A mess

May 28th, 2008 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

The forced release of substance of ’s policy is a mess. It comes at a time when Labour have got some momentum from the budget, and National needs to be error free.

I said a few weeks ago that I no longer think Labour can win the election, but that National can still lose it. That still holds true in my opinion. Now this episode by itself is not an election loser, but timing is everything in politics. If the TV stations are polling this week (and they probably are based on their normal cycles) then it may not National back a wee bit, and then you get stories about how the race is back on, and that continues to give Labour the momentum they badly need.

One can only feel some sympathy for , even if tempered with some annoyance. Some MPs are known to be prone to speaking before thinking, but Kate isn’t one of them. It was an uncharacteristic mistake, but it really shows the importance of being very very guarded with speculation on policy – especially when Trevor Mallard is in the room! Trevor hasn’t looked this happy since he biffed Tau :-)

The somewhat ironic thing is that it is a no brainer that eventually National would announce it would keep compulsory employer contributions to KiwiSaver. regardless of whether one approves of the policy, you can’t change it once 600,000 people have made investment decisions based on it. If you were going to not keep the contributions, you would have to have said so almost immediately so that people signing up would be aware that a change in Government would lead to no compulsory employer contribution.

National could have come out and said this at an earlier stage. But it presumably is looking at having some minor differences, and wanted to release a full policy on a timetable of its making. There are in fact two related but different issues with regards to the employer contribution. The first is whether it will be compulsory, and at what rate. The second is what subsidy the Government will pay employers as partial compensation.

John Armstrong makes a fair point:

The more obvious it appears that National is heading into Government and the longer it holds out on clarifying its stance on major policy matters, the more not-so-experienced MPs like Wilkinson are going to come under pressure at such meetings to spell out what the party would do differently.

Vernon Small also makes a similiar point:

But in “clarifying” her blunder National has announced what amounted to a $2 billion spending commitment over four years to a policy which is proving very popular – with 600,000 already signed up – and rather than doing it at a time of their choosing they have been forced to scramble out an announcement as a political save.

I guess that’s what happens in a policy vacuum;  there are just too many things you can’t say and too many things you might say.

To be fair, the budget was only a couple of working days ago, and there is a lot of work to be done on having a balanced alternative budget. So I suspect we will see a focus on policies with relatively minor costs (policy rather than spending) in the immediate future, and then some more of the bigger costing items once the sums are done.

Tags: , , , ,

44 Responses to “A mess”

  1. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    *sigh* Well, as they say in sporting circles when you make an unforced error, its no use standing around bitching and whinging about it. But having said that, (and unlike Messers Armstrong & Small) I can wait for policy. But National can’t afford it’s own “20 Hours Free” debacle, where it turned out the press release was impressive but Steve Maharey’s definition of “free” was, shall we say, rather different from everyone else’s. Stay focused on the substance, and deliver, rather than going into a top-spin over a process beat-up and entirely predictable shit-stirring from Cullen & Co.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Ross Miller (1,681 comments) says:

    Discipline Guys Discipline. Bet JK wishes he hadn’t voted for the anti-smacking legislation. Mind you he can always call on B-P to give Kate W the wolloping she rightly deserves. Head in the corner Kate, count to 100 and reflect and learn.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    Not a great look, but hey we can expect more of this as dinosaurian Labour MPs find opportunities to ambush their less experienced counterparts in the hope of sustaining their reign.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    Nice to see the Deity formerly known as John Key this morning getting the softly softly from one of his right wing pretty boys Paul Henry.

    This disingenuous crap about policy in due course, is of course the reality that people won’t be able to stomach the contents of many of the policy positions of National, but they don’t want the public to be able to choose for themselves.

    9 years in opposition and you still don’t have policies on …

    A bloody joke.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. first time caller (384 comments) says:

    Thank goodness for Heatly’s Housing NZ story though…there’s nothing like Govt wastage to focus voters minds

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    Kate Wilkinson: the National Party is not a party of compulsion

    National Party MPs applaud.

