When a levy isn’t a tax and Greens aren’t green

Bill English has a degree in English, which should have inculcated respect for correct word use — if he hadn’t become a politician, a breed which bends language for good and ill. So in claiming not to break an election … Continue reading

Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?

There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in finance. … Continue reading

Customer-driven flexibility underlies the budget

Who said: “The public service is a bit too responsive to politicians”? A lofty academic? A public servant bemoaning servile bosses? It was Bill English last week. Set aside that usually ministers complain public servants are not responsive — servile … Continue reading

National symbols and brands for the future

Where do the flag, water policy and climate change action meet? Where do they not meet? And what have they got to do with the budget? Start with the flag. It is a symbol. It says we are South Britain, … Continue reading

Is Bill English, reformer, really investing?

In a pre-budget speech on Friday Bill English made much of “social investment”. It will be a central feature of the budget on May 21. What is it? And is it really investment? Throw in two other cues. One is … Continue reading

The “I” factor in fiscal political practice

When is a Prime Minister a political person and when the voice of the nation? Opening the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington on April 18, John Key said: “I feel proud of the decision to make Pukeahu a … Continue reading

Mateship, sacrifice, a fair go and all that

Hands up if you agree that Anzac encapsulates “the unique qualities that gave birth to our national identity: courage, mateship, sacrifice, generosity, freedom and a fair go for all”. I can see almost all hands are up. That is in … Continue reading

The climate may be changing in climate change

After the world cricket cup superhyperbole comes heroic Gallipoli. Periodically New Zealand mutates into Jingoland. On Saturday our soldier Governor-General and non-soldier Prime Minister open the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. That day Te Papa launches “Gallipoli: The scale of … Continue reading

Bloke or statesman: a choice with Easter overtones

When should the Prime Minister be a bloke? And when a statesman? On the day of Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral John Key chose bloke over statesman to be with the New Zealand cricket team at the world cup final against … Continue reading

History made, history celebrated, history-in-the-making

History was made on Saturday (and not made on Sunday). History will be celebrated tomorrow. Today a speech will touch on history-in-the-making. Winston Peters’ win on Saturday is not simply local. To turn a 5691 September election night candidate majority … Continue reading