Archive for the ‘government’ Category

So, TVNZ has feverishly reported both that there is a highly unusual emergency meeting being called of the Queen’s staff, and that a representative has told them that “they can safely assume the Queen and Prince Phillip are not dead.” I won’t mock them for reporting that the queen isn’t dead, because it would be irresponsible reporting not to have sought assurance that she wasn’t when reporting about an emergency meeting with an undisclosed purpose.

I am somewhat amused at the generation gap that the New Zealand media still think the Queen is marginally relevant to life in the south pacific. If she dies, we replace her with another figurehead that literally doesn’t do anything important except sign off on the documents when we need to replace a Governor General. It will be sad if she dies, of course, because she is a human being even if I have no real emotional connection to her myself, and it will be newsworthy, because she is a foreign head of state.

But in de facto terms, she is not our head of state, all those functions have been delegated to the Governor General, and they don’t get picked up even during royal visits. In child custody terms, we’ve been all-but-adopted by the Governor General. She is a mere legal fiction to New Zealand, so the appropriate time to cover this sort of story is really when something has actually happened. If she is getting sick or deciding to abdicate powers in favour of her descendents, the only real effect this will have on us under the current arrangement is that we will be obliged to observe some official mourning customs and possibly change the title from “Queen” to “King” on a lot of our official government stuff, and we don’t need to breathlessly preempt that story online simply because of TVNZ has a large audience of baby boomer monarchists. Most of them probably don’t check your website, TVNZ, save it for the 6pm news.

If the meeting is not about a turn in the Queen’s health or a plan to step aside, then it is still timely for New Zealand to consider if we still want to be a monarchy after the Queen dies. A lot of the reason for public support for monarchy is that people like Queen Elizabeth II specifically, rather than the institution of monarchy in general, and there’s a good argument that we should have a plan for what we want to do on her death, even if it’s simply “enact mourning arrangements in the media and with flags, and switch up our letterheads, signs, and coins.”

And if public opinion or the resolve of our leaders is shifting towards republicanism like polls suggested around the time of the flag referendum, (I say shifting towards, not that it has a majority yet) then we need to start the conversation now about what our constitutional arrangements should look like if we really want the transition to a new monarch to be the point at which we become a republic, because rushing into that process half-blind is not a good idea.

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Take a moment, go view this video, specifically but not exclusively the supplementary questions by Jan Logie, (about 5:35) then come back to this post so you have the background you’ll need.

Done? Thanks. The Ministry of Social Development has made an outrageous decision to hold NGO funding hostage to big data collection. The level of data collection they want might not be a problem for certain NGOs, especially were to compromise and allow an opt-in basis, such as say, ones offering immunisations. But prominent organisations like NZAC1 have expressed that handing over the requested data is a breach of confidentiality and in their view unethical, and Rape Crisis have announced they will boycott government funding if they’re made to disclose any additional data. For context, rape crisis centres are constantly struggling to recieve enough community funding to provide the services they need to even with the government’s help, so this should reinforce that they view this mandatory data-sharing as an existential threat.

As someone who has done data analysis in their work, (I did it even though it wasn’t in my job description, in fact) and who even does it in my spare time to settle matters of debate, I absolutely understand the value of this data to the government, especially in targeting their social assistance dollars more effectively. (because money should be prioritised to places where we can prove it’s effective, for sure) I understand the challenges of incomplete data sets. I also understand the challenges of people misinterpreting what data they need to provide. I will even grant that the people in the government who initially requested this data will want it for nothing other than researching what the most effective types of social spending are, and that they fully intend to be ethical caretakers of people’s private information, and to store it securely.

But none of that makes it a good idea to hold hostage NGO funding to big data. Firstly, there is the obvious issue that services involving counselling or survivors of abusive behaviour absolutely, critically need to be able to provide services on a condition of strict confidentially or even complete anonymity in some cases in order to be able to help people in our society that need it the most.

