Political activism and maintaining a career

An interesting post at The Standard – Left wing activism and the humdrum need to maintain jobs and careers, about the difficulties of being a left wing activist while maintaining a middle class mortgage supporting career.

This is by a new author, ‘Advantage’, who as ‘Ad’ has been one of the commenters worth keeping an eye on in Standard threads.

See if this rings any bells. You’ll have your own stories on this.

You’re highly qualified. You can’t trust those around you with your politics. Random restructures hit teams around you. If you’re outed, you’ll likely never work in your chosen field again. Your few close friends are allies, others have flamed out like a final Mad Max ride. Your nom-de-plume protects your mortgage.

A few peel off to work in Parliament, others to minor NGOs, some reduced to commenting alone, still more get post-campaign burnout and become melancholic muggles.

The choices narrow for the remainder. Build or find a project in your “spare time” and believe in its ability to inspire; this site is one. Choose union activism to rail valiantly against the rising exploitative tide, and forgo your career arc. Some retreat to the grey economy, rebuke the world, retire from the field early, sending occasional missives on purity.

Others keep their suits on. They find social reform, or governance positions, or built infrastructure projects, on a monumental scale, and push their shoulder in. They make deals. They compromise everything especially themselves. They are strategic brokers, and they are paid for it. One’s function in politics changes as one’s ideals are replaced by instruments.

The comments thread is interesting too (if you can get past the few “right bad, left perfect and hard done by” bits) with discussion and expansion on the themes raised.

I’m sure there are jobs in which people interested in any sort of political activism feel restrained and see a need to keep their activism anonymous to their workplace. From the left, right or no aligned.

RedLogix comments:

Absolutely. I’ve never worked in a situation where I felt it wise to even talk about politics, much less ‘out’ myself.

It is absolutely one of the covert control mechanisms embedded in most workplaces, an effective prohibition on ever talking about salaries, politics, workplace bullying and so on. Increasingly the only things that are talked about are sport, the weather and workplace gossip. The intent is to keep worker powerless.

Ad responds:

This is as I suspected.

Sorry to sound like Morpheus out of The Matrix, but it means those kinds of people really are out there.

What I am pointing to is their latent power.

Such insiders have massive institutional knowledge, are paid like professional people, have immense industry networks, and are often in charge of projects or programmes that have real effects in the world.
– Industry specific knowledge is vital for policy formation
– Paid professionals have the capacity to be donors (a growing left problem)
– Networks have specific political power into specific Ministries
– And programmes and projects can become part of policy direction as well

Political movements of the left need to nurture this kind of person.

In the modern world many people choose to put families, careers and private lives before political activism and other interests, even if they are inclined towards it (most have little or no interest in politics).

Could I have been an MP? Could I have been an All Black? Either is possible (although it’s unknown if either were attainable) , but for twenty plus years in the prime of my life I toiled away raising a family and going from job to job in order to survive financially.

My marriage didn’t come out the other side of that intact but I have children and step children and another marriage plus step children and grand children that I am very thankful for. The lack of high profile achievement and failing to solve the worlds problems has instead had it’s own big rewards. And now I can dabble (at politics, I gave up rugby at the end of last century).

Ironically (in respect of Advantage’s post) the longest I have had a single career job for has coincided with when I have been able to try out a bit of political activism. I’m aware some jobs wouldn’t allow that – perhaps those who want to pursue activism have to choose a job that’s compatible.

Hide on Judith Collins’ leadership bid

Rodney Hide’s Sunday Herald column is on Judith Collins making a bid from the backbench for leadership of National – Crusher throwing her hat in the ring.

The tom-toms are beating and, as incredible as it may sound, around National Party campfires the leadership of New Zealand’s most popular Prime Minister is being questioned.

The questions are sparked by Judith Collins asking the oldest political question of them all: “Why not me?”

I’ll jump straight to Hide’s punch line.

Hers is an excellent plan on paper. To effect it Collins needs the support of her colleagues. But here’s where she falls short. She hasn’t any.

So she’s making a bid hoping that support will swing behind her.

Whether part of the plan or not Cameron Slater has been trying to drive an anti-Key pro-Collins movement, and that won’t help Collins in getting National Caucus support. It’s likely to severely hinder it.

Some in National are getting annoyed, especially those who are against any attempt to allow the people of New Zealand to make choices about our flag.

