Election ‘Oddities’

It’s been an interesting lead-up to New Zealand’s election so far, and it’s made me ponder a few things.

What do politicians think of the ‘ordinary’ voter? There has been a bit of a sneaky deal done between two of our right-wing parties- National, the incumbents and ACT, a dreadfully dysfunctional bunch of far-right wannabees. These people have one chance of getting into parliament and that one chance realistically hangs on whether or not John Banks (an ex-National MP) can get himself elected in Epsom, one of the central Auckland seats. It’s all to do with MMP and elected candidates or electoral percentages.  For ACT to get into parliament they need Banks to be returned, or to capture at least 5% of the nation’s vote (and as they are currently polling point zero something percent there seems little likelihood of getting anybody in ob THAT!!) So why my question? It seems a deal has been done (over a cup of tea?) that National will undersell and undermine their own candidate and urge National voters to cast their votes instead for ACT. Bugger that! I wish to vote for the person or party that presents me with the best policies and will best represent my views and fulfill my expectations. I do not wish to vote for the person I am told to vote for. Does that mean I would NOT vote according to my feelings because I’m being bullied? Probably not, IF the candidate made more sense than this disgraceful racist buffoon does. (Little wonder the biggest Pacifica city in the world didn’t want him as mayor any more!! Pity that these views WILL appeal to many in the electorate.)

Where are the thinking parts of people’s brains at a time like this? In the light of the ‘tapegate’ furore in Britain involving the invasion of people’s privacy by the media via bugging of cell-phone conversations, there is an “inadvertent” recording made of conversation between Prime Minister John Key and ACT hopeful, John Banks at a cafe over a ‘cup of tea’! Can this bloody idiot even remotely entertain the thought that people will believe it was ‘inadvertent’? I think not!

And now the Prime Minister is saying he will not make the contents of the recorded conversation public. Why ever not? He and his wee friend were in a public place and by extension whatever they said is public, surely! Did they whisper? Did they hold hands over mouths so as not to be lip-read? Did they exclude other members of the public from the cafe during the tete-a-tete? Did they ban the media? No to all of those, so why on earth block publication of the text? Maybe John #1 said to John #2 it was perfectly OK with him to make racist comments as part of his election promises! Of course it DOES fall in line with John #1’s attitude towards the voting public of New Zealand- almost the mushroom principle in action- “keep them in the dark and feed them on shit”!

In a Herald poll recently they asked whether it was OK for politicians to ‘bend the truth’? (Is that the same as LYING? It is in my book) The options were ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Only If It Serves The Greater Good’. The ‘Yeses’ scraped together a comparatively small number of votes, and the ‘Noes’ received by far the majority, but what concerned me was the percentage of the polsters who said it was OK ‘if it served the common good’!!! For God’s sake, a lie is a lie is a lie! How can it serve the ‘common good’, particularly when it is told by a politician, someone I’m sure NO-ONE would buy a used car from!!! Of course the poll was taken only after it was established that several lies had already been told to the voting public (sorry, truth’s had been bent.)

It annoyed, no, it disgusted me that the National Party would use the rebuild of Christchurch as an election promise. It doesn’t matter which party is the government, the government is bound to play a major role in the rebuild of the earthquake ravaged city.

The Greens say they will partially fund the Auckland CBD rail loop by taking money from Transmission Gully. I for one am becoming increasingly anti-Auckland by continuing instances of the rest of the country paying for Auckland infrastructure justified by the argument that it’s good for the country! I have seen NO examples locally of wonderful growth spin-offs from Auckland spending on roads, rail, or bridges!

And by “taking money from Transmission Gully” are they saying that project is a dead issue for them? And why? Because its construction may threaten a stream? Surely a viable arterial motorway out of the nation’s capital is an absolute necessity?

And just to wrap this rant up, it never ceases to make me wonder how a smarmy, duplicitous dipsomaniac who repeatedly shows his contempt for the media in general and correspondents who ask for direct answers in particular can be rising up the polls as quickly as he is. It is nothing to do with his party because no-one knows who his party are!!! I guess it’s a matter of saying outrageous things and you will appeal to outrageous people who don’t like the other outrageous bastards as much!!

