Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search - 17 October 2008 - 17 October 2008

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

Politicking Over Crisis Bites Labour’s Backside

The pre-election opening of the books, as reported last week, saw expressions of triumph clearly evident on the faces of members of the Clark/Cullen Government. The endless sea of red ink was a cause for rejoicing. Having frittered away the opportunity of the best decade of international economic conditions in half a century, they were delighted to have such a poisoned chalice on hand. And the same spirit was maintained as the world’s finance markets moved into crisis later in the week.

Word that the Rudd Government in Australia was likely to follow other nations and guarantee bank deposits was seen not as a serious challenge to the health of our economy but as an opportunity to score cheap political points on the occasion of Labour’s campaign opening.

And so the word went out: manage the process to coincide any action here with Labour’s campaign launch.

The extraordinary sight of Clark using the Labour launch to announce the deposit guarantee scheme was duly rewarded with breathless media commentary. Regardless of the consequences, this was apparently to be applauded as smart politics.

But only days later it is becoming apparent that this smart political stunt is now biting Clark and Cullen right on the political backside. All of which makes their actions look very very foolish.

In the week prior to the announcement of the deposit guarantee scheme Mr Key had made it clear that he thought New Zealand would be bound to follow other nations, especially Australia, if they went down the deposit guarantee path. And he made it clear that he and his colleagues would deal with the matter in a bi-partisan manner.

It would be fair to observe that Mr Key understands the deeply complex operation of international banking and finance markets like the back of his hand. It is equally clear that Clark and Cullen do not.

Officials have acted over recent days to plug some holes in relation to finance companies. And work has continued through the week. It is inevitable that there will be further developments and even more inevitable that bi-partisan support is required.

If constitutional convention dictates that governments should not, within three months of a general election, appoint a new director of the Government Vehicle Testing Station without the support of the Opposition, then one might have thought that similar conventions applied to signing the Government of New Zealand up to a liability equal to $150 billion one month before an election. But apparently not.

It is obvious that further decisions will need to be made. They are, as Mr Key has said repeatedly this week, too important to be dictated by party politics. And the people in whose hands those matters currently rest, must approach them from the moral low ground of last weekend’s shabby political stunt. Let us all hope that some serious and important lessons have now been learned.

Stalinist Rules From Nanny State

Comrade Stalin would be very proud. His protégés in the Clark/Cullen Labour Government have really outdone themselves this time. New Building Regulations signed off by the government and due to become law next February strike a new level of Nanny State absurdity. Last week we discovered that our government intended limiting the capacity of our shower nozzles to nearly half their current capacity. Now we find that this is just part of a full-blooded nanny state assault on personal cleanliness.

The new regulations have been approved by the government and circulated for comment before being gazetted into law. The chances of that happening now that they have seen the light of day in the middle of an election campaign are slim. Building Minister Shane Jones was this week pretending that it was all the work of some misguided officials. But the fact is that the package was just one signature away from being law.

The regulations are designed to stop the use of water and electricity by people who are prepared to selfishly put the future of the planet at risk out of a self-indulgent desire for personal cleanliness and hygiene. Henceforth, according to the comrades in the Beehive, small houses, with three bedrooms or fewer, will have a 180 litre hot water cylinder. Larger houses will be in the privileged position of being permitted a 315 litre cylinder. Our government, it appears, has, in its infinite wisdom, determined that New Zealanders should be allocated 60 litres of hot water per person per day.

On the basis that occupants use showers rather than baths, it is, we are told, estimated that individuals use 40 – 60 litres of hot water per day. However, if they use baths, the average use will rise to 70 – 120 litres per day. And a single spa bath will use an average of 100 litres of hot water. On this basis our government had planned effectively to ban the use of spa baths, except in single occupant dwellings. And the use of baths was going to depend upon the level of use on appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, or the willingness of occupants to share baths.

The proposed regulations would have had the most interesting consequences for student flats where five or six occupants might often be found sharing a three bedroom dwelling. Under the proposed regime, multiple showering and bathing would have been almost compulsory in light of the available supply of hot water. Which is about the only place the new policy might have enjoyed any popularity.


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