The Good, the Bad, and the even Worse.
What this Coalition Agreement means for Aotearoa.
Yesterday the trio that will lead our country unveiled their vision for New Zealand.
Seymour looking surprisingly statesmanlike, refusing to rise to barbs about his previous comments on Winston Peters. Almost as if they had just been slapstick for the crowd.
Winston was mostly focussed on settling scores with the media, making poorly worded threats and accusations, that only he seemed to find amusing.
Luxon tried to appear like a leader in control, but looked more like a meeting coordinator that wasn’t doing very well at keeping people, especially Winston, in line.
There were forced smiles and hollow endorsements of each other that will be lost in short order no doubt. Meanwhile the rest of us started to comprehend the full scale of what we were facing.
Some of it was not a surprise, we knew it was coming, but the cold hard reality of the words being spoken made it sound worse. More than that though there were things that went even beyond what we were anticipating.
Someone commented under a post of my last newsletter “Literally crying in my car and trying to stop before I go home to my kids. It is disgusting that greed and hatred have won the day. It’s all so wrong”.
I felt like that too yesterday. A great sadness that progress which has been years, even decades, in the making, is to be rolled backwards. I felt sick thinking of all those who had worked hard for progressive advances only to see them swept away by the pens of these three grinning politicians, so pleased with themselves signing away those endeavours for a better, kinder, and fairer Aotearoa.
Before we carry on, let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad of the agreement.
It wasn’t a surprise, in fact it would have been a shock if it hadn’t happened. But having NZF rule out National’s plan to fund tax cuts by opening our property market back up to overseas investors was good news.
A small win for those concerned at how much house prices would have risen had the policy proceeded. Needless to say it will come as a disappointment to some who might have been counting on increased, tax free, capital gains. So a win/win really.
Another traditional NZF policy was retaining superannuation eligibility at 65. In a time of advancing technology and AI it was nonsense to suggest we needed to keep those over 65 working, if they didn’t want to.
NZF have also gained a $1.2b slush fund for provincial development. Which is great if you live in an electorate they are targeting, but not much good for anyone else.
NZF secured an inquiry into banking competition, focused on competitiveness, customer services, and profitability. They also got agreement to explore options to strengthen the Grocery Commissioner and address the lack of a third entrant.
National’s proposal of removing two farming regulations for every new one introduced has been abandoned.
To be fair some measures were just a bit odd, and not really expected:
But other items confirmed the anticipated austerity, and disregard for the planet:
Public Service funding will be slashed, with large scale redundancies to achieve cost savings for tax cuts, and a focus on 2017 staffing levels.
Accelerate the restoration of interest deductibility for landlords, putting more money into their pockets which won’t be passed on to tenants in rent reductions.
As above, firearms laws will be reviewed. Read softened.
Creating a whole new Ministry of Regulations, to cut red tape.
Repeal the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act 2022 to remove the requirements for denicotinisation and the reduction in retail outlets.
State schools will be able to become for-profit charter schools.
Immediately stop work on Three Waters, Auckland Light Rail, and Let’s Get Wellington Moving.
Restore balance to the Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories curriculum. In other words roll it back to the colonial version previously taught, fostering ignorance of our past.
The previous commitment for a new medical school in Hamilton will be replaced with a full beneﬁt analysis to be presented before any agreement is made.
Repeal the clean car discount.
The re-introduction of the Three Strikes law that can have quite unintended consequences, while not actually reducing crime.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater will be replaced, and work on the new Significant Natural Areas will be ceased.
Reverse the recent ban on live animal exports.
Amend the Education and Training Act 2020 such that tertiary education providers receiving taxpayer funding must commit to a free speech policy. Or in other words, ACT are ensuring that hate speech is welcome at a University campus near you.
Allow landlords to issue a 90 day notice to a tenant to end a periodic tenancy without providing a reason or applying to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Fair Pay Agreements and Labour’s replacements for the RMA will be repealed by Christmas. New resource management laws will be “premised on the enjoyment of property rights as a guiding principle”.
The ban on offshore oil and gas exploration to be repealed.
Here’s a sample of how politicians across the spectrum responded to the agreement:
Fellow leftie Gerard Otto asked how folks were feeling, this was his moot:
“Today's attacks on workers, Māoridom, the poor, our health ( anti smokefree ), gun laws, the environment and Climate Action are a recipe for going backwards. Are we getting back on track by going backwards or is going backwards - the wrong direction?”