    John Key: Wait, what? Heck, we are! There will be compulsory employer contributions.

    National Party MPs applaud.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. David Farrar (1,874 comments) says:

    Berend: So you don’t support Roger Douglas’ compulsory super policy?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Mike (162 comments) says:

    first time caller (111) –1 Says:

    May 28th, 2008 at 8:58 am
    Thank goodness for Heatly’s Housing NZ story though…there’s nothing like Govt wastage to focus voters minds

    0.00039 cents per week tax cut, wasted!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    DPF, just contrasting two statements from National Party MPs.

    Although I agree with your view that it would not be easy for National to change the scheme, all research currently available seems to indicate that Kiwisaver has not led to more saving, but to shifting of savings. If that is true, if the people who are in Kiwisaver would have saved one way or another, the policy is unnecessary. The only thing it does is create a far more complex tax system where the people who pay tax get it drip-feeded back via Kiwisaver, Working for Family, etc.

    If I agree with Roger Douglas policy? That was then. ACT’s juiciest election bribe ever does not contain this policy. Maybe we can get Roger Douglas to comment…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    DPF said: … and there is a lot of work to be done on having a balanced alternative budget.

    Is this your own policy slip, David? That National policy will be to balance the Budget, rather than run surpluses or deficits?

    [DPF; I meant balanced in the wider sense than just the fiscal sense, plus I am not really party to putting together the alternative budget]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    This disingenuous crap about policy in due course, is of course the reality that people won’t be able to stomach the contents of many of the policy positions of National, but they don’t want the public to be able to choose for themselves.

    Really, Paul? So, we’re going to wake up on the morning of Election Day and find National has released no policy whatsoever? If you’ll step this way, I’ve got the Auckland Harbour Bridge and three dozen flying pink elephants for sale at a knock down price.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    Peter Cresswell makes the same point I did and greatly elaborates on them. He quotes SOLO-NZ who says:

    John Key’s confirms that he is willing to violate four of the nine central principles ostensibly promoted by his Party in one fell swoop

    Well National Party supporters, your turn.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Chris S (111 comments) says:

    If you were going to not keep the contributions, you would have to have said so almost immediately so that people signing up would be aware that a change in Government would lead to no compulsory employer contribution.

    I’m sorry but this is just rubbish. If National were not going to keep employee contributions I’m almost certain they would NOT announce it before the election. If pressured they would say they were “looking at restructuring” or “considering options” with regards to Kiwisaver, the same kind of fob off they’re giving to the media over everything including their “Key” policy of Tax Cuts.

    National are in the unique position of not having to release policy, much to the chagrin of their opponents, as the idea of change is in the air. All they have to do is make reassuring noises about tax cuts, broadband and other vote winners and keep quiet about everything else and they will be in power.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    Craig, Dont tell Cullen, he’s still got some change left

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    I hope the Nats keep their policy platform under wraps until the election is declared and the formal campaign under way. Right now, we are anything up to six months away from voting, and if a week is a long time in politics, six months is a policy life expectation.

    The longer the platform can be kept under wraps, the less time there will be for minority parties (Labour is one by the looks of recent polls) to analyse and find ways to spin the policies to serve their own needs. In the meantime, labour has to keep on putting its policies on the line or bring the law factory that is the beehive to a standstill.

    The big thing people who believe in democratically elected beningn dictatorships should do is find ways to pursuade people to vote. As the very experienced Lazarus Long said (with the help of Robert A. Heinlein’s writing)

    “If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for, but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against.
    By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.”

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    Craig Ranapia said: Really, Paul? So, we’re going to wake up on the morning of Election Day and find National has released no policy whatsoever?

