The Jackal

14 May 2018

National Party train wreck

The National Party has gone through a number of major changes that in my opinion should be viewed as strategic blunders. Firstly Teflon John resigned under dubious circumstances, which likely cost them the 2017 election.

Then Bill English packed a sad knowing full well that National is down and out for the count. With a lack of renewal, the right wing simply aren’t able to compete with a resurgent Labour, Greens and NZ First coalition, and English could obviously see the writing on the wall.

Much of the decline is because National has worn out their credibility and their current leader, Simon Bridges, simply doesn't inspire any confidence. He's about as charismatic as a dead fish when trying to blame Labour for everything and initially even failed to gain a majority in their leadership race.

Obviously Bridges was chosen because of his age demographic being similar to Jacinda Ardern's and not because of any particular skill set. The usually biased media have also stopped going to Simple Simon for comment, mainly because he often cannot remember his lines properly. I mean does anybody actually "like" Whale Oil anymore? What a complete plonker!

You can tell there are already leadership issues within National as well, because of a lack of any effective narrative coming from within their ranks or from their media hacks. In fact much of their propaganda lately is actually undermining Simon Bridges' leadership, presumably to later promote someone like Judith Collins and a more radical right wing agenda.

After a failed leadership bid, Former Finance Minister Steven Joyce also resigned from Parliament. The Novopay debacle, a costly copyright infringement case, a flying dildo and the fictitious $11.7 billion hole just a few controversies Joyce will be remembered for.

On 5 March, Newshub reported:

Steven Joyce threatens Matthew Hooton and NBR with legal action

National's finance spokesperson Steven Joyce is threatening the National Business Review (NBR) and Matthew Hooton with legal action, Newshub understands.

On Friday, NBR published a column in which Mr Hooton was highly critical of Mr Joyce.

A source told Newshub that NBR received an "aggressive" letter about the column, which said it has until 5pm on Monday to retract or apologise.

The NBR's publisher Todd Scott says Mr Joyce won't be getting either a retraction or an apology.

He told Newshub if Mr Joyce is successful in launching legal action, NBR will subpoena a number of senior National MPs including Simon Bridges and Amy Adams.

Talk about a lack of media skills.

However the bad news wasn't over for the National Party. After more negative headlines about how degraded the public health system became under their watch, former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman also resigned.

On 23 March, Radio NZ reported:

Jonathan Coleman hangs up on hospital rot interview 
Mr Coleman announced yesterday he would be quitting politics to take up a role at Acuity healthcare.

He told Morning Report's Susie Ferguson he had not explicitly been told about the state of the Middlemore buildings. 

Ferguson: "That seems astonishing Minister, that if most people in Wellington at the ministry were aware of this, and the Counties Manukau chair knows about it, and the Health Minister doesn't, isn't that stretching incredulity to breaking point?

Dr Coleman: "No, it isn't actually, if people don't tell me I don't know."

Ferguson: "Why would people keep this from you though?

Dr Coleman: "I don't know, but this is not the topic of the interview so I'm a bit disappointed that once again Radio New Zealand ring up and say they want an interview on my exit from politics, and then make it about something else, but anyway, there you go."

Ferguson: "But isn't this quite interesting coming at this particular time when this is a problem that seems to be pretty significant at Middlemore, and you were the Health Minister for some time beforehand. You're saying you had absolutely no knowledge of this.

Dr Coleman: "No, hadn't been told about it. Anyway, have a great day, I'm walking with my kids and I'm leaving politics, so thanks very much Susie, bye bye."

Mr Coleman then hung up.

Perhaps Coleman was working for the private health sector all along?

The National Party is a train wreck full of factions, infighting and political lethargy. As more of National's rot is uncovered, an increasing number of rats will jump off their sinking ship.

The down side is that without an effective opposition in parliament Labour could very well sleep walk to victory in 2020. They may even become complacent about delivering on their election promises.

In the very least the new Coalition Government now has enough breathing space to undo some of the damage caused by nine long years of a socially and environmentally destructive National led government.

