John Key – thumbs down. Bill English, his yes-man..? Pike River a disgrace

Contrary to the usual media suspects’ fulsome praise now heaped on John Key, recently suddenly announcing he’s had enough of being a politician, there’s excellent reason to argue we have been ill-served by a capricious, wilful politician whose tenure in office has been a massive political failure.

A well-informed body of public opinion recognises the damage wrought by this extraordinarily ambitious individual. In effect, his egoistical rule of cabinet turned National Party MPs into a bunch of disgracefully compliant yes-men and -women.

Regarded elsewhere as a product of the failed Merrill Lynch culture, The Blundering Herd | Vanity Fair, Key was described by the Guardian as having the Teflon gene. What in fact is the legacy – or rather the mess? – being left to us by an individual whose real affinity seems always to have been with his own kind? And so our departing PM plans to return to a highly specialised commercial world of money movers where his folksy, smarmy persona earned his being described as the smiling assassin for his perceivably ruthless, cheerful axing of the jobs of scores of staff when head of Merrill Lynch’s Asian foreign exchange, and faced with the 1998 financial crisis.

 Key, making much political capital from being brought up by his mother in a state housing suburb in Christchurch, has never paid tribute to his father, an English immigrant who reportedly was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and fought in World War II.  Apparently far from well-educated, his mangling of the language, and loose tongue has brought him into some disrepute e.g. “Jeez…and “You’re munted, mate; you’re never gonna make it…you’ve got that gay red top on.”  Those asking in bewilderment whatever has happened to the country’s standards when this sort of language comes form a Prime Minister have a valid point.

A self-willed individual, Key’s credibility has been questioned on several occasions.  A born performer – regarded, even, as a show-off – his antics have caused many to regard him with distaste…in spite of the adulation of those media in whose eyes he could predictably do no wrong.

 On a personal level, and  called “ a galloping colonial  clot “ for his  opportunistic self-promotion in publishing a photograph of himself with the Queen – as well as revealing  tittle-tattle, gossipy  snippets of his visit to Balmoral – our Prime Minister has also been also regarded as a national embarrassment for his infamous bullying of  a waitress with his insensitive, repeated  pony-tail pulling.  His lack of dignity in other social situations, too, such as camping down the catwalk when promoting a uniform and his apparent ignorance of history – calling today’s New Zealand a colony – have made him a more than controversial figure – in spite of his devotees’ uncritical endorsement of a man whose tenure in office has arguably caused considerable damage to the country. But then, a little Prime Ministerial flattery can go a long way.

The media,  for example, when presented with inconvenient facts about Key – such as when journalist Nicky Hager revealed in his book Dirty Politics that Key’s party had employed a raft of secretly funded bloggers to do a hatchet job on his opponents –  found this information basically irrelevant. In reality, his ability to smooge with talkback hosts and parliamentary journalists and to lay on charm – that charisma long regarded as destructively dangerous in a politician – has been to his considerable advantage.

He has been particularly notable as a Prime Minister for wanting his own way, as instanced by  pushing his failed changing-the flag pet project, a self-willed initiative which cost taxpayers apparently $25 million dollars. Ominously, it was also a move supported by wealthy Communist Chinese investors as keen as Key to have the Union Jack removed from our flag. Apparently he gambled on his personal popularity winning the day.

However, presiding over an unprecedented era of child poverty, homelessness, and a downgraded, thoroughly trashed education system; ignoring public opinion which was not in favour of privatising state assets, Key’s government parted with voters who, in a citizens initiated referendum, were 2 to 1 opposed to selling the family silver. Key took no notice.  He again personally pushed for the TPPA, in spite of the well-justified opposition of the majority of the country, perceiving the threat to our sovereignty by the bullying of  mega-wealthy corporations being potentially able to sue or manipulate our government to achieve their own aims.

In essence, John Key has shown little interest in governing according to democratic consent and does not believe in letting New Zealanders make the decisions that will affect them – even cost them. To face facts… if ever any individual’s tenure as Prime Minister has shown the necessity for us to claim back our own country, it is the lesson we should have learned from being powerless to prevent two highly determined, autocratic leaders of their own parties, Helen Clark and John Key, cause so much damage to the economic and social fabric of New Zealand.