I could probably carry on in a similar vein for some time but I’m just getting a wee bit too depressed thinking what the body politic’s views are of we, the great un-washed, the voter. Oh well, I might as well go out and sell my body or pan for some gold- I’m as likely to get as much doing that as I am going to get after the election, pretty much regardless of WHO is returned to power!

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SCARY TIMES?

New Zealand is creeping towards the next general election to be held just a few short months after a bi-election brought about by the removal of a Maori Party MP, Hone Harawira from his party. It was no surprise that Hone, now leader of his own ‘Mana’ Party was returned as the MP for Te Taitokerau, out-polling Labour and his once-upon-a- ‘Maori’ party (plus a couple of others who are hardly worth a mention- one suspects without their own vote they’d have halved their share! [but that’s not the scary part!]). Hone, although an out-spoken and at times ‘intemperate’ fellow (“white motherfuckers” just one of the epithets he’s used when annoyed about some policy or other that he deems is less than favourable to his Maori people) is held in high regard in his own electorate where he ‘tells it like it is’ and focuses on matters that impact directly on his people in the North, or, in his perception on Maori generally. It would not surprise me in the least if the Mana Party gathers some momentum over the next few weeks and converts this bi-election victory (albeit as the Mana member with a reduced majority than he enjoyed in his previous incarnation as Maori Party member) into at least his seat plus party vote share that could add a Mana list MP to the Parliament. Maybe. […but that’s not the scary part.]

At about the same time that Hone was being ejected from the Maori Party, Rodney Hide was being dumped from the ACT Party that he led and represented in Parliament, the hatchet job being done by various ACT party members, MPs and Don Brash, as yet not even a member of the ACT Party!! Don Brash, who was once the Governor of the NZ Reserve Bank. Don Brash who resigned from the Reserve Bank to ‘stand’ on the National Party ‘list’ in the 2002 elections. Somehow he was able to get a high enough position on The List (5th) to get a seat in Parliament after National lost the election. A year later he won a National caucus leadership vote and became Leader of the Opposition. In the process he ousted current leader and finance spokesman, Bill English and brought in John Key as deputy finance spokesman. He showed his real colours with speeches at the Orewa Rotary Club (kindred spirits?) that smacked of anti-Maori racism, (which Georgina Te HeuHeu disagreed with and was fired), dependant-bashing and general intolerance of the welfare state. Initially his statements led to a surge in support [but this isn’t the scary bit] but over time he lost ground as well as support in the caucus due to a clear lack of loyalty, questionable policies and ‘secret associations’ and questions of infidelity in his personal life leading to his ‘taking leave’ then resignation in 2006.

Clearly extremists in the ACT Party were displeased with Rodney Hide’s performance as MP and leader and so with the support of back-stabbers in the ACT caucus who switched loyalties (in return for whatever rewards one can only guess at [but that’s not the scary part]) Brash became leader (of a party he still was not a member of)? Now we are in lead-up mode Brash shows he has the same views, is as disloyal as ever to his supporters, and is misguided as to what MOST New Zealanders really believe (but by standing an ex-mayor in an Auckland seat rather than contesting it himself indicates he isn’t completely sure of his ground?)

It could well be that Don Brash will lead ACT into oblivion if John Banks doesn’t take the Epsom seat, and even though Aucklanders are an interesting breed it’s hoped those living in Epsom will make a choice based on what is best for New Zealand rather than pandering to extremist views of people such as Perigo, Ansell, Barrett, Douglas and Brash.

Sadly there are a number of people in this country who agree with Brash and his cronies’ politics and policies. THAT’S THE SCARY BIT!

