You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Politics’ category.

I love playing Sim City. It’s a fun game where you have to build a city, run it’s policies and amenities and try like hell to make it prosper. The problem is, I’m not very good at it. I get the theory behind where to place residential zones in relation to commercial and industrial. I get how to provide power and water. I understand how to manage the various resources and civil departments. But when a disaster strikes – I just lose control of the city. I find my game degenerates into a series of panicked measures and bad policy as I desperately try to peddle together money and resources to keep on top of things.The reason being is that I don’t plan my cities and tactics. I don’t have a grand scheme in place when I become Mayor – I just want to start playing.

I bring this up because I have recently come to the realisation that National’s term in government has played out just like a bad game of Sim City. A Sim New Zealand, if you like. While the National Party understands the theory and philosophy of politics and governance, they have no plan. They stick blindly to ideological theory rather than actually pay attention to facts and as such have spent their entire term putting out fires and changing policy to keep the sims of our country in the green bar of contentment.

If we look at their policies, they are all short term measures to either generate raw capital or reduce overall expenditure. But beyond that there is no overall plan. National has no milestones, no goals for the long term. Helen Clark famously said that Labour had a three term plan. Everything they did had a long term goal in mind. Some policies had to be dropped for being unpopular, but because there were targets, goals and plans in place it was easy for Labour to take the short term losses in favour of the long term gains.

National has shown no such thinking. Their proposition to mine conservation land had no plan beyond “hey this could make us lots of money!” Partial sales of SOEs? Again, no real answers for the long term. The SOE’s are put up for sale and then… well there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer for this.

But the most telling thing has been National’s response to the Christchurch Earthquake. They are now facing the reality that their budget simply cannot react to the cost of the earthquake. They have given away so much of their income in favour of tax cuts, and have resorted to borrowing that there is not enough money coming in. But the solution? Not to get more money from NZers but to try to take the scalpel to more government spending to avoid reneging on the tax cuts of last year. In doing so, those in the upper income bracket end up losing nothing, while those who already faced a tax rise by stealth in the raising of GST (A policy action that National promised during the election that they wouldn’t do) are also now facing a reduction in support for programs that they are involved in.

So effectively, there is less money than ever going around. Not exactly a smart choice during a recession when you want to stimulate the economy, not stifle it.

Removing money from programs is like scraping coins from under the couch while Uncle Big Bucks sits next to you eating his dinner. There are those among the wealthier members of society who like everyone to believe that they are suffering because they pay so much more money. But the reality is that they gain so much more from being in NZ. Most of these people are seriously small fry in the greater global market and they know it. NZ policies protect their interests and help them to make money.

In contrast to National, Labour had a plan and did not just make ideological decisions at every turn. They understood the importance of compromise and commitment. Their budgets were often restrained and unexciting affairs because they were good at knowing when to hold onto money and when to release it. And they kept an eye on how the economy was faring, had targets to meet and focused on meeting them. For most of their time in government, Labour and it’s allies had a responsible plan in place.

National’s budget is not based on a responsible plan but on a blind faith in free market philosophy. They believe that the less government is involved, the better the economy thrives. However the US has shown quite dramatically that this is not the case at all. National’s fiscal policy is best summed up as “Let the money be free and pray the economy looks after itself.” That is not a responsible government, that is a grossly naïve view of the economy.

The reality is that people do not follow theory. They all operate differently and ignoring the factual reality in favour of an ideological theory is poor governance. The real world is full of people who like to cheat the system, exploit loopholes and generally work only to promote themselves. National’s ideology relies on people being honest and all having faith in the system. Except with less people involved in government, there are less people to police the system and ensure that the rules are being followed. Money moves up, not down. The more people spend the more it collects at the top of the heap – and many business are built on the concept of maximising the dividends for those at the top who own the business – not socially responsible trickle down of profits to those at the bottom.

