Robert Muldoon

Steve Joyce is either mad, stupid, or both

Steve Joyce talks out loud about tolling Aucklander’s motorways.

In an election year.

Is he mad, stupid, or both?

The Government has confirmed it is now open to the introduction of electronic road tolling in Auckland.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce has told a business audience the Government could support road tolling but will not support a regional fuel tax.

“There is no getting away from the fact that central Auckland is built on a narrow isthmus which makes it hard to get around – and the available land transport corridors are rapidly being used,” Joyce said in a speech.

“So beyond the current building programme we are going to have to look at demand management to reduce the reliance on the road corridors, in favour of better use of buses, trains and ferries.”

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A lesson from history for Bill English

Our commenters are observant of history, more so than our media.

A question for the history buffs:

When was the last time (if ever) a PM in NZ won a subsequent election having replaced the incumbent PM within the preceding term?

I can think of Mike Moore and Jenny Shipley – both didn’t succeed.

Not sure about the earlier ones

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Little’s latest dumb idea

Andrew Little has now decided he wants to interfere in the banking system and set interest rates.

We haven’t seen this sort of meddling since the days of Muldoon.

The Labour leader’s suggestion to force banks to pass on Official Cash Rate (OCR) cuts is a ‘pretty dumb idea’, the finance minister says.

Andrew Little says the government should pressure the major banks to reduce their mortgage interest rates, and if he was prime minister he could go as far as legislating to make them do so.

Last week the Reserve Bank cut the OCR from 2.5 percent to a new record low of 2.25 percent, but the major banks did not lower their mortgage interest rates by an equivalent amount.

Mr Little said he would not rule out legislating to make banks pass on the rate cuts.

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The original Gold Card


Looks like Winston didn’t have an original idea.  He just copied Muldoon’s free rail pass.

Sir Robert Muldoon might roll over in his grave if he knew an eager buyer had shelled out $400 for his free train pass, five times its $80 reserve price tag.

The personally signed New Zealand Railways gold card, embossed with the Rt Hon Sir R Muldoon, attracted 32 bids on a Trade Me auction before its sale on Thursday afternoon to Alastair, from Rangiora in Canterbury.

It also came with a letter from Muldoon’s wife, Thea, dated in September 1992, a month after the former prime minister died.

Great bit of political memorabilia.  Pity it has been bent.


– Stuff

Has Hooton fallen off the wagon…again?

Matthew Hooton has a mad rant about National’s leadership woes in the NBR.

There is a problem though with his mad rant…there aren’t any leadership woes. Nor is there a coup, or a plan to replace John Key. It seems Matthew Hooton has interviewed his keyboard, or more likely dictated his fantasy to an intern.

The rumour goes that Mr Key, like his idol Richie McCaw, will want to go out on a high and on his own terms.  His knighthood depends on him handing over to a National prime minister rather than losing an election to Labour.  And while his poll numbers are still strong, he now consistently rates below the National Party, with about a quarter of National voters naming someone else as their preferred prime minister.  For the first time, a campaign based solely on “Team Key” would drag National down.  The next election campaign will need to be less focused on the leader, which Mr Key may not enjoy.

For his part, Mr Joyce backs himself as a great communicator, especially on radio but also on TV.  He is sure he could do the retail aspects of the prime ministership – clowning around on commercial radio and so forth – as well as Mr Key.  He is a more enthusiastic bureaucratic manager than the incumbent.

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Trotter on Labour’s coming shuffle of the deck chairs

Chris Trotter returns to sensibility and explores the shuffling of the deck chairs on the sinking ship Labour.

SOMETIME THIS WEEK (the date keeps changing) Andrew Little will announce his Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. The refreshed line-up of senior Opposition spokespeople will be the electorate’s best guide as to who will be doing what in the next Labour-led government. Barring unforeseen circumstances, and unforgiveable cock-ups, Little’s promotions, reappointments and demotions will be the last such exercise before the 2017 General Election.

Very few New Zealanders will pay much attention to Little’s final choices. Labour’s ranks, thinned by successive and increasingly severe defeats, contains nobody upon whose shoulders the burden of the electorate’s hopes has  yet descended.

Labour has a talent pool as shallow as a carpark puddle in the heat of summer. I was discussing this yesterday at lunch with the boys at church. They looked at National caucus and at Labour’s and came to the conclusion that even if a plane crashed with most of National’s cabinet aboard, there would still be capable people left in caucus to run the show. If Labour’s front two benches got cleaned out who would be left with any skills?    Read more »

A newspaper on Sunday’s editorial on John Key

A Newspaper on Sunday has an editorial that will unhinge the feral left-wing.