To which I replied:
“We've been going along with solid forward progress and they've slammed it into reverse. The wheels fallen off, the passengers whiplashed, and gee it's going to be hard getting that gearbox going again.
An utterly monstrous government hidden behind idiotic smiles and fake handshakes. I feel absolutely furious at what these heartless bastards want to do to our beautiful country and the pricks that have enabled them to do it.
A retreat into hatred, ignorance, smarminess, and greed. To be honest I'm not sure how much longer I can keep up this facade of wishing them well.”
There will be other days for fairness, yesterday was sure as hell not one of them. It was an announcement of rewarding the haves, and giving the have-nots the kicking their supporters no doubt believe is deserved.
Many people were feeling similarly, Tracey replied to my comment:
“You’ve done well so far Nick and I’ve tried to emulate your cautious, mature acceptance - but I really can’t.
I know the contrast is not as hideous as between Obama and Trump but it feels like that. We were moving towards once more being a country that the rest of the world could look to as an example of a what can be achieved in terms of addressing the harms of colonisation, embracing our bi-cultural heritage, celebrating indigeneity and diversity, and protecting and honouring our environment.
My mum used to say when we had not lived up to our family’s values - ‘Well- I hope you’re proud of yourselves’… I’m just aghast and pretty despondent.”
Tracey’s words really resonated with me.
I thought of my own family’s values, of their friends, of people now old, or those gone. What it would mean to them and I cried thinking of their faces and how they would have responded to the unwinding of so much this country has achieved in becoming a fairer place for all people.
The all out attack on Māori initiatives in this agreement was like a declaration of war. One in which small minded hatred and ignorance was winning.
The Even Worse.
Disestablish the Māori Health Authority.
Examine the Māori and Paciﬁc Admission Scheme (MAPAS) and Otago equivalent to determine if they are delivering desired outcomes.
Remove co-governance from the delivery of public services.
Restore the right to local referendum on the establishment or ongoing use of Māori wards, including requiring a referendum on any wards established without referendum at the next local body elections.
Act gets support to select committee stage of a bill setting out the principles of the Treaty
Christopher Luxon did not rule out a referendum on the treaty as many of us had hoped he would show the courage to do. It is very much not in the interests of this country to have the ugly sort of debate on indigenous rights we have witnessed across the ditch, and that was coming from a basis without a treaty.
Not only did he not rule it out but he actually went further supporting ACT’s Treaty Principles Bill through the first stage to committee.
Some of the cruel measures the new coalition have announced are no great surprise, but this support to reassess the principles of the treaty is something that I, and I’m sure many many other New Zealanders, will find vile and unforgivable.
I cannot think of another Prime Minister in my lifetime who would have signed up to this racial division. John Key wouldn’t have had a bar of it.
It certainly made Luxon’s opening remarks ahead of yesterday’s announcement, that he would be leading for all New Zealanders a complete joke. Not even Don Brash’s ghastly Kiwi vs Iwi campaign, not the Springbok protests, the Seabed and Foreshore protest, or Ihumatao, came close to stoking the racism, anger, and division that will occur as New Zealanders take sides on this one.
There is no bringing of people together, this is a colossal wedge that will go right to the heart of this country. It will be the distraction that Luxon and Seymour want as they set about their main goal of making the wealthiest wealthier.
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I don’t usually go in for the whole “not my leader”, “not my government”, “not my Prime Minister” thing. Generally I think we should respect the will of the people, our democratic process, and get on with it whether our side wins or loses. But this isn’t even close to being one of those situations.
Someone who supports the populist revision of the Treaty does not represent me. These people stand for the opposite of what I value and love about this country.
I’m sorry to those who think I should write nice things about the new government. That will happen on merit, should such occur, but from what I’ve seen so far this is a coalition to be opposed, resisted and protested against, as they push on with ACT’s agenda. One which was not voted for by a majority, but by just 8.6% of the population.
I’m grateful that NZF has stopped a few things. It would’ve been worse than it is had there only been National and ACT. But it is still an agreement that will damage our society, and cause harm to the most vulnerable.
Yesterday we found out what kind of a leader Christopher Luxon is. A craven coward willing to do awful things to his country for power. Smiling to the small minority who will actually be better off, while showing utter disregard for the rest of us and this beautiful country.
People often send me messages after a newsletter saying my writing has made them feel more positive about an issue. My apologies that that won’t be the case today. There is nothing in this agreement to address poverty, nothing for climate change, little good other than the fact they are not doing some bad things they might have.
Today I despair for my country.
Highly recommend hanging round for the guitar solo in this one, it is quite something.