National’s latest default Go-To Distraction



political red herring




As National Party’s current Leader, Judith Collins, channeled former National Party Leader, Don Brash by playing the Race Card, I was reminded of a blogpost I wrote in March 2017;


Faced with increasingly negative indicators from high immigration, English was forced to explain why we were seeing high immigration at a time of rising unemployment;

TDB Recommends




English’s response was predictable if not offensive.

Playing National’s Blame Game

As per usual strategy, English defaulted to National’s strategy of Default Blame-gaming. When in trouble;

      1. Blame the previous Labour government
      2. Blame ‘welfare abuse’/Release a ‘welfare abuse’ story in the media
      3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event

(If the trouble is Auckland-centered, Default #4: Blame Auckland Council/RMA/both.)

This has been the pattern of National’s policy to shift blame elsewhere for it’s consistently ineffectual policies;




The Blame Gaming was applied recently to National’s appalling do-nothing record on housing;




Resorting to Deflection #2, English had the cheek to blame young unemployed for our high immigration level;

One of the hurdles these days is just passing the drug test … Under workplace safety, you can’t have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can’t pass that test.

People telling me they open for applications, they get people turning up and it’s hard to get someone to be able to pass the test – it’s just one example.

So look if you get around the stories, you’ll hear lots of stories – some good, some not so good – about Kiwis’ willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available.”


We can now add an official fourth (or fifth category, if Auckland and/or the RMA is invoked);

4. Invoke/blame Maori separatism

Which Judith Collins has recently been exploiting with gusto;


“It is not actually an issue of race, there is nothing in being Māori that intrinsically makes anyone more in need in the health system.

We’re not going to go down that path, any more than the National Party will ever agree to racist separatism in education, or in the justice sector. It is important that we have solutions that work in communities, but they will not be based on someone’s ethnicity.

This is actually an issue of poverty and opportunity. It is not an issue, intrinsically based on or linked to ethnicity and to say it is ignores the fact that there are many New Zealanders of many different ethnicities who struggle.

We have to understand that we either have a country built on a separate system for Māori versus every other New Zealander, or we have a system that is based on equality and on bringing opportunity through to every New Zealander, irrespective of face.

We will not stand for a separatist New Zealand. We will stand for a New Zealand where everyone gets equal opportunity, and we’re able to help everyone to come through to the best of their ability and their own self-determination.”


When Ms Collins was challenged on RNZ Morning Report, Corin Dann (28 April, @7:07), recited a well-known scandalous litany of negative outcomes for Maori,

“...But you have said in that ‘tweet‘, I mean you’ve said that public health provision must be based on individual need not race.

How has that worked for Maori over the 150 years? Because they’ve had plenty of need, and we know the statistics; they die earlier; have poorer access to health, and are sicker.”

To which Ms Collins simply replied;

“Well, you’re quite wrong.”

Listening to the current National Party Leader, it was abundantly clear that she was not talking to Corin Dann and hundreds of thousands of mostly liberal-inclined RNZ listeners.

Instead, she was communicating directly to conservative New Zealanders; mostly white, middle-aged, property owners who tended to vote National and/or ACT – but who sometimes ‘flirted’ with the Labour Party in times of social stress.

It happened in 1984 and 1987 when Labour lurched to the Right and increased it’s popular vote from 829,154 to 878,448. More startling still, Labour nearly took the blue ribbon safe seat of Remuera – coming within 406 votes in 1987, down from National’s commanding lead of 3,483 in 1984 and 5,105 in 1981.

The social stressors in 1981 were a flammable cocktail of rugby, petrol prices, and stagnating economy. All of which diverted voters’ attention from the tired-looking National government of the day, to a fresh alternative – Labour, with it’s new charismatic Leader, David Lange.

In 2020, it was a global pandemic that turned voters en masse to Labour and it’s charismatic Leader, Jacinda Ardern. National continued to look tired, with last-century economic and social policies and internecene warfare that saw three leadership changes in quick succession; more leaks than the Titanic; and a constant tirade of non-stop negativity.

Make no mistake, this was a naked appeal to conservative New Zealanders – most of whom either fled to ACT or for whom PM Ardern’s tough stance on keeping Fortress New Zealand safe from the scourge of covid19 appealed to their yearning for decisive, Strongperson Leadership.

But whether it will attract a return of several hundred thousand voters and collapse Labour’s strong support? Doubtful. At best, a “bump” in National’s polling and/or Preferred Prime ministership rating will be the most Ms Collins can hope for.

But if it’s enough to save her shaky leadership until election day, then her blatant dog-whistle racism will have done it’s job.

As Māori Party co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, said;

“We are expendable and that’s the biggest tragedy of this. She’s not focused on Māori, she doesn’t give a hoot about Māori, what she’s focused on is putting Labour down and creating division.

That’s her role as opposition, but not at the cost of tangata whenua, and not at the cost of the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa who are truly hurting.”

