Cullen interview in SST

April 12th, 2009 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

An interesting interview of Michael Cullen in the :

didn’t mean to call John Key a rich prick. At least, not out loud. “That was an interjection I never meant to be heard by anybody, not even those around me,” says the former deputy prime minister. “It was under voice,” he explains, mouthing and whispering the infamous words again to show how it happened.

Just like when Steve Maharey said “fuck you” to Jonathan Coleman and Ruth Dyson referred to Katherine Rich as a stupid tart. Also there was no whispering when Cullen called Key a scumbag, so I think we should be careful of rewriting history.

But Cullen was angry that day in Parliament, for family reasons. National leader Key had brought Cullen’s wife Anne Collins into the debate the previous night.

I generally agree that MPs families should be left out of politics. But there is an exception to that rule – when the family members willingly get involved in politics themselves.

I’ve looked at Hansard of that day, and the reference is merely to Anne Collins having supported Russel Fairbrother’s nomination in 2002, and Cullen signing Stuart Nash’s nomination papers in 2008. If you are actively involved in a political party, supporting various candidates, then you are in politics and it is not the same as a spouse who has no political involvement at all.

The politician finds it depressing that “everyone made a federal case” out of his blurt. He’s the father of Kiwisaver, the Cullen superannuation fund, of Working for Families and a return to egalitarianism in the age of excess, and all the media want to talk about is the “rich prick”! Cullen sighs in his blank office.

It was the quote that kept on giving. And the reason it did, was the inclusion of “rich”. If he just called him a prick it would have been forgotten. But by calling him a “rich prick” it implied being rich was a bad, nasty thing – like being a prick.

The government was sensitive to the charge that it was Nannyish, he says, but the rage over the light-bulb ban seemed “highly irrational”. The new bulbs were more efficient, less expensive and more environmentally desirable. But it didn’t think it could reverse the ban either. “When you’re a government that’s been there a long time, you keep doing u-turns and people start seeing you again as weak.”

This is one of the key mistakes third term Governments make. National did it with Punket in 1999, and Labour with various things in its third term. You convince yourself that “winning” and “not giving in” is more important than killing off an issue.

The anti-smacking bill was another strange case: even though National ended up voting for it, Labour got all the flak. Cullen says Labour could not have avoided the issue posed by green Sue Bradford’s bill. Section 59 of the Crimes Act had led to the acquittal of people who had made quite serious attacks on children. And it fitted Labour policy, so opposing the measure would make people say it had no principles.

But it was not a binary choice between the old law and Bradford’s proposal. The Borrows amendment would have stopped those acquittals but not criminalised parents who apply a light smack for correctional purposes.

Cullen still insists he could not have afforded big tax cuts in 2005 when he offered only the “chewing gum” cuts. Treasury was still forecasting disappearing surpluses.

“It’s a brave minister of finance who tells Treasury, `You’re wrong, I think we can spend it’, and then Treasury will produce numbers which will show you moving into significant deficit… I’d have been shot.”

Bullshit. Because he did exactly that in 2008. Even before the credit crisis, the tax cuts he announced were on a far far worst set of books than in 2005. The irony is tax cuts in 2005 would have been sustainable, but his 2008 tax cuts probably will not be.

The National-led government cut 70 staff from the Tertiary Education Commission. “The chances are this will lead to another blowout in low-quality education spending [such as the notorious "twilight golf" courses], which will cost far more than the bureaucrats.

These twilight golf courses occured under the TEC Labour set up. They had hundreds of staff and did nothing about them. WHen there were just 25 staff in the Ministry of Education, they had far better quality control than the montrosity created by Labour. Does Cullen really think twlight golf courses occured because there were too few TEC staff?

Cullen believes “only a tiny group of highly entrepreneurial people will make their way out of any situation, because they’ve got this enormous gift and it’s a lucky gift they’ve got”.

So sucess is all due to “luck” and a “gift”. Hard work, perseverance, education, training have nothing to do with it?

“It doesn’t matter that much how rich people get, provided they’re prepared to pay their taxes. What I always hate is when I hear the rich complaining they have to pay their taxes, that that is so unfair. I’ve always said, `Gosh, I was so pleased when I was deputy prime minister earning enough money to pay so much tax’.”

Dr Cullen has never worked in the private sector. When your income is due to your activites actually generating wealth, you do get upset as almost half of it disappears to Dr Cullen. When you have been on a state salary for 35 years or so, then of course you don’t mind paying tax.

