Susan Ryder goes looking for National round every corner . . .
“Disappointing and unhelpful” was Prime Minister John Key’s reaction to the news that the United States intends to subsidise its dairy industry.
But surely the real surprise is why anyone should be shocked at the USA’s change of direction. President Obama is a socialist, so government interference is what he does best. And in subsidising an arm of the agricultural sector, he is doing exactly what his hero, FDR, did in similar economic circumstances 75 years ago.
If nothing else, Barack Obama is sticking to the red corner. John Key, on the other hand, continues to bounce between all four – red, green, brown and blue, (alright then, bluish) – depending upon the subject. Here’s what he said to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking yesterday on (a) this week’s Budget and (b) special Maori seats for the new Auckland council:
MH: The Budget this week: Are you worried about a downgrade from the (credit-rating) agencies or not?
JK: I’m not, because of the actions that Bill English and the Cabinet have taken. Our two focuses [sic] have been:
- Firstly, we can’t afford to be downgraded. If we do, it adds 1-2% to interest rates to every borrower, homeowner and business. That’s bad news; it would cost Mum and Dad a lot of money and we’re not going to do that. And secondly, it would saddle the next generation of New Zealanders with a lot of debt and that’s unfair as well.
- We’re worried about jobs and making sure we come out of this recession. I think we’ve got the balance nicely ... we’re not breaking any entitlements, you know. Zero per cent loans, they stay; Working for Families, that stays; benefit entitlements, they all stay. But obviously we’ve had to tweak one or two things which, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t do.
Let’s pause to take stock of that. His government is happy to retain all that welfare at the expense of “tweaking one or two things”, i.e., by not delivering promised tax cuts to the very people who fund all that Labour-imposed welfare.
Ding, ding: Round 1 to the red corner! Back to the bout …
MH: The big hikoi today: Do they (Maori) stand a chance of getting any seats at all, or not?
JK: Well, I wouldn’t say no. I mean, I think the hikoi … there’ll be a lot of people who turn out for a variety of reasons. Some will protest because of that. Some will protest because they want a different structure on that second tier of a Super City or more people to be elected from wards and not at large, and some people will just protest for the sake of protest.
MH: But Maori seats: Are you into them or not?
JK: Well, um, I’ve had presentations on the manawhenua seats, you know, and the government is considering those but it’s far too early to tell if we’d change anything at this point. As I say, I think this hikoi is a bit ahead of itself. We haven’t had the select committee process yet, where people can actually present their arguments and those arguments can be tested. So it really would have made more sense for it to be later. I can understand why they’re having it today because of the significance of Bastion Point, but I do think they’re ahead of themselves.
MH: What are their odds, do you think, in percentage terms?
JK: (Quickly) - I’m not going to put odds on it.
Well, no. Because it’s a thorny issue with many people. Because it might involve having to make a decision and sticking with it. No U-turns, no flip-flopping, no back-tracking, but actually taking a principled stand for equality.
But isn’t this an example of what happens when parties with little in common join forces to form a coalition? It would appear that National has learned little from watching Helen Clark’s nine years of manoeuvring around the minefields of juggling New Zealand First, the Alliance, the Greens and Jim Anderton. The Maori party is unashamedly single-minded in its pursuit of preferential treatment for New Zealanders of Maori descent. To give the party credit, it makes no bones about it. John Key’s brown chooks are simply coming home, via the Auckland Harbour Bridge, to roost.
“It’s not about race; it’s about rights!” cried one of today’s protestors. Dead wrong, pal. It is about race. It’s only about race.
You are marching for special race-based treatment, even though all seats are open to anybody to contest. You are marching for division, for separatism, for bloodlines. And in that last respect, you are no different to the masked monsters of the Klan - but then racism always does make for strange bedfellows. Conversely, the true opponent of racism is not concerned with another’s DNA.
Of course, John Key could say that, too. He could say that what matters is what a candidate says and does, as opposed to whom his parents are. That he doesn’t even seem to understand that point has Round 2 going to the brown corner. Unanimously.
* * Susan Ryder writes every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *