Richard Long on Grey Power

March 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Richard Long writes in the Dom Post:

Just what on earth does Grey Power think it is up to? I’d always thought the organisation existed to campaign for pensioners, to ensure superannuation was inflation proofed and that privileges such as the gold card were maintained and extended.

But now the pensioners’ organisation is out there with the Council of Trade Unions, the Labour Party and assorted lefties, leading the charge against the selldown of state assets by means of a citizens-initiated referendum. 

What’s next? Can we expect Lucy Lawless-type acts by the oldies to stop mineral exploration, mining and anything else that might bring economic benefit? This highly politicised new role by the oldies’ lobby group is batty, for a host of reasons.

It is a new level of partisan activity for Grey Power. The more partisan they become, the less influence they have on parties they campaign against.

For a start, with the electorate balanced practically evenly between Left and Right, our half a million pensioners, and the half million approaching retirement, are also likely to be split fairly evenly down the middle in terms of political allegiance. So why has Grey Power opted for the Left-wing route? If those on the Right cancel their subscriptions in protest, Grey Power would be emasculated as a lobby group.

Richard could lead the way by resigning his membership 🙂

If I were John Key I’d be inclined to drop the mild-mannered courtesies for a bit and fire a warning shot across the bows of the activists who have clearly captured Grey Power.

For example, if Grey Power is not interested in reducing debt, through these sales, perhaps he should warn it a logical result would not only be an increase in the pension age and limits on inflation-proofing, but other changes as well, such as gold card restrictions, or even the dreaded means-testing. That would put the cat among the retirement pigeons.

Mr Key could also put the boot in by noting Grey Power, which is supposed to have the interests of retirees at heart, has absolutely no sympathy for the thousands of pensioners who tragically lost their retirement savings in the post-2008 collapse of the finance houses. 

If Grey Power was genuinely concerned, Mr Key could note, it would welcome the addition of such safe investment havens as the partly privatised state assets, so pensioners in future can invest with confidence and safeguard their funds.

As Richard notes, I suspect that Grey Power members will be some of the biggest investors in the SOEs.

Long on Muldoon

September 7th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Richard Long writes on Bryan Gould’s comparison of John Key to Muldoon:

Jetlag is bad enough, but returning to headlines about Rob Muldoon last week was completely destabilising. I thought I’d been transported back a few decades.

Part of this was publicity over the Bats theatre play portraying the former Prime Minister as the most evil leader we have ever had. As one who suffered under his idiosyncrasies (banned from his press conferences at times; fingered to this newspaper’s chairman of directors as someone who should be fired) even I felt this was a bit over the top.

Could you imagine a politician today getting away with banning journalists and lobbying to get them sacked.

As for Bryan Gould, we can only assume that the political scene in New Zealand is a huge disappointment. It has to be remembered that Mr Gould was on the Left of the old British Labour Party in the days when many clung to the credo of nationalising the means of production, distribution and exchange.

About the only thing to the Left of British Labour then was the Soviet bloc, the Cubans and the maniacs in North Korea. Mr Gould, tipped as leadership material, lost out because he was too far to the Left of the British Left!

Instead of emigrating to North Korea, he then returned to New Zealand where life must have been a series of disappointments: Roger Douglas’ economic reforms; Ruth Richardson’s mother of all budgets; and now a former international money trader riding a phenomenal wave of electorate approval even as he prepares to prop up a massive Budget deficit by selling state assets and boosting mining and oil exploration.

Life must be very tough for poor Bryan as his socialist nirvana remains a distant dream.

Mr Gould lamented that Mr Key was a commentator on everything – national leader, moral guide, social commentator, sports journalist, pub drinking companion, comedian and was always on the news bulletins.

Yes, for two reasons: the electorate wants to hear his views and Mr Key has this disarming style of answering questions that are delivered his way, even when, at times, he probably should not.

I suspect his staff would rather he sometimes uses the phrase “no comment”.

My favourite, at a time when inflation was hitting 18 per cent, was the fallout to the question on whether he had a policy to deal with inflation. Of course he did, Muldoon responded, but he would not say what it was.

Next day’s front-page report that he had a secret new policy left Muldoon furious. The result was the ill-fated wages-prices freeze – a final straw for many Nats.

The late Treasury Secretary Bernie Galvin grumpily confided to me some time afterwards that officials had managed to talk Muldoon down from the madness of a wages-prices freeze till that report drove him into a corner.

