Muldoon and Key

In my speech to our party conference last week, I compared John Key to Robert Muldoon. This has provoked a furious response from the Right who accuse me of being a migrant who has no right to speak about Muldoon.

So lets have a look at it a bit more rationally.

Obviously Key isn’t exactly like Muldoon, but I think that the actions of this Government of late wouldn’t feel out of place in Muldoonism.

No serious student of New Zealand history would argue much against the proposition that Muldoonism can be characterised by three elements: Muldoon concentrated and abused power; he was rigid against all necessary or even desirable change; and that he was a divisive figure in New Zealand politics.

So setting personalities aside, let’s take a look at how Key’s government fares against these characteristics of Muldoonism.

Concentration and abuse of power

Key gave us a sign of what was to come in his first term, when his Government pushed through 17 laws under urgency with no opportunity for public submissions (including the bill to introduce National Standards in schools) and rushed 60 bills through with truncated select committee processes.

They also abolished Canterbury’s democracy, sacking regional councillors and replacing them with Government officials, and suspending elections. Cantabrians still have to pay rates and taxes to the regional council, but they have no say over how that money is spent.  In addition they introduced Henry the Eighth clauses that give the Minister for the Environment the power to vary the RMA by decree, ie the law written on the books can be changed by the Minister without going to parliament. John Key also removed the right to challenge these decisions in the Environment Court. Top New Zealand public law academic Philip Joseph said this contained elements of subterfuge and was constitutionally repugnant.

But it wasn’t until into the second term that Key and his government showed the true depth of their contempt for our constitutional principles.

Without BORA advice, opportunity for public submissions or select committee scrutiny his Government passed the Anadarko Amendment, which outlawed protest on the high seas. This legislation breaches the rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and free association. Peter Williams QC said this is “fascist legislation, this is shocking legislation, this is draconian legislation, and the people of New Zealand have got to be aware of it.

Our judiciary is supposed to act as a check on the powers of governments. But in a single day, under urgency and with no submission process, this government took away the right of family carers of people with disabilities to test whether Government policies are lawful in court. Constitutional law expert Professor Andrew Geddis said this was “…trampling all over a basic foundational principle of our constitutional order.

When it was revealed that the GCSB may have broken the law by spying on New Zealanders, Key’s response wasn’t to ensure that the limits placed on the agency’s power are respected, nor to introduce proper parliamentary oversight of the agency. Instead, he introduced a bill that makes it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders and expands its power to do so.

Under a new housing law, the Housing Minister can set up special housing areas without going through the process to get basic building or resource consents, meaning National’s backers, property developers, can be waved through. The Law Society called this contrary to the rule of law and good legislation principles.

Ultimately, the best safeguard for democracy in our legal system is that we hold democratic elections every three years. But Key’s government is ignoring the improvements Kiwis want made to MMP, so they won’t be made in time for the next election. National are gerrymandering the system to suit their own interests.

If we move to the environmental arena we find repeated concentration of decision making. Aside from Canterbury regional council National introduced the EPA to rubber stamp central government projects like the RoNS. The amendments to the RMA are all aimed at removing community input into decision making and giving central government more powers.

Rigidity against change

The best example of Key’s rigidity against change is his refusal to budge on the failed asset sale programme, even in the face of the revelation that he will now have to sell off Meridian in chunks because it can’t be sold in one hit, after the cost of selling Mighty River alone exceeded $100 million, and with his rhetoric about mum and dad investors exposed as a sham.

This stubborn immovability in the face of overwhelming evidence can also be seen in this Government’s inability to accept that the world has moved on from its outdated understanding of  economic orthodoxy. It speaks volumes that when a ‘far-left think-tank’ like the OECD is speaking out in support of Green policies like a capital gains tax, John Key is willing to rule out implementing their findings without even reading the full report.

And when it comes to climate change, this government is absolutely rigid in its refusal to adapt. They carry on as if it will all just go away.


Remember when Key was elected? He worked with the Māori Party, he worked with the Greens. He got all sectors involved in a collaborative exercise at the job summit.  For a moment, we thought that perhaps he was different. Perhaps he could succeed in uniting people from across the political spectrum in that time of crisis?

What a long way we are from that now. Far from a message of unity, Key’s government takes the posture that if you’re not with them, you’re against them.

