National’s desperate attacks

National have had problems with bad polls and with MP candidates promoting themselves and not the party, and running nutty attacks like Alfred Ngaro – see National MP Alfred Ngaro accused of spreading ‘gross piece of misinformation’ on Facebook.

Judith Collins did something about that – Collins intervenes after controversial abortion post:

Collins said Ngaro’s views weren’t shared by the party.

“You know, he’s someone who passionately believes exactly what he’s put up there and I don’t and and neither does the party.”

Collins said MPs get help with their social media, and in this case it was his own views and shouldn’t have had National Party branding on it.

It sounds like a concession that Ngaro is running his own campaign. That suggests National have poor control over their campaign and their candidates.

On campaigning yesterday: Good day/bad day: The leader walking on sunshine

In the same town, National leader Judith Collins is being undermined by her own candidates. Former leaders Todd Muller and Simon Bridges have been going merrily off-message with full page newspaper ads and billboards showing their photos – but no mention of Collins. Strategy: two ticks for the local candidates

But Collins has taken to attacks in her campaigning as well. Perhaps she sees it as a last ditch effort to save her leadership, as National seems beyond saving this election.

Collins was even more off-message herself, with some provocative rhetoric in which she blamed the personal “weakness” of overweight people for the country’s obesity problems. And the day got worse: she compared exploratory gas drilling to a pregnancy ultrasound scan. That’s a metaphor too uncomfortable to contemplate.

RNZ: Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

When told that some had called her comments heartless, Collins said: “Do you know what is heartless? Is actually thinking someone else can cure these issues. We can all take personal responsibility and we all have to own up to our little weaknesses on these matters.

“Do not blame systems for personal choices.”

To an extent Collins is right here, but this won’t win over many votes, and is more likely to lose some.

RNZ: Judith Collins says Jacinda Ardern ‘lied’ about Covid border testing

Collins began her morning campaigning with a transport policy combined with an attack on the Greens’ wealth tax in Grenada, but later turned her attention squarely on Ardern and Covid-19.

She told a public meeting at Waikanae Bowling Club that Ardern and her government had “let Covid in” and Ardern had “lied” about the testing of border staff.

“When she says she went hard and fast she went slow and pathetic, and actually the other thing she did was she lied to us about what was happening and I’m happy to say that on the record – she lied.

“Gee I hope she sues me for it. Happy to prove it.”

Support for Ardern and for Labour surged due too their handling of Covid so it’s hard to see what Collins is trying to achieve here.

RNZ: Judith Collins’ final week attacks ‘bizarre’, ‘desperate’ – pundits

“Her incentives to do that are, she’s looking at bleeding a fair few votes to other parties on the centre right, in particular ACT, and … it’s an attempt to inject some relevance and appear as if the contest is a one-on-one battle between the National leader and the Labour leader.”

“I think that when you start accusing a party leader we know has very high favourability ratings, very high trust levels, calling them a liar, that you’re not going for median voters, you’re not going for those centre voters there.

“You’re really trying to appeal to that base.”

The language being employed by Collins doesn’t “come from a position of strength”, he says.

The problem for Collins is the National base seems to have shrunk substantially. The essential swing voters are unlikely to be impressed by her attacks.

And trying to sound strong when you’re obviously in a weak position is unlikely to fool anyone.

Former United Future leader Peter Dunne thinks Collins’ comments were “a little bizarre”.

“I think they reflect the fact that National’s now not looking to win over uncommitted voters, so much as hold its own base in line, and I think this is what these comments were directed at.”

“I think National now is in a hold-the-line mode, rather than a win mode.”

“This election is very unusual in the way it’s panned out. I think National has gone from earlier in the year, pre-Covid, looking more than likely to win the election, to now looking most unlikely to do so. And I think they’ve had some trouble adjusting to the change in public mood.

“That’s why some of the comments do sound pretty desperate.

The pressure of imminent and heavy defeat seems to be taking it’s toll.

