Trust in our Government and Politicians


Over 1 million people didn’t vote in the last election, many of those people didn’t/don’t believe their vote matters. The majority were low income New Zealanders. Yesterday we heard from the Salvation Army that children in Auckland are living in cars, garages, camping grounds and emergency housing. We heard that this is due to a lack of housing, but also a lack of awareness of entitlements or people having had such negative experiences that they are avoiding Work and Income. They find living in a car preferable to dealing with Work and Income. There has been a breakdown in trust between the Government and people who find themselves needing Government assistance.

Last night the Government passed legislation, under urgency, that further erodes that trust. They passed a bill that many low income New Zealanders are saying denies them their legal entitlements. For 18 years the Government has been underpaying beneficiaries for 1 stand down day each time that they have needed a benefit. I have blogged about this previously. While a beneficiary who misses an appointment because of a late bus, or problems at work, will most probably have their income cut by 50-100%, the Government is not being as brutal towards its own lapses.  This is being interpreted as further proof that the government doesn’t care and the government is a law unto itself.

The process regarding this bill did nothing to reassure those people. This original retrospective law change was buried in another significant law change. There was only one submission on this point as most people were not aware of the context or significance of the ‘remedial matter’. Through this process we found out that despite two court rulings Work and Income had not changed their practice to meet their legal obligations. Their practice changed over a year after the first court ruling but just 13 days after media attention.

Advocates, on low incomes themselves, took it upon themselves to inform people they could claim for their legal entitlements. Many people thought this was a scam and didn’t bother, but when those that took the risk did start getting their money, more people started applying. Then we got this legislation introduced under urgency to deny a large group of people the right to be paid from tomorrow.

Normally there would be a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) tabled on bills before the house, because it affects a large number of people and money. To my knowledge the only reasons for a RIS not to be provided are if the law makes no substantive change to legislation and it has little or no impact outside of government. It is very clear to me this legislation did change legislation and has a significant impact. The government also refused leave for other advice from officials to the select committee to be tabled so it could be used in the debate.

This process should severely discomfit anyone who cares about our laws and our increasingly fragile constitutional arrangements. There has been very little reporting of this. I understand why, but this case demonstrates more clearly than any other the importance of media scrutiny.

I understand that many people think politics is inherently corrupt. I used to, but now I’m a politician I rail against this idea. Democracy, the rule of law, and human rights are values that are essential to the Green Party vision for New Zealand. I’m okay taking flack for being an MP, but when the accusation of corruption is generalised, it’s not personal. It undermines confidence in the entire system and creates the conditions for corruption to flourish. If we’re all corrupt then you can’t vote for honesty and that is the primary way citizens can hold politicians to account. But actions like we have seen recently from this government give those that didn’t vote good reason to be suspicious of politics. We seem to be increasingly entering the territory that might suggest ‘The first rule is the government is never wrong. And when the government is wrong… see rule one – the government is never wrong.’

I don’t want to live in that society. I want to live in a society where parliament, the media and government seek to strengthen trust in government and public institutions and do our best to protect the human rights of everyone.

You can view my speech on this Bill here.

15 Comments Posted

  1. This is how the media works for us… because we demand a market driven media.

    Explains a lot when you think about it.

    No democracy can survive the ignorance of the people who comprise it. Socialist or Libertarian… ignorance is fatal.

    As Calvin points out, the market driven media fails to inform, it aims far lower, it entertains.

    So a market driven media becomes an enemy of democracy.

    …and market leaders are likely to be the least trustworthy sources of information.

  2. db – keep breathing brother, bj too. We’re all under their brainwashing, but let us re-group thoughts as best we can. Positive, pragmatic and principled.

    As an alternative to making national govt work, some Greens here are focusing more on local govt.

