The Dim-Post

January 3, 2016

Mediocrity or cynicism?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:52 am

One of the big political stories of 2009 was that John Key, our dynamic new super-Prime Minister declared war on P.

Prime Minister John Key is proposing to combat the drug P by banning its main ingredient, pseudoephedrine, from use in over-the-counter cold and flu tablets.

Mr Key said he was surprised by the amount of methamphetamine – known as P – being made from locally obtained pseudoephedrine.

Gangs and drug syndicates often use “pill shoppers” to go from one pharmacy to the next, buying the pseudoephedrine-based tablets and turning them into P.

He said New Zealanders wanted the Government to “show some leadership” on dealing with P.

More money would be provided for treating addicts – a problem area identified by the Herald’s War on P series.

The Government would also address “border issues” that allowed the importing of the drug and its ingredients.

Five years later, quietly, on a public holiday, the Ministry of Health announced (via Radio New Zealand):

Data released by the Ministry of Health shows the use of methamphetamine has not changed in the past four years.

That’s despite 22 percent more convictions for meth-related offences over the same period.

The government launched an action plan in 2009 and made the meth-precursor pseudoephidrine a prescription-only medicine in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of meth.

The ministry’s data shows that in 2014/15 0.9 percent of the population admitted to using meth.

The figures show no difference in prevalence since the ministry started its surveys in 2011.

Data from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2015 also shows the overall availability of meth as reported by frequent drug users has not changed since 2008.

At 0.9 percent the prevalence in New Zealand remains slightly above the global average of 0.7 for use of amphetamine-type substances.

It’s interesting going back to 2009 news stories and seeing (a) how ambitious Key was in terms of his political goals: he was going to build a national cycle-way to boost tourism, turn New Zealand into a financial hub, rid the country of P and stop Japanese whaling with a ‘secret plan’; and (b) how absolutely none of this has come to pass. Compare this to Key’s role as Prime Minister nowadays which consists of talking about the rugby on soft media and stealing a couple of watered-down ideas from Labour and the Greens when the budget rolls around each year.

Was the commitment to mediocrity always there, I wonder? Or did he genuinely want to do stuff at the beginning of his tenure and then fail and lose interest?

33 Comments »

  1. Don’t forget wage parity with Australia…..and they moved immediately to implement policies that would suppress wage rises (including 90-day probation and an influx of temporary foreign workers on one or two-year visas).

    http://teu.ac.nz/2015/04/wage-gap-australia/

    National’s policy have failed on pretty much every front except for making the wealthy few more wealthy. Granted, they have hugely enriched Auckland home owners through housing price inflation and a liberal immigration policy, but that was never an explicit policy, so they can’t really claim “credit” for making it happen (in an electoral sense).

    Comment by Steve Withers — January 3, 2016 @ 8:19 am

  2. Your question re: Key’s commitment is really another way of asking what drives him in politics, and no one seems able to answer that. Over seven years on from his election as PM, his motivations are as mysterious as ever.

    Comment by Alex — January 3, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  3. Or did he genuinely want to do stuff at the beginning of his tenure and then fail and lose interest?

    I would give him the benefit of doubt that he actually did want to achieve all that. Every politician of every colour does believe in what he said to achieve at the beginning of his/her tenure. At least to a certain degree. Why else would they go through the gruelling process of getting there in the first place?

    It’s the years of parliamentary process and the reality of “realpolitik” that tends to grind them down. Plans and goals are easily made, achieving them is far harder.

    Comment by eszett — January 3, 2016 @ 8:44 am

  4. Other things he cared deeply and briefly about, before even becoming PM –

    He went to see Al Gore’s movie and announced his firm commitment to tackle climate change. He warned about the “underclass” growing under Clark (back when there were almost no beggars on the street, unlike our cities now). He wanted NZ to be like Singapore. And/or Ireland. And so on.

    To be fair, he’s still sticking with the pandas.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 3, 2016 @ 8:56 am

  5. I forgot to mention Charter Schools as a way to push down teacher wages and – ultimately – weaken the teacher unions. Outsourcing government functions to the private sector also waters down the PSA’s influence. Canada was charging ahead on this as my sister found out when she tried to return from maternity leave in the Canadian Ministry of Justice – her job had been outsourced and she had no right of return there. She had to apply to another section still within the government. I’d like to know how much of this has been going on here in NZ…..to lower pay and reduce conditions.

    Comment by Steve Withers — January 3, 2016 @ 9:00 am

  6. he was going to build a national cycle-way to boost tourism, turn New Zealand into a financial hub, rid the country of P and stop Japanese whaling with a ‘secret plan’; and (b) how absolutely none of this has come to pass.

