31 December 2007
NEWS: Labour's political muzzle starts
"When New Zealanders awake to greet the New Year, they will be subject to draconian new rules devised by Labour that will clamp down on their political speech in a way that hasn't been seen in our history before.
"The ability of Kiwis to participate in political activity from tomorrow will be severely restricted by the most onerous set of election rules New Zealand has ever seen.
"Tomorrow, Kiwis will know there's still a significant period of time until the election campaign and they will surely ask why their freedom of speech is being restricted so early in election year.
"The only logical conclusion they can come to is that Helen Clark and Labour want to control dissenting voices, so she can get a fourth term.
"Helen Clark's anti-democratic and self-serving Electoral Finance Law is offensive. It is an assault on free speech and an affront to democracy.
"The depth of feeling against this law is well illustrated by numerous newspaper editorials up and down the country. (see attached examples)
"Already, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, fighting against funding cuts at the Southern Institute of Technology, has said he is prepared to go to prison to fight for his right to campaign in election year on issues he cares about.
"Today he ran newspaper advertisements urging New Zealanders not to vote Labour at the election. He is not prepared to register with a Government agency from tomorrow as a 'third party' and submit to ridiculous rules.
"Our democracy is the loser from this law, which is why National will repeal it and start again in a bipartisan way. We will ensure there is genuine consultation with all interested parties, and the wider public, before Parliament votes on changes.
"Electoral law is simply too important just to leave to a narrow majority of MPs to decide. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened with the Electoral Finance Law – a narrow majority of Parliament decided with no agreement from the major opposition party, nor the wider public.
"Labour goes on about stopping 'big money'.
"But New Zealanders should know that from tomorrow, millions of dollars - of their money - will be funnelled through Government departments to advertise Labour policy in election year. Meanwhile, so-called third parties can only spend $120,000.
"Helen Clark and Labour have lost touch of the real issues New Zealanders are concerned about – like the hundreds of people leaving every week for Australia for opportunities they can't find here, our infrastructure deficit, crime and the rising cost of mortgages.
"National will concentrate in election year on the issues that matter to Kiwis.
"Helen Clark, meanwhile, will concentrate on clinging to power – even if that means eroding our democracy and freedom of speech."
See below: quotes from editorials
Quotes from editorials on the Electoral Finance legislation
"The Electoral Finance Bill's passage through Parliament late yesterday corrodes democracy and shames those whose names stand beside it as it enters the statutes. From January 1, political discourse will be less free, except for political parties – those private organisations that happen to provide the incumbent members of Parliament." – NZ Herald, 19 December
"The legislation is undemocratic, and the process by which Labour and its supporters have foisted it on the public has been an exercise in the arrogance of power." – Dominion Post, 20 December
"Mrs King told Parliament the legislation does not restrict free speech, but is about restricting the right to purchase speech through advertising, and that it was necessary to safeguard democracy. She is wrong." – Dominion Post, 20 December
"It was all too plainly designed not to deal honestly and fairly with an important problem but rather to shield an embattled government from any critical comment during an election year." – The Press, 20 December
"…from January 1, 11 months before any likely election, a firm engaged by the Electoral Commission will be conducting surveillance of political advertising to see that it complies with the law, something that will strike most fair-minded people as having the smack of Big Brother about it." – The Press, 20 December
"By limiting the amount so-called 'third parties' can spend on political campaign activities of any kind – be it support or opposition, saving the whales or completing Dunedin's motorway – the Bill is anti-democratic for it will tend to restrain and discourage dissent from those who wish to make such causes influential in electoral terms by advocating for or against political parties or candidates; it will thus tend to weight the balance further in favour of incumbent governments in election years." – Otago Daily Times, 20 December
"The public has, quite rightly, disliked the stealth and was, quite rightly, alarmed by some of the early and wildly anti-democratic clauses limiting real freedom of speech. This is not the way to make important constitutional changes. The voters will remain deeply hostile to these changes and nothing the politicians now say will change their minds. Labour must therefore scrap the bill and do it the hard way." – Sunday Star Times, 2 December
"Prime Minister Helen Clark has said that she has never before seen such 'nitpicking' over an electoral bill. That is because there has never before been an electoral bill so outrageous and so flawed." Listener, 8-14 December
"Despite the changes to what many of its critics correctly deemed irredeemable, the bill remains an obnoxious piece of lawmaking for what has driven it, for the disdain it has shown to the principles of freedom of expression and fairness and for the loathing and contempt that it generates for those who, in principle anyway, we ought to be able to show at least a modicum of respect." – Hawke's Bay Today, 20 November Tweet
28 December 2007
NEWS: Bhutto assassination condemned
“This disgraceful act of terrorism must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” he says.
