Military dealing with Ministry of Health failures

Air Commodore Webb along with a bunch of military personnel have been appointed to manage the Covid-19 quarantining after failures by the Ministry of Health.

While The Standard has mostly been busy avoiding the issues and trying to divert to criticism of the Opposition, in a post praising Director General of the Ministry of Health Ashley Bloomfield (and again piling in to the Opposition) there is an interesting comment from Wayne Mapp.

Actually both the DG and the Minister are both responsible for the failure of the staff of MOH. It is part of the role of the DG as CE to be responsible. That is why he gets such a high salary.

Now that is not to say that the DG would have direct knowledge of the failures. But he is responsible for fixing the failures. I personally think the DG has been quick to get on top of this. No human system is perfect, but the DG has done as well as anyone could have possibly done.

In this case Air Commodore Webb has been appointed to do the actual fix, no doubt with the agreement  of the DG, perhaps he was even proposed by the DG.

In fact the DG has been in the military as an RMO. A very good one at that. He was the RMO in my old unit of 3 Auck North. So the DG would have a very good sense of the capability of the military.

I suspect that DG concluded that the senior MH staff were not up to managing quarantine. Which is not surprising. I can’t imagine MH staff would have the skill set to manage something like mandatory quarantine. That is more likely within the domain of those used to disciplined organisation.

Maybe things will run better now military expertise is in charge.

Substance versus rhetoric on climate change

The prime minister frequently says climate change is her generation’s nuclear issue. But so far there has not been much substance beyond the rhetoric. Certainly oil and gas exploration has been stopped, and conservation has got more funding. Meanwhile James Shaw talks a lot about climate change, and many of his suggestions scare the right of New Zealand politics. In any event if climate change is a central issue the policy can hardly be driven by a minor party. The leadership has to come from the top, from the prime minister herself.

Is there an opportunity to develop a set of climate change and environment policies that will genuinely take New Zealand into a new future? Not policies that set one section of society against the other but are seen as much more uniting than that? Such policies can’t be primarily about telling us how bad we are, but rather need to appeal to our more optimistic natures.

There are indications that a unifying approach is possible. Todd Muller of National, a supporter of the Climate Change Commission, seems to envisage that. Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has spent his life thinking about these things.

In other countries such as Denmark, Finland and Israel, where the innovation challenge was thought about much more seriously than in New Zealand, there was a unified approach that lasted beyond any one government. But the principal credit belonged to the prime minister who was in charge at the inception of the challenge and who was seen as the principal motivator and organiser of the key policies.

It is already clear that the same opportunity exists with climate change and the environment. Most New Zealanders know things have to change, and they are comfortable with the notion that New Zealand should be a leader, not a follower. It is part of our nation’s ethos.

When there is a $5.5 billion surplus, you might expect a more serious government commitment, say doubling the environment-focused budget to $2 billion. Sure, there are lots of competing priorities for the surplus, but the prime minister has put climate change and the environment among her highest priorities.

As Ardern has said, this is the year of delivery for the Government. She has to start delivering on her own rhetoric soon. Her talk versus walk is becoming a common observation.

Memo to Phil Twyford – you don’t speak on behalf of ‘New Zealanders’

Ex National MP Wayne Mapp via Twitter: Ardern and Twyford are betting their futures on voters backing their zealotry

In reality the government has largely continued the broad economic settings of the Key/English government. The CPTPP was signed, and in a pretty much unchanged form to the TPP. Basic tax rates are unchanged, and as a consequence so is the overall level of government.

But the government is Labour led, and the prime minister is youth adjacent. She is closely identified with younger urban professionals living in inner city suburbs. For her, climate change is her generation’s anti-nuclear moment. This must signify some sort of fundamental change, not just in the language of virtue signaling that is so familiar to the left, but also in actual policy.

The first real indications of these changes have been in the recently announced transport policy and in the Kiwibuild project on the 29 hectares of land where 4,000 dwellings are proposed, presumably mostly apartments. In these announcements the government, particularly Phil Twyford who is the key minister for both, has spent a great deal of political capital in telling New Zealanders what is good for them. In both cases the prime minister led the announcements, so these are things dear to her heart. She intends that her government will be identified by them, and that it is a government with very different priorities to National.

The Spinoff has had articles praising both, by Matt Lowrie of Greater Auckland on the transport plan, and urban designer Matthew Prasad, one of the advisers to Unitec to transfer its land for intensive development. Both of them are within the core cohort of Ardern’s support base. Naturally they like what they see. In fact they have each had a hand in the basic philosophy of the proposals. Both initiatives represent their vision of what New Zealand should be like, rather than what it is.

But neither of the proposals have much appeal to typical National party supporters, who, after all, are nearly half of the population.

Phil Twyford has responded (via The Spinoff): Memo to Wayne Mapp: New Zealanders want more rapid transit, fewer new roads

In one of the more baffling attacks on KiwiBuild, former National MP Wayne Mapp this week claimed the government is “telling people how they should live” by building affordable houses and bringing our transport system into the 21st Century.

In his column for The Spinoff, he also attacked the Labour-led government for being part of a new “internationalist urban elite”.

These criticisms say more about Dr Mapp’s antiquated thinking than they do about the government’s plans.

I’m not sure how building affordable homes in Mt Albert for desperate first homebuyers is telling people how they should live.

I’m also not sure how wanting to ease Auckland’s congestion makes the government part of an internationalist urban elite.

We’ve listened to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch who have all asked us to support rapid transit (rail, light rail and busways) in our cities, rather than building more, or wider, motorways. It is part of our commitment to build liveable cities.

Of course people in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch would like better public transport options via rail or bus. And better cycling and walking options.

But I’m fairly sure quite a few of them don’t want that at the expense of motorways and roads.

Same for many people who don’t live in or near one of the three main cities – over half of New Zealanders would no doubt like better public transport, but won’t get it, so will still quite like to be catered for be new roads.

Young people today no longer believe they have to own a car.

Another sweeping unsubstantiated statement. I’m fairly sure some young people want to own cars, I see young people driving cars all the time.

Twyford would argue his transport policy case better if he didn’t resort to claims that are obviously inaccurate.

Abuse unabated at Kiwiblog

An abusive and toxic environment at Kiwblog seems to continue unabated.

Kiwiblog is one of the most unmoderated blogs in New Zealand, with ‘free speech’ abuses often ruling over decency and fairness.

I have an extensive history at Kiwiblog probably still stand as one of the most prolific commenters there, but I have mostly given up on following comments threads. Too much abuse and awful comments directed at other commenters, politicians and anyone dragged into a topic.

David Farrar had another wee dig at Jacinda Ardern in Interesting recollection

In response Huevon commented:

I couldn’t finish reading the article without feeling I would throw up.

What a self righteous bitch. Brash was voicing perfectly legitimate concerns from many people about race relations in this country and the bogus privileges and exemptions applied to Maori. He is the rarest of creatures on the right in NZ – a man of principles AND courage.

She clearly holds most white NZers in contempt. She wants power simply to fulfil her ideological fantasies. God help us if this woman gets power.

Upticks 55, downticks 3

Daphne Whitethigh replied:

(Hidden due to low comment rating)

I wish commenters would stop the ad feminam insults.

Upticks 6, downticks 46

Rich Prick:

Why? Some of us just don’t have the stomach for the show pony. You are free to scroll past opinions or expressions thereof that you don’t like. But not the right to demand that they not be expressed. We are the right. Here you are free to express an opinion I may not like, and it may surprise you to know that I will take the time to actually read it, rather than grabbing my pussyhat and go rioting.

Upticks 47, downticks 4

Daphne Whitethigh:

(Hidden due to low comment rating)

It demeans your opinion if you can’t make your point without insult.

Upticks 6, downticks 41

Wayne Mapp:

On this point I agree with Daphne. I am heartily sick of seeing the level of misogyny of some of the commenters.

And even if that does not concern you, it is politically counter productive. The attitude reflected in far too many of the comments on Kiwiblog will be a real turn off to middle of the road voters, and generate a sympathy vote.

Take a cue from Bill English and Paula Bennett. They both instinctively knew they should condemn Gareth Morgan for his comments.

So, sure you have the right to say what you want. It would just be better not to say stupid things.

