Whaleoil has dragged my attention to this weekend's National Party conference and I confess to some quiet amusement at his antics. There will be a few raw nerves ready for the touching today. What it's all over, I am not quite sure but in-party politics is a very real and very dirty game.
But more generally it seems timely to reflect on what National has done since taking office;
Key promised the country he would not raise the qualification age for Super. Stupid mistake. Life expectancies have grown enormously yet the pension is universally available at the same age as it was in 1898.
Working age welfare. The Future Focus bill will make minor changes about work-testing DPB parents when their youngest is 6 and some people on the Sickness benefit. The first completely avoids the real problem. The long-term dependency of young mothers who enter the system as teenagers, predominantly Maori. The unemployed will have to reapply for the dole after 1 year but over 80 percent never reach one year and they should be monitored so closely a reapplication process should be redundant anyway.
Kept Working for Families which they railed loudly against in opposition.
Fell into subsidising jobs for the young. Never works long term.
Kept quiet about the large increase in student allowances as people went into study instead of jobs thereby transferring from the dole onto another benefit.
Pretty much status quo but have reined in spending with mixed success. Reducing home services to the elderly was fraught. Home services keep people out of homes where they will need even more subsidised care. And these cuts are high profile and stir up a lot of public sympathy. Tony Ryall has probably done the best out of all Ministers.
National standards have been highly controversial. Yes, 20 percent of children are failing. So target those children. Not successful schools. Waste of time, energy and money. Seem driven by the right's hatred of teacher unions.
Kept student interest-free loans which they railed against loudly in opposition.
LAW AND ORDER
Trying to turn NZ into a 'soft' police state by increasing police discretion. Non reversal of the very unpopular anti smacking legislation. Introduction of on-the-spot DV orders, requiring DNA swabs from non-convicted people, three strikes which encompasses non-violent crimes, patch bans, looming alcohol clampdowns, upping war on P, stupid comments about the economic benefits of building prisons, car crushing, etc.
ETS - which they railed against loudly in opposition. This will be a very hard to handle election issue next year. Alienates their usual rural rock-solid voting base. Could lead to the formation of a new farmer's party which could have the effect on National that the Maori Party had on Labour. Stupidest action since in government.
Mining. If they actually get on and do it, one of my few ticks. But picking 'scared' places like Great Barrier was stupid and risks turning the public off the whole idea.
Small tax improvements soon to be cancelled by rise in GST.
So just a once over lightly but I think I have covered most of the things that the non-political joe-average notices.
God knows why they are riding so high in the who-would-you-vote-for-tomorrow polls. As always, I would love to know how many people would join me in the 'don't know ' group.
Sir Les Patterson 1981
13 minutes ago