On the PM: “[John] Key is a natural high pragmatist or low pragmatist. He wants to be prime minister, he wants to do things but he’s quite pragmatic about methods. Bill English is much harder-line.” So how come Labour painted Key as a neo-con wolf in sheep’s clothing? “I’d prefer not to go into that.”

This is quite extraordinary. Cullen basically admits that Labour’s negative campaign against Key was false, and they knew it was false, but they hoped the mud would stick. What else did Labour campaign on, knowing it was false?

On “We won, you lost, eat that!” No, he says, he never said that to National. “It’s a wonderful piece of historic myth.”

I think it was directed to business actually. Hansard for back then is not online, so hard to tell.

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49 Responses to “Cullen interview in SST”

  1. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    I will not be sorry to see the back of that wanker.

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  2. davidp (3,319 comments) says:

    Lies and arrogance. So why oh why oh why did National just appoint him to an SOE board?

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  3. Manolo (12,622 comments) says:

    The bitter musings of an arrogant and despicable socialist who soon will be confined to the dustbin of history.
    Another one for whom good riddance is the only fitting comment.

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  4. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    Regarding targeting Key as a neo-con, I read it as Cullen not agreeing with the strategy vs him saying the strategy was deliberately flawed. Don’t get me wrong I think Cullen’s last 3 years were really bad, but this post does read a little bit like hitting a guy when he is down.

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  5. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,049 comments) says:

    So sucess is all due to “luck” and a “gift”. Hard work, perseverance, education, training have nothing to do with it?

    There’s a robust amount of research and data to support Cullen’s view; hard work, perseverance etc count for relatively little compared to being born into the right class, having access to education, contacts, opportunities and so on.

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  6. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Nigel

    He’s hardly down is he. He’s not even apologising, he said in the article he might do that. All the muppet had done is show how little justification he needs to loose his working class temper.

    I still struggle to believe how a man who thought the call for tax cuts was just a bunch of journalists with a self interest was set loose running the countries economic policy for 9 years. Cullen was happy to gouge middle NZ to prove he could make the rich pay more. What a muppet, and National gave him a plum seat at NZ Post…. phhh.

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  7. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Danyl Mclauchlan

    A “tiny” group that has that lucky gift as well.

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  8. Viking2 (10,709 comments) says:

    How about you include attitude. Plenty born poor, no education become rich. Plenty like Cullen born rich, good education become poor. Richness includes spirit and mind. Thats what whining socialists never understand.

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  9. Labour are scum (58 comments) says:

    I hate to be a snob, but…

    What you need to remember about KKKullen is that he is a low-class Pom from the slums of Glasgow.

    His behavior is quite predictable.

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  10. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Viking2

    Absolutely. The lineup of financial heavy weights is littered with unlikely suspects. Sure a privileged upbringing increases an individuals chance of achieving great things.

    However when you get right down to it all a privileged background really provides is a minimum standard of living and different expectations for their children. Very few door are genuinely closed based on your socioeconomic background, many might be perceived to be – as you say, attitude.

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  11. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    …the rage over the light-bulb ban seemed “highly irrational”. The new bulbs were more efficient, less expensive and more environmentally desirable.

    This is a bit off point, but even a smart guy like Cullen can’t see the obvious: eco bulbs deliver a fundamentally different kind of lighting that some people really don’t like. So of course those people are going to be pissed when the government says they have to take second best.

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  12. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    This is quite extraordinary. Cullen basically admits that Labour’s negative campaign against Key was false, and they knew it was false, but they hoped the mud would stick. What else did Labour campaign on, knowing it was false

    Kind of like National spending 9 years attacking Cullen, then giving him an important job in an SOE?

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  13. dime (8,751 comments) says:

    “The new bulbs were more efficient, less expensive and more environmentally desirable.”

    and we think the market is too stupid to realie this and wouldnt make the change by themselves! FFS!!!

    “When you’re a government that’s been there a long time, you keep doing u-turns and people start seeing you again as weak.”

    or maybe they start thinking, “wow they do actually listen to us when they screw up, good on ya… i dont feel like a pleb thats being dictated too”

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  14. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Danyl Mclauchlan

    Where Cullen gets distracted from reality and wonders off into spin followed by you is; there is actually a tiny group who will succeed no matter what. However this group is not based on class, it’s almost random. How do we create social policies to stop these people having breakaway success ? why would we do that? You can’t base a tax system on hitting a tiny group of wealthy people so what size group is Cullen really talking about when he uses the word “tiny” ?

