Dr Liz Gordon: The damage continues


Damaged billboards? Really? The fact that Judith Collins got a big media boost for stating the bleeding obvious, namely that missing election hoardings are the work of opponents, is a good example of the state of electoral politics currently.  I mean, how on earth did she work that out? Mind you, there have been other reasons.

I remember in the 2002 election, Laila Harre’s beautiful visage was the target of (I suspect) students, probably male, carefully carved out while the rest of the hoarding was left in place.  When the media approached her about this, she was, for the first time I remember, practically speechless! Still, it is unlikely that some kind of lookist fad is the reason for National’s hoardings being missing.

The damage just keeps rolling on for National. Matthew Hooten’s resignation, which he prefaced by saying he could not justify being away from his family for another seven weeks, was the clearest message anyone could give that the ship was sinking.  The fact that he then said that National could still win was baloney.  As the rats desert the ship, they do not call back over their shoulder “I still have faith in you”.  Hooten’s action was moderately damaging to National, and he might just end up being yet another long-term casualty of the implosion of the party.

Am I the only one out there wishing for some policy?  Does this make me so old-fashioned? I am interested in hearing from Labour how we might move from the pandemic-plagued state to the end of neo-liberalism.  I am interested in hearing from National anything – one single material, justifiable thing – that they might have to offer a post pandemic Aotearoa.

In the absence of debate about the issues facing New Zealand (and goodness knows there are enough of them), we are reduced to silly scraps and sordid scandals (nice bit of alliteration there). Oh yes, did I mention sloppy slogans? On my way to swimming I pass two New Conservative Party (whoever they are) billboards. The first reads “Prisoners Voting No Thanks”.  Yes, there is a question mark there in theory, but not in practice.  But why?  What is so important about this issue that it gets on your billboards?

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The second billboard reads: “3 Stage Sentencing Yes Please”.  I have been a justice campaigner for years and I have never heard of 3 stage sentencing. Perhaps hung, drawn and quartered? Please explain, as Pauline Hanson might say (look it up, if you don’t get the allusion).  No wonder someone has daubed swastikas on many of these billboards – what else would you do with them?

Oh to have something to talk about that is not Covid or the personal failings of our leaders (and their parties).  Give us a good policy stoush, go on.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. I remember Robert Atack being charged for painting the truth -that National were lying- on National party billboards and having to do community service as punishment for telling the truth.


    Robert gave up banging his head against the walls of ignorance, apathy and corruption in 2012

    It is staggering that political parties can lie egregiously with such prominence but anyone who amends their lies [in the name of community service] gets labelled a criminal (and in Robert’s case had to do community service).

    It all goes to show just what a fucked-up society we live in.

    ‘Lunatics are running the asylum and it is about time the general populace woke up to the fact.’

    The only consolation for people like Robert is that they (we) have been proven absolutely right, and the world is now in a state of accelerating collapse as a consequence of the utter determination of political parties to NOT FACE THE REALITY of energy depletion, resource depletion and accumulation of pollution.

    Interestingly, professor James Renwick was given prominence today, to point out that the way forward is NOT MORE ROADS and NOT PERSISTENCE WIITH DEPENDECE ON FOSSIL FUELS.

    I’m sure he will also be ignored throughout the coming election circus, as has been the case for the past two decades. Gotta keep the traffic flowing strait off the cliff, even though there are no ambulances at the bottom.

    Unlike professor Renwick, I find the evidence utterly compelling that we are not going to get through the period of collapse we are in -well not in terms of perpetuating the dysfunctional economic arrangements that have got us into this mess- and two years from now there won’t be any need for the kind of infrastructure practically all political parties are currently promoting.

    Of course professor Renwick could not go on national television and say “We’re all fucked”; he has to give the proles some hope that things can go on, if only as a shadow of what was the way of life before coronavirus tipped the unstable dominoes of the economic-financial system.

    These are indeed, “Interesting times”, as politicians (and the media) do their very best to avoid discussion of anything of significance but cannot completely ban reporting of such matters as planetary meltdown. (I see California, suffering out-of-control Covid-19, is on fire again.)

    James Renwick did get about 8 minutes in the news cycle; the other 52 consisted of dire reports about Covid-19 (about 3 minutes), the weather (about 3 minutes) and business-as-usual advertisements and promotion of tourism (about 46 minutes).

    Cognitive dissonance: the uncomfortable feeling associated with believing in two mutually exclusive concepts.

    Aren’t you so pleased that New Zealand’s airports are ready and waiting for the ‘travel bubble’?

    And are you so pleased that Elon Musk has plans tourism to the Moon and Mars!


    Oh well, better get one of those fish harvesters that allows one to relax while the fish race towards the hook line and wait to be hauled to the shore by the tonne. It pays for itself after just one use, I believe (not).

