John Key

Good point Chris, why do Labour keep going around and around in circles?

Chris Trotter wonders why Labour constantly goes round and round in circles.

WHY DOES LABOUR do it? Why is it forever tying itself up in ethical knots and programmatic contradictions? Its policy-making does not seem to proceed from any discernible core of political principle. On the contrary, it comes across as the sort of haphazard collection of fleeting public obsessions a party guided exclusively by opinion polls and focus groups might present to the electorate.

Voters are prepared to forgive National for this sort “suck it and see” approach to policy-making. Most of us understand that the only principle that National will never abandon is the one commanding it to remain in office for as long as possible. Everything else is negotiable – as the Government’s recent swag of policy tweaks and re-adjustments makes abundantly clear.

Nor can the voters object too strenuously to National’s governing style. After all, it is their own likes and dislikes that are being so assiduously fed back to them by the party’s pollsters and marketing specialists.

If democracy is about giving the people what they want, then John Key’s preternatural sensitivity to the slightest change of pitch in the vox populi makes him a democratic leader of no mean ability.

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National’s RMA reform is neutered and comatose

They really should just shelve it until next term.  

It’s a watered down waste of time and resources.  Oh the irony.

The government’s latest attempt to reform the Resource Management Act continues to run into trouble, with the chairman of the select committee conceding on Thursday that the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill will miss its third report back deadline of Nov. 7.

In part, the delay appears related to the fact that Environment Minister Nick Smith is still negotiating with the Maori Party over aspects of the bill, which is struggling to gain sufficient support from government support partners to pass into law.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday he believed agreements had been reached with the two-MP Maori Party, but Smith confirmed in a text message on Wednesday that “discussions with the Maori Party are progressing and constructive but not yet concluded” and were “some time away”.

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Media party never learn as they go after Bainimarama

The Media party in New Zealand are petulant little children at the best of times. When it comes to Fiji they just never give up being petulant.

Fiji’s Prime Minister is labelling claims he criticised John Key during a speech in June as a media beat-up.

Frank Bainimarama is in New Zealand on his first official visit and attended the Fiji Trade and Investment Symposium at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza Hotel this morning.

At a dinner in Suva in June, he lashed out at New Zealand for not understanding what his political party was trying to achieve.   Read more »

Nats show they are tough on crims, Labour shows they prefer catch and release

Judith Collins and John Key have announced today significant spending in Corrections to ensure ratbags are kept behind bars.

Predictably, Labour has come out in support of the criminals.

The Government’s plans to spend a billion dollars on more beds for New Zealand’s burgeoning prison population shows it is “deadly serious” about cracking down on methamphetamine and violent crime, Corrections Minister Judith Collins says.

Labour has criticised the announcement, saying it is due to a failure to reduce reoffending and will simply create more “schools for crime”.

Collins announced the plans for another 1800 beds around the country, saying that although levels of crime had reduced, the number of prisoners had increased “faster than projected”.

The beds will include more double-bunking in Northland’s Ngawha Prison, a new 245-bed block built at Mt Eden, and a yet-to-be-approved new facility with 1500 beds on the existing site of Waikeria Prison – run by Corrections but built and maintained by a public-private partnership.

Collins said the Government’s plans showed it was “deadly serious” about cracking down on methamphetamine and family violence, with 70 per cent of the current prison population jailed for serious violent, sexual or drug-related offending.

“I’d like every meth dealer to know they’re not going to get a get out of jail free pass because there’s not enough beds – we’ll have enough for them.”  

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Barry Soper on his time as a gang member

Who knew Barry Soper was born to be wild?

There are some things you do in your career that you’d rather not have done. Mine was infiltrating a southern motorcycle gang more than 40 years ago and riding to the Alexandra Blossom Festival which you’d think would be a most unlikely place for gangs to assemble, but that they did from all over the country.

The gangs had complained they’d the previous year been roughed up by the police who weren’t wearing their identification numbers, which of course they’re required to do by law.

Riding through the countryside with around a hundred thundering bikes certainly gave you a feeling of power, but that feeling turned to disgust at what they got up to when several hundred of them set up camp at an area on the outskirts of the Central Otago town called The Pines.

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Tax relief coming hints Key

Tax relief is coming as John Key hinted to mike Hosking:

The Prime Minister was also asked by Hosking about the possibility of tax cuts, after the Crown accounts for the year to June showed a surplus of $1.8 billion – higher than the $668 million forecast in the May Budget.

Finance Minister Bill English said that meant the Government was in a position to make choices such as whether to go ahead with tax cuts, but also said there were other priorities such as paying down debt.

This morning, Key said there were families that missed out on tax credits but did not earn enough to “feel that they are actually going forward fast enough”.