University of Auckland politics lecturer Dr Lara Greaves says it’s been a long campaign and a “very” long year.

She says it’s hard to know if Collins’ negativity is a strategy or not.

“It’s kind of unclear exactly who she is trying to appeal to here. I mean at this point, around half of the voters have voted. It’s not clear whether this is something that a swing voter or fence-sitter would be that into.

“Potentially she is trying to look towards that National Party base, trying to take some voters from ACT, or some old New Zealand First voters from those segments that are a little more fiery and would view some of those comments she’s made today as a little more acceptable.”

She doesn’t necessarily think it will win over swing voters.

“I think realistically, she’s just trying to save the furniture, and it’s not really clear that this is a good strategy for that.”

National have had a poor term, a poor year and a poor campaign that seems to be a shambles. Those MPs who survive – they may lose up to a third of their MPs – will have a big job to do to repair the damage and rebuild next term.

Ngaro continues as National list MP while ‘talking’ about new party – farcical

It is really an extraordinary situation  now where Alfred Ngaro is still working as a National list MP, while talking to people about whether to set up a new party.  It’s surprising that Simon Bridges tolerates the situation.

Ngaro was interviewed on Newshub Nation, where he suggested that if he starts a party he would consider a coalition with the Tamaki/destiny party.

It is remarkable that he agreed to be interviewed when he would have known a possible party would be a major topic he would be questioned about (why else would Newshub invite him?)

So has Coalition New Zealand jumped in ahead of you? Have they stolen your limelight?

Look, I’m not about race. This is not a race, and I think people will know that any form of politics — it’s a long game not a short game.

An odd comment.

Although yesterday Hannah Tamaki said, ‘Alfred Ngaro, come and join us.’ They extended an olive branch. Do you want to join them??

Okay, well, will you rule that out then?

Well, the thing is that I’m focusing on those, and there will be opportunities where lots of people are coming to talk to me, and, like I said, people— I’ve got invitations now to talk. I’ve had no phone calls and that. That just happened yesterday, so for my mind, stick to the task. I’m performing my role as a National list MP and at the same time having lots of conversations.

They want you to come along and say that you’re looking for a home, but do you think there’s enough space for two faith-based parties in parliament — or even to run at the election?

Yeah, well, if you think about the history of New Zealand, as far as faith-based or values-based organisations or parties that have been there, they’ve often formed coalitions if they’re to make it there. You can think about in 1996 — you’ve got the Christian Democrats with Graeme Lee and then you also have Christian Heritage,—

But they’ve been—

…so the way forward is to— actually, you would have to form a form of a coalition collectively together.

Right, so that’s a possibility, say with the Coalition New Zealand, then? You’re not ruling that off the table?

Well, the only two parties that are here on the table that we know of is the New Conservatives and this now Coalition Party. I don’t have a party, as I said. Last Friday there were conversations, so hand on heart, I don’t have a constitution. I haven’t been planning a party. What I’ve been having is people coming to me, and I’ve been humbled, Simon, by the conversations that people have said. That actually this is something that maybe we should consider.

Yes. Well, obviously you have to be considering it, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here talking to me. You must be quite serious about this.

I’ve gone on the record, and I’ve said that I am considering it.

Yeah, so what’s the time frame?

Well, I think it’s something— I want to be really clear and careful that I don’t— I’m loyal to the party, and I think that’s really important. I don’t disrupt the direction of what they’re doing as well. So that time frame’s going to have to be fairly soon.

I think he has to decide very quickly. He can’t be talking with people about forming another party and remain loyal to National.

Unless National are supporting what he is doing – which would be another remarkable situation.

What makes you think that there’s a place for a faith-based party in government — where everything seems to be based on evidence, in terms of decision-making?

Well, faith is evidence as well. It’s the value system that people have, and so when people act out of it, you can’t say their faith doesn’t have evidence. It’s actually the evidence of the values that people have in the way they exercise them.