    • Robert was a HUGE influence on me becoming ‘basically’ self sufficient.
      In 2008, I was introduced on-line to him, someone called PowerdownKiwi and a chap called Kevin.
      Robert kindly sent me a bunch of highly informative CD’s. After watching them, I did a huge amount of my own ‘research/reading’ and decided I needed to move and prepare. So I sold up and moved from Auckland to ‘up north’.
      I’m still amazed that BAU has lasted so long, but I’m grateful for the chance it gave me to get established and ‘nested’ into my local community.
      I grow most of my own food, drive an EV have two dozen PVC’s etc etc. So I’m as prepared as I can realistically be. n.b. You can only play with the hand you’ve been dealt.

      To be honest I wondered what had happened to Robert and thought from reading your posts that maybe ‘you were him’.

      • ‘and a chap called Kevin’

        I though you might have guessed by now.

        I recognised your name.

        I took too much flak, and wasted too much money and endured poor health, for telling the truth ‘no one’ (other than a few smart people) wanted to hear.

        We (who took all the data seriously) are now having a multitude of “I did suggest that would happen but all you did was mock and laugh” moments.

        Good on you for taking my advice and for getting sorted.

        Robert and I had a falling out (he always was a bit temperamental) and the stress of being a Cassandra got to him in the end.

        Robert was very perceptive in his own way, and was one of the first I know of to say we don’t need to demolish ‘the empire’ because it will demolish itself.

  2. “I am interested in hearing from Labour how we might move from the pandemic-plagued state to the end of neo-liberalism.”
    As I understand it “neoliberalism ” is a market driven economy where market forces determine the use and distribution of resources and profits. So that the market determines what enterprises sucseed and endure and which fail . Since 2008 and more emphatically more recently this system cannot possibly be claimed to be in operation. The whole economy is under massive corporate welfare . Paid for by what remains of the state that neoliberal advocates have so condemned.
    Neo-liberalism has ended some time ago. This needs to be recognised before any planed and structured system can replace it.
    D J S

  3. Hope is fine and hope is necessary but false hope used to manipulate is not only dishonest but is very damaging as it is used to stop progress towards understanding what real hope looks like.

    We must cut back on energy use and work towards a low impact in the environment.
    To have a hope that is realistic then we need public discourse on how a low energy existence can be achieved while creating a food supply, shelter and community health with education being focused on better ways for community life to evolve.
    As animals humans are not native to this land we call AO/NZ. We are a pest and our numbers create an environmental disaster.
    The animals used for food supply have grown in numbers and far outweigh any need for food that Kiwi’s may have. Along with that pest brought here further damage the native environment, the environment that is best suited to NZ’s climate and landscape.
    The commercial capturing and destruction of wilderness that would help to offset human ravaging of land with built occupation along with the draining and farming of wetlands that would help clean out water, are blind and stupid activities that get approval by local regional councils.
    The system of voting to form govts both local and national preclude any intelligent planning towards giving the environment some relief to recover nor allow aims to restore and mitigate.
    The hope we need is to see a model of existence that would allow the environment to recover with human help, and allow a low energy existence for small communities.
    I don’t see cities as a part of a long term possibility..

    • Yes, John.

      Derrick Jensen was a big influence a decade or so ago, He said, “We discover forests, and leave behind deserts.”

      In his later years George Carlin was so ‘onto it’. He said, “Is that the best we can do with our magnificent brains and opposable thumbs, take a beautiful country and convert it into a continuous strip of fast food outlets and shopping malls?”

  4. Dont be silly! Policy is no longer necessary in this new age of ‘Mellinialism!’
    All that matters is social media, apps and a bit of vanity. Thats the global economic policy in the time of short-termism.
    Survival between the 3 and 7 year economic crashes.
    Nothing else matters.

  5. Well it is extremely smart of labor not to release new policy pre-election, Why?

    First, if you want policy it is on their web page, and they already launched numerous new initiatives as part of the covid recovery. These have been widely lauded as sensible, responsible and good for NZ, to such an extent that the majority feels Labor is better equipped than National to manage the recovery. It is very sensible not to launch major new policy initiatives in the covid recovery period, as it shows prudence and discipline to steady the ship. New initiatives means new expenditure in an already dire situation which could be counter productive if a new wave of covid puts further stress on the economy, This leaves Labor with a progressive framework which gives them a free hand post election to do what ever they want if funding is available without being limited by pre-election promises.

    Secondly, it frustrates the hell out of National and the MSM. Why? They have tried numerous attack lines on Labor’s current policies with no effect or success. It led to the implotion of National, they had to change leaders as their attacks were perceived to negative which resulted in them tanking in the polls. So without new policies National and the MSM have nothing to attack Labor on LOL, how smart.

    So please, don”t be stupid and join the choir of National and the MSM calling for new policies, let them wither in their desperation for new attack lines and support Labor’s smart strategy on obliterating National in September. It has incapacitated National and the MSM, no click bait. Even Winston’s attacks have backfired and Act does not even register. Patience will be rewarded by a more progressive government post September and remember, all good things take time, especially positive fundamental change.

    Judith, be scared! Keep on groveling! Labor is moving and building momentum.

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