Monday, June 3, 2013

Karl du Fresne: Who's Norman trying to kid?

Russel Norman’s speech to the annual conference of the Greens, in which he compared John Key with Robert Muldoon, rated a 10 for desperation and a zero for credibility. I’m no cheerleader for Key, but even to mention him in the same breath as Muldoon is laughable. Norman arrived in New Zealand from Australia in 1997, and on the basis of his speech I would guess that’s about as far back as his knowledge of our political history extends.
None of the prime ministers we’ve had since Muldoon could be compared with him, for which we should be grateful. He was a vindictive bully who cleverly exploited the politics of fear and division, and never more so than during the 1981 Springbok tour.
In fact I would suggest that in terms of personality, Key is the least like Muldoon. Anyone old enough to remember the political unpleasantness of the late 1970s and early 80s – which probably excludes a lot of Green voters – would have reacted with astonishment to Norman’s bizarre attempt to compare the two men.
Muldoon's default facial expression was a snarl. Key's is a grin (or if you want to be harsh, a smirk).
Arguably, the politician who most closely resembles Muldoon, and who served his apprenticeship under him, is Winston Peters. Like Muldoon, Peters has a penchant for demagoguery. But even the New Zealand First leader falls far short of Muldoon’s menacing intolerance of dissent, though it might have been a different story had he ever won power.
There are only two possible explanations for Norman’s attack on Key. The first is that, as postulated above, he knows nothing about our modern political history (not that that stops him from promoting himself as a credible alternative leader). The second, which is even more worrying, is that he knows the comparison between Key and Muldoon is absurd but ran with it anyway. Perhaps he senses the Greens’ momentum is slipping and is prepared to resort to extreme measures to get some traction.
Whichever way you look at it, the speech will have done nothing to enhance his credibility, other than in the eyes of the terminally gullible idealists who make up the Greens’ core constituency.

Karl blogs at


Dave Hill said...

'Who's Norman trying to kid' unfortunately the 10 to 15% of the mostly niave young or tree hugging dope smoking old hippys who are either uneducated or really believe that by supporting the Greens they will save the Earth.
Muldoon may have somewhat lost it during his later years but remember his now much criticized 'Think Big' projects resulted in NZ today having a oil refinery, steel mill, natural gas and hydro schemes like Clyde. Not all were successful but Muldoons vision was to not have us totally dependent on overseas imports. Without those developments NZ today would not have those resources, jobs or expertise.
Name one big project initiated by either National or Labor since

Peter Farley said...

Dave Hill's views on those projects totally overlooks that the huge cost was all financed by overseas borrowing. The subsequent earnings will pay only a small part of the costs incurred. The majority of the cost is an irretrievable loss to the country.

Anonymous said...

Any one proposing to print $2billion to save our export industry is a looney.
The Greens seem to live in lal la land despite the fact that some of their ideas have some merit.
Trouble is, their grasp of reality in an overarching context is seriously lacking.
Comparison of Muldoon and Key follows that theme

5th generation Kiwi said...

Its , estimated the Think Big projects cost around 7 billion, today they return about 3.65 billion in economic benefit to NZ every year.
We have saved billions from not having to import all our fuel, gas, etc, and our economy is strengthened by the exports generated.
That does not also take into account the trades training and taxes generated by a high paid work force.