But would they support a leadership overthrow and potentially lose their hold on Government for that?

Hide’s final words:

National MPs know when they are on to a winner. They have learned from Labour it’s very easy to trash leaders but very hard to replace them.

It’s even harder to replace them with a winning leader.

Where are the journalists going?

There are continuing concerns about journalists being gradually culled from major media organisations. NZ herald is one of the latest to show some the door.

This exchange on Twitter commented on some of that and asked lamented the thinning ranks of journalists.

Deeply concerned about right tilt in media. Now Campbell, Rudman, Drinnan gone and Weldon running Mediaworks.

Campbell has gone to a better place and… my god you’re not suggesting Drinnan is a leftie?!


He is at least an independent and critical voice re media – how thin the critical media voices now are!

To an extent that is a concern, but a signs of rapidly changing times. However there was an interesting response.

Well, you should stop bloody poaching them. Ihaka, Faafoi, Moroney ..

Sarah Stuart, Phil Twyford, Danya Levy and a little bit of David Cohen….. you have quite the Press Room.

He was making the point that political parties poach quite a few journalists.This not only reduces media experience but it pits poached experience against the reporters.

Going through those names – these three are MPs:

Kris Faafoi:

Kris lives in Titahi Bay, Porirua and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mana in November 2010 following more than a decade working as a journalist at both TVNZ and the BBC – giving him a strong commitment to public service broadcasting. – Labour website.

Sue Moroney:

Has been an MP since 2005. Sue is a mum, a former journalist and a proud Hamiltonian and so she is a champion for early intervention and strong regional development plans. – Labour website.

Phil Twyford:

New voices: Sam Lotu-Iiga, Phil Twyford and David Garrett

MP for Te Atatu. Formerly a journalist at the now defunct Auckland Star and Sunday Star, and a union organiser, before starting his career at Oxfam as its NZ division’s founding CEO.

And ex-journalists in the Labour staff:

Jodi Ihaka:

Ihaka takes up Senior Communications Advisor role

Putting Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) at the forefront of important New Zealand politics is Jodi Ihaka’s plan, as she was recently appointed the Labour Party’s new Senior Communications Advisor (Māori).

“I’m really excited to use my communication skills in such an important Māori advisory capacity.  I have loved my time at Whakaata Māori (Māori Television) and have nothing but respect for the Māori journalists on Te Kāea and Native Affairs,” says Ihaka.

The position sees Ihaka take on a key advisory role to Labour leader, Andrew Little as well as Māori MPs including Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Nanaia Mahuta and Adrian Rurawhe.

Sarah Stuart:

Former Woman’s Weekly editor is Labour’s new chief spin doctor

Labour leader Andrew Little has appointed a former editor of the Woman’s Weekly Sarah Stuart as his chief press secretary and head of media and communications.

Stuart, whose other former roles include deputy editor of the Herald On Sunday and the Sunday Star Times and head of APN’s regional and daily community newspapers, has also worked in Sydney as a journalist.

Danya Levy:

Former political journo turned Labour Party press secretary. @danyalevy  (ex Dominion Post)

David Cohen is a freelance journalist who has done some work for Labour and Andrew Little:

Little under fire for unpaid workerFreelance journalist David Cohen was called into work on Mr Little’s campaign for the Labour leadership in October. His role was to distil Mr Little’s ideas

He did the job, sent an invoice, but nothing. So Mr Cohen complained in print in the latest National Business Review.

And David Cunliffe should know a bit about the journalist drift into politics.

Cunliffe appoints Cunliffe as chief press secretary

Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

That’s just for Labour.

National MP Paul Goldsmith may not have been a journalist but was a press secretary for and speech writer for Phil Goff (Labour), Simon Upton (National) and John Banks (National).

Does anyone know of any other ex journos in Parliament as MPs or working for parties?

Ardern “absolutely not” for Prime Minister but…

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern was asked about her Prime Ministerial aspirations on NBR’s ‘Ask Me Anything. She said “absolutely not” but confirmed she still had an interest in being deputy (she stood as potential deputy for Grant Robertson’s leadership bid).

During her AMA session, Ms Adern confirmed her interest in the deputy role.

But, perhaps surprisingly, that’s the limit of her ambition.

Asked, “Do you want to be Prime Minister, one day?”, she replied, “No. Absolutely not.”

