The Dim-Post

April 20, 2011

Compare and contrast

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 5:43 pm

Here’s how Metiria Turei critiqued Key’s helicopter jaunt; juxtapose with Cunliffe below:

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was outraged that the air force “ferried” Mr Key to what she called exclusive events.

Mr Key used the Iroquois on Saturday to attend the Hamilton V8s then a black tie dinner at the Royal Auckland Golf Club in Otahuhu, Auckland.

“The Green Party has no problem with the Prime Minister using the air force in order to help out in emergencies or for important government business,” Mrs Turei said.

“We do have a problem with the Prime Minister commandeering the New Zealand Air Force so that he can get snapped at the V8s before heading off for an exclusive knees-up at the Royal Auckland Golf Club.”

March 9, 2011

Botany results

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:39 am

John Armstrong on Botany:

The net result is: Labour increased its share of the candidate vote in the seat from 21 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent on Saturday.

Moreover, it did so in the face of a number of handicaps – notably the party’s candidate, Michael Wood, committing one of politics’ great sins early on by saying he would not win the seat.

At a minimum, the result boils down to a psychological victory for Labour, one which Goff wasted no time milking by staging a lunch-time photo-opportunity yesterday at a cafe in Botany town centre.

His claim the result is a “significant swing” against the Government ignores National having won about the same share of the vote as it did in 2008.

Surely most of this swing is about the Greens failing to register, and Labour picking up the majority of the Green vote which was around 4% in the last election. Still, it was an FPP election in a safe seat – there was basically no point in Labour supporters turning out, so holding your share of the vote is actually pretty impressive.

The chart below shows the percentage votes by polling booth in Botany, with the results for National, Labour and the New Citizen Party. (No Greens in this election, ACT did too poorly to chart).

So the big surprise is how well the New Citizen Party did. This is a centrist party representing Chinese New Zealanders and they won 10% of the vote even though they have no representation in Parliament. I guess the message there is that ethnicity is a big deal in electoral politics.

The second thing to note is that Labour did poorly in a majority of the polling booths but in three of them they won massive majorities. I suspect they didn’t even campaign in most of the electorate but ran an intensive GOTV campaign in key areas. This is basically how they won Mana and it’s obviously their strategy for the election in November.

February 4, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:39 am

Lew is on fire these days:

Don’t cuss out the media — Labour knows (or should know) how they work, and have in the past proven adept at playing the game. You single out the Veitch interview as a case where Key received an unjustified profile and character boost. I covered this in my post, did you read it? That Key felt emboldened to do that indicates he is cognisant of the opposition’s inability to present a credible threat. Instead of blaming the media for doing what the media does, ask yourself this: how, in New Zealand in 2011, does the Prime Minister get all matesy-blokey with one of the country’s best-known wife-beaters and not get crucified by the opposition for doing so? After all — it’s not the media’s job to crucify him; and goodness knows the National party isn’t going to crucify itself. Only one bunch of people has responsibility for bringing the wood and the nails, and banging them all together, and that’s the opposition. They didn’t even try; the only response was from an isolated 70s feminist from a minor party who’s widely regarded as a bit of a crank and is retiring at the end of the year in any case. Nobody is to blame for that absence of response but Labour.

Of course, Goff did speak on this issue yesterday:

Labour leader Phil Goff said Liz Hurley “was pretty close” to being on his top five hot women list.

Today is Goff’s wedding anniversary and he put his wife Mary in the number one spot.

He said Elle Macpherson and Julia Roberts would also feature in his top five, “all being totally hypothetical of course”.

I bet Goff is one of those guys with hundreds of books on ‘leadership’ on the bookshelves in his office.

UPDATE: Milt comments:

I … suspect the “sports boofhead” demographic to be a lot larger than you think.

I think that’s Goff’s attitude too. He is aware that his party has terrible numbers amongst male voters. And sure, there are a lot of rugby heads out there who think Tony Veitch is a hero and that breaking your girlfriends back and then using your wealth and celebrity to try and destroy her life is awesome – but how many of them are persuadable voters for the Labour Party? I think that number is close to zero. The number of National leaning centre voters – particularly female voters – who think that Veitch is evil, and that a Prime Minister who goes on his show and talks about fucking Jessica Alba is a jerk? Quarter of a million? More? But for Key to lose their votes, Goff would have to show some leadership on the ‘issue’. Instead he proved that he is also basically a jerk, and also a spineless jerk (‘I’d nail the same chick the PM would, oh and also my wife!’) which makes him even less attractive as a leader.

