One year of the new Government: The faded hope of a hollow promise – grading the issues

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So it’s been one year since the new Government birthed.

The haste with which Jacinda replaced Andrew was a desperation move driven by polls that spelt doom for Labour, it amounted to one of the great comebacks of our political history, but because it was desperation, no one inside the new Government, other than Winston, had any idea what they actually wanted.

Winning an election is one thing, governing is completely different. This total lack of direction has led to a Government full of symbolism but utterly devoid of detail.

It’s been a year that sent our emotions soaring with breath taking images of our Prime Minister on the world stage while homelessness, poverty, suicide, underfunded services and groaning infrastructure continued unabated.

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Education: D

Parents are still having to pay fees at public schools despite being assured this would be wiped. Teachers are furious that they are not seeing any real progress on wages and class sizes and the exploitation of overseas students for bullshit education institutes continues without any real change.

Students at Uni were given a pittance in increased allowances but the crucification of students for student loans is so ridiculous, IRD has more specialists chasing student loans than housing speculators.

 

Corrections/Police: C-

It is offensive in the extreme that Corrections have only now been providing the services to help prisoners apply for home detention and prepare them for release. The fact they’ve sat on their hands all this time should have them all sacked, but this is the public service where accountability is a foreign concept. The horror of our prisons now being doubled bunked rape pens should be a national shame, but the sadism many NZers hold in their hearts towards prisoners means that story is rarely acknowledged.

Cannabis reform is an ugly child the Government are ashamed of being photographed with, synthetic cannabis deaths caused by Parliament pushing it into illegal gang hands is topping 50 a year and Police power continues unchecked with the only Tribunal with power to punish their abuses still too underfunded to actually prosecute the Police. 

 

Social Welfare: D –

Labour’s greatest challenge in front of it right now is the ideological right wing acolytes who have taken up residence in our public welfare agencies. Like cancerous tumours, they have spread their hateful right wing beliefs and infected every inch of what should be a welfare system designed to protect and help rather than punish.

We have seen example after example after example of how these smug vicious people damage and kill the poor they are supposed to serve. Hounding a beneficiary into suicide for a debt that never existed is a sickness and total abuse of the power of the State over the poor.

Once upon a time in New Zealand, the agencies of state welfare were constructed as an instrumental and direct means to ensure our egalitarian values.

Social welfare was seen as a way to redistribute back to the most vulnerable amongst us and these agencies were critical in carrying out that redistribution.

There was a pride involved in this public service, our compassion made us unique and it built the values from which we as New Zealanders have benefitted from.

That simply is no longer the case.

For the last 30+ years, the neoliberal experiment has turned our once egalitarian welfare state into a neoliberal welfare state. The branches of social welfare, the MSD, CYFS, Corrections, Parole Services, Housing NZ, WINZ and Mental health have all been warped and mutated into weapons to punish the poor for being vulnerable.

In a culture of selfish consumerism where success is private and failure is personal , we see the poor as victims of their own circumstance rather than as a result of the hegemonic structures of power.

The poor, the vulnerable, the weak, the sick and the disabled do everything in their power now not to be needing assistance from these Government agencies, because these Government agencies don’t help, they only punish.

We have a MSD who put homeless people into illegal housing.

We have a WINZ service who break people each day and force them to grovel on their belly to make ends meet. Who perform mass surveillance spying on beneficiaries to catch them out in ‘relationships’ despite WINZ not telling anyone what the actual relationship equation is and we have 60% of beneficiaries oweing WINZ money because WINZ claims they’ve defrauded the system by having a ‘relationship’.

We had one horror example of MSD pursuing a beneficiary through the courts for a decade for debt she could never ever pay because MSD scum argued she might one day win Lotto.

Labour have done sweet fuck all to change this toxic culture other than asking for a second sign off to ending welfare. Yay, Labour are only slightly less cruel than National, what a victory for human decency.

Suicide rates continue to soar, our mental health system is as dysfunctional as ever before and lip service is paid to the politics of kindness.

 

Kiwibuild: D

Allan Johnson, one of the leading voices on housing in NZ, has written a damning  indictment on how Kiwibuild is simply about building houses for the children of the middle classes...

It is probably time to call the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild programme for what it is – state sponsored gentrification of state housing suburbs.  As such it is little different from the previous Government’s efforts in places such as Tamaki to extract value from the public housing estate under the guise of modernisation.  