She added, “I think I was very lucky to have the experience back in the 2005 election of working in Helen Clark’s office and that really opened my eyes to what a difficult job it is. I’ve always believed the things I want to achieve in politics I can do without being in that kind of role. So I’m happy being a senior member of the Labour team. Not everyone wants to be the top dog.”

This is an odd ambition, if it is accurate and honest.

If Ardern becomes Labour’s deputy leader, and if Labour gets to form the next Government, and if Winston Peters or Metiria Turei or James Shaw don’t negotiate a second in command coalition position, then Ardern would become Deputy Prime Minister.

Under normal circumstances that would mean that Ardern would sometimes fill in for the Prime Minister when he was unavailable, so would be Acting Prime Minister.

And if something incapacitated the Prime Minister than Ardern would be expected to step up and take over.

So how can Ardern want to be deputy leader, which presumably means she wants to be Deputy Prime Minister, but limit her ambition to that and not want to be top dog?

Surely anyone wanting to be deputy leader of Labour (or National) aspires top being at times at least the acting Prime Minister.

Either Ardern hasn’t thought this through or she’s not being honest about her ambitions.

A positive alternative to panda bashing

NZ Herald has come out in support of John Key and Wellington’s investigation into acquiring pandas.

Key’s critics miss point – pandas will be for all

The Wellington City Council is assessing the business case for joining Adelaide as the only Southern Hemisphere city with the animals. As the Minister of Tourism, John Key has an obvious interest in this. If Wellington Zoo could replicate Adelaide, where visitor numbers shot up after the pandas arrived, there are clear benefits for the city and the country.

Mr Key was, therefore, hardly out of order in suggesting the Government could help Wellington with the cost, but “it wouldn’t be a lot”. This would be no different from the Australian Government’s financial support to Adelaide for the care of its pandas.

That sounds reasonable – if a business case can be made for getting a pair of pandas then why not? It could benefit Wellington and the country.

The Government’s only other input was to have Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee deliver a proposal to bring the animals to Wellington during a visit to a panda breeding centre in Chengdu.

Criticism of this was a petty beat up. Discussing the possibility of pandas with China is good for our relations with them. If they lease us some pandas it will be good for diplomacy between the two countries.

The Prime Minister’s pursuit of a new national flag has created a rod for his own back. Now, every time he tries to advance something that does not address one of the country’s more pressing problems, he is harangued.

Key was always harangued by some. It just happens that ‘it’s a wasteful diversion doing that until all the bad stuff is fixed and everything else is perfect brigade is a diss that’s in fashion.

This week, it was the United Future leader, Peter Dunne, questioning his priorities over the prospect of pandas residing at the Wellington Zoo.

(Brownlee) was labelled a “panda pimp” by Labour leader Andrew Little, whose judgement was as errant as that of Mr Dunne.

Little has become a repetitive and petty piss-on-Key pimp.

And if Little ever becomes Prime Minister he might have his work cut out for him getting on with one of out biggest trading partners. He currently comes across as anti-anything to do with China.

Quite a bit of the media seemed to be in instant-anti mode too, something some journalists seem to be making a habit of.

For example Brian Rudman – Don’t waste takahe’s cash on panda porn

Panda porn keeps popping up on the television.

If we’ve got extra money to spend on conservation, it should be going towards the kakapo, the takahe, even the kiwi, which is disappearing at around 2 per cent a year. On average, 27 kiwis are killed by predators each week. Then there are plants such as the kauri, plagued by an incurable, die-back disease.

If the government wants to fund conservation work via the zoos we have our own urgent priorities.

But the Herald editorial has a more positive view:

Pandas would be a considerable tourist attraction, and all New Zealanders would be delighted to have them. It is quite reasonable for the Government to take an interest.

There’s nothing wrong with the Government taking an interest. If the business case for pandas doesn’t stack up then don’t get them. But if it looks good for tourism and for New Zealand-China relations then why not get pandas?

Clare Curran for Dunedin mayoralty?

The ODT has a story about rumours that Labour MP Clare Curran may stand for the Dunedin mayoralty.

Mayoral hopes verified, denied

The fog of war is descending as Dunedin’s mayoral aspirants jockey for position a year out from local body elections.

While some candidates are already putting their hands up for the top job, including Cr Andrew Whiley, others, including sitting Mayor Dave Cull, are continuing to play their cards close to their chests.

But that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill kicking into high gear in Dunedin. Much of the early attention is focused on one woman _ Clare Curran.