January 27, 2011

Gouge away

Filed under: economics,Politics,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:00 am

I love this excerpt from Vernon Small’s story about the Goff vs Key fiscal debate:

Goff had signalled Labour would look at ring-fencing losses on investment property so they could not be offset against other income tax.

Key said National had considered and rejected it. At most it would raise $260m a year, but once sophisticated investors restructured their financial affairs ”you might raise $130m if you are lucky”.

He said the Government was borrowing $300m a week.

If Labour borrowed the full $1.1 billion that could rise to about $320m a week.

”Exactly which little pixie is going to deliver that? The answer is a foreign pixie that we have to borrow from.”

Labour countered today, saying Key was planning to ”sell the family silver to foreign pixies”.

Emphasis mine. See, Key is being wise and prudent and fiscally conservative by only borrowing $300 million dollars a week, while crazy, irresponsible Phil Goff might increase that amount by almost 8%! Pixies! Elves! Crazy time!

That point made, while I think the income free threshold is good policy I think it’s a daft idea politically and a textbook case of a general trying to fight the last war. Tax cuts played a crucial role in the 2008 election, when we had nine years of budget surplus without a single tax cut and voters were salivating at Key’s promise that he’d give them an extra $50 dollars a week. Fifty bucks a week! John Key! John Key! John Key!

Three years and three rounds of tax cuts later I think people are jaded about the magical powers of tax relief: each cut has been swallowed up by inflation, GST and various mandatory fee increases, they’ve failed to bring the economic stimulus we were promised and they’ve left the government with a terrifying deficit. I don’t think this idea will be a winner, and I suspect Labour now regrets their GST free fruit gimmick, which didn’t win them any points in the polls but means they’ve got to scavenge up an extra $250 million dollars a year to try and fund it.

These policies preclude Goff from attacking Key on one of his most vulnerable points: the deficit. Key is using the government’s debt as an excuse for the partial privatisation of state assets (of course, if we weren’t in debt he’d introduce the same policy on the pretext of growing the economy). But Key and English are the reason we have this gigantic deficit. John Key’s perceived strength during the election was that his financial genius would transform the national economy, and English was supposed to be this shrewd, wise guardian of the government’s books. In reality they’re proving to be a pair of colossally irresponsible, incompetent fuck-ups – but Goff can’t attack them for their irresponsibility if he’s just going to piss away even more money.

Imagine if Goff had promised to raise taxes on high income earners, crack down on tax evaders and use the money to restore payments into the Super fund and pay down the Key-English deficit. Sure, all the feather-weights in our political class would still be gushing about the color of his hair but I think the wider electorate would respond well to a demonstration of basic competence when it comes to the economy.

October 12, 2010

How big?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:11 pm

I predict that Chris Carter isn’t a big enough jerk to actually betray his (former, certainly?) friends in the Labour caucus and out them as anti-Goff conspirators, but he is a big enough jerk to try and sabotage the party’s conference this weekend with further attacks against Phil Goff.

September 17, 2010

Crisis reveals character

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:44 am

So what happened to the opposition?

In Labour’s case I think it was Goff’s super-conservative, zero-risk leadership style. If he opposed the CERRA and denounced it as a power grab then the government would have accused him of abandoning the people of Canterbury. Risk. Risk. Risk. It might have cost him popularity in Christchurch going into the Mayoral race and by-election. Canterbury based Labour MPs might even have crossed the floor – and then Goff’s leadership looks even weaker. It’s typical of modern-day Labour that not a single MP broke ranks and defied the most ineffectual opposition leader I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Once Labour supports CEERA the Greens are in a terrible position. The media would have ripped them to pieces: ‘The only party to vote against the struggling people of Canterbury citing some silly nonsense about a dictatorship – when even the Labour Party supported the bill unanimously.’

But the Greens are a small party – they don’t have to worry about widespread public opinion. Their voter pool overlaps with Labour’s and the Labour supporters are incandescent with rage about their party betraying them. People who are angry about the CEERA have nowhere to take their vote.

Sure, Paul Henry would have told mean jokes about the Greens and John Armstrong would have written a withering column but they don’t speak to potential Green votes. To use an old cliché their vote was worse than a crime – it was a mistake. When they inevitable abuses roll in they would have been the only party in a strong position to condemn them.

