Karl du Fresne gives 6 reasons why National and Steve Joyce failed so dismally in Northland.
The day after the election, John Key warned his party against third-term arrogance. He promptly proceeded to disregard his own advice and has continued on much the same path ever since.
Yes, the government has plenty of reason to be cocky. The economy is humming. Migration is running at record levels, indicating New Zealand is seen as a desirable place to be.
A run of sporting successes â€“ the Black Caps, the Wellington Phoenix, the Breakers, the Hurricanes, Lydia Ko â€“ has contributed to a feel-good mood that will rub off on National, which is no doubt why Key is in Melbourne today watching the cricket, rather than in Singapore attending the funeral of Lee Kuan Yew (as Tony Abbott is). Â He wants to share in any glory thatâ€™s going, just as he did in the embarrassing three-way handshake at the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
It is shameful he went and presided over the Blackcaps Melbourne debacle…and not attended Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral.
His six reasons for the loss in Northland, I don’t actually agree with him on all of them.
Exhibit One: The dust had barely settled after the election before the government pushed through a bill exempting employers from the obligation to provide paid rest and meal breaks.
As the first significant legislation of Nationalâ€™s third term, it seemed a deeply symbolic statement. There seemed no other way to interpret it than as a signal that the Key government was reverting to a National Party archetype from an earlier era, shedding its friendly, centrist face in favour of a more classical right-wing hard line on employment relations.
I’m afraid that is just b.s. from du Fresne there, I doubt the Northland voters gave a toss about that bill.
Which brings me to Exhibit Two: Aucklandâ€™s proposed Skycity Convention Centre. From the outset, this looked like a dodgy sweetheart deal. But it began to look even more shonky when it emerged that the taxpayer was likely to be left footing the bill for a massive cost blowout.
It seemed clear the government was prepared to go along with this, and had indicated as much in cosy chats with Skycity. It was only when the public revolted that National hastily engaged reverse gear, insisting that a generous taxpayer handout to the casino company had only ever been a technical option.
Thatâ€™s not how it looked, and I donâ€™t think people were fooled. Either the government was incompetent in entering an arrangement that was loaded in Skycityâ€™s favour, or it was pandering to wealthy friends. Either way, it smelled.
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