Hooton’s final pre-election SST column

Matthew Hooton blogs his final pre-election SST column:

After the defeat in 1990 of the last Labour government, in which Helen Clark was deputy prime minister, the late, great left-wing writer, Bruce Jesson, confessed his difficulty in treating it fairly because, he wrote, he had come to despise them. “Everything I wrote about them,” he declared, “dripped with contempt. They were a government entirely without principle, cynical and untrustworthy, who clung to power for the sake of it.”

As a writer, I would not suggest to be even remotely in Jesson’s class, but I now know exactly how he felt.

There was a time when the Clark government was a breath of fresh air after the Bolger/Peters/Shipley fiasco. In 2000, I was perfectly happy to help the Labour Department sell Margaret Wilson’s Employment Relations Act and I even came to admire Clark’s leadership skills when I worked on the formation of Fonterra, a company that would not exist without her intervention.

I feel none of that now.

This is a sick, dying but dangerous government, reduced to sending its party president to Melbourne to dig through 13,000 pages of documents in the hope of finding something, anything, to smear its opponent. No matter that the Serious Fraud Office and all the Australian authorities have already gone through all the documents, jailed those who committed crimes, and exonerated those who were not involved, Mike Williams and his Labour operatives used taxpayers’ money to act as some sort of private, politically-motivated, parallel police force.


It is keeping secret the true state of our accounts and instead of policy is offering only that, if re-elected, it will reveal its true intentions in a mini-Budget in December. Labour is turning the concept of a “hidden agenda” into an art form, yet Clark has the audacity to say the election is about trust.

The mini-Budget will inevitably be repugnant to New Zealanders. Just as Clark promised prior to the 2005 election that there would be no ban on smacking, she and Michael Cullen will be keeping secret measures they know would be opposed by the vast majority, otherwise they would announce them now.

Remember it’s all about trust!

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