What could be causing the ‘crisis of distrust’ in government?

Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, April 6th, 2016 - 43 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national - Tags: , , , , ,

In the news yesterday:

NZ is facing a ‘crisis of distrust’ with faith in MPs plummeting – new study

Public trust in New Zealand’s politicians has plummeted over the past three years with Kiwis particularly concerned by funding of political parties, a study has found.

The level of trust in Members of Parliament has fallen by 54 per cent since 2013, with less than one in 10 New Zealanders saying they have complete or lots of trust in elected officials.

Ministers in John Key’s government didn’t fare much better, with just under half of the 1000 people surveyed in the Victoria University study responding they’ve lost trust in them.

“Our report suggests that there may be a crisis of distrust in the country,” director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies Michael Macaulay said. …

Details of the study are here (pdf). The University of Victoria itself uses the term crisis:

“Our report suggests that there may be a crisis of distrust in the country. Not only is trust in our government, politicians and media low, but it has declined over three years,” the Associate Professor says.

So this is a bit of a mystery really. What could possibly be causing a crisis of of distrust in government in the last 3 years? Sure we’ve had dirty politics, the PM in bed with vicious attack bloggers, attacks on journalists and scientists, a ponytail pulling PM becoming an international laughingstock, the police conducting an unlawful raid, the abolition of local democracy in Canterbury, the Oravida scandal, the “Cabinet Club” scandal, Key dipping in to public money to pay his legal bills, money wasted on the flag debacle, increased surveillance, jihadi lies, the TPP forced through against public sentiment, revelations about our participation in carbon trading scams, the Saudi sheep payout, the SkyCity sellout, the GCSB spying for political purposes, cost blowouts and excesses at MBIE, sheer incompetence in the administration of payrolls, the SERCO prisons fiasco, Key defending the use of NZ as an international tax haven, and so on and so on and on and on. But so what? Key is still ahead in preferred PM polls, so that proves everything is just fine, doesn’t it? What could be causing this inexplicable crisis of distrust?

43 comments on “What could be causing the ‘crisis of distrust’ in government?”

  1. ianmac 1

    Gamblers know that the house will always win. But the punters go back again and again in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Same with religion. Same with Key. Maybe tomorrow….?

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    The electorate is remembering what the National Party is.

  3. TC 3

    This is another meme of the CT/DP approach in nz with voluntary voting which like a CGT nact will never ever intoduce compulsory voting as it favours them not to.

    Reduce trust, reduce incentives to vote, everytime you get caught state that labour did it too, get the msm to smear the opposition for you, rinse and repeat.

    Every corrupt event they get away with plays to the theme that the house always wins so apathy gets a crutch to lean on election time.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      +1

      I believe we need compulsory voting. Voting is not a right, it is a duty.

      • Mike S 3.1.1

        “I believe we need compulsory voting. Voting is not a right, it is a duty.”

        Maybe if there was a ‘none of the above option’. Although then you could simply say that a non vote means a ‘none of the above vote’ so essentially people still wouldn’t be voting if they didn’t want to.

        But you can’t make voting compulsory anyway as nobody can be legally forced to sign any document (contract) against their will, so not sure how you could force someone (in the legal world) to sign an enrollment form if they didn’t want to.

        Probably why nobody ever gets prosecuted for not enrolling? (Maybe they do, i haven’t heard of anyone though and know plenty of people who aren’t enrolled)

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1

          But you can’t make voting compulsory anyway as nobody can be legally forced to sign any document (contract) against their will, so not sure how you could force someone (in the legal world) to sign an enrolment form if they didn’t want to.

          Don’t need to get them to sign anything – citizenship automatically gives them the duty. If they don’t perform their duty then we book them for it. Simple really.

          I do love how the RWNJs, who always go on about personal responsibility, always find ways to justify abrogating their personal responsibility.

          • ABSack 3.1.1.1.1

            Make them vote at machine gun point! Why don’t you decide who they vote for while you’re at it DT Bastard? I am SURE that you have a preference 😀

            • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1.1

              You have some difficulty with people taking up the responsibility that they have as being part of a community?

              Or is it that you don’t want people voting so that you can always get your way?

  4. NZJester 4

    Sure we’ve had dirty politics, the PM in bed with vicious attack bloggers, attacks on journalists and scientists, a ponytail pulling PM becoming an international laughingstock, the police conducting an unlawful raid, the abolition of local democracy in Canterbury, the Oravida scandal, the “Cabinet Club” scandal, Key dipping in to public money to pay his legal bills, money wasted on the flag debacle, increased surveillance, jihadi lies, the TPP forced through against public sentiment, revelations about our participation in carbon trading scams, the Saudi sheep payout, the SkyCity sellout, the GCSB spying for political purposes, cost blowouts and excesses at MBIE, sheer incompetence in the administration of payrolls, the SERCO prisons fiasco, Key defending the use of NZ as an international tax haven, and so on and so on and on and on.

