National, Dead Party Walking...
The National Government probably passed its "use by" date well before the last election. It has held power through clever PR and an affable Prime Minister, despite achieving little of note over nine years. However, John Key is no fool, he resigned because his money trading, sixth sense told him the odds of winning another term in 2017 were not great. The years of mismanagement were being increasingly revealed and the election would be the Opposition's to lose.
The Government is rapidly running out of excuses for its lack of competence. After nine years it is hard to blame the previous Labour Government for things that are happening now. The Global Financial Crisis occurred in 2007-2008 (a decade ago) and the Christchurch earthquake happened seven years ago. Whatever the country is dealing with now is largely down to National's governance.
What I find interesting is the eventual demise of this Government may be triggered by Melanie Reid's investigative work on the Todd Barclay scandal. It seems that gossip and reality TV style, relationship conflicts are what really captures New Zealand's attention, rather than what I would have thought were the big issues:
It wasn't the fact that the Government's goal of doubling our agricultural exports and encouraging the intensification of our farms has stuffed our waterways.
It wasn't because we have plummeted to the bottom of the world regarding the health and welfare of our children. Or the fact that almost 30% of our children live in poverty.
It wasn't the shocking housing policies, that have seen homelessness explode and has even forced working families to live in cars and garages. The fact that we are now the most expensive country in the world for housing and billions of taxpayer funds are going into the Housing Supplement and emergency housing hasn't dented National's polling at all.
It wasn't the revelation that the Government has botched the Christchurch earthquake recovery. Only a fraction of the Government's claimed investment has been spent, the major infrastructure promised has yet to be built and a high percentage of the repairs are being revealed as substandard. And, to rub salt into the wounds, the mental health services dealing with the resulting emotional stress have been seriously under-funded.
It wasn't the Ministry of Education having to apologise for the unnecessary trauma of their school closures in communities recovering from a disaster.
It wasn't the continual revelations of bribery and corruption and dirty politics that shifted thinking. No one appeared to care about the $11.5 million bribe of a Saudi businessman to progress a free trade deal, or that we were operating as a tax haven for criminals and dodgy corporates.
It wasn't the destruction of our public education system that once led the world and is now plummeting down the rankings.
It wasn't the report that revealed that the Government destroys the careers of long serving government servants who question their flawed plans.
It wasn't the growing realisation that the underfunding of DHBs is actually causing basic care to be denied to many, causing blindness and many unnecessary deaths.
It wasn't the $110 million botched implementation of Novopay or the $600 million collapse of Solid Energy that had an impact (even though Government incompetence was behind both).
It wasn't the $12 billion dollar motorway developments that constantly fail cost benefit analysis, while much needed public transport systems in Auckland are being delayed.
It wasn't the Government's open door policy to cheap migrant workers and tourists that is putting serious stress on our underfunded infrastructure.
It wasn't the Government's lack of remorse for its role in the Pike River tragedy and lack of compassion for the families involved.
In the end it was a rather ignorant and egocentric young MP, who illegally taped his staff in an effort to get rid of them, that has captured the media and country's attention (child poverty hasn't resonated). While John Key's teflon suit managed to let many damning stories wash over him, Bill English's spaghetti pizza, walk runs and cheering Team NZ videos will not be enough. He can't lie and use attack politics as effectively as his predecessor.
A discredited Bill English has been left leading a zombie party, shambling directionless (no new policies) through the debris of their own failures. Dead party walking...