Frank’s post on Shearer’s resignation used one of my least-favourite images of the man (actually worse than those damned dead fish), and has inspired today’s New Rule: get your sodding hand off your sodding chins, gentlemen.
It doesn’t make you look thoughtful or deep or serious or whatever the fuck your publicist has conned you into thinking. It makes you look like you’re desperately trying to look thoughtful/deep/serious/whatever the fuck.
You all look like total hankies. Slightly-confused, total, hankies.
And Duncan, that goes for fingers too. You’re making Espiner look positively grown-up in comparison.
Homework: 200 words on why the hell people keep doing this to themselves in orchestrated photo shoots meant to make them look good.
Today, R0b asked a question that many people have been posing: just how many times does the National Government think it can spend the “profits” it’s “made” by selling off viable money-making New Zealand assets?
So I had a wee dig. Bear in mind, I’m not an economist; I’m just a citizen trying to find out where her money’s being spent.
On the other hand, I help run a household, so apparently this makes me just as qualified as the next person to determine whether the Nats are good economic managers.
Let’s start with the income. 2012 Treasury forecasts suggested a price of $6 billion for selling off 49% of Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, and part of the publicly-owned chunk of Air New Zealand.
The proceeds of these sales go towards the “Future Investment Fund” – which isn’t really a fund, more a guideline.
Now that’s just a Treasury forecast, so put what faith in that that you wish.
What we have in hand is $1.7 billion from the sale of Mighty River Power. (And this was at the low end of the initial $1.6-1.9b estimate of its value, so let’s add that fact to any niggles we feel about Treasury’s forecasts while we’re at it.)
Somewhere along the line this has become $2.1 billion added to the Future Investment Fund.
Now, to the spending.
National has committed from the Future Investment Fund:
- Up to $1.43 billion for the Auckland Central Rail Line
- $1 billion to modernise schools (including the $50 million out of $136 million announced for upgrading school broadband)
- $1 billion into health, including $426 million to redevelop Christchurch and Burwood hospitals and the $88 million announced in Budget 2012)
- $900 million to the Christchurch rebuild
- $400 million to “water priorities” (irrigation)
- $250 million for KiwiRail
- an unknown amount for KiwiBank – but Bill English confirmed that asset sales proceeds would be the source of any new capital for KiwiBank (source) and Kiwibank’s CEO estimates $200 million is needed
- $80 million for the creation of the Advanced Technology Institute, whatever that is
Phew, that’s a mighty list of stuff!
A mighty list of stuff costing $5.26 billion dollars. Out of $6 billion dollars we don’t even have yet.
And that’s ignoring the Government’s earlier statements about reducing our debt by $6 billion. That’s ignoring the fact that the Future Investment Fund only funds capital expenditure, not operating expenditure.
That’s ignoring the millions in the cost of consultants and advertising already spent trying to hike up the price of Mighty River Power.
If we were a household, we’d be sticking a fancy new fridge on hire purchase while promising to put the Xbox on Trademe some time next month, honest, I reckon it’ll pull in $600, and doing nothing about the credit card debt we racked up taking the lads out for Friday night Jagerbombs. Oh, and that new fridge? Uses three times as much electricity, but we haven’t put aside any extra cash for the power bill.
Does this look like good economic management to you?
Julie-Anne Genter of the Greens has been doing some stellar work on public transport, including this exposure last night of the utter fiasco that is “Drive Social”:
The website is called Drive Social. It’s described as a “unique online experience that lets people see who they share the road with”. There’s a flash TV campaign to go with it.
But the Greens say it’s all an enormous waste of money.
The campaign has so far cost $1.6 million and 9500 people have signed up. That’s a rough cost of $174 per person.
As a bus user in Wellington, I was always suspicious of the Drive Social campaign because they kept putting ads in bus shelters. Guess what? Probably not going to find your target audience there, peeps.
Anyway. What really struck me was that Key immediately lashed out with an over-the-top “well the Greens just think everyone should cycle everywhere” – which just makes you look silly when the next minute (and all over Twitter) Genter is being the calm, sensible voice of reason.
And even more so when, you know, you’ve spent $174 per person on a website with no tangible or even measurable results (and $40 per YouTube view of your very expensive video.)
Is this another example of the right drinking their own Kool-Aid? Does Key really think he can just brush off obviously-ridiculous expenditure like Drive Social by saying “but they’re hippies, they don’t know anything”?