Not only is it tying the hands of counsellours or volunteers to require them to explain that clients’ data is confidential and private even though it will be provided to MSD, (in addition to being flat out inaccurate- the strict interpretation of confidentiality held to by most such services requires that records be only held in one place, be secured using physical lock-and-key for paper records and encryption for digital ones, and not be shared with anyone else outside of anonymous use in ethical review or in the event that a client is a risk to their own or someone else’s safety) people who have been raped will have difficulty filling out a form identifying themselves when they’re seeking help because they may not be ready to admit what they experienced is real, and writing something down can “make it real.” Jan Logie’s example of men who won’t even give their names is not only accurate but typical of many people seeking support, and not just men. Anyone who accepts this contract is going to be committing to turning away people unable to accept anything less than the strictest confidentiality, or worse, they’re going to entrap themselves into breaching the contract in order to help people.

What adds insult upon insult to this issue, (we’re well past the initial injury if these contracts aren’t amended for services that require confidentiality) is that the government has an expert panel2 helping guide its data strategy that has recommended against precisely this type of mandatory collection in their report3, calling for at least an easily accessible opt-out procedure for all big data collection by Government agencies, so even the proponents of big data don’t want the government to take this approach. Literally the best defense that can be made is that the government is legally allowed to insist that its data collection is more important than anonymity.

If the government wants more data from these services, the most they should reasonably do is require that clients be allowed to opt in to data collection if they’re comfortable with the idea. This allows those receptive to provide a limited data set for analysis, or to ask the questions the government are so keen for their NGO partners to explain, and those not amenable to the idea to dismiss it and still access life-saving services that most likely are incredibly effective uses of funding. If the government can concede that paid leave to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence is effective, they can certainly concede that funding services like Rape Crisis shouldn’t be contingent on mandatory data sharing.

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…a national budget.

It’s a frequent meme of right-wing economics1 that the reason we must cut costs for social services is because we must treat our national finances like our household finances, and Responsibly Pay Off our debts.

This is of course complete garbage. Not only is the specific analogy flawed, really, the only thing the two concepts even hold in common is that they’re both budgets.

Let’s try the metaphor in reverse to see how well it works. Say I treated my household’s budget like a national budget. I live with three other people, and none of us have joint finances. Firstly, if I could act like this were a national budget, I would be visiting the neighbours and using my good credit record to borrow a bunch of money, and there’d be nothing other than the pressure from my neighbours to compel me to ever pay it back, and not only that, if I borrowed enough cash from them, (a commonplace occurrence in national budgets) I would have a sort of perverse control over them where they could be bullied into doing things that are in my best interests even though they don’t want to, like say, letting me put some sort of experimental composting system in their backyard.

And of course, if my household budget were like a national budget, I would be under no compulsion to spend money on what it’s actually intended for- the US is most famous for this trick, robbing its social security fund to pay for deficit spending and then turning around to complain that the fund doesn’t have the cash it needs to actually pay people benefits they’ve earned, because they’ve stuffed the piggybank full of IOUs. That would be like me taking all the power money my flatmates pool with me and blowing it on smashed avocado toast or 26 lattes a day, and whatever else millenials are supposed to spend money on irresponsibly.

So, you’re beginning to see some of the holes, right?

The other interesting thing is that ironically, national debts are actually a lot more like the notion of a “gift economy” than they are like the notion of modern consumer debt that you’re chased down if you can’t pay back. In a gift economy, it’s difficult to truly quantify how much a favour is worth, because nobody uses currency. So you and your neighbours keep doing each other favours backwards and forwards, and often nobody’s sure of who’s ahead and behind, but suddenly everyone’s success is tied together and you’ve formed a community. In foreign relations, some deals work a lot like the gift economy. This isn’t exactly the case with sovereign debt, but there is the similar effect I described earlier, where a foreign nation who has bought up a lot of your debt can become a de-facto economic ally because they are dependent on your ability to service that debt. China currently has that type of relationship to the USA.