And National’s members know this. They are using the government solely to benefit themselves, and have no plan beyond living this naïve ideological dream. They have come into government on a shopping list of promises with no overall idea how those promises would be met. Their entire term in government has been defined by a constant scramble to find a way to meet all their promises and to find excuses when it hasn’t been popular. First the Labour government was to blame, and when that excuse wore out it was the recession and now it is the Christchurch Earthquake.

A good government shouldn’t need to make excuses, it should be able to make plans. Even now we see National proposing to cut $800m for spending that they may need to make. None of their language is confident “and this is what it is going to be used for and how we plan to do it.” Instead we are getting a wimpish “we are probably going to need to do this and it wont be popular and we don’t really know what it is going to be going into, but EARTHQUAKE, so it help Christchurch somehow – not that we can actually explain what we plan to do about Christchurch yet.”

Ideology is not enough. A plan needs to have contingencies in it, it needs to have targets to meet and if they aren’t being met, you change the plan.Government is not like running a business. You need to spend money to make money, and National keeps cutting its own nose off. They lecture to save money, then cut spending and income at the same time, leading to having to borrow to make up for the remaining financial commitments. They have no plans, no milestones and no targets. Every time they try to fulfil a promise we get a litany of excuses about why they have had to make another budgetary problem to meet their commitments.

This is not a government with its hand on the tiller. This is a government that is flapping around on the deck trying to grab all the ropes because after tying one knot, another flies loose and when one of the crew says “we can help” they cry “No. Go below deck, we have it under control.”

Make no mistake – National has lost all control of the country and the economy. They are just desperately trying to prevent anyone else from realising it.

Advertisements

I’ve been watching the ongoing WikiLeaks saga with much interest. It is intriguing how much the media has deliberately muddied the waters here. Did WikiLeaks put people in danger or didn’t they? Did they release hundreds of thousands of secret cables or only tens of thousands after having guidance from reputable newspaper agencies?

It is a shame to see the morbid glee some reporters have demonised Assange and WikiLeaks instead of just reporting the facts of the case. A good report I read, and I shamefully don’t have the link right now, pointed out that WikiLeaks broke every cable *after several major newspapers had already published them* and have only released 90,000 or so of the cables they have, each having been vetted and cleared to ensure no lives are unduly placed in harms way.

And yet the US is baying for blood over this very public embarrassment. Assange has been put in a position where he will eventually end up facing espionage charges in the US – and the whole matter seems to be very suspicious. I have no doubt that US courts will not be just in this case as the US has been lying about the releases and has been flagrantly ignoring legal process to hound WikiLeaks.

As for Assange’s character and the sex allegations, I have no idea what to make of that. I don’t want to dismiss the allegations of these women, because sexual assault is a very serious issue. I haven’t seen much of Assange to be able to make an informed judgement of character.

However it is suspicious that the timing of these allegations keep coinciding with activity on the WikiLeaks sites and in a country that can then extradite Assange to the US.

I do feel that the US bureaucracy is fighting a losing war. The Internet remains a user driven entity. Even Apple’s attempts to lock down usage have been circumvented. The very nature of the Internet means that it is very hard to quash something if a determined majority of netizens want it to remain.

As has recently been shown, WikiLeaks has continued and all that this saga has succeeded in doing so far is make a number of journalists look like they don’t do enough research, that the US prefers revenge over justice and isn’t even trying to hide it’s disregard for legal process.

This has polarised people between those who just accept the news and those who look deeper into the facts. Many media agencies should be ashamed by their handling of this matter through blatant dissemination of false information.

I will continue to watch this saga with interest.

Conan

A local political blog, No Right Turn, which is written by a friend of mine, Idiot/Savant, has unfortunately been a classic example of how the recent Hobbit dispute has been exploited by people who know very little about the issues but have tried to use the dispute to forward their own political agenda.

There has been a lot of dishonest hyperbole being spread around about what happened and is happening. Some, like Idiot, don’t comprehend the money and work that was at risk here and betray very little understanding of the industry and how it has been operating for decades.

All they see are things in the terms of their own political lenses without doing any proper research.

