Sunday, November 6, 2011

Michael Coote: Liar, liar, pants on fire!

This sort of accusation summed up the initial general election debates between our leading political Pinocchios, prime minister John Key and opposition leader Phil Goff.

Mr Key had indeed been caught out in telling “porKeys” when earlier on he had tried to use the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of New Zealand’s long term sovereign debt to suggest in Parliament that the election of a Labour-led government would lead to further downgrades.

Under questioning in Parliament on October 4, 2011, Mr Key had this to say:

Hon Phil Goff: “Is it correct that New Zealand’s credit rating with those two agencies is now the same as Spain’s—a country that National has constantly derided as being an economy in trouble?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: “I cannot confirm that. It may well be; it sounds logical. But let me quote this from Fitch Ratings: “New Zealand remains well placed amongst the world’s highly-rated sovereign credits, with its creditworthiness supported by moderate public indebtedness, fiscal prudence, and strong public institutions.” But I will say this: when Standard and Poor’s was giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what it did say was that there was about a 30 percent chance that we would be downgraded. That is what happens when one is on a negative outlook. It did go on to say, though, that if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely [our emphasis].”

It turned out that Mr Key’s claims about the Standard and Poor’s view were categorically rejected as untrue by the credit rating agency itself.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the response from Standard and Poor’s to this flagrant porkey was indignant:

“Standard and Poor's sovereign rating analyst Kyran Curry, who attended the meeting in Auckland, said that would not have happened.

"In Auckland last month, I might have talked about the importance of the Government maintaining a strong fiscal position in the medium term but I would never have touched on individual parties.

“‘It is something we just don't do,’ Mr Curry said. ‘We don't rate political parties. We rate Governments.’

“Asked what New Zealand needed to do to have its higher ratings restored, he said it would require a sustained improvement in New Zealand's external position first.”

[New Zealand Herald
source link:]

Challenged by the media over his blatant lie in Parliament, Pinocchio Key dwindled to the completely pathetic:

“Prime Minister John Key sheepishly acknowledged yesterday that he had only second-hand information about what ratings agency Standard & Poor's allegedly said about Labour at a meeting in Auckland.

“And it wasn't what he claimed in Parliament it had said.

“Mr Key claimed in Parliament that Standard & Poor's had said last month that a credit downgrade would be more likely with a change of Government.

“It now transpires that Mr Key was not at the meeting, and that his information came from someone at the meeting whom he knows but will not name.

“Also, when Mr Key released an email yesterday from the unnamed source, it was evident that the claim about a downgrade under Labour was the source's own ‘inference’ taken from the meeting, not a statement made by Standard & Poor's.

“‘There was a key one-liner that I thought you could well use,’ the emailer said in telling Mr Key about the meeting of economists. ‘S&P said that there was a 1/3 chance that NZ would get downgraded and a 2/3 chance it would not, and the inference was clear that it would be the other way round if Labour were in power.’

“Mr Key received that email on September 6, and on September 30 both S&P and Fitch ratings agencies downgraded New Zealand.

“Under questioning from Labour leader Phil Goff in Parliament last week Mr Key said: ‘When Standard & Poor's was giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what it did say was that there was about a 30 per cent chance that we would be downgraded. This is what happens when one is on a negative outlook. It did go on to say, though, that if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely.’

“Mr Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference yesterday that he would not name his source. ‘It wasn't a random comment I made up.’

“He had received the email and telephoned the sender, who said the information he received ‘tallied with what I said in the House’.

“‘The source was telling me what S&P said.’

Mr Key had no way of knowing if that was true because he wasn't at the meeting [our emphasis].

“Asked if during the conversation with his source he had clarified whether the claim was ‘inference’ or had been stated, Mr Key said his source said it had been said.”

[New Zealand Herald
source link:]

Mr Goff has since placed a Parliamentary breach-of-privilege complaint against Mr Key with the politically doomed Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith, but Mr Smith will be anxious to culminate his lengthy and indifferent career at taxpayers’ expense with receipt of a knighthood, and so will most likely do nothing substantial about the offending porKey.

What the Standard and Poor’s email incident reveals about Mr Key’s credit rating porKey is that he is a flippant, shallow thinker who is all tactics and no strategy.

His comments in Parliament were carelessly thrown at the opposition to gain a trivial tactical debating point with no thought given to the consequences of suggesting that Standard & Poor’s was politically biased as to how it would continue to credit rate New Zealand.