Faith is not evidence based.

But faith is belief. It’s not a scientific evidence.

That’s right. That’s right, and so you and I would say that, for instance, when we say that we show love, care and compassion — well, that’s faith that you and I have, right? We believe in each other. We believe in the people around us that they would act justly, kindly and caringly. Those things are really important.

So he has now contradicted himself on faith being evidence.

Well, that’s values-based decision-making, isn’t it?

But here’s the evidence, right? If you don’t have a principle to act on, then the actions that you take is the evidence of those beliefs. You and I know that when we see people who don’t act with kindness, who don’t act justly, then that’s the evidence that there’s a lack of principles. So you can’t divorce them. You can’t just say that, ‘Well, here’s evidence, and here’s faith or here’s some values.’ You and I act every day, in this nation, around this country, everybody acts with a set of principles. That’s what drives us.

Good grief. he doesn’t seem to have anything of substance to say.

So you believe out there on issues like end of life, abortion law reform, maybe even cannabis, there is a wave to ride into power?

Well, Simon, I don’t need to believe that’s out there; it is out there.

There’s certainly opposition to those issues being reformed, but but it would take more than Ngaro’s vagueness to ride a wave to power. It will be difficult enough for Ngaro to win an electorate leading a new party, and very difficult to make the 5% threshold.

You say that you’ve got people approaching you, there’s all these issues that this is riding on, but is it more a political thing where Simon Bridges says he’s giving you space to consider your options — National didn’t have a coalition partner to get into power last time. Has that party, has National, asked you openly or quietly, to do this?

So the long answer is no.

That’s the short answer.

Well, the thing is that it is no. This has not come out of the National Party. There is no one in the leadership that’s turned around and said, ‘Hey, we should consider this.’

So they’re happy for you to do this though?

Well, put it this way — they’ve asked me, and— Look, I’m really thankful. I’m grateful for the fact that they’ve given me space, and I’ve been to Simon, and Simon — as he declared — that I went to see him. In fact, I went to go and see him two months ago, just to say to him, ‘Look, people are coming to see me and talk.’ I want to be respectful to his role of leadership—

Ngaro has been talking about the new party idea for two months, including talking with Bridges about it. And he is still being ‘given space’ to continue while still supposedly working as a National list MP.

If you do this, are you going to take other National MPs with you?

No.

Just going to be you?

Well, put it this way — I’m not going to go and actually take people away from what their roles are. People are free to choose, to make their choices. I’m not seeking to divide the party. I’m not seeking to distract from the party, and if it means that, for instance, even when I was speaking down at the LNI Conference last Sunday, I withdrew myself. Why? Because no one person is bigger than the party.

So it is affecting his job as a National list MP.

And while he says he is not going to poach other MPs from National he sees it as up to them to choose if they want to split with him.

Okay, well, let’s see if you own this. Will you confirm right now that at the next election you’re going to be leading a faith-based party?

I can’t confirm that.

Why can’t you do that? Now is the time to do that.

Well, Simon, when you say you’re considering, that’s what consideration means. If you say you’re planning, then that’s different.

So what are you doing here right now? If it wasn’t serious, you wouldn’t be sitting here talking to me.

I tell you what I’m serious about. I want to clarify things. Okay, that’s really important. I want to clarify the fact is that where my position is. Okay? People have been coming in, and I chose to come here, as opposed to some of the other programmes by the way, because I wanted to have a conversation like this, so we could actually talk through what those issues are. They’re coming to me and saying, ‘Where are we going to have a voice for our values in the House of Representatives?’

And when are you going to answer them?

Well, Simon, here’s the thing — I’ve got a political career that I’ve been a part of for eight years, I’ve got a family, also I’ve got a party that I’ve been hugely grateful and thankful for. That’s not something that you make lightly. I did not make that announcement last Friday, by the way. These were just conversations that people were having—

So the ball’s in your court now, and you’re not giving us an answer—

The ball is in my court. No, what I’m telling you is, ‘Watch this space.’ Rest assured, I’m not going to leave people hanging. I think that’s really important.