    Note that they want us to over-throw national govts, with violence, and the TTP signing would be the likely date. Governments would become even less important, as they aim to rule us with their UN. These guys have wet-dreams of a global police state, where the birds don’t sing. But the tides have turned, the rate-of-issue of arrest warrants is climbing. Israel’s PM BN will be arrested if he ever visits Spain, the board of the Deutsch Bank are all in court… list long and could go on. This change is happening at a slow speed so as to not break the system and throw us into chaos – chaos is exactly what they want.

    Local currencies are an example of action which can be started with simple local and even minority support. This can be duplicated globally. And local currencies hit the plutocratic Banksters effectively, as the capital markets are the root of their political power.

    Obviously all levels of governance and institutions are poisoned by the semi-conscious state of our population. With brain-damaging chemicals in our children’s vaccinations, and toxic aerosols emitted from our jet fuels, and an oligopoly corporate-media owned by baby-blood-drinkers. Oh, need I mention that the Bush family where partners in the 2001, 9/11 attack and unending wars… 13/11 Paris is the same stuff with the blood-drinking Jesuits of NATO breathing down PM Hollands neck. The intentional use of negative radionics for mass-population-control is the latest I’ve heard. The “tin-foil-hat theories” that I’ve investigated seem the more likely truths, with official government explanations blowing down like scare-crows. It’s logical that they should also be using radionics for mind control, (just like murdered osteopaths use positive-radionics to cure cancer) but that’s for the unemployed to investigate 🙂 Yes yes, doom doom doom. So we look to the positive.

    – Contact to nature
    – Meaningful employment
    – Healthy food
    So, if we can help people find these 3, then most adults can heal and find the truth on their own. Worked for me. We can achieve these things at the local level.

    Climate change is what our market research tells us will win votes. But getting into govt wont happen, not till the dark-tide recedes some more. So, are GHG emissions more significant than HAARP and Chemtrials? And who knows what other geo-engineering technologies are already in application on our weather.

    Greens have often worded things well. Reducing the GHG mantra and instead working to connect the cure-for Climate Change and the cure-for Inequality, as one and the same. Smart play, and solid leadership from our team.

    These intelligent blogs from Jan and Catharine are fully on track, and very real. Violence, rape and children born on the back-foot; big issues, and the people are adding it up the best our fuzzy brains can. Hey, we’ve a solid leadership base in the Greens and beyond, thanks to all for the efforts. Solid base for an Evolutionary Reconstruction!

    Spiritual growth can’t be stopped. When the Dark-side does finally slip from power, then Light-side is there with the skills and technologies to rebuild a prosperous society. This is going Star Wars style. Come-on team, can you feel the force? Let the Kundalini flow!

  3. I repeat that he is not brilliant…. just smarter than the sheeple, of which New Zealand has a substantial population.

    This is not really about Key. It is partly about the overton window, and partly about the way the media is incapable of taking the questions public which is itself partly about the way the internet allows us to ignore information that does not confirm our existing ideas.

    To take it back we have to take that overton window back. That means getting the press to report ideas that it scuppers now. Which is realistically, quite a difficult proposition.

    For the Greens it means engaging with parties that are not in Parliament and have more radical positions, and with NZ First to present concerted assaults on the echo-chamber. The views of Labour are mostly irrelevant at present, because THEY don’t coordinate with anyone. To shift the debate we have to work together. Disagreements between us are far less important than the agreement that we need to get rid of Key.

    However, If the sheeple put him back in, the rest of New Zealand has enough people unhappy with what is being done to them (and you are right about the automation issue) , and with the notion that they are property owned just as thoroughly as any property in Auckland. that we are going to wind up with internal security issues.

    The problem is that we don’t have the deep political discussions and disagreements any more. Not in person. Not in the media. Not here either. We are not confronted by nor do we confront, people who are very real who very much disagree with us. The counter-arguments do not appear in media. We no longer seem to have the social cohesion and tools to rationalize our disagreements… and the alternative is that we militarize them.

  4. BJ says of JK:

    If he were actually brilliant I might be persuaded….

