National promote ‘Strong Team’ over limp leadership

Last week the National Party launched their campaign approach, promoting team instead of leadership. They have to do that to try combat Labour’s focus on the very popular Jacinda Ardern, but it will be an uphill struggle.

Leader Todd Muller and National’s campaign are a bit like the far side of the moon, you know they’re there but you don’t see them, you just see the glowing other side.

A while ago Muller gave a speech that outlined their campaign focus but it was hardly noticed.

Leader of the Opposition’s Te Puna speech

I will speak at some length today, and I have chosen my words carefully, because I want to outline clearly, to you and the wider New Zealand audience:

  • Who I am, and where I have come from;
  • How my values have developed as a result, and my core political beliefs;
  • What sort of Prime Minister I plan to be; and
  • My broad aspirations for New Zealand.

That was a week ago, but who noticed?

We are going to need to confront, honestly, the challenge ahead.

That means the election will be about:

  • Which of us – the Prime Minister or me – has the team and background to get you, your families and your communities through the economic and unemployment crisis ahead;
  • Which party has the best track record in creating more jobs; and
  • Which party has the record in building a better economy, while caring for the welfare of every New Zealander.

New Zealanders trust National Governments to come to power at times of economic crisis, and to steer New Zealand safely through them.

That’s what the John Key led National government did fairly successfully (dealing with the New Zealand recession and the Global Financial Crisis), but Key was a widely popular leader.

I will build on the fundamental economic, financial and commercial strengths of the last National Government as we face an even more terrible crisis, later in the year and beyond.

My job, over the next three months, is to earn the trust of New Zealanders:

  • For my commercial experience at the most senior levels of Zespri, Fonterra and Apata; and
  • For my background and values on which I will draw, when making judgment calls as Prime Minister, as we work together, to build a better economy out of the crisis.

This may have been aimed more at trying to convince political journalists that Muller was a serious challenger.

The economy I see is the economy you live in – the economy in your community:

  • Your job,
  • Your high street,
  • Your marae,
  • Your local sports club,
  • Your school or kura,
  • Your business,
  • Your home, and
  • Your families.

It’s going to take a lot to get this across to the wider public.

One thing that will never change is that, for me, what makes a family is love.

You can have the most traditional family structure, as we did, yet if you do not have love, you are not a family at all.

But a family with love:

  • A traditional mum-dad-and-kids family;
  • A wider whanau of grandparents, grandkids, aunties, uncles and cousins;
  • A family where the two parents no longer live together but share the parenting in different homes;
  • A family with one parent;
  • A blended family;
  • A family where it’s mum-and-mum or dad-and-dad;
  • Two people who love one another, and
  • Single people whose families might be dispersed around the world …

If these have love, then each is a family like any other.

Muller is trying to appeal to everyone here, but no one really listened.

I support New Zealand’s basic macroeconomic framework that was put in place from the mid-1980s, and which remains broadly supported across parties.

That is, I believe in:

  • An open and competitive economy;
  • A broad-based, low-rate tax system;
  • An independent central bank with the primary goal of price stability;
  • The book-keeping rules of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, now part of the Public Finance Act; and
  • Voluntary unionism and a flexible labour market, underpinned since 2000 by good faith.

Maintaining a firm and disciplined commitment to this basic macroeconomic framework is absolutely fundamental to our recovery from Covid-19.

By this stage of his speech (in printed form) there had been 43 bullet points. This looks like a scatter gun approach hoping something will be highlighted out of this, but it shows a lack of focus.

After several other lists I glazed over, Muller seems to get to the business end of his very long message:

My job, in the 2020s, is to make sure that, at the end of this crisis, your family is not just left with the $140 billion loan Labour is taking out against your future earnings, but that we have:

  • Protected you through the economic and unemployment crisis, and immediately created the conditions for tens of thousands of real, permanent full-time jobs;
  • Finally addressed long-term social deprivation, with the urgency applied to the economic crises a generation ago;
  • Finally built the first-world road and public transport infrastructure New Zealand needs;
  • Backed our families, and rebuilt the fabric of our communities;
  • Restored our Government’s books so there’s more money for schools, hospitals, housing, mental health, addiction services, cancer screening programmes and treatments;
  • A stronger social safety net;
  • And, built a better economy for all of us.

These things are urgent.

By now zzzzzz.

My passion in politics is that all of us can choose our own paths and stand tall as New Zealanders in whatever we seek to do, fulfilling our own dreams and our own potentials.

My passion is that we all feel confident in our nation and its place in the world.

We should all feel grounded in a nation of remarkable natural beauty that we all take care of.

We should be grounded in a history to which we are all reconciled, and in our families and communities in all their different forms.

We should live our lives with genuine love for our country and neighbours, so that we help pick one another up at those times that we all have, when we need help.

This is my vision. That is what I believe in. That is what will guide me as Prime Minister.

Most voters just want to know what’s in it for them.

Someone else once said: “Let’s do this”.

I say: “Sure. But you need a National Government to get it done”.

Sure. or something.

Muller is going to have to say a lot more than this in far fewer words if he is going to get across to voters.

Clearly at this stage the election is Labour’s to win or lose. Only if they or the economy stuffs up badly are voters likely to vote more for whoever leads the other party.

Leave a comment


  1. John J Harrison

     /  5th July 2020

    Pete, agree.
    However, he is a good communicator when he speaks without notes ( as he did at a recent Napier winery lunch ) for approximately 1/2 hour then takes questions.
    He appeared to be authentic and knowledgeable about the topics he traversed.
    The exemption being with his ineptitude in giving NZ First oxygen with a suggestion that he could work with Peters.
    This is in direct contradiction to his caucus decision to have nothing to do with NZ First.
    The next poll will show the Peters Party up as a result and National down.
    Fence sitting this close to an election will be terminal for National.
    ACT will benefit massively.
    Good !

