The Dim-Post

May 20, 2013


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:36 am

The Labour government under Helen Clark was nicknamed ‘Helengrad’ on the grounds that it was an authoritarian power-mad tyranny, typified by the times Clark signed a painting that she didn’t paint, and drove really fast in a car somewhere, crimes that might sound trivial now but consumed the National Party for years and still get mentioned dozens of times a week in the Kiwiblog comments.

There’s no amusing name to describe National’s authoritarian streak, but it seems a lot more pronounced than Labour’s under Clark. Andrew Geddis details the latest incident: legislation passed under urgency discriminating against the family caregivers of severely disabled people, containing an ‘ouster clause’ which prevents those discriminated against from challenging the law in court.

Throw that on top of recent developments: legislation banning protest against deep-sea drilling, the 35 year compensation clause for Sky City Casino, scrapping the undertaking to reform MMP and a bill granting massive expansion of powers to the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders, along with all the previous outrages: retrospective legalisation of the police’s illegal spying, the unconstitutional powers granted to Gerry Brownlee after the Christchurch earthquake, the constant abuse of urgency, the suspension of democracy in Christchurch (feel free to add more examples in the comments) and this might be the most authoritarian anti-democratic government in modern New Zealand history.

But, like I said, there’s no funny name to describe this pattern of behavior so in political messaging terms it doesn’t exist. If anyone has any pithy suggestions, throw them in the comments section.


  1. Keyzakhstan?

    Comment by June — May 20, 2013 @ 9:13 am

  2. “an ‘ouster clause’ which prevents those discriminated against from challenging the law in court”

    I believe the point is not that it prevents someone from challenging the *law* (which is not generally something you can do anyway), but that it prevents someone from challenging policy (i.e. executive decisions) made under the law on the grounds that it’s inconsistent with other law.

    Comment by simian — May 20, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  3. I am tempted to describe it as Thatcherite purely because the right would surely embrace the descriptor as much as the left would.

    Comment by Thomas Beagle (@thomasbeagle) — May 20, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  4. there’s no funny name to describe this pattern of behavior…

    Key’s Cloud Chamber?

    Comment by RJL — May 20, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  5. Compassionless conservatism?

    Comment by Alex Braae — May 20, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  6. Keyzakhstan?

    I like that.

    Comment by danylmc — May 20, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  7. And the media in NZ are all ok with this behaviour are they? Can’t wait for when its Labour’s time to turn the tables.
    But probably they will be too honourable.

    Comment by northshoreguynz — May 20, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  8. “Keyvana”? Although people may confuse this with “Nirvana”.

    “Santiago de León de Keyracas”? Although that may require people to know geography … plus it would clash with the “Greens and Labour are to the left of Chavez” meme so beloved of certain bloggers.

    Comment by Flashing Light — May 20, 2013 @ 9:37 am

  9. Keyrarae.

    Comment by Richard — May 20, 2013 @ 9:45 am

  10. North Keyrea seems pretty obvious

    Comment by gazzaj — May 20, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  11. “Key Central”, or “Keyzakhstan Central”, to get at the massive centralisation of power typical of authoritarian regimes, and this one. And we also need a tag line: “Because we said so” has a nice ring to it.

    Comment by jps — May 20, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  12. Or “Keyanmar”?

    Comment by Flashing Light — May 20, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  13. A couple of other examples are the TPP and the sky city deal US neocons would be ecstatic about, I.e. profits for their pals and socialise any potential losses on to the tax payer. Inspired.

    Comment by humph — May 20, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  14. “Keyba”

    Or, if you want to go the other way and focus on the haven for rich and powerful: “Monackey”

    Comment by Phil — May 20, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  15. Keynya – or even better, Key-yeah-nah.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 20, 2013 @ 10:37 am

  16. In summary, is what the govt trying to do to avoid having its decisions over whether pr not a family member can be paid for providing care for another family member challenged on the basis of discrimination?

    If so would there be any orher way the govt could achieve having some guidelines or is the expectation that any care should be paid for.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  17. Strength Through Joyce

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — May 20, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  18. NeilM – AG’s commentary linked above answers your question.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 20, 2013 @ 10:54 am

  19. It’s called Abuse of Power (from Kiwipolitico)

    At the heart of the Gilmore saga is the abuse of power, and the problem is that the coverage is about Aaron Gilmore’s attempted abuse of his own power, not about a culture within the National Party and the government where the abuse of power is not merely acceptable, but routine and expected.

    The deep questions — how such a megalomaniac got into an electable position on a party list; who, having been apprised of these born-to-rule tendencies after previous incidents of this sort, approved his position; and the implications of this for the health of our democracy — these are important questions. They haven’t really been asked, or answered, though Matthew Hooton, of all people, had a go at it early on.