Now, is it important to pay off our debts? Yes and no. It’s important that internationally, everyone try to even out their budgets so they’re not heavily in debt and they’re not heavily in surplus, both of which create inefficiencies and inequalities in our increasingly interconnected financial system. (Keynes proposed a system to solve a problem similar to this with the balance of trade, called the International Clearing Union, and it’s kinda surprising the concept was never extended to national debt and sovereign wealth)

But it actually doesn’t precisely matter if we go into deficit or debt from time to time, so long as we have sound fiscal management that can get us out of debt from time to time, and no government gets us into so much debt that the interest payments become burdensome. In fact, completely counter-intuitively, it’s actually good for the economy during a recession for the government to be running a deficit, if it’s doing so to buy a lot of goods or services from its own economy, or to directly employ a lot of people who didn’t have jobs. Why? Because sometimes the economy slows down too much due to events in the private sector. During those times, the best thing the government can do is actually step in to employ people, to pay their expenses while they re-train, or to contract a lot of goods it might need later. These programs are very effecient during a recession, because the money is highly likely to be recirculated multiple times, heating the economy back up from a cold start.

In contrast, when the economy is already doing well, it makes a lot of sense to start being efficient with government spending, to cut back on programs that may be wasteful or no longer needed, and to reign in the stimulus to the economy of government spending, and to use that freed-up tax revenue to pay down debt, or even put a little sovereign wealth aside for a rainy day in the future. Why? Because often you can overheat the economy, causing it to sell goods or services that aren’t really needed, and to cause a huge over-correction when the realisation hits the market that all the economic activity was overvalued. (like the dotcom crash when people thought practically any website would be raking in money hand over fist… until actually they discovered they weren’t) By pulling on the reigns, the government can often prolong a period of growth, and save on a lot of inefficiencies in constantly expanding and closing businesses that is caused when the economy frequently goes into boom and into recession. There’s more to cover on this, but it belongs in the notes2.

Household budgets have no similar social incentive to go into debt or to make savings at any particular time based on market conditions. It’s all about what provides the most utility for the household. (ie. do we invest in a car so we can move items and people around more efficiently, or do we save that money to maybe afford a property for our grandkids assuming we can save at more than the inflation rate of house prices?)

Like people who complain about things being a “slap in the face” deserve at least one face-slap to provide comparative context of why their statement is wrong, people who claim a national budget is like a household budget should really try to modulate the speed of the economy by going into debt during a recession and see how that bloody works out for them.

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Tax the wealthy

Posted: January 19, 2017 in government, New Zealand, poverty
Tags: , ,

Idiot/Savant over at NRT has recently supported re-instituting wealth taxes, specifically in response to news about Oxfam’s wealth research, that there is vast wealth inequality in New Zealand. (which ironically, is not actually news- this trend to greater wealth inequality is a long-standing problem, even if it’s not yet as bad here as it is in say, the US, which is a virtual oligarchy for the wealthy)

Steven Joyce is frankly completely in error if he thinks nobody resents this level of inequality. It’s not appropriate, and there needs to be better measures in place to lift up the rest of society if we’re going to continue maintaining our pseudo-capitalist neoliberal/social democratic hybrid society,1 and some of that can be reasonably paid for with wealth taxes.

Some of this issue is down to corporate tax dodging, sure. But it’s worth looking at taxes on individual wealth too, as taxes on individual wealth are supposed to be high enough that the wealthy (which I generally define as people who rely on wealth for a significant portion of their income) are actually incentivised to invest money they don’t intend to actively spend soon in companies, so that it’s being productive for ordinary people.