To be with Key and National is to get special favours. It is to have tender processes designed so that youll win. It is to get $2 billion in tax cuts. It is to get shoulder-tapped for a top job by one of your old schoolmates, it is to get a job you applied for a month after it closed, or to get a job for which you were underqualified  because of your profile as a sportsperson and a Key supporter.

To be against Key and National is to be silenced. It is to have Ministers breach privacy obligations by releasing your personal information to the media. It is to be the subject of personal attacks from right wing lobbyists if you dare to speak out to protect the environment. It is to have “threats and budget cuts… used to silence dissenting voices,” according to New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond.

Think Big

And don’t even get me started on the comparison between the Think Big projects and the Roads of National Significance. Some of the Think Big projects made a lot more sense than the RoNS.

So, was the comparison between Key and Muldoon unfair?

In the sense that he and his government are disregarding our democracy and our constitutional principles, concentrating and abusing power and rigidly refusing to change, I stand by my statement that Key is sure as hell acting like Muldoon.

And as for John Key and all the right wing commentators who give me grief and who say I should shut up because I am a migrant. Quite frankly that is a pathetic response, worthy of Muldoon, and offensive to all those migrants who choose to live in New Zealand and participate in our democracy.

65 Comments Posted

  1. Back on topic the consensus seems to be that Muldoon was an abrasive upfront arsehole while Key is a devious and dishonest arsehole.

    …. And this national government are more extreme, nasty and right wing than Muldoons Nats ever were.

    Its common knowledge that Key is abusive in Parliaments debating chamber to the greens, enabled by the terribly biased National party speaker of the house he reply’s to questions with abuse rather than answers.

    Russel should keep hammering the points about how bad this national government is,

    But he should not be baited by Key’s abuse in the house. The public’s perception of Key being dishonest and not upfront is growing so its probably better to keep the focus on that ….. and just how bad this national government is/has been.

  2. Jackal – how does the Green party work who should be prosecuted and who should be protected when they have have given the media unauthorised documents on spying?

  3. photonz1

    Soooo sensitive and secure…

    Yes! A sensitive report meaning it’s classified. Don’t you think that kind of thing matters photonz1?

    You are correct that the report was released about a week later, which makes me wonder why it was leaked early. Could it have something to do with the Minister responsible for the GCSB being out of the country at the time?

  4. jackal says “….sensitive Kitteridge report……. sensitive government document, ”

    Soooo sensitive and secure,…. that it was published to anyone who wanted to see it just a few days later.

    That doesn’t resolve the issue that the Greens want a police investigation into someone leaking documents, and protection for someone else doing the same thing.

  5. photonz1

    What about the political wisdom of calling for a police investigation into last weeks leaker, and political asylum this weeks leaker.

    I very much doubt Snowden will seek refuge in New Zealand, being that we have a strong agreement with the US to deport people they’re interested in. It’s much more likely that he will remain in Hong Kong, where fighting extradition is more likely to be successful.

    It appears that the only way the NSA could limit more of their unconstitutional activity being revealed is to disappear Snowden, which because of his now high profile and where he’s located would be a difficult task, even for them to achieve.

    However I digress… There will be no political fallout for the Greens in saying that there should (and in fact is) a police investigation into the leaker of the sensitive Kitteridge report. Likewise, there will be no political or public fallout for the Greens in saying Snowden should be granted asylum in New Zealand if it was requested.

    You are clasping a straws again photonz1.

    Or asking for the police to look into Dunne’s personal emails last week, then complaining about the governments ability to look into personal emails this week.

    There’s a huge difference here that only somebody suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance could ignore… Dunne is suspected of leaking a sensitive government document, when most New Zealanders are simply going about their private and lawful business.

    There’s simply no justifiable need to spy on all New Zealand citizens all of the time. There is however a need to uncover exactly who leaked the Kitteridge report, because the leaking of government documents (even when they shed light on the GCSB’s questionable practices) is a matter of national security.

    If it was an MP on the left side of the house, you would be screaming for blood photonz1… Of that there can be no doubt.

  6. grenfly says “As to direction, Russel’s steering a steady course”

    Yeah right.

    One week it’s investigate leakers, the next week it’s protect them.

    One week he wants the police to look at private emails, the next week he’s complaining about the very same thing.

    And he totally disregards Green Party value #6 “Engage respectfully, without personal attacks”.