    Wasn’t the National Party’s housing policy quietly slipped onto their website a few days before the last election without any launch event, press conference, or even media release? In the hope no-one would notice it!!!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    If only Mallard applied this same attention to detail to his own work as a Minister that he does to Ministers-in-waiting, he might have been halfway decent at his job

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Wasn’t the National Party’s housing policy quietly slipped onto their website a few days before the last election without any launch event, press conference, or even media release? In the hope no-one would notice it!!!

    And thanks to the late Chief Ombudsman John Belgrave, Cullen was ordered to release politically inconvenient Treasury costings of Labour’s flagship student loan policy. Whoopsie…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    The longer the platform can be kept under wraps, the less time there will be for minority parties (Labour is one by the looks of recent polls) to analyse and find ways to spin the policies to serve their own needs.

    Or the less time Labour, the Greens and ACT have to spend poking holes in it…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    dave strings: I hope the Nats keep their policy platform under wraps until the election is declared and the formal campaign under way.

    You only have to do that if you have a platform that your opponents are happy to run with too, so you’re indistinguishable from your opponents. Or if your policies are different, you can’t argue with conviction for your policies, or you want to dupe the voters.

    So which one is it?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Toad

    “Is this your own policy slip, David? That National policy will be to balance the Budget, rather than run surpluses or deficits?”

    “Wasn’t the National Party’s housing policy quietly slipped onto their website a few days before the last election without any launch event, press conference, or even media release? In the hope no-one would notice it!!!”

    Is it your intention to campaign on behalf of the Labour party right up until the election?….A vote for the Greens is a vote for Labour.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    big bruv…Toad exposing National stuff ups is advertising for Labour? What if Winston Peters was doing it? What if Rodney Hide was doing it? What if the Libertarianz were doing it? Toad didn’t even *mention* Labour!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    back on May 11, I posted a comment on my blog

    http://adamsmith.wordpress.com/2008/05/11/632/

    of an interview with David Cameron of the UK Tory party, he makes the point that ” ‘This is the perennial problem in opposition. The right time to set out your tax and spending proposals is at an election — and I don’t believe in producing fully worked-up shadow budgets every single year,’ he says.”

    I agree with this.

    For National to set out their wares now would be very foolish.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Inventory2 (10,184 comments) says:

    This is the kind of gafee that National could have done without, but the gods seem to be with them, and the public is far more likely to go ferral on Labour for the Housing NZ conference, especially after Clark’s promise that such luxury excursions were off the agenda on her watch.

    As far as National’s policy goes, I made the point after the English Agenda interview a couple of weeks ago that National and National alone will set the agenda (pardon the pin) and timetable for policy release. Just because Guyon Espiner wants to know how much less tax he will pay under National is not a reason for National to hurry policy releases. For goodness sake, the MSM let Winston do the Dance of the Seven Policy Veils every election, without a murmur! National are right IMHO to release policy when it best suits THEM, not Labour or anyone else. After all “this is a contest about power in New Zealand” and John Key is “playing with the big boys now”!!!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Inventory2 (10,184 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, could the election be sooner than we think?

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/05/beginning-of-end.html

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    Is there any news here?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    Wilkinson will be rapped over the knuckles for this one, but very quietly. It would be foolish for National to release any policy based on the wishes of the government and it is a bit of an embarrasment the way things have come to pass.

    Having said that, Key has handled the matter well. Clark and Cullen will of course milk it for all it is worth and those who watch question-time will see some very snide comments, and no doubt some patsy questions, relating to this issue. But beneath the veneer of smugness, there should be a slightly raised eyebrow of recognition that Key has moved to try to put out the fire quickly and Labour will have to work a bit harded at fanning the flames of this one.

    I do see a potential swing back to labour in the polls short term, but overall the trend won’t change.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. casual watcher (289 comments) says:

    Storm in a teacup – enjoy your moment plonkers – there are not many of them left. The average punter doesn’t give a rats over this issue. The Nats are setting the agenda and Labour are completely bereft of policy and ideas. They are responsible for the mess this country is in and when the acid is applied they will be possums in the spotlight. Game over – get used to it, move on etc etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    big bruv said: Is it your intention to campaign on behalf of the Labour party right up until the election?

