Well… that was a bit shit.
The empty feeling that appeared deep in my gut last evening around about 8:30pm remains. New Zealand has decided the born-to-rule Tories of the National Party will lead the next government. Yes, we can get in to the semantics of, “But Boon, Labour plus Greens plus Winston First equals 61. That’s a government. We can be the government!”
Yes. A progressive-led government is a technical possibility, but think about this: in 1996 and again in 2005 Winston Peters went with the incumbent government and ended up destroying first National and then Auntie Helen’s government with his nonsense. Everybody knows what he’s like. Like everyone’s drunk uncle, he’s unpredictable and cantankerous. Good if you are in opposition; not so good if you are in government. So, my progressive chums, you have a choice. You can be like National and demand power at any cost (that cost being Winston), or you can just let him go with National and destroy them.
I am urging Jacinda to think very carefully about how much she wants it. You have only been in power for half an hour. Auntie Helen lost the 1996 election and ended up leading our country for nine glorious years. Everyone pines for her. Her legacy is formidable and remains in tact. Does Jacinda really want to risk her legacy before it’s even started. I hope her advisers are pointing this out.
However, as someone pointed out to me on twitter last evening, some New Zealanders need rescuing now. That is the tragedy of this election result. Do progressives push for change now? It’s a hard choice, but then again, I’m not living in a car, or not receiving the mental health care I need, or not able to get “elective” surgery for knee or hip pain, or labeled a “failure” by the education system from the moment I start school, or have gotten e-coli from swimming in the poisoned river running through my town, so it’s very easy for me to say this.
Boomers vs Juniors
How have we got to the point where 46% of New Zealanders are regularly willing to vote Tory? Everybody knows older people are a lot more conservative and a lot easier to turn out. During my twitter feed last night there was a lot of abuse being hurled towards these home-owning boomers. That doesn’t really solve anything. Home owners are just protecting their assets. National, the good Tories they are, played on the fears of those home owners. You’ll be paying more tax! Interest rates will rise! That’s scary stuff if you live inside the better part of $1 million that the bank owns. If you want to attack someone, attack National for their shameless scare tactics.
There is now that divide. Those who own and those who rent. I voted for change because I know there are thousands and thousands of people out there who are worse off than me and need the hand of the state to help them. I know we are all in this together and if we don’t care for the most vulnerable New Zealanders we might as well live under Trump. I’m a teacher so I may see this vulnerable side, but if you don’t see that part of New Zealand regularly it is very easy to ignore it. Also, if you are saying things like, “I’ve worked bloody hard to get where I am,” then that conveniently removes you from the collective responsibility we have to look after the less fortunate.
We live in a society. Tories do not want you to believe in that society. For years they have been looking to divide and conquer. It is in their best interests to have home owners fighting to protect their asset base against the rest of us. It is in their interest to reduce voter engagement – that’s why Hooton was so vocal about early voting being “undemocratic.” It’s not that he’s being foolish, he just doesn’t want you to be exercising your right to vote. The people who fall off the vote boat are left-leaning and Hoots doesn’t want any more of those people voting.
A lot of the boomers I know, my parent’s generation, grew up in or around the 1960s. That was a period of great change and upheaval. When did this generation, who fought against the Vietnam War and for universal human rights, give up fighting for what is right? Or does society become more conservative as they age? I don’t have the answers to these questions because I’m not a boomer or a home owner (Yes, I am aware that not all older people vote for National or are the only home owners in society – these are just thinks).
Bill English is the definite winner in this election. He’s been anointed to carried on the strong and steady plodding of John Key’s government. Home owners are feeling wealthy and they have rewarded him for it. Jacinda Ardern as taken Labour from a third party to a genuine change contender. One wonders what may have happened if she had more than two months and National hadn’t forced the change discussion to be replaced by a tax discussion. Winston Peters again holds the balance of power. We may not know until well into October what may happen. I’m sure he will do what is in the best interests of Winston. Thank you to James Shaw who brought the Greens back after polls threatened their very existence.
