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MICHAEL BASSETT: CHALLENGES FACING CHRISTOPHER LUXON’S GOVERNMENT

Unless you were present to hear the Prime Minister deliver his State of the Nation speech on 18 February it was difficult to get the full speech. Chris Luxon mailed out only a few bullet points. TV One promised to give viewers a good look at it on the 6pm news that night, but that low-level reporter, Maiki Sherman, introduced her story with a whole lot of irrelevant stuff from the Big Gay Out before providing unrelated snippets of Luxon’s speech. The Herald left reporting the speech to Sam Hurley who interspersed a few of Luxon’s comments with only partially relevant counter arguments from the Leader of the Opposition, while failing to remind readers that the appalling educational and welfare statistics occurred under Chris Hipkins’ government. Make no mistake about it: the Main Stream Media are hard at work trying to undermine the new government.


In the end, I found the full speech. Clearly, it was no oratorical triumph; Chris Luxon has none of the charisma of John Key or the intellect of Helen Clark. But the tone of the speech was correct. Times are tough, and a more rigorous approach to welfare is urgently needed. Carmel Sepuloni left behind 70,000 more people on so-called “Jobseeker” unemployment benefits than were there in 2017 when she came to office. Luxon’s statistic that 2,000 young people receiving a youth payment or young parent payment are now expected to spend an average of 24 years of their working lives on a benefit is frightening. But as Lindsay Mitchell has pointed out on our site, the situation is much worse. More than one in five of all new babies being born today comes into a household dependent on a benefit. None of those children will grow up in a family that knows anything about self-reliance or working for a living.


Luxon’s speech was short of solutions. In that sense, National seems little better than Labour which, you’ll recall, came to office in 2017 after nine years in Opposition, with so little policy they needed more than 200 committees to advise them on what to do. Luxon points in the right direction, for the most part, but more than eighty days after coming to office he is still shy about specifics.


This is serious. Labour’s incompetent ministers became so reliant on their officials that the bureaucracy eventually came to feel that it owned the policies that emerged after 2017. And right now, those same people are being asked to reverse or unscramble their own work. A fight back is underway. Already there have been at least two serious leaks from bureaucrats to journalists designed to embarrass the new Government: one a cabinet paper warning ministers about the political dangers in relation to their approach to Treaty issues, the other about financing build-to-rent housing. Several friends of mine who interface with departments working on the development of new policies tell me they have encountered what they sense are deliberate efforts by Wellington bureaucrats to ensure they won’t deliver what ministers have instructed. Wellington, as we all know, is now in the hands of the Greens, many of them harbouring ideology that would have survived comfortably in Bolshevik Russia.


Moreover, there are nearly 16,000 surplus civil servants who were casually popped on the public payroll by Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins. A major exercise in patch protection is now underway by those whose jobs are threatened. Every RNZ news broadcast seems to contain a union threat about collapsing services if civil service jobs are pruned. But taxpayers were promised a reduction in staff numbers. And budgetary restraint in the current economic climate is fundamental.


Worse for the government, in the absence of Luxon’s clear indication of nuts and bolts solutions to the problems he outlined in his speech, ministers are dependent on the advice of many of the very people most hostile to their policies. I cannot recall a time when any government’s plans have been so threatened. Certainly, the basic public service ethos of employees needing to deliver the policies the public voted for is being challenged.


The Minister for the Public Service, Nicola Willis, ironically, is the very minister who under her other hat as Minister of Finance, has the most direct interest in the implementation of the new government’s policies. It’s certainly time for a new State Services head, and it might be time for a full-scale inquiry into the bureaucracy so that civil servants are told in no uncertain terms of the responsibilities that accompany the rather lavish salaries they enjoy. And any inquiry should include TVOne and RNZ that have been over-indulging the political whims of their employees ever since last October.


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192 Comments


It is curious to me that Dr Bassett, an acclaimed political historian who has done some very good work, doesn't seem to know that the way the public service works has been changing since (perhaps not for the better) since 1999. The media has been changing for longer. (Again some of that change good. Some not) To sheet all his concerns to just the 2020-2023 Government is rather shallow. Is this wilful ignorance? Or, deliberate braying to an eager but largely unaware crowd.

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We need a PM like Argentina's president Javier Milei complete with chainsaw to cull Wellington's sclerotic socialist public service.

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I can't agree more: Cut all govt adevertising, and let the msm figure out where they are going to get thier revenue from. (Hint: Stop psuhing bullshit and do investigative journalism). Then abolish the State Services Commissioner's post, and get dept heads to report directly to their minister. Next, get the minster to take up office in the dept offices, and start driving the agenda.

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Michael I can only wholeheartedly agree with you. I try to persuade myself that Luxon is playing the "Good Cop" to Seymour's and Peter's "Bad Cop" but I'm not convinced. The civil service needs a ruthless clear out and new blood brought in under the condition that if they play politics then they're out! Department heads should have their bonuses determined by the achievement of their KPI's.

The media should have their taxpayer handouts stopped immediately. Let them survive, like the rest of us - on their performance. I couldn't care less if many of these journos end up on the heap and have to go and pick Kiwi fruit in order to keep their unemployment benefits at the end…

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https://youtu.be/g3K09GeC9q8?si=z_lXHJpClQ8sszD6.

That illustrates everything we already know re the duplicitous and unscrupulous behavior by the main stream media.

That tap needs not just turning off, it needs to be taken away and removed entirely.

What a revolting collection of self absorbed pathetic liars these people are. They are nothing more than a disgrace now, an embarrassment, and deserve only opprobrium and derision from us as their employer .

Lop the barstads off knee height.

Ill happily fund truth and , balanced reporting, but no fucking way will i continue to subsidize a bunch of drooling halfwits starry-eyed with self importance , self absorbed with their own percieved chokka block full to the brim of bullshit half truths any longer.

It's…


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The way to stop their lies and misinformation is to defund them. EASY!! Luxon could do it before the end of the week! (But has he got what it needs?)

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