    It’s my intention to campaign on behalf of the Green Party right up until the election.

    Sometimes that means poking the borax at National, sometimes at Labour and sometimes at both, as Sue Bradford did in this Budget speech yesterday in which she got stuck into Labour far more than National.

    Now that’s one I’m sure will get your blood boiling bruv. Wonder if we’ll see you defending Michael Cullen here?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Toad

    As you well know EVERYTHING Comrade Bradford has to say makes my blood boil, I did try and read her press release but only got as far as “those dependent on the benefit system for survival” before I gave up.

    Those who do “depend” on the benefit system could always try and get a bloody job, our welfare system should be reserved for the few genuine cases not those who make a lifestyle choice to bludge off the rest of us (Phil U being one of them)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. radar (319 comments) says:

    I for one feel sorry for this Kate Wilkinson person. People make mistakes. It’s called human error. I hope she doesn’t get jumped on from a great height, by her fellow MPs, her leader, or the blogosphere.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Peter Cresswell (48 comments) says:

    David, you said, “To be fair, the budget was only a couple of working days ago, and there is a lot of work to be done on having a balanced alternative budget.”

    To be perfectly fair, David, when he was opposition Finance Minister I recall Roger Douglas used to issue alternative budgets on the same day the Government’s budget was released.

    The problem is not that a lot of work needs to be done — the problem is that National don’t know what work to do.

    (To find out what to do they could always look to their principles as written in the National Party constitution … if, that is, John Key hadn’t just confirmed again that they’re worthless.)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Douglas must’ve liked his coffee…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    It’s a forgivable mistake – she simply didn’t realise that National doesn’t care about their own founding principles.

    As for compulsory Super – there’s a huge difference between a scheme that redirects your income tax from the consolidated fund into something you get back later in life, and a new tax imposed on employers unfortunate enough to employ someone in the scheme.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Paul W (266 comments) says:

    Peter said:

    To be perfectly fair, David, when he was opposition Finance Minister I recall Roger Douglas used to issue alternative budgets on the same day the Government’s budget was released.

    The problem is not that a lot of work needs to be done — the problem is that National don’t know what work to do.

    (To find out what to do they could always look to their principles as written in the National Party constitution … if, that is, John Key hadn’t just confirmed again that they’re worthless.)

    And my recollection of Cullen as opposition spokesperson is much the same – he had a full reply largely worked up and ready for release almost immediately after the Minister finished speaking. If it’s not a lack of ability that’s stopping the reply then it is a tactical decision that I think stinks and will hopefully be punished accordingly.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    And here is the Patsy Question I spoke of earlier.

    2. Hon PAUL SWAIN to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he received on support for the KiwiSaver scheme?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. 3-coil (1,204 comments) says:

    Mallard was quivering with excitement showing his hand-written notes (from the breakfast meeting) to the TV hacks last night – he’s quite a tittle-tattle isn’t he!

    We shall see if Trev enjoys the same level of scrutiny during this election campaign. His form so far (punching out Tau Henare over his jibes about the “non-existent” Shazza) would indicate not.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Toad

    I see that Bradford has just asked a question in the house that asks “why are sickness beneficiaries being forced to find work” (or words to that effect)

    What a cheek!…fancy wanting bludgers to work for the money they steal from us on a weekly basis.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Paul W (266 comments) says:

    Yeah BB, amputees, the blind, people with MS… buggers should all just go out and dig ditches like my old grandfather did in WWI.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    PaulW

    I did wonder who would take the bait, the question as answered by the Labour party minister was along the lines of “all sickness beneficiaries that are being helped to find work are do so voluntarily” (or words to that effect).