Now I do agree that a law change under urgency is rarely a good thing and it raises concerns. But I also have read the amendment and researched what other more learned legal minds have said of it and all it achieves is closing a loophole that was recently exploited and should have been closed two years ago.

It isn’t actually taking away any rights. Actors, crew and others involved in film making have always been considered independent contractors. This is due to films being quixotic things and you can end up working for a different production company each time. Sick days and Holidays are not feasible in film productions as a matter of book keeping. Instead individual companies will manage these issues as best suits the production and can outline this in the contracts.

The Amendment is merely stating that unless the contract clearly identifies the actor/technician as an employee they are considered an independent contractor.

This has always been the case. It is just now being clearly outlined in law.

Another myth being spouted is that this is just two films. A wonderful lie that allows those who like their conspiracies to be able to belittle and dismiss this dispute as just children fighting.

It’s two films that cost the equivalent of close to 100 NZ made local films. That is in excess of $500m and thousands of jobs. The films will take at least three months to film, bringing cast and foreign crew into the country many of whom will be bringing family or partners – most of whom will be paying for accommodation, food, travel… all of which will be generating tax income via GST.

Furthermore, being made in NZ means that Tax is charged on any income they earn in the country from an NZ based production company.

Which comes to the next dishonest lie being spouted by the critics. The tax break isn’t money paid to the production company. It is money taken off the total tax bill they get charged. That’s right. It’s a percentage off the total tax bill. So if the break is round 25% and we are being told this comes to approx $60m – that means that NZ is looking at around $180m TAX being put back into govt coffers approx. That is not chump change people. Of course my figures are speculatory, but we are looking at over $100m in taxes.

This isn’t even beginning to go into the othe trickle down benefits. As a much more educated economist than I pointed out, this is one of those investments with guaranteed return for a country. It doesn’t matter if the film is a success or not – we get the money.

Then there is the world premiere. Another thing overlooked by the people in a blind rush to scream bloody murder at the bourgeois film makers. Premieres draw crowds, tourists and raise profile. A world premiere in NZ draws other film companies’ attention towards the country.

They aren’t going to see us as a soft touch to shake down. They are going to see a nation committed to helping them make good films and in a proper mutually beneficial relationship.

The Hobbit is a major investment that can only benefit our country in a time when economies are suffering. If they were just two films, why were countries with better GDPs than ours clamouring to offer even more than our final deal was so that they could get these two films.

Because these countries know the true value monetary wise than a group of bloggers who can’t see past their Intro to Political Theory 101 papers.

I personally think that John Key screwed up this dispute by not stepping in sooner. I also think that this would never had happened if the unions hadn’t been so dishonest, naive and inept in their handling of the dispute.

I have no doubt that Warner exploited the situation as did National. But those who are taking shots at National now and ignoring that the MEAA were the instigators – because it is hard to have far left indignation if the unions are to blame – are being just as exploitative.

In regards to the death threats and “thuggery” – again, reality is getting in the way of the righteous indignation.

As video has shown, Actor’s Equity were not being threatened by protestors at the locations of these meetings. The death threats have not been confirmed by police yet as being connected to those protests either.

It is a very serious matter when death threats are involved and Police do not make a habit of claiming anything beyond that the threat was made until they has investigated the calls. I choose to take the same approach. I have no doubt there were threats made – disputes like this always bring out those who exploit the strife by making such calls – but I will not bow to lazy uninformed hyperbole and accuse protesting film crews of thuggery when there is no evidence to support that accusation at this point in time.

Blogs like No Right Turn need to stop taking the easy route, stop exploiting others in the pursuit of “democracy” and actually do some more fact gathering before making accusations.

Conan

In a cynical attempt to draw blame away from MEAA, Actor’s Equity and CTU, Helen Kelly is now accusing the government of using the Hobbit dispute as an excuse to change labour laws that will directly impact contractors across the country. Which is true, to a degree. They are definitely using the row as a reason to clear up a loophole in law that will disadvantage contractors looking to be seen as employees.