This is looking more and more like a farce. Ngaro looks to be way out of his depth. And this looks increasingly like it could be quite damaging for National.

I don’t see any chance that this Ngaro party will fly. It is barely flapping on the ground.

Bridges confirms talks on breakaway Christian party

There were reports last week that National MP Alfred Ngaro could lead a new Christian Party. With cooperation from National Ngaro would have a reasonable chance of winning an electorate, which is the only way around a prohibitive MP threshold for new parties.

The only new parties to have succeeded in getting into Parliament under MMP are those with incumbent MPs.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges confirmed he has talked to Ngaro about the possibility of splitting, but was vague about details. However significantly Bridges did not deny the new party being considered.

Stuff: Simon Bridges confirms he’s talked with MP about a breakaway Christian party

​National leader Simon Bridges has confirmed he’s talked with MP Alfred Ngaro about the establishment of a “values-based, religious party”.

Bridges says it’s an “alluring idea” and he’s giving Ngaro, a former National party minister, “space” to explore the idea.

But he’s being vague on who is behind the nascent party, and sending mixed messages on whether there will be an electorate deal.

“I am not setting up a religious party…I don’t think I’m giving him support or not, I’m just giving him space,” Bridges said.

Bridges would only be ‘giving him space’ if he did not oppose the idea of a split.

Bridges says Ngaro was approached by “some people” in the last few months. He claims not to know who they are.

Sounds like a deliberate ‘plausible denial’ situation.

“Look, I am not interested in electorate deals, that is certainly not something I have canvassed with Alfred or anyone else…

“I can confirm to you I have not done any deals, I have not talked about any deals and actually I am pretty unlikely to want to get into that.”

He won’t want to get into that with the media, but he hasn’t ruled anything out there.

Bridges says he spoke to Ngaro once about the fledgling party. He wouldn’t be drawn on whether the post-Christchurch political environment was the right time to be launching a party hinged on religious values.

“I’ve simply said to them ‘ok let me know how you get on’. We haven’t had other conversations on this…

“We have seen in the past, these sort of values based, religious parties can do very well and I suppose that’s why Alfred and others are exploring this…there potentially is a gap in the market for a Christian or a value-based party.”

Bridges sounds quite amenable to the proposition.

As I have already said, I think that a Christian based party with a good chance of getting into Parliament is a good idea. Doing it with a sitting MP splitting is probably the only of succeeding inn spite of the 5% threshold, which has effectively stopped any new parties getting into Parliament, unless they have an MP with an electorate seat.

I am unlikely to vote for a Christian party, but I strongly support aa party that can get a few percent of people voting for them being represented in Parliament.  That is what MMP should allow, and a number of viable smaller parties would result in better representation in Parliament. Currently the threshold effectively disenfranchises people who prefer niche parties.


Update: bridges is being about this on RNZ. He stated that National will stand an MP in the Botany electorate next election (Botany was mooted as an electorate that Ngaro could stand).

Christian party split from National?

There has been quite a bit of speculation that MP Alfred Ngaro is considering splitting from National and setting up a Conservative Christian party. He would possibly stand in the Botany electorate, a safe National seat currently held by the now independent Jamie Lee Ross.

There has been no strong denials, suggesting that it is an option being seriously considered, and not opposed by National who badly need partner parties

Ngaro would probably be a fairly moderate conservative, and a largely  uncontroversial MP, so would be well suited to this if it happens.

If Ngaro wins an electorate then the party wouldn’t need to reach the 5% threshold to get a few list MPs into Parliament with him.

I think this would be a positive move. There is an obvious constituency for Christian conservatives. In the  past Christian parties have got up to 4%, even with oddball leaders like Colin Craig. They should be able to be represented in Parliament.