    My friend, it is a fatal mistake to underestimate one’s enemy, and you seriously underestimate what Key has done. You say “Key runs against the Greens at every election and needs not worry about actually having to debate against them. Labour seems to have a political strategist PAID by National to throw away advantages. Running against and breaking Hone Harawira. Ignoring and running away from the Greens. The failure of Labour to work with its putative allies, are National’s secret weapon”

    You are right, but for the wrong reasons. What Key has done is not found a better way to play the game, as your comment suggests, he has changed the game so National always wins. You can’t beat the casino because the house always wins. And now, that is how New Zealand politics works; The house (of Key and National) always wins.

    In two years time we roll the dice again. The protagonists will line up, we’ll have the usual debates and sideshows, and then National will once again take their place on the Government side of the house. Unless and until the Left figures out the game is rigged, they’ll keep losing, and they’ll change the leader, whine that the policies must have been wrong, all the while believing that next time will be their time.

    December 2011-ish [link] I was “90% certain” of a National victory in 2017. And I’d pegged Jacinda for Labour victory in 2020. I think it now more likely that National will win in 2017, and I now cant see any prospect of a Labour victory in 2020.

    if Key wins the next election as you think he must, we will again see violence in New Zealand. Something I have never seen. New Zealand CANNOT stand the inequality he is creating.

    I hope (and think, in the near term, at least) you are wrong. But we are, longer term, heading for a problem along these line that is not of politics making, which is as technological progress consigns more and more people to the scrapheap, what to do with unwanted people will become a political problem. There are no easy solutions to this problem symptoms, but many “mad max” ugly scenarios possible. And there is no government willing to tackle the root problem which is excessive population growth.

  5. CoroDale says

    As an alternative to central National government,…

    I hate to be rude, but you just aren’t listening, are you. No, not to me, I’m just words on the internet, just ephimery, no, it’s the people of New Zealand you are not listening to. Here, I’ll put it in capitals: THE PEOPLE DON’T WANT AN ALTERNATIVE. The people have voted the National government in again. You’re right, of course, logically it makes no sense, and perhaps they must all be morons. I’m guessing you didn’t vote for them, I didn’t vote for them, I’m certain BJ didn’t vote for them, yet here we are, they are in power again. And, short of hell freezing over, and even without us three changing our votes, I guarantee they will be back.

    Don’t bet me wrong, I’m not exactly a fan of the National government. Back on March 28, 2011, in this very blog [link] I said Despite the fact the the next Key led government will fuck us over more than any government in our history, and I reckon pretty much everybody agrees this to be the case, the question is “is there any power on earth that could be summoned to prevent this happening”, and I believe the answer is no.. We’re now four and a half years on from that statement, and we’ve had yet another election at which the Nats were returned. We’ve had another thorough reaming. And I still believe that there is not a chance that the Nats are about to be rolled. Because the voting public want the Nats. That is all.

    So, whitter on all about alternatives you like, but (and you need to imaging these words being voiced by the late Hal Douglas, booming out in a cinema), “In a world where the people only want the National Party, what is the point of an alternative?”.

    I’ll have more on this when I get around to responding to BJ…

  6. As an alternative to central National government, it looks like we need to strengthen our local governance.
    And Local Economics.

    As solution; Local currencies fixed on a 100$ organic-food-box index.

    This could be an alternative bank account on your EC card; NZD or LocalD.
    Price of the organic-food-box could be re-indexed annually as required.

    This banking skill can come back to local. Regional cooperative banks can act as a cooperative network, sharing access to a second currency on the bank card, so payment in all participating shops in th region will be possible.
    Conversion ratios to other rregional currencies within NZ and Aust and Pacific Is, with cost of “organic food” or other indexes avaliable for exchange, automatic on bank card. Local “money” could also be traded in small shops. “Notes” could even be printed at the local council building, with the bigger notes signed on back by each shop, as proof of trade.
    A limit might be set on issue to match actual organic-food supply. Which might surprise us with similar growth in demand. Thereafter other factors could also be used to increase money velocity. eg. 5% conversion fee, for withdrawl out to NZ dollars. Free conversion to local-currency Two percent annual cost, one for bureaucratic costs, and one percent for a NZ Development Bank contribution.
    Right to reissue of currency could be held, with required period of notice (6months, every few years, as required to readjust back to NZD inflation/deflation. So at re-issue the 5% would be lost (this is driver for money velocity) Then re-issue would be given using the historic value of the food-box as indexed in the year of issue.