    The John Key National-led government has a lot of form for bad and self-serving appointments, and for the abuse of power… And it’s still going: to hear locals tell it, how Gerry Brownlee and CERA are treating Eastern Christchurch isn’t all that different in its principles to how Aaron Gilmore treats waiters and public servants. (The difference is that they have real power.) Recent appointments on the basis of loyalty or malleability at the expense of quality or expertise include Catherine Isaac to implement charter schools, Ian Fletcher as head of the GCSB and Dame Susan Devoy as race relations commissioner.

    This is a government which has been particularly unconcerned with even the appearance of due process, and this should be acknowledged in every story on this topic. There’s no credible argument they hadn’t done due diligence on Aaron Gilmore — he was already in Parliament once. Why do they appoint people like this, and why do they get away with it?

    The hard truth is that political parties will overlook an awful lot if there’s a financial or electoral advantage to doing so, just as corporations will.

    Comment by ropata — May 20, 2013 @ 10:59 am

  20. Gregor W, if I thought it did i wouldn’t have asked the questions.

    I was interested to know if the govt is in a bit of a bind – not having any legitimate means of making a distinction between different instances of care. Or should there never be such distinctions?

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 11:08 am

  21. Not pithy, but given last week’s pop culture reference – perhaps the NZ division of the Tyrell Corporation?

    Comment by Bill Engrish — May 20, 2013 @ 11:11 am

  22. The People’s Front of Judith.

    Comment by Bill Engrish — May 20, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  23. NeilM – I think the point is that it’s not the governments role to make those distinctions based on policy. It’s the Court’s role, and only based on statute.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 20, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  24. No sorry – the Judithean People’s Front.

    Comment by Bill Engrish — May 20, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  25. Splitter!

    Comment by Gregor W — May 20, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  26. Johnkeysburg? (referencing the economic apartheid inflicted on the majority)

    Comment by still getting over the last time they 'ruled' — May 20, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  27. What I’d like to know in relation to what Andrew Geddis had said:

    What’s a good way, you might ask, to create a policy on paying family caregivers without running the risk of it being overturned? And the answer I assume you’d give is “make sure that the policy isn’t unlawfully discriminatory, so there is no reason for this to happen.”

    is – how straight forward would it be making such a policy of discrimination legal, if that’s what the expectation is.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 11:35 am

  28. Dorktocracy.

    Comment by Bill Engrish — May 20, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  29. A correspondent in this morning’s Press referred to Johnocracy, which I rather liked as it connotes nicely with colloquial meanings of john…

    Comment by jamesnorcliffe — May 20, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  30. Key West (as opposed to the oppositions geographical orientation)

    Comment by DavidW — May 20, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  31. Keyrony Capitalism?

    Comment by still getting over the last time they 'ruled' — May 20, 2013 @ 11:55 am

  32. @thomasbeagle – Thatcher wouldn’t have done any of those things, largely because the various checks and balances in the UK and the stuffy old men who sit in the House of Lords and on the back-benches of the Tory party would have stopped her. One reason why she went from being pro-EU in 1975 to virulently hostile is the way European institutions checked her hunger for power.

    In Keyji, however, we have no such limitations.

    Comment by rich — May 20, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  33. Turd Way politics

    Comment by ropata — May 20, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

  34. Oh I do like Keyji.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 20, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  35. I quite like Johnyang

    Comment by Chris Bull — May 20, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  36. Cloud Key-coup Land

    Paddling the waka to Hawaiikiy

    Bill-Key Muggins

    Comment by ropata — May 20, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  37. I’d suggest “Keyongyang” to get the sound just about right. But I doubt there’d be much chance of making a label based on this kind of comparison stick; the kind of people who adopted and still cling to “Helengrad” in reference to the last government won’t get any resonance out of comparing Key’s government to authoritarian left-wing regimes – the two are pure contradictions in terms to them, so it’ll just get blank looks or claims of Godwin-equivalence.

    Comment by samf — May 20, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  38. The Blue Menace


    Foreshore and Seychelles

    Billkeyna Farce-o

    Comment by Stop Being A Pud (@StopBeingAPud) — May 20, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

  39. How about “Keylombia”. Though I do like Keyzakhstan, Keyanmar, and Keyji.

    Comment by deepred — May 20, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  40. The dark clouds of dictatorship having been hovering just on the horizon since at least the invention of blogging.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

  41. Natsyism describes it for me.

    Comment by gerald — May 20, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

  42. @rich: I think you’re severely overestimating the degree of checks and balances in the UK system. True, the House of Lords can check legislation, but they can’t block it, only send it back temporarily. And at the time the House of Lords was dominated by Thatcher’s party, so they’d probably have just let it fly through.

    Comment by Hugh — May 20, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  43. 37.How about “Keylombia”.

    If it had been snowing in Gilmore’s hotel room in Hanmer, this would be a shoo-in.

    Comment by Phil — May 20, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

  44. @Hugh – I was living there at the time. The HoL could at that time delay non-money legislation for a year and did so (or forced amendments) on various measures.

