Roger Douglas

A Guest Post – Oppose oppose oppose!

Frances Denz writes:

And like many New Zealanders I hate it!  It switches me off.  I stop listening to constant negativity and whining.  It doesn’t work in a marriage and doesn’t work in elections either.

Many years ago in another life, I stood for Labour Women’s Council.  I had to give a speech from the stage with all the other contestants.  Without exception they stood up and whinged – in this case opposing Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble.  There were no hope, no dreams, no goals in their hearts or their speech.

My heart was in my boots as I got up to make only my third speech in public.  Was I going to do the same as them and grizzle and whine?  No, I was going to outline my vision for the positive things I was going to do as their representative.  And every time I made a positive statement I felt myself losing brownie points.  If there had been a “worm” measuring the opinions I would have scored bottom I thought.  The opinion leaders were very hostile to my positivity – I was supposed to prove I could oppose. I thought I had no chance, but I wasn’t going to change my speech which predicated that  we could create a better country with positive action and vision.

I lost.  But not completely as I became the second highest candidate, and when the winner later resigned, I was appointed anyway.  Curiously enough I saw this as a failure but on reflection I realise it was a success as the negative opinion leaders did not win in the long run.   Read more »

Anyone want a rug of dud politicians

Some wag is selling a rug of dud politicians…the cabinet of the 1984 Lange government…complete with a mustachioed Phil Goff who is still in parliament.


The good guys on this rug are Roger Douglas and Michael Bassett…the rest are useless, or dead which is a moderate improvement on useless since they can’t do anymore harm.

unbelievable that Phil Goff is still there after 30 years.

Trotter goes all in, Cunliffe a Walter Mitty character

Chris Trotter has gone all in…I sense he is sniffing there is serious trouble inside the Labour party and in particular with David Cunliffe.

One News last night mentioned results of a poll in relation to Winston Peters so I suspect we will be drip fed information and other poll results over the weekend. Over he past 4 weeks there have been a number of polls and none of them are good for Labour and Cunliffe.

My Labour sources are telling me that the rumblings in caucus are pronounced and whatever supporters Cunliffe did have are fast evaporating as their own internal polling shows zero movement, even after major policy announcements.

Chris Trotter is a bellwether for strife in Labour…he is sensing it.

WE’LL ALL HAVE TO WAIT for Sunday’s One News bulletin to discover whether or not the results of the Fairfax Ipsos and Roy Morgan polls are confirmed by Colmar Brunton. If they are then David Cunliffe will have to act swiftly and decisively if he’s to preserve what little remains of Labour’s hopes for victory.

If he fails to act, then the narratives being constructed around his leadership will harden into perceived facts that he will find increasingly difficult to escape.

There are rumours, but I’ve heard those rumours before and they’ve been wrong, so will wait for the results. I suspect though that Labour and National know so I will watch for posts on blogs framing the talking points.

What are those narratives? There are many, but for the moment these are the two most damaging.

The first asserts that while Cunliffe undoubtedly won the support of his party in 2013, he singularly failed to win the support of his caucus. That failure is forcing him to tread with exaggerated caution around his parliamentary colleagues in an attempt to maintain a facade of party unity.

The Leader of the Opposition’s and his advisers’ preoccupation with unity is now extending that caution into the realm of policy with the result that Cunliffe’s campaign promises to enshrine Labour’s core values at the heart of the party’s 2014 manifesto are beginning to ring hollow.  Read more »

1984 Snap Election

Geoffrey Palmer never wanted to be PM

Most politicians at some time or other in their careers desperately believe that they have the moxy and the goods to be PM. Most are deluded tools but thy still have this innate belief that one day they will.

Geoffrey Palmer reckons he never wanted to be PM and gives some insights into the fateful last days of the Lange/Palmer/Moore Labour government.

Geoffrey Palmer didn’t want to be prime minister. He knew the fourth Labour government was doomed.

Prime Minister David Lange had had a spectacular bust-up with his finance minister Roger Douglas.

Lange’s “weaknesses” had destroyed the government, Sir Geoffrey says, and the leader’s job “was a poisoned chalice”.

“I didn’t really want it but I felt it was necessary to have a stable hand at the helm while we tried to finish what we’d started.”

In fact, his demise came more quickly than expected. The panicking Labour caucus replaced him with Mike Moore a mere six weeks before losing the 1990 election.

Sir Geoffrey’s inability to bring the two warring leaders together “was my greatest failure in politics”, he writes in his new book, Reform: A Memoir.

His attempts at peacemaking “are too numerous to recite and painful to me still”.  Read more »

Chris Trotter speaks some sense on FTAs

I have always thought of Chris Trotter as a sensible, albeit wrong, voice of the left.

His ability to cut through the spin and to call things as they are despite wishful thinking is why I consider him a friend and a wise person to listen to.

