On Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed John Key – a rare occasion, as Key has always avoided fronting on Radio NZ like it was political kryptonite. It must be election year.
Click to Listen: Election year interviews (29′ 50″ )
Key began by focusing on his government’s track record (Key’s interview statements in bold blue),
“… [Our] track record’s a good one. Government’s often don’t want to necessarily point to what they’ve done over the course of the time they’ve been in office…
We’re now one of the very few OECD countries that’s back in surplus this year. Unemployment rate’s falling. We’re growing rapidly.
It’s not just the economy, I mean you got a crime rate that’s on a 30 year low…”
Only a minute and 15 seconds into the interview, and Key was already claiming credit for “successes” that his government had very little to do with, or was mis-representing (as is his style);
1. “We’re now one of the very few OECD countries that’s back in surplus this year.”
National may well be back in “surplus” this year. But they still have accumulated a debt of $61 billion (net). That debt has been rising at $27 million per day, since John Key was elected into office in November 2008. Part of that debt was fueled by generous tax cuts, in 2009 and 2010, for the top 10% wealthiest people in this country.
2. “Unemployment rate’s falling.”
3. “We’re growing rapidly.”
Much of which is due to the Chjristchurch re-build and global recovery – not because of any proactive policy from National.
4. “I mean you got a crime rate that’s on a 30 year low”
Correct. Literally. The rate of recorded offences has been steady or trending downward since 1996 (except for a short ‘spike’ post-2008, when unemployment skyrocketed,
Even right-wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar on Kiwiblog, made a similar analysis.
So can Key really claim credit for a pattern that has either held steady or trended down? In which case, will he also claim credit for those areas where crime has been rising?
“…A lot of good gains in education…”
Really?! One and a half minutes into the interview, and Key is beginning to bullshit the audience already. In fact, New Zealand has dropped down in the OECD PISA rankings, as Sathya Mithra Ashok wrote last December,
OECD’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey for 2012 has moved New Zealand’s performance downwards in maths, reading and science.
The country continues to score above OECD average in mean PISA scores across mathematics, reading and science (at 500, 512 and 516 respectively), even though the annualised score points have dropped by 2.5 per cent, 1.1 per cent and 2.5 per cent for each of the subject areas.
In the global rankings, New Zealand currently stands 18th in science, and 23rd in maths, a drop from previous 7th and 12th placements. Countries like Singapore, Poland and Germany rank above New Zealand and have positively increased their position since the last survey. Australia, Ireland and Denmark, despite also moving backwards, still outrank New Zealand.
“The second thing is, any incumbent government or any political party that wants to become the government gets elected on what they’re going to do, not always what they have done…”
That’s convenient. And yet, at every opportunity, Key, English, and other National Ministers continue to lie about Labour’s “poor economic track record”…
“And I think the last thing is just to continue to demonstrate that you’re in touch with people…”
Key certainly demonstrated how “in touch with people” he was when he arrogantly dismissed the anti-asset sales petition last year,
“Well, the numbers don’t look like they’re that significant. I mean at the moment it’s sitting at around about 40 per cent. That’s not absolutely amazing, it’s not overwhelmingly opposed. But the people who are motivated to vote will be those who are going to vote against.”
Yeah. That’s showing the peasants just who’s in charge – I mean, in touch!
“…It is always a challenge when you’re there in the Beehive and life is a little easier than for people on “struggle street”. It’s easy to get divorced from that.”
For example, giving $30 million to an aluminium smelter as a taxpayer handout – whilst denying the lowest paid workers (paid $14.61 an hour) in rest-homes a wage increase because, according to Key, the money isn’t there;
“Travel is one of those areas where we are looking at what we can do,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.
However, the Government could not afford to give DHBs the $140 million required to enable rest homes to pay their staff more.
“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.”
Other taxpayer-funded subsidies;
$1 Rugby – $200 million to subsidise the Rugby World Cup.
Indeed, one can see how easily a Prime Minister can get divorced from those living on “struggle street”…
Kathryn Ryan then moved the interview on to potential “governing arrangements”. Key offered his assessment that he did not believe that Peters would support National and that “at best he is likely to abstain”. Key said it was “time to move on” from events six years ago.
