So, have you been looking back at National’s triumphs over the last term? It’s a pretty impressive record. New Zealanders voted for a party with money sense, you see, to get them through tough times.
Shame it hasn’t paid off. One iota. Unless you’re in the wealthy minority.
First of all, you get countries out of recessions by boosting employment. National has resoundingly failed to do this while simultaneously widening the gap between the haves and have nots by giving the better-off a tax break they didn’t need.
Is this a government that cares about all its people? Demonstrably not.
Luckily it has partners. OK, maybe not for much longer. Under National’s embrace, ACT and Maori have almost ceased to be viable parties, because National gambolled on the undeserved electoral love it maintained through the first term to be big enough to govern without them in the third.
What do you do when things look bad? Well, you can fix things, like Labour has always done. Labour got New Zealand through the Napier earthquake, the Great Depression and World War Two. Labour, in the early Noughties, left us with a much maligned ‘Nanny State’ that had employment at a record high and money in the bank. But people didn’t like that, even though it was being clearly forecast that a major recession was on its way.
Or you can go the other way and get people to focus on an external threat, real or imagined, to take attention away from internal dissatisfaction. Germany’s Hitler chose the Jews. England’s Thatcher chose some miserable islands no one had heard of and the under-gunned, and safely outclassed, Argentinians. Australia chose the terrifying bogeyman of the starving and destitute refugee.
John Key recently went this way too, demonstrating the incredible depth of his imagination. That being no depth, and no imagination. John Howard in Australia picked on lowly, impoverished and desperate people in leaky boats heading, purportedly, for Australia, playing on White Australia’s fears to such an extent they actually believed a human tidal wave was going to overwhelm them. Australia can’t afford to help people, you see. Unfortunately, it worked.
It worked so well, Julia Gillard, even though she’s Labor (sic), carried on the policy, widely condemned by humanitarian agencies the world over, to maintain her own support. So Australia has been rounding up the tiny numbers of refugees who actually get that far and putting them in inhospitable and distant camps where they commit suicide, go on hunger strike and sew their mouths shut. Welcome to the free world.
Now John Key has seemingly joined in. He reckons New Zealand could take 150 a year from Australia’s concentration camps, thereby condoning what White Australia is doing, and worse, might even send some refugees there himself. Stunning. Way to go, Key. (His own mother was a refugee. Doesn’t seem to matter. Luckily she arrived when there were still state houses and a fully functioning state education system. If she tried that now, she’d be in a sweltering camp on Nauru.)
On that note, National has totally sorted out the teacher’s pay, right? National introduced a scheme that has been a ‘rolling maul’. Of utter disaster. The twit who presided over this is still there (Hekia Parata – she might be incompetent but at least she’s Maori and a woman, two things National needs). She now has Stephen (re)Joyce as her titular boss. So far, nothing’s happened. Check this guy out, he’s your next National Prime Minister. What has NovaPay actually cost the country? We don’t really know. Yet. Perhaps we never will. It certainly has galvanised a typically anti-National bloc (teachers) against National. Good work.
Meanwhile, joining the catalogue of dodgy National MPs in office (a group that includes Nick Smith) is Maurice Williamson, who has dealings, as a director, with a company contracted to Mainzeal. Which just collapsed like a house of cards in an earthquake.
Prime Minister Key approved Construction Minister Maurice Williamson’s directorship of a company involved with failed building company Mainzeal. Mainzeal’s collapse is already costing jobs up and down the country. This is an incredible conflict of interest: a Minister of Construction on the board of a construction company!
Doesn’t matter. Need I remind you that former National Prime Minister Jenny Shipley was on Mainzeal’s board of directors? Funny, that.
Then new Speaker, National’s ‘I need to try and be non-partisan’ David Carter refused permission for three MPs to host a parliamentary function for Benny Wenda, a United Kingdom-exiled West Papuan leader agitating against Indonesia’s iron-fisted control of his country, which it invaded several decades ago. Wenda has never been refused a parliamentary function anywhere else in the world; then he came to good ol’ liberal ‘integrated’ New Zealand.
Just to add to New Zealand’s socially enterprising liberal image on the world stage, Prime Minister John Key said on 11th February that providing New Zealanders with a living wage is not high on the Government’s agenda.
Well, who’d have thought? I’m shocked. OK, hardly. The wellbeing of New Zealanders, if they’re not rich white men, has never been on Key’s agenda.
Mainzeal was just the type of company that should be rebuilding Christchurch, right? Two years on, and how’s Christchurch doing?
Napier was rebuilt in two years. In the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, house prices keep going up. Unemployment is high, poverty increases, housing is short. Yet there are no houses to buy, state housing is being shut down and the land turned over to developers so they can profit from it, including at Hobsonville in John Key’s electorate which was supposed to have had social housing as a component. Doesn’t matter. All while the wealthy keep speculating their property prices up and borrowing more off the back of it, living the life of Riley.
Building houses employs people, as well as … creating homes for New Zealanders to live in. Hardly rocket surgery.
But the beneficiary figures dropped – why? Because people are leaving for Australia, where they no longer have basic rights despite their taxes going into Australian government coffers. Or they’re here, but in certain programs that don’t figure in the figures.
But Key does listen to some people. Rich people. Here, he’s equal opportunity – it doesn’t matter if you’re rich New Zealander or a rich American from New Line Cinema getting a deal from a banana republic to make even more money from a union-busting movie maker (Peter Jackson). Why, you could be a rich German with a dodgy track record that includes trading convictions, peddling material you don’t have the copyright for, or a rich Chinese wheeler dealer. Doesn’t matter. You’ll have his ear, and he’ll bend over backwards to proffer New Zealand at you.
How does Key take criticism about any of this? Yes, in public he’s increasingly nasty, mean and short tempered. He’s feeling the pressure. He can’t work out why people don’t love him anymore.