In his post at Martyn Bradbury’s union funded little read blog he makes the following comment.

Not only does the TPP hold out the possibility of New Zealand adding much greater value to its agricultural exports – to the point where our export income is derived increasingly from the “how” of agricultural production rather than the production itself – but also, by reducing the pressures on land and water use in our own countryside, the TPP offers New Zealand’s beleaguered natural environment a much needed respite.  Read more »

Shrinking the State, never been a better time

I have never been a fan of the state providing solutions for anything. Any solution proposed by the state is likely to be bloated, inefficient and ineffective. Unfortunately in our  modern society we still have to get over the intellectual poverty that socialism has delivered to the body politic, where there is still an over-arching the belief that the state will provide.

Thatcherism though challenged this and in New Zealand we had Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson to slay the socialist dragons…they are still breathing though, even if the breath is a bit wheezy and spluttery.

Still a generation of kids have grown up knowing that subsidies are bad, unions are useless and free enterprise delivers more often than not. The time has never been better than now to start looking at shrinking the state.

So the experiment is over and the results are conclusive. Part one was carried out under Gordon Brown who, as this column said at the time, tested to destruction the theory that vast increases in government spending would cure all the problems of the public services. The national disillusionment and exasperation which followed on that ideological adventure should have led to an immediate repudiation of it by all rational political leaders. But alas, there was a period of suspended disbelief in which the Conservatives insisted that sticking to Labour’s spending commitments was absolutely necessary if they were to have a hope of being elected. Yes, that was what George Osborne used to say back in the darkest days of modernisation.

We have seen the same thing here. Massive increases in spending in education for no discernible improvement in outcomes. Same in welfare. Money is not the answer. National, like the Conservatives stuck with Labour’s spending…time to start unpicking the excesses of Clarkism.  Read more »

Chris Trotter recants, wants Shearer to go

Chris Trotter has changed his mind and now thinks David Shearer should go as leader of Labour.

New Zealanders are not natural radicals, but once persuaded that radical change is necessary and can no longer be avoided they can be very radical indeed. Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble understood this – and transformed their nation. Shearer showed a glimmer of understanding it when he held up the example of the Finnish prime minister, Esko Aho. Big change is better than little change, was what Shearer seemed to be saying. The problem was, none of those responsible for getting him the Leader’s job agreed.

Douglas and Prebble had the likes of Graham Scott and Bryce Wilkinson to rely on, Shearer had John Pagani, Fran Mold, Julian Robbins and Mike Smith. That wouldn’t have mattered if Shearer possessed the leadership qualities necessary to attract the sort of advisers he needed to succeed. But Shearer has never been that sort of man. He has always gone where he was sent, and worked with what he found there. Fine qualities in a UN troubleshooter. Massive drawbacks in a political leader.  Read more »

NZ’s budget vs Australia’s budget

The Australian Financial Review (subscriber content) has passed comment on the state of the NZ economy and recent budget compared with Australia.

Like all established media, the Financial Review has to cut costs. The Sydney subs desk, traditionally part of the fabric of the newsroom, has been shut and articles such as this are now subbed by a Fairfax Media team in Auckland.

While still getting up to speed, the Kiwi team is well drilled, eager and costs a lot less than if hired under Australian pay rates and dollar. Such supply chain changes are happening across the Tasman also with call centres and information technology, driven by 40 per cent or so cost differences.

The flip side of Australia’s high cost base is its relative prosperity. Over the past two centuries, Aussies have rarely been this much more prosperous than Kiwis, thanks to the mother of all resources booms in Western Australia and Queensland.

Yet a side trip to Wellington confirmed that this trans-Tasman disparity has likely peaked. Australia’s resources boom luck is ending and we’re about to pay for its mismanagement. While New Zealand’s bad luck is about to turn for the better, it also will reap the benefits of its more disciplined policy-making.

Australia enjoyed a minerals boom, we endure the Green party spiking any such development.

New Zealand didn’t have a mining boom to shield it from a global financial crisis recession. The February 2011, the Christchurch earthquake flattened much of the country’s second biggest city. Then came a drought. Elected in late 2008 at the start of this bad luck, John Key’s National government also had to deal with the legacy of nearly a decade of a back-sliding and big spending Labour government.

Key and Finance Minister Bill English let the budget cushion the early bad luck. The deficit blew out to more than 9 per cent of gross domestic product.

The government faced a dreadful set of circumstances when they took office.

Yet, while Wayne Swan’s sixth budget left Australia exiting its mining boom with a fiscal mess, English’s fifth budget a few days later confirmed that New Zealand will be back in surplus in a couple of years. Based on spending restraint, there’s been none of Swan’s shameless accounting trickery. And English has delivered genuine tax reform: a 15 per cent GST, a 33 per cent top marginal income tax rate and a 28 per cent corporate rate.