Upticks 13, downticks 8

There were a lot of comments following that, mostly ignoring Waynes advice and continuing unabated and abusive.

Farrar runs his blog with minimal moderation, that’s his choice. But it looks bad for Kiwiblog, and with Farrar’s close party associations it looks bad for National as well.

I used to confront crap there often but it was pointless because the abuse continued unabated. I pushed boundaries at one stage because someone kept repeating lies about me, but that changed nothing, I copped my only demerits ever over that.

It’s very sad to see one of New Zealand’s most prominent political blogs continually portraying the worst of politics and some of the worst of public behaviour unabated.

A lot of what goes on at Kiwiblog is disgraceful, this is a relatively mild example where someone decided to speak against and got abused for it.

Political debate is poorly served by this. National is tainted. I have no idea why Farrar has let it continue for so long, but it looks very ugly.

Kennedy Graham on integrity

One of the Green MPs who withdrew from the party list, Kennedy Graham, has done so on principle of not wanting to condone breaking the law.

From RNZ:  Green Party in chaos after two MPs rebel

Speaking exclusively to RNZ News, Kennedy Graham and David Clendon said they would resign at the election if Mrs Turei was still co-leader, because they regard her position as untenable.

The long-serving MPs said her position on benefit fraud meant she was no longer fit to be co-leader.

“We do not believe that lying to a public agency – WINZ, IRD or any other – can ever be condoned,” they said in a joint statement.

Dr Graham – who was ranked eighth on the party’s list – said while he liked and respected Mrs Turei, he could not continue serving under her leadership.

He could not abide Mrs Turei’s comments appearing to condone other people breaking the law, he said.

“If that is party policy, I’m not in that party.”

Dr Graham said he first raised objections the night Mrs Turei made the admission while launching the party’s families’ package.

“The intent is not to damage the party,” Dr Graham told RNZ News. “The intention is… to seek to restore credibility and integrity.”

“It’s more in sorrow than anger. This is not an angry position.”

I’ve been emailed this statement from ex National MP Wayne Mapp (I don’t know what the source is):

I know Kennedy Graham quite well. He would be one of the more respected MP’s from any party. Very idealistic, very committed to the rule of law. Very strong commitment to ethical dealings. In fact his list place (quite high at 8) would have reflected the respect he has within the Greens.

So his decision can not have been easy.

I heard James Shaw on Radio Live this morning.

Truly appalling. He basically said MT had done no wrong. That she should be a minister. That she should without question be the co-leader. That she had was the first person to put poverty of beneficiaries front and centre and that as result they would get huge gains under a new government.

Obviously he has not spoken the Winston. The Green welfare policy with its zero-accountability is DOA.

I guess Shaw considers he has to double down in his support for his co-leader, but I am surely not the only one who heard the interview who was amazed.

The whole Metiria mission issue has been amazing, in particular the clash of integrity.

Talking of integrity, the boot seems to be sinking in:

Meanwhile, a senior party source has hit out at the MPs, telling RNZ they were “disgruntled” and “grandstanding”.

Both Dr Graham and Mr Clendon had done “next to no campaigning” for the Greens so far and were “going to quit anyway,” the source said.

There are reports that both had been asked by the party not to stand this election, but party members supported them being on the party list.

More on ‘Hit & Run’

Two more developments in the ‘Hit & Run’ Afghan attacks.

Wayne Mapp, who was Minister of Defence at the time, has posted more about it at The Pundit – Operation Burnham

We can honour both our soldiers and the Afghans, but only by finding out what really happened on that August night in 2010… though that may not require a full inquiry.

Over the past 25 years, New Zealand has spent a great deal of time examining the consequences of the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. We have done so because we want to do right, not because we were legally obliged to do so. The restorative and recuperative value of doing so is internationally recognised. In the process we have built a fairer and more just nation.

The war in Afghanistan has been New Zealand’s biggest military engagement since Vietnam, which is now two generations ago.

As much as anything this explains why I agreed to be interviewed by Jon Stephenson. He has spent more time in Afghanistan than any other New Zealand journalist. As with many independent journalists reporting from war zones this has not been without controversy.