Is he shooting from the hip, unprepared, caught off-guard (he’s obviously answering TV3’s questions next to an elevator) and letting the happy she’ll-be-right facade slip for a moment?
Or is he just looking a bit tired?
This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.
Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.
And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.
Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand. Politics and parenting doesn’t mix. They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.
Wait, no, the other way round.
Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.
All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP. All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.
Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives. And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?
Seriously? “We have to shit on your civil rights because WMD, but we can’t explain why”? Has New Zealand fallen through a time portal to 2003?
If the wheels are indeed falling off the Smile’n’Wavemobile, this has to be a sign.
But here’s my uninformed 2c, which may just make some sense to others like me who don’t use phrases like repressive state apparatus in everyday conversation:
Spying is represented in my brain by two things: James Bond (dapper, British spying) and Jason Bourne/Mission Impossible [and all the clones thereof] (slightly worrying definitely anti-democratic American spying).
And the thing is, you just can’t watch a lot of US-made espionage drama (or even cop shows, which inevitably do a CIA plotline somewhere in season 4 or 5) without having it very heavily engraved into your brain that The CIA Cannot Spy On US Citizens. Because they’re the elite Cold War-fighting scary men-in-black agency, and That’s The Rules.
The FBI, on the other hand, are extremely fashionable and hack into your bank accounts
for great justice to catch serial killers.
So when (she finally gets to the point) the Prime Minister talks about letting the GCSB spy on New Zealand citizens, my brain just says “hey, hang on, that’s against the rules! We have the SIS for snooping on our peeps, and the GCSB for snooping on those people, and that’s important!”
Digging a little deeper into this, the difference is a little creepy-patriotic: I basically expect our intelligence community to treat NZers with far more dignity and respect for human rights than scary Soviet double-agents, who should of course be detained without trial and locked in a room with Daniel Craig until they give up the reconstructed Nazi superweapon plans.
It kind of worries me that this is how my brain thinks about these topics, but it’s there nevertheless.
Oh, and obviously? You have to be incredibly suspicious of any agency (*cough*police*cough*) which consistently fucks around with the regulations on its behaviour and then gets bailed out by the Government. Seriously, when do beneficiaries get this treatment? “Oh, you’ve been claiming $5 more per week than you’re entitled to, we’ll just retrospectively bump the cap on that benefit up so you’ll be okay.” I think not.
1. Announce some actual good policy which actually counters the current Government’s entire rhetoric and approach to something.
2. Prime Minister delivers usual “like I even care” response specifically to your announcement.
3. Story about PM’s horrible response is entirely characterised by snappy rebuttal from other, smaller political parties.
Lesson: no one gives a shit about Excalibur when Metiria and Hone are busting out the snappy “la la land” and catchy, going-to-be-a-hit-with-the-new-generation-who-know-just-enough-te-reo-to-think-it’s-cool “full puku”.
And unfortunately, it might just be that Shearer wasn’t even offered a chance to respond to Key’s comments, because he’s so bloody boring – whereas the Greens and Hone Harawira always give good odds on an interesting soundbite.
Finance Minister Bill English, quoted on Stuff today:
deputy Prime Minister Bill English says [legalising same-sex marriage] is ”not that important” and he ”thought the problem had been solved” with civil unions.
Yes, I know, he probably meant “the problem” as in “the problem with same-sex couple relationships not getting the same legal recognition as hetero couple relationships”.
But that just means that he’s less a clumsy speaker and more an outright liar. Which is what you are if you peddle the bullshit argument that civil unions are just slightly different yet completely equal to marriages.
Forgive the tautology, but you know how I can tell that civil unions are different from marriage? (Beyond the actual obvious legal differences, e.g. being unable to adopt children as a couple).
Because civil unions exist.
If there were truly no difference, if civil unions were equivalent in social meaning and weight and importance and cultural significance, they would just be marriages.
We have civil unions precisely because enough judgemental hetero douchebags decided that scary gay people were not worthy of having what they got to take for granted.
Maybe in some future utopia there could be two distinct states, marriage vs. civil union, where the decision of a couple to pick one or the other truly came down to nothing more than personal preference, influenced by largely irrelevant historical religious/cultural/political leanings or simply an aesthetic choice on the words uttered at the ceremony.