But the blunt reality is that Actor’s Equity and CTU are the ones to blame for this. Much like the classic legend, Actor’s Equity as Pandora has naively opened a box full of trouble, and it just keeps spewing out problems for them.

The blunt reality is that if they had not gone ahead with the boycott, if they had told Simon Whipp to rack off, if they had not decided to clumsily use The Hobbit as a bargaining chip – none of this would have happened.

As Gerry Brownlee and Peter Jackson have pointed out, until the boycott there was absolutely no doubt that The Hobbit was going to be made in NZ. There were no plans to change the labour law. People were happy to go ahead with business as usual.

But they did choose to push the matter, and naively seemed to think everyone would go “oh, union action. We better give them what they want.”

This isn’t how union disputes work, and Helen Kelly should know this. What happens is that everyone involved starts asking questions about the way things have been done, and there is a very good chance that the reality will swing against the unions as much as it will favour them.

As the old saying goes “pick your battles carefully.”

When action is taken, you are always taking a gamble and you need to be ready for things to go bad. What is astounding in this dispute is that all the warning signs were there that this was not going to go the Actors’ way.

The problem is that their problems are based on factual issues but on theoretical ones. Actors in NZ have not been overly abused, they have been working as contractors and the demand to change had no solid impetus for doing it now rather than any time previously.

Actors are freelancers, and as such they have to be contractually managed as individuals. If Actor’s Equity wants collective contracts, they need to be auditioning their actors as a single “troupe” for hire and be competing with non-equity actors. They would need to negotiate an individual contract covering their “troupe.”

Naturally, this approach would be somewhat unlikely to succeed.

Now the box is open, there is no closing it. CTU and Actor’s Equity have let this out and it’s a bit late to be complaining that it isn’t going the way they wanted.

To be frank, if they want any sympathy from the public and film crews who are baying for their blood – the first thing they need to do is unconditionally acknowledge that they made a mistake, are responsible for starting this sorry mess and that it was handled poorly by them.

It’s their backhanded whining and constant finger pointing elsewhere that is pissing people off most. Everyone knows that they started this, so saying it was all a trick by Warners to get concessions just rings hollow. Warners are taking advantage of the dispute, yes. National is taking advantage of the dispute, yes. But the only reason there is a dispute at all is because MEAA and Actor’s Equity started it with declaring a boycott.

And the only people who really are being fooled by Actor’s Equity are themselves.

Of course, Pandora’s box also contained hope – and we can only hope that this mess is resolved without taking the NZ Film Industry back 20 years. I also hope that it will lead to a more contrite Actor’s Equity as well.

Conan

On the day I wrote about how much of an embarrassment Chris Carter was to the gay community, I was sent the link to an American local politician who is the complete opposite.

As some of you may know, there has been an increase in media coverage of youth suicide in the US that has been linked to bullying and particularly bullying involving claims that the target of the bullying is gay. Some of these kids were even too young to have known if they were gay or not themselves.

Although this is being called an epidemic, the harsh truth is that it has always been around. It’s just getting more air time at the moment. And the usual toxic responses have been cropping up with many Tea Partiers and conservatives outwardly displaying homophobic hatred with claims that homosexuals are lesser citizens and one particular individual claiming that these suicide victims only had themselves to blame. That bullies are just a way of life and if these kids can’t harden up, tough.

Fort Worth Councilman, Joel Burns, has publically addressed this issue during a televised meeting and his message has now gone viral. Rather than fill his speech with indignant anger and petulant yelling, this brave and openly gay council member talks with compassion and humanity. He openly admits to a painful past and how he got past is and delivers what is the epitome of the growing “It Gets Better” campaign that has been developing in the States.

I feel that this man is someone the gay communities of the world should be proud of. He represents such a shining role model for gay youth to aspire to. A man with compassion, a healthy marriage and the support of families and colleagues. He is the embodiment of “it gets better.”