Yet, it was only three years ago that Key was quite adamant,
“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”
It is unclear what has changed with Key’s ‘principles’ that a man not fit to be one of his ministers only three years ago would suddenly be welcomed as a potential coalition partner. Does “moving on” entail a 180 degree change in principles? That’s more than “moving on” – that’s a quantum paradigm shift. Not bad for 36 months.
When Key stated that “I am less convinced than others [that] he’ll [Peters] get back…” to Parliament later this year, it was hard to tell if that was a shrewd guess on his part; wishful thinking; or a “coded instruction” to National voters not to vote for Peters as a potential coalition partner for the Nats. Key was quite specific,
“…Nearer the time I am actually personally keener to be a little more transparent. Now in the past we’ve been effectively transparent. I think we’ve been fairly clear about what we wanted voters to do with their electorate vote in Epsom, in Ohariu. Um, we haven’t faced the sort of Conservative issue. But my sense is, you know, we’ll be quite clear.”
Indeed, though Key seemed emphatic that there would be a “zero chance” of Peters entering a formal coalition with National, he did not close off the possibility, with this invitation for the NZ First leader,
“We’ll have those discussions with him, but, you know, we’ll wait and see.”
Kathryn Ryan then broached the subject of a co-Prime Ministerial role between Key and Peters. She asked if Key “could rule out” the idea, and Key replied emphatically,
“Yeah, I can rule that out now.”
Key referred to the proposal as “mickey mouse”, and though he has flip-flopped on other issues in the past, he gave sound reasons why he seemed sincerely dismissive of what he referred to as a “barking idea“.
Key did, however admit that “a decent slug of the population, probably 80%” of voters supported National or Labour(/Greens), that a further 20% were the voting bloc that actually decided the election. As Key said,
“It’s very difficult on polling to date to predict what might happen in nine months time.”
It seems that Dear Leader is not quite so confident of winning the election as some might believe.
Key revealed that he has had no conversations with Conservative Party leader, Colin Craig.
On the issue of MMP reform and eliminating the “coat tailing provision”, Key waffled and then lamely gave his excuse why the Electoral Commission’s reform recommendations were not passed,
“In the end, there was no real concensus.”
Kathryn Ryan immediatly jumped on Key called him on that BS,
“The concensus wasn’t there because National didn’t want it! It was darn close to a concensus apart from your Party, which is most advantaged by it!”
Key tried to weasel out of it, but he was clearly shown up as self-serving on that issue. He was defensive.
Kathryn Ryan followed up by pressing other recent issues with Key; his willingness to over-look scandals surrounding John Banks and Peter Dunne.
Kathryn Ryan asked why Key had not read the police report surrounding John Banks.
Key attempted to excuse his over-looking of the report by referring to the Local Body Act as being “extremely vague”. Though why he would refuse to read a report simply because a law is supposedly “vague” is a bizarre excuse. It simply makes no sense.
After all, Key called the GCSB Act “not fit for purpose”. Does that mean he did not read the Kitteridge Report that flowed from illegal surveillance by the Bureau – because the GCSB Act was “vague”? That makes no sense.
It was a weak excuse and not one that will wash if he tries to repeat it at up-coming public election meetings. Key will be laughed at if that is the best he can come up with.
The issue of “Working for Families” was raised – and Key made a startling admission as to why it was necessary for this country to have a system that he once referred to as “communism by stealth”.
The admission he made should give all thinking New Zealanders pause for thought.
But you can bet it won’t be picked up by the msm.
Overall, it is little wonder that Key has shied away from Radio NZ. This was a serious interview and one suspects that he gave away more than he had planned.
This was not “The Edge” – but edgy it certainly was.
NZ Treasury: Debt 2013
Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day
Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2013 quarter
Statistics NZ: The numbers of justice
Kiwiblog: 2012 Crime stats
Computerworld: OECD’s PISA survey moves NZ’s performance downwards
Fairfax media: Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales
Fairfax media: PM: No money for aged care workers
NZ Herald: The Hobbit: should we have paid?
Fairfax media: Hobbit ‘better deal than Lord of the Rings’ – Key
Fairfax media: 555 jobs gone from public sector
NZ Herald: Govt depts clock up $1bn in consultant fees
NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal
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