    Somebody needs to ask a parliamentary question once the 2008 tax year stats are complete to find out how many tax payers were paying the “rich prick” tax rate in 2008. Lets see how tiny Cullen’s target group really is – I’ll stick a stake in the ground and predict that at least 20% of tax payers were paying the top 5% rich prick rate.

    (tax payers = employed people. Not working age people)

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  15. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Somebody needs to ask a parliamentary question once the 2008 tax year stats are complete to find out how many tax payers were paying the “rich prick” tax rate in 2008.

    It’s been on this blog a few times I think – Cullen’s target of 5% ended up as about 11 or 12, if I rightly recall.

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  16. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    stephen

    It was 12% of the working age population based on the 2006 tax year. Based on the number of people actually working it was about 16% at that stage.

    Even by the time it was actually implemented the top 5% tax was collecting about 7% of the population. The fact that wages were constantly inflating and tax thresholds were static for so long meant that more and more people were paying more and more tax.

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  17. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    What a tiny under-developed personality Kullen is. Arrogant, patronising, drunk with the power of compulsion, possessed of horribly cynical views on the abilities of his fellow men.

    It is a disgrace that this peanut was given such high paying high powered positions by National. Proof that there is nobody in Wellington representing the people. They are all part of a club designed to rob us and regulate us.

    Notice how they all profess not to want to tax and regulate, but that taxes and regulations just keep on increasing??

    Good that Kullen is gone, even if not completely. IMHO, there’s around another 120 who should follow the bastard.

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  18. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    I see. Seems like the sort of thing you could probably find online rather than waiting for a parliamentary question…and will probably be on this blog when it comes out.

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  19. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “There’s a robust amount of research and data to support Cullen’s view; hard work, perseverance etc count for relatively little compared to being born into the right class, having access to education, contacts, opportunities and so on.”

    A worthtless assertion from another worthless communist.

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  20. jcuknz (648 comments) says:

    >>>sector. When your income is due to your activites actually generating wealth, you do get upset as almost half of it disappears to Dr Cullen<<< Which just goes to show how selfish and un-imaginitive they and you are. The boss cannot work without workers to do his bidding, and vice versa. In times of yore before the rich got richer and the poor poorer and I was in the the top 5% of income earners, just :-) , I was always happy to pay my taxes. It was my responsibility of one of the lucky ones to help to the less fortunate. Of course when you don’t really see your money going on taxes due to PAYE I guess it is easier to take the stance I did. My income was what I saw going into my bank account rather than the grand total including tax and super contributions which put me in the top 5%.

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  21. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    jcknz

    It’s not just the rich people paying the top tax rate. This is the problem. It seemed to be a bit above the comprehension of Dr Cullen taht as long as wages were rising and tax thresholds were static that more and more people were being classified as rich.

    If we didn’t adjust the top threshold which stood for 9 years of 60% then eventually minimum wage earners would be classified as rich pricks and taxed accordingly. The PM’s salary (and Cullen’s) basically doubled over that time, why did it take the stench of electoral defeat to be reasonable with the tax payers ?

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  22. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    9 years at $60K… not “9 years of 60%” ooops, sorry. Bring back the edit.

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  23. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    jcuknz

    Most Teachers were classified as rich pricks under Dr Cullen definition of a “tiny” group that needed to be punished for their selfish greedy consumption. I think he lost the plot when he didn’t index his policies of envy to only punish the truly wealthy. Just driving them out of the country rather than a large cross sector of the population would not have cased such a domestic recession as his policy implementation did.

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  24. baxter (893 comments) says:

    No questions or comments on the price he paid for KiwiRail and the ongoing liability for it, or the dreadful financial legacy of
    he prepared for the incoming Government. The worst call KEY has made so far is to reward him with a sinecure.

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  25. big bruv (12,348 comments) says:

    Few people dislike Kullen more than I do, however I have a feeling his valedictory speech may well be one not to be missed.

    I have a feeling there may well be an admission on his part that he and Labour did not get everything right, I also have a feeling there may well be the odd genuine apology.

    Who knows?, perhaps Key has shamed Kullen into reflecting on his past deeds and his small minded attitude toward those who have stood up against him and Labour, the cause of Kullens rather remarkable transformation over the last few weeks may be a realisation on his part that Labour did not need to be so vicious, it may also have dawned on Kullen that Klark spent the last term as PM feathering her own nest at the expense of the greater good.

    I also believe that Kullen is genuinely gob smacked at Key offering him such a high ranking job, perhaps he has now realised that Key is not all bad and that he (Kullen) and Labour have been used by Klark and her feminist agenda.