What is also important is that his message is universal. Bullying and suicide are not exclusively gay issues. And Joel’s story is just as relevant to straight kids who are contemplating suicide or even some act of violence against others – stop. It gets better. It may not seem it now, but it will. His story of the events in his life that he cherishes, the pure honesty of emotion is powerful.

And here in NZ, his message is incredibly important to get out there. We have a tragic problem with suicide in this country, and we need to be talking about it. Joel Burns puts faces to these names during his speech. He challenges his audience to look at these kids, see who they are and put a face to this tragedy.

The classic NZ stoicism and not talking about personal issues is clearly not helping. We need people like Joel Burns who will stand up and challenge us to talk.

And he goes further. He explicitly states the obvious. This. Must. Stop. The bullying needs to stop. It is not enough to say there will always be bullies, what can we do? We should be helping these kids who feel the need to bully. Teachers need to tell them to stop. Parents need to stop encouraging this behaviour or ignoring it. Just because there were bullies in the past is no excuse to keep allowing it.

It gets better, and we all need to learn to be more compassionate. To support the next generation and grow out of this habit of shrugging and saying “it’s human nature.”

People like Joel Burns need our help. We need to add our voices to his and show that our future will get better. That all the doomsayers and bullies are wrong.

And this change is not going to come from petulant threats and complaints of homophobia, it is going to come from compassionate support, honesty and courage.

Conan

For those following the news, Chris Carter has definitely been working his ass off at coming across as a right real looney toon and an embarrassment to gay men across the country.

The man who once could have been seen by some as a role model to the gay community has been responsible for one of the clumsiest, most poorly executed “coup” in modern NZ politics.

Not only that, but he has been one of the more extravagant examples of ministerial personal expenditure.

Then when he is challenged about his behaviour, he archly accuses people of homophobia.

As a gay man, I find Chris Carter’s behaviour embarrassing and tends to reinforce the stereotype of the queeny, emotional campy gay man. His recent petulant temper tantrums and nasty threats have given the impression of a man unfit for office.

No doubt Chris has been under stress, and I know I can be very direct and nasty when stressed – but I at least apologise and acknowledge my error when I calm down. Chris just gets more huffy and indignant.

In the most latest incident where he was kicked out of the Labour Party, he once again refused to acknowledge that it was his own fault for doing damage to his party and even threw out his favourite “homophobia” catch cry.

While homophobia is still very much a big problem in NZ, it is just a bit more behind the scenes than before, in Chris’ case most NZers don’t give a crap that he is gay. They are just sick of his sense of entitlement and they are certainly tired of his boy who cried wolf behaviour.

Chris Carter’s homophobia cries remind me a lot of other extreme liberals. As with any political mindset – Right, Left or Centrist – there are people who are so indoctrinated into their ideology that they lack the ability to use their critical thinking skills to think before they leap.

These are the folks who decry the slightest offence and feed their opposite number. One of the reasons we often hear the extreme Right whine on about Political Correctness is because the extreme Left have declared sexism or racism at every little provocation.

When Paul Henry made his stupid statements, some just saw the cries of racism as typical over-reaction from these idealogues. Just like Chris Carter, their cries end up doing their own cause more damage than good.

And often, like Chris Carter, they do not care to engage in honest discussion about an issue but rather choose to refuse to accept they could be in the wrong.

While I do tend to lean more to the Left than the Right, I don’t agree with the need to assume the worst of every single thing. I am a firm believer in researching intent and facts before crying out that someone is out to subjugate women or is trying to enforce a corrupt monarchy.

If it isn’t obvious, then you need to look closer before leaping to conclusions. Much like the claims that liberal groups make against the police. Having known a few police in New Zealand, these guys aren’t out to beat up the public or turn NZ into a facist police state. They genuinely want to protect NZ and the freedoms we enjoy. And these guys aren’t in the minority, they represent the majority of police.

