A Week of It: US Friendly Policy Under Fire
A Week of It: US Friendly Policy Under Fire
In This Edition:
Tuatara-Loving Minister Launches Godzilla-Sized Hit On Dr Don Brash
TV3 Reporter Nearly Misses Out On Labour Govt Being Criticised By Dr Brash
Tax-Cut-Supporting Journalist Discovered
Investigate Magazine Investigates Government With the Aid Of Don Brash and Murray McCully
Steel Capped Unofficial Progressives Replace Under-Performing Blog
Goff Whitlam-Style Constitutional Crisis Narrowly Avoided
Dr Brash was outraged this week by the suggestions from Trevor Mallard that National Party policy was filtered through Washington. Dr Brash told Mark Sainsbury [TVNZ]that if Trevor Mallard "has any proof about our policies being driven by the United States then he should front up and prove it."
Mr Mallard implied in statements to the media that a wealthy American with close ties to the Republican Party had been assisting the National Party campaign with finance. According to a press statement from Dr Brash all National Party policies "are home-grown with the best interests of all New Zealanders in mind."
This morning on Radio New Zealand Dr Brash however stated that he hadn't spoken to National Party campaign manager Steven Joyce following Mr Mallard's attack and wasn't himself personally privy to where campaign donations came from. Dr Brash also stated that he was friendly with an American billionaire with close ties to the Republican Party, Julian Robertson. Dr Brash explained that he discussed National Party policy with Mr Robertson: "we discuss policies in general absolutely - he [Mr Robertson] is very much concerned about the direction of New Zealand." However, Dr Brash assured Geoff Robinson that no National Party policy had been written due to his discussions with Mr Robertson.
Dr Brash's insistence this week that National Party policy is written purely for New Zealanders is a concerning development for lovers of the global free market and may spell the end of hopes for a Free Trade Deal (FTA) with the United States. If Dr Brash isn't willing to advocate letting the odd nuclear-powered ship into New Zealand ports and is unwilling to assist the people of Iraq in enjoying freedom (those who are still alive), prospects of NZ dairy produce lining the supermarket shelves of Vermont look slim.
Luckily for NZ farmers, and freedom-lovers the world over, there are still a few National Party MPs willing to muck in and buddy up with the administration of George W Bush.
"The National Party will be supporting the coalition of the willing. We have no eagerness for war. We have no eagerness for the suffering that might come with it. But in the long term our interests lie with those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia."
Later when both Mr Mallard and Dr Brash appeared on Close Up at Seven, Mr Mallard was unable to engage in any vigorous debate with Dr Brash. According to Susan Wood, the host of Close Up at Seven, a Cabinet Minister is not considered by the National Party to be a worthy enough debating partner for Dr Brash - only the Prime Minister will do, evidently.
While it was a tough week for Dr Brash, thankfully nobody asked him to debate social welfare, and just how Dr Brash's musings on the indigent turning up at to get handouts from a Post Office would work in reality.
"I well recall, for example, talking to a Maori leader in South Auckland in the early nineties, when unemployment was much higher than it is at present: she told me that, in her opinion, the only way to solve Maori unemployment was to abolish the unemployment benefit completely.
"I don't believe that that could be done in isolation, but it might well be done in conjunction with other measures, such as having local governments become employers of last resort - offering a job to anybody who turned up at, say, the local post office at 8 a.m., with payment for that day's work at the end of the day, in cash." - Where To From Here?, An address to the Orewa Rotary Club,Auckland, 28 January 2003
A TV3 journalist nearly missed out on hearing just how badly the Labour Government had spent taxpayers dollars this week. Risking missing out on one of the rare occasions when the National Party criticises the Government, Mr Duncan Garner of TV3 decided to test Dr Brash's assertion that he was "very comfortable talking about education, about social welfare, [and] about foreign policy ."
Mr Garner, no doubt believing Dr Brash would indeed be very comfortable talking about foreign policy, brought up Dr Brash's past support for the Iraq War this week. Concerned that answering Mr Garner's question may excise ten seconds from the time Dr Brash had to criticise the Labour Government's handling of tertiary education, Dr Brash kindly explained to Mr Garner that "the key issue today is that the Government is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars. That is the issue we should be focussed upon."
Mr Garner was sadly not to get answer to his questions that day although Dr Brash did sit down with Mr Garner on Wednesday and point out that whilst he was unable to answer his questions on the Tuesday, he probably would have supported the Iraq War.