Even worse, Mr Key’s grounds for making the false political bias allegation – which brought himself and his government into disrepute – was flimsy hearsay that turned out to be utterly indefensible.

This unedifying display was vintage John Key – shoot from the lip in aiming at short-term tactical advantage and only engage the brain later on when the adverse strategic consequences of what has been said have become all too apparent and the damage is done.

Mr Key has only got away with being all tactics and no strategy because the public and the news media have so far cut him a lot of slack, but that temporary forbearance does not excuse or justify what he does wrong as a leading public figure in our society.

John Key’s all tactics and no strategy #1: Discredit the National-led government with credit rating agencies in an attempt to discredit the Labour Party with voters at the upcoming general election

In the current general election campaign, Labour has managed to remind everyone with its policy of raising the initial entitlement age of New Zealand Superannuation from age 65 to age 67 that Mr Key staked his prime ministership on not changing anything about this increasingly costly welfare benefit.

Back in October 2008, Mr Key reiterated comments he made at the National Party conference in August of the same year:

"National will retain all the superannuation entitlements and eligibility rules that our senior citizens currently enjoy. We will keep this pledge and I will resign as Prime Minister, and as a member of our Parliament, rather than break it.”

[National Party website source link:]

Mr Key’s hubris drips from every word of this statement: he believes himself so essential to the political process in New Zealand that the rest of us supposedly would suffer serious and indeed irreparable loss if he left Parliament – he’s that important, you’ll understand.

What has been largely forgotten is that the context for this foolish New Zealand Super commitment by Mr Key was his insistence that he would not work in government with the New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

According to a National Party press release of 27 August, 2008,

“National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can
provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.

“‘Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs,”[ said Mr Key].

[Scoop source link:]

Thus by promising not to tamper with New Zealand Superannuation, Mr Key was telegraphing to the Grey Power legions that they could afford to ditch loyalty to Mr Peters and safely vote for National.

John Key’s all tactics and no strategy #2: Discredit a future National-led government over long-term fiscal responsibility concerning New Zealand Superannuation and other mounting public sector costs in a rapidly greying society such as increasing public health expenditure in return for opportunistically ousting Winston Peters at the 2008 general election

But it is perhaps in respect of his pandering to the racist Maori Party that Mr Key has become mired in the most faeculent dealings of the Parliamentary wharepaku.

It seems there are no depths to which Mr Key will not descend in order to appease the Maori Party’s racial supremacist occupants of the Maori electorate seats, even if that means discharging loads of excremental porKeys on the heads of the rest of New Zealanders.

We have, for example, the abject disgrace of letting Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples – an ardent Maori supremacist - secretly slink off to New York at taxpayers’ expense in order to sign up our country to the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) back in April 2010.

[UN DRIP text source link: 

DRIP aids Maori supremacists greatly in compensating them for their racial inauthenticity (being as they are Europeans of part-Maori ancestry) and licenses the UN’s foreign agents to interfere unaccountably in our country’s internal affairs at the expense and detriment of all New Zealanders not classified as Maori.

DRIP for this country is the ultimate Maori apartheid charter that fills in all the gaps that part-Maori racial supremacist gravytrainers and tapeworms in the taxpayer’s gut couldn’t leech out of the sorely abused Treaty of Waitangi and pro-Maori laws, policies and regulations that they already enjoy.

Mr Key should have made public well in advance of the sorry fact of signing New Zealand up to DRIP that his government was committed to prostituting the collective heritage of all New Zealanders to the UN and its foreign agents so that there was an opportunity for proper debate on a step so radical and discriminatory against most of our citizens.

But no, instead he chose to obscure the matter until Dr Sharples made it a
fait accompli, and then to tell some self-serving, signature “smile-and-wave” porKeys about it.

This tactical approach was all too apparent in the way Mr Key was recorded as wriggling and twisting under Parliamentary questions on DRIP put to him by Labour’s Phil Goff and Act’s Rodney Hide on April 20, 2010.

For example:

: “I think it is important to understand that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is just that—it is a declaration. It is not a treaty, it is not a covenant, and one does not actually sign up to it. It is an expression of aspiration; it will have no impact on New Zealand law and no impact on the constitutional framework. What is more, the advice we had from Crown Law was that whether or not New Zealand affirmed it, in areas where we do not have law or constitutional arrangements already, the declaration could be imported already, and that people have already tried to do so, so affirming it would have no effect whatsoever.

Hon Phil Goff
: “As the Prime Minister has told this House that he does not sign up to texts unless he intends to implement them, within the text that he signed up to this morning does he intend to implement wholly or partially articles 19, 26, or 32?