“It strikes at the heart of democracy in Pakistan, a country which is already in a state of turmoil.
“I extend my condolences to the family of Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani people, and the Pakistani community in New Zealand.
“Benazir Bhutto showed a great deal of courage throughout her life and her return to Pakistan this year was yet another example of that courage.
“I note that world leaders are calling for calm and restraint. My hope is that Pakistan does not descend into chaos following this tragic event.” Tweet
19 December 2007
RADIO: 19 December, KiwiFM
19 December. John Key and host Wallace Chapman talk about Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt's courageous stand against the restrictions of the Labour Government's new Electoral Finance Bill - a stand that could see him going to jail over advertisements he plans to run next year opposing the Government - and about some of the more draconian provisions in the new law. Wallace then steers the discussion to the decision by the Government to purchase a fleet of BMWs as Crown cars.Tweet
19 December 2007
VIDEO: Adjournment Speech (with text)
A rousing and often humourous end-of-session speech from the National Party leader, John Key.
An excerpt from the unedited Hansard of the speech follows.
UNEDITED HANSARD COPY SUBJECT TO CORRECTION
Turn(s) 29.1 to 29.1 Tuesday, 18 December 2007 5:30 PM
17:29:35~JOHN KEY (Leader of the Opposition)
The year of 2007 has been a good year for National, and 2008 will be a great year for National and New Zealand, which is more than we can say for the Labour Party, which is rapidly becoming about as popular as a Japanese whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean.
That is hardly surprising because the only thing that spends more time in the dock than a New Zealand frigate is a Labour Party Cabinet Minister. He is there all the time. Some months ago we announced a policy that we wanted to have DNA testing for criminals who were convicted. I have decided we should drop that and just jot down their Bellamy's account number—that would be a lot easier.
This is a Government that is unravelling before New Zealanders' eyes.
We have Ministers who are now publicly disagreeing with each other. We have a Government that has become so arrogant that it is arrogant to the marrow.
We are seeing people who are leaving the Labour Party left, right, and centre. We have a Government that will do anything and say anything to win an election.
We know one thing—the Labour Party thinks it is everybody else's fault but its own. That is the interesting thing. The Labour members do not get the mirror out in the Labour Party very often.
They have spent years blaming the National Party, now they have moved on to blaming the officials. It is the officials' fault that New Zealanders do not get to Christmas with a tax cut, despite the fact that Michael Cullen once famously said of Treasury: "I'm elected and they're not." That is what he said. But now it is the officials' fault. It is the officials' fault that they will get only $15 under Labour maybe after over a decade of Labour if they ever get that chance—of course, unless the polls go down a little bit more, then the tax cuts will go up.
Last week, according to the Prime Minister, it was the media's fault. The two senior political editors on both TV channels are too young to understand history. That is the reason—too young to understand history. I will make this prediction; by next year Labour members will have moved on—it will be someone else's fault. It will be the voters' fault by next year. That is whose fault it will be.
All the time they are not really worried about what is going on with the big issues. They do not care about the 750 Kiwis who leave every week for Australia. They are not bothered about the fact that there has been no tax cuts for 8 years. They do not care about a failing health system or a failing education system. They do not care about any of those things They do not even really care that much about the 14 finance companies that have gone broke, the four interest rate hikes they have delivered New Zealanders this year, or the fact that when one looks at their wages, how much they have gone up. If one takes off inflation, takes off interest rates, and takes off rising prices New Zealanders have gone backwards over 8 years. The Government just does not care.
But next year Helen Clark wants to win a fourth term, not because of what that power will actually achieve, but Helen Clark wants another trophy in the trophy cabinet. She wants to buy just one more election—that is all she wants.