New Zealand is now likely to grow just as fast as Australia over the next few years. While Australia faces an income crunch, the NZ Treasury forecasts that Kiwi household incomes will rise nearly 20 per cent over the next four years.

What also immediately stands out is Wellington’s grown-up and stable government, even a minority one enforced by New Zealand’s proportional electoral system. There is none of the political madness, dysfunction and class warfare rhetoric that has come from Rudd-Gillard Labor over the past six years.

A former investment banker and a former South Island farmer, respectively, Key and English are more substantial and less tribal than Julia Gillard and Swan. They stress business-friendly growth and dismiss the idea that more government spending means better public services.

It is a model that Tony Abbott, himself the husband of a New Zealander, would be advised to follow. English draws a clear distinction between the crash-through New Zealand reform era of Labour finance minister Roger Douglas and National successor Ruth Richardson. That was followed by nearly two decades of policy drift and retreat under governments of both stripes. Now it’s all about incremental but continual policy reform that cannot so easily be later undone.

Politically, it’s working. Halfway through their second term, the polls give Key’s Nationals 49.1 per cent of the vote, compared to 43.1 per cent for Labour and the Greens. Fifty nine per cent of New Zealanders think the country is heading in the right direction.

It sounds like the Aussies are a wee bit jealous of the state of our economy.

And now the luck. While Australia’s mining boom has been based on China’s infrastructure spurt, New Zealand is at the start of a massive dairy boom driven by middle class Chinese demand for protein. New Zealand excels at turning water into powdered milk protein. Australia’s terms of trade are now sliding from 140-year highs. But, as New Zealand’s terms of trade rise, it faces a challenge well known this side of the ditch: a strengthening exchange rate.

In Defence of Trevor Mallard

You know there are some things in life you never think you will do.  Climb Everest is one, swim the Cook Strait is another.  But I really never thought I would:

- Defend Trevor Mallard.

Yesterday Trevor SMOGGED out badly in probably his worst gaffe to date since entering into the asymmetrical war cycle race with myself.  As a Labour Member of Parliament, the week after the Rufus Paynter affair while it is all a wee bit tense in the caucus and among the louder membership he posted this on this Facebook and tweeted to his loyal and faithful supporters:

Now to most of us on the right it is common sense.  We all agree and would share it on our Facebook wall in a second if our local MP posted it.  It is the most honest thing Trevor has ever put his name to.  He doesn’t like beneficiary bludgers any more than his colleagues from 1984, Sir Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble.

Trevor Mallard yesterday was a) a realist, b) a pragmatist and c) a brave endangered soul speaking truth to power.  Mallard is a “roofist”.  He believes Rufus Paynter is real and is actually a sickness beneficiary up on that roof rorting the system when he should be working.

But for a Labour MP the above constitutes beneficiary bashing to the general (declining) Labour membership.  It is demanded that you keep quiet if you are a roofist.  Rufus Paynter is not real and even if he was he is a legitimate beneficiary who needs more support.

Dare to question there are people refusing to work who are able to are the Labour “roofists”.  This is why it is such a bad SMOG.  Roofism splits in two his own membership and people in his electorate.  One that doesn’t exactly represent the “right end” of the country in employment and income statistics.  They let him have it and he deleted the post and tweet.  This then spewed out on to Newstalk ZB and over the news bulletins.  At this point even I was feeling sorry for Trevor.  Especially after David Cunliffe’s very obvious warning shots yesterday.

And this from Mickey Savage

This from some random Labour member

Thing is, these were the polite responses. Over at The Strandard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog all the Camp Cunliffe team were continuing their now ritual at least weekly flogging of Trevor.

I am getting pretty pissed off.

Ritual blog floggings of Trevor Mallard are MY job.

I cannot keep up with their level of hate over there.  It is all consuming.  I cannot hate Trevor Mallard as much as The Strandard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog.  They hate the man more than anyone in the National Party except Paula Bennett and Crusher.  I think even a random poll of Camp Cunliffe members would find John Key more popular than Trevor Mallard.  They blame him for everything that is wrong in the Labour Party.  The polling, the strategy and what Duncan Garner writes.  What do they thing he is? The Leader?


Even I do not believe Trevor is drunk when he posts or a fatty calcified deposit on the arteries of the left.


So shame on Trevor Mallard, it is our job in the centre and far right to question why beneficiaries keep being paid for not working and questioning their “entitlements”.  The left cannot comment unless it is sympathy and the promise of a larger payday.  Even if your Leader agrees and is a Chief Roofist.

And shame on The Standard Lynn Prentice’s hate blog and Camp Cunliffe.

It is MY job to bash Trevor Mallard.  Know your role.