Ms Curran, Labour’s sitting Dunedin South MP, has been linked to a tilt for the Dunedin mayoralty by a variety of sources speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

She sounds like an unlikely candidate for Mayor.

The rumour is said to have come from inside Ms Curran’s office, although she vehemently denied the ”mischievous” suggestion when contacted.

”You will not see my name on the ballot paper next [local body] election.

”I’m the MP for Dunedin South. I’ve got a job.”

As far as political denials go that’s a strongish one.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards, of the University of Otago’s politics department, said a mayoral bid by Ms Curran ”sounds unbelievable”, but Labour was ”going through some quite serious reorganisation”.

Declining support for Labour in Dunedin South during the last two general elections could ”absolutely” mean Ms Curran was a candidate for change, as the party looked to renew itself, he believed.

”No doubt there will be some MPs that are having pressure applied to them to move on. It’s entirely feasible Clare Curran is one of those people.

”Questions are being asked within Labour about the ability of incumbent MPs to hold their party vote up. That’s the real measure that the party is judging all of their incumbents on.”

Ms Curran’s name recognition and profile would give her ”a strong shot” at Dunedin’s mayoralty, and she would also follow in the footsteps of some prominent Labour colleagues, Dr Edwards said.

It needs more than name recognition, although David Benson-Pope was elected to council in 2011, presumably more on name than reputation as a failed MP.

Curran just seems like an unlikely mayor to me.

But her future in Labour doesn’t look great.

Helen Clark strongly supports TPPA

Helen Clark has spoken strongly in favour of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, alongside John Key in New York.

That’s a bit awkward for Labour in New Zealand who have been campaigning against it.

Clark said that as an export nation it was important that New Zealand wasn’t left out of the agreement.

“What always haunts one as a New Zealand prime minister is, will there be a series of trade blocs developed that you’re not part of? Because that is unthinkable for New Zealanders, an export-oriented, small trading nation.”

“So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with a [TPPA] and go for the very best deal it can.”

: http://www.3news.co.nz/world/john-key-helen-clark-discuss-tppa-2015100107#ixzz3nHuMdQV8


Also on the TPPA – Key is reported saying it is possible an agreement will be signed this week.

Newstalk ZB: TPP could be signed this week

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says there’s a chance the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could be completed this week.

Trade ministers from the 12 Pacific Rim nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, are meeting in Atlanta in an attempt to hash out what would become the largest trade zone deal in history.

Key was upbeat about the negotiations, but added the window for sealing an agreement this year was closing.

“Personally, I still think TPP can take place,” Key, speaking at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday at an event hosted by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said.

“I think there’s actually a chance it could get completed this week.

“There’s significant negotiations being undertaken in Atlanta.

“The window of opportunity to complete the TPP is closing, so you wouldn’t say it’s impossible to complete the deal if it doesn’t take place in Atlanta, but it does become more difficult.”

Logie attacks Collins on domestic violence

Judith Collins created a lot of discussion with her comments opposing rapper Chris Brown coming to New Zealand to perform, calling him “just another wife-beater”.

Stuff: Chris Brown ‘just another wife-beater’

The former justice minister says singer Chris Brown is “just another wife-beater” and should not be allowed in to New Zealand because of his fame.

“The law is clear, he is technically barred from New Zealand…that is the law. Why do we bother having a law like that if we make exceptions for people just because they are rich and famous,” Judith Collins said.

“He can be rich, famous and sing back in his own country, as far as I am concerned. He is just another wife-beater, and there are so many wife-beaters who are rich or famous or in positions of power. There is no need for us to encourage it.”

Green MP and spokesperson on women Jan Logie told Collins not to make “any feminist comments” unless they were “prefaced with an apology for her previous harm”, a bizarre attempt to shut Collins up but not abnormal for Greens who think they have exclusive rights to speak on some topics.

Stuff: Judith Collins can’t talk about Chris Brown without making her own apologies:

Judith Collins seems to want us to think she is a champion of women’s rights and freedoms. She has been publicly outspoken about Chris Brown and the importance of recognising the problems we have in this country with domestic violence.

I am struggling with this new persona of Judith’s. As with Chris Brown and all abusers, I believe in the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption. Demonstrating rehabilitation though requires acknowledging past wrong doings and acknowledging the harm that you’ve done. I would also say it should mean not profiting off this. Judith has not, to my knowledge, acknowledged the harm she has done.