Mr Brash and Mr Garner's Interview available at - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0507/S00292.htm
This week the issue that is on every editorial writer and journalist earning more than $60,000 lips comes up for yet more scrutiny - yep this Sunday on the appropriately named Sunday program it's tax debate time again. A Week of It caught up with a formally well-paid Canadian journalist and now documentary film-maker, Avi Lewis and asked him about his experience of tax cuts in his homeland (Canada).
"In Ontario - my province - we had massive tax cuts at the same time we slashed welfare by 30%. I was a TV journalist at that time- it saved me a couple of thousand dollars a year in taxes and I literally saw homeless people sleeping outside near the ATM in my own neighbourhood."
Mr Lewis was in New Zealand promoting The Take,a film he recently directed and on which he collaborated with his wife Naomi Klein [the author of No Logo]. The Take follows the progress of Argentinian workers after the collapse of the Argentinian economy caused in no small part by former President Carlos Menem's radical, IMF approved free market policies. While in NZ, this self-confessed political junkie had been getting his regular hit of politics thanks to the New Zealand print media.
Mr Lewis managed to ascertain in the short time he'd been in New Zealand that many of our nation's finest foreign-owned broadsheets seemed to be in favour of tax cuts.
"If you have a corporation that pays millions of dollars in tax then of course you want a tax cut," hypothesized Mr Lewis.
Surprisingly for someone trained in the art of journalism, Mr Lewis' first reaction to Mr Cullen's budget was not a proposal for the ritual disembowelling of NZ's venerable Finance Minister.
Noticing a somewhat negative reaction to the recent Michael Cullen budget in the media, Mr Lewis seemed somewhat bemused that the 'Working for Families' package had been overlooked.
"I think it is untrue to say that the Labour Government hasn't given tax cuts. My understanding is that they have tried to target the tax cuts at lower and middle class tax-payers which are the kinds of tax cuts that have the most bang for the buck in terms of social progress - if that is your goal," he said.
Sadly the editorial and business writers of the Fairfax and APN empires seem to have factored out the social progress part of their post-budget commentary. Mr Lewis had a slightly cynical view of NZ's media and the tax cut debate.
"The goal of big companies is not social progress - the goal of big companies is to get maximum profits for shareholders and that is why big companies like to see tax cuts for the wealthy and tax cuts for businesses and that is what they advocate in their editorial position. I'm always surprised that anyone is surprised at that - it is entirely rational."p>This desire to maximise profits was also likely to be shared by some in the fourth estate according to Mr Lewis.
"ournalists are upper middle class people generally and they also want a tax cut. For wealthy people it is great to pay less taxes. The deeper question is what are you trading for it? Do you believe in a society where people put back in so there can be universal social services?"p>For those more interested in a down-payment on that new plasma screen TV than universal social services, Mr Lewis suggested beggar-avoidance skills may come in handy.
"You can see the social effects of these policies if you just open your eyes. If that's the sort of country you want to live in -then go for it - have your tax cuts and eat it too."
The Take website - http://www.nfb.ca/webextension/thetake/
When John Tamihere successfully mangled his career over lunch with Ian Wishart a couple of months back he was asked this question by Investigate magazine's editor, Ian Wishart:
"How good is the media, or are they totally useless and sycophantic?"
Mr Tamihere obligingly assured Mr Wishart that indeed the media were "utterly and totally useless. And sycophantic."
No doubt when Mr Wishart asked this question he knew that there was one brave media outlet that was ready to ask the toughest questions - Investigate Magazine. In this month's display of Mr Wishart's dirt-digging prowess he gets the truth on just how bad the present Labour led Government really is - from opposition leader Don Brash and his chief advisor Murray McCully.
It really is a blessing to journalism that someone out there has the balls to ask Murray McCully tough questions like this;
"Has Labour's politically correct second term taken the party, Icarus like, too close to the fire?"
No doubt Mr McCully was a bit nervous facing an inteviewer like Mr Wishart - nevertheless he considered that a third term Labour Government would indeed take "PC legislation to a new level".
It was to Mr McCully's credit that he was able to regain some of his composure and provide another three paragraphs attacking the Labour-Progressive Government. It's to Investigate Magazine's credit that they ran Mr McCully's insights paragraph after fascinating paragraph. This was surely Ian Wishart's best investigative reporting. Who would know better after all than a National Party MP just how bad a Labour Government was?