She can buy one more election and keep Phil out of the leadership for just a little bit longer, whereas the National Party wants a steep change for New Zealand. According to Labour and Michael Cullen success is to be despised. That is the message from Michael Cullen; success is meant to be despised. How interesting that is when one contrasts that with the National Party. The National Party is out there promoting a *DVD at the moment called Ambitious for New Zealand, and New Zealanders absolutely love it. There are 20,000 downloads on *YouTube, and our own site.
Gerry Brownlee: How many?
JOHN KEY: There are 20,000 downloads. Let me say this: we had one small problem with the DVD—one has to be able to laugh at oneself does one not? Last year I said "they were a Walkman Government in an i-Pod world." Well, actually it is not. It is a video Government in a DVD world, and next year it will get clocked big time. That is what will happen to them next year.
So anyway, when one looks at the year Labour has had and looks at the problems, one really wonders when the people will work out who is to blame, and that is Helen Clark, but I will come back to her in a minute. But is it not an interesting culture that has developed under Labour?
Just last week we picked up the Dominion Post. On the front page was a story that Capital and Coast District Health Board, which had a cash crisis, was going to sack 50 doctors, not sack 50 bureaucrats, but under Labour sack 50 doctors.
This is now a country where we record crime on a time-line basis in the Sunday Star-Times. This is a country where the bail laws see New Zealanders out on bail, despite the fact they are charged with horrendous crimes—they are fit, under Labour, to be back on the streets.
This is a country that did not go up the OECD, it went down.
This is a country that will go into Christmas with the Government's wallet fat, but New Zealanders struggling to make ends meet, struggling to afford the niceties of Christmas, and struggling to get any further ahead.
This is a country where one in five New Zealanders leave school completely lacking the literacy and numeracy skills, and where one in two Māori boys and girls completely lack any qualification at all.
In the New Zealand Herald the Prime Minister stated that she was shocked that over 300,000 New Zealanders could not read the instructions on a fire extinguisher.
All of this leads us to a Government that has spent the entire year worried about the Labour Party, worried about its own Ministers who are constantly in trouble, and worried about themselves so desperate to stay in power it has had to force through the electoral finance law, and it has not been good.
Hon Phil Goff: Oh, come on John, we've got 10 minutes left.
JOHN KEY: Well, actually I am happy to take an extra 10 minutes if the Labour Party wants me to. I do not think a Leader of the Opposition with as much material as I have should be limited to 10 minutes, but if Phil Goff wants to give up some time there is no problem. I am happy to take it.
It is all getting so bad that the last time Phil Goff was spotted was at the Barbecue Factory on Sunday night. He saw the polls and he headed off to the Barbecue Factory, whipped down to the Mad Butcher, and he said "my time will come, the waiting, waiting, waiting is finally over.
I do not have a lot of time left to talk about the great things that the National Party will do next year. I have a whole year next year to talk about those things.
But I want to say, what a great year it has been for National in New Zealand. What a cracker it will be in 2008. Merry Christmas.Tweet
19 December 2007
NEWS: Labour fails to consult National again
National Party Leader John Key says that yet again Labour has failed to consult National on its attempts to lock down a partial review of 'outstanding electoral issues'.
"The Greens and Labour have done a deal. Clearly, Helen Clark does not understand the meaning of 'bipartisan support' for election law changes. The Prime Minister has learned nothing from the debacle over the Electoral Finance Act and has again failed to consult the major opposition party.
"Labour broke conventions ramming this law through, and now they're breaking them again as part of a further exercise in self-preservation."
Mr Key notes that Annette King's statement makes it clear that Labour is not considering fundamental changes to the Electoral Finance Act, rather 'outstanding electoral issues'.
"This is a stalking horse for the state funding of political parties, engineered by the Greens and Labour. They've made it clear that's what they want and this is how they plan to achieve it."
Mr Key says National remains committed to repealing the self-serving Electoral Finance Act and it will not support state-funded election campaigns.
"Labour simply doesn't understand that consultation means talking to all other parties, not just its allies.
"The decision to appoint an independent review panel is sound in principle and was something that National had been advocating. But Labour's not signalling a wide-ranging review to fix the law at all – just more patch-ups.
"Labour has bungled this process from start to finish. The review should have come first – not be a bolt-on after-thought that's part of a cynical, face-saving, damage control exercise.
"Labour has deliberately screwed the electoral scrum in an attempt to get Helen Clark one more term in office, and nothing the Government does now can change that fact."