    Such a mystery, it has me stumped what could be causing this as well?! ;-p

  5. saveNZ 5

    Great post.

  6. esoteric pineapples 6

    Disconcertingly, New Zealanders don’t seem very good at discerning which politicians they should trust and which they shouldn’t. They A) tar all Members of Parliament with the same brush B) despite their cynicism continue to vote for the very party that has lead to their distrust in the first place, because they don’t trust voting for a non-conservative party – Labour but especially the Greens. Conservatives know that as long as they throw some meat called “prejudice” at them, they will continue to vote for them.

    • AmaKiwi 6.1

      “New Zealanders don’t seem very good at discerning which politicians they should trust and which they shouldn’t.”

      We should trust NONE of them.

      We are NEVER on an equal footing with any government. Government has the power to coerce us. That’ what politicians do, they coerce.

      Don’t trust bullies.

      • greywarshark 6.1.1

        “Disconcertingly, New Zealanders don’t seem very good at discerning”…

        Seems right to me.

  7. Sabine 7

    who needs trust? As long as the masses are entertained and obedient, who cares about trust. I am sure the PM is comfortable with this study akshullyee

  8. alwyn 8

    One should of course note that Ministers are more popular the MPs. Given they separate them out I assume the “MP” group is those who are not Ministers.
    Ministers have also fallen by a lesser percentage than MPs in trust in the last 3 years.
    Since all the opposition party members are in the “MP” category, and they comprise two thirds of all the category classed as “MPs” I think we must assume that it is the Opposition Party MPs who are dragging down the numbers.
    Hardly surprising really. Shearer seem quite good. However he was followed by Cunliffe, bad, and Little, worse.
    QED

    • r0b 8.1

      I assume the “MP” group is those who are not Ministers

      Assume what you like, doesn’t make it so. But I do agree that National’s ongoing campaign of Dirty Politics has been quite successful in tarring other parties with their own filthy brush.

    • Andre 8.2

      Oh wow, alwyn. That’s an outstanding trophy specimen of “it’s Labour’s fault”.

      • Lanthanide 8.2.1

        It’s a worthwhile point to raise, but any brief reflection on what the average person would understand when asked “how much do you trust MPs” shows it to be a facile argument.

        If the survey said “non-minister MPs” and “ministers” then alwyn’s interpretation would be accurate. But it doesn’t say that, and it would be stupid to assume it meant that.

    • Lanthanide 8.3

      Pretty stupid assumption to make.

      If someone asks you “how much do you trust MPs” do you think “oh, I better not include my impression of ministers when I answer that question!”.

      Or to put it simply: all ministers are MPs.

      • alwyn 8.3.1

        I originally presented this as just a joke.
        However it can be rationalised by the following.
        Consider the set of MPs. they have a trust of 8% and it has dropped by 54%
        Consider the sub-set of Ministers. It has a trust of 10% and has dropped by 49%
        For both statements to be true, numerically, the sub-set who are NOT ministers must be less than 8% trusted and have declined by MORE than 54%.
        This works out that the trust in the “other” MPs is 7.3% and it has dropped by 55.7%.
        As always, 2/3 of the other MPs are in the opposition.
        Quite what any individual result is is of course indeterminate. The above assumes that all Ministers are identical and all “other MPs” are the same.

        A silly calculation I know but no more silly than the claims by other people in this stream that it is all John Key’s fault. I mean look at comment 2 by OAB. “The electorate is remembering what the National Party is”. Why are you not accusing him of making wild assumptions?

  9. Roflcopter 9

    What could be causing the ‘crisis of distrust’ in government?

    The “crisis of distrust” in the group one ahead of them on the list.

  10. StopConsuming 10

    Oh Look – A panda!

  11. I’d be really interested to see one of these trust in MPs surveys that actually broke it down by Party and showed how people feel about different parties versus their voting affiliation.

    • AmaKiwi 11.1

      You know the answer. Left wingers have more trust for Labour and Green MPs. Right wingers have more trust for National MPs.

      I “trust” my Labour Representative’s views are similar to mine on a majority of issues. But I do NOT trust he will represent the majority of all New Zealanders. Nats in my electorate know they cannot trust him to represent their views. They’re correct.

      • I’m more interested about what it shows for instance about trust compared to NZ First, Conservative, and ACT affiliation, to be honest. I fully expect that Labour supporters will have moderate levels of trust of the Greens, and Green supporters will have moderate-to-low levels of trust in Labour.

  12. slumbergod 12

    I just don’t get why sheeple keep thinking the sun shines out of his ass. He makes me cringe. I don’t believe a single line coming out of his mouth because I *know* he is a liar. So why do so many kiwis not see past his crap?