While I do believe that the NZ Police need to be held accountable and scrutinised, there is a world of difference between scrutiny and harassment. Again, extreme Left folk can often take this too far, automatically assuming that anyone in authority cannot be trusted to do their job.

Scrutiny doesn’t mean a lack of trust, it means keeping an eye on the details when there is an issue.

Because even the most trustworthy person can make a mistake. The question isn’t about blame, it isn’t about assuming a mistake – it is about addressing potential problems.

In a way, it is about attitude. Do you assume the worst, yell and scream, accuse people of the worst crimes? Or do you assume that in the grey areas mistakes can be made and possibly people might betray your trust – but you need to find out through open and rational investigation.

I guess I find that these guys cry wolf too often because it is easier than having to actually think about what they are complaining about before jumping into battle.

I guess I want to assume the best before going to the worst.

Conan

Following from my post yesterday about MMP, another conservative rails against a democratic system because she is losing and once again we see facts being ignored in favour of the “waaah! It’s unfair and undemocratic” form of complaint.

The source of the problem is once again the idea that elections are a competition where the winner is the first past the line.

For those not in the know, STV is a Single Transferable Vote system. The way it works is that voters are provided a list of candidates and they rank those candidates in the order of preference.

Then the votes are counted based on ranking and via a series of rounds. As candidates drop off the listing, voters who voted for that candidate then have their next option placed until eventually the person the most people are willing to have as Mayor is selected.

Obviously this is a long process, but it also ensures that literally every vote counts. This is a vey democratic system because the voter gets to say “if not enough people like my primary candidate X, I am still happy to have candidate Y or Z.” Which in turn means you have a better chance of *not* getting a candidate winning that you don’t want in office.

The best tactic for this is to literally not place them in any of your preferences – which causes them to drop off your potential transferable votes.

Kerry Predergast, the current Mayor of Wellington, is clearly suffering from sour grapes because this election the result is so close between her and candidate Celia Ward-Brown, that she is now whining that it is an unfair system because she might lose this election.

In all the years I have lived in Wellington, I have heard nothing but scorn from people about Kerry. So much that it boggled my mind that she was ever able to get back into power.

The way Kerry sees the process is that she got the most votes as first preference. (We don’t know this for certain, by the way, she’s just assuming that most of her votes come from being number 1) and as such, she should win because other voters clearly weren’t as decisive as her supporters.

Thus it is unfair that she could lose because the other votes once they have gone through all the preferences could “steal” the mayoralty away from her.

But this is a democratic system. Kerry is seeing it as heats in a contest where her supporters only showed up for the first heat, and thus only voted once while other voters are voting more often to find a person to win.

But that isn’t how it works. All of Kerry’s votes still count each round. And as the rounds continue, her total number of votes increase.

This process ensures that the person who wins is the person that the most people in the city are happy to have as Mayor. That is the very definition of a democratic election.

Like National, Kerry is not interested in facts or the needs of the voters – she is only interested in getting her way and is upset to be facing the reality that the majority might not want her to be in power anymore. Now she is desperately trying to play the democracy card and is lying about how the system works.

She is arrogantly making assumptions about the voting, and clearly doesn’t understand how the system works or what a democratic election is about.

Hopefully this is a sign that KP is on the way out and a fresh approach to Wellington is on the way in. Based on how Kerry is acting, she is exposing exactly why she is a poor fit for Mayor for this city.

Conan

John Key continues his populist politics with a dishonest presentation of MMP’s faults. New Zealand has never, as a nation, properly had MMP explained and as such we have continued to vote using First Past The Post two party thinking.

Many NZers still only see NZ as having two choices, Labour or National. Left or Right.

The thing is, we also pride ourselves as a democracy that is arguably more democratic than the United States.

What many people forget is that in a real democracy, every vote counts and every eligible group tends to get representation. This is what MMP provides. Contrary to populist belief, MMP doesn’t give small parties too much power, it holds back large parties from running rough shod over our political landscape. Which is precisely why National hates it and why Helen Clark was such a successful leader.