I/S is quite correct that land taxes2 would be one desirable type of wealth tax we should consider, especially if some of that money is redirected into funding social housing, subsidising services for renters or even directly subsidising affordable rental properties, so as to offset likely increases in market rents from such a tax. This would have the effect of gradually pushing the least profitable (and hopefully therefore some of the worst) landlords out of the market, discouraging land banking, discouraging “housing investments” that aren’t lived in, and adding further incentive to have rentals occupied beyond offsetting maintenance, rates, and the opportunity cost of housing investments. Arguably people pay a “land tax” in the form of rates, but that’s more a building-value-based costing of local service provision than it is an actual wealth tax, although of course there will certainly be landlords that argue that paying rates on an empty property already incentives them to keep it full.That said, this isn’t exactly a radical idea. In fact, John Key was reportedly even mulling over the idea early last year.

Another thing worth considering is that there’s no inheritance tax in New Zealand. Why not? If you’ve got a large enough collection of property to actually merit the name of an “estate,” (ie. well over a million dollars worth) maybe your heir(s) should pay some tax on it if they want to collect, or forfeit part of it to the state if they don’t pay. That’s not unreasonable. And the law can be designed to allow reasonable exemptions for family farms that might trigger such a tax due to large land areas so that farms don’t have to be sold or part-sold to large or overseas commercial interests when their owners pass, so long as those farms remain closely-held family enterprises for a reasonable period of time.

Capital gains taxes and financial transaction taxes also fall into this area, although if we were to institute other wealth taxes, we might not need a CGT.

Wealth is almost3 completely untaxed in New Zealand, and that’s not actually right. If we have to put up with GST that unfairly overtaxes the poor, and PAYE that targets labour for tax, the wealthy can at least pay a Capital Gains Tax, if not several more different types of taxes because they can afford it. If they want to pull an Atlas Shrugged and all go off and live in tax havens, fine by me, we can just nationalise any assets they own here in retaliation if it ever becomes a legitimate problem4.

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So I remarked yesterday on a couple weird things going on in Labour’s reshuffle. This has been completely blown out of the water by National’s hilarious reshuffle announcement this afternoon. For those wanting a comparable diagram to Labour’s, you need to go to twitter for it. (actually, I’m sure it will be available elsewhere, but having found it on twitter already there is no way I am wading through publicity pieces on the Nats’ website to check. I did confirm that neither Scoop nor the major digital media players were bothering to post it, however)

Worth noting is the announcement that Parata is retaining education until May 1, at which point she will retire to the back benches. As this implies a plan to continue sittings of parliament at least into May, this likely rules out an early election, and puts the election timing anywhere between 1st July and 18th November 2017. This also implicitly rules in a by-election in Mount Albert, which the government had been hinting at anyway. Given the relatively low stakes in a final by-election for this term, Labour should consider sticking purely for people power for this one to preserve their campaign warchest for the General Election. It will be a good test, either for Jacinda, or whoever she ends up competing with for selection.

Highlights of the new cabinet:

