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Posts Tagged ‘Wayne Mapp

The Precious Midpoint

It’s a truism of politics that you win the centre to gain and hold political power.

But there’s a difference between acting on that and worshipping it as a religious principle that requires politicians to do nothing but sniff the winds and bend accordingly to what they detect.

Politicians and political parties that do that are doomed to accomplish nothing in power beyond managing the status quo until they tire and are voted out in favour of the next new, shiny thing. And if enough time goes by and the status quo breaks down, such a party will simply be left on the side of the road.

Strangely this seems to be the fate of the old socialist parties of France and Germany, which are facing extinction as major players, and the British Labour Party seems to be intent on joining them, as noted in this article, The Road to Hartlepool Pier:

But worst of all is that this transmogrified middle-class party views its old working-class constituency not simply with incomprehension but with contempt. “Yep”, Liddle quotes a “Starmer superfan” as tweeting about the result, “as expected the working class love a bit of nationalism and racism. Well done Hartlepool, you turkeys. I’ve never been and I never will”.

“The Labour Party we knew is gone,” Liddle concludes, “gone for good. Those votes are not coming back”. Stirring stuff and written from the depths of a Social Democrat’s soul.

But the article points out that this is nothing new for British Labour or British Socialism, as implied with the title of the article, cribbing from one of Orwell’s famous books:

“The truth is,” Orwell concludes, “that to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders.”

That was written in 1937.

Here in New Zealand I have to wonder if the same thing is true of the National Party? Certainly Chris Trotter notes the problems that Centre-Left parties are having overseas but is cocksure that the same won’t happen to NZ Labour, with his “Four Houses” analogy:

Far from losing touch with its brown working-class base, New Zealand Labour’s liberal, university-educated middle class: the house members of Working With My Brain and Taking Care of Others; are doing everything they can to empower Maori and Pasefika New Zealanders. They are doing this by strengthening their unions; by increasing their benefits; by more appropriately tailoring health and educational services to their needs; and, most significantly, by reconfiguring New Zealand’s constitutional structures to ensure their voices are heard and their cultural needs recognised.

Ironically, this leaves New Zealand’s National Party where British Labour now appears to be standing: with insufficient allies to win a nationwide election. Of New Zealand’s four houses, only Taking Care of Business (especially rural business) is overwhelmingly loyal to National. Increasingly, the house members of Working With My Brain, once more-or-less evenly split between National and Labour, are clustering around like-minded “progressives”.

And here also:

The only real questions, after Thursday’s Budget, is how long will it take National to realise how profoundly the political game has been – and is being – transformed by Covid and Climate Change? Will it be two, three, or four terms? And, how many leaders will the party have to elect, and discard, before it finally masters the new language of electoral victory?

While that’s amusing and something to think about, it must be said that poor old Chris has a long, repeated habit of swinging from orgasmic joy at Labour electoral victories followed by dark mood swings as they flail around and fail to recreate the wonders of Micky Savage’s First Labour Government. That second article might as well have been titled the same as the famous cover of Newsweek in 2008, heralding the arrival of Saint Obama and following the spending spree of the Bush Administration as they effectively nationalised a stack of financial firms.

Things turned out differently of course.

However, the reason for my post’s title was the thought that National may actually be thinking the same as Chris, and it’s been foremost with ex-Cabinet Minister Wayne Mapp, commenting on a number of blogs, including Trotter’s. Here on No Minister he has of course regularly lambasted me as being to the Right of 90% of New Zealanders and I have acknowledged as much.

But over on Kiwiblog this comment from Wayne in a DPF post on electric cars, made it clear that it’s not just me he’s concerned about:

Fourteen out of twenty four comments criticising DPF, either directly or indirectly, for choosing an EV. It does show how far Kiwiblog commenters are from the midpoint of NZ voters.

Given that the vast majority of those comments were not knee-jerk reactions but accurate observations about the cost, range, life-span and capabilities of EV’s, and given that many of those people are or have been National voters, I thought that was a foolish and reactionary comment itself.

But it does show the thinking that’s evolving here, at least with one ex-National MP, and it’s thinking that fits perfectly with Trotter’s about what’s wrong with National and where they have to go to regain power – which is basically to just cede all these fundamental arguments to the Left, roll over and awaken when the electorate eventually tires of Jacindamania.