When Judith Collins had power, when she was the minister with a portfolio that could really make a difference for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, she used her power to remove protections for women and children and stop work that could have improved the justice system. The Family Court reforms that Judith Collins introduced were aimed at saving costs, not securing the safety of those at risk.

Judith Collins also stopped the Law Commission from working on alternative pre-trial and trial processes to improve the justice system failure for victims of sexual violence. When questioned about this she failed to offer a coherent, consistent answer.

This is the woman who as Justice Minister defended Maurice Williamson’s intervention to the police on behalf of a man accused of domestic violence. So I’m not going to be congratulating Judith Collins for any feminist comments she might make unless they’re prefaced with an apology for her previous harm. Without that, I think she’s just profiteering off the women she sacrificed when she had power.

I wonder if Logie will acknowledge the harm she has done with this tirade. She has never been in Government and seems to have no idea about the reality that Ministers can’t protect everyone all the time.

Collins has responded to this strongly with ‘I’m committed to protecting women and children from violence’.

(Oddly Stuff have filed this under entertainment/music).

What a disappointing personal attack Green MP Jan Logie has made on me.

Ms Logie will have heard me speak of the fact that while I was Minister of Justice, my cousin, Robyn, was murdered by her estranged second husband. I have always been, and remain, committed to doing all I can to protect women and children from the horror of domestic and sexual violence. This was a priority for me as Minister of Justice.

Before undertaking such a vicious and hurtful personal attack, it might have been useful for Jan to get her facts right. Here are just some examples of what I did to protect women and children during my time as minister:

* Increased the penalty for breaching a protection order from two years to three years;
* Broadened the definition of domestic violence to include financial and psychological abuse;
* Increased funding to grow and expand the safe@home programme to support families at risk of serious harm from domestic abuse to stay safely in their own homes;
* Created a new non-contact order to reduce the risk of unwanted contact between victims and offenders;
* Changed the Evidence Act to make appearing in court less traumatic for victims of sexual violence and child witnesses; and,
* Launched a new school-based pilot project as part of a focus on preventing sexual violence.

And the list goes on. It’s all there online for anyone to read.

The Family Court reforms of which she is so disparaging have been responsible for less aggression between former partners by encouraging and resulting in 70 percent of all care of children disputes being resolved without having to further inflame feelings. They have been a resounding success enabling the Family Court to spend more time on urgent cases involving violence.

I will continue to raise my concerns and share my opinions about perpetrators of domestic violence, like rapper Chris Brown. It is appalling for Ms Logie to make excuses for violent abusers just so she can take a personal swipe at me. Her behaviour minimises the harm caused to victims, survivors and their families. Ms Logie should be ashamed of herself.

Attacking a past Minister for not eliminating the impossible and trying to shut her up doesn’t look flash. And it makes Logie look like an apologist for Brown.

Logie doesn’t have exclusive rights to being “a champion of women’s rights and freedoms” – in fact she has been far from a champion on this. She sounds like some sort of sore loser.

Fuck and run fathers and male irresponsibility

A comment on Sensible reaction from Little on Tolley/contraception raises some of the most important issues when it comes to at risk CYF kids and contraception.

I have worked on construction sites where the usual minimum wage day labourer sorts brag about the number of females they got pregnant. One had 4 kids to 3 females and was very proud of that.

Thats a lot of low quality sperm getting sprayed everywhere and fertilising equally low quality eggs and its the tax payer that will be paying over and over for it as the low IQ progeny work their way through the welfare, education and justice system.

It has to stop.

For every women (or girl) who has a baby who is born into an at risk family/lack of family situation there is also a father (I doubt that many of these kids are the result of artificial insemination or immaculate conception).

It’s known that it’s common in the problem demographics for struggling or incompetent mothers to have multiple fathers of their children.

Not all multiple father families are a problem, far from it.

But irresponsible father families – or no responsibility father families – are a major part of the problem, from fuck and run fathers to those who can’t cope and move on.

Why is it common for males to actively have sex knowing it may result on offspring that they have little or no intention of taking any financial or parenting responsibility for?

Like drink driving forty years ago it is probably seen as a joke by some, and an achievement by others.

But the victims are many, and they include the mothers who get pressured or conned into having unprotected sex, but most importantly the victims are the many kids born into hopeless situations because they have hopeless fathers.