    Which is one of the reasons the Muldoon comparison was ridiculed so much by papers across NZ

  7. In the interests of justice can we please sell the Justice Department to corporates?

    Maybe Talent2 – they have all the requirements to improve such a service according to the documentation I have read.

    Maybe Russell, you should keep personalities involved, don’t set them aside.

    National won on the back of a campaign showing “JOHN KEY & national”. Would they have won with “JERRY BOWNLEE & national”?

    Dude, come on. Good stuff seeing you in the streets, my nine year old loves you but she supports the party “with the black and white fern, like the All Blacks”. She will grow up. 90% of the other voters all ready have, and it scares me.

    whom is on Maori roll just to get a vote against Maori party and give labour a step in Wellington

  8. photonz1 quoted bj to justify somethingorother, who said “Without taking sides at all this thread is dead as interstellar dust.”

    I can’t speak for bj, but to me the thread was more or less dead because it’d become mostly repetition of the same predictable stuff and trading of insults ad nauseum.

  9. As to direction, Russel’s steering a steady course with his most recent face-to-face challenge of Key over the gooey spy story that just keeps blurping-up in Key’s face. Key’s response? Calling Russel, “Noddy” in the House, very Prime Ministerial, don’t you think, photonz1? I guess calling Key , “Pinocchio” (My question is to Pinocchio and asks…” will be de rigueur for anyone wanting to question Key in the House now, eh, photonz1?

  10. “I think the most revealing thing about this debate is that Muldoon was a National Party man, yet those most horrified at the thought of being compared with him are the National Party politicians, supporters and the right wing media.”

    Beautiful, John Monro. Photonz1 should be ashamed that he’s ashamed by the similarities between National PMs past and present, Key and Muldoon. Two blue peas in a withered Tory pod. And photonz1 (little p).

  11. What about the political wisdom of calling for a police investigation into last weeks leaker, and political asylum this weeks leaker.

    Or asking for the police to look into Dunne’s personal emails last week, then complaining about the governments ability to look into personal emails this week.

    The Greens ethical compass was thrown away with the personal attacks at the conference, and now you’re spinning in circles, directionless.

  12. The political wisdom of –
    a/ the Muldoon comparison
    b/ trying to explain it a week later

    – can be accessed by how much regulars here would like the issue closed down…..

    bj says “Without taking sides at all this thread is dead as interstellar dust.”

    greenfly says “Your attempt to keep the story alive is quite crazy…. ”

  13. Unless you take on board fully that the comparison between Muldoon and Key is not related to their appearance/character/policies/economics/intelligence but to their shared characteristic of contempt for normal ethical democratic process, then you’ll get the sort of missing-the-point arguments we see in some postings above, and the uncomprehending criticism of the media. I think the comparison is spot on, indeed I had a letter published in the Dominion Post, comparing Muldoon and Key in a similar way, two weeks before Russel’s speech. I don’t claim copyright on the thought!

    I think the most revealing thing about this debate is that Muldoon was a National Party man, yet those most horrified at the thought of being compared with him are the National Party politicians, supporters and the right wing media.

    I agree with those that sort of forgive Muldoon for his patriotism and his simple commitment to what he thought was the welfare of this country. I think he would have been horrified at what his National Party descendants are doing. I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think Muldoon was as cynical and self-serving as Key. .

  14. Indeed.

    New Zealand is (allegedly) a nation of sports lovers, and thus can spot at 100 paces when a player plays the man and not the ball. And thus fully expect a warning, or maybe a red card.

    The moment Russel opened his mouth, in homes all across New Zealand, red cards were held up.

  15. That was a good article and I am not disputing the similarities between Muldoon and Key insofar as they both endorse dictatorial methods.

    I grew up in the Muldoon era and remember it very clearly, the Think Big policy of the then National Party was very different then. Muldoon subscribed to Maynard Kaynes style of economics that encouraged mass borrowing of finance from the World Bank to finance Think Big projects like the Clyde Dam and natural gas etc.etc. It did build up a state capitalist infrastructure that was very centralized and I don’t think the corporate lobby groups like the Roundtable liked it.

    Then under Ruth Richardson the National Party adopted the Heyak and The School of Chicago style and adopted a policy of deregulating, attacking the unions and the welfare state. Then under Shipley the Nat’s tried introduce the Multilateral Agreement on Investments that would have brought in the Trans Nationals not adhearing to NZ sovereignty. This is the direction that Key is steering the country now.