Given that Labour and its policies were floating around the low twenty percent mark in mid-2017 before the Hail Mary pass to Jacinda yielded a massive increase in Labour’s vote share, even as the policies remained the same, I think that simply following them in those basic policies, if not in detail, is stupid beyond belief.

Having talked to countless Jacinda worshippers and having always asked them the key question, “Would you vote for Labour policies if Jacinda vanished today?”, I’ve not been surprised to find them answering that they’re not actually aware of Labour policies and a hesitant answer that they might still vote for them. In other words, at rock bottom, the popularity of Labour is still in the pre-Jacinda range of early 2017.

As the threat of Chinese Sinus AIDS retreats and the costs of being a NoRightTurn extremist on AGW mount up, especially for that “brown working-class base”, I don’t think even the magic pixie dust of Jacinda will be enough.

Instead of aping the strategic goals of Labour and sneering at their own voters, what National should be thinking about is what the votes for Brexit and Trump in 2016 and for the British Conservatives in 2020 meant, and what the changing politics of things like the recent Hartlepool election meant – rather than imagining that the forces driving them can be wiped away by defeating Trump-like politicians.

National is not going to be rewarded by simply saying that it will do the same as Labour but with better management. In the face of failing public systems, especially education, that’s no longer good enough. The 2020 election told National that when voters are presented with such a choice they’ll just vote Labour.

And the lesson is not to be like the New Zealand equivalent of Mitt Romney, Theresa May or David Cameron – all squishes who either failed to get elected or if they were, failed to grasp the actual electoral environment they claimed their “moderate” noses could sniff out.

That approach just won’t cut it anymore with Centre-Right parties. Real, practical solutions based around giving incentives to individuals – in education, healthcare and other areas – are what is required. Certainly not something that “‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders“, from the hearts of wealthy suburbs sporting myriad electric cars.

The midpoint is there to be moved, not just accommodated with as others move it.

Just as important is that all this needs to be backed by a willingness to fight with the likes of Tova and John Campbell when they use their usual emotional bullshit arguments in opposition. That’s yet another lesson that Trump has taught at least the next generation of GOP politicians. I see Nikki Halley is already being talked up, but the future actually lies with the likes of Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, and Kristi Noem.

Who National’s future lies with I have no idea.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 6, 2021 at 10:23 am


A historic defeat, in some respects worse than that of 2002, should result in the deepest reflection of the state of National for the last twenty years.

What went wrong? How can it be fixed? Or is National staring at the prospect that it will wither away in the same way the Liberal’s did one hundred years ago?

To deal with the withering away first. Although some on the Left are already fantasizing about this, it is not credible. Just twelve months ago, National led in the polls. Then Covid struck. The PM’s sure footed response, in contrast to National’s ever changing positions, assured many National voters that Labour was the safe choice. Labour understood this and went out of its way to reassure these National converts that Labour would not be embarking on any crazy socialist experiments. Labour knows they have a temporary lien on these National voters. At some stage they will lose them. But obviously Labour will seek to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Labour will already be planning how to win the 2023 election, and probably even the 2026 election.

The return of erstwhile National voters back to National is no sure thing. That is why, in my view, the defeat is worse than in 2002. In that election, National votes went to ACT, New Zealand First and to United Fiuture (remember the worm?). They didn’t go directly to our main opponent. This time they have. In addition, the Greens have 8%. The Left block has 57% and the Right Block only has 35%. It is an enormous gap.

National might find it hard to win back its erstwhile voters. Although 12 and 15 year governments are not the norm in New Zealand, they do happen. Labour, 1935 to 1949 and National, 1960 to 1972. There is a real risk, if Labour is moderately competent, that the newly won Labour voters might stay for a while.

So what is to be done? Make a six year plan, not a three year plan. Obviously National is going to seriously contest the 2023 election, but the plan needs to be more forward looking than just the next three years, both in terms of policy and in terms of candidates. To take the latter point. Having the top end of the List entirely composed of sitting MP’s is a mistake. National has to recruit top talent through the List as well as through the electorates. It is how Don Brash, Hekia Parata, Chris Finlayson, Tim Groser and Katherine Rich got into Parliament. The List Standing Committee needs to take its role of selecting new talent more seriously, especially when National is not in government. It is not there just to rank MP’s.