: “We did not sign up to anything; we affirmed a declaration that is non-binding and aspirational.

Hon Phil Goff
: “In saying he did not sign up to anything this morning, does that confirm that what he signed up to is totally meaningless?

: “No. The reality is that New Zealand has a very proud record when it comes to indigenous rights, and for New Zealand not to have affirmed the declaration, when Crown Law’s advice was quite clear that this was a non-binding, aspirational goal that would have no impact on New Zealand’s law or New Zealand’s constitution, looked to me to be a bit churlish.

Hon Phil Goff
: “Which of his Ministers was correct this morning: his Minister of Māori Affairs, Pita Sharples, who said this signature came without caveats; or his Minister of Foreign Affairs, who said it came with caveats?

: “Both of them are correct. I would not describe the statement made in reading the affirmation to the declaration as being a caveat, but it clearly spells out that it is a non-binding, aspirational goal that does not supersede New Zealand’s law or New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.”

source link:]

Yet, according to DRIP critic Michael Laws:

“The UN declaration assumes Maori hold an especial and privileged place in New Zealand law. Not in Kiwi society or culture, but at law. It gifts them a path towards self-determination irregardless of the wider constructs of New Zealand society.

“It anticipates, as High Court Judge Eddie Durie notes, that the UN declaration will influence all future law and policy practice. Because it will.

“Key has done his best to paint his government's acceptance of DRIP
as a hollow and empty gesture. A taxpayer-funded jaunt to New York that signifies nothing except the shadow.

“He is 100% wrong. And, I suspect, he knows it. Because this external affiliation will permeate every aspect of public policy-making in the same way the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child currently do.”


John Key’s all tactics and no strategy #3: Sell out New Zealand’s sovereignty to foreign interference by the United Nations in service of Maori legal supremacy over all other New Zealanders in return for Maori Party support of future National-led governments

Worse, Mr Key and his pet praying mantis Christopher Finlayson systematically misled the entire country over the
Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

This New Zealand version of the Nuremberg laws or the South African apartheid system was the means by which the National Party and the Maori Party sealed their meretritious marriage of political convenience.

With an eye to the results of the 2011 and 2014 general elections, these two political parties cynically colluded to loot all New Zealanders of their common ownership through the Crown of the foreshore and seabed out to the twelve nautical mile limit so that greedy and lazy Maori tribes could effortlessly get their hands on its economic benefits.

Mr Key even told an extreme porKey about what was intended regarding confiscation of the foreshore and seabed from public ownership.

According to an NZTA press release of April 1, 2010:

Mr Key said the public domain concept was a pragmatic way to heal a ‘weeping sore’, but if there was not wide support then the current law could remain in place.

“‘The intent here is to put this issue to bed in a satisfactory way to the bulk of New Zealanders. I don't think you are going to get every Maori New Zealander agreeing with this, let's be realistic,’ he said.”

[National Business Review
source link:]

In fact not only did many Maori not agree with the National-Maori Party “final solution” to the foreshore and seabed ownership dispute, but many other New Zealanders didn’t either.

Witness the response of the Coastal Coalition to poll findings in March 2011 that showed only a small minority of Maori actually supported the National-Maori Party “final solution”, leading Coastal Coalition spokesperson Muriel Newman to call Mr Key’s position “delusional and anti-democratic”.

source link:]

Yet despite patent lack of the necessary “wide support”, Messrs Key and Finlayson proceeded to force through their confiscatory
Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

John Key’s all tactics and no strategy #4: Steal from all New Zealanders what they jointly owned through the Crown to buy racist Maori Party government coalition support on the assumption that most people won’t work out for some years to come how they have been gypped to appease ruthlessly exploitative Maori tribal corporate oppressors

The National Party’s current high polling and Mr Key’s strong personal popularity with the broader electorate serve to disguise the dastardly and unprincipled expediency of which he is capable in order to play his Machiavellian power games.

It seems as if Mr Key’s tricky political prestidigitations have not cost him or his party enough to lose the upcoming general election, but eventually most people will see through him as they did another all-tactics-and-no-strategy political mountebank - Winston Peters – and hopefully before the 2014 general election.

Whether it likes it or not, the National Party is going to have to cast about for a credible heir-apparent-in-waiting to its ruling Icarus if it is to hang onto the Treasury benches for more than two successive Parliamentary terms.

Michael Coote is a freelance writer based in Auckland.

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