Meanwhile, back in the real world Christchurch had another night of aftershocks – they seem almost calculated to cause as much psychological trauma as possible.

September 1, 2010

Quote of the day, with that many kids you’d think he’d be used to churlish ingratitude edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:37 am

“I think they should acknowledge that taxpayers across New Zealand are putting their hands in their pockets to the tune of $1.6 billion to honour a promise made with a business that’s actually gone broke. There’s a lot of other things we could have used that $600m for and I would hope that the depositors and the people who are supporting the company are grateful for the support of the New Zealand taxpayer because without that support Timaru and south Canterbury could have ended up $600m out of pocket. I would expect to hear a bit more from that community about their acknowledgement of that taxpayer support.”

Finance Minister Bill English, on the Hubbard supporters who seem to think that SCF’s business plan of taking investors money and lending it at zero interest to people who didn’t qualify for bank loans would have been a winner if the government hadn’t stepped in and ruined everything by paying them all their money back plus 8% interest.

August 19, 2010

Quote of the day, tantalising glimpse edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:51 am

There was an instance recently where he was extremely angry at my staff,
characterised by shouting abuse in offices and also as he
stormed up and down the corridor After this occurred, Peter
Keenan tried to calm the situation by telling staff “not to take it
personally; Rodney had just come back from the gym and was
all ‘pumped up’”.

Heather Roy’s leaked Caucus document, providing an insight into the management style of the ACT leader and Minister for Local Government.

July 16, 2010

Does the government know what it is doing?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 1:10 pm

That’s the question Brian Easton asks and attempts to answer in a discussion paper he recently posted on his site.

My glib answer to this would be that mostly what the government is doing is getting relected and that they know how to do this very well, thank you, but Brian’s focus is on the policy direction and the drivers of policy development within the government. I recommend reading the whole thing but I’m excerpting this section on business as a driver of policy because it’s something I’ve ranted about on a regular basis but never managed to articulate this well:

The business community – especially the Auckland business community – are Key’s friends, his community, and major funders of the National Party. Their account of the world forms a foundation in his and the government’s thinking, even if outcomes do not always meet their expectations.

(National continues to have a rural base, but while it continues to be supportive, Auckland is given greater support, and there appears to be growing rural disenchantment.)

The ABC is not the same thing as the Business Roundtable. It was once, but most serious businesses no longer belong to it, and many of the business people I meet are dismissive of it as having passed its time. The BRT remains vocal, and it is influential on the ACT Party. Sometimes its views align with that of the ABC, although one businessman told me that they were embarrassed when the BRT did, because it turned off the rest of the polity. (I know the feeling.)

The ABC are not the cowboys that ran finance companies. They are mainly people who run real businesses well and New Zealand is the better off for them. They have no representative organisation, although there are other those which sometimes reflect their view – such as the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and the Herald. Think of it more as a network of like-minded people, often with similar problems, who meet in all sorts of venues and in the business pages. Out of this discussion evolves a common view.

I agree with Roger Kerr, executive director of the BRT, that it is rare for someone to be a good business manager and a good economist – although given the ones he has mentioned (always members of the BRT you will observe), it is much rarer combination than he thinks.

Yet business is vitally dependent upon the economy, so it is inevitable that the business community will have a view of it. Where it directly connects with their business they can be very perceptive. As an economic issue becomes less directly connected with their business and more contextual, their insights become – shall we say – aspirational. Their political judgement is hardly better. The ABC’s basic vision is that if you look after business then everything else will come right too, although just what ‘right’ means is vague. Of course we should ensure that business functions well. But that does not mean that looking after business is the ultimate policy objective and business becomes the end in itself, not the means to the end.

Business ends are only part of the way we pursue the goal of the nation; sometimes business cannot have what it wants because that does not contribute to the desired end. That also means that sometimes business models are not the best way of pursuing things. Business does not always understand this.

So the ABC tends to pursue a narrow self-focussed policy agenda. Sometimes it is reasonably effective as with the tax cuts and the ACC changes, and sometimes it takes the government down a track which with hindsight it wishes it had not gone.