If ever there was an argument for adopting the policy that the Swiss people regarded as essential to control their own parliamentarians, the one that restricts the chief political office – that of the Prime Minister (or President, in the case of the Swiss) to one year only, whereupon he or she is obliged to step down – Clark’s and Key’s tenure should be an essential lesson for us – that we need to claim back what was once a democracy. Each of them rammed through highly damaging, over-liberal measures claiming a mandate for “reforms” – such as gay marriage (in effect a direct contradiction of what marriage is all about) and with which thinking New Zealand remains profoundly uneasy, particularly in view of the intolerance and vituperation directed against those against concerned at the increasing restrictions on free speech, and the propagandising of our young.

Key can be accused of hypocrisy, of evasiveness, and of lack of conviction in dealing with so many of the issues facing this country. For example, National in Opposition trumpeted against Helen Clark’s nanny-state. But  the massive increase in health and safety compliance costs have worsened, and the burdens on employers, trades and professional  people have reached unprecedented  levels and continue to do so, imposing economic and social costs under National and in particular, under Key’s  leadership.

What about his outright repudiation of the fact that the housing crisis in Auckland was reaching crisis levels?  His actual denying that there was a problem  – when he had already in 2007 found it politically expedient  to attack Labour because of this growing crisis – was more than curious. Can it with justification be regarded as simply dishonest? What about the fact that foreign ownership of companies listed on the New Zealand share market has now hit its highest level, with company profits heading overseas?  About 36% of shares in the country’s listed companies are foreign owned, independently assessed as a relatively high percentage compared with other countries.

The flow of New Zealand money offshore is matched by the siphoning up of our prime farmland and scenic assets passing into foreign ownership. New Zealand is now regarded as a bolthole for the worlds super wealthy, faced overseas with the growing restlessness worldwide of those questioning the widening gap between the mega-rich – and the majority of peoples finding it increasingly difficult to cope with even affording homes for their families. It has been unprecedented  for so many New Zealanders to find themselves homeless, constantly outbid by wealthy overseas investors when trying to afford to buy housing… issues Key’s government showed no interest in effectively tackling…let alone acknowledging.

While New Zealanders are concerned at the unrealistic influx of immigrants putting strain on our resources and pushing up house prices above the level of affordability for so many, Key’s government has turned a blind eye to the consequences. Apart from that lack of genuine empathy which earned him the soubriquet of the smiling assassin, Key’s government has used the unrealistically maintained level of immigration to disguise the fact that we are a failing – rather than a rock star  – economy. The scandal of education providers giving pass marks to many thousands of overseas students ( Chinese and Indian in particular  coming here primarily to acquire immigration visas) and continuing to refuse to fail them – which would close down their own inadequate institutions  and so do themselves out of a job –  is being glossed over. Scores of millions of dollars now depend on these basic scams. Too bad….The government has been looking elsewhere.

This is not the New Zealand for which our parents and grandparents fought in the name of freedom. It has been sold out from under our feet – a betrayal of everything for which they fought.  And Key, seeing the writing on the wall, has been very much part of this sell-out – leaving just in time to no doubt claim his personal knighthood?

For what? Given that we are now a country where, because fewer New Zealanders can today afford to maintain savings accounts, our offshore borrowings have reportedly moved from $80 billion to $90 billion in just 12 months.

Some “rockstar” economy… when the banks are offering only about 3.3% in term deposits, making them unattractive to New Zealand investors? Consequently, these same banks must at the same time borrow at far larger interest rates overseas and yet declare huge half yearly profits. The call on them to reduce shareholder returns to more realistic levels – or – given their notably recent ability “to take a haircut” from those who trust them with the money (meaning that more and more people will be reluctant to put their savings into banks) – may well become a necessity.

In essence, John Key’s power over the National Party caucus has been unquestioned, described “as an absolute position of pure strength”. And given that National has predictably elected his over-devoted lieutenant, Bill English, as the next leader, a man who simply rubberstamped all of his leader’s poor decisions, the country will carry on its downward slide. At least Judith Collins, for all her questionable judgment, is openly questioning the now runaway express train of Maori preference and separatism. There’s long been no sign on any realistic thinking from Bill English on the issue of a now increasingly racist distortion of democratic procedures and outcomes  being forced not only onto local councils, but being inappropriately pushed into universities and  schools, inflicted on teachers and pupils, lecturers and students.