Daily Show Yawns @ NZ Politics

So John Stewart has poked a bit of fun at New Zealand politics in his Daily Show! It appears it was only a passing reference, and many would argue that New Zealand politics is only really worth a fleeting piss-take, possibly most of the whole NZ population of 13!!! (Please don’t rush off to check the accuracy of this apparent population of Aotearoa- there are around 4 million of us, and only a very small percentage of them are actually members of any one of the many political parties that contest our 4-year elections. There could well be 13 political parties, of course!!)

Our nation has seldom been rocked by major political corruption so is possibly a natural target for political commentators and satirists. This is not to say, of course that our politicians are any different from their fellow international players of the governing game, for I often feel that for some it is, indeed a ‘game’- that they can afford to be involved in and are unaffected by [I doubt that many of the ‘rulers’ of the day don’t benefit or are hurt or disadvantaged by the legislation they pass!]!

We are in the lead-up to an election later this year, (as we are in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup. I wonder which has the greater significance?)

But as said, we are in the lead-up to an election and so have begun to be bombarded by ‘how good I am’ statements from all of the candidates for the 69 seats to be contested (7 of these are Maori seats to be decided from the Maori Roll, access to which is restricted to those New Zealanders of Maori decent, and which guarantee Maori representation in Parliament, irrespective of any Maori being appointed as general seat candidates. It should be known that the pakeha (non-Maori) population of NZ has mixed views on the value or efficacy of this duality in our electoral system, as do a minority of our Maori population, interestingly enough!)

Coincidentally at this time we are days away from a bi-election in one of our Maori electorates that resulted from one of the Maori Party members falling out with his Party, being ejected, resigning from Parliament then forming his own (new) party. The results of this will be very interesting, although the ‘home boy’ Hone will be very popular with the underprivileged, I suspect. (Interesting to see he claimed an unfavourable land-line poll was ‘rogue’ because too many Taitokerau Maori “couldn’t afford a land-line” so they all use cell-phones!! Hmm.)

We will also be asked to vote in a referendum that will again address the question of how we decide who should govern the country, or rather the system we use to decide. Once-upon-a-time we had a system called “first past the post” whereby we had 1 vote per enrolled elector and we cast this vote for 1 (or no) candidate. After vote counting the party that had won the greatest number of electorate seats, governed. If there was no majority (no party won more than half the electorate seats) there would either be ‘minority’ government’ by the party who won the greatest number of seats, and they would have to be very considerate of the other parties’ views when forming legislation. In the ‘minority’ instance it was possible the ‘major’ winning party could create a ‘coalition government’ by coming to an arrangement with one of the smaller winning parties. If they were the majority government they could then charge full steam ahead pretty much without any concern for what the rest of Parliament (and the population who voted for them) thought about it, (and as a coalition government only slightly less)!!

For the last couple of decades we’ve used a system called ‘MMP’- Mixed Member Proprtional whereby every voter has 2 votes, one of which is cast for the favoured candidate, the second being cast for the favoured party. Any party achieving more than 5% of the total votes cast then seats a list candidate in Parliament. The greater the % of total votes, the more list members. Also if a party wins a seat, they can also seat a list member in The House.

The referendum will firstly ask us whether we want to review how we vote or to keep the current system, and if we wish to change which of an offering of 4 options would we prefer. The systems on offer are (a) a return to FPP, [where we will then have 120 electorates!!]; (b) Preferential Voting [PV] system, where we get many ticks but use them to rank as many candidates as there are in the electorate 1st option, 2nd option, 3rd option, etc.. The winning candidate is the first to garner 51% of the votes in each of the 120 electorates; (c) Single Transferable Vote [STV], 120 electorates and whereby we get 1 transferable vote and this is cast by making our own ranking options, or by voting for the preferred party’s printed options; (d) Supplementary Member [SM] where we have 90 electorates and 2 votes, the first to vote for the preferred candidate and the second for the preferred party which contributes to a percentage vote that decides what proportion of the 30 supplementary (list) seats available a party is entitled to.

So, in a nutshell that is our “Politics”! Who could possibly find any reason to yawn and take a sideswipe at THAT!!!