If you haven’t watched the debate between Bill English and David Parker on The Nation over the weekend, you probably should get stuck in to it straight away.
It is very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, when asked about his plan, Bill English was unable to say anything other than, “well… we’ve got a plan.” Host Lisa Owen asked Bill several times to name one thing that his government was going to do to boost New Zealand. I suppose, if one was being kind, one could argue that Bill was saying National is doing many different things together (this is what he said after being pressed).
The only issue I have with the various people arguing this, including panelist Fran ‘Whale Source’ O’Sullivan from the New Zealand Herald, is when David Parker was asked the same question he rattled off a list of policies Labour have planned. It is prudent to note the amount of policy Labour and the Greens have released this election campaign compared with the amount National have released. Sure National have a lot on their website, but it’s not easy to find and apart from their big ‘housing’ announcement (giving more people more money to buy more houses in an effort to bring an end to ) and their tax ‘plan’ today, there has been very little in the way of tangible and meaty policy released and discussed in the media. Everybody knows about Labour’s capital gains tax and the reasons they believe the country needs it. What do we know about National? Oh… you might get tax cuts… if it’s ok to do it. How much? Oh… we don’t know. When? Oh… not ’til 2017.
National’s plan seems to hinge around telling New Zealanders they would rather hear about the issues that matter – housing, health, education and the economy – before attacking Labour or the Greens or Nicky Hager for printing out their emails. They aren’t really that keen to talk about policy. Not keen at all.
The other important takeaway from this interview was Bill English’s inability to draw a line in the sand under the Dirty Politics issue. Lisa Owen asked him point-blank whether he approved of someone trawling through the Labour website and downloading private information. He could have easily said no. That would have put him off side and off message.
The fact Bill stalled and struggled to answer when he was first asked was very telling. It was like he really, really wanted to say yes but his instinct to toe the party line gazzumped his instinct to answer in a way that showed greater amount moral fortitude.
It is such a shame, but not unexpected, that Dirty Politics has fallen off the news cycle somewhat in the last week. It was like Judith ‘Princess Diana’ Collins got the sack and the media went, “oooh sweet, we can stop talking about this.”
Some of us actually have many, many questions that remain unanswered. Media types reading this can click here to read some of those questions. John Key must, he just absolutely must answer them. Not doing so highlights just how ethically challenged the leadership of the National Party are.
September the twentieth is a chance for New Zealand to set up a royal commission into political corruption. Voting for the National Party means that will definitely not happen.