    • Duker

       /  5th July 2020

      ACT only looks stable because they have 1 MP for some time now…fresh hell awaits them with a handful, they are too small to function well with factions like the larger parties, so path chosen is destroy the other clique.
      Ask the Greens about dreams of a small party giving a much bigger party ‘backbone’ when they are only a little finger ( or worse ,a limp dick)

      • Duker

         /  5th July 2020

        As an aside , why do you pay good money to go to a fundraiser lunch ‘at a winery in HB’ that goes in National coffers, yet you support ACT ?
        Muller would sound good in that sort of setting because that really was his business life , the PR and communication with kiwifruit growers and dairy farmers, and government lobbying when head of that division at Fonterra. Im sure hes very good at keeping the ‘stakeholders’ on side. Mass communication is a different art at which Key and now Ardern excels. Even the most ordinary electorate MP comes across well in small meetings with supporters, they have the political spiel down part , the head nodding and other visual cues that avoid specifics, the generalities made even more general.
        As for NZF, he has to keep that door ajar As ACT is more like 2.5% than 5 or 6%, and only ACT leaning soft National supporters( like you) dont like it , the big donors and business players wont care that much. After all if there are coaltion issues they will just say thats why we have politicians, sort it out.

    • Corky

       /  5th July 2020

      ”However, he is a good communicator when he speaks without notes ( as he did at a recent Napier winery lunch ) for approximately 1/2 hour then takes questions.”

      He’s an exceptional communicator when discussing some topics. He can break things down into components average people on the street understand. I have heard him twice on the radio and found him very impressive.

      However, he’s not leadership material. Neither is his deputy. A poor election result will see both gone before the end of next year. Who would be next cab off the rank- Bridges or Luxton?

      • Duker

         /  5th July 2020

        “He can break things down into components average people on the street understand.”

        All pollies do that , its called the ‘stump speech’ which they have pre written and learnt off pat ( with some tweaks) and its repeated..a winery in HB, a cafe in Gisborne , a yacht club in Whakatane etc etc
        For someone who follows politics you people are surprisingly ignorant of what goes on behind the curtain.
        Nikki Kaye will be telling similar to her constituency ..a ponsonby womens bikers club, a North Shore teachers group , a gay group in Grey Lynn etc etc.

        as an aside how much was the donation for the lunch at the winery ?

        • Corky

           /  5th July 2020

          ”For someone who follows politics you are surprisingly ignorant of what goes on behind the curtain.”

          For someone who is a regular on this blog you are surprisingly ignorant about what I have written – namely, I don’t follow politics as others here do. Politics is more an exercise in human behaviour, trends, observations and techniques as far as I’m concerned. Why do you think I don’t waste my time voting?

          • Duker

             /  5th July 2020

            Wasnt meaning you specifically …notice the connection to the HB winery lunch, which you wouldnt be seen dead at…its Harrison whos the fan boy

            • John J Harrison

               /  5th July 2020

              Duker, your comments are so very sad.
              Do you have a life outside being a keyboard warrior?
              I am not a fan boy of anyone, let alone Muller or you !
              Spent the last 5 hours on a very long lunch with others who have spent their lives paying taxes so the “ Nephs “ of Shane Jones can enjoy the lifestyle that we have bequeathed them.

            • Duker

               /  6th July 2020

              5 hour long lunch and your sense of entitlement says it all. Who even outside your bubble of privilege even does these things anymore.
              Fanboys are an exact fit for your views on Muller, even though politically you in that wasteland further to the right, which by some magic will defeat the MMP process to give ‘backbone’ to national. Even if 10-15% of National MPs go along with you, the rest of the caucus led by Muller wont have a bar of it.

  2. PartisanZ

     /  5th July 2020

    Plenty of people noticed Te Puna (The Source), believe me!

    Lotsa Brown people. Lotsa sentient White folks.

    Todd’s “Defile Your Flag” version of Brash’s ‘Orewa Speech’ has been noted.

    ‘Twin Karens’ risk-managed release has been noted.

    “Accept all Boarders!!!”, repellent, has been noted … by many … by a vast majority.

    Asking National people to follow the Team aka Herd rather than a Strong Leader aka Papal Bully is like asking dogs not to sniff each others bums!

    Leadership of the National Party sets the bar very low, but it can only reach a certain depth of depravity, commonly known as its Key-Stone!

    • Gezza

       /  5th July 2020

      I just watched it, out of interest. I prefer to watch politicians deliver speeches. You get a much better picture of their authenticity from their body language & delivery. Quite interesting seeing him being introduced too.

      “Todd’s “Defile Your Flag” version of Brash’s ‘Orewa Speech’ has been noted.”

      I can’t relate that comment to ANYTHING he said, at all. That’s a really bizarre comment.

      “Asking National people to follow the Team aka Herd rather than a Strong Leader aka Papal Bully is like asking dogs not to sniff each others bums!”

      He didn’t ask them to follow The Team either. He spoke of how he would be different as a National leader. The only references to his team were quite brief & in the context of his belief they would be better able to deliver on their policies than Ardern’s chronically underperforming team has on the list of failed major promises which litter the Labour party’s wake this term. And even then that wasn’t his main focus.

      I’ve certainly seen worse speeches delivered. It was actually quite a good one. He was quite at home in a small town long-established community golf club among ordinary people with no pretensions.


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