The policy challenge will be substantial. During this election, National looked seriously out of touch, with tired old policies, more suited to a generation ago. There was no new thinking, and apparently no real awareness of how society is changing. Just to take a relatively minor issue in my own area. Based on the hostility of a few elderly activists, National decided to oppose the Sky Path across the Auckland Harbour Bridge. There was zero awareness of the mood of younger people, and a growing move to different types of transport. By opposing Sky Path, National was seen to be on the wrong side of history.​

Designing policy for the 2030’s will not be easy. It requires making an estimate as to how both the society and the economy will develop in the future. But it is necessary to make bold judgements. Fibre to the Home was a big decision for National early this century at a time when full spectrum internet had barely emerged. The decision by National to back fibre was a bold decision and was seen as such by the wider community. It captured the sense of National looking forward. Roads, albeit an essential part of infrastructure, simply do not have the same cachet.

A clearly understood, easy to explain “Plan for The Future” will be an essential requirement to win office. So will the right team to carry that message. Judith can rightly claim she was given something of a hospital pass and will be given time. Maybe she has another election in her. However, when you look beyond 2025 it seems inevitable a new top team will be necessary. That means starting to position those already in caucus who could fulfill that role and looking to the selections of 2023 and 2026 to recruit able new talent, including with high list positions for the right people. No-one should underestimate the challenge ahead. It will require an enormous rebuilding effort to get National match fit again. The thinking and the planning needs to start now.​

Written by The Veteran

October 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,


I see that Wayne Mapp has taken some stick over at Kiwiblog for his defense of Winston Peters. I know Wayne fairly well while my association with WRP goes back to the period 1984-1990 when I was Treasurer of the (then) Waikato Division of the National Party where I had a watching brief over the Tauranga electorate. In that respect I need to fess up that I enjoyed (to excess) Winston’s hospitality at the Green Parrot in Wellington.

Wayne and Winston are both centrists and there is no shame in that. The difference between the two is that Wayne is of the honorable variety while the same can’t be said of Winston.

Trite saying I know but Winston is perfectly balanced with a chip on both shoulders. It’s his way or the highway and no correspondence will be entered into … sorry Jenny Marcroft.

Written by The Veteran

October 14, 2020 at 11:51 am


A guest post from Wayne Mapp …..

There is a lot of speculation about how Australia and New Zealand can form their own global bubble. Now that both countries have virtually eliminated the covid virus, it seems logical that both nations will be open for business to each other, not just for goods and services, but also for travel.
Both countries are each other’s largest source of travel, though this obviously has rather more impact for New Zealand. Tourism makes a direct contribution of 5.6 % of New Zealand’s GDP, with another 4% being contributed indirectly, a total of nearly 10%. This lines up with the total number employed, being 8.4% of the workforce. In terms of foreign exchange, tourism contributes is $20 billion, or about 20% of overseas trade.
The key point from these statistics is that over 40% of the tourists come from Australia. So opening up the border to Australia could literally save over 100,000 jobs. Of course, in the post covid era, people may be reluctant to travel, in the first instance there will simply not be as much money in people’s pockets as there was pre covid. On the other hand, if the only travel that is readily allowed is trans-Tasman, then there may well be an increase in such travel.
Tourism is only the most obvious benefit of a trans-Tasman bubble. There could be many more depending on how willing the two governments are prepared to change the way they do business. Both countries are going to have huge challenges around unemployment and the velocity of business activity. While trade in services and goods will be able to continue internationally, the post covid recession will require governments to be more active. They will need to set the conditions to boost business and employment.
Everyone talks about shovel ready projects, or if you are Green, about environment focused projects. Undoubtedly this will happen, but it is unlikely to make much of a dent in unemployment. There will need to be more activity across the broad swath of the economy. Covid has shown the risks of being too dependent on international supply chains for everything. The next pandemic could be more severe than covid.
There will be a premium for nations to be more self sufficient, not just for covid, but as a general principle. While this is difficult for New Zealand with only 5 million people, it is easier for Australia with 25 million people. Combining the two is 30 million. An economy of that size can do many of things required for modern 21 century life. Not everything, that requires an economy the size of North America or Europe.
So what could be done in the trans-Tasman bubble? The easiest thing for the two governments to do is buy as much as possible locally. This might seem self evident, but for a whole range of things, it might require incentives for things to be made locally. Purists will decry this, since it will increase the real price, even if not the sticker price. However, the alternative might be double digit unemployment for years to come.
It would mean hospitals, schools, government departments and local authorities would be required to source locally, unless it was simply not possible. Australia has traditionally supported the car industry. The last Holden rolled out of the factory in October 2017. Would it be surprising if the Australian government provided incentives to get Ford and Holden back into local production? Would the New Zealand government play a part to get some part of the manufacturing here? Part of the incentive would be a mandatory requirement that all local and central government vehicle purchases be locally sourced.
Governments can also incentivize local processing of exports of raw materials. A huge percentage of New Zealand’s timber exports is in the form of raw logs. Serious questions need to be asked if this is something we have no choice but to accept. Can local processing, at least of a set percentage of the raw material, be made mandatory? 
All this supposes a much more active role for government in industry policy. Covid has shown the danger of all supply chains being fully globalised. When everything is fine, globalisation has been able to produce unimaginable wealth for billions of people. But the downside has been vulnerability, not just to supply lines, but also to stability of employment. This would seem to be the time for some rebalancing. It will take imagination, both from government and from people.