But we, here and now, live in a society where we’ve pretty much all grown up knowing that marriage was important, marriage proved your relationship was real or permanent, marriage was the inevitable outcome of a successful falling-in-love happily-ever-after story.
And despite feminism, despite queer rights, despite that awesome divorce rate across the West (which truly shows how “sacred” and “special” the institution of marriage is), the fact is that marriage and the societal assumptions about it are still very important. Even when your partner is the same gender as you.
Back to Stuff. English, along with Joyce, then trots out the classic “it’s not a priority / it’s not the most important issue.”
Which, if we had a press gallery worth something, would immediately lead to the follow-up question, “Is the Minister saying that his Government is incapable of tying its shoes and chewing gum at the same time?”
We don’t, but we have a good start when our media start noticing that John Key, who voted against civil unions, magically comes out in carefully-worded support of at least introducing marriage equality legislation just as soon as Barack Obama says it’s cool.
Anyway, enough aggro. Louisa Wall’s bill has been drawn from the ballot. Let’s get our marriage equality on, people!
List of known MP leanings on a first reading at least – Damian O’Connor is a no, surprise surprise
For lulz, read the Conservative Party’s release on the subject, which demonstrates the Conservatives’ deep respect for the sanctity of marriage by referring to married people as “stakeholders”
Check out the Legalise Love website for more!
And this time, “those people” are same-sex couples who want the right to adopt.
“But realistically it’s just not the biggest issue that we face. I know it’s important to those people, but they’re a very small group,” he said.
Because the rights of same-sex couples are only of interest to same-sex couples. The rights of children to be raised by their parents, even if their parents are deviant non-heterosexuals, is only of interest to aforementioned deviant non-heterosexuals.
So it’s not a priority. And our Government is all about having clear priorities.
That’s why they’ve consistently abused urgency to pass a shitload of not-actually-urgent laws which, Mr Key, only affect a very small group of people.
Like the 90-day fire-at-will bill which, you’ll all recall, we were told was specifically only going to be used by a small number of employers who just need flexibility to test whether they can take on additional workers.
Or the Video Camera Surveillance Bill which, you’d have to hope, only applies to a very small group of Police investigations, and which was so urgent it had to be passed asap. And then waited for nearly two weeks before it actually, you know, came into force.
Or the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill, which was certainly urgent, and certainly affected a lot of people, but which the government hadn’t actually finished writing the amendments yet. But still had to be debated before anything else.
And let’s not forget how seriously National and ACT took the need to push through tax cuts for the top 10% of New Zealanders – tax cuts which have contributed to the fucked state of our government’s books now. I’m sure those tax cuts were very important to “those people” too.
Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn, to whom I am indebted for his excellent backlog of useful posts, has more on our government’s use of urgency to pass whatever it has decided is currently A Thing Which Needs Passing.
So, if you’re rich? If it gives a core group of National supporters, like employers, more power which they apparently don’t actually need to use because, um, shut up? If it makes the government look Tough on Crime?
Fuck yeah, get that shit on the agenda.
If it’s just a piffling basic human rights issue which is supported by multiple parties across the House? Fuck off, scum. You’re just “those people”. You’re a group John Key doesn’t even need to waste energy using inclusive language for.
Seriously, next time that fucker shows up at a gay pride event so he can get his smug little grin on with some drag queens to show how cosmopolitan and progressive he is, can someone PLEASE just pie him?
H/T to @ShakingStick
I watched the Campbell Live piece on David Shearer last night (after the fact, as MySky has completely denuded me of any ability to sit through advertisements, or stories I have no interest in) and came away with two conclusions:
- It’s very scary when I agree with Comrade Trotter.
- David Shearer needs to be more like Bob McCoskrie.
Don’t check your calendars, dear readers, it’s not April Fools’ Day.
The main thrust of the story seemed to be this: Shearer hasn’t made much impact; this is despite a busy media schedule; now-ex-Chief of Staff Stuart Nash argues that we should be more understanding, because (taking out the dead-like-shoulderpads Christmas period) you can’t expect someone to build in three months the equivalent profile of a Prime Minister who’s been in the job four years.
And I say: Bob McCoskrie proves you wrong. Ken Orr proves you wrong. David Russell, bless him, proved you wrong back when he was the spokesperson for the Consumer Institute. Even Chris Trotter proves you wrong.