  • Wanting to one-up Michael Woods as Ethnic Communities spokesperson, Judith Collins is now the Minister for Ethnic Communities. Not only is it a white person, it’s also Judith Collins, perhaps the most odious (in both senses of the word) conservative in National’s lineup. This is a ministerial position practically designed for a liberal, so Collins makes no sense in any way shape or form in this role in terms of competencies or political philosophy, although as you’ll see one point down, it actually makes a certain amount of sense in terms of internal National Party politics, as Bill is essentially trying to undermine Collins with her own base by putting her in the position of either acting like a liberal to succeed, or acting like a conservative and failing at her portfolio. Bill’s approach to Collins is a lot less conciliatory than Key’s was thus far, immediately demoting her after ascending to the leadership, and I’m not certain whether that’s a good strategy for him- it probably depends on whether Joyce can credibly step in and take over the more conservative wing of the party now that he is #3. Collins also has Revenue and Energy, which are actually both important portfolios, but are usually awarded to people who need to be seen as important but aren’t actually valued in government. On the plus side, with Collins in charge of IRD, perhaps she’ll crush some corporate tax dodgers instead of cars. Yeah right. =/
  • The Deputy PM is now minister for Women. (which, honestly, is an appropriate importance to place on the portfolio that literally impacts just over half the population- it should ideally be someone within the inner circle holding that role at the least) She also picks up Key’s Tourism portfolio and grabs Police off Collins. Other than Police, this all makes sense to me in terms of her position as deputy and her strengths as National’s top liberal, but I expect the reason Police is thrown into the mix is that the portfolio is red meat to National’s base and giving it to the Deputy makes it seem like they’re a Law and Order party, and also pinches credit for that particular fact away from the most conservative member. It probably doesn’t signal much of a change in approach on the issues, however. So we’re taking a bit of a turn to a more conservative direction under English, for sure. As usual, I expect a lot of playing defense and publicity and very little substantively achieved under Bennet’s leadership of these ministries that actually owes anything to Bennet.
  • As expected, we get the pleasure of seeing Joyce vs Robertson for future Finance debates. Urgh.
  • The would-be deputy Simon Bridges is essentially moved up into #5 position, making him effectively Ardern’s opposite, which is highly appropriate as they’re both essentially deputies-in-training now. It’s almost uncanny in fact, as they’re both over-ranked for their competence, although Ardern to a lesser degree than Bridges, as she at least is suited to her portfolios, if not her numerical position in the Shadow Cabinet. Bridges has yet to give an acceptable answer to a question in Parliament, although I think to be frank that is seen as a qualifying factor in National’s lineup. There are subtle echoes here of Clare Curran’s entrance into Shadow Cabinet, as this is another promotion that makes no sense when evaluating Bridges’ actual competence as a Minister. Unlike Curran, however, the explanation is readily apparent: Bridges has networks and sway with a lot of backbenchers, and his promotion into the informal inner circle of the “kitchen cabinet” will satisfy them that their concerns are being listened to, and like Nash, his promotion is to mollify his ambitions .
  • Amy Adams is moved into the #6 position, taking up portfolios that basically make her the new Paula Bennet, however this puts her in the same cabinet ranking as Chris Hipkins would occupy if the government changes in 2017. (Assuming, that is, any Green members inside cabinet are unranked or at least ranked separately to Labour ones) This is a sensible promotion and I think Adams deserves a chance to succeed in her social and justice portfolios, not that I’m going to be any less cynical about the likelihood of the government doing good work in those areas.
  • Nick Smith isn’t demoted. There are significant calls for this, but honestly he is probably doing more than you would normally expect a housing minister under National to do. Although the situation is unacceptable, National have largely managed to stall it getting much worse, so they’ve actually done “better” on housing than the previous Labour government, which actually did cause the problem, but it was one they did need to cause to solve the economic problems they were dealing with at the time, so it’s not really much a of a dodge for National to blame this problem on Labour- they’ve had eight long years to solve it, and all they’ve managed to do is arrest the growth of the crisis. There’s certainly an argument that housing needs to be moved away from Nick Smith, but to be honest I don’t see any better outcomes under National if someone else is put in charge. Whether you like his priorities or not, at least within them, Nick Smith is quite competent. And he certainly shouldn’t lose his other portfolios, because good luck finding anyone else who actually cares about the environment to any degree in the National Party caucus.
  • No new portfolios for Nikki Kaye yet. I expect this is related more to her health than anything else, and we’ll see her pick up something significant when Parata resigns from cabinet in May, either Education itself, or by having something traded to her from whoever gets Education. It’s even quite possible she’ll be traded some of the other portfolios lying around once she’s back in politics full-time.
  • Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith are both promoted into cabinets. I don’t really have much to say about Louise yet, so she gets the benefit of the doubt. Paul Goldsmith inside cabinet is the real Clare Curran of this bunch, a backbencher who deserves to stay a backbencher and is definitive proof that the government has run out of qualified ministerial candidates. This is literally the guy they put up to lose against David Seymour, who went around taking down signs for himself so he wouldn’t win. That is not the stuff ministers are made of.
  • A bunch of new people have become ministers too but none of them are exactly names you’d know easily even if you watch Parliament TV or In The House. We’ll wait and see whether they’re good, mediocre, or terrible.

