Friday, August 19, 2005

Labour Party Political Address

The Labour Party political address started off with feelgood images and mini-speeches by supposedly ordinary New Zealanders about what a great place this is. Michael Campbell also said a short sentence or two but surprisingly he wasn't so prominent.

The camera then switched to Helen speaking to an off-camera interviewer. First she gave a passionate exposition of how great she felt to be a New Zealander before switching to three policy areas: Health, Students and Foreign Reputation. Once she had finished explaining a policy area, the address switched to a mini-advert reinforcing that message.

Helen's mini-speech on health was about the importance of Primary Care, how it will make New Zealanders healthier and all that. All very true but it does leave unanswered of what happens to the existing cases of poor health as measured by hospital waiting lists which is something that Labour hasn't done well in taming. Finally as a concession to the elderly (who will be largely unaffected by improvements in Primary Health Care), specific joint replacement and cataract surgery was mentioned. My overall impression was the package didn't quite mesh and that Helen was promising a few more bandaids. I do feel that the government has recognized that some reforms will have to be made (Michael Cullen said as much around the time of the budget) rather than keep on throwing more money at it. I would have prefered being trusted with specific policy initiatives rather than receiving bland assurances that all is well.

Helen's mini-speech on students was so bland and formulaic that all I saw fit to write in my notes is pointed remarks about the absence of anything about NCEA and Te Wanaga. She did mention the government's record on employment which is a point in their favour but hardly fits in with education.

Finally Helen's mini-speech on foreign imagery pointed out the nuclear free policy and the avoidance of unjust wars (ie Iraq). Due to the feelgood all-is-well nature of the address, she couldn't have laid into National as much as she wanted to. One small quibble was that if Helen was so opposed to Iraq why did she send our engineers to help with the reconstruction effort _before_ the UN passed the appropriate resolution? The mini-add that rounded off this section didn't connect. It was about a young woman sitting in the Berlin U-Bann with many tings about her being pointed as coming from New Zealand. Nary a word about Iraq nor the Nuclear-Free policy.

And that was all that Helen said. What didn't she say? She could have stressed her government's sound financial management and kept a straight face in the process. By not talking about it, she has drawn attention to it.

Having had enough Helen, the Address then spelled out ten reasons to vote Labour.
1. Student Loans
A massive financial bribe from a government that said we couldn't afford tax cuts for another three years and then it would be worth a packet of chewing gum a week for the average family.
2. More Operations
Specifically increased funding for cataracts and joint replacement operations. Given the wonders Steve Maharey has wrought in increasing paperwork, I'm less than optimistic that the funding is capable of being spent.
3. Kiwisaver scheme
A government operated savings account to buy your own home which has a government subsidy so small that you'll be lucky if it paid for the construction crew's smoko on the first day.
4. Rates Relief
Another impressive financial initiative to lighten the load on the camel's back by a single straw.
5. 5000 more apprenticeships
Okay. But I get the feeling that this policy is a sop towards the trade-unionists in the Labour party.
6. 250 more community constables
If they really wanted to create enthusiasm at this point, they would be saying "Sack George Hawkins" which Labour, to their credit, does intend to do. I do have the worry that the proposed increase will be implemented by reclassifying speed cameras and the like as "community policing".
7. Realistic settlement of treaty claims
I had to laugh at this. Labour is planning to impose a time limit on treaty claims and settlements, something which they've previously denounced as racist. But the votes of middle New Zealanders are worth more than the Maoris whom they've pissed off with the Foreshore and Seabed act.
8. 4 weeks minimum leave
They actually promote this on the grounds that it will create more jobs and better pay! The idiots. It's a cost in money and productivity to employers. Most will respond by employing fewer workers whenever possible.
9. Nuclear Free Status
Okayish but in my opinion, it's a pretty much redundant policy as the focus on international security has switched from the Cold War to the War on Terror.
10. Family Tax Relief
Why is this down at number 10? Given the size of it, it ranks far above the kiwisaver and the rates relief in impact. I can only conclude that it was something dreamed up at the last minute.

Finally the address finished off with a heavily airbrushed image of Helen Clark. I know that Helen isn't capable of launching ten ships on her looks alone and I try not to hold it against her. But when I'm confronted again and again by images of her as false as the paintings she signed, it aggravates my doubts about her trustworthiness.