However, he said there didn’t seem to be a “massive cry” from the public for tax cuts, compared to 2005-07.

“But it will get louder over time as those surpluses rise.”

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Key moves to mitigate Winston’s inroads into law and order

Law and Order issues are normally the purview of National. But last week Winston Peters made a big play towards addressing those issues in his speech to the Police Association.

Winston Peters promised tougher sentencing for violent offences and 1800 more Police.

John Key has seen the risk and has moved quickly to attempt to mitigate.

Prime Minister John Key says he understands concerns about law and order – saying as a parent he worries about his daughter getting hassled or even raped.

This morning, he told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that there was “no question” that more frontline officers helped, but that was only one factor and the overall structure of policing needed to be considered.

“You really need is to take a bit more of a sophisticated approach and say, ok, let’s just accept there are more resources…let’s talk about how do we deliver what New Zealanders really want, which is not just a number…that a politician barks out at you.  Read more »

Understand the left-wing positions on immigration

It is nigh on impossible to understand the left-wing’s stance that all immigration is good immigration, and opposing immigration is racist. That seems to be their default position. Nevermind issues about protecting our own lifestyle or finding immigrants who are compatible with our unique culture…the default position seems to be the more the merrier…except of course, it is a direct influencer of the problems we now have with housing.

But can we really understand their thinking?

It is probably best to ask a left-winger…fortunately Danyl has provided us with his insights.

A few months ago I was discussing politics with a chemist who supported National. He liked the fact that John Key changed his mind about things. ‘Half of what I learned about science as an undergraduate has been proved wrong,’ he said. ‘I’ve had to change my mind and keep changing my mind my whole career. That’s what intelligent people do.’

I think Key’s tendency to blow with the wind has more to do with political expediency than intellectual honesty, and I said so. But I agree that the ability to change your mind is an important trait, and since then I’ve been trying to think of recent instances in which I’ve changed my mind on political issues, and I couldn’t really think of any, which worried me a bit.   Read more »

Hooton on de-risking to win MMP elections

Matthew Hooton explains the risk averse nature of MMP politics.

All MMP elections have been horrendously close.

Just tens of thousands of votes stood in the way of prime ministers Phil Goff and David Cunliffe being real possibilities, and David Shearer would almost certainly have become prime minister in 2014 had the unions and the Labour left allowed him to lead the party to the election.

In 2005, the numbers existed for Don Brash to form a National-Act-United Future-New Zealand First-Maori Party hybrid. Even in 2002 a National-Act-United Future-New Zealand First government under Bill English was just four seats short of being a possibility.

Today, according to John Key’s pollster David Farrar’s weighted average of polls, the Labour-Green axis is just 1.6% behind National, with Winston Peters clearly the kingmaker. This is why the union bosses and far-left activists who surround Andrew Little remain relatively chipper, even as Labour’s more mainstream staff continue to walk out the door. With any deterioration in National’s support, they are confident they will be able to manoeuvre either their man into the prime minister’s office or Mr Peters on their behalf.

The electoral maths is also why Mr Key’s government appears so lazy and visionless as we enter what is best seen as the 18th year of the Helen Clark regime. Nevertheless, until a future Labour leader recognises that the easiest way to beat Mr Key is by outbidding him on economic ambition rather than playing to the gallery of left-wing Wellington social justice warriors, Mr Key’s lot is as good as it gets.

What’s more, right now Mr Key’s government is perfectly adequate as reasonable growth, low inflation, rising wages, low unemployment and improving surpluses suggest. All things considered, its default do-nothing political strategy targeted at the median voter makes sense.

Moreover, a few of the things it actually is doing at the edges – such as Mr English’s social investment strategy, Anne Tolley’s complete reform of Child, Youth and Family and Simon Bridges’ policy work on Auckland congestion pricing – are even worthwhile. While she will ultimately be forced to back down, Hekia Parata’s attempts to improve the school funding system are also commendable.

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At Tax Cut Club, we don’t talk about Tax Cuts

Bill English has proved to be a very able Finance Minister. He has delivered up another surplus, and one so large that it looks like tax cuts are on the agenda for election year.

Finance Minister Bill English has a rather dour public persona but the release of the annual Crown accounts usually also delivers English’s annual joke.

In 2015 – when English recorded his first ever surplus – he joked the $414 million was so small it was visible only “if you look carefully and hold your glasses a bit further out from your face”.

This time round it was a riff on the same theme – the healthier figure of $1.8 billion was so big even the more elderly, visually challenged members of the media could see it. He even named one unwitting soul.

That surplus also signalled National might go ahead with a further round of tax cuts.

That is more likely to be as part of its 2017 campaign promises rather than in the 2017 Budget.

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