    Sadly this is not good enough for Comrade Bradford, she find it disgusting that anybody should be made to work.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    bruv: One of the qualifications for a sickness benefit under the Social Security Act is:

    54 . Sickness benefit: standard eligibility requirements

    (1) A person is entitled to a sickness benefit if he or she satisfies the criteria in subsections (2), (3), and (4), and—

    (a) is not in full-time employment, is willing to undertake it, but because of sickness, injury, or disability is limited in his or her capacity to seek, undertake, or be available for full-time employment; or

    (b) is in employment, but is losing earnings because, through sickness or injury, he or she is not actually working, or is working only at a reduced level.

    And the verification requirements are:

    54B Sickness benefit: medical examinations
    (1) A person who applies for a sickness benefit must include in the application a certificate by—

    (a) a medical practitioner; or

    (b) a dentist (in respect of a condition that is within the ambit of his or her profession); or

    (c) a midwife (in respect of a pregnancy, childbirth, or any related condition that is within the ambit of his or her profession).

    (2) The certificate under subsection (1) must—

    (a) certify that the applicant’s capacity for work is affected by sickness, injury, or disability; and

    (b) indicate the nature of the sickness, injury, or disability, the extent to which the applicant’s capacity for work is affected by it, and the length of time that effect is likely to last; and

    (c) contain such other particulars as the chief executive may require.

    (3) The chief executive may at any time require an applicant for a sickness benefit or a sickness beneficiary to submit himself or herself for examination by a medical practitioner or psychologist. The medical practitioner or psychologist must be agreed for the purpose between the applicant or beneficiary and the chief executive or, failing agreement, must be nominated by the chief executive.

    (4) A medical practitioner or psychologist who conducts an examination under subsection (3) must prepare a report that states whether the applicant’s or beneficiary’s capacity for work is affected by sickness, injury, or disability, and how long that effect is likely to continue; and must send a copy of the report to the chief executive.

    So sickness beneficiaries should not be being forced to work, or to do more work or different types of work, than they are certified as capable of doing, because they are medically certified as unfit to work or to do more or different work.

    Or are you suggesting that there are thousands of corrupt health professionals out there who fraudulently complete the medical certificates for them?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    “I no longer think Labour can win the election, but that National can still lose it.”

    I disagree. National has a number of areas where it’s very vulnerable. The issue of a defacto return to the Employment Contracts Act (which National has promised) would scare most people if they understood what it meant.

    This election is still Labour’s to win.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    “One of the qualifications for a sickness benefit under the Social Security Act is:”
    should read:
    “The ability to play the system shamelessly and concoct an ailment which would preclude full-time employment, thus obliging the WINZ Case Manager (by law) to suggest they seek a medical Certificate…”

    “Or are you suggesting that there are thousands of corrupt health professionals out there who fraudulently complete the medical certificates for them?”
    should read:
    ” … hard-pressed GPs are cajoled and bullied on a daily basisi into accepting the words of individuals who are evidently not as ill as they think or assert, because to argue would result in a possible violent confrontation for the GP and his or her staff.”

    This is not of course inclusive of Case Managers who have been threatened to their face by applicants for SB, or who have realised taht they can only show a reduction in their case-load by shifting the recalcitrant onto SB, or those who end up on DPB at the last hurdle, or GP’s who learned long ago that contesting an applicant’s claim is to invite a shit-storm or put a WINZ Case Manager at risk also.

    Yes, I worked for WINZ for a while, so could provide examples fo each of the above I’ve listed, but never would, for reasons I am sure you would appreciate.

    And nome: “This election is still Labour’s to win.” I agree.

    toad must be well pissed off at the prospect of his party getting shafted for another three years.

    Sorry, did I say ‘shafted’?

    I meant ‘bitch-slapped’. :o)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “Or are you suggesting that there are thousands of corrupt health professionals out there who fraudulently complete the medical certificates for them?”

    Hello !!!!!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4562327a11.html

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.