Unlike Labour, however, National doesn’t have the excuse of a shallow caucus to draw from. They have 59 seats in Parliament at the moment, all but an outright majority, which should mean selecting the right minister for the right role is easy, so any failures here are down to either Bill English failing to square the circle of assigning ministers to the right positions without upsetting caucus or members, or, more likely, to whoever actually selected candidates for and/or ordered National’s Party Vote list. (because they definitely don’t vote on it!)

While National have generally done okay at seeing off ministers whose used-by has been reached, (with a few notable exceptions) this definitely doesn’t look like a cabinet of winners. The political jeering that the leadership is now the “B-team” is looking to extend to a lot of the winners in this reshuffle as well, so I’ll be surprised if English enjoys anywhere near the media honeymoon or the polling strengths that accompanied Key given the announcements so far.

The legislation to set up the new successor ministry to CYFS, Oranga Tamariki1 had its first reading in Parliament today, (assuming I finish this post on time) and there are a number of interesting things going on with it that bear discussion.

First, a quick disclaimer: There is a Treaty of Waitangi issue around Oranga Tamariki led by the president of the Māori Women’s Welfare League. I have some familial ties to the league2 and have given them some of my time and experience in the past, and although I don’t speak for them in any way, I’m not necessarily an entirely neutral party in that particular issue, so I won’t talk about it much. Louisa Wall, whose partner is said president of the League, also seems to deliberately not be talking about the case and instead leaving that to her Green and Labour colleagues, which seems like a wise separation to make as an MP.

I will say, however, that the government under the Treaty is supposed to do good-faith and substantial consultation with Māori around issues with significant effect on Māori. As Māori children are something like 60%+ of “clients” for CYFS, Māori are essentially the key stakeholder in the new Oranga Tamariki ministry, and have every right to expect substantial consultation, including input on the structure and key points of the new legislation. That is literally a constitutional requirement on the government, and there is an argument that although the structure of the bill has been presented to Māori, no significant changes incorporating feedback were made. Anne Tolley has committed to further consultation with the League in the new year, so hopefully she will take on board and largely address their issues and there will be no need for the dispute to continue.

Like most good (for spectators) bill debates, all of Parliament agrees on what the goals of the bill, broadly, should be, and that a law change is necessary. Evidence suggests that CYFS interventions, on average, are not guaranteed to be safer than the previous situations children found themselves in, which basically means they are, while well-intentioned by all involved, a very expensive and traumatic public relations exercise.

Greater emphasis is being placed on the wishes of children and outcomes for them in this new legislation, which is good, although arguably other legislation around government services also needs to be amended as well to make this a whole-of-government culture change, rather than a rotation of the guard from CYFS to Oranga Tamariki.

The two issues in contention are whether it’s acceptable to remove a clause from the old legislation that allows for extended relatives or community to have priority as caregivers over other people registered with the Ministry. Because extended family holds a special place in Māori (and Polynesian) society, this is basically removing a legislative guarantee that children should be placed within their own community or culture when possible. Basically, the government and New Zealand First think that should be taken into account but not guaranteed by law, and the opposition and the Māori Party think it should, but possibly as a tertiary priority behind the child’s safety and their preferred living situation. I think given the stipulation that it’s actually a lower-tier priority, it wouldn’t hurt to enshrine that principle in full law rather than simply in department policy, as I can definitely tell you that laws get treated far more seriously than policies in the government sector.

The other was a rather odd dig at the Youth Court by Darroch Ball3, who doesn’t ever want 17 year-olds sent to it. (the legislation allows for non-serious offenses by 17 year-olds to go to the Youth Court) Mr. Ball looks at the proportion of offenders who had previously been through the youth court. That’s a terrible way to measure whether the Youth Court is effective. The correct measure of whether the youth court is effective is actually looking at the effectiveness of young people sent to the youth court vs slightly older young people tried as adults. (I have not yet done that, but then again, neither has Mr. Ball, so I will defer to social scientists on that matter, who I imagine are generally in favour of youth courts, if not necessarily of how they’re implemented in New Zealand) Now, there is a reasonable argument that it’s worth giving additional teeth to the youth justice system for when offenders need a more serious punishment. As to views of police on the justice system, frankly, I don’t expect to get a neutral point of view from the police, they’re almost always in favour of harsher punishments, more convictions, and more legal powers. You don’t even need to ask the police to know their (collective) opinion on something, and that sort of rhetoric is just tough-on-crime nonsense that doesn’t help anybody and is purely there to be red meat to social conservatives.

