National's own goal pandemic | The Jackal

6 Sep 2017

National's own goal pandemic

The National party isn’t having a very good election campaign so far. Since their official launch in Auckland last week there have been three major own goals.

First it was Bill English who, during the initial TVNZ leaders debate, claimed that "JB Were are just wrong" when it comes to a productivity recession.

After a large number of critical tweets over the PM’s incorrect assertion, the Minister of Finance, Steven Joyce, jumped on Twitter to try and defend blundering old Bill’s credibility. However it didn’t take long for Joyce to also make a fool of himself.

On Friday, Newsroom reported:

Bernard Hickey: Bill English’s Trump-like denial of a productivity problem

Joyce said OECD figures showed New Zealand's GDP per hour worked had risen 9.6 percent since 2008, which was faster than Canada, Britain, Europe, Great Britain and the G7.

He used those figures again in a release put out on Friday.

But Joyce's figures include the natural bounce-back in productivity that happens during a recession when many businesses lay off workers. That was from 2008 to 2009, and another slowdown in 2011 and 2012. Over the last four to five years, productivity is flat, at best, as Ardern said in the debate.

So Ardern was right and English was wrong. I sense a pattern emerging here.

Former senior Reserve Bank economist Michael Reddell also questioned the conclusion made by Joyce using the figures in a blog post on Friday. Reddell said productivity had gone slightly backwards over the last five years.

"That is sufficiently stark, and has now gone on for long enough, that it seems worth singling out," Reddell wrote.

Single it out was exactly what English inadvertently did when he made the blunder.


Then it was Paula Bennett’s turn to look like a complete fool by saying that gang members had fewer human rights than others.

The next day, an undermined Prime Minister had to pathetically backtrack over Bennett’s tough on crime rhetoric.

Even the NZ Bar Association made a statement against National’s ridiculous policy announcement.

On Monday, Newshub reported:

Lawyers condemn Paula Bennett's 'fewer human rights' comments

Mr Elliott said under the law, everyone is treated equally.

"No matter how unpopular you are or whatever wrong you may have committed, you are entitled to be treated in the same way as anybody else, according to law. That includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial judiciary.

Under the law National proposes, everybody won’t be treated equally, which is a good way to get offside with most human rights lawyers.


Perhaps feeling a bit outdone in the own goal stakes, Joyce then had another go at making National look entirely incompetent.

The Minister of Finance claimed there was a $11.7 billion hole in Labour’s fiscal plan, a claim that clearly shocked a number of political pundits.

It took a day until National’s continued accusations were properly refuted, with a unanimous ruling by New Zealand’s top economists saying Joyce and English were categorically wrong!


Even TVNZ’s political reporter, Corin Dann, criticised Joyce for the own goal, which says a lot about just how terrible the false accusations actually were.

Yesterday, 1 News reported:

Corin Dann: 'He is looking very alone tonight' - five leading economists dismiss Steven Joyce's claim Labour has $11.7 billion hole in fiscal plan

National Party finance spokesman Steven Joyce's claim yesterday that Labour’s spending plan has a $11.7 billion hole in it has been dismissed by a number of New Zealand’s top economists.

Steven Joyce doubled down on his claim today saying "either Labour have their budget allowances wrong or they’ve left out billions and billions of dollars of government spending in future years from their plan".

But, Labour is adamant there is no $11.7 billion hole in its finances and plenty of senior economists who have looked at Labour’s plan agree.

Those spoken to by 1 NEWS today include ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie, Christina Leung from the NZIER, Eric Crampton from the New Zealand Initiative and independent economist Shamubeel Eaqub.

Most of those say Labour's spending plan does looks tight and that it will be a challenge to accommodate any new spending commitments in the future.

However, none of them believe there is an $11.7 billion hole in the plan.
"He is looking very alone tonight," 1 NEWS political editor Corin Dann said of Mr Joyce.

It certainly hasn’t been a week to remember for English, Bennett and Joyce. With only seventeen days of official campaigning before the election, I'm left wondering if the National party actually has any political credibility left at all?

Losing ground to the Labour party in recent polling has clearly spooked the National party, and they appear so bereft of ideas that they’re attempting political moves from last decades playbook. Wasn’t that when Bill English led National to it’s worst ever electoral defeat?