    Sometimes when you have more spare time on your hands you can reflect on things, it would not surprise me to see Kullen write a book in time, I also have a feeling that book may well be less than complementary about Klarks last term as PM.

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  26. Paulus (2,295 comments) says:

    Sanctimonius POOR prick – after all the years on the tit that’s all he has to show for it – god help my freinds at Ohope Beach.
    How lucky they are to have two new “rich” residents.

    I understand he is from Finchley in North London – seat of Margaret Thatcher

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  27. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “I have a feeling there may well be an admission on his part that he and Labour did not get everything right, I also have a feeling there may well be the odd genuine apology”

    Bruv – If I hear a genuine apology from that prick I’ll actually take the train to work one morning
    (I feel fairly safe though that I’ll be driving my car)

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  28. Viking2 (10,709 comments) says:

    Hey hang on a minute!!
    Us rich pricks ain’t got much back from the other lot yet. Still at 38%. even Roger and Ruth and Jim did better than that. 30% I believe, so don’t start crowing until Baby Bill chops our rates back to where they were in 1998.
    Oh but we can’t afford it now he says. Well chop the bloody costs out of govt. then.

    Still doesn’t absolve that other sanctimonious prick. (which is worse than being a rich prick.!!!

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  29. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    DFP: Youir comments on the SST interview with Michael Cullen are generally incisive, particularly those that call him on his attempts to rewrite recent history. But I’m less impressed with this one:

    “The irony is tax cuts in 2005 would have been sustainable, but his 2008 tax cuts probably will not be.”

    It’s worrying that past public expenditure has conditioned us so widely to an expectation of a high-tax regime as the norm or as a pragmatic necessity. If we allow that concept to entrench itself, we deserve to live indefinitely with unacceptable tax impositions. And we make life incredibly easy for profligate politicians of whatever hue.

    IMO, it’s a mistake to concentrate primarily on Government’s revenue line when deciding what tax rates are required. The first and major analysis must always be of Government expenditure, determining:
    - spending priorities from a zero base, guided by classical principles of the state’s prime obligations;
    - which priorities consist of “must have” programmes as opposed to “nice to have”;
    - where is public expenditure excessive on necessary programmes;
    - which policies represent poor quality expenditure on programmes that distort normal societal or wealth creation incentives and disincentives;
    - a documented timeline and implementation plan (including clear communications strategies) for moving Government expenditure to the revised framework.

    Once that body of work has be completed, interrogated thoroughly and ultimately accepted by Government as its template for the future, then (and only then) should medium term revenue sources and tax rates be determined.

    Presently the cart is well and truly before the horse. That is a measure of the degree to which policies of the left have captured the entire political process of most western nations.

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  30. Nigel (503 comments) says:

    [quote]So sucess is all due to “luck” and a “gift”. Hard work, perseverance, education, training have nothing to do with it?[/quote]
    They are the foundation, luck or more accurately timing are key factors to.

    Burt,

    I was not commenting on him not apologising, heck he comes across as a pretty bitter man who fundamentally does not get capitilism, I was saying though that him not commenting re: Key is a neo-con suggested to me that decision was made by others, also he is down, his ability to influence this country in any fundamental way is gone & his life consigned to the history books for all practical purposes, at best he can do a Roger Douglas, but I very much doubt that will happen.

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  31. Trevor Mallard (245 comments) says:

    I don’t want to enter this debate – obviously I have worked closely with Michael and regard him as someone whose contribution will be better appreciated in ten years than it is now. However minor myth busting needs to be done :- twilight golf, wananga and southland institute ripoffs all predated TEC.

    [DPF: When was TEC established? And over what years was twilight golf, sing along radio, Cool IT etc running? I was pretty sure there was an overlap?]

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  32. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    You can come on here as much as you want Duck Face. Still won’t get a vote from my family!

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  33. Michaels (1,317 comments) says:

    It pisses me off every time I read how National ended up voting for Bradford’s bill.
    It is always said in a way that National agreed and supported the bill.
    The fact was it was going to pass with or without them, so Key saw an opportunity to make a dog with worms and fleas just a dog……
    And oh how it’s working….. no children harmed since!!

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  34. 3-coil (1,184 comments) says:

    More self-serving bullshit from Cullen.

    MP’s families are strictly off-bounds….yeah right.

    The smug git sat smirking while Trev Mallard showed his true intellect, baiting Don Brash with the “…speaking of affairs” taunts etc. – where was pompous Cullen’s faux indignation then? Nowhere to be seen.