Who knows what government we will end up with when the dust settles at the end of October? I’m picking Winston will go with National because National will, unashamedly, offer him everything he wants to remain in power.
Final Final Thinks
This election must be remembered for the saddest of all terrible ironies: Bill English and National lied and lied and lied and got the largest vote; Metiria Turei told the truth and got hounded out of politics.
With parliament in a lengthy recess, MyThinks thought it was appropriate to head out there to find out what your elected officials were up to during their days out of Wellington.
John Key, Prime Minister: I’ve been travelling around the world doing all sorts of interesting stuff. I’ve met with several world leaders and I spent some time in Malaysia trying to run away from this Todd McClay nonsense. I mean, really, imagine saying one thing and then the truth turning out to be the exact opposite. That was very disappointing having to deal with that. I would never have operated like that. I’m looking forward to returning to parliament to hound the opposition about their policy platform before adopting the very same policy platform about a month later.
Paula Bennett, Social Housing Minister: During my holiday I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and reflecting. Thinking about how awesome I am and reflecting on how awesome I am. You know, I was the politician that offered people $5000 to move out of Auckland following a similar policy to offer people $3000 to move to Auckland. That’s pretty awesome. I’m pretty awesome. What a great holiday.
Bill English, The Other Housing Minister: I spent my holiday reading a book about pivot irrigators.
Todd McClay, Trade Minister: What have I done on my holiday? I’m not allowed to make any comment on anything any more. I’ve been banned from talking. Even answering this question could get me in hot water with the PM. Are you aware how great he is? I am. He’s really great. Really, really great.
Steven Joyce, Minister of Innovation, Employment, Business, and Cleaning Up Shit: I’ve had a pretty awesome break. I put on a hard-hat and a flouro vest and paraded about a muddy building site with Nick Smith to announce something we had already announced in the budget. It’s important to keep announcing stuff – especially the stuff you have absolutely no intention of doing – because then it looks like you’re doing something. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
Hekia Parata, Education Minister: I’ve spent a lot of time this recess consulting with a range of stakeholders across the educational community. I’ve been accepting submissions on a number of different projects and ideas we are developing. It is hugely important to me as a minister in this government that I consult widely with all relevant stakeholders at every available opportunity. So, yes, I’ve spent my recess at my holiday house drinking chardonnay and talking to nobody.
Metiria Turei, Green Party Co-Leader: During my holiday I suggested we try to reduce house prices gradually rather than having them fall 40% in one giant and economically devastating correction. I was mocked out of Wellington by the people who have created the conditions for this potential disaster. I didn’t say much else after that.
David Seymour, ACT Leader and Secretary Under the Education Minister: I spent my holidays at the Scout Jamboree in Takaka. I got my knot-tying badge and we spent an afternoon at the local aged care facility where we made brownies for the residents. I also went to that awesome Lego exhibition and saw Finding Dory about 4 times.
Andrew Little, Labour Party Leader: I spent a lot of time on this break reacting to the nonsense coming from the National Party, visiting people who work two jobs but can’t afford a house, selling Labour Party policy (which we expect to be stolen at some point soon), developing policy to deal with various economic crises arising from the mismanagement by the National-led government and hunting new hair for Peter Dunne.
Murray McCully, Foreign Minister: I’m still here. I am indestructible. I am like that squeaky ball-bearing in the shopping trolley – incredibly irritating yet utterly essential to the smooth forward movement of this juggernaut. You can’t get rid of me. I will be here forever. Plus, I have a folder on every single one of you.
Today on The Nation, the Finance Minister Bill English was interviewed about his government’s reaction to the housing crisis, homelessness and the general unwell-being of many New Zealanders. We at MyThinks got stuck in and whipped out the transcript of that interview. Here are the words of that transcript.
LISA OWEN: Good morning Mr English.
BILL ENGLISH: Good morning.
LISA OWEN: Let’s get right to it. Your government has come under fire in recent months over the number of New Zealanders who are being completely excluded from the housing market. How do you react to this?
BILL ENGLISH: Thank you, Lisa, but you have to remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: Yes, but how do you react to the many politicians, experts and ordinary New Zealanders saying you are not doing enough.