    It’s a particularly nasty sort of hybrid of capitalism I would call it Corporate Dictatorship, the ideology of ACT the far end opposite of a Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

  16. greenfly says “Bored, photonz1.”

    I would be too if I’d done all that digging.

    You should get a machine for it.

    Perhaps a borer.

  17. There’s this record, and it’s scratched, scratched, scratched, scratched, scratched

    Bored, photonz1.


  18. A week after conference, Russels starts a new post trying to explain his ridiculed speech, and greenfly comes up with “You’ve missed the bus, by some days,”

    Dig, dig, dig away

    Dominion Post says ” However, to suggest Mr Key’s personal style is akin to that of Sir Robert is to do nothing but betray ignorance.

    The two could not be more different. Sir Robert was a micro-manager; Mr Key delegates. Sir Robert snarled; Mr Key smiles. Sir Robert banned journalists from press conferences, insulted foreign leaders and once punched a demonstrator outside a meeting. Mr Key occasionally gets a little tetchy.

    “Divisive and corrosive” Sir Robert certainly was, although, ironically, his command and control approach to running the economy was probably closer to Green Party policy than anything seen since he was voted out of office in 1984.”

  19. How much more wrong could you be, photonz1? The reality is, your niggling has no validity, is not interesting and is misguided in the extreme.
    You’ve missed the bus, by some days, and you’re left arguing into a vacumn. You must miss Arana terribly. She’d have provided you with some clippity-clappity audience, at least.

  20. greenfly says “Your petty personality politics is so last-decade.”

    Hilarious – this on a post debating Russel personal attacks on Key.

    Keep digging. You’ll own a mine soon.

    As the press said “In a speech that was itself divisive and corrosive, Norman accused the prime minister of being divisive and corrosive.”

  21. No, photonz1, you are still wrong, very wrong in everything you say. It’s sad really that you are so out of touch with the real world that you continue with your pointless crusade to achieve nothing, despite the good advice you receive here, advice that says, leave your pointless, negative complaining and contribute something useful to the discussion. Your petty personality politics is so last-decade.

  22. Yeah right greenfly – the Muldoon comparison was a fantastic political move – genius.

    The Green Party wanted all that bad publicity about their conference.

    And you can say I’m wrong on all counts, but you know I’m right – that’s why you weren’t happy about continued debate on the comparison being kept alive (but you stuffed up badly by overlooking the fact that it was Russel who kept it alive by starting this post).

    Keep digging that hole

  23. The reality is, photonz1, you are wrong on all counts. Not only that, your insistant harping makes you look unhinged and spiteful. Middle New Zealand isn’t laughing at all. They are too busy being gob-smacked by Peter Dunne’s fall from grace. Poor Pete! He’s where the public’s interest lies right now. Your clamouring won’t change that one iota.

  24. photonz our main national troll must have missed all the examples I pasted from the daily blog showing just how extreme and right wing the Nats and key are. Never mind because more and more of the public and voters are noticing .

    Given that photonz has supported a child sex abuser getting discharged without even a conviction ( since overturned by the courts), its not surprising he’s pro so much of this nationals Governments appalling behavior and is nasty to the greens .

    Back on the comparison …. Muldoon was an upfront arsehole and proud of it. Key is dishonest and false, so yes two totally different characters.

  25. daddy o says “If I were the greens I’d keep pushing the line of how extreme and hard right wing that the nats really are,”

    And middle NZ will keep ridiculing and laughing at you.

    The comparison was so ridiculous to most people that the merits didn’t even get discussed – just laughed at.

    Media around the country ended up comparing the Greens – not Key – to Muldoon.

    And comparing Russel to Rod and Jeanette, who would have never have made such shallow and transparent personal attacks.(and were greatly respected across the political spectrum for their integrity).

  26. Photonz our main National troll is right, John key is more deceitful and false than Muldoon ever was …. we can all agree on that

    However this national government is more extreme and far more right wing than Muldoons nats ever were.

    If I were the greens I’d keep pushing the line of how extreme and hard right wing that the nats really are, and there’s heaps of examples …..

    John Key should be portrayed as he is, which is dishonest, evasive and unfit for the job, again there’s heaps of examples …..