Kiwibuild does another sweet fuck all for those kiwis struggling in cars, this years Bruce Jesson lecture was unbelievably critical of the new Government’s bullshit Kiwibuild…

The title of my reflection is ‘Housing crisis: A smoking gun with no silver bullet’ this reflects my belief that this government has spent 11months claiming all the issues they are confronted with today are solely due to the previous government,

in my opinion what they & we are confronted with today is the fact historically successive governments along with their bureaucrats having not put the time, effort & funding into sustainable housing solutions, with no generational housing strategy that builds strong healthy communities for the present & the future generations.

…like so many other examples, it’s all glitter and warm snuggly feelings with a grim reality that falls far short of the promise.

 

Housing NZ: F

While the clusterfuck of the meth hysteria that saw Housing NZ piss away $120million for needless decontamination, throw 900 beneficiaries onto the street and take children away from families all occurred on National’s watch, the new Governments decision to hold no one accountable at Housing NZ for this is one of the worst failures of this new Government.

For Phil Twyford to allow these bureaucrats off the hook shows how utterly owned he is by his own Ministry. It was a sad depressing day for accountability and the mayhem Housing NZ caused in the lives of the most vulnerable.

 

International Affairs: A-

Remember how the right wing pundits and National Party hacks screamed that Jacinda appearing at the UN was meaningless and why were we paying for those images?

Here are the stats.

Most viewed speech of any world leader on the official UN channel and those pictures viewed 195million times eh? Sounds like the first use of taxpayer money that actually did some good for our public image.

Those images of Jacinda at the UN with Clarke and Neve have given us more value for money than the entire Hobbit Trilogy.

Beyond all the domestic challenges Jacinda faces is an International platform for genuine global leadership begging for her to step up to.

The announcement of a billion in Pacific Aid has set the benchmark.

Talking International relationships, is it time with Australia’s disgraceful treatment of New Zealander’s and their grotesque refugee solution and rampant racism to look for new mates in what has become a toxic and dysfunctional relationship?

While England retreats within itself and risks self implosion over Brexit and with an Orange Fascist in the White House for the foreseeable future, is it time for New Zealand to seek a new relationship and partner to lead the cause for liberal progressive democracies?

When there is so little hope, how symbolic and powerful would a brand new economic, cultural and political relationship with Canada be?

We have so much in common with our indigenous populations, our progressive politics and our role in 5 Eyes.

Annual cultural events in both countries seeking to connect deeply with one another, free trade agreements and a partnership of co-operation. Jacinda and Trudeau could champion refugee rights, cannabis reform, indigenous rights, environmental rights and social justice rights at a time when the planet has lost leadership because Trump has abdicated it.

NZ and Canada have a lot in common, we are both neighbours to a larger country who is an arsehole and whom we get mistaken for, we have similar dynamics and mutual cultural elements.

If we won’t champion for the progressive West, who will?

Is it time for Jacinda and Trudeau to step up?

 

Immigration: B-

Mass immigration continues unabated and exploitation of migrant workers is rampant.The one bright spot is banning foreign ownership of our residential property market, but the Government are too frightened to cause a  labour shortage by turning off the immigration tap so exploitation continues with no end in sight.

 

Climate Change: B-

We have built an incredible image overseas thanks to Jacinda for making strides on climate change and from the point of view of being a positive symbol that’s important so inflates this to a B-, the reality that the dumping of future oil and petrol exploration was driven by a need to take back the domestic news agenda and the total pointlessness of being carbon neutral by 2050 means this is an empty and vacant  B-.

 

Economy: B+

Grant’s promising our corporate Overlords that the Government will be just as mean fisted as National when it comes to spending has kept the elites happy that lefties are in power, and his tough love approach has kept the economy strong enough to weather the looming global meltdowns.

 

Relationship with Māori: A- 

This is down to the decision by Jacinda to spend 5 days at Waitangi, the symbolism of that alone will keep Northland Māori voting Labour. Willie Jackson has had his work cut out for him trying to get the Government to give more to Māori to justify their trust in Labour, and he’s had mixed success, the second budget better pay dividends or Māori voters will get angry. Dumping Meka on little more than micro-aggression policing didn’t help. Issues over water are still looming but with NZ Firsts love affair with tree planting and the Māori Council wanting more tree planting, there could be a huge untapped synergy there. Andrew Little has been an incredible vehicle for better Māori – Crown relationships (despite the colossal fuck up on the East Coast).