So the media are to blame for the wage and price freeze 🙂

Long on Alcohol

July 8th, 2010 at 7:51 am by David Farrar

Richard Long writes:

Sir Paul Reeves, our new campaigner for tougher drinking laws, should have learnt a lesson from the ill-fated Citizens for Rowling campaign. Sir Paul was a leading member of that gathering of the great and the good who coalesced in 1975 with the aim of trying to keep Labour prime minister Bill Rowling in office by blocking the rabble-rousing National Party leader Rob Muldoon.

Mr Muldoon was indicating the combative style he would bring to Kiwi politics when he said of Rowling on the hustings: ”I can see the cold shivers moving around his body looking for a spine to run up.”

As for Labour’s Maori affairs minister, Matt Rata, Mr Muldoon declared: ”The five happiest years of Mr Rata’s life were those he spent in standard two.”


But in spite of such raw provocations from Mr Muldoon, the Citizens for Rowling group sank in the mire of Kiwi egalitarianism.

Even though the list included such national heroes as Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, the overall view was that a bunch of elitists were presuming to tell average Kiwis how to vote.

Citizens for Rowling ended up probably doing more harm than good to Labour’s cause. As Mr Muldoon said at the time: ”The average chap doesn’t want to be told how to vote.”

I agree it did backfire. Likewise the efforts to have an Australian Republic backfired because it was seen as the elite telling the commoners what to do.

Now Sir Paul has been named as a leading member of another 15-strong group presuming to tell us what is good for us – or more precisely what is bad for us – in terms of laws governing the demon drink.

The eminent persons group is an eclectic mix, ranging from churchmen to Maori and Pacific Island spokesmen to sports stars, including the wonderful Evers-Swindell twins.

They back higher alcohol prices, reduced outlets, more restrictions on advertising, tougher drink driving limits, and an increase in the purchase age from 18 to 20 – in effect the prescription written by Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s Law Commission.

And yes, you do recall correctly: Sir Geoffrey was also a member of Citizens for Rowling.

Maybe it should be called “The Wowsers Strike Back”

Some of the most tragic cases of liquor-induced deaths have been among under 18-year-olds. They were able to obtain and misuse hard liquor in spite of the legal purchase age. In some cases accompanying friends did nothing while they drank themselves to death.

We have heard heart-tugging pleas from relatives seeking action as a result of these tragedies, but penalising the entire community with higher prices and other restrictions will not relieve the underage drinking problem.

At some stage it has to be acknowledged that there are parental responsibilities in this as well as community responsibilities.

There are problems with alcohol abuse in NZ. Response to that problem should seek to target those who cause harm when drinking, not the entire population.

Long on MMP and reform

February 16th, 2010 at 10:56 am by David Farrar

Richard Long writes:

When the market men suggest we should all migrate to Australia, and the Left are screaming about the Government robbing the poor to give tax cuts to the rich, Prime Minister John Key can figure he got the pitch just about right.

He hasn’t gone nearly far enough for coalition partner Act, which would have been tempted to grab the Don Brash ”catching up with Australia” review as a policy blueprint, but he has pushed the boat out about as far as he can go with coalition partner the Maori Party by indicating a rise in GST to 15 per cent to fund the tax cuts. …

Mr Key and Finance Minister Bill English are operating in the aftermath of the biggest recession since the Great Depression. They need not flounder over broken promises, as they did last week over their earlier comments rejecting a GST increase.

John Maynard Keynes set the example for this when he was accused, during the Great Depression, of changing position on monetary policy. The great man responded: ”When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”

Among the exciting prospects in the Key blueprint is the pledge to expand oil exploration and to survey areas of the Crown estate to see just what treasures are underneath. Oil has come from nowhere to be our No 3 export, after dairying and tourism. And who knows what mining riches we could discover in the form of gold,  diamonds and rare minerals to pay off those budget deficits and fund our children’s superannuation in the  years ahead.

Richard mischievously goes on to say he hopes they find uranium in Fiordland 🙂

Cactus Kate on hot male journalists

September 5th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sure all the media will be reading Cactus Kate’s comments on what she calls the Soper Syndrome – hot aging male journalists.

Kate proclaims the following as hot:

  • “Baron” Barry Soper
  • “Gorgeous” Sean Plunkett
  • “Pitt-Clooney” Stephen Parker
  • “Chess Champion” Vernon Small
  • Richard Long
  • Richard Griffin

The only one she marks down is Duncan Garner who gets “not hot yet”.

I think Kate is protesting too loudly here. Those of us who knew Kate before she was a blogger recall a small period of time when she had a small crush on Mr Garner. And when I say small crush, I mean raging stalker like obsession. Luckily Duncan got married, and Kate got distracted!