It is about John Key and basically cut/pastes what David Farrar has been saying about the popularity of the Prime Minister.

This Prime Minister is completing the first year of his third term more popular than any at the same stage in our lifetime.

Helen Clark, as political scientist Bryce Edwards notes in our Insight feature today, was on the back foot at this point. Going further back, Jim Bolger was replaced by Jenny Shipley barely a year into his third term.

Sir Robert Muldoon was trying to freeze inflation and faced restive elements in his caucus who wanted free-market solutions.

Key is sailing through his seventh year of office free of internal dissension, immune to opposition attacks, enjoying the confidence of business in an economic downturn and still as popular as ever. He had 64 per cent support in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey and National was on 51 per cent, remarkable by any historical comparison.

It is the more remarkable for the fact that the third term did not begin well. The bruising “Dirty Politics” election was barely over when Northland’s MP had to resign, forcing a byelection that National handled badly, promising bridges, and lost. A waitress complained the Prime Minister persistently pulled her ponytail. Taxpayers discovered they had paid off a sheep breeder in Saudi Arabia in hope of a free-trade agreement.    Read more »

Who is Andrew Little? Long Form Interviews


In the interests of providing a complete picture of Andrew Little we are including the long form profiles and interviews with him after he became leader.

Stuff’s Andrea Vance tries to position him as ‘A Reasonable Man’. She even manages to trundle out a tame employer who doesn’t dislike Little for all the dodgy stuff the EMPU have done in the past.

A former airline executive – on the other side of the negotiating table – was impressed.

“There is a really interesting blend of practical compassion within Andrew. That pragmatism realises the commercial realities of a business … It was a very tense and adversarial approach taken by both parties but there was a degree of calmness about him, borne out of recognising as a leader that he has got to let the situation unfold a little bit.

“He says Little “opened his eyes”.

“We understood [then] the impact of the decision that we would have been taking. He was a measured, reasonable voice as opposed to antagonistic. He played a very good, diffusing role.”

Little is “well regarded” by many in the business world, the former airline executive says.

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Top 10 things New Zealand does better than Australia

The opposition parties did the best thing ever when they declared that we had a crisis of Kiwis leaving NZ for Australia.

Once the crisis was declared it was over quicker than it was started.

But one thing politicians and whingers go on about is how lucky Australia is.

That’s why this list of the Top 10 things New Zealand does better than Australia as published in Australia is so special.

IT’S somewhat foolhardy to ruin an otherwise pleasant new year by getting my head punched in. But sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns or, in this case, the sheep by its ears, and say what you really think.

And what I really think (ducks) is that New Zealand is quietly trouncing us.

Not with its weather, which is reliably miserable, or with the Kiwis’ infuriating habit of replying to every question with “Yeah, nah.”

But when the 4000th person, upon learning that I was born across the Tasman, asks: “Why are the All Blacks so good?” I feel compelled to speculate on the national psyche.

New Zealanders like themselves.

Unlike the Germans who have self-regard, or the Italians who are self-admiring, or the Americans who aren’t quite sure how great they are these days but will enthuse anyway, the kiwis exude quiet confidence and self-determination.

“So why are so many of them coming over here?” I hear you say.

Well, they’re not.

Whereas they used to flock across the ditch, prompting former PM Robert Muldoon to distastefully remark that they “raised the IQ of both countries”, the migration rate has slowed considerably.

Kiwis are staying home where they’re enjoying a strong economy, low unemployment, a stable government and terms of trade at a 40-year high.

And those boys in black just keep winning.

So what are they doing right?   Read more »

The Legend that is Tom Scott, and the absence of feared leaders

Alex Fensome had  chat with cartoonist Tom Scott

As a boy, Muldoon had been bullied by other children, and had learned to get his punch in first.

Scott found his depiction of Muldoon as a ridiculously short and fat man hilarious, but the prime minister was deeply wounded by it. It seemed to bring up many of the insecurities he hid so well.

For the rest of his parliamentary colleagues, though, even those in National, it was refreshing. “His colleagues would come up to me and say, ‘Tom, I loved the Muldoon cartoon, shove it up the little bastard’.”

About a year into his time at Parliament, Scott ran into the prime minister in the corridor. People think he made this story up, but he insists it is true.

Scott leans back in his chair and puts on the famous Muldoon accent. “Ah, Mr Scott, saw an article of yours in The Listener . . . didn’t know you could write.”

“I didn’t know you could read,” he replied.

Awesome.   Worthy of Churchill and Thatcher.   Read more »