    To be fair, we do have twenty-odd random cycleways now branded under the moniker “‘Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail”, Labour and the Greens had nine long years to make NZ into a financial hub, the P problem turned into a Mike Sabin problem and the “secret plan” on whaling turned out to be waiting for Australia to do something (and then slip-streaming in behind them).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 3, 2016 @ 9:11 am

  7. Mediocrity or cynicism?

    And the big question, the elephant in the room, is, how come Labour cannot make any headway amidst such mediocrity / cynism?
    How come Labour is not able to offer a better alternative than what we currently have?

    Yes, National may be failing on it’s plans, what is way more troubling is Labours incompetence to make any hay out of it.

    Comment by eszett — January 3, 2016 @ 9:46 am

  8. The poor guy was used to being able to hire and fire the team who actually did the work, in his previous jobs. Imagine him looking around at the caucus his party and voters delivered and trying to get much done with them. Same applies to any business execs wanting to enter either national or local politics. Different contraints and skills apply.

    Comment by Sacha — January 3, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  9. According to the ministry of health the use of P is declining everywhere except Christchurch due to the influx of young men for the rebuild. The national cycle way has morphed into lots of regional ones which makes far more sense and we took the Japanese to court over whaling.
    If Key needs a smack it should be for the lack of mining, oil drilling, employment court reforms and abolishing the RMA yet his government is still after all these years the most popular in modern times. Unbelievable

    Comment by David — January 3, 2016 @ 11:01 am

  10. Sacha: Wouldn’t it be fair to say, though, that he’s now had three election opportunities to arrange the National Party list so that it delivers exactly the people he wants to place in Cabinet for doing the work?

    Comment by izogi — January 3, 2016 @ 11:04 am

  11. Don’t forget wage parity with Australia…..and they moved immediately to implement policies that would suppress wage rises (including 90-day probation and an influx of temporary foreign workers on one or two-year visas).

    That one was definitely cynicism, not mediocrity. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and say we can’t know whether he was lying about wanting wage parity with Australia, the fact he immediately set about implementing measures to discourage wage rises gives the game away.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 3, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

  12. Containing P use isn’t exactly a mediocre achievement. Less lives destroyed.

    I say that as someone who generally has no problem with people taking whatever drug they prefer.

    But working at the coal face in health gives one a good idea of the particular nature of what P does.

    Comment by NeilM — January 3, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

  13. Isn’t it explicable if the main (unstated) aim of the Nats is to keep the other crowd out? Score!

    Comment by owen — January 3, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

  14. Containing P use isn’t exactly a mediocre achievement. Less lives destroyed.

    Except that “containing P” wasn’t Key’s ambition. It was radically reducing its use. Go back and look at what he said when he introduced the policy.

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 3, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

  15. @David,

    According to the ministry of health the use of P is declining everywhere except Christchurch due to the influx of young men for the rebuild.

    Got a source for that? Because nothing in the Ministry’s “Amphetamine use 2014/15: New Zealand Health Survey” talks about geographical usage … while it also states that:

    “The mean age of past-year amphetamine users was 33 years (95% CI: 30–36). This has increased from 29 years (95% CI: 26 -31) in 2012/13. This increase is approaching statistical significance (p=0.06).”

    Which hardly tallies with your “it’s just young guys in Christchurch doing it” story.

    …we took the Japanese to court over whaling.

    No we didn’t! Australia did. We just joined in their case as “intervenors”.

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 3, 2016 @ 3:28 pm

  16. National were also committed to no new taxes and certainly no increase in GST…until they increased GST.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3311679/Key-no-GST-rise-video-emerges

    Comment by Ross — January 3, 2016 @ 4:29 pm

  17. It’s also worth noting that in banning over the counter pseudoephedrine, Key condemned basically the entire country to approximately one week more suffering from the symptoms of colds and flus every year. No one goes to the doctor to get a box of coldrex – and I actually asked for it last time I had the flu and was denied by my fuckarse doctor. That’s how fuxored the whole idea of this kind of war on drugs is. It’s a war on effective cold relief, without any effective meth addict reductions. It’s probably cost the country a whole lot in sick days, reduced productivity, and lost revenue from taxes on tablets. The only upside is that fuckface Key has to suck on it when he gets a cold too. According to meth users, the first thing they personally do if they have a cold is go on the crackpipe harder, because it works, and they most especially of all are not allowed to buy coldrex.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 3, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

  18. You mean to say that John Key is responsible for meth users hitting the crackpipe harder when they can’t get cold-relief? The bastard.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 3, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

  19. Which hardly tallies with your “it’s just young guys in Christchurch doing it” story.

    Those.bloody bog-trootters again.