Labour’s three term success can be accounted to their embracing MMP and understanding that it prevents excess. What many forget is all the controversial laws that Labour passed were passed because National voted yea as well. MMP helps protect us from one party dominating the political landscape – and those who remember the years of FPP can attest to the problems that arise when one party dominates.

But National and its supporters want complete control. They don’t care about deals or compromise – they think they should have all the power and those who didn’t vote National have to suck it because they lost.

That is not a democratic mindset.

Small party ructions have nothing to do with MMP, and given the spats we’ve seen both in National and Labour, it is dishonest of him to paint this as a purely small party issue.

National does not play well with others and is taking the gamble that they can beat Labour next election and remove MMP, this improving their chances at retaining political influence without needing to rely on ACT – Rodney is right, without ACT the National Party will always struggle to hold control of government.

But Key knows that an honest discussion will not get him the result he wants, because as the Super City election has shown – the silent majority of NZ is not Right leaning but pragmatically centrist and will vote to the most moderate party.

National has slowly drifted Right from their moderate facelift last election. So it is John Key’s job to paint MMP as a system of extremes.

Ironically, because it best ensures a wider representation of NZ’s political position – these extremes balance each other out. It means that only the more moderate policies that everyone agrees on manage to make it through to become laws.

The laws that the true majority of NZers want. The Right minority may be the loudest and think they speak for everyone, but it has been shown time and again that this is not the truth at all.

Now is the time for we who prefer the middle road to step up and keep this country from falling back into only Labour or National. That way lies ruin.

Regardless of if you lean a little Right or a little Left, MMP is the best system for keeping politicians under control. National has learnt how hamstrung they are by it, but unlike Labour who learned to embrace this as a way to work with other parties and aim to truly represent a majority of NZers, National is trying to con us into being more extreme.

A good government is made of alliances and multiple perspectives working to find common ground. A bad government is bound to one ideology and has little restraint.

I think we should be saying MMP = More Moderate Policies. 🙂

And in regards to the next election, Phil Goff has managed to show recently that he does have some balls and is becoming a stronger more decisive leader. Conversely, recent events that have had importance for NZ have shown Key to be indecisive and weak.

The longer things take before next election, the more we will see Goff rise to his role. And in a way the more missteps Key makes, or issues he vacillates on while waiting to see where the popular vote leans – the more Goff will learn to step up to fill the gap.

As I said earlier this article, NZ is quietly a country of moderates. We don’t want to discriminate, we don’t want to give special treatment, we like change, but not too fast. We take pride in leading the pack, but worry about the risks. We are not a Conservative nation, but we aren’t fiercely liberal either.

Helen Clark understood this. John Key kind of does but doesn’t understand when he needs to make a stand or not. National as a party has no clue.

Conan

With the current drama regarding Paul Henry continuing todominate the news to the point that some people are saying “hobbit what?” The above linked article caused me to be reminded of a guy I dated last year and who is likely indicative of the problem that has lead to some people not understanding the gravity of Paul Henry’s social gaffe and John Key’s weak response.

See, this guy I dated was cute, witty, quirky and I genuinely was attracted to him. We seemed to hit it off and despite a rather serious issue that was something I spent a few weeks prior to really asking him out, we started dating and he even stayed over at my place.

In other words, I was in a developing relationship with the guy. But every so often he would say something when walking past people who weren’t White. At first I did the “he’s just being stupid” and I expressed my discomfort at his “jokes” – but it just kept going on. The breaking point was when he sat down and created a series of racist caricatures on the wii and spent time mocking them and making mocking voices. I pretty much hustled him out the door and we never really spoke again.

What I realise now is that he just saw it as a silly joke, that to him it wasn’t really racist. He just didn’t comprehend that it was actually offensive – or that I would be offended by it. So the following quote from Andi Botherston, the TVNZ PR person who ended up aggravating the current drama, seems to match with his casual racist comments.

I know Paul Henry very well and I absolutely, categorically know he never set out to offend anyone or to upset anyone and neither did I, neither of us meant to do that.