    This is a similar example:

    This duel currency system should be quite manageable even by small banks, and inactable without central government control problems.
    I’ll investigate this option next week, for here in Germany’s Niederrhein.
    If anyone from a bank or similar profession is keen to work on these local currencies, hoping we meet in early February in Wakiakto, Auck, or BOP. This could suit Cooperative Bank, Kiwibank, TSB, Prometheus…?
    All regions in the Pacific. Beyond National politics.
    Just ideas coming to head, the more exact path to the target will came on time.
    Direction is clearing.

  7. The chaos of the TTP is like the Paris 911 Media Marathon, a call to make us rise-up and start wwIII. This is the aim of the banksters behind the Clinton and Bush families. And the UN is no safe path to freedom for Syria, Tibet or global poverty. But the tides have turned. The East is restructuring money, even the one-bank-to-rule-them-all in Switzerland, slowly but, not at system-backing-speed.

    Mass-mind-control is making Democracy unworkable. The media have got to turn the corner, and that might be the tip of the iceberg, as radiations and aerosols are also looking like major public mental health threats.

    Talk of growth in local industry, this is nice, but a shift to mixed farming is the key for NZ to transform. More skilled workers could be welcomed from Lithuania, Nepal or anywhere else. When will socio-economic tools be on the table, like tax on chem-N fert? Europe say the herbicide “round-up” can have another 10 years, then… Getting back to governance shouldn’t take that long.

  8. most of the broad-left have failed to understand the brilliance of Key

    If he were actually brilliant I might be persuaded…. but he never fooled me for even a second. It is with distress that I must report that my fellow kiwis suffer from a serious deficiency in respect to built in crap detectors. It is delightful to encounter people who are as innocent as New Zealanders seem to be, but dismaying to find that they are so innocent that they can TRUST the man they know was named the “smiling assassin” by what is possibly the most corrupt financial market on the planet.

    Key runs against the Greens at every election and needs not worry about actually having to debate against them. Labour seems to have a political strategist PAID by National to throw away advantages. Running against and breaking Hone Harawira. Ignoring and running away from the Greens. The failure of Labour to work with its putative allies, are National’s secret weapon and if Key wins the next election as you think he must, we will again see violence in New Zealand. Something I have never seen. New Zealand CANNOT stand the inequality he is creating.

    neo-liberalism…. Not because it doesn’t matter, but because it is, and will remain, the status quo of normality.

    I don’t agree. Yes, the Right Wing managed to shift the Overton Window. They are currently riding that but the window is I think starting to shift back.

    Within 10 years – 15 on the outside, neo-liberalism is going to become so discredited and understood to be so dangerous to society that it will not be capable of returning for generations. Assuming that New Zealand manages to survive as a country that long. I am not just talking about the “Overton Window” though. I am expecting their excesses to get tied to the climate instabilities that stop being benign little heat waves that only kill a few thousand people at a time somewhere else…. and our complete effing lack of preparation for what happens here.

  9. Two main reasons, the first is that it will reduce the rate of rise in the cost of living for New Zealanders.
    For a short time… and at what cost? People who look at this and think it is good are not paying attention to what it actually does to everyone for the benefit of the corporations that will no longer face even the possibility that a nation might decide to build for itself some product that the corporation is currently selling to them.

    Why is the cost of living rising for New Zealanders? WE IMPORT THINGS WE CAN BUILD OURSELVES. We sell logs and import furniture. We sell wool and import clothing. We do not support our local industry and as a result, it GOES AWAY.

