Government by slogan and spin



Last night Kevin Hague in his final speech to Parliament talked about all the worthy issues avoided by National and the frustrations experienced from their partisan political approach. I agree with the sentiment and I think it’s clear after 8 years we can say they’ve been a government that makes only a token response to the tough questions. We have a bare minimum government more focused on the spin than substance.

Just look at some of their announcements. ‘Cut emissions 50 by 50.’ Great, that’s a snappy slogan, but never mind the science, or the fact their other policies are all about increasing pollution. ‘A pest-free Aotearoa by 2050.’ Great, who couldn’t get behind that, but they provide no meaningful funding to achieve the target and pose for photo ops with Kiwi. Or take electric vehicles, they make more dollars and sense here than anywhere else in the world. So they set an electric car target less than their own official’s do-nothing scenario and do nothing effective to support them. Simon Bridges launched that one eight times.

They’ve set so many empty targets you have to wonder if they have internal KPIs and meetings to discuss coming up with empty targets. It’s government by meme, government by slogan, government by focus group. A government who cares more about looking like acting, than actually acting. It’s damaging because we face huge challenges and need action but instead when we do get substance it’s to sell something or give something away to their corporate mates. The sold our power companies and farms; sold out on the TPPA and charter schools and in the midst of a housing crisis they’ll even sell state houses.

It’s quite a contrast to history. Once upon a time a great prime minister was immortalised carrying in the dining table to help a family move into their new state home. Sure it was a photo-op but there was real substance that made a difference to thousands of families behind it. John Key, on the other hand, raised in a state house: the character from central casting, instead puts up a ‘for sale’ sign.

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National’s strategy for ‘success’ is ignoring inequality, unswimmable rivers and homelessness. It must be very hard though every week writing a script full of distractions to avoid the pressing issues. Luckily Nuk Korako, stepped up to the stage with an adventure story about rescuing lost bags from airports. In his legislative cameo, Matt Doocey, is taking up parliamentary time in his crusade to allow companies the right to ask shareholders by email rather than a letter if they want a hard copy of the annual report.

But sometimes the spin’s not enough and we see the incompetence behind the acting. Take Nick Smith – the Minister with the reverse Midas touch where everything he touches turns to dust. He’s even managed to turn something the vast majority of New Zealanders, including many Iwi support – the Kermadec Sanctuary into a potential Treaty of Waitangi breach and a threat to Government stability. Then you’ve got the amazing, invisible Minister for Woman’s Affairs, doing her best impersonation of an old, out of date stereotype – seen but not heard.

It is obscene that our Government acts like this when we have an Auckland housing market holding the country hostage, record international debt, thousands homeless, tens of thousands of young people out of work and education, growing corruption, declining waterways and rising pollution. This is the legacy of eight years of government by slogan and spin when you look behind the curtain.

Kiwis care about the future, they look out for each other and love and want to protect our environment. For 8 years the New Zealand has put off dealing with issues and it’s time to change the channel.


  1. “I think it’s clear after 8 years we can say they’ve been a government that makes only a token response to the tough questions. We have a bare minimum government more focused on the spin than substance.”

    I agree and another point most often missed by the opposition is that during those eight years National have broken every record in the book when during the pre election promises they made in 2008 National promised they would reduce government regulatory controls over everyone when they complained always about the “Helen grad” Nanny state” remember that???

    So now National has made record changes to every single Government regulation that ever existed!!!!!!!

    It may be wise of the opposition to make a list of all the “National Government Amendments ” that have transpired over those last eight years and overlay them against what the Clark Government did in the same time frame!!!

    More importantly, it may highlight in what way have the National Gov’t “amendments” (compared to Clark Gov’t) negatively affected the poor and lower social economic citizens have suffered under these massive National Government Changes/amendments’ regime.

    This could be a game changer for the up coming election if you do this study of National Gov’t massive incursion into all our lives by over zealous Gov’t “regulatory – changes/amendments.

    Yes this NatZ Gov’t are only spin.

  2. Good folks like Keven leaving reminds us of how corrupt and ineffective our government really is. The elite Nats, in denial, have failed miserably.
    Thanks for your comment Gareth.
    Thank you Kevin for your efforts and support of the people and environment of New Zealand. You will be missed.