While the grilling Mr McCully faced was harsh, there really was no mercy whatsoever shown to the current Leader of the National Party, Don Brash
After assuring the public that a National Government would inherit an economy probably destroyed by socialism and PC madness, Mr Wishart demanded to know -"Can the former Reserve Bank Governor steer us towards the good times again?"
Initially this question may have thrown Dr Brash, considering his time as Reserve Bank Governor for many New Zealanders, particularly those living in poverty, could hardly be described as 'good times'. Thankfully, using his skills with numbers and ability to remember National Party press statements verbatim, Don Brash got out of the hole being dug for him by the wily Mr Wishart.
By this stage of the story many lazier, more sychophantic journalists may have thought, 'Right I've asked two questions and pasted in a few column inches of Colin James - surely that's enough for the reader'. Those who think like that are unlikely to ever be running a full colour, glossy magazine called Investigate.
When you're sticking it to a leading politician like Don Brash, you have to show you're not going to let the other side get away scot-free.
Maintaining a BBC-like air of neutrality throughout the entire interview, Mr Wishart playfully tossed in a couple of reminders of what Don Brash ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢'the next Prime Minister of New Zealand' - is up against:
"Labour's once formidable front bench are looking tired and scandal plagued, there are strong rumours that Helen Clark's once impregnable media team have been on the verge of quitting, caucus black sheep John Tamihere has given an insider's view of the 'lesbian sisterhood's' agenda and Finance Minister Michael Cullen has delivered a black budget to rival Nordmeyer's election killer in the late fifties," wrote Mr Wishart.
Mr Wishart did omit to bring up any of Dr Brash's more controversial past statements regarding;
He didn't, however, shy away from finding un-named blog commentators slagging off the Labour Party, and including their insightful comments into his profile of Dr Brash. How many of the lazy, useless and sycophantic journalists referred to in Mr Wishart's, 'Tamihere exclusive' would have done that? As Scribe [a hip-hop tourist] would say - 'not many, if any.'
Steel Capped Unofficial Progressive Blog http://prog-blog.blogspot.com/ Replaces Under-performing Blog
A Week of It has terminated with extreme prejudice the barely performing internet diary/blog Dog Biting Men. When a blog posts only once or twice a month there can be no room for pity. This blog is dying and whilst A Week of It is not normally in favour of euthanasia the deed needed to be done - should DBM stage a remarkable recovery and arise Lazarus-like then it may one day re-join the proud and select Scoop blogroll.
In DBM's place is a mean, ugly little, new-born blog. http://prog-blog.blogspot.com/. This unofficial Progressive Party-leaning blog puts the boot into Rodney Hide, slams the Green Party for being middle class, reckons Labour is a tad smug but saves the harshest criticism for allegedly left-wing commentator Chris Trotter.
A recent article by Mr Trotter concerning the economic policy of the virtually non-existent and currently unelectable Alliance party recently sent Progblog's blood pressure through the roof. Mr Trotter's praise of the defunct Alliance Party particularly irritated Progblog.
Unburdened by the political compromises required to
preserve a parliamentary foothold, the Alliance (unlike Jim
Anderton's Progressive Party) has been bold enough to
demonstrate what a genuine democratic socialist tax system
might look like.
The numbers would make Robin Hood proud. "Under the Alliance policy, the first $10,000 of income will be tax free. This applies to everyone, but it would most benefit those on low incomes, including pensioners and beneficiaries." wrote Mr Trotter
A Week of It can't understand why the Alliance Party policy stopped there - why not just give every citizen in NZ $50,000, a Mercedes Benz ,and a Lotto Lucky dip ticket - that way Robin Hood and his merry men can be proud.
A Week Of it predicts that, some time on 2008, the soon to be unelectable ACT Party will be promising a 5% flat tax. Should National and NZ First be in coalition this flat-tax package should be ready to go by 2006.
A tight-fisted scribe of A Week of It was unwilling to pay the measly price of $7:95 in order to take a photograph of a well known New Zealand current affairs magazine's front cover. This stingy individual decided to take a digital still of the front cover of this glossy, sleek and investigative publication in Parliament's hallowed halls. Unfortunately this outlandish action was apparently totally beyond the pale and may even have broken one of the Speaker's rulings.
Thankfully some Oliver Cromwellesque defenders of parliamentary democracy were on hand to stop this fiendish digital happy snapping. All of the offending full colour snaps have now been been deleted. It is hoped the Hon Margaret Wilson and the ever-vigilant guardians of our great democracy will rest easier thanks to this knowledge.