    MP’s families are strictly off-bounds….unless its a tory MP of course.

    More lies from one of Parliament’s least honest politicians.

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  35. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    “So sucess is all due to “luck” and a “gift”. Hard work, perseverance, education, training have nothing to do with it?”

    “There’s a robust amount of research and data to support Cullen’s view; hard work, perseverance etc count for relatively little compared to being born into the right class, having access to education, contacts, opportunities and so on.”

    Actually the middle class is made up of people from the working class who have shown hard work and perseverance. The families who are still working class haven’t. There will always be a statistical bias towards success from people born to the middle class because of this.

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  36. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    “>>>sector. When your income is due to your activites actually generating wealth, you do get upset as almost half of it disappears to Dr Cullen<<< Which just goes to show how selfish and un-imaginitive they and you are. The boss cannot work without workers to do his bidding, and vice versa. In times of yore before the rich got richer and the poor poorer and I was in the the top 5% of income earners, just :-) , I was always happy to pay my taxes. It was my responsibility of one of the lucky ones to help to the less fortunate. Of course when you don’t really see your money going on taxes due to PAYE I guess it is easier to take the stance I did. My income was what I saw going into my bank account rather than the grand total including tax and super contributions which put me in the top 5%.”

    People in the top tax bracket are not opposed to paying taxes or paying a high rate of taxes, they are not happy with what they are getting for their taxes.

    The government is offering a service just like anybody else. We pay x dollars for y services. If another country charges x-1 dollars for y+1 services it will be a more successful and attractive option. Top rate taxpayers are angry because they know we could pay a flat 20% rate and have a first rate health service, the best education, and a police force that provides a secure society. But we have wasted billions of dollars over the last nine years for declining health, education, and safety. The government has an obligation to get performance out of the tax dollar or they will be removed, without accountability you get waste.

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  37. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    “>>sector. When your income is due to your activites actually generating wealth, you do get upset as almost half of it disappears to Dr Cullen<<< Which just goes to show how selfish and un-imaginitive they and you are. The boss cannot work without workers to do his bidding, and vice versa. In times of yore before the rich got richer and the poor poorer and I was in the the top 5% of income earners, just :-) , I was always happy to pay my taxes. It was my responsibility of one of the lucky ones to help to the less fortunate. Of course when you don’t really see your money going on taxes due to PAYE I guess it is easier to take the stance I did. My income was what I saw going into my bank account rather than the grand total including tax and super contributions which put me in the top 5%.”

    The top 20% of taxpayers pay 80% of the nations tax bill. I think the top payers are generally happy to provide for the less successful, but not when those people start to attack and resent them for it. I sure as hell appreciate all the doctors and lawyers who are paying 4/5 of the bill when I’m in hospital for an operation, and unlike Clark and Cullen I don’t want them to leave the country.

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  38. Manolo (12,622 comments) says:

    “The top 20% of taxpayers pay 80% of the nations tax bill. I think the top payers are generally happy to provide for the less successful,..”

    I’d like to see my taxes to support those in REAL need, not the miriads of bludgers, the Whoars of New Zealand. The time for welfare reform has arrived, but tyhe

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  39. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Us rich pricks ain’t got much back from the other lot yet. Still at 38%.

    Pretty sure it’s 37

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  40. Manolo (12,622 comments) says:

    “The top 20% of taxpayers pay 80% of the nations tax bill. I think the top payers are generally happy to provide for the less successful,..”

    I do not agree with your statement. I’d like to see my taxes to support those in REAL need, not the miriads of bludgers, the Whoars of New Zealand, who have an easy ride at my expense.

    The time for welfare reform has arrived, but the question remains: will National have the balls to implement it? I doubt it.

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  41. starboard (2,447 comments) says:

    filthy little handwringing sickly white liberal asswipe…history will not be kind to you Cullen..away with you…

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  42. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Trevor Mallard

    I don’t want to enter this debate

    Followed by,

    … regard him as someone whose contribution will be better appreciated in ten years than it is now.

    Sorry, I think you just waded right in with that. Can you please clarify why you say this?

    I get the KiwiSaver side of it, a national super scheme was always required and any long term saving will always have benefits downstream. However I struggle to see anything else that Cullen did that will endure the test of time.

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  43. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Cullen believes “only a tiny group of highly entrepreneurial people will make their way out of any situation, because they’ve got this enormous gift and it’s a lucky gift they’ve got”.