    It is now time to focus on supporting politicians who are not bought and dictated to and are beholding to the people and the environment first before greed and profits. Politicians who are not pro TPPA and are not supporting Privatization and the UN and the greed behind prison profits and Charter Schools etc. – those politicians deserve our encouragement and support.

  3. The government likes small symbolic gestures, such as committing to a few electric vehicles in years to come, and emission reductions so far out in the future, it is meaningless.

    But are electric cars the solution anyway, I wonder, we have such vehicles needing recharging and about the power a water heater uses per annum, which means much more demand for electricity.

    Where does that come from, as hydro electric generation has reached its limits, and as wind power and solar power will only deliver so much, also costing a lot in infrastructure to build.

    That is where the Greens fall short themselves, I fear, do you want nuclear energy to provide more emission free electricity then? That is not what I favour.

    Also the claims by the Greens that tourism is good economic activity, hence we need to protect the environment for a pure New Zealand, are a bit hypocritical.

    Most come here by air, and all those extra plane flights mean substantial more emissions going into the atmosphere.

    I really want to see more thought put into all this. Slamming the government for what they do wrong is one thing, offering real solutions for an alternative needs to be done better than we so far get, Gareth.

    • Agreed, Mike.

      For a party with ‘international reach’ -Greens in Europe, UK, America, Australia – they’re not bringing much of a ‘plate’ to the dance. (More air than grandma’s pavlova.)

      Or much practical thought, as you rightly point out.

  4. An excellent summation of this government but it misses the other important element, it’s dishonesty.

    When we hear that the fishing industry polices the fishing industry, that an independent watch dog was vetoed by the fishing industry, that there is mass fish dumping and there has been NO prosecutions and even those that were lined up were pulled, what is any ordinary objective person supposed to think other than outright corruption. And it was set up by National!

    Or the faux inquires designed to never find anything wrong into dodgy ministers, e.g. those whose profit driven commercial interests conflict with their ministerial duties.

    Or the fact that it took the Panama Papers to uncover that National were 9/10th’s of the way to setting this country up as a tax haven and a money laundering haven.

    Or small town NZ being poisoned by their drinking water only to have a quick cover up inquiry that excludes the very cause of the contamination, effluent from dairy farming.

    Or that no executive or any person was ever held responsible for Pike River.

    Or that health and safety laws exclude farming.

    Or the Saudi millionaire sheep bribery will never be looked into.

    Or that OIA’s are routinely blocked.

    Or that official government stats are becoming more and more meaningless as officials become more and more creative in doctoring them.

    I could go on quite easily but the above is a perfect main course to the slogan and spin.

    • Indeed. There are the slogans and spin, the outright dishonesty, and for dessert??? The sinister, creeping erosion of civil liberties, increased surveillance powers, criminalising of peaceful dissent, and dirty politics. Thanks, national voters. Enjoy your meal.

  5. Well put Kevin and thankyou for coming to parliament to serve.
    Your comments are an accurate depiction of the current administration.
    The strategy for this government surviving long term has been in evidence for some time and spin of course is part of the communication that they rely on for survival and avoiding pit falls in the road which usually effect third term administrations of any colour… untill now.

    With a compliant right wing media establishment and lack of real serious investigations we once were very good at.. getting to the truth and informing the public and holding the government to account is extinct unless you can turn it into a reality show to appeal to most of the brain dead who vote for the National Party and those who dont, or dont vote at all.

    This government has very little negative press ,or an ongoing attack campaign to wear it down including bad polling that can have a corrosive effect, just look at the fall of the last Labour government If you believe the corporate polls they have lost no support since 2011 that is unprecedented but not surprising given the current climate and the tactics employed to keep them in contention.

    The other weapon has been destroying its enemies with a black ops operation run out of the PMs office that was effective in destroying reputations and placing doubt in the publics mind on their suitability for government and more importantly it was reported not that the PM had been involved and sanctioned this appalling activity but that all parties are doing the same thing so everyone is guilty!
    So the publics reaction was not one of anger and disgust but “well its ok they all do it “so it killed the story with the blame taken by Eade and Key as usual comes out clean.

    With all these factors in play and other tactics being used away from the public view this National government is well placed for a fourth term after the next general election and possibly an unprecedented fifth term after 2020 such is its dominance and influence and change in the media environment that favours the status quo in New Zealand.

    John Key and his colleagues will be very difficult to remove from office and look set to dominate the political environment in the years ahead and will leave an unrecognisable country when they are finally forced out.

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