    Comment by Joe W — January 3, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

  20. @Alex 8.39

    “Over seven years on from his election as PM, his motivations are as mysterious as ever.”

    Huh? Isn’t his motivation just to stay popular?

    Comment by Andrew — January 3, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

  21. “Five years later, quietly, on a public holiday, the Ministry of Health announced (via Radio New Zealand):”

    The study on amphetamine use was published on December 18 not a public holiday

    Comment by Tinakori — January 3, 2016 @ 7:18 pm

  22. The study on amphetamine use was published on December 18 not a public holiday

    “Objection, your honour! My client did not stab the victim, he strangled her …”

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 3, 2016 @ 8:08 pm

  23. >You mean to say that John Key is responsible for meth users hitting the crackpipe harder when they can’t get cold-relief? The bastard.

    Reckon. Think of the meth heads. I mean, wasn’t that what this was all about anyway? Fuck the other 99.1% of us.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 3, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

  24. Sorry FleshLight I don’t have the source documents but I was listening to that appalling Espinor on National Radio interviewing someone from the Ministry of Health about some survey they do in trends in drug use from people who have some interaction with the health system.
    Finlayson was the lead guy in the whale court case who cares who did what when we were there giving it a nudge.

    Comment by David — January 3, 2016 @ 9:01 pm

  25. Finlayson was the lead guy in the whale court case …

    That’s patent nonsense. He made a 90 minute submission to the ICJ, in the course of a proceeding that lasted several weeks.

    And in any case, the Australian case wasn’t even Key’s “secret plan”: http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/3227549/Key-plan-to-end-Southern-Ocean-whaling.

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 4, 2016 @ 7:35 am

  26. He has plunged ‘us’ into further debt building the egregious motorways of national significance and his RMA ‘reforms’ have led to the wholesale destruction of a significant swathe of Auckland’s urban forest canopy Plus his administration of all the fools has ensured that the waterways are totally screwed by his grass-driven dairying monoculture and apparently ‘we’re’ too small to do anything about climate change, except to keep a couple of Ukranian and Russian crooks in business with ‘our’ acquisition of dodgy carbon credits. An endless list of plusses for the national stupidity index.

    Comment by Christopher T — January 4, 2016 @ 7:49 am

  27. @ NeiM But working at the coal face in health gives one a good idea of the particular nature of what P does…..

    I take it you’re scrubbing bedpans and confused about pee. You don’t sound competent enough to run a clinic but maybe you are one of those bean-counters who get to overload consultants and skew their lists to suit the political needs of the local commissars.
    As a parent of two over-loaded 65 hour-a-week consultants i call bull-shit on you for your frequent use of work hours in the service of your political views.

    Btw does ‘containing P’ mean your PM is full of piss?

    Comment by paritutu — January 4, 2016 @ 8:17 am

  28. Can we go back to being allowed cold pills that actually work, like in most other countries, then?

    Comment by Rich — January 4, 2016 @ 11:32 am

  29. “he’s now had three election opportunities to arrange the National Party list”

    I don’t think the PM gets to do that, even in such a ‘daddy knows best’ organisation.

    Comment by Sacha — January 4, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

  30. Remember when Helen Clark stopped dogs biting everyone by putting chips in them?
    It’s the same way John Key stopped people smoking P by not letting anyone buy cold medicine.

    If the media are having a prolonged and ridiculous beat-up of some story about how the world works all the time, like dogs bite people and there are drug addicts, like also was happening thousands of years ago and always will happen forever more, at some point people get upset and demand the government “do something”. So they do “something”, the media stops reporting it, and everyone goes back to being happy about dogs still biting people and there still being drug addicts.

    No one actually intended anything change, because that stuff never changes. They just “did something” so the story could go away.

    Bicycle helmets don’t work either, but whatever, it was a story, so something was done.

    Comment by tussock — January 4, 2016 @ 9:53 pm

  31. Mediocrity or cynicism? A lot of the former: it’s been evident right from the time he first took the leadership of the National party. But a good dose of cynicism as well.

    Comment by D'Esterre — January 5, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  32. Was the commitment to mediocrity always there, I wonder? Or did he genuinely want to do stuff at the beginning of his tenure and then fail and lose interest?

    I’m not sure if the footage is still around (the only piece i could find misses the moment) – but I remember Key on election night standing in front of a microphone at his victory party – and before he said a word – the look on his face told me all I needed to know about what motivated him to become PM – it was something akin to the cat’s got the cream

    Comment by rodaigh — January 6, 2016 @ 9:58 am

  33. Mediocrity or cynicism?

    Realism.

    Comment by Angus Robertson — January 6, 2016 @ 11:43 am


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