Besides all being middle-aged white dudes (and thus imparted with Authority), they have something in common:
They’re all guys who have made themselves the go-to guy on their chosen issues.
Study comes out about smacking, marriage breakdown, gay adoption? BOOM! Quote from Bob McCoskrie. International news story vaguely related to uterus-carrying people? BOOM! Ken Orr is there to slut-shame it. Something broke? BOOM! David Russell will reassure you. Labour sneezed? BOOM! Chris Trotter appears, twirling his glorious moustache.
I remember, back when I was a younger Queen of Thorns, how any deliberately-offensive piece of art or criticism of religious education in schools would, as though by magic, summon Lindsay Freer, spokeswoman for the NZ Catholic Church, to share her/the Church’s views. It annoyed the shit out of me, to be honest. There are more Anglicans in New Zealand than Catholics, and by far more non-Catholic Christians than Catholics, and twice as many people who state “no religion” than Catholics …
And Lindsay Freer was there on my telly like her viewpoint carried some automatic kind of weight.
Lindsay, and Bob and Ken and David and Chris, didn’t just wake up one morning with the media desperate to give them a soapbox. Whether by making outrageous statements, spamming the world with media releases on every single issue, providing statistics (helpfully furnished by Curia) which made them appear to have a weight of morality or popular opinion on their side, these people/the organisations they represent infiltrated the brains of our mainstream media and said “Yo, peeps, I’m good for a story.”
Now, I do not doubt David Shearer has a diary jam-packed with radio interviews and the like. But obviously, they’re not having impact. He’s sitting there on Campbell Live saying “look, I’ve been on the telly every night this week” and it’s like he and his advisors haven’t figured out that so is the ASB investment advisor dude with funny teeth, but no one’s pulling his photo out of a lineup either.
This ties together with the issue I have about Stuart Nash’s argument: that Shearer’s effectively only had three months and that’s no time to build a profile compared to the PM.
He’s the Leader of the Opposition, Stuart. He’s the opposite of the PM. When the PM speaks, Shearer should be right there after him to say “yea” or “nay” (if we must continue to follow the bullshit idea that “no one like the Opposition to oppose things because it’s so negative”).* When John Key issues a policy, and the journalists are all looking for handy quotes to stick in the second-to-last paragraph in order to appear “balanced”, that should be your quote.
Not Metiria Turei’s. Not Russell Norman’s. Not Winston “exciting quote machine” Peters’. If John Key opens his mouth, your office should be the very next place the journalist who witnessed it goes to, and you should have a response lined up, and it should be snappy.
You do your damnedest to create an environment in which people know who you are precisely because wherever John Key is mentioned, there you are mentioned also. Like R2-D2 and C-3PO. French and Saunders.
There are only two potential problems:
1. It might be that the media really do all hate you and refuse to report on what you say.
Oops, except for that “I’ve been on the telly every night this week” thing. Clearly, the media do feel some kind of basic boring duty to report on what David Shearer’s doing; it’s just not inspiring them to write feature articles (unless someone exciting like Cunliffe is involved).
Unfortunately, the fact that Shearer’s office either felt compelled or, when asked, decided it wouldn’t look defensive to release evidence that he has “tonnes” of media engagements, kinda leads me to think this is the argument they’re going with.**
2. You can’t be eloquent without something to be eloquent about.
This was my problem with Goff until about ten minutes before the polls opened, and it’s certainly my problem with Shearer: I have no freaking idea what he stands for. Something to do with Excalibur? Shadow yachts?
There was a punchy little comment in the Campbell Live story which didn’t really get answered, something like “And can he deliver a good media soundbite?” I would say no. I cannot think of a short, snappy phrase uttered by Shearer, or Goff before him, that in any way compared to “take the sharp edges off the recession” or “mum and dad investors”. “NooNoo Zealand” certainly doesn’t cut it.
Put it this way: Winston Peters is back at the forefront, again, with his tired old “damn Asians” routine. Only he’s given it a fresh spin and thrown out a key message that makes a large number of Kiwis instinctively start humming a Mutton Birds classic. Watch and learn, Shearer. Please.
*The first article on Campbell Live this episode? About children going to school in shoes I wouldn’t use for target practice. Guess what, Labour, shit’s getting negative enough.
**I wish I felt this was some improvement on the Pagani-patented “be more like John Key, people like John Key” strategy but at the end of the day we’re still screwed.