I don’t see much chance of the New Conservative party getting anywhere near serious contention, so a new party is the obvious option to take.

I’d actually like to see more party splits. Under MMP the ideal set up is a large party with multiple small party options in governing arrangements. This avoids the tail wagging the dog type scenario (which is happening currently to an extent with NZ First), and ensures generally that majority will gets it’s way.

Ngaro has to front up

Alfred Ngaro had to face media in Parliament for the first time since his embarrassing speech a bit over a week ago – see Should Ngaro have offered his resignation?

He also had to face perhaps his first Question Time as a Minister.

10. POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Did he have any particular organisations in mind when he stated, “Do not play politics with us. If you get up on the hustings and start bagging us, then all the things you are doing are off the table. They will not happen.”; if so, which organisations was he thinking of?

Hon ALFRED NGARO (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector): My comments were wrong. It is not the way this Government works, and I have apologised for them.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a primary question on notice. While the Minister may regret his comments, he is still accountable for them and still needs to answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I agree with that. The—[Interruption] Order! No, I do not think the question has been addressed. It is very easily addressed. I think the question needs addressing. It is one the Minister has had for the last 2½ or 3 hours.

Hon ALFRED NGARO: I have apologised to the organisations that I named in my comments. They were wrong. It is not the way this Government works and I have apologised for them.

Poto Williams: Does he agree with the finding of the recent ComVoices state of the sector report: “This is a difficult time for the entire social sector … Partly this is due to social service providers not wanting to ‘rock the boat’ and jeopardise their chances of securing future finding.”; if not, in what ways does he disagree with that finding?

Hon ALFRED NGARO: I have not read those comments, but what I can say is that as the Minister I have been working and engaging with a number of the community groups, having free and frank conversations, wanting to know that we can make a difference to New Zealanders in our communities every day.

Poto Williams: When he stated: “On the one hand, we are working together and on the other hand too. If people are criticising, we just need to be mindful of that type of relationship.”, what in particular did he believe that people needed to be mindful of?

Hon ALFRED NGARO: Part of working in the community means that others will have different points of view and we may disagree, and that is appropriate. However, we are all working towards the same goal of helping people in our communities.

Poto Williams: Why did he say what he said?

Hon ALFRED NGARO: My comments were wrong. They are not the way this Government is working, and I apologise for them.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister may, as I have indicated earlier, regret what he said but he did say them and he, therefore, should be able to answer questions on them. The question was why he said it.

Mr SPEAKER: I agreed with that in the first case, when it was a primary question put down on notice. As for the supplementary question, on this occasion, when I consider what was asked in the question and the Minister’s attempt to address it, I think he has addressed that question.

Poto Williams: Why did the Minister say sorry to the Prime Minister but not apologise to the community and voluntary sector?

Hon ALFRED NGARO: I have made apologies to those whom I spoke about. I have also spoken to a number inside the community as well. What I have to say to the member is that I have been humbled by the spirit of generosity that has been given to me, because most people have said that this has been out of character. I have worked very hard over a number of years with those communities as well.

Political ups and downs

From Stuff’s weekly summary of political ups and downs.

UP

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams: If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Adams announced the government’s plans to build 34,000 new homes in Auckland over the next 10 years and got big ups even if, as her critics claim, she nicked the policy from Labour and there’s some trickery over the numbers.

It’s not exactly nicked policy. National had to be seen to be doing something to address the severe Auckland housing shortage, and their plans are significantly different to Labour’s.

Labour leader Andrew Little: The Labour congress and Little’s property speculator tax got his agenda back on track and got people talking about Labour policy again rather than splits and divisions.

Prime Minister Bill English: Japan’s commitment to the trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a huge boost to New Zealand and ensured English’s trip there was a success.

DOWN

Greens co-leader James Shaw. Shaw claimed  Donald Trump was the “worst world leader since Hitler“, SAD. SILLY.