20 Sep 2017

Bill English is incompetent

When John Key handed Bill English the poisoned chalice of a third term, it was pretty clear that the smiling assassin was getting out while the getting was good. After all, English had been largely left out of most of National’s major scandals over the last few years, unlike Key.

There are a few exceptions of course, like when English ripped off Parliamentary expenses by double dipping on his housing allowance.

But perhaps his biggest legacy is English often gifts government funding to unqualified businesses simply because they have ties to the National party. In fact favouritism for government contracts is one of the reasons National’s budgeting fails to reach surplus. English looks set to continue that corrupt practice by cutting funding to Lifeline, and instead gift a few million to an organisation his wife is running.

Reach further back into National's history, and we see a pro war MP arguing hard for New Zealand's tax haven status to be left alone. Begrudgingly the government has fiddled around the edges, while English continues his party's hopeless record on housing. Homeless Kiwis choose to be homeless, according to Bill.

English's argument against a review of the abortion law is similarly pathetic! And let’s not forget that he used his power of financial veto to kill Labour’s increase to paid parental leave... until the 2017 election race tightened and the National party conjured up the money to pay for their lolly scramble that is.

But perhaps the most egregious of English’s faults is that he believes children with disabilities should be segregated from other students in public schools. He also blames young unemployed Kiwis inability to pass drug tests as a reason why large numbers of overseas migrant workers are required. This is entirely untrue, and attests to the fact that National is happy for there to be 90,000 NEETs doing nothing in order to prop up our low waged economy. His refusal to even acknowledge exploited migrant workers is similarly repugnant!

More recently, English made good on his threat to people's retirement security by announcing an increase in the pension age.

And according to English, nobody knew Todd Barclay’s secret recording of a staffer's conversations could be illegal either. How incompetent would you need to be as a politician to not recall the teapot tape scandal? If anything, National’s obfuscation and lack of accountability over this and many other issues, by ignoring the Official Information Act, has become worse since a change in leadership.

The PM also claimed it was too hard to put a charge on water, while the National party secretly investigated ways to tax water. And despite all the evidence to the contrary, English still maintains that Steven Joyce’s imaginary fiscal hole is real. National's credibility looks shot to pieces after that fiasco.

Continuing on from their previous failure, English made further commitments this year to do nothing about mitigating climate change or reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. National even tried to hide an official report into the costly effects of climate change on New Zealand.

But if all that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that Bill English has also managed to cause, through his incompetence, the Auckland petrol crisis.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

PM's key infrastructure plan didn't include fuel pipeline to Auckland

The fuel pipeline ruptured by a digger was left out of a "national infrastructure plan" overseen by Prime Minister Bill English despite warnings its loss could "cripple" Auckland transport.

The latest version of the plan developed by Treasury was released in 2015 has no mention of the pipeline from the Marsden Point refinery at Ruakaka to Auckland's Wiri terminal.

The pipeline has been shown as a critical link because it is the only way jet fuel gets to Auckland Airport.

That’s the problem with a government that doesn’t do its job properly… critical infrastructure breaks down.

But the weakness in the fuel supply was clearly highlighted in 2009 when the National Party put Treasury to work fulfilling a campaign pledge that it would develop a National Infrastructure Plan when it first came to power.

English announced the plan as Minister of Finance in 2009, saying it would "plan and rank New Zealand's key infrastructure needs so that projects that provide the greatest economic benefit are prioritised".

But when the Northland Regional Council reviewed the preliminary list produced in 2009, it said "the council considers that the nationally significant issue of fuel supply is currently missing" from a Treasury briefing paper calling for submissions.

Incompetent Bill English and the National party are clearly unfit to be in charge of a country as great as Aotearoa. So let’s get out there and change the government.

19 Sep 2017

National has failed our health system

Along with a number of other worsening sectors in New Zealand, the public health system has become increasingly degraded under a National led government. The statistics clearly show a complete failure to meet growing demand for services, especially in peak winter conditions.