And this is the problem. John Key refuses to call it racist because he just fundamentally can’t understand how it does offend people.

I find that the usual process is to reduce the words to their mechanics. Just saying someone isn’t a New Zealander isn’t racist to John because it is just saying that someone is from somewhere else. It isn’t about race, it is about location. That’s all.

But what he is missing is what isn’t being said. The implied – because he looks like an Indian. And then there is the not subtle implication in the following questions that looking Indian is somehow a bad thing for the Governor General.

Ultimately, no matter what he says, John Key’s response at the time and his refusal to see the bigotry in Paul Henry’s statement suggests that deep down, he also sees a New Zealander as someone who is Pakeha or Maori. Maybe Pacific Islander, but no more than that. Or at least that he accepts this as a view that can be held by others.

But as PM, it is his duty to set a good example. He’s a leader. He should have been up in Paul Henry’s grill about such a stupid statement.

But in this country, it seems, we prefer to be quietly embarrassed rather than slap this down. You don’t need to yell, you just need to calmly say “don’t be so stupid. They don’t talk like that/their name isn’t pronounced like that/there is no scientific evidence to support that claim.” Or just say “don’t be such a bigot.”

And don’t even politely laugh.

These people need to learn that this is not the how New Zealand in the 21st Century is to be. We are a nation of immigrants, we have always been a multicultural nation and the future lies in being inclusive and tolerant. But tolerance isn’t just shrugging when people say hateful jokes or insult others. Tolerance is making room for everyone at the table equally and with compassion.

A trait that people like Andi Botherston and Paul Henry like to believe they have but are actually sorely lacking in.

In other news, the government is now reviewing the case I spoke of yesterday. It turns out the local National representative saw the way the political wind was blowing – along with a strong statement from the Human Rights Commission. Here’s hoping sanity prevails.

Conan

While Paul Henry has been in the spotlight, some may have missed this worrying story that reveals the National government not only showing a lack of human decency, but about to break the law and international agreements in their eagerness to look as though they are taking a tough stance on overstayers.

The Government’s position is to show discretion, not be bound by law but guided by it. In this instance, two overstayers – who have openly been trying to get residency and have been NZers for 11 years and never went into hiding or tried to cheat the system – are about to be deported. However their three children are NZ citizens. Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson has not stepped in to show leniency, despite her position giving her the legal ability to do so.

The problem with this deportation is that the family will be moving from a good life in NZ to abject poverty in India. We have treaty agreements and a 2008 legal precedent that makes what Immigration and National are planning to do, essentially, illegal.

I’m not proposing that we should not deport overstayers, but I am saying that governments and their agencies need to show compassion and discretion. It is not enough to try and hide behind the letter of the law, and the courts agree with me.

The point of law is to guide, protect and advise. We are not meant to be able to say “I want to help, but the law is the law.”

Most judges in NZ rule based as much on the spirit of the law as the letter. This is why we have appeal processes and ministers have the legal ability to show leniency.

Taking a hard-nosed stance is about picking the right fights. In this instance the spirit of the law is that this family should not be deported. The courts have already ruled regarding this and National is choosing to make an example of this family as if they are nothing more than points on a score board.

But they aren’t. They are human beings whose lives are about to be ruined by National’s naive idea that running a county is like running an accounting sheet.

It is not. Effective running of a country requires compassion, reason, wisdom and humanity. Your decisions should not be run as a scoring in a game, nor should they be decided by a profit margin. Governmental decisions should be guided by thinking about people first and foremost. All the people.

If National let’s this happen, they will have shown that as a government in total they are unfit to make decisions for this country’s best interests. I, for one, do not want NZ to be known as the country that said to a family “either say good bye to your children or force them to live in abject poverty.”

John Key may as well grow a moustache and practice twirling it at press conferences if he wants to countinue down this route.

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Tweeting away

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Top Posts

Blog Stats

  • 13,379 hits

Pages