Alfred Ngaro. The junior government minister earned himself a dressing down after crossing the line and threatening financial reprisal to groups that disagreed with the government line.

Shaw’s claim was embarrassing for him but probably won’t be very damaging.

Ngaro’s threat was seriously embarrassing for National and could lurk through the election campaign as an example of the arrogance of third term power.

From: Below the beltway: Amy Adams gets the plaudits for policy some say she nicked and James Shaw ends up with egg on his face

 

Should Ngaro have offered his resignation?

Going by Lloyd Burr’s claims in Alfred Ngaro’s threat to Willie Jackson was worse than just a brain fart Ngaro was slow to comprehend or acknowledge the mistake he made in a National Party regional conference speech.

Alfred Ngaro’s threat that non-government organisations shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds is extraordinary.

Not just because of his complete lack of judgement, or the fact he did it on stage in front of hundreds of National Party members, or because it shows cracks in the party’s extreme culture of discipline.

It’s extraordinary because he didn’t back down from his comments until he was forced to.

It was much more than just a brain fart or a case of misspeaking.

Prime Minister Bill English and National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce were quick to activate damage control, downplaying the comments as “naive from a new minister”.

But before they could both get their hands on him and before the storm of bad PR hit, Mr Ngaro was still unapologetic when Newshub asked him to explain.

“It was actually about saying ‘look let’s be mindful about the working relationship we have’,” he told Newshub at the conference.

“It’s the context of saying that on the one hand we’re working together, and on the other hand too, if people are criticising, we just need to be mindful of that type of relationship, yep,” said Mr Ngaro.

NGOs being “mindful” of criticising the Government sounds strikingly similar to threatening them to watch what they say.

“If we’re going to have a positive partnership of working together, then it’s around having that, it’s talking about wider context but also all the things we are doing and working collectively together,” said Mr Ngaro.

“My comments was (sic) just to be mindful of the fact that if we are going to be able to have these partnerships, we’ve just got to be political, what you call sensitive, in that context, yep.”

All this was very embarrassing for National, not just the initial comments but on how Ngaro handled it. His subsequent apology was very lame too.

I’m sure Ngaro regrets what he said but this sounds like a ‘I’m sorry I got found out’ and then a switch to campaign politics sort of non-apology. It is nowhere near good enough.

Audrey Young thinks that Ngaro comments warrant the offer of a resignation

The stupidity of Alfred Ngaro’s judgment at the weekend was so gross it warranted at least his offer of a resignation from the cabinet to Prime Minister Bill English.

None was forthcoming, English confirmed at his post cabinet press conference.

But it was clear from English’s response that he was not looking for a resignation from Ngaro.

That may be because it would have signalled a misjudgment on English’s part in having promoted him in December from the backbench into cabinet.

English did admit, however, that Ngaro had apologised to the cabinet, adding to a long list of groups to which he has apologised.

I haven’t seen a decent apology yet – and this lack of an adequate response is as bad as the initial comments which sounded like insidious political threats.

The biggest reason English has been so forgiving of Ngaro is that he does not believe the junior minister would have followed through on his threat – and there is no evidence of it.

Ngaro has not yet had the opportunity to walk the way he talked. As a new minister, and Associate Minister for Social Housing, his work and decisions are closely watched by Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.

He would not get away with it.

Ngaro’s comments smack of an inexperienced minister trying to sound as though he was an experienced political operator by talking tough.

He showed the complete opposite.

It’s ironic that an inexperienced minister has portrayed his party as arrogantly misusing power after nine years of government.

Jackson and English on Ngaro nonsense

The fallout from Alfred Ngaro’s comments, seen as political threats against critics of the Government, continues today.

Ngaro’s apology was inadequate – see Ngaro apologises, sort of.

Steven Joyce said this morning that Ngaro had apologised ‘to anyone who might have been offended’ that sort of non-apology is often used and often condemned.