In August 2010 when Operation Burnham took place I was in Afghanistan on a visit arranged months before. I understood that the operation was among the most significant operations that New Zealand had undertaken in Afghanistan.

I had been fully briefed on the plan on the morning before it took place. Based on the briefing, and on the advice of the military professionals, I recommended that it proceed.

Hager and Stephenson have said that Prime Minister John Key gave final approval but that would seem to have been a littler more than rubber stamp involvement.

I knew that the operation had not achieved its stated aims of arresting or otherwise dealing with the people who had been identified as leading and organising Taliban operations against the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team). I knew this because I was formally briefed on that fact at the time. I also knew that other people had been killed. As I have said in interviews, these people were acting as insurgents, in effect acting as enemy combatants.

As in all guerrilla war, it is often a case of villagers by day and insurgents by night. It was a reasonable and appropriate decision to engage them as they looked to be attacking the New Zealand soldiers on the ground. In such a case we have an absolute right to defend ourselves.

But it became clear later that it was also possible there were other casualties. In particular, the death of a three year-old girl.

This emerged in a television documentary in 2014.

Stephenson also told me enough about what had happened for it to be believable that this could have occurred, even if it was not fully proven.

It was claimed then, and has been claimed again in ‘Hit & Run’. I don’t know what actual evidence there is to support this, but it seems to have played a significant part in motivating Mapp to speak out.

For me, it is not enough to say there might have been civilian casualties. As a nation we owe it to ourselves to find out, to the extent reasonably possible, if civilian causalities did occur, and if they did, to properly acknowledge that.

This does not necessarily require an independent inquiry, such as lawyer Deborah Manning wants. In fact we are most likely to get this sort of information through diplomatic approaches to the Afghan government, and trusted NGO’s on the ground.

… the accounts of the NZDF and Stephenson are reconcilable, given the recognition that civilian casualties may have occurred.

They could both be largely correct – but with the identity of those killed and whether any of them were anti-Afghan Government combatants or not potentially contentious.

New Zealand has good reason to be proud of the professionalism of its defence forces. The SAS are among the most highly trained and respected soldiers in the world. In our name, we ask them to undertake the most hazardous military missions, often deep within enemy held territory. They have an absolute right to defend themselves against attack. The risk of capture of our soldiers by the Taliban would be beyond contemplation.

Part of protecting their reputation is also finding out what happened, particularly if there is an allegation that civilian casualties may have been accidentally caused. In that way we both honour the soldiers, and also demonstrate to the Afghans that we hold ourselves to the highest ideals of respect of life, even in circumstances of military conflict.

The Spinoff details some of this in ‘As a nation we owe it to ourselves to find out’: former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp admits he was a source for Hit and Run and also says this:

The Spinoff understands that Mapp has been weighing his conscience over the past few days, and has been particularly troubled by the book’s account of a three-year-old girl, Fatima, being killed in the operation. He believes that neither the NZDF nor the media has focused enough on her fate, and this is thought to be part of what motivated him to write the piece for Pundit: a sense that there is a moral obligation on the part of the New Zealand government to atone for these acts, should they be found to have occurred broadly as described in Hit & Run.

The NZ Defence Force has also added to their claims about this and have put out more maps- see Defence moves to undermine Afghan raid book with map comparison (which includes the maps):

The Defence Force has issued a new document in the war of words over the book Hit and Run, making a direct comparison of maps of the locations described in the book, and the satellite view of the actual raid area.

Explanations from Defence, accompanying the document released on Thursday, include maps of the actual raid site. They say no personnel were targeted at any of the locations identified in the maps on pages 64-67 of the book, none of the houses identified were destroyed and helicopters did not land at the points identified.

“Only positively identified armed insurgents were targeted,” the Defence Force document claimed.

Defence claims nine insurgents were killed in the raid, but have named none. They said SAS troops only fired only two bullets and killed one insurgent. The others were killed by other coalition forces including US helicopter gunships.

@FelixMarwick has a response from Bill English:

PM responds to latest comments by Wayne Mapp on “He’s a private citizen and is free to follow whatever opinions he has”.