 

Conclusion:

This Government was formed because Winston Peters believed in his bones that a great reckoning of neoliberal  capitalism was about to come crashing down around our ears and his special arrangement with Labour that is secretly locked away is to be brought out in that emergency. The Greens are fast becoming a middle class vehicle for woke identity politics that will alienate more than it can build, while Labour are treading water waiting for this crash so as to adopt a far more radical and genuinely transformative platform, but without that crisis the change is less than pedestrian.

The inability of the Government to force real compromise from the neoliberal bureaucracy and the Wellington elites means sweet fuck all has really changed for the poorest and weakest amongst us, and while there is truth to the argument that it will take a few terms to counter the under funding of National’s 9 years in power, that can only stay true for so long.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Social Welfare….A++ for the D-.

    (Oh, can you add Ministry of Health Disability Support Services to the List of warped and mutated social agencies enslaved to neoliberalism? Ta.)

  2. Thank you Martyn. It needed saying. It’s a long bow I know, but I fear Jacinda could
    become our Obama. Hope and small Change.

  3. Good report Martyn – and in all honesty how suprised are we that it has turned out like this.

    It’s no surprise that the only A is the relationship with Maori because they represent the only unified power block among the general population. The rest of us are running around in a fractured state having forgotten that if we truly unified we have the power to make the government do anything we want.

    Labour works hard to make it look like they are in charge by not risking any decisions that would upset the elites (who have the real power). My wish is that they take elite power on, get smashed and only then will it be clear to the population that we have to do the job ourselves.

    • Yes, gotta go with that last paragraph, otherwise we just end up up with a Tony Blair not quite Labour government.

  4. ‘We have built an incredible image overseas thanks to Jacinda for making strides on climate change’

    ?????

    The only strides the NZ government has made is to exacerbate the global predicament via promotion of business-as-usual, and to exacerbate the future consequences for NZ by failing to implement appropriate strategies. It’s hard to se how that rates anything above an F minus.

    Meanwhile, in the UK the complete failure of government there to do anything worthwhile has led to a call for mass civil disobedience. Extinction Rebellion sums up the dire situation quite well.

    ‘We have a duty to act’: hundreds ready to go to jail over climate crisis
    Rowan Williams backs call for mass civil disobedience ‘to bypass the government’s inaction and defend life itself’

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/26/we-have-a-duty-to-act-hundreds-ready-to-go-to-jail-over-climate-crisis

  5. a ha ha ha ha ha ha.
    Finally starting to wake up?
    Stand back and look at the big picture ie past 3 or 4 decades. Everything has only gotten worse in NZ. and it’s going to continue this way.
    NZ Govt only serves big corporations. Jacinda is just another puppet. I don’t know how anyone could have taken her seriously. Fools.

  6. “no one inside the new Government, other than Winston, had any idea what they actually wanted”

    Their job as an opposition party (for 9 years) is to figure this out. The fact that they couldn’t or perhaps couldn’t be bothered is proof positive that they are utterly incompetent and unfit to lead the country.

    It would have been far better had Labour been crushed in the last election so that (maybe) they could have shed all the dead wood of whom Adern is one.

  7. “NZ and Canada have so much in common with our indigenous populations, our progressive politics and our role in 5 eyes.”

    You forgot to mention that we both have the highest rates of non-citizen migration set up in an effort to artificially boost GDP and, more sinisterly, to subjugate the afore mentioned indigenous populations.

    • In the next 30 years the African continent will leap frog the EU in terms of GDP and population. That will present a set of dangers for those wanting to decide who is in and who is out. If you look at the Nazis who were at the extreme end of this debate deciding who could and who couldn’t be citizens and citizenship today has become a big issue again.

      People who are genuine assimilate with ease. People who are not genuine are returned to the place from which they came. Of course that policy gets abused and is abused by education scam artists, low wage employers ect. But one thing that’s missed in all this is, a lot of the boat people that come from the Middle East and North Africa, they fly to Malaysia and then pay tens of thousands of dollars to get that last little bit to Australia or eventually New Zealand.

      So I’d like to think there was solutions to New Zealand’s reception of immigrants which are not punitive because the punitive solutions cut across New Zealand’s ability to decide who is in or who is out, a debate which we settled in WW2. We might be living in a time when the punitive solutions are acceptable but we won’t live in that time for ever so long as the world continues the shift along its progress.

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