The newsboys' strike of 1899 was a U.S. uouth led campaign to force change in the way that Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolf Hearst's newspapers compensated their force of newsboys or newspaper hawkers. The strikers demonstrated across New York City for several days, effectively stopping circulation of the two papers, along with the news distribution for many New England cities. The strike lasted two weeks, causing Pulitzer's New York World to decrease its circulation from 360,000 papers sold per day to 125,000.[1] Although the price of papers was not lowered, the strike was successful in forcing the World and Journal to offer full buybacks to their sellers, thus increasing the amount of money that newsies received for their work.[2]

  5. Incognito 5

    Well done, MickySavage! Although the title is lost on me …

    I think you were meant to write that Carmel Sepuloni is driving rather than has driven the implementation of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommendations, as it is still very much a work in progress. Unless you want to invite scathing comments from the usual suspects wink

    I just happened to refer again to Peter Dunne’s Greta moment over at OM devil

    • alwyn 5.1

      I see that Sepuloni's maiden speech is quoted. I would have thought she might have made an attempt to get her history correct in such a significant speech but it seems not.

      She said "the dawn raids under the Muldoon Government". What a shame she didn't give the full story. The Dawn Raids were instigated by the Kirk Labour Government after all. "In 1974, the Norman Kirk-led Labour government used this Act to focus on Samoans and Tongans," and

      "On 13 March 1974, police and immigration officials raided Tongan households in Onehunga. Thirteen Tongans were charged with being illegal immigrants and/or failing to produce a passport.

      On 18 March, a further 21 Tongans were arrested

      Church services were interrupted, and the raids produced a sense of shame, fear and uncertainty

      In 1974, 107 Tongans, 24 Samoans and two Americans were deported.".

      A shame that Ms Sepuloni chose to invent a rather different history for her maiden speech.

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        Firstly, your reply has got nothing to do with my comment @ 5.

        Secondly, Sepuloni did not “invent a rather different history for her maiden speech”. It was a maiden speech in Parliament, not a concise and comprehensive lecture on a specific part of NZ History.

        Thirdly, comparing the actions of Kirk and his government with Muldoon and his mob is a strawman.

        Fourthly, your comments under this Post are essentially #whatabout and #theydidittoo. In addition, you’re doing your usual trick of making snide remarks about a public person to detract from the essence of the OP. Take it to OM if you don’t want to engage under this OP.

        Fifthly, thank you for reading the above.

        Sixthly, see you at OM.

        • alwyn

          I would certainly agree that my comment doesn't tie in to yours.

          It was meant to be stand alone but I must have hit reply on your comment. first and didn't notice after where it had gone. Sorry about that bit.

    • Patricia Bremner 5.2

      Yes, many of them are "Pop guns" now!!

  6. I Feel Love 6

    I was about 6 when I saw Muldoon swimming at Hatfield's beach and recognised him as the PM of our country. Also I remember the big deal around us becoming nuke free when I was about 10.

  7. lprent 7

    The point about the 1990s economic disaster that Carmel Sepuloni made, especially the benefit cuts and the employment contracts act was correct. It reverberates to this day.

    If you talk to my partner who is quite a lot younger than I am, the impacts of the those cuts was scarring to her life. There was no limited work available. Her intelligent partner during a large chunk of it had mental health issues, but would find himself regularly cut off from support because the WINZ would 'lose' his paperwork. A quite evident deliberate policy at the time.

    When I met him, he'd been picked up by the police and held over a weekend. It was on an old warrant for not repaying advances from WINZ – which he had done at the time. It was WINZ being incompetent and not cleaning up their own stupidity. Eventually he escaped NZ but died of medical misadventure because he was pretty terrified of getting in the clutches of medical debt in the US.

    Same for almost any woman raising kids on her own at the time like my sister. Again it appeared to me to be deliberate. Called to punitive consultations to give the answer the same stupid questions – but carefully designed to disrupt picking kids up from kindergardens, break into courses, or to interfere in looking for part-time work. They were a complete waste of the taxes I was forking out.

    These are the policies of simple punitive harassment. They are a complete waste of time and resources – which gets blindingly obvious when you look at the overheads on superannuation compared to things like DPB and unemployment benefits.

    And I'd add to the chorus. I got interested in politics when I was 10 or 11. Mostly because I was obsessed by history. In particular the causes of world wars including the ongoing cold war that overshadowed my young life. I think that I read just about every book in the War Memorial library by the time I stopped using it – when I went to university.

    Peter Dunne is in my opinion – just a complete idiot who has a problem seeing past his own clothes.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Eventually he escaped NZ but died of medical misadventure because he was pretty terrified of getting in the clutches of medical debt in the US.

      That is one sad story there.

      I've not taken the opportunity to say this before, but if the 'end of Ruthenasia' is a fantastic step in the right direction. A decade later than necessary, but finally we go there.