This is a substantial systemic male problem.

So this needs male leadership. Not the easy male leadership in politics, business and sport.

It’s very difficult leadership that’s required, both because it’s a difficult issue, and because males seem to have difficulty in taking joint responsibility for male problems.

Many males are either a part of or do nothing about masculine culture irresponsibility when it comes to contraception and fatherhood.

How about it male political leaders? Who is willing to to stand up and confront the fuck and run father mentality?

John Key?
Andrew Little?
Winston Peters?
James Shaw?
Te Ururoa Flavell?Peter Dunne?
David Seymour?

Hooton versus Key – personal or business?

Matthew Hooton has been calling on John Key to step down for a while now. What appeared to begin as commentary is now looking more like a campaign. As far as I’ve seen he’s second only to Cameron Slater (except for the left wing noise over the past seven years) in the “Key must go” camp .

When a professional lobbyist seems to be running a campaign then it’s fair to wonder why.

Hooton is Managing Director of Exceltium. On the company website his profile includes:

Matthew Hooton is New Zealand’s leading public affairs strategist and political commentator. He has over 20 years’ experience in political and corporate communications, working for the New Zealand Government and some of the country’s most influential companies.

He maintains excellent connections with senior levels of all of New Zealand’s main political parties, and with the senior staff of the National, Labour, Green, Maori and ACT parties.

Matthew has a close relationship with many New Zealand Ministers and Members of Parliament, and is well known in political circles and by the public as a political commentator on both Radio New Zealand and RadioLive, and as a columnist for the National Business Review.

Presumably from one of those radio slots yesterday @Bryce_Edwards tweeted some comments from Hooton:

Hooton says Key has “jumped the shark” with Panda policy; created new panda political cliché for PM who have passed their use-by date

Hooton says Key has created new political cliché for PMs who have passed their use-by date: “Sorry, mate, but you’ve cuddled the panda.”

“Hooton”: You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Hooton on PM: “humiliation in the flag referendum next year may provide him with a suitable pretext to step down. He should take it”.

On it’s own this may not seem like much but it’s a continuation of a meme from Hooton. Has he had enough of Key? Or is this a paid for campaign?

This is just a continuation from Hooton. The panda story was a bit of a lame media blip last week. On Friday in NBR’s Spotlight on Wellington:

At a time Kiwis are increasingly concerned about house prices and rising unemployment, notes Matthew Hooton in his Weekly Hit column, John Key has bizarrely chosen to fixate on procuring pandas for Wellington Zoo.

It’s another indication that Mr Key has lost interest in being prime minister of New Zealand, he argues; another example of how he prefers pandering to public sentiment over grappling with serious policy issues. Indeed, the PM may well have just coined a new idiom, whereby a politician who is past their use-by-date will be described as having “cuddled the panda.”

From Hooton’s Weekly Hit a week before that:

Make no mistake: as long as National looks likely to win the next election, John Key will remain leader of the party. But his high water mark is now well behind us.

For the serious end of the business community, the tide went out on Mr Key long ago, when they realised he had no interest in a reform agenda and that his words, public or private, lacked the necessary relationship to government decisions to be reliable inputs for business ones.

The sense of a government adamant for drift has now infected even the most loyal National Party donors and members. The prime minister is not helping. Where before Mr Key would privately brief party members on his take on the global economy and New Zealand’s response to it, his focus is now almost entirely on the flag referendum and his own international relationships.

Back to this week, Hooton on a regular slot on Radio NZ:

So if we thought that our CER agreement was of the same quality as the European Union’s free trade and labour agreements we were wrong all along, or at least since the Abbot Government made this change that John Key let’s face it, didn’t know about did he because he was too preoccupied with pandas and the flag.


The Prime Minister really and truly spent all last week talking about pandas and other nonsense and deciding how many flags would be on the ballot paper, um he needs to get serious about his job…


Kathryn Ryan: Now ah captain’s calls. Speaking of the former Australian Prime Minister you wanted to discuss captain’s calls this week. Are you being a bit mischievous Matthew?

Mike Williams: Of course he is.

Matthew Hooton: No, no, I just, the Prime Minister has been making captain’s calls, and the one about the whole flag referendum is something that was never discussed by the National Party or by the National Party Caucus or even really the Cabinet except in a formal sense…

It must have been discussed in a formal sense, it was announced as National Party policy early last year with an obvious eye to the election.