PM also says Mapp “doesn’t have any new, or particular, information” Doesn’t believe speculation about events is a reason to hold an inquiry

More from NZ Herald: NZDF advice will decide if inquiry held, PM says

A decision on whether an inquiry or further investigation is needed into allegations an SAS raid led to civilian deaths will be based on advice from the Chief of Defence Force.

…Prime Minister Bill English told reporters today that he was waiting for further advice from Keating – a former commanding officer of the NZSAS – into whether any further action is required.

“He will tell us whether he thinks there is a basis there with any new evidence or any new information,” English said.

“It’s his job to look into these kinds of allegations…the book has turned out to be wrong, pretty fundamentally wrong about events that might have happened but certainly happened somewhere else.”

This looks like to continue.

Response to ‘Hit and Run’

Hager and Stephenson’s book ‘Hit and Run’ has made serious accusations, and the authors have suggested that it is possible war crimes may have been committed.

Response from John Key:

He may have more to say about it in his valedictory speech in Parliament today.

New Zealand Defence Force:

Ex Defence Minister Wayne Mapp from RNZ:

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says an SAS attack on insurgents in Afghanistan was not a revenge mission over the death of a New Zealand soldier last year.

Dr Mapp has confirmed an operation took place on 22 August last year in an area where Bamyan province borders Baghlan province, just over a fortnight after the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell from a roadside bomb explosion.

Lieutenant O’Donnell was the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan.

SAS troops were involved in the subsequent attack on the group of insurgents – killing nine Taliban fighters.

Dr Mapp says the joint mission took place involving New Zealand Special Operations Forces, Afghan National Security Forces and other coalition elements.

However he said it was not a revenge mission, but was carried out to protect the provincial reconstruction team and improve security for local people.

The minister said it would have been irresponsible not to act, given intelligence information had indicated operations against New Zealand soldiers were likely.

There is also audio of an interview with Mapp at : SAS attack not revenge over NZ death – minister.

There hasn’t been much time for official Government or party responses given that the book was launched after 5 pm yesterday.

I can’t find anything from the Government or from Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Neither can I find anything yet from Labour or from their defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

No sign of anything from NZ First nor from the Greens.

I expect some careful consideration will be given by the parties.


90 Day Trial legislation author joins debate

Author of the 90 Day Trial legislation, Wayne Mapp, says that Andrew Little’s attempt to clarify his stance after appearing to backtrack on a personal and Party commitment to scrap 90 Day Trials is ambiguous.

Little has emailed Labour branch and LEC office holders with a ‘clarification’ of his stance on 90 Day Trials – see Little privately tries to clarify his 90 Day Trial stance. .

Someone who is presumably a branch or LEC office holder has published this at The Standard, presumably with approval from Little or Labour. Party members claim it wasn’t circulated to them.

“During the press conference that followed I was asked about our position on the 90 day trial period. Labour has not, and does not, support the 90 day law as it stands. It is unfair and needs to change. As part of our overall policy review we are working with businesses, workers and their unions about how fair trial periods will work.

Labour is not opposed to trial periods where they provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise get them and where they are applied fairly. That kind of trial period has been provided for in our law for many decades, but the law National brought in is unfair and we will change it.”

Mapp, ex National MP (retired 2011) who claims to be the author of the 90 Day Trial legislation, joined the ensuing discussion at The Standard. saying he thought Little’s statement was ambiguous.

As the author of the 90 day trial periods, I have a particular interest in this issue. In my view, Andrew Little’s words are ambiguous.

He knows that every OECD nation has trial periods where the full adjudication rights are not available for employees. In short an employer can say to the employee “it has not worked out”, in the knowledge they cannot be taken to court to contest the decision (except for racial discrimination or similar).

In some countries the trial period is as long as two years, which seems far too long. I chose 90 days because it is about the shortest period of any OECD country. I did so on the basis that it would seen by most New Zealanders as a reasonable period for the employer to make a fair judgement about the employee, On this basis I considered the law would be able to survive a change of government, particularly if it was not seen to have been abused. In my view it has generally worked as intended, and there are no real scandals about widespread abuse.

Of course I know Standardnistas will dispute that claim, but by and large Standardnista’s political views are well to the left of middle New Zealand, so that will be no surprise.