      Now if was accompanied by a cultural shift throughout our state social sector agencies, that insisted that helping people had to be their first priority – then we might finally turn an important corner.

      Incidentally I'm seeing something similar to this happening right now in my own family – a powerful state agency failing to control a rogue individual with a mean, spiteful agenda.

      Here’s another good example of the kind of shitty nonsense that goes on in state agencies with too much power and not enough accountability:


      • Obtrectator 7.1.1

        Looks like another example of "blame the poor bugger who got killed and can't answer back, because it's most convenient for everyone else".

  8. alwyn 8

    The Prime Minister does seem to have a rather odd approach to events from the past. When comparing today to 30 years ago comparisons are quite fair. However when she was asked, in an article in Saturday's Herald, she seemed to think that nothing should be said about times only about 12 years ago.

    When she was asked about the Clark Government's actions she replied "Ardern said it was not fair to compare now with a government from more than a decade ago." and then "So I don't think it's fair to make a judgement on a government that many years ago."


    Isn't it amazing that things that happened when she was a child remain so important today but that things which were much more recent, and about which she will have personal knowledge are so far ago that they don't merit any discussion.

    Could it be that she things must be ignored if she was anywhere near them and that some blame might be fairly applied to her? After all, wasn't she an advisor in the Prime Minister's Office during the Clark Government? What advice did she give?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Shes merely saying that Clarks coalition government was constrained by its partners – including Dunne and Peters, just as she was before recent election.

      Of course it you that comparing different things , the big cuts of the Richardson era where certainly memorable. The recession that followed the mother of all budgets was a part of that

      • alwyn 8.1.1

        What is your excuse for the 1999-2002 term?

        The Government was comprised of Labour and the Alliance, with Confidence and Support from the Green Party. You aren't really going to claim that The Alliance and the Greens were a constraint on what Clark wanted to achieve are you?

        And Ms Ardern wasn't claiming anything of the sort. If she had been she would have said so, rather than trying to dismiss it from any consideration at all.

        Oh well perhaps Jacinda simply doesn't remember, or at least wish to remember, the Clark era. Are you old enough to remember the joke about the 1960s? "If you can remember anything about the sixties you weren't really there". Maybe Jacinda was there in the noughties.

        • Ad

          The 1999-2002 term is something to be proud of.

          Two key welfare moves included the formation of Working For Families and the formation of NZSuper.

          As usual few recognise the devastating mess that National left Labour to put right.

          Much more importantly, instead of complaining about the recent history of social welfare, we can now celebrate the major moves that have been made. The most important of which in my view is the $30 billion of subsidy that kept the unemployment rate around 5% and stopped the social welfare bill exploding.

          History is already littered with the couterfactuals of countries who instead went for the low-intervention austerity approach in 2020.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          "wasn't claiming anything of the sort. If she had been she would have said so"

          Yet its OK for you to claim stuff 'she should of said' then. The Ruthenasia cuts and the following recession were huge at the time and well remembered. From 2000 onwards are we supposed to remember what didnt happen as well.

  9. Ad 9

    If the right had coherent guns, they would be decrying New Zealand's corpulent real estate investments which suck the capital that should be going into increasing investment into productive business.

    Productive businesses generating strong innovation are the machines that drive higher salaries and wages.

    And any conservative party moaning about non-retirement welfare when most of our welfare goes on propping up old people doesn't have any courage let alone focus.

    We are well overdue to see any party have a crack at Fonterra for rapidly weakening its global position, Synlait in decline, Westland Milk sold off for little good end, A2 Milk in near terminal decline, and most still obsessed with volume over value with all the environmental effects with that.

    The companies doing well in this country are those closest to the public subsidy: housing and civil construction companies. Neither known for their innovation or ability to raise their eyes higher than a spade.

    I seriously cannot believe that National have left business to pretty much do the same stuff they did before this most massive of economic shocks. Bayly in particular has a braincell to rub together but has just left the economic development field wide open for Nash to do what he wants.

    Like the current implosions of the US Republican Party, we need National to show that they can generate positions that advance the common interest of New Zealand and not fuck around about it.

    • Stuart Munro 9.1

      If the right had coherent guns,

      The right in NZ have not been principled for a generation or more. They are a rump faction – they don't have policy so much as habit. And I think we're seeing, patchily given the unemployment insurance misstep, a rebirth of Labour's principles. After the long drought or Rogergnomic austerity, they cannot help but be well received, as well as motivating the development of fresh policy that addresses actual contemporary issues. Been a long time coming.

  10. Patricia Bremner 10

    That photo says it all Mickey. A self absorbed self satisfied man. His comment is meant to make people doubt Jacinda Ardern's contention that she cared when young.

    Her back story of the effects of the contracts act resonates with many, as it was a deliberate attack on people's conditions of work, and the small towns like Morrinsville were impacted.

    At eleven I was living in a house provided by the Government to encourage couples to live and work in then remote areas, in this case coal mining Bennydale in the King Country.