And with English perceived as close to the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, who is apparently disastrously partial to highly dubious  iwi claims against the rest of the country, and who is a lifelong friend and godson to one of English’s children, the situation can only worsen. Finlayson’s endorsement of claims rejected by well-qualified researchers has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars accumulatively into the now approximately $40 billion dollar Maori economy – yes $40 billion. The consequences? Not only the directing of much-needed revenue away from socially and economically important areas now disastrously cash-strapped. Even worse has become the whittling away of our democracy as very wealthy iwi  begin to throw around their economic weight, demanding centre-stage, a special relationship with government, and special anti-democratic compliance from councils, universities, research institutions, and other areas they can influence.


The trumpeting of our country as this same rockstar economy can be more accurately described as a con. In reality, our vital social organizations are in big trouble. The constant pressure on hospitals to make still more savings – in spite of the fact that ordinary Kiwis now have to put up with shockingly unrealistic waits for medical treatment –  is a disgrace. It’s an impoverished country which has its people being told there’ll be a three year wait for a reasonably urgent knee replacement; which denies important drugs freely available overseas – even in our neighbour Australia – to cancer and other patients. In every area of social and medical need – whether it is much needed drug rehabilitation clinics, far better facilities and services for those with mental health problems; youth support services – in spite of all the National Party hype, there is evidence of a country perilously close to its knees.

Only recently a wide-eyed Nick Smith tried to tell me that our economy was booming, something we constantly read regurgitated by complacent media. But the government’s rampant, ballooning debt is the legacy of economic failure, not of success E.g.  When Labour left office the ratio of public debt to gdp was 10% and now is 35%.

So what is the legacy – or rather the mess being left to us by the Teflon man? What of the families of the men killed in the Pike River Mine disaster – where nobody was ultimately held accountable for the failure to observe procedures which would have made the mine far safer? Many New Zealanders would agree with the survivor of the disaster who claims that, in his view, the probability is very high that others survived the explosion. What of John Key’s promise to the families that he would “get their boys out”? Has Key’s government made no effort to keep its word to bring out the bodies – because it doesn’t want to – because doing so would show that some were waiting for a rescue which should have been and could have been mounted, according to highly knowledgeable mine experts – but which never took place?

If this mine is now sealed, the infamy will live on. Using Solid Energy as an excuse to not retrieve the bodies doesn’t wash.  It’s time to face what should never have happened – all part of this disgraceful situation. Indeed, if ever anything showed why we need to claim back New Zealand, it is the disgrace of Pike River mine…

 NZers need to fight for our children and grandchildren to become a lot better educated – something the Ministry of Education has long worked indefatigably to see does not happen. We now have two generations (today’s children and their parents) who are far less well educated than their grandparents – far less literate, less well spoken, less historically aware, far less well read… and thoroughly politicised into the so-called liberal thinking of the day.

We will have an uphill battle to claim back this country. But it can be done. And what is the alternative?

 We are being opposed by an education bureaucracy directing our young away from a genuine, quality education into thinking that becoming steeped in technology, and, in the narrowest of scientific specialties, is far from producing well- rounded and learned individuals – which it demonstrably doesn’t.  Moreover, as George Orwell reminded us, if we are not taught to think well, then others will do their thinking for us. And this is just what today’s highly politicised, academically lacking mis-education is all about. For it is controlled by the neo-Marxists who worked to achieve their situations of power within the bureaucracy – to undermine this important institution in order to indoctrinate and cheat our young.

It is utter bunkum to claim, as some columnists have, that under John Key, the country has been a haven of prosperity and stability. On the contrary, we are now facing a time of far greater economic and social, even moral instability than ever in our history.  And much of this can be laid at the feet of the individual who has decided it’s time to bail out, leaving behind a legacy of destructiveness to which he has very much contributed.

The hour is late to work with urgency to claim back our country but it can be done with the help of all of us who care enough.

 Everything in the end depends upon the individual, on each of us.

We need you to help to spread the word. Tell everybody!  

© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available on Kindle, or through and HATM Publishers.

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