…and we’ve got this flag debate adding the fifth flag was a captain’s call by John Key, there’s the panda issue.

How many times has he targeted Key over the flag and pandas?

And when we look at when, and I think Prime Ministers do have a right to make captains’s calls, um when they, they’re the leader of the country, and I think the classic one would have been after the 1984 Olympics when Australia managed to get the same number of gold medals as Carl Lewis and half the number of New Zealand um ah Bob Hawke just decided, even though they were under economic restraint, fiscal constraint, he just decided there was going to be an Institute of Sport. And Paul Keating who’s interest was not sport but was reassembling French antique clocks um was just told “you’re going to find the money and we’re going to have an Institute of Sport.

The relevance of that seems dubious, and they are quite different examples anyway. The flag choice was put forward as National Party Policy, was campaigned on during an election, and is being put to the people via public consultation and two referendums. Key hasn’t just decided to change the flag.

And Key made it clear that while he liked the panda idea it was up to Local Government to decide if they wanted to look at it further. He specifically said it wasn’t his call.

Key was only asked about the pandas because “Wellington Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said on Friday that the council was looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a business case for the proposal.” Auckland Zoo decided against trying to get pandas, it’s up to Wellington Zoo whether they try or not, not Key.

Jim Bolger did the same with Te Papa. Um Sir Wallace Rowling, Bill Rowling went to the  Prime Minister Jim Bolger and says “I’m in charge of Te Papa, we need to build this” and Bolger overrode Ruth Richardson, you can imagine, and said “yes, we’re going to do it”.

That sounds nothing like flags or pandas.

And it seems to me that it is legitimate for the Prime Minister to decide pandas or a flag referendum, but when you do these things you really have to do them properly, and that Institute of Sport in Australia of Bob Hawke’s was fabulously successful and transformed their sporting prow..they’re a sporting superpower as a result.

Te Papa is a wonderful asset thanks to Jim Bolger’s intervention over his Cabinet.

Bolger would have to have gained the support of his Cabinet to do it. He don’t think he was a dictator.

And it seems to me that the problem John Key is running into is not that he is never right to make these calls as the leader of the country…

He still has to get the support of his Cabinet.

…but that it’s just done in such a half arsed manner all the time…

Yes, instead of one man rule it lets people decide by referendum and he lets city councils decide for themselves about zoo decisions.

…and so he blurts out that we should have pandas…

He was asked about it by journalists due to the actions of the Wellington City Council’s proposed business plan.

…or this this flag referendum, as Radio New Zealand online has discovered, the Government is boasting that it’s public engagement, it’s PR budget and I would say this wouldn’t I, is only four million dollars over two years.

Now you can’t  engage the public for two million dollars a year. The Warehouse spends seventy million dollars on advertising alone telling us cheap junk from China’s on special…

At probably much less than two million dollars per sale.

…so when the Prime Minister decided to go down the path of changing the flag, which is his prerogative,  he really needed to do that properly and he’s failed utterly…

Key hasn’t failed at letting the people decide if we want to change our flag or not.

Did Hooton fail to get any PR business out of the process or something?

That’s the sort of pissy dissing you’d expect to see at The Standard. Talking of which, Hooton comments there sometimes, like:

This issue (along with the panda nonsense, and to a lesser extent the refugees) has driven a wedge between Key and some of his right-wing support base. Not sure if the Greens intended that, but my right wing friends have finally had enough of Key and think it is time for him to go.

Right wing friends? Or clients? A problem with commentators/lobbyists is that it’s rarely clear which hat they are wearing.

Dave_1924 responded to Hooton’s Radio NZ comments:

Matthew Hooton is on a jihadi against John key… god its funny. His time with Mike Williams on nine to Noon this morning was getting a tad ranty for a god 7 odd minutes about Mr Key….

First thing that went through my mind was who is paying his PR firm or what contracts from the government has he missed out on?

Maybe that is unkind, and no accusation against Mr Hooton. But come on people being deported from Aussie for being crims is not high on anyone’s I give a eff list…

That got 13 thumbs up, 0 down so not many right wing friends of Hooton’s there.

Why is Hooton campaigning against Key? Who are his friends? And are they paying for his persistent anti-Key PR?

Or is Hooton just personally pissed off with Key, a bit like Slater?

Whichever, he certainly seems to be in anti-key campaign mode.


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