Written by The Veteran

April 28, 2020 at 2:54 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,


A guest post by Wayne Mapp … 

 Last week I suggested that it would be desirable to hold an Economic Recovery Summit to deal with the economic effects of Covid19.

It is worth considering what such a summit would look like.
Over the last forty years there have been three economic summits of note. These were the Economic Summit of 1984, held in Parliament, the 2000 Innovation Summit held in an Auckland hotel and the 2009 Jobs Summit held in Manukau. The Economic Summit of 1984 was by far and away the most significant. It helped set in place the framework of reform of the next eight years. Back then New Zealand faced an obvious crisis, there was a real risk that the IMF would have to bail out the economy and would impose their own prescription. The Economic Summit helped avoid that.
The Covid crisis will be the deepest any of us have experienced in our life times. The government, no matter how well they have dealt with the immediate crisis, is unlikely to be able to provide all the answers for the future. Surely this is a time when we should be drawing on the best minds and experience in the country.
The key questions are about such a summit are;
·       What is the purpose?
·       Who should attend?
·       When and where should it be held?
·       How should it be structured?
The purpose of the summit might seem self evident, that being providing the path for the way out. In fact, it is more nuanced than this. The most obvious pathways out will be have been well rehearsed before the summit ever takes place. The summit has a wider purpose beyond coming up with the obvious. First, it will be to provide the public support for the required measures. Second, the summit should be able to come up with ideas which may not be immediately evident to the government and the bureaucracy. This could be the main advantage of bringing together New Zealand’s most experienced and capable people.
Working out who should attend will be a real challenge There will be many who think they should be there, but who should not be. Neither can it be purely representative of all the lobby groups, though obviously they can’t be ignored.
All major parts of the productive economy should be represented. While this may include heads of various industry groupings, often the best and most capable people are not holding those positions. Success in business and innovation will be a guide in working out who should there.
The economy is not just businesses. There is a large public and social sector, ranging from education, health, charities through to local government, the latter being particularly important in building  infrastructure, which is likely to be a big part of government led stimulus.
Iwi business and communities will have a specific viewpoint which will need to be heard. With so much iwi businesses being in the primary sector, there will be a large crossover with regional concerns.
A significant number of attendees would not be sector based. They will be some of the more interesting lateral thinkers. For instance, there will be a lot of interest in how environment and infrastructure thinking is connected. This will not be a time for conventional group think only. New Zealanders from across the political and economic spectrum will need to feel that they are properly represented.
Obviously not all ideas will be accepted across the board. It would be expected that there will be a core of ideas that will have wide acceptance and would be implemented no matter who is in government. However, there will be other ideas that will have more appeal to specific groups and ideologies. Given that there is an election in September, some of these ideas will feature in the policies of some parties, but not others.
This leads to where and when that summit should take place. Part of the success of the Economic Summit of 1984 was that it took place in the Debating Chamber of Parliament. That limited attendees to not much more than 80 in the pre MMP parliament. It also meant that everyone got to speak, and in some instances, for questions to be asked of speakers. It was not just a collection of talking heads, there was real dialogue. In contrast the summits of 2000 and 2009 had hundreds of attendees and much less dialogue. They amounted to not much more than a series of formal presentations. In an MMP Parliament that means 120 attendees. It will force real attention to only inviting those who can add real value.
The September election will also affect the timing of the summit. The first half of June will provide three clear months prior to the election. It is also enough time for political parties to pick up the best ideas from the summit as part of their campaigns. The election will surely revolve around each party’s recovery plans.
Mid June is two months away. It is just enough time to properly organize such a summit, to give one months notice to the invitees, and to ensure they will be properly prepared.
There is enough time for quality papers to be circulated to all attendees setting out the current positions and various options. These would be all made public, and of course the summit would be televised on Parliament TV.
It could be expected that such a summit will cover two or three days. There would need to be specific subject sessions, breakout groups and a summary session. Perhaps the most important are the scene setting sessions. One would expect the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and their counterparts in the Opposition to be making presentations in the scene setting sessions.
The whole idea of this Economic Recovery Summit is to galvanize action and to get pubic sign on. It can provide a sense of unity that will be necessary for the best possible recovery.