BILL ENGLISH: Yes, Lisa, you have to remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: But minister, that’s not really answering the question. How do you react to those who say you aren’t doing enough.
BILL ENGLISH: That’s simple, Lisa. You need to remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: Am I going to be able to get you to answer this question, Mr. English?
BILL ENGLISH: You totally are Lisa. The National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: What if I asked a different question?
BILL ENGLISH: It probably wouldn’t matter Lisa because you have to remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: What about sausages? Do you like sausages?
BILL ENGLISH: That depends on what flavour Lisa. You must remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades. $25 is a lot of sausages.
LISA OWEN: Are you embarrassed that you can only say one thing at the moment, minister?
BILL ENGLISH: Not really, Lisa. You should really take the time to remember that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
LISA OWEN: Well, minister, unfortunately that’s all we have time for today. Thank you Bill English.
BILL ENGLISH: Thank you, Lisa, for giving me the chance to remind you and all your viewers that the National-led government increased the benefit by $25 last year. We were the first government to lift benefits in decades.
Deputy Prime Minister and the government’s chief financial guru Bill English has today said New Zealand is a great place to be poor. The former member for the Southland town of Grrrr has been praised for his pragmatic view of New Zealand’s strugglers.
English, commenting on recent figures that showed the top 10% of New Zealand earners own 60% of the country’s wealth, denied the country was becoming more and more unequal.
“Sure people are struggling out there,” Mr. English told a well-paid non-journalist from Newstalk ZB, “but you have to remember there are plenty of jobs out there for people who want them.”
When asked where all these jobs were, Mr. English simply replied, “out there.”
And it’s true. When MyThinks went looking we found plenty of jobs throughout the solar system. If you travel through the astroid belt, past Jupiter and out to Saturn you’ll find loads of well-paying jobs. Jobs just sitting there waiting to be done.
Mr. English is correct when he said there are loads out there. There are. Loads. On Saturn.
The Finance Minister also reported he was concerned that some people were also living in their cars. English said they shouldn’t worry because there are plenty of houses out there if people want them. All they have to do is spend a little bit of time hunting. Sure they might not be in exactly the places they want but, as Mr. English says, they’re out there.
MyThinks went looking and sure enough, if you keep travelling out past Saturn all the way to Pluto you will find some of the nicest affordable homes there are. The commute is slightly problematic, but when you consider Pluto is 7.5 billion kilometres from Earth, and it can take longer to get from Mt. Wellington to Henderson at 3pm on a Friday, a $250,000 house on Pluto is a very enticing opportunity for car dwellers.
So there you have it. According to Bill English, New Zealand is a fantastic place to be poor. And according to some quick (and slightly expensive) research from MyThinks, Saturn and Pluto are also wonderful places for the poor.
There you have it.
Here at MyThinks we’ve been following the career of Foreign Minister and former national Movember champion Murray McCully for some years now. From his time as Witchsmeller Pursuivant for the Bolger regime of the 1990s up until his current role of chief emissary between the current National-led coalition and the various military juntas around the Middle East. Recently McCully has been praised for his no-nonsense approach to the shifting of vast sums of money and the odd meat-works from New Zealand to well-known poor people, The Saudi Royal Family.
Today McCully called it a day. In a short statement released this morning, the MP for East Coast Bays announced he wouldn’t be standing as a candidate at the next election.
The minister said the decision wasn’t easy. He acknowledged the hard work of the East Coast Bays electorate committee and the lady members of the Browns Bay Bowling Club who, McCully said, cook a mean sausage role.
When asked about life after politics McCully was coy, however he said there had been many offers – particularly to clean up dead lambs on desert farms around the Saudi peninsula.
Thank you Mr McCully for your years of many service in discrediting people who even remotely questioned anything the National Party did. It’s a shame we will not longer feel your Machiavellian wrath or witness unique subsidies that are definitely not bribes even though you are paying money to someone to try to get them to do something which is technically a bribe except when you do it, in which case it’s a internationalised cash transfer.
Godspeed Muz. Good luck and godspeed.