When New Zealand went to bed on 20 September 2017 no one was quite sure who had won the election. National had the largest number of seats, but no allies. Labour did not have enough seats either, but DID have allies. Many thought that National would be returned to power for a historic fourth term, something not seen since the days of Keith Holyoake.
So imagine the disgust of the centre right, the howls of rage and pain that echoed through conservative New Zealand when the New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, whose party held the balance of power decided to support Labour. The dismay of the centre right media from bloggers such as Cameron Slater and David Farrar, to commentators such as those on Stuff and Newstalk Z.B. was palpable
As a result of National’s loss, news media that are normally centre-right in character are expending considerable effort trying to undermine a Labour Government that New Zealanders understand has not yet had time to prove itself. Most New Zealanders would be quite prepared to wait at least until the end of the first term in office and then make a judgement.
However National has some issues that will only go away with time – and acknowledgement of them. They include undermining the mental health system, failing to overhaul the Ministry of Social Development when it had the opportunity and dealing with the drug scourge. Its rush to undermine Labour is premature, since the latter has not even completed its first year yet.
Several examples can be given of how National is behaving hypocritically in Parliament as the major opposition party:
- National Party members who are meant to be sitting on the Business Select Committee were purposefully absent the other day – the reason being they wanted to send the Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard a message about what they thought of the Speakers performance
- National have claimed that the Labour Party are not being transparent in Parliament regarding legislation
- It is rather rich when one considers that in the first two years of National being in office they passed more laws under urgency than the Labour Government of Prime Minister Helen Clark did in its nine years. National, like Labour before it, tried to pass legislation that posed a clear breach of New Zealand human rights law (Labour – Electoral Finance Act, 2006; National Crown Minerals Crown Land and Protection)Amendment Act 2013)
There are actions that can be taken to improve the transparency of the overall process and make the political parties in Parliament respect the need for public transparency better than they currently do. One is requiring the Governor General to refuse to permit the use of urgency should it be found that political parties use it to pass contentious legislation that will run into significant public opposition. It has been noted that the Speaker of the House took away supplementary questions because of concerns about how those questions were being misused.
Right since Day One of this Government, Stuff and Newstalk Z.B. have led the charge against it. Constantly Stuff has posted articles even when the Government was still being formed about its fragility. The authors seemed to forget that National had to watch its United Future ally Peter Dunne complete his gradual decline from a 9 member Party in 2004 to being a completely disbanded party in 2018. National also had to watch A.C.T. tarnish itself with corrupt Members of Parliament as well as toxic former M.P.’s like Roger Douglas.
For their part Mike Hosking on Newstalk Z.B. has consistently attacked Labour, both as an Opposition Party and in Government. His bias was severe enough to prompt a significant petition against Television New Zealand letting him moderate the election debate for the major parties in the 2017 General Election. With the Government still in its early days and still another 18 days away from delivering the 2018 Fiscal Budget, which will be its first, are Newstalk Z.B. and Stuff not prematurely jumping the gun?