    Other research, Danyl, indicates that those who do “make it out” do so by “making their own luck” i.e. in an academic sense one can generate access to some lucky situations by making the most of the opportunities that life throws at you – these are normally fully exploited by applying oneself through hardwork, perseverance, ability and diligence.

    So it’s a little obtuse to suggest that perseverance and hardwork play second fiddle to rich prick opportunity.

    I do agree that some have more opportunity than others however it is every persons responsibility to take and make the most of the opportunities that life presents.

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  44. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Whether its school teachers and union reps in the Labour party, state house boys in the National party or the Kiwi diaspora.

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  45. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Burt, Mallard will not answer you, he just shows up like all bullies, fires a shot, then ducks (sic) for cover.
    I gave up waiting for his answer to his outrageous statement re the 90 day bill (sic).
    He will defend the indefensible every time as all bullies do.
    Commonly known a sychophant, and in my opinion pretty thick.
    You are a big player in the theft of my party mallard, come on back now you hear!!!!

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  46. Kimble (4,092 comments) says:

    Did anyone else consider that Cullen calling Key a “rich prick” under his breath is actually the greater of two evils?

    It is one thing to sound the dog whistle for Labours rabid supporters, they ARE the party of bitterness and spite after all. But because he said it under his breath it means that he REALLY does hate people with money.

    He is a grubby socialist weasel who deserves his lasting legacy to be the economic rape that was his last poison pill budget.

    He callously played politics with the NZ economy. He should never have been given another cent from the taxpayer.

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  47. Paul Williams (867 comments) says:

    These twilight golf courses occured under the TEC Labour set up. They had hundreds of staff and did nothing about them. WHen there were just 25 staff in the Ministry of Education, they had far better quality control than the montrosity created by Labour. Does Cullen really think twlight golf courses occured because there were too few TEC staff?

    David, the twilight golf courses came about because of Creech/Bradford’s vouchers, UTTA, which allowed funding to flow to all courses that were quality assured – that was the only test and IMHO it was not a very rigourous one.

    Labour didn’t immediately stop funding courses because it didn’t have tools to assess the merit of all courses. They developed tools but those tools weren’t as effective as they could have been for many reasons. Twilight golf and many other examples of stupid courses are National’s legacy. Not all of Labour’s reforms worked, but they were dead-right to undertake them.

    Secondly, I’ve said before but understand you could have missed it; TEC didn’t increase the number of education staff, it reconfigured them. TEC combined a good number of MoE staff with SkillNZ staff.

    [DPF: Try some facts Paul. How many SkillNZ and MoE staff were there in 1999? and what size did TEC grow to? And when did these funding scams occur, and for how many years? A scam should be able t be closed down within months if the Minister is competent. If you inherit policy with loopholes (as almost al policy has), then you change it. It took far far too long]

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  48. Paul Williams (867 comments) says:

    David, I’d rather you didn’t accuse me of making stuff up. It is possible to disagree with each other without implying dishonesty.

    As to your questions, I can’t tell you how many there were, I can tell you that TEC was substantially created out of the merger of units of the Ministry with SkillNZ. I know this because I was involved with the process. I understand it’s grown since but that wasn’t my point.

    The “scams” you refer to started around the time of UTTA as I mentioned. They persisted however, as it was difficult for agencies to agree what were or weren’t scams and how to close them down. As I said, they didn’t have the policy tools to do so. Plus they didn’t want to return to centralised control, which was good. Moreover, they didn’t want to fundamentally alter the autonomy of institutions – again good. Therefore they were in a difficult situation. The horse had bolted, students were enroled in programs, many of which were for longer than a year, and they didn’t have precisely the right tools to reign matters in (to overplay the metaphor).

    It did take too long David and I’m sure lessons were learned.

    But the root cause was an ill-considered rush to vouchers absent adequate quality controls or governance arrangements. You can disagree with me, and I’m sure some others who were involved will disagree, but that’s the perspective of someone who was involved on both sides of the fence through the various reforms.

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  49. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Nothing upsets me more than an arrogant bureaucrat in his position. Cullen said that these people who get rich have a lucky gift? He knows nothing about the private sector which reflected his policies. He has been spoon fed by taxpayers all his adult life. It takes risks and hard work and a belief in yourself. Luck plays very little. Income for families tried to undermind the hard working spirit and it will do this country well when it cease to exist. Trevor Mallard, they are saying the same thing about Bush, time will show he will be a great president. This is a line that is used when you have nothing left to defend this “prick” with.

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