    My father was a union member and also served on the mine rescue group. Many political meetings were held in our home. I was very aware of issues of the day, as I was nine during the great strikes of 1951, the lock outs and the results of community helping each other, to the point where that was outlawed for a time.

    I remember Kirk being elected and the joy of ordinary folk, and the unity we felt in our anti nuclear protest about Mururoa in 1973 So yes there are markers where society is seriously impacted and children notice.

    Peter Dunne is very egocentric in his beliefs. Wow, at eleven he didn't notice political situations so no other child would? He is clearly the centre of his own universe!!

    • RedLogix 10.1

      The story of what happened in Benneydale during the 51 strike rather astonished me when I first encountered it – deserves to be far better known. Do you have a reference to it that you like?

      • Patricia Bremner 10.1.1

        Only personally lived experience Red Logix. It was amazing as unions joined, became too powerful and political for the Government of the day, so their assets were confiscated, and the affected members turned on their own. That scarred my father as he hunted and fished cut firewood and provided relief those 151 days, but was spat on in the resulting political fallout. Two things stayed with me, his knowledge and disdain for some figures of the day. Some he felt were looking to their own long term positions, and therefore "sat on the fence" perhaps Jim Anderton was right, as he lived to fight another day. I personally believe Nash also sided with the FOL. I have only memories and I am six months out from 80 yrs. Many miners sided with the Wharf workers as they had agreed to support, but they were like the men who returned from the war, who found it hard to share with others who had no concept of the hardships.smiley so few books were written, except the Government record of course. Thank you for replying, and I note I left an 'e" out of Benneydale .

    • Ad 10.2

      You should check out the plans Kiwirail has for Bennydale.

      Quite enormous, and go for their Hearing in August.

  11. gsays 11

    My maternal grandparents had a photo of the Queen on the wall. Beside it and slightly above was one of Mickey Savage.

    I'm remember asking who he was and why was he on the wall.

  12. joe90 12

    I have the framed photo of Savage that took pride of place, smack dab in the middle, over my grandparent's mantle piece.

    Being good left footers, any image of the proddy royals was blasphemous.


  13. Bazza64 13

    Agree that benefit increases were well overdue. The sad thing is housing costs are so extreme that the current increases are just a drop in the bucket. A larger benefit increase would help, but then some would argue the $ just go into the landlords pockets & support the higher housing costs.

  14. millsy 14

    I turned 11 in 1991. I remember only too well the fall out with regards to the benefit cuts, market rents for state housing, ECA and privatisation.

    I also remember listening to talkback in the years after that, of boomer after boomer* denying that there was any problems and that people should just "get a job".

    I personally regard the 1991 Budget as worse than Rogernomics, as even during that period, they at least pretended to maintain the social safety net, state housing, etc

    • mac1 14.1

      In that time you may have listening to the 'silent generation' 1928-45 who would have been aged in 1991 from 46-63. By 2000 the silent generation would have been 55-72 years old, and in 2010 65-82.

      The boomers were aged 27-46 in 1991, in 2000 aged 36-55, in 2010 aged 46-65.

      In 1991, the Great Depression was some 60 years back in history and remembered easily by my parents who predated the silent generation. Your talkback radio critics in 2000 could easily have been born during WW1!

      As a boomer, born 1946-64, I know my place in talkback history.

      • millsy 14.1.1

        I see 'boomer' as more of a value set, than a demographic now,

        • mac1

          Ah, that set who banned the Bomb, opposed intervention in Vietnam, opposed racist rugby tours, opposed Omega stations, American bases in NZ, opposed nuclear warships in NZ, opposed French Bomb testing, Hikoi'd, marched, demonstrated,; that boomer value set? 🙂

  15. Chris 15

    Dunne's attention seeking is cringeworthy. It's unbelievable MSM gives it to him, especially if his blog's anything to go by. The only interest he gets is from spammers, but he still keeps going. Poor bastard. The guy’s desperate.


  16. What richardson did with the mother of all budgets is well documented. and recorded.

    At what age one becomes aware of it is irrelevant, as is p dunne.

    Why do the media keep giving him oxygen?

  17. Warren Doney 17

    If Carmel Sepuloni was driving the changes she did it with the handbrake on.

    After the WEAG report, Labour's prevarication about how they somehow had to get more information etc. etc. damaged their credibility with a great many people.

    I don't know what they thought they would achieve with the delays. Perhaps they wanted to wait for better political timing, or maybe they saw welfare as a soft target for saving money?

    To add insult to injury, many people won't even get the entire $20 extra in July that Labour trumpets, because it puts them over the threshold for Temporary Additional Support. It would be an absolute no brainer to raise it by the amount of the increase, but no.

    Labour also has no public plans to implement the increase in Emergency Medical Benefit from $300 to $1000 that they promised at the election. Apparently, the rate has been the same for 20 years.

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