Yesterday, during a short piece about possible corruption and dodgy dealings within the National Party of New Zealand, MyThinks suggested that all anybody had to do to get anything from them was to set up some kind of crowd funding scheme whereby a whole lot of cash was raised and donated to the National Party, and then there was some kind of quid pro quo in return.
Senior National Party prople have been in contact with us and it turns out it is far more complicated than we first thought.
Sure you can give them a whole bunch of cash and they’re likely to do stuff for you. However, they aparantly have this thing called the Old Boys Network which is essentially a vast network of rich, old white guys. This network has no need for large envelopes of cash in the traditional sense. It turns out they just ask the National Party to do stuff and they will do it.
It appears for many National MPs, life after parliament might also be important.
MyThinks unreservedly apologises to the National Party for suggesting they will only change policy or take action against something if money changes hands in some way. We are truely sorry of this lack of insight caused any offence.
With everyone jumping up and down this week about corruption in the delightful resort nation of Niue, MyThinks thought it was important to point out a few things that have been missing from the discourse.
The implication that by somehow giving the National Party $100,000 and then receiving a large resort management contract makes Earl Hagaman or Murray McCully or the National Party corrupt is just plain wrong.
We are in New Zealand people, not Italy, Africa or any other country. Those countries, where dealings like this take place all the time, are utterly corrupt. New Zealand isn’t.
Paying money to the ruling political party to win a highly sought after contract isn’t corrupt. It’s just clever business.
The other thing to remember is the minister responsible – Murray McCully – would have to have some kind of history of doing this sort of thing for people to see it as corrupt. Wouldn’t he?
I don’t know about you guys, but if I wanted a change of policy or some kind of action on something (like obesity, the housing crisis, inequality, or my missing knighthood) my first port of call would be to raise a few hundred thousand and give it to them right away. After all, with National, money seems to talk louder than 25,000 people marching up Queen Street.
I suppose you could either go down the crowd-funding route or just threaten pull out of New Zealand altogether. I’m pretty sure that’s how Warner Bros. got their employment law changes through.
Anyway… there’s a few things to think about this weekend.
What follows is a transcript of a brief press conference given at parliament earlier today by the Rt. Hon. Murray McCully, Minister of the Dark Arts and Brown Envelopes Bulging with Cash.
MURRAY MCCULLY (entering, walks up to podium, stands on strategically placed beer crate): Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming. I’ve called this press conference to just clear up a few things regarding our investment in a random agricultural hub in the middle of the Arabian desert. Firstly I’d like to read from a brief statement, then I’ll take some questions from the floor. Ahem…
This week the government announced an exciting venture where we plan to ship an abattoir from New Zealand to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a very exciting venture because, as everybody knows, sheep can’t survive in the desert, so having somewhere to turn them into prime export cuts is a very exciting venture. This abattoir will be paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer and goes some way to fulfilling our obligations under the Middle East Free Trade Agreement, or MEFTA, that we haven’t been able to get them to sign yet. We hope to get this packed into crates and on a plane by the end of the week. Thank you. Any questions?
VANCE, TVNZ: Is this just a bribe to try to get them to sign MEFTA (mumbles to self: MEFTA sounds ridiculous)?
MCCULLY (looking down and to the side): Absolutely not. This isn’t a bribe. A bribe is when you pay someone money to do something. There is no money being paid here. Only a building. A building paid for with money. Come on, you can’t bribe anyone with a building.
VANCE: Once you give them the building, are you hoping they will sign MEFTA?
MCCULLY: That’s why we’re giving them the building.
CAMPBELL, RNZ NATIONAL: Are you concerned that this money is benefiting a regime that’s just killed nearly 50 people who oppose that regime?
MCCULLY: Oh look, we are not giving this abattoir to Saudi Arabia, we are giving it to the businessman who owns the farm.
CAMPBELL: Yes, but in Saudi Arabia, nobody is allowed to do own anything like an abattoir or large farm. It just becomes assets of the Saudi royal family – the same family that put to death all those people just before Christmas.
MCCULLY: But we are bribing the grumpy businessman with this meat-works, not the Saudi Royal family. Haven’t you read the ministry papers?
GOWER, NewShub: Is there anything else you are giving the Saudis?
MCCULLY: No. Absolutely not. We have no plans to give them anything else other than the abattoir. There is absolutely no bundles of American dollars that might fall out of the containers when they are opened on the other side. No. Nothing else.
GOWER: Are you concerned this will make New Zealand look like just another corrupt regime willing to do business with anyone at any cost?
MCCULLY: Look. The National Party of New Zealand prides itself on the unique way I like to do business. Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands dirty. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves, reach into the wrong end of the cow and pull out some policy that just looks so very terrible and smells even worse. Ultimately, John Key is the PM. He’s told New Zealanders he been known to take a whazz in the shower. If they don’t care about that, I don’t think they’re going to care about a few million dollars spent to get a free trade deal with a country that murders members of the opposition.
Ok… so if there’s nothing else I need to whip across to the Reserve Bank and sort out some non-sequential bills. Good afternoon.
