National, we have a problem…


The shadows of the afternoon in the day of Prime Minister John Key’s government are lengthening. Day by day in real time the sun is slowly lowering in the sky to the west. National Members of Parliament one and all have enjoyed what for them will be a stellar period in their party’s history, but as the saying goes “all good things must eventually come to an end”.

Good for them yes. Not so for New Zealand across the board. I mean how can it be when you go to the New Zealand First convention and run into disgruntled farmers who have  changed their colours from blue to black and white; when housing is causing National more headaches than nearly every other issue put together and, despite being in office, despite holding the purse strings, not having the answers? Just how can it be?

National will be a force to be reckoned with at the next election, don’t you get me wrong. They have a well oiled public relations machine that to be honest I thought every other party needed to have a bit of a look at, even if they didn’t think they needed the sort of funding available to National. The Party rank and file will be determined to ensure that Prime Minister John Key gets a historic fourth term in office, but they have two major problems:

  • New Zealand political history, with the exception of Keith Holyoake does not smile on four term Governments as a general rule
  • New Zealanders often conclude, even if they are not fully sure that the major party on the Opposition bench – in this case Labour – is ready, that after three terms in office it is time anyway for another party to be in office

How can it be that National is “fit for a fourth term” as someone said to me the other day over beer, when the Minister of Education has for all intents and purposes declared war on teaching as a profession? Hekia Parata will deny the charge, but when teachers themselves, the parents of the students and P.P.T.A.’s and Boards of Trustees are united in condemning Communities of Online Learning, is there a problem? I think there is.

How can it be that National is the Party working “for a brighter future”, when dairies, pubs, and other private premises are being robbed at gun/knife point with what at times seems like impunity? Does a political party in Government have all the answers? Of course not, but at the same time it does have the means to better fund and resource the police, to find out why the justice system is averse to using the tools at its disposal.

How can it be that National gets away with claiming it is making New Zealand transport better when it is well known that building more motorways generally means more congestion. From where motorways come, eventually comes urban sprawl that requires – yes, you guessed it – more motorways. If we look at the big cities of Europe, the U.S. and Japan, light rail, buses, monorail, the humble bike all have much more of a role to play than they do here. Yes, those cities are bigger than New Zealand cities and their councils have bigger budgets to play with than ours, but when the outmoded motorway minded thinking of the N.Z. Transport Authority is considered the current best practice, I think we have a problem.

And when the Minister for Environment insists that it is not realistic for New Zealand’s fresh water resource to be improved to the standard where most rivers are swimmable again, we have a cop out. When, after nearly eight years as a Minister of the Crown, Nick Smith still thinks there is scope for further dairy expansion despite a dairy market in strife, I think we have a problem.

Perhaps, National, when you have former supporters admitting they have a problem with your policies and where you are taking us as a nation, the problem is not the Opposition. The problem is you.

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