    So we are reduced to selling our real-estate to foreigners and there is only so much of that we can do before they are selling it between them rather than us having more to sell. We sell every raw material and farm good we can produce but our economy is that of a Banana Republic (Milk Powder = Bananas). That one commodity twitches and we execute a financial face-plant.

    That is just WRONG!
    Yet it is an article of faith with a large number of New Zealanders that we should not ever subsidize or assist any industry. Wrong lessons learned. The difference between supporting local industry and enslaving it as a program to create jobs isn’t considered. New Zealanders are seriously impaired by the propaganda of the business council – which has no actual interest in local industry or jobs.

    The second is that it should increase our export capability in a broad range of industries, and thus should increase employment. The deal is good for New Zealand, and mostly good for most New Zealanders.

    It will increase only our export capability in the primary production we already do. It will serve us ill as soon as we attempt to develop any capability beyond that.

    Basically you are buying what the corporations are selling. A collar to be riveted to the necks of your children and their children.

    their most-productive use is in another country, then free trade will cause them to migrate there–which is not necessarily best for the nation they depart.

    The problem is that New Zealand had in the 1970’s and before, a very stupid form of protectionism based on the power of the Unions and enforced in their service (not in the national interest to do that either)…. and New Zealanders learned the wrong lessons from that, and 40 years of suffering have followed as we transformed our economy into what it is now… a Banana (=Milk Powder) Republic.

    The TPP is the last act of a sovereign state committing suicide.–stiglitz-and-adam-s–hersh-2015-10–stiglitz-2015-05

    Lets summarize these 5,544 pages, delivered to “we the people” by the corporations….


    That’s what it says. Don’t get mired in the legalese…. the corporate rights are enshrined in the agreement, the government rights are unenforceable-hand-waving. The rights of PEOPLE… not even worth talking about…. and future generations are to be bound by the agreement.

    “I am increasingly persuaded that the earth belongs exclusively to the living and that one generation has no more right to bind another to it’s laws and judgments than one independent nation has the right to command another.” ― Thomas Jefferson

  10. BJ Notes

    It is an important feature of the neo-liberal political strategy, reduce voter turnout and keep the population as ignorant as possible.

    Seems like I’m always picking on BJ, but, really, we agree on many thing, sometimes violently(!), and BJ does put the most cogent and well-phrased arguments.

    But… I think you’ve missed the ball on this one, BJ, but I don’t believe you are alone, I think most of the broad-left have failed to understand the brilliance of Key and how he has made his position to all intents and purposes, unassailable.

    I can’t explain the missing million votes, it does seem bizarre to me that such a large number of people simply refuse to engage with the political process. There was an effort last election to get some engagement there, but it simply failed.

    But what I can explain is how Key is able to waltz into election victory time and again.

    The clue was in a throwaway remark uttered by Tim Groser: The Trade Minister has labelled those against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “politically irrelevant”… which leads to the question of who is “politically relevant”? The answer, is, of course, what the pundits like to call swing voters, those who may vote one way or another.

    Keeping the swing voters satisfied and big fans of National is the JK trump card, and by making sure these voters always know that the National party are “their” party, National has converted swing voters to National voters, and in sufficient numbers that I believe it is numerically impossible for National not to win.

    Let us let that sink in for a minute: Numerically impossible. Thus we have, for the foreseeable future, a National government in the driving seat.

    So the Left now have a big problem, how can they ever get their hands on the levers again? The only real answer is by appealing to the newly “Nationalised” voters (you see what I did there, right? Pure irony) and giving them something the same to vote for.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the brighter minds on the Left are per-occupied with other things. One of these dead-end side-tracks is neo-liberalism. It really doesn’t matter. Not because it doesn’t matter, but because it is, and will remain, the status quo of normality. Neo-liberalism only exists as something for those who want to change the world to think about.

    But here is the secret, people. There is no desire to change the world. If there were a desire for something different, something alternative, then the electorate would have expressed that position at the ballot box. But the people are saying, loud and clear, they don’t want change. Or, at least, the politically relevant voters are saying that, and they are the only voters that matter.