(Side note: National can kiss good-bye to any notions of a coalition with a resurgent Maori Party whilst Ms Collins is Party Leader. That bridge hasn’t just been burned – it was fully nuked.)

National Party leaders – will happily stand on the bodies of the underclasses if necessary. Especially to save their leadership.

But will New Zealanders fall for crass, clumsy, quasi-Trumpian populism?

Yeah, nah.


double standards



TV3 News:  Bill English blames unemployment on drug tests

RNZ: ‘A lot of our younger people can’t pass that test’

RNZ: Collins says her party won’t stand for ‘racist separatism’ New Zealand

RNZ: Decision on Treaty of Waitangi in National Party constitution up to members – Judith Collins

Twitter: Judith Collins – Public health provision must be based on individual need, not race

Wikipedia: 1984 New Zealand general election

Wikipedia: 1987 New Zealand general election

Wikipedia: 1981 New Zealand general election

RNZ: Judith Collins’ campaign against Māori systems won’t win votes – commentator

Twitter: Jeremy @nz_voter – 6.47PM 28 Apr 2021

Twitter: @Citizen1301 – 11.39AM 2 May 2021


The Spin-off: ‘All my dreams have come true’ – Doctors and experts react to the end of DHBs

Other Blogs

Bowalley Road: Can Judith Collins Make Don Brash’s ‘Nationhood Soufflé’ Rise Twice?

My Thinks: Judith Collins goes whistle shopping

The Standard: National’s very bad day

Previous related blogposts

When National is under attack – Deflect, deflect, deflect!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

The Mendacities of Mr English – The covert agenda of high immigration



Acknowledgement : Sharon Murdoch


This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).


= fs =


  1. Frank this is the biggest change to the health system ever. Like ever. There are scant details, like pretty not very much. It was a big surprise, even to Heather Simpson who put in $14 million hard mahi. Was that a waste of 14 mills work for her? There was no consultation (is that even legal? Can any you even tell us what the rules of consultation even are these days?). For bloody good example the SDHB CEO found out 24 hours before it was announced -WT flippin heck?. Is that even ethical? Nice redundancy coming there.
    Can we trust everyone will have equal and timely access to services? Doesn’t seem to happen now so I think someone should ask the hard questions. Where’s Winston when you need him.! So you might hate Judith but good on her for asking a few questions. Cos no other bastard is.

    • +1 orbitdal panda, sad that politics is now about sound bytes by marketers and that nobody who is in the industry and experts in the field and the affected community seem to know anything about and is likely not to work very well, because it’s just made up by a few neoliberals and their marketing people. Same with Kiwibuild. Same with the renter situation post Kiwibuild. They keep bailing out the sinking boat while adding on more weight to sink it.

      Eventually there is a backlash against being lied to and the same tactics, aka backlash to John Key. He left before his backlash, because his ego could not take the loss of his popularity being made public.

    • “So you might hate Judith but good on her for asking a few questions.”

      If only it were a matter of “asking a few questions”, OB, but it’s nowhere near that.

      She has made definitive statements regarding the role of Maori and the State and has invoked inflammatory terms like “separatism”.

      That’s not asking questions, that’s naked dog-whistle politics. He exchange with Corin Dann on ‘Morning Report’ on 28 April revealed her entrenched position and when Dann reminded her of Maori’s apalling health stats, she flat out rejected it.

      • Judith has little credibility in the eyes of the public or her own party. She is a placeholder. To think that she alone can get people all stirred up by separatism is a stretch too far. Of course anything racial tends to stir up the woke who go nuts, and make it into something big in the media, and when that happens, Judith wins.

  2. OK Frank we know National is a shonky outfit (which of our political parties isn’t?), but how about playing the ball rather than the brand? The ball in this case being a document called He Puapua, which seems to be taken very seriously by the government (did you hear Willie Jackson this morning?), and is the apparent inspiration for the proposal for a separate Māori ‘s health authority.

    The report treats “structural racism” as a given (rather than a hypothesis), and amongst other things proposes “conscious and unconscious bias training” across sectors. As it happens the UK government has recently thrown out unconscious bias training after meta-analysis shows that it has no long-term impact.

    The “vision 2040” of He Puapua includes such gems as:

    “Prisons do not exist”

    “All Māori will enjoy equity in opportunity and outcome” (no reasonable person will quibble with opportunity, but how are we going to wrangle equality of OUTCOME)

    This is a delusional document based on ideology, not on evidence and reason. It’s disappointing that such a document is being taken seriously by the government – so seriously, in fact, that it felt the need to hide it from the public.

    That’s the ball you need to play Frank, rather than National’s “brand”.

  3. ‘No other bastard is asking questions?”

    Some are just flying off the handle with hysteria, making worst-case-scenario’ pictures and rushing to judgement.

    Which demonstrates perfectly that it is just about impossible to have rational discussion let alone revolutionary change in 2021.