Coming back to the ambiguity. Andrew Little says a trial period “has been provided for in our law for many decades, but the law National bought in is unfair and we will change it.”

On one interpretation of his words he is proposing no change at all from the law that was in force prior to 2009. On this basis he envisages the full personal grievance procedure being available from day one, which defeats the entire purpose of a trial period. That is why the pre-2009 law for trial periods was never used. There was no difference at all with any other employment contract, so there was no point in having a trial period.

But did he really say that Labour would go back to the pre-2009 law? As I read it the first part of the statement is more of an observation about the pre-2009 law. When he says “the law that National bought in is unfair and we will change it”, he is not necessarily saying he will go back to the pre-2009 law. He could be saying that the changes will be something between what the law is now and what is was prior to 2009.

Certainly the impression that he apparently intended to give to the audience was that he was not simply going to reinstate the pre-2009 law.

Possible changes that would be less than the reinstatement of the full personal grievance procedure, could include the employer be required to provide a written statement as to why the trial period is being terminated. It might include a period of 2 weeks or so whereby an employee could rectify the issue that is causing the employer to end the trial period.

Given the ambiguity, Andrew Little will need to clarify what he actually meant.

‘Red-blooded’ responded:

The fact that he has acknowledged that some form of trial period can be useful but said that the current law is unfair and any protocols around termination of employment need to be fair seems to be a pretty clear statement of intent.

If you are the author of the current law, your viewpoint is just as extreme as any being represented by commenters here; it’s just extreme in the opposite direction. You are certainly not a disinterested commentator and have your own reasons for trying to muddy the waters around Little’s comments.

Wayne Mapp:

Given that every OECD country has trial periods and 90 days is among the shortest, you cannot seriously argue I am an extremist on this issue. In fact on the basis of the range of law in the OECD nations, l am left of centre!

A right wing extremist would propose the ACT approach on employment law, which is pretty much employment at will (or whatever the parties agree) across all employment contracts.

I am certainly not a disinterested commentator on this issue. But it is hardly “trying to muddy the waters around Little’s comments” to suggest that Mr Little needs to clarify what he meant. This whole post exists because there is some confusion about what he meant.

Not just confusion, there’s serious consternation from a number of people on the left who still want to see the legislation scrapped, as previously promised by Labour and by Little himself.

Currently there is no public clarification from Little on this on the Labour Party website. There is no recent mention of 90 Day Trials on Little’s Facebook or Twitter.

From Labour’s currently published policy: Click here for our full Work and Wages policy

First hundred days programme of action

Labour’s ‘hundred days’ programme of action will roll back National’s anti-worker employment law changes and make positive changes.

In our first hundred days, Labour will:

• increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, with a further increase to $16.25 an hour in early 2015;

• introduce 26 weeks paid parental leave;

• set a course to raise the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage by the end of our second term, as economic conditions allow;

restore workers’ right to contest dismissals during the first 90 days of employment by abolishing the current government’s Fire At Will law;

Little appears to have signalled a change to this policy.

Wayne Mapp on New Zealand neo-liberalism

Wayne Mapp has responded to Mandy Hager’s A calculated feeding of the beasts within.

I appreciate it is an article of faith for the author of this item, as well as most the commenters, that New Zealand is in the grip of a neo-liberal hell hole, and that anyone who contests this is deluded.

So for mhagar her approach to anyone who might disagree with her is to state;
“ok, lets deal straight away with the first obvious distracting argument that might erupt that New Zealand under the current government cannot be labelled as neo-liberal.”

To begin with not, it is not a distracting argument, her whole thesis is built on the assumption that the government is neo-liberal, she cannot wish away those who might contest that.

She cites the British Dictionary definition that neo-liberalism is “a modern politico-economic theory favoring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reducing government expenditure on social services, etc.” and broadly speaking I would agree. But it is important to note that the whole package is required.

After all the GATT, since 1947, has favored free trade, as has the EU for all its members. So one element is not enough.

I think it is probably fair to characterize the Roger Douglas reforms and also those of Ruth Richardson as meeting the test of neo-liberalism.

