John Armstrong has unusually harsh words for National in today’s Herald column.
“Shame on National. That party’s behaviour in Parliament over the past couple of weeks has on occasion veered close to being a disgrace both to itself and the institution … National has ended up being done like a dog’s dinner over one of its most fundamental planks – the closing of the gap between what New Zealanders earn in comparison to Australians … such has been the comprehensive mauling of the concept by Labour over the past week or so that National will now be loath to resurrect it. It is now a loser for National and looks like remaining so through to next year’s election”
“What has been disturbing in this debacle, however, has been the way National has responded to parliamentary questions about the income gap. The low point came on Wednesday when Steven Joyce briefly deputised for Brownlee … A week earlier, Brownlee had told the House in response to a question from Labour that “yes”, the Government did have milestones by which it would measure the progress it was making towards closing the income gap … So eyebrows shot through the chamber’s ceiling when Joyce made the startling admission that there were, in fact, no such milestones. Even more startling was what Joyce said next. Brownlee had given Labour what was technically known as a “brush-off”…”
“Brownlee’s gaffe about the income gap having narrowed since National came to power prompted a desperate search by National for anything that served as evidence, however questionable, of that being the case. Much of the evidence is to the contrary – including some of the material National has dug up. The upshot is that Labour – almost by accident – has given National an old-fashioned hiding on that most fundamental of all questions: which party can be can best trusted with the reins of economic management. The one compensating factor for National is that all this has happened largely out of public view.”
The government have had an easy reign so far, but as Armstrong has pointed out, the shine is starting to come off. National is reverting to type with their ‘born to rule’ attitude. They brush off serious questions by making wise cracks. Up until now that strategy has served them well, but people (particularly journos) are getting a bit sick of it. Questions are now being asked about what exactly National’s plan for New Zealand is. The answer seems to be they don’t have one.