  27. I agree with photonz1 about the publicity thing. IMHO a comparison between John Key and Robert Muldoon wasn’t warranted. I don’t think there’s a strong correlation, but mostly I think that in such a shallow and politicised environment it creates an excuse to avoid discussing Russel Norman’s actual points regarding the current government and how it’s been operating.

    Comparing John Key with Rob Muldoon is pointless. The fact that someone like photonz1 can stir things up so much with nothing more than criticising this, ignoring everything else in Russel’s post, pretty much sums it up.

    Opposition parties should be talking about the government for what it is now.

  28. In fact the comparison was so absurd, than most papers didn’t even get into the debate about that.

    Instead they compared Norman and Green policies to Muldoon, so the main publicity the Greens got for their conference was –
    – the rediculous comparison
    – the nasty political attack on people instead of policies
    – the perfume ban
    – the media ban
    – the clamp-down on grass roots democracy
    – the loss of their ethical high-horse

    Only the Pete Dunne affair saved the Greens from a full week of self inflicted bad publicity.

  29. Greenfly says “Your attempt to keep the story alive is quite crazy…. ”

    That’s hilarious

    Do you not realise WHO started this post still trying to explain a speech a week earlier?

    Greenfly says “it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you prove that John Key and Robert Muldoon are different.”


    That’s so farcical it isn’t worth any more than a laugh – certainly not worth a debate.

  30. Despite their obvious similarities. I thought, when Key attacked the credibility of the ‘tea-tapes’ journalist, that he was exactly the same as Muldoon. I also notice a similar liquor-induced slurring when they speak/spoke.

  31. No, you are completely wrong, photonz1 and sounding shrill and desperate at the same time. Your attempt to keep the story alive is quite crazy and looks like a one-man crusade to make something out of nothing. Mind you, sticking with the non-story the way you are, stops you from posting other ridiculous comments on real issues, so keep it up old chap – it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you prove that John Key and Robert Muldoon are different.

  32. greenfly says “.. all right-wingers have gone into orbit over”

    It’s not just right wingers that have gone into orbit with laughter.

    The comparison was so obviously farcical that the comments were laughed at by main stream media right round the country.

    Rather than controlling the damage from such a political blunder, trying to justify the comments only serves to change the focus from silly comments, to the silliness of anyone trying to justify them.

    As well as being laughed at, the Greens have
    – thrown away their claim to a point of difference of higher ethics because they play the issue rather than the person.
    – show NZ that Russel has little knowledge of our political history despite having studied it
    – reiterated to NZ that Russel is not from here but was a child in Australia when Muldoon governed in the 70s.

    It’s stunning that there’s was no one with the policital nouse to tell Russel how dumb a political move that was for the Greens.

    Where was Clint?

  33. photonz: ‘Just how ridiculous it is can be judged by the mainstream editorials across the country having such a good laugh at it..’

    As I understood reports, if the mainstream editorials had such a good laugh at the comments by Russel Norman, it’s because they wrongly interpreted the speech as comparing the two men, rather than their actions, and those of their governments!

  34. Great response but unfortunately the majority won’t hear it. The smartest thing that Key seems to have done is to turn almost all mainstream media into his personal puppets – the lack of outrage and scrutiny about his numerous dodgy dealings is frightening. This week was one of many and included giving 4 right wing dogs of war numerous column inches about the muldoon comparison and more importantly completely ignoring the OECD reports findings and natinals arrogant and nonsensical dismissal if them.

    All you can do is keep up the good work and hope for some journalistic integrity from the estate agent sponsored herald at some point. JK likes soundbites (devil beast !!) and you shouldn’t hold back on being aggressive – the OTT reaction to your comments may just mean that you touched a nerve and did something that scared those right wing journos in playing Key at his own game. BTW – ‘shonky’ is an expression that should be lost – it sounds comical and almost friendly – lying, cynical manipulator are more apt – or maybe just a grinning ‘pinocchio’ !!

  35. Russel – such a well-crafted explanation of a comparison that all right-wingers have gone into orbit over, comes across as both accurate and perceptive.

    Just how appropriate it is, can be judged by the main Right wing bloggers and their trolls across the country having a such knee-shaking, teeth -chattering apoplectic conniptions at it. Well done that man!

  36. National are a hard right government and Key is probably more evasive and dishonest than Muldoon ever was.

    However the present lot of Nats are an extreme bunch and treat parliament with contempt and have a disrespect for proper process that makes Muldoon look like a moderate man.

