Bill Ralston: Pleasing the vast majority

Bill Ralston: Pleasing the vast majorityThe problem in the popularity contest that is politics is that, sooner or later, you have to make decisions and someone is not going to like them. The trick is to annoy fewer people than you please. So far the Government has achieved… [NZ Herald Politics]

Bill Ralston has displayed yet again why he should be fronting a politics show. He gets it. His column in the Herald on Sunday again hits the spot. It would do Matt McCarten the world of good to read what Bill writes and learn rather than uttering his weekly diatribe of ideological claptrap.

National has found an unerring ability to plug into public sentiment.

Even when there has been an apparent reverse, such as minister Judith “Crusher” Collins’ frustrated attempt to rid herself of Corrections boss Barry Matthews, most people seemed to sympathise with her, such is the public’s scepticism of the corrections system.

By the way, her earlier expressed desire to crush the cars of boy racers also met overwhelming public favour, many expressing the wish to crush the offending vehicles with the mullet-headed drivers still inside.

This is why reading the leftist blogs is so funny right now. They are still carrying on the “Trust” meme from the election oblivious that public sentiment has moved even firther than election night.

As a journalist, over the course of my career, I have had more people come to me with complaints about ACC than any other state agency, even the Family Court, which attracts grumpily aggrieved folk like a magnet.

Actually, I’m one of those who currently view ACC with a jaundiced eye. As I run a tiny company writing columns like this one, I have just paid, under duress, an ACC bill the size of the price of a small second-hand car. The greatest risk of injury I face in this job is electrocution when I plug in my laptop or being bitten by a rabid politician. I suspect many self-employed people look at their ACC demands with similar loathing.

This short piece about ACC shows the difference between Ralston and most journalists. Ralston owns his own business and therefore knows all too well the extortionate and voracious demands placed upon business from the government. The majority of journalists however are wage slaves and therefore have no understanding.

Ralston also gets Auckland. I guess perhaps because he lives here rather than the dirty, stinking, polluted beltway in Wellngton. When I say dirty, stinking and polluted I mean in the are of free thinking. Elections are won and lost in Auckland. Labour has lost Auckland and for a goodly time. Labour heaped additional taxes on Aucklanders, ostensibly to pay for public transport that goes where no-one wants to go and no-one wants to use. Trains are a peculiarity foisted upon us by Wellington politicians. There are perhaps about 10 people in Auckland who think that trains are a good idea. One of them is the fool from North Shore and he doesn’t even have train tracks in his city.

Aucklanders tend to vote with their wallets, especially in the mortgage belt. If their disposable income falls and their homes are threatened they will rebel.

In the short term, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce’s hint the coming 9.5 cent local petrol tax could be dropped will be popular with most Aucklanders who needed, like a hole in the head, another cost eating away at their wages.

In the longer term he still has the tough task of figuring out how to solve the city’s other festering problem, unblocking its congested transport system.

A clue to that answer may lie in the release of the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland Governance early next month.

Most Aucklanders don’t believe they get value for money from their rates. Most suspect the local body structure of several warring city states is clumsy, inefficient and prevents effective regional infrastructural development.

The ARC’s claim to be the answer that they are skilled regional managers is met with one word. Beckham.

If the Royal Commission and the Government get the new city proposal right, National can breathe easy.

Get it wrong and the Nats can expect a speedy return to opposition.

Yes indeed Ralston gets it.

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