RNZ: Jackson refuses to be silenced by Ngaro ‘threat’

Labour Party candidate Willie Jackson says he won’t be keeping his mouth shut, despite an apparent threat from a cabinet minister.

Associate Minister of Social Housing Alfred Ngaro told the National Party’s Auckland Conference on the weekend there could be financial consequences for the Manukau Urban Māori Authority if Mr Jackson bagged the government on the campaign trail.

Mr Jackson heads the authority, which runs one charter school and is the largest provider of Whānau Ora services in South Auckland.

Mr Jackson told Morning Report Mr Ngaro’s comments were “unprecedented” and “very disappointing”.

“I’ve never heard of a minister threatening a community organisation like this.

“It’s a direct threat and its a worry for me.

“I’ve got over 100 people who work for me and we serve thousands in our community and we have contracts right across the state sector.”

He said it was not just about him, it was about the rights of the community.

He said he was going to write to Prime Minister Bill English demanding assurances that community organisations would lose funding for criticising the government.

Prime Minister Bill English says there will be an audit of Ngaro’s decisions as minister.

Mr English told Morning Report Mr Ngaro’s comments were off the cuff.

He said he was wrong to say what he did and he has since apologised.

He would go back and check through the decisions Mr Ngaro had made to ensure they were not based on the political views of his opponents, Mr English said.

Damage control for National. This sort of thing has the potential to sink a Government ship in election year.

 

 

Ngaro apologises, sort of

Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro has apologised, sort of,  for a speech that threatened repercussions against an application for a partnership school involving Willie Jackson if Jackson cricised National during the election campaign – see Charter school threat from National MP.

Actually that sounds like a poor apology.

This has seriously embarrassed National and senior ministers have (sort of) said that Ngaro’s remarks were out of order.

Stuff:  Apology over threat to withdraw funding from Government opponents

A junior government minister has apologised to his senior colleagues for “crossing the line” after implying people who bagged the Government would lose their taxpayer funding.

National’s campaign manager and Finance Minister Steven Joyce said Ngaro realised he had crossed the line with his comments and apologised.

“He apologised to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and myself as campaign chair. He got carried away…he crossed the line.”

Joyce said Ngaro’s comments were “not the way we operate”.

“We work with providers of all types all the time; people have their political views separate to work they do with the Government. The Government doesn’t take a view on people’s political views.”

Joyce and National and Ngaro will have to do much better than this on arrogance of power, or they could crash and burn this election.

There’s potentially been a lot of damage done to National – something like this could easily precipitate the current Government’s demise.

Charter school threat from National MP

Alfred Ngaro is a normally low profile National list MP. He has recently been promoted to Cabinet as:

  • Minister for Pacific Peoples
  • Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector,
  • Associate Minister for Children
  • Associate Minister for Social Housing

Tim Murphy at Newsroom reports that Ngar has threatened that criticism of the Government during the election campaign could affect decisions made about establishing Partnership (Charter) schools. If accurate this is an insidious political threat.

Newsroom: People in glass houses start throwing election stones

The associate housing minister Alfred Ngaro led the charge in a presentation laced with political menace against those who question National’s performance on housing.

He even suggested Labour list candidate Willie Jackson could expect to lose Government support for his Manukau Urban Māori Authority interest in a second charter school, and its Whānau Ora contract should he “bag us” on the campaign trail.

“We are not happy about people taking with one hand and throwing with the other,” Ngaro said.

“Do not play politics with us. If you get up on the campaign trail and start bagging us, then all the things you are doing are off the table. They will not happen.”

The MP’s extraordinary blurring of party politics and government policy implementation came after he claimed to have told Jackson of the risks directly.  “I even went to see Willie Jackson at Waatea Marae.

“He has put another application for another Kura that is a Charter School. Their MUMA has taken a contract with Whānau Ora.”

If accurate this is an insidious political threat. Political campaigning should not be used to threaten outcomes of policy implementation. Decisions on whether partnership school applications are successful or not must be independent of political arguments.