Written by The Veteran

April 8, 2020 at 8:00 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with


We are now two weeks into the Level 4 lockdown. The government’s actions have been pretty much the same as those of Australia and the UK. Not too many are seriously questioning their actions to date. Sure, they could have been stricter on the border two weeks ago, but overall, the government is widely seen to have done a pretty good job.
The big question now is how do get out of the lockdown, and what will it be like when we do so?
It can’t surely be the case that we have to wait for no new cases before we come out of Level 4, or for that matter Level 3. As long as the new cases are isolated, and clusters are kept under tight control, it should be possible to come out when the rate of new cases is around half the current rate. In fact, with one death to date, it would seem Covid-19, at least in New Zealand, is no worse than seasonal flu. We don’t destroy the economy over seasonal flu. But maybe we have just been lucky, since in most other countries the death rate is much higher, hitting 10% of tested cases in Italy and the UK.
Coming out of Level 4 and 3 means we have to think about what the economy will look like this time next year.
One thing that is pretty certain is that international tourism and international travel will almost have completely dried up. That is not coming back to current levels for several years. So that is over 100,000 jobs, 5% of all employment, gone. We can be pretty certain that retail will take a huge hit. Who is going to be buying new furniture, new clothes, a new stereo or TV, or that big ticket item, a new car? Let’s say another 100,000 jobs gone. That adds up to 15% unemployment, taking into account the current unemployment rate. Add in real estate agents, all sorts of financiers, and a whole host of service jobs that have grown up in the last thirty years, such as sports fitness, garden maintenance just to name the more obvious. Probably another 50,000 jobs. It is pretty easy to see 20% unemployment this time next year.
But it is not all doom and gloom. New Zealand currently relies on over 100,000 people on work visas to do jobs that New Zealander’s don’t want to do. That is all going to stop. Those jobs can now be done by New Zealanders, especially in the primary sector.
As a food producing nation, we should be able to sell all of our produce, even if at reduced prices.  We can also do a lot more onshore processing. We should see the end of all our timber going out as logs. Sure, that might upset some free trade purists, but this is an emergency like no other in our lifetimes.
One thing that shouldn’t happen is Simon Wilson’s crazy idea that New Zealand should start building electric cars. Modern cars are not like the Trekkas that were built here in the 1960’s with Skoda engines. A modern car has literally tens of thousands of components that require a global supply chain. Way beyond what New Zealand can do.
The government will have a big and extremely challenging role in the next few months. It is going to be paying a huge number of unemployment benefits, and supporting key businesses, right at a time when its own revenue will have collapsed. I predict the government will have to seriously consider cutting the pay of all state employees by 10%. At the very least, there will be no pay increases for some years. The government will need to cut expenditure on anything that is obviously “nice to have” as opposed to being essential.  However, some parts of the state may expand. Expect to see a big increase in local student numbers next year as newly unemployed young people flock to the universities and polytechnics.
The government has a key strategic role to think of the big infrastructure projects that both soak up unemployment and which will add to the nation’s infrastructure, that can drive growth in the decades ahead.
Although the Greenies will scream, how about a 4 lane highway from Whangarei to Christchurch, with electric charging stations along the whole route? There are way more people employed in trucking than ever will be employed in rail. And trucking suits the way New Zealand shifts goods around the country. We could be pioneers of electric trucking on this new high tech road.
The new economy can’t be just driven by the government. Ideas will need to come from all directions, from entrepreneurs, from newly unemployed, from economic theorists across the spectrum and from political leaders from both sides of the House.
There is a strong case for an economic summit of the sort organized by Lange and Douglas in 1984.  That drove New Zealand out of the economic doldrums that we had languished in for decades. This time to break out of the greatest health and economic emergency that most of us have seen in our lifetimes.

Written by The Veteran

April 5, 2020 at 12:21 am