Cabinet Clubs and Singing Money


Anyone can join National's clubs of influence as long as you can afford to pay the entry fee.

Money sings a sweet song for this Government and the source appears to make no difference to them. Gambling, deep sea drilling, fracking, coal from conservation parks, dividends sucked from SOEs, wealthy Chinese donors with dodgy backgrounds...as long as it's money!

National Ministers claim that they will see and support anyone, income is no barrier. While I am sure that they do meet with a wide range of people there is an overwhelming perception that certain kinds of people are more likely to gain access and a listening ear.

The support and time given to Chinese businessman Donghua Lui, seem excessive, given that he gained citizenship against official advice. Lui later provided the National Party with a donation of $22,000. Although Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse claimed that he had no knowledge of the donation, it does seem unusual that a Minister of the Crown would personally visit Lui at his hotel to discuss personal immigration issues. There are many stories of refugees and less affluent migrants who struggle to have their cases even heard and yet a wealthy businessman gets exclusive support.

The fact that Maurice Williamson, in his capacity as a Minister, felt it perfectly proper to remind Police that Liu was, "a very large investor in the building and construction industry",  is a huge concern. There was an implication that when someone is being charged with domestic assault that different rules apply if they are wealthy.

There are so many examples of singing money during this National Government's term of office and, as a teacher, the most shocking still must be the bailing out of Wanganui Collegiate. The Private Secondary School for 400 elite Students was bailed out by the State against Ministry of Education advice by $3.9 million, despite owning land and assets worth a similar amount. At the same time two schools catering for low decile children and special needs had to take court action to fight forced closure despite having no management issues. Both cases were won and yet Salisbury School has had its funding cut and Phillipstown is being closed regardless.

Key claimed that Wanganui School deserved to be saved because of its high academic standards and yet I would have thought that any school would do well if all students came from wealthy homes and staffing ratios were twice as good as public schools. We are left wondering how many wealthy parents of students at the school are supporters of the National Party.

When I launched my Invercargill campaign I used the Greens' community hub plan as the focus for the evening. We had a broad mix of people attending; businessmen, education workers, parents and members of the Pasifika community. There was no cost to those attending but membership forms for the Party were available and people could make donations to our campaign if they wished. Attendees had free access with our Co-leader Metiria Turei and MP Catherine Delahunty.

When National Party Invercargill Candidate, Sarah Dowie, was interviewed recently she stated that it was important to generate more wealth before we can meet the needs of our elderly and those in poverty. I get the impression that generating wealth is not an issue for National, the issue is around access and distribution. The National Party's record provides a clear impression that if you want greater guarantee of support, palm-greasing (donations) will help. For a huge number of New Zealanders, surviving on incomes beneath the living wage, access to our Prime Minister (or any Minister) is limited.


Comments

robertguyton said…
Going to meet Sarah, Dave?
Take your wallet.
Mind your back.
bsprout said…
Met her, though I had to push my way through Key's body guards. She assured me that she was centre-right.
robertguyton said…
Did you go between their legs, Dave?

:-)

bsprout said…
You may be interested in my Facebook review of Key's presentation at the Southland Feds AGM. Russell McPherson couldn't even say his name correctly in introducing him (called him Mr Keys), it was wonderful:

I am so proud of our Southland Farmers. At their AGM John Key made a blistering attack on the Greens. He claimed that they would destroy farming if they got in by excessive environmental standards and removing stock from farms. He also described how great the economy was and what a great job his Government was doing. Immediately one of our Green Party farmers shouted out that he was speaking rubbish. When questions were asked Southland Farmers held him to account: Why was he cutting funding to research and removing important people from Invermay? Why were they allowing interest rates to go up when housing was causing the inflation? Why was he underfunding our local roads? Why was he making it difficult for migrants working on farms to gain citizenship? Why was he cutting funding to tertiary education? Someone even asked him what values had he brought to the job? I like the fact that Southlanders have great bullshit meters and while many will probably vote for him anyway, they didn't take anything he said as gospel.
robertguyton said…
Nice. Go Russell.
McPherson.

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