  4. Frank, what Bill English did was pretty bad, and a dreadful abdication of moral responsibility towards our young people, especially when suicide rates for 18-24 year old males were mushrooming. The guy’s a practising Catholic, keen to try and influence other people’s conscience issues, yet seemingly unable to shoulder the big stuff himself. If – which is questionable – his allegation about young men being useless druggies was true, he should have been asking himself how to address this tragic situation, and how the young guys can be helped etc, but he didn’t, they just brought in cheap exploitable foreign labour instead. That’s about as irresponsible and cynical as it gets – trashing a whole generation publicly to the media was a rotten thing to do, showing yet again, what weasels politicians can be to further their own interests.

    • “showing yet again, what weasels politicians can be to further their own interests”


      And in this case, “their own interests” boils down to one person: Judith Collins protecting her tenuous grasp on Leadership.

  5. What the Natz did was appalling, and why they now poll under 30%, but why are Labour and Greens emulating the National party with similar tactics and policy but with a neokindness face which actually doesn’t work when people keep being disappointed and lied to. Nixon and Trump all did well out of lying and were popular, but eventually the tide turns and what you really did to help your country and people is measured.

  6. Frank you’re one of the best journos and I always enjoy your articles.
    But in this one you are off on the wrong tangent. Example…”the previous govt” is all we ever hear from Labour, even after 4 years now. Secondly, Judith is doing her job calling out what will be ‘separatist policy and governance’. Also, I would have expected you to be caning Labour and Jacinda, the most transparent govt in history, over sneaky and subversive action here…and now they are caught out. Labour’s defense is to attack anyone worried about the implication of such policy. “We are disappointed in you” is the phrase most used. Then Jacinda comes out and says “We didn’t release the document because we didn’t want it misconstrued as govt policy.” PATRONISING BULLSHIT! They wanted to sneak this through the system because they know the trouble this could become. Well, it’s out now and the way I see it, NZ as a nation has little appetite for separatist governance or policies, no matter how you engineer it. This will be trouble for Labour is my bet.

    • You’ve missed the point Jaspinda (why are you caricaturing Arden’s name?). This isn’t about Labour, this is about Collins exploiting race to save her own hide and improve her chances at the next election. Nats have done this before with been-bashing, gangs, law & order fear mongering, etc. Truth is that Nats have nothing positive to offer Aotearoa except more of the same from their last 50 years and that’s not good enough.

      Frank and others have called out Collins populist bullshite and she has to wear it.

  7. Good to see you back @ Frank. I really do envy your studious attention to detail.
    The ‘national party’ are losing their 100+ year old grip on their target prey; Farmers. And when farmers go to where, at the very least clean logic dictates they must go, then national are done for but what’s more exciting is that national’s urban deep state cronies will trip over their own flat, greedy, trough-soaking feet, face-down and arse-up in the stinking swamps of dishonesty and exploitative excesses of their own making. Aye boys?
    The National Party. The unholy collaboration of Auckland bankers and money lenders who formed the national party in the late 1930’s have exploited a word class agricultural infrastructure to a point where it’s close to failing while the orchestrators of the impressive swindle are old and will be dying with millions and billions while we have homelessness and hungry kids.
    Farmers? You must co-join forces with your down stream service industry urban people. You don’t have the numbers, and never did, to afford yourselves the protection from the ravenously greedy politician/accountant/bankster types who’ve been swindling you for generations from behind the natzo’s skirts.
    Little billy english, like keith holyoak, isn’t the first traitor in your midst and he won’t be the last.
    How many farmer-politicians do you know of who’re within Labour and yet that’s exactly where farmer-politicians belong. In Labour, enjoying strength in numbers protecting you against your exploitative enemy, the dreaded natzo’s and their rich mates.

    • ”…Little billy english, like keith holyoak, isn’t the first traitor in your midst and he won’t be the last?’..


      Aint that the truth.

  8. …” It happened in 1984 and 1987 when Labour lurched to the Right and increased it’s popular vote from 829,154 to 878,448. More startling still, Labour nearly took the blue ribbon safe seat of Remuera”…


    1984…the year of the 4th Labour govt.

    But you forgot to mention the Bob Jones NZ party that was formed deliberately in order to split the National party vote in order to depose Muldoon ,- and then by his own words, – was disbanded quickly after its purpose was served. I do wish you’d get it right , Frank. Muldoon, – like him or lump him, – was the last of our social democratic PM’s who believed in the welfare state and the Kiwi battler.

    And ever since then , be it Labour or National,… we have had the same tory neo liberal ( read ‘greedies’ ) style of governance. They are as bad as each other. As for the Double Dipper or Jonkey both sounding off about lazy , drugged out NZ workers and the need to import cheap labour that will be willing to work below our labour rates from India and China, – well we all know where that motivation to break our labour laws came from, eh the ‘NZ Initiative’….

    Go screw yourselves.

    And that includes Aunty Helen and Adern her Blairite prodigy.

    No longer sucked in by all the bullshit .

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