The confluence of ACT’s Rodney Hide being Minister of Local Government and Key’s natural empathy with the ABC, meant that initially the government followed the business community’s prescription for the reform of Auckland local government; that where it was not possible to shift the decision into corporate-like agencies which was based upon a business model – then the rump should be managed by a Mayor with powers similar to a corporate chief executive. While there has been some watering down towards a more democratic form of governance, this business-based model for Auckland is still the framework.

Add the ACT propensity to crash through – which in the past has far too often led to crashes. What we have here is all the characteristics which marked the great health redisorganisation of the early 1990s. We await a far from successful – but very expensive – outcome. I dont know what will happen in the local body elections – my main source of Auckland news is the Herald, which is hardly unbiased – but we can expect many expensive systems failures after it.

It is not the only case of the government starting out along the ABC line and has to change course because its voters dont like it. You get a good sense of the disappointment of the ABC from the Herald columnist Fran O’Sullivan who constantly berates the government for not pursuing the business community’s agenda. Her sub-theme is that Key is one of them, but he is too timid to take the course he – and they – believe in. That the public is not as enamoured with the business agenda as business is; that democracy gets in the way of a pressure group pursuing its self interest does not seem to have occurred to Ms O’Sullivan.

A key element of the business agenda is the demand to catch up with Australia – in per capita GDP terms by 2025. We had the ineffective – and largely ACT driven – committee chaired by Don Brash, which made various policy recommendations of benefit to the business community, claiming that it would accelerate economic growth without providing a skerrick of empirical evidence of the effectiveness of their policies.

In fact any orthodox economic analysis shows that there is little chance that we can meet the target. Ironically, the proposed policies are a continuation for the policies which were administered during, and caused, the Rogernomics Recession, which put us so far behind Australia. That is the reason the committee was unable to provide empirical for the effectiveness of its policies, the evidence from the past points to their failure rather than success.

Catching up to Australia is an aspiration, not a policy. As English said, National had no policy in opposition, and it hoped that the officials would find it one. For a quarter of a century officials have been thinking about the objective, had advised previous governments on how to accelerate economic growth relative to the rest of the world, but with little success. Which should not surprise us; if a policy to accelerate economic growth worked it would be adopted by every other country, everyone would grow faster and no-one would catch up.

Why the focus on GDP per capita? The one group in New Zealand who are closest to direct beneficiaries of material economic growth is the business sector. In the long run the profit rate is roughly equal to the growth of GDP. Profits are the objective of business. By arguing for a higher growth rate, it is arguing for a higher profit rate. They may want to have a high profit rate, but that does not mean it should be the ultimate objective of government. Business is a means to an end, not the end in itself.

July 9, 2010

Chris Trotter on Party Central

Filed under: Politics,satire,Uncategorized — danylmc @ 4:33 pm

Due to the demise of the Independent the Dim-Post is proud to announce it will be publishing occasional columns by the left-wing political commentator and author Chris Trotter.


So “Party Central” is no longer central to the party that is central to the party at the centre of our party politics.

Am I the only Kiwi who experiences tightness in my jaw and a numb feeling in my left-arm when I contemplate the disarray that has befallen Auckland governance? From the real New Zealanders of the western suburbs to the lesbians and traitors of the so-called educated classes of the North Shore to the mud races of South Auckland to the ancien regime Maori elite of Paratai Drive we have all supped from the golden poison chalice of satanic robot run regional and local government only to find ourselves regaining conciousness yet again in our neighbour’s toolshed with our clothes drenched in urine.

I know I am not the only one. I know we all feel this way. We do.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Millions of years ago when the working class astronomer Charles Darwin discovered New Zealand and founded the Workers Collective of Auckland the waterfront was a taonga that Maori were forbidden to visit and they respected that and knew their place. It was the radical right-wing feminist government of William Massey that spread open the labile pink floodgates of change and swept away the egalitarian order in a wave of capitalist frenzy, separatist Maori entitlement and so-called-women who threaten to press charges because that is what their liberal puppetmasters at our elitist universities have brainwashed them to do.

Like most real New Zealanders I yearn for the days when our great little country was ruled by stocky, moustached trade-unionists but I fear that those days are gone forever, swept away by a great wave that swept everything away like a wave.

No, the party is no longer central. The Maori saw to that with their Treaty Claims and so-called ‘Maori Language’ and the kids these days with their vampire novels and smart mouths and the $300 dollar running shoes.

But just as true is that the centre is no longer party and that is it’s tragedy and our own.

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