    And BJ, I agree your list of points. The problem with “getting them across” is that the people that they need to be got across to are very happy (and getting happier by the year) with their lot, and don’t really need to hear that there are other possibilities. Especially if those possibilities make them personally less well off.

    Isn’t that a motherfucker of a problem to solve…?

  11. BJChip notes:

    Right now the TPP is seen as a “done deal” …. and I can’t even FIND someone who thinks it is a good idea…

    After a significant period of vasselating and fence-sitting, I’m now fairly on board with the TPPA.


    Two main reasons, the first is that it will reduce the rate of rise in the cost of living for New Zealanders. The second is that it should increase our export capability in a broad range of industries, and thus should increase employment. The deal is good for New Zealand, and mostly good for most New Zealanders.

    Is it perfect? Hell no. But most folks who are against it are against it for a small number of very specific reasons, and I don’t dispute much of what those who are correctly critcising elements of the TPPA say. But the negatives that the TPPA brings are quite specific and quite limited, whereas the positives are quite broad.

    Most people who argue against it are just plain wrong, they are parroting something 14th hand that has been increasingly misunderstood at each gossip pass, or they find themselves in an entrenched position due to nailing colours to the mast based on old leaked drafts.

    The other side of the coin is what would it mean for New Zealand and New Zealanders if we don’t sign? Pretty much the opposite of if we do, as a whole we will be disadvantaged as a country, although some folks will obviously gain from the don’t sign position.

  12. Continually examining and finding inconsistencies is a part of working out what may be happening. Much of what we are told from political mouthpieces is very much short of a wider picture and often fundamentally lies.

    We have an expert here leading the diatribe towards a take over of NZ interests and wealth. Guess who.

    Find holes in this attempt to bind a cohesive understanding. A challenge

  13. I totally agree with BJ and when we study US foreign policy and the CIA we see some of what is happening is deliberate power grabbing tactics for their manipulation of resources for their unsustainable model.

    Maybe a lot more needs to be said to connect the media and politicians to the type of economy that dampens sustainable natural living, and the type of reaction causing terrorist action. Last decade their was a spate of African revolution where teenagers and the young were most involved. If this was clearer then we may see a clearer choise of responsibiity instead of pandering to the short term spending of baby boomers.

  14. “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in.”

    It is an important feature of the neo-liberal political strategy, reduce voter turnout and keep the population as ignorant as possible. Don’t teach “Social Studies” or “Civics” in schools. Ignorance is not fertile ground for freedom and that is how a democracy loses itself. Our “Smiling Assassin” PM is happy to make sure it stays lost.

    The question is about what we CAN do. In the absence of a vigorous and combative press it is desperately difficult to understand that there is even a struggle going on, and in the absence of that understanding the kids aren’t going to engage.

    I find their apathy shocking as anything I have ever encountered, but they have no experience with that vigorous debate. They think it matters what they do online, but politics is personal. It means putting your opinions to others as a PERSON, not as an online identity, discounted instantly by the absence and anonymity of the person behind it. We don’t see the debate happening. We don’t see anything meaningful from Labour.

    Perhaps we need to invite the Guardian to establish itself here in NZ. Someone has to take on the comfortable complacency of the gullible around here or we are going to lose it. Right now the TPP is seen as a “done deal” …. and I can’t even FIND someone who thinks it is a good idea… and we aren’t debating it.

    The issue is largely economics.

    We have to get across to New Zealanders:

    1. National policies are successfully transforming New Zealand – into a Banana Republic.

    a. Our dependence on “primary industry” is growing, not shrinking.
    b. Our dependence on foreign “owners” is growing, not shrinking.
    c. We are on an unsustainable economic path selling assets, importing finished products and exporting raw materials.

    2. We are unprepared for future climate changes and the economic changes that come with them. If the suppliers of our technology stop being able to supply us, our ability to maintain our knowledge base DIES.

    3. We are members of a global society that has, largely, lost its way.

    There is more than this. I am out of time

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