    Also, UK laws are subject to the ECHR (human rights) and the ECJ (EU law). Thatcher did a bunch of bad stuff, but she almost entirely did it constitutionally (or totally outside the law, like Al Yamamah, but that’s another story). E.g: there was never an attempt to rule by decree, no attempts to detain IRA suspects without trial, no proscription of Sinn Fein, etc.

    Comment by rich — May 20, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  45. @rich: The House of Lords can ‘force ammendments’?

    Comment by Hugh — May 20, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  46. Keyjing?

    Comment by JC — May 20, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  47. The Natny State … I’m sure I could do a lot better than that but it was off the top of my head.

    Comment by Dan — May 20, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  48. I like Bainkeymarama
    or, as Flashing Light suggested, Keyanmar

    Comment by kahikatea — May 20, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

  49. I can’t believe that it took me until today to think of referring to the dictator of Christchurch as Brownleemarama

    Comment by kahikatea — May 20, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  50. # Keypot – images of Tea, Crack, Pol, Tin, Piss,

    Comment by Tony Kennedy — May 20, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  51. how about “Nah-Key Germany”

    Comment by Che Tibby — May 20, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

  52. I wonder if the Helengrad/Klark antics resulted in Labour getting more than two terms or less then four.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

  53. Dim post now equals stundurd

    Comment by petey — May 20, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

  54. Jyohnyang.
    Christine Rankin as Families Commissar deserves a mention. Though in defense of her appointment, she does have extensive experience of families by now, between her own four plus those of other people.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — May 20, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

  55. I think this kind of war on good policy making could be called a klutzkrieg. It’s the pigshit insane way war is waged on Planet Key.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — May 20, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  56. Maybe this kind of rapid fire lawmaking could be called “Spanking the johnkey”

    Comment by Ben Wilson — May 20, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  57. We’re doomed apparently to live in Klarkeystan.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

  58. “I think this kind of war on good policy making could be called a klutzkrieg. It’s the pigshit insane way war is waged on Planet Key.”

    Or should that be “ditzkrieg“?

    Comment by deepred — May 20, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

  59. My bet’s on “Rich Uncle State” as a moniker for the current government.

    Comment by Dan Burt — May 20, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  60. From the Clark “corrosive and cancerous” playbook:


    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — May 20, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

  61. Key-rony-stan?

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — May 20, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

  62. Key-rony-aroa?

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — May 20, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  63. Nth and Sth Skull Island, devil beast country

    Comment by not me him — May 20, 2013 @ 10:28 pm

  64. Well somewhere in the political landscape between Helengrad and Shonkeyville is the often overlooked but surprisingly well populated hamlet of Boredasallfuck.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

  65. Anyway, I’m picking that not having Kidman is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a Luhrmann movie not be complete crap.

    Comment by NeilM — May 20, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  66. Ooh! Ooh! Threadjack!
    If there’s one thing most wrong with Gadsby, it’s that it wasn’t enough like Moulin Rouge. By that I mean that Gadsby was shot as if it was a musical, but all the musical numbers were left on the cutting room floor.

    Comment by Phil — May 21, 2013 @ 12:11 am

  67. Perhaps he had trouble deciding whether he was doing Minneilli or Sirk.

    Comment by NeilM — May 21, 2013 @ 12:27 am

  68. @Phil: Is that The Great Gadsby, the famous story of late humourist John Gadsby’s failure to break into East Auckland high society due to his humble roots?

    PS: Holy shit, John Gadsby is still alive?

    Comment by Hugh — May 21, 2013 @ 1:14 am

  69. More examples:
    – charter schools
    – the Andarko Amendment
    – bringing back youth wages, and the benefits card (YMMV as to whether these count, but the fact that there’s a bill to get rid of the 10 min tea breaks in the work day up right now adds up to a fairly unpleasant trend). Also in process: removing the requirement for ‘good faith’ (or any) bargaining with unions.
    – the food bill act was pretty dodgy, in a ‘corporate paid for it’ sort of way
    – issuing exploratory mining permits despite the mass protests making it clear NZ was against mining anywhere near conservation areas.

    Comment by Flynn — May 21, 2013 @ 2:10 am

  70. Has anyone suggested “Keymer Rouge”?

    Comment by Jimmy — May 21, 2013 @ 6:20 am

  71. Key-unts!

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — May 21, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  72. @Hugh,
    Don’t drink and blog past midnight, on a school night.

    Comment by Phil — May 21, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  73. From the caring Nanny state to the Drunk Daddy State…

    Comment by barf — May 21, 2013 @ 10:31 am

  74. How about just saying John Key’s name like Sean Connery would pronounce it: Shon-key. Shonky! Surely that’s appropriate!

    Comment by Maximus — May 21, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  75. Kethiopian child poverty rates……

    Comment by ak — May 21, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

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