    A short list of how extreme the Nats are can be found at the daily blog which expands upon the examples that Russel gives ….. Notice how the Nat trolls are playing the man and not the ball.

    Anyway ….Let’s count the ways in which Key is hard right and not center right…

    -Private prisons
    -Adopting Charter Schools from a political party with 1% of the vote
    -270 000 children in poverty
    -Yawning chasm of inequality between the haves and the have nots
    -Privatizing public assets for the benefit of the 2.5% who bought them
    -Retrospective legislation legalizing Police surveillance in the largest erosion of civil liberties since the ’51 waterfront lockout.
    -Allowing the GCSB to spy on NZers
    -Disqualifying tens of thousands from welfare under the guise of ‘getting them jobs’.
    -Beneficiary bashing as social welfare
    -Billions in tax cuts to the richest NZers while cutting tax breaks for the poor
    -Killing off public broadcasting
    -Restricting university education to the rich
    -Arresting students at the border
    -Forcing mothers back to work after second child turns 1
    -Hundreds of millions in corporate welfare while those on welfare rot
    -Privatizing state homes
    -Crushing Ecan local democracy for farming interests
    -Legislation for big oil to criminalize Greenpeace
    -Walking away from meaningful global warming reform
    -Pointless Union crushing policy just for the sake of crushing unions
    -Manufacturing a crisis at The Hobbit to attack Unions with
    -Cutting shonky crony capitalism deals with Sky City
    -Using urgency to ram through more legislation without democratic oversight than any other Government before him

  37. Russel – such a long winded attempt to justify a comparison that even left-wingers have labeled ludicrous, just comes across as both desperate and ignorant.

    Just how ridiculous it is, can be judged by the main stream editorials across the country having a such good laugh at it.

  38. Much as it is healthy for New Zealand to reflect on its political history, I think that Key is more Blair/Cameron than Muldoon. It’s a generational thing.

    Key has a glossy exterior, a concern for fat cats, lives in a perpetual fur cup, and pretends to economic competence even as our economy falls apart. Muldoon did things, Key makes deals.

  39. solkta – it’s true – John Key is extremely thorough in accumulating information before he makes decisions. He just doesn’t care about the people who don’t agree with him.

    In terms of crunching the numbers I don’t think I have ever seen his equal.

    The combination of John Key and Stephen Joyce is a formidable team and it is a great shame that their political direction is wrong.

    If these guys could stomach being servants of democracy rather than servants of international capitalism then NZ could really get somewhere.

  40. I believe his ability to take all factors into account during a decision-making process is second to none.

    Say what?

  41. “kleptocracy”

    Excellent word jc2. Excellent word. It describes so succinctly one of the major underpinnings of wealth and power in NZ.

  42. John Key is like a combination of Stalin and Mary Poppins – as long as you masquerade as everybody’s favourite auntie you can pretty much do what you like.

    Don’t get me wrong – I have enormous respect for the man and I believe his ability to take all factors into account during a decision-making process is second to none. That is why I voted for him twice – we needed his financial acumen during the GFC.

    However, you are right to criticise his tendency to aggregate power into the hands of the few – he knows it is easier to ignore the masses when only a small number of hands are pulling the strings. For this reason alone he has to go.

    We are not some distant branch of international capitalism, we are a sovereign country and NZ democratic voters need to be treated with more respect than John Key gives us.

  43. Do not fear MikeM, this blog is frequented by National supporters (Kiwi bloggers) who come here merely to vote down anyone who disagrees with their mantra. Ignore the votes. Don’t let them intimidate you.

  44. jc2, at least there was an excuse for voting your comment down (you mis-spelt “lose”). The only potential provocation I can read in my recent interaction was in referring to John Key as a charismatic PR front. I’d be keen to know why people might disagree with this rather than just be down-ticked.

    @Frog, would you consider disabling the comment-rating interface in favour of requiring people who have a problem to express what they think in a useful way?

  45. Someone has suggested (not here) that the plan is to defeat the middle-classes, knowing that the ‘lower’ classes have not the means or the energy to fight. This is my answer when someone says that the downtrodden, exploited poor in some countries “should get up and fight their rulers, why should anyone else help them?” How can you fight back, if you no longer have money/home/health/food etc.?