But it’s not just an underfunded health system that's causing harm. The housing crisis has worsened, whereby cold, damp and unhealthy houses are the norm for generation rent. This is causing a huge upswing in preventable diseases. National has also ensured that the cost of living has increased dramatically in proportion to poor people's incomes... again causing dire effects.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Number of New Zealand children hospitalised with malnutrition doubles as food costs bite

Malnutrition is putting twice as many kids in hospital compared with 10 years ago, as food prices continue to bite into household incomes.

Child hospitalisation data shows around 120 children a year now have overnight stays due to nutritional deficiencies and anaemia, compared to an average 60 a decade ago.

Doctors say poor nutrition is also a factor in a significant proportion of the rest of the 40,000 annual child hospitalisations linked to poverty - and that vitamin deficiencies are more common in New Zealand compared to similar countries.

There's no denying that National has systematically underfunded the public health system.

They've also caused poor people to not have enough money to feed their kids.

Clearly there’s a disproportionate amount of harm being caused to people trapped in poverty by uncaring politicians. Only a change in government will help to resolve these problems. So come on New Zealand, do your civic duty and vote the bastards out.

Collins and the swamp kauri petrol crisis

The ruptured fuel pipe that runs to Auckland Airport looks set to cause more chaos as fuel shortages start to impede people trying to fill up at the pump.

Already a number of international flights have been diverted or cancelled due to fuel shortages. Private jets are also reported to be avoiding New Zealand.

The cost to our reputation because of this crisis should not be underestimated.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Fuel runs out at petrol stations, more flights cancelled

Four Auckland service stations ran out of 95 octane petrol yesterday - and more could run out today - as thousands of air passengers again face a day of cancelled flights.

Z Energy said it would be able to replenish the fuel today and told motorists there was no cause for concern.

So who exactly is to blame for digging up an essential fuel line?

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

New swamp kauri claims over ruptured pipeline - they were 'digging around for a log'

Digging at the site of the critical fuel pipeline was identified as an "exploratory" search for swamp kauri the day before the rupture happened, according to an industry insider with stories of the extraordinary wealth attached to excavating the buried logs.

Northland's Milton Randell was driving past the site of the pipeline rupture near Ruakaka, just south of Whangarei, last Wednesday, saw the earthworks and believed he was seeing the signs of a swamp kauri hunt.

Randell has 40 years experience in digging swamp kauri out of the ground and would be one of the most experienced to have worked in the industry.

His immediate impulse was to think it was a swamp kauri site - the same detail the NZ Herald was provided by a source familiar with the response to the rupture of the nation's only fuel line to Auckland.

Surely a business the Minister of Energy and Resources is involved with isn't to blame? After all, Judith Collins had already denied any knowledge about who caused the leak.

On Monday, Stuff reported:

Paula Bennett and Judith Collins lament Auckland Airport jet fuel crisis

As to how much it would cost the Auckland economy, Collins said she couldn't say but it's a "big imposition" and that could cost millions and millions of dollars.

Collins said she didn't know who the company was who had the digger that would have caused this damage.

She said it could have happened months or even years ago and the insulation of the pipe was affected by the digging,  suggesting that the pipe could have corroded.

Nobody has yet said who the company at fault is exactly. In fact some journalists are acting like it’s not their job to find out.

Thankfully there are other means available to gain information.

Obviously the National led government isn't going to say who's at fault. Therefore the mainstream media need to do their jobs and get to the bottom of who exactly caused this multi million-dollar fuel shortage crisis. Because if they don’t it looks like more favouritism for the National party.

Winston Peters hijacks National's protest

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding a farmer’s protest in Morrinsville yesterday, a protest over Labour’s proposed levy of 1 to 2 cents per 1000 litres of water used for irrigation.

Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ in particular have been campaigning strongly for the National party this election, and trying to rally the rural troops against any water levy or pollution tax, often by pitting town against country.

You could tell Labour was a bit worried about what a protest of this nature could signify, because a similar protest in 2002 gained the nations attention and solidified many farmers against Helen Clark's government.