Lastly, there were some amusing parliamentary hijinks around National opting to only brief Labour about the legislation rather than including the Greens and New Zealand first, too. According to Carmel Sepuloni, Labour was not involved and was under the impression that it was a whole-of-opposition briefing until they turned up. Whoops, National!

Overall, this is an important bill that the government needs to get right, and it’s not really doing its job well enough yet.

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So Judith Collins was on the radio this morning, using the only political strategy in her toolbox for defense, which is of course to attack back.

I mentioned briefly in a footnote that in a couple of moments of extreme hubris, pre-Trump, I had expressed the view that I could only wish that the National Party would make Ms. Collins leader/Prime Minister, as it would practically guarantee their loss. Post-Trump we should probably be very careful about such sentiments, even if Collins is lacking a couple of the key ingredients to Trump’s success. (namely, she’s had a long career as a politician and sounds like a politician, and she doesn’t speak the language of economic populism)

While I will now promise to shut up about Dirty Politics if she becomes PM, I think it’s arguably worth throwing the kitchen sink at her during this week-long selection by the National Party, just so that all the relevant attacks against her are written down. I promise I won’t deep-dive into issues that are old, even if they are being a little resurrected by the media today. If you want the details, you should really buy Hager’s book. He is a serious journalist and doesn’t post things that aren’t backed up by facts, regardless of what the National Party tries to say.

So, what’s wrong with Collins?

  • She doesn’t seem to understand compromise. Her relevant modes are full attack and say nothing. There is no evidence that she can behave like a stateswoman, and she has never conceded to a mistake in her entire political career. She says she’s willing to work with Peters as PM, but doing so would actually require ceding some ground to him, and she’s shown no evidence that such negotiations are in her wheelhouse.
  • She would be Prime Minister of the National Party, not of New Zealand. There is no evidence she is interested in growing her constituency.
  • She is a bully, maintained an enemies list, and it seems likely that as PM she would be a hostile manager at best.
  • She incorrectly claims to have been cleared of the Oravida scandal in the Chisholm Report. That report was a narrow investigation into whether she undermined the head of the Serious Fraud Office, and essentially just an excuse to stand her down to limit National’s exposure to Hager’s criticisms. She was not cleared by any independent inquiry over her conflict of interest, in fact objectively she failed to meet ministerial standards of ethical behaviour so I’m not sure how she could have been cleared even if such an investigation were to have taken place. If you’re not capable of behaving to the ethical standard required of a minister, you shouldn’t even be considered for PM.
  • She has admitted that she still maintains contact with Cameron Slater, which ought to be a black mark against any potential PM. (Not that this makes her any worse than Key, who also colluded with his attack politics)
  • Unlike the other candidates, she doesn’t even seem capable of pretending to empathy. National has always had an empathy deficit in policy, and has needed its leader to be perceived as a compassionate conservative who can ensure that government cares about the ordinary voter. Collins doesn’t do nice.
  • She can’t name a single MP who will publicly support her. Acts like she is protecting their privacy instead. If she doesn’t even have Joyce on her side, she’s done for.
  • Collins is basically Dolores Umbridge after the nice facade has fallen. (in fact, there are some pretty decent memes out there pointing out the visual similarity, too)

Overall, there’s much to hate. Don’t support Collins, not even ironically. The men in the race right now are opportunity enough for the opposition to become the government, we don’t need to expose the country to almost a year of Judith Collins, PM.