  46. I can see that Russel Norman is citing abuse of power, resistance to making changes, divisiveness, a certain arrogance, as similar between the two men and their times in government.
    And yes, these and other traits and actions are highly magnified in the case of Mr Key.
    How can anyone genuinely approve of a government which habitually, and many, many times over, debates purely AMONG THEMSELVES, takes a vote, and adds or alters laws, totally regardless of the wishes or NEEDS of the people – and often in straight defiance of results of polls or surveys, or even wisdom from overseas experiences and experts.
    The constant smacks-in-the-faces of all New Zealanders other than the extremely wealthy, and the lack of caring or democracy, are insulting in the extreme.

  47. I looked at my negative like/dislike score above, then I decided that I was happy to keep company with Kerry 🙂

  48. Reminds me that Noam Chomsky (Deterring Democracy among other works) had a point! In the end right wing governments have an inbuilt recognition that allowing the majority to sway decisions goes contrary to the needs and wants of vested interest groups. Better to change the rules so that the minority vested interests can get a window of opportunity to fleece the rest of us!

  49. An individual, say, a farmer, opposed to fracking on his land is not necessarily ‘agin’ the Government, but yes, this Government would attack him as if he was.

  50. Key’s government takes the posture that if you’re not with them, you’re against them.

    Would that be “against” as in “opposing”? If so they’d be right wouldn’t they?

  51. what a good comparison!
    Whenever those right wing people can’t win the debate, they will play racial card / migrants/immigrant cards…to show us how poorly disfunctionally their brains work (or not work?)…

    As the first generation immigrant in NZ; of late often I was so shocked by how some so called “real” Kiwis (funny enough almost always happened to be National party supporters) who couldn’t care less about the future, the environment and the wellbeing of this beautiful land and the people who live here, NZ as a whole…

    all they care is how they can screw the environment and screw the little people and benifit hugely financially from it..I think these self-claimed real kiwis should be kicked out of New Zealand before they totally ruin this beautiful country…
    atually quite a few of them don’t really believe themselves as Kiwis anyway (only say it at their own convenience), they will steal as much as they can from this country , retire overseas with loads of public’s fortune
    who care if NZ goes down to its economical hell as they will not be here to suffer from consequences…

  52. I’m wary of attributing it all to a single person…Considering the makeup of Cabinet, however, I can’t see it changing much.

    +1 MikeM.

    It’s a trap to equate the current government’s undemocratic actions to anything other than an ideological bent.

    It’s also important to note that National are not alone in this attitude here in NZ – I see it as a systemic failure in the way our parliamentary system is set up with limited constitutional oversight and the lack of a bicameral legislature.

    Broadly speaking though, the shift to undemocratic (and largely unaccountable) government with the trappings of democracy is a worldwide phenomenon.

  53. I can see similarities between the current National-led government and Muldoon, but I’m wary of attributing it all to a single person. To do so would suggest that things would genuinely change if National were to jettison its PR front guy for a Hawaii retirement, which I’m guessing is part of the plan once he’s absorbed more blame than his charisma can comfortably handle. Considering the makeup of Cabinet, however, I can’t see it changing much.

  54. Norman compared Key to the wrong politicians.

    However he is right that Key and co are toxic to New Zealand.

    At least Muldoon borrowed for something. Not just for tax cuts for Hawaii holidays for their rich mates.

    Why do Hide, Douglas and the others who have given us 30 years of failure, have any credibility at all.

    Green policies are sensible, necessary and not that different from the ones that gave us decades of prosperity after WW2..

  55. In all of this there is one striking difference to me, and that is the very distinct impression that Muldoon worked for New Zealand and a vision of what it could be, and Key works for someone else, with a vision of what he can get. The deceit and divisiveness stuff… not much difference apart from the smoothness of the snake-oil salesman we have now.

  56. I agree with you Russel and what irritates me most is that very few of the Key government’s policies are new for National. I think the reason so many initiatives were ‘rushed in’ were because they were determined to get them cemented in case they were voted out again at the next election (as of course they should have been). I can’t understand why so many kiwis have such a short memory. In education for example, bulk funding, performance based pay, dismantling the unions, increasing class sizes just to name a few were already well under way last time they were in government, and talk of next steps were happening before Labour came in and in some ways (not enough though) reversed the damage done. Wait for league tables on primary school students, a voucher system encouraging parents who can afford the transport among other things to shift students out of low socioeconomic schools, the return of school principals to mandated individual contracts where they have to negotiate their pay and conditions with primarily lay people whose knowledge of education is that they went to school once too. Shortly after that we’ll see teachers negotiating their pay and conditions too and ‘climbing over each other’ to get extra allowances and recognition instead of collaborating to provide the best education possible for every student.