Jumps off beer crate and exits through side door.
The first Prime Minister I can remember is Bill Rowling. I was around five years old when he came to power. I don’t remember much about him. I put this down to the fact that he took over after Norm Kirk passed away and was then removed from office by questionable campaigning from the late Sir Robert Muldoon who, among other things, likened Rowling and his Labour Party to animated Russian dancers.
Rowling and Labour lost and the new superannuation fund set up by that government was pillaged and spent on massive projects designed to get oil out of the ground.
After that election the country faced 9 years under the regime of a man who literally ran everything. He was Prime Minister and Finance Minister so the buck stopped with him. Although it didn’t really stop as his spending prowess has been well documented as has his late night juiced-up announcement of the election that brought the David Lange Labour government to power.
Following that Labour government the country faced another National government hell-bent on the destruction of many facets of Kiwi society that had been built up over the previous three or four generations.
Free healthcare and free education were seen as the cornerstones of a developed nation. It was believed that a healthy, well-educated nation was a production nation. That 1990s National government – filled with cabinet ministers who had made their success thanks to the very subsidies (educational / farming) they were removing – cut benefits and pensions at a time featuring much higher rates of inflation than we have now.
It’s fine not having much money, just as long as the price of the food, power and rent you are paying doesn’t increase at a faster rate than the income you receive. Ruth Richardson decided at a time when inflation was 5% it would be a good idea to cut benefits. Not only was their more to pay, you had less to pay for it with.
Fast forward twenty or so years and we have a similar government trying to sell us similar policies – only this time the reforms include mandatory drug testing for job seekers and requiring parents receiving benefits to enroll their children in early childhood education and appropriate healthcare facilities. Admittedly this may fly in the face of my earlier “healthy, educated country” comment, but read on for clarification.
You have to ask yourself this: if this policy is so amazing, why are they not extending it out to ALL parents? They would never be able to because there are too many votes to be lost. At the moment this policy is about dividing the poor getting government money from the poor who are working for their money.
The only problem is that pretty much everybody gets Working for Families these days. That’s government money. Drug tests and parental tests for all!!
There was an incredibly important survey released in the United Kingdom this week. The article in the Independent newspaper was titled, “British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows.” It goes on to document the survey results showing the British public had a warped perception of a range of aspects to their society.
The by-line of the article is this:
Research shows public opinion often deviates from facts on key social issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration.
The article is well worth a read because many of the points made within can be easily transposed to the New Zealand situation. I’m sure we (our society) believe that benefit fraud is a multi-million dollar a year enterprise and that all beneficiaries exist to fleece the taxpayer. In actual fact benefit fraud was around $23 million last year – a record according to the New Zealand Herald which indicates it has previously been lower. Although this report from TV3 indicates welfare fraud could be as high as $39 million. It also mentions the fact that tax fraud could be anywhere between $1 and $6 billion dollars and we all know what this government thinks about tax evasion since many of the current cabinet protect their assets with family trusts.
Why is this? Why is it that the perception people have of these aspects of society is so far removed from what is actually happening?
There are two main reasons. Politicians and the main-stream media. Politicians spend their public lives manipulating public opinion through the main-stream media who appear to show little motivation to question or seriously delve into the claims made. When was the last time you saw John Key really questioned about what he was saying? admittedly it is a hard thing to do when the nightly news is all about soundbites and misformation.
We live in a country that has had, for many decades, one of the highest voter turn-out rates in the western world. In the past five decades the turnout has fallen from above 90% to below 70% at the last election. In the same period membership levels for political parties has also plummeted – from just under 300,000 in 1954 to a shade over 50,000 now.
It is all connected. People are not motivated to take part in our democracy because our political masters are seen as self-serving manipulators of the truth. They are prone to the exaggeration of facts or outright lies depending on the situation, the journalist or the audience. People are not motivated to join political parties because they don’t want to belong to an organisation that bases its existence on the manipulation of others. People don’t believe politicians because they know that they say one thing and mean another (see my blog from the weekend).
So when a politicians tells you that 20% of New Zealand children are leaving school unable to read and write, or in prison or similar such utterances suggesting things are seriously wrong with our education system, how much of that is truth and how much of it is exaggerated bullshit made up by former journalists and media comment writers hired by the politicians to gather as many votes as possible?
Politicians do not exist in the real world. They exist in their own little protective cocoon. Protected by their minders, their party machine and the unquestioning main-stream media.
Trust them and what they say about the education of your children AT YOUR PERIL.
Inflation Rates Across the Decades – Reserve Bank of New Zealand
The Mother of all Budgets – Te Ara On-line Encyclopedia
British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows – The Independent, Tuesday July 9, 2013
Voter Turnout 1928 – 2011 – Te Ara On-line Encyclopedia
Party membership, 1954–2008 – Te Ara On-line Encyclopedia
Benefit fraud tops $23m in record year – New Zealand Herald, Monday Feb 25, 2013
Courts tougher on benefit fraud than tax dodging – 3 News, Oct 21, 2012
How super-rich Kiwis dodge tax – New Zealand Herald, Jun 1, 2013