But is it true of Helen Clark and John Key? Because it is really necessary to label Helen Clark as neo-lberal in order to stick the same label on John Key

The last Labour govt rolled back the ECA, it introduced Working for Families, interest free student loans, income related rents for Housing New Zealand houses, Kiwisaver, created KiwiBank, did a buy back of KiwiRail and air New Zealand. She increased the top tax rate from 33% to 39%.

However, she did not bring back compulsory unionism, or restore all benefits to pre 1991 levels. And she did not try and turn back New Zealand to its pre 1984 condition with massive government ownership of much of the economy, exchange controls, high tariffs and import controls. And for many commenters on this site because she did not do that she is neo-liberal. And they want Labour to apologies for her. Mind you if Labour did the majority of New Zealander s would think Labour had gone mad. To some extent David Cunliffe did apologize, but Labour got the expected electoral verdict.

For Helen Clark to unwind pretty much everything since 1984 would have meant opting out of much of the worlds economy. The closest analogies are Argentina and Venezuela, not notably successful economies.

In my view John Key has been an incrementalist. He has reversed very little of the Helen Clark reforms, though he has modified them. So there has been the 90 day bill (pretty much modeled on Germany and Scandinavia), some limited partial privitisation, and more direct intervention for welfare beneficiaries, a reduction of the top tax rate from 39% to 33%. He has restrained the growth of government expenditure so that it hovers around 33% rather than 35 or 36% of GDP. Even so large scale borrowing was required yo sustain government expenditure during the GFC, in the order of $35 billion. In contrast the tax cut was $4 billion, so the bulk of the borrowing was to maintain government expenditure generally.

There is a reason why most commentators, including Brian Easton (hardly a right wing economist) do not see John Key as neo-liberal. He has just not been radical enough to earn the label.

Mhagars critique of the current state is rather different. It is more about the modern style of life. In her view “we are encouraged to live shallowly, selfishly, devoid of compassion for our neighbors and suspicious of everyone.” In addition she sees modern New Zealand as having no place for arts and intellectuals. At least on the last point that is hardly any more true of New Zealand than it has ever been. Surely the 1940’s and 1950’s was far more conformist and resistant to intellectual life than the modern era.

Her view is a bit of a caricature of modern life in New Zealand. Certainly where I live in Bayswater/Devonport there is a strong sense of community. But at least I can understand why someone might have that view.

There is a plethora of consumerist advertising, with the internet and mobile communications encouraging a more personal life. Traditional sporting clubs and community activities are on the wane (not that many on the intellectual Left actually like the style of Clubs such as RSA, Lions, Rotary, Rugby clubs, Schools PTA’s, Workingman’s and Cosmopolitan Clubs).

I would also note that many of the regions do not provide the job rich communities that once existed. Farming, forestry and fishing are more large scale. Public works projects such as roading, etc are much more capital intensive with far fewer manual jobs.

But coming back to Hhagars core point about the nature of modern life. Is that a function of neo-liberalism, or is it a function of technological and social change the world over?

Mapp ends up making a simlar point to me in “The social democracy of my youth has so radically collapsed”.

Neo-liberalism has been a small part of complex social evolution. And even if it could be attributed to isolated polotocal politices neo-liberalism can’t be undone.

Wayne Mapp on four year terms

Wayne Mapp (National North Shore MP 1996-2011) has posted a comment at Kiwiblog on four year parliamentary terms.

MMP is the main reason for 4 years. Coalition politics means everything is a bit slower than with FPP. A lot of people would say that was a good thing, but it does take longer to action a government programme. Compare how long the MOM is taking compared to the privatisations of 1987 to 1990.

I think the public understands this longer cycle with more political games because of the number of parties under MMP, so might give 4 years a shot, whereas they would not do so with FPP.

It should definitely go to a referendum, simply because it has in the past, just as do changes to the electoral system. These are the big constitutional issues where the public expect to be able to decide, not MP’s.

I expect the usual term of govt would become 8 years, not the current 9. I think two term govts would be better than three term govts. They would be more focused.

The usual third term is a mess, or at least they has been under the three govts that made three terms since 1975. Think of Muldoon 1981 to 1984, Bolger/Shipley 1996 to 1999 and Clark 2005 to 2008. In all cases the third term was the worst.

Valid points.