    On that note, I have worked in the lowest and highest socioeconomic schools. Under the current and emerging ranking system I am a great teacher in one school and a terrible teacher in another. How ridiculous. If I am to be judged on my students’ national standards rankings, it’s obvious where I’ll choose to work…in the school where the kids are already at or above the expected level. Who in their right mind would choose to work in a low decile school and be judged a rubbish teacher?? What kind of system is it that pushes good teachers out of the schools where they are needed most? What kind of system punishes teachers for dedicating themselves to the most disadvantaged students and families?

    Keep making the comparisons Russel and exposing the realities of what’s going on. It’s long overdue and needs to be said.

  57. Greenfly, many people hate and fear the Greens, because they think that they will loose the stolen privileges described above, and because the gains from fairness are smaller than the gains from kleptocracy / profit-taking. As you said, rationality is a good quality in explanations. I also think that Gerritt has a point, that presentation affects whether a message gets cut-through; I’m not sure why the precariat want to hear that:

  58. Comparing Key to Muldoon:

    Both : National leaders, extremist Right-wing & control power at any cost to NZ !
    Also: both seem to have complete contempt for the media & the opposition parties.. looking after their rich mates ONLY, who keep them in power


  59. Take Heart I think Michael Joseph Savage, who was once the icon hanging on the walls of NZ homes, was born in Australia, and look what he did for our country.
    I hated Muldoon, but in retrospect I consider him a great left wing PM because when all’s said and done he had NZ at heart, despite his failings he loved this land.
    Key on the other hand cannot care a damn about ordinary Kiwis, and I have a sneaky feeling his loyalty is owed to those US finance houses which employed him previously.
    If we leave him and his mates in power much longer we shall no longer be a nation but simply a sort of warehouse for all the big international companies which are so powerful in the world. Our lovely mountains, rivers and beaches will be owned by foreigners, and those of us who are fit to work will probably be expected to work as serfs in their homes.

  60. Explaining is explaining(Dunne is losing).
    Good, thorough, rational and convincing explanation, Russel.
    Many, many people hated Muldoon. Many, many people hate Key.
    ‘Nuff said.

  61. Comparing Key to Muldoon is an insult. To Muldoon!

    Muldoon may have had a lot of faults, and did many things I, and many others disagreed with, but, at least, they did not include a lack of concern for New Zealander’s best interests and selling us out for a 100 million dollar retirement in Hawaii.

    Muldoon’s social welfare for farmers and borrowing from the IMF for think big were obvious mistakes, but think big itself, in the context of the steeply rising oil prices at the time, were sensible infrastructure investment to replace energy imports.
    Not many predicted the USA would blatantly and cynically force regime change in the Middle East, Indonesia and South America to send oil prices back down.
    The private owners, after 1984 Labour sold them, certainly did well enough.

    Having talked to Muldoon myself, I know the old bugger really did think he was doing his best for New Zealander’s.
    He would have regarded present levels of unemployment and poverty as a personal failure, for one.

    Comparing him to a cynical self serving figurehead like Key, and making judgements out of the context of the times, are rather unfair.

  62. Explaining is losing.

    Who are the communication people that wrote the original speech?

    If it was you Dr Norman, you were totally out of tune on how the electorate would react.

  63. I happen to study Law and the Democratic Process under Andrew Geddis who wrote about the severely anti-democratic measures taken under National that you referenced in the speech (noting you had no prior discussion about this with him as he wrote in his blog). I also happen to be a dual citizen of New Zealand the USA.

    Having studied these measures pretty closely and how they are in conflict with our constitutional democratic principles I thought your comments were completely justified in the speech. Furthermore I interpreted the speech’s sentiment as something like a working class battler and that being compassionate isn’t the same thing as being a pushover. Further to all this as a dual citizen I also think the argument you don’t have standing to comment on these matters is basically offensive and pathetic although I wouldn’t let any article by Fran let me get offended.


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