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern even held a meeting in Hamilton to front foot the issue.

On Sunday, the NZ Herald reported:

Jacinda Ardern takes proactive stance on planned Waikato farmer protest

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has taken a pre-emptive strike against Waikato farmers planning a protest meeting tomorrow, saying Waikato rivers are among the worst polluted.

Ardern has been criticised for policies targeting the primary sector such as water charges to pay for river cleanups and bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Hamilton, Ardern was unrepentant, saying New Zealand had to ensure its environment was as clean and green as it claimed.

Back in the day when farmers could work their way into farm ownership, National MP Bill English campaigned for the agriculture sector by sitting on a tractor outside Parliament buildings and displaying a sign that read; ‘The mad cow shouldn’t have signed’.

The offensive message was in relation to Labour agreeing to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in hindsight and considering the devastation climate change is causing around the world, looks even more unbecoming today.

National's recent attempt to reignite their negative fart tax campaign is similarly repugnant. All it tells us is that English is pining for the past.

Fast forward to 2017 and the tractor Myrtle he posed on is still the centre of attention. But it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off National’s much vaunted Morrinsville protest.

The first signs of a malfunction occurred when farmers held up more signs clearly designed to cause offence. Verbal arguments ensued between National and NZ First supporters.

Then, after Bob Appleton drove Myrtle the tractor at a group of NZ First supporters, catching one on the foot, the unthinkable happened... Winston Peters grabbed the loud hailer and stole National’s fart tax thunder.

Some news agencies put the protest numbers at 500 to 600 people, most of them close to retirement. Others who attended said there were around 200 to 300 people, many of them NZ First supporters.

This is extraordinary being that the event received widespread advertisement on both our main broadcasting networks as well as a number of widely read publications.

The main reason National's protest failed to fire is because English overcooked the issue.

On Sunday, Scoop reported:

Q+A: Bill English

I mean, there is one answer – slaughter the dairy herd. I suppose that would help. Then next thing they’ll be talking about how to depopulate cities because they cause pollution. Well, that doesn’t make sense.

Because of his apocalyptic statement the Prime Minister continues to be the butt of many a fine joke. In fact he’s looking decidedly isolated because of National’s pro-pollution position.

One of the reasons for a low turnout at National’s protest is because the Labour party has always held rural communities and the industries that make them tick in high regard. It’s arguable that Labour under Helen Clark did more for farmers than the National party ever has, particularly in regards to tax reform and trade agreements.

English looks terribly foolish by trying to convince farmers that their businesses won't be viable if Jacinda Ardern and Labour win the election. Over-inflating the proposed levy and running negative attack adds about a fart tax simply doesn’t wash in a world where information on the actual numbers and Labour's policy is freely available online.

Who exactly is National trying to convince with such adverts anyway?

After nine long years of stagnation many rural communities will be looking for better environmental and economic solutions. In the last few days it’s become even more apparent that only a change of government will provide them.

18 Sep 2017

Corin Dann demolishes PM

The mainstream media in New Zealand often lets National get away with murder. Contrast for instance any number of their scandals over the 2017 election campaign with Helen Clark signing a painting for charity (paintergate), and you can see a clear and present bias within most of our media outlets.

That's why it's so extraordinary when an interviewer actually takes National to task over their numerous political faults.

When you put those shortcomings and a lack of vision up against a well-informed presenter it culminates in an interview yesterday on Q+A showing just how under pressure and out of touch Bill English really is.

In fact Corin Dann blew National's negative campaign strategy of scaremongering about tax out of the water with a number of cutting questions the PM struggled to answer.

If you haven't seen the interview already, it's well worth checking out:

English trying to defend his pig-headed finance Minister with an entirely lame argument meant he was an easy picking for Dann, who demolished the National party leader like he was a badly made toy. The PM's stress at being asked some hard questions was palpable.

Because of this excellent interview, Corin Dann is now trending on Twitter. Let's hope more journalists take note and turn up the heat on what is perhaps New Zealand's worst right wing government ever.