    • Whispering Kate 12.1

      Quite agree slumbergod – I cannot understand either what people see in him, from day one I saw him as a dead eyed untrustworthy person. Some people have better skills at picking out what is genuine and what is fake, others are not so fortunate. I have to give it to the man, he can charm the birds out of the trees and people fall for it. But, I think the tide is turning and people who generally would vote for him are starting to feel uncomfortable about his attitude, his lies, anger problems and down ride sarcasm and bad manners. Maybe this Panama Papers disclosure may be the beginning of the end. Let’s hope so for the future of this country. Frankly I think the man is ruining this country.

  13. roy cartland 13

    Anyone remember why we ditched Helen? All I can remember:
    Ahmed Zaoui / Urewera raids!
    She signed that artwork!
    Too nanny state!
    There’s too much of a surplus!
    She’s trying to give us tax cuts we don’t want!
    With the notable exception of the first – man, I wish those were my only complaints about the government now!

    • Gabby 13.1

      There was a trip to a rugby match too I seem to recall. And some leaks that ‘by definition’ – weren’t.

    • AmaKiwi 13.2

      Helen was ditched because share markets were crashing (Global Financial Crisis) and people were (justifiably) scared. In my 2008 canvassing I got only one answer, “I want a change.”

      If the markets crash again (I think they will), the Nats are out. Same answer: “I want a change (from this economic nightmare).”

      • weka 13.2.1

        1990? 1999?

      • Colonial Viper 13.2.2

        I think a GFC 2 will help Key and English, not hurt them…because Little and Robertson would be positioned as being ignorant and inexperienced at finance and economics.

        I know that this view is contrary to common wisdom…

  14. Angeldust 14

    If you take the time to read the study, it shows that Government Ministers are regarded as twice as trustworthy as “bloggers and online commentators” – the least-trusted group in the entire survey.

    • AmaKiwi 14.1

      But “bloggers and online commentators” don’t make laws, raise your taxes, cut public services, sell your assets, authorize their police to spy on every detail of your life, or sign TPPA.

      Everyplace else your life you can choose to not deal with people you don’t trust. Parliament is sovereign. The politicians can do whatever they want and you can’t stop them. Petitions, protests, and referendums can’t deter them.

      If you don’t trust your dictator your country is in a sorry state.

    • Anne 14.2

      Well we all know who we have to thank for that Angeldust @14. Cameron Slater. He’s tainted the whole blogger sphere with his dirty little political games.

  15. gristle 15

    I was in a small town dairy store today. You may know the place, Kurow: one time home to Sir Ritchie, but more impotently the home of social welfare in NZ.

    Anyway. I walked in to a conversation between 2 older women and the shop owner. I started listening when they brought up “that boy Key not being able to give an honest answer over tax.” To which the reply was “the only good thing about Key is that he’s not Trump.”

    Waitaki has been solidly blue for ages. But then again so was Northland.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Future NZ First territory.

      BTW Waitaki voted solidly for keeping the current flag.

    • swordfish 15.2

      Hard to tell how representative 3 individuals are, though.

      They could have been among the just over 100 Kurow-ites who Party-Voted for the Opposition parties at the last Election, rather than the almost 300 who went for the Nats/Govt/Right.

      On the other hand, if you ever come across the whole town burning an effigy of Key in the central square while angrily thrusting pitchforks into the air then that’s a whole different ball game …

  16. Sanctary 16

    Well, look at the last few days. You have had Helen Clark and Michael Cullen working seamlessly with National. People increasingly see the professional political class as primarily acting in the interests of themselves and big money. This is why we has seen the rise of so many “insurgent” candidates like Corbyn, Trump, Saunders,PODEMOS, etc. People are looking for a revolution. Soon they will even stop caring if it is legal and non violent.

  17. pat 17

    “What could be causing the ‘crisis of distrust’ in government?”

    How about the actions of the government?

  18. srylands 18

    None of those “scandals” you list will matter a toss come election time. they are either fictitious, trivial, or only exist in the minds of people who will never vote for National anyway. (and what on earth is the “Cabinet Club”?)

    What IS significant is that 61% of people consider that the country is heading in the right direction. This is 5 percentage points higher than when National won the 2008 election. Only 29% of people think the country is heading in the wrong direction.

    http://www.roymorgan.com/morganpoll/new-zealand/nz-government-confidence

    This is an amazing level of confidence in the Government. To put these into context the “right direction” figure in the USA is 26%!

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_or_wrong_track

    In Australia the “right direction” figure is 42%

    http://www.roymorgan.com/morganpoll/federal-voting/roy-morgan-government-confidence-rating-2006-2016

    So unless there is an erosion of that 61% figure the left is facing serious headwind, regardless of pony tails and the Cabinet Club. Whatever that is.

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