The National Party’s Hierarchy of Disagreement

Some observations on how the National Party deal with criticism of policy, process or behaviour. Below is an image of Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement – something I’ve tweeted before. Underneath I’ve collated examples of how our ruling party falls into each category as they use the various tactics supplied by PR firm Crosby Textor and other background players we, the public/voters, never see, yet pay for out of our tax dollars through the parliamentary machine.

Refuting the Central Point

Auckland house prices:

Reserve Bank of New Zealand: “the Government has to look at putting a capital gains tax on property investments.”

Harry Dent, Economist: “you get a bubble in the first place is because there’s strong demand versus limited supply, and that’s what you have in Australia and New Zealand.”

National’s response:

John Key: “No, I don’t think you can call it a crisis.”


National Party 2014 campaign advert:

Joel Martin, Eminem Publisher’s Spokesperson: “It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the 3 strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright.”

National’s response:

Steven Joyce, 2014 National Party Campaign Manager: “I think it’s… um… pretty legal. I think these guys are having a, having a crack.”


John Oliver, Satirist: “Pretty legal?


Auckland Housing Crisis:

There is so much floating around on this at the present time. Let’s just go straight to the National Party’s response. Interestingly, part of their way of dealing with a crisis they don’t believe is actually happening is to release a press statement telling everyone how well they are dealing with the crisis that doesn’t exist.

National’s response:

Nick Smith, Housing Minister: annual construction activity across New Zealand has topped $31 billion, an all-time high, and is projected to reach $37 billion in 2017.

What’s actually happening:

Bernard Hickey, Financial Expert: Total spending on construction in Auckland in 2015 was a record-high $10.9 billion and is forecast to rise to $18b by 2018 in the most recent Government forecasts. But that total includes building offices, motorways, tunnels, hospitals and schools. The 9651 houses consented in the past year remain below the 12,937 in 2004. More importantly, that was also far fewer than the 12,941 homes in 1974 when Auckland’s population was half its current size.


Homeless people living in cars and needing government help:

Mike Wesley-Smith, The Nation: A growing numbers of families are being forced to live in cars because of unaffordable housing.

National’s response:

John Key, Prime Minister: “MSD and the Sallies went around and knocked on eight cars that they could find, All eight of those people refused to take support either from Sallies or MSD.

Salvation Army response:

Salvation Army Press Release: MSD officials did not accompany Salvation Army social personnel to Bruce Pulman Park last Monday night, as part of the Army’s regular visits to the site. The Salvation Army declined the offer by MSD officials to accompany The Salvation Army as some of these people are very wary of government officials.

Responding to Tone

Dirty Politics – the Nicky Hagar book outlining how National uses behind-the-scenes PR attacks to belittle, slander or marginalise people who threaten their power.

National’s response (yes, I am aware of the irony of National accusing opponents of “smearing” them in a book about how they smear their opponents):

John Key, Prime Minister: …accused his opponents from “the left” of a smear campaign and dirty politics over the book’s release.

Media responses to Dirty Politics:

John Armstrong, Former Political Editor, NZ Herald: Hager’s allegations are many and varied. They are extremely serious. But one stands out. The allegation that one of John Key’s minions hacked into the Labour Party’s database is – to put it bluntly – the modern-day equivalent of the 1972 burglary of the Democratic Party’s national committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington.

Dr Bryce Edwards, Political Scientist: The “democratic deficit” seen in current New Zealand politics is particularly obvious in the way that government institutions seek to suppress information.

Ad Hominem

More from Dirty Politics:

John Key, Prime Minister (when asked by why Nicky Hagar was a conspiracy theorist): Because I think he is.

Steven Joyce, National Party Campaign Manager: “No.. no… I haven’t read the book. I’ve had a few people who’ve told me a bit about it but I haven’t read it.”

followed immediately by:

“It’s a bunch of stolen emails, a bunch of allegations, some of them are breathless about things that are already well-known such as David Farrar’s a member of the National Party, and others which are completely 1 and 1 equals 49 and apparently the Prime Minister’s a devil beast” (from 1.14 onwards).


The time when Steven Joyce called Grant Robertson a trainspotter:

The time when Steven Joyce said several people who were debating with him were trolls:

The time when Steven Joyce called Labour’s policy ideas gobbledygook, expensive & unnecessary, and whacky:

The time when Steven Joyce said that Labour MP David Parker talks rubbish:

The time when Steven Joyce said that political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards was biased:

Of course, there may be the odd person reading this from the right side of the fence thinking, well he’s just cherry picking out bits and pieces to back up his argument (refutation). My question to you: why does the National Party feel the need to spend so much money on PR? Is it because they know, in their hearts, that their entire raison d’etre benefits just a few (lucky) people. This is why they have to dismantle and deconstruct valid points detailing this.


Capital gains tax on investment property – bold call from Reserve Bank: TVNZ – April 15, 2015

Property crash predicted: NZ Herald – Feb 21, 2015

Key denies Akl housing crisis: Radio NZ – Apr 13, 2015

National Party sued over Eminem copyright infringment: NZ Herald – Sept 16, 2014

Eminem sues National over election ad: – Sept 16, 2014

Record house build and construction under way: National Party Press Release – July 26, 2016

Bernard Hickey: Build houses and they will stay: NZ Herald – Sept 4, 2016

Auckland’s hidden homeless: The Nation, NewsHub – May 4, 2016

John Key: Homeless don’t want help: NewsHub – June 3, 2016

Correction: Press Release: Salvation Army – June 3, 2016

Hager book a smear campaign: Key: – Aug 14, 2014

John Armstong: Hager’s claims light a fuse under the State of Key: NZ Herald – Aug 14, 2014

Bryce Edwards: The democratic deficit of Dirty Politics: NZ Herald – Nov 27, 2014


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