More on the Metiria gamble

Green co-leader Metiria Turei took a radical risk when she admitted deceiving WINZ so she would get more state assistance over a period of three years before she became an MP.

Whether it was organised or it just happened this sparked a ‘movement’ on social media, especially on Twitter where an #IAmMetiria hashtag got the converted excited.

It also got some on the left who have been searching for some sign of their revolution getting off the ground cheering from the blogs. On his Bowalley blog Chris Trotter linked Turei’s attention  seeking to the French revolution – For Metiria …

“We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people.”
– Metiria Turei, Co-Leader of The Greens

And he followed this up on The Daily Blog: Sins Of Admission – critiquing John Armstrong’s attack on Metiria

But, tell me, do you think that Mahatma Ghandi, Dr Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela would have any ethical difficulty dealing with those implications?

He left out Mother Teresa.

Apart from those desperate for a left wing game breaker it’s hard to know whether will attract more support from voters.

But generally it hasn’t been enthusiastically promoted by media.

Thumbs down from Stuff’s weekly ‘Below the Beltway’ bouquets and brickbats:


Metiria Turei. The Greens co-leader’s confession she lied to get a higher benefit as a solo mum grabbed the headlines but risked a backlash against the party for overshadowing the Greens’ policy moves.

Tracy Watkins: Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble

Everybody lies? Seems so. You don’t need a scientific survey to know that trust in politicians telling the truth is at an all-time low.

Yet the Green Party has always held itself apart from all that.

The party acts like it has a natural advantage in a place where the rest of the participants struggle to sell us on their honesty and integrity.

Maybe that’s why Metiria Turei’s admission that she lied to maximise her income from the DPB is so jarring.

That is a problem for Turei and the Greens. It’s like a revised Animal Farm rule:

Green animals are above lying and cheating. Unless it’s for a Green cause.

In the scheme of things, the “crime” is not huge. Turei claims she did it to feed her child. But that hasn’t made it less polarising.

On the one side there is anger – for every Turei, there are countless more women who managed to feed their children with less.

But on the political Left there is near euphoria.

It got part of the political left excited, but some must have had some uneasiness. A party leader didn’t just admit to a deceit that cheated the system twenty years ago, she promoted it as justifiable now for anyone who thought they or their family deserved more.

So Turei’s confession might be viewed as the politics of “sticking it to the establishment” – even if it doesn’t do other DPB mums any favours, given that it plays up to the stereotypes on talkback.

But at its most basic, Turei’s admission is also an acknowledgement that she’s no better than the rest of them.

She could have used her maiden speech to deliver a powerful message about poverty by revealing her “crime” 15 years ago, but didn’t. She could have used it to fill in the gaps on her “back story” when she was appointed leader – but didn’t.

In fact, she kept quiet about it a lot longer than Bill English stayed shtum over the affairs of his back-bench MP, Todd Barclay.

So Turei has already failed the most basic political test – the hypocrisy one.

But that was always going to be the risk. So why now?

One word. Politics. The Greens are desperate for a circuit breaker and a way to tap into the zeitgeist of the US and British elections.

It was clearly a carefully planned throw of the political dice.

Turei’s speech is an attempt to put a stake in the same ground.

But there will be collateral damage.

The gamble is that the damage will be outweighed by the publicity and support – except that I’m not sure Greens will have recognised the risks, they often seem to have a confidence that what they do is right and just, and never wrong.

Turei’s speech will be a big turnoff to Labour’s target voter, the mythical “white van man” – the blue collar tradie who’s just getting by.

They were never going to vote for the Greens anyway. But it might drive them from Labour to NZ First.

Especially if they don’t have family at home, because Labour’s pledge to ditch the tax cuts will leave many taxpaying workers with nothing and beneficiaries and parents with a lot more.

The damage might be even closer to home for the Greens. A growing number of voters – the much derided urban liberal included – are concerned by the sight of children living in cars or substandard boarding houses.

Turei’s speech might have appealed to those voters on one level. But her DP- bludging confession is a huge turnoff to many of them.

I don’t think it’s easy to quantify the number of voters who will be turned off or own by the confession and the subsequent campaign tactic.

It’s also an in-your-face reminder that the Green Party and the hugely powerful Green “brand” are two very different things.

Most people see the Green “brand” as largely environmental and worthy.

But I think many have reservations about the red part of the New Zealand Greens. The core of the watermelon may be too socialist red for middle New Zealand.

So Turei’s attempt to paint the campaign town red is certainly a big gamble. It could swing the election, but at the moment it’s anyone’s guess which way.

Bets are off Sky City’s stupid gamble

Sky City did a deal with the Government. They got gambling concessions in return for the promise of a convention centre in Auckland.

Now Sky say their cost estimates have gone up and they need financial assistance.

But Len Brown says the Auckland City Council won’t fork out – Ratepayer cash won’t go into convention centre, mayor promises.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the council will not put any ratepayer cash into building or running an international convention centre.

He told the Weekend Herald yesterday that there would be no money for the SkyCity convention centre in a new 10-year budget.

The council and Mr Brown were blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity before Christmas that ratepayers’ money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for the controversial project.

SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470 million and to $530 million.

That doesn’t rule out non-cash assistance such as rates relief, and…

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce floated the idea of ratepayers helping cover operating costs, but has since talked down the idea and suggested the council look at its regulatory fees for the consent and construction process.

But ruling out cash is sensible, and essential.

Who would want to finance a company who makes a deal based on costings that under-esitmated (or under-claimed) the cost by 20-30%?

Sky either cocked up or cooked up a massive con.

And the Government should discount any financial assistance too. They negotiated a deal based on no cost to taxpayers.

If National now bow to Sky’s coercion/attempted blackmail and fork out they will rightfully be blasted for it. It would look  that bad it would be likely to play a major part in the demise of Key’s government.

It would be a stupid business gamble and a very stupid political gamble.

And Sky have made a stupid gamble thinking they can fool us on their cost claims and suck us in to finance their folly.

Call their bluff. If they renege on their deal and ditch the convention centre Sky will be the biggest losers.

In gambling you need to know when to walk away.