Wednesday, February 10, 2010

National’s wheels coming off?

It hasn’t been a good start to the year for the National Party-led Government. Everything it’s proposing is—or will—meet strong public opposition, so much so that its coalition may collapse.

The government plans to increase GST. When John Key was campaigning in the last election, he promised that National would not raise GST. Now he tries to excuse breaking his promise by saying he only meant he wouldn’t do it to deal with government deficits. This led Progressive Leader Jim Anderton to quip in Parliament, “…what did he mean by the word 'not?' Has he got a lot of other definitions that most of us don't understand? "

The Maori Party, one of National’s coalition partners, is opposed to an increase in GST. They’re hinting they may leave the coalition if the increase goes through.

The government also plans to tighten eligibility for benefits, and force the countries 42,000 sole parents back into work as soon as their youngest child is six. The government says they’ll “be staging this over a period of years because we can't handle thousands coming in at once.” They’re not saying how they plan on creating 42,000 new jobs for those beneficiaries, especially the low-skilled ones and especially when unemployment is at a ten year high. If there are thousands of low-income workers who have been hit hard by GST increases and poor people lose their benefits as part of “reform”, how’s that going to look to the majority of New Zealanders who prize giving everyone a fair go?

And the government is also planning to open up conservation land to commercial mining, which would severely damage the entire country’s “clean and green” image. New Zealanders love this land—does National really think they can get away with destroying it?

The National Party won't fall before the 2011 elections. The neo-conservative Act Party would never abandon National, no matter what—coalition with the National Party is the only way those troglodytes can ever be part of government, and they know it. National doesn’t need the Maori Party or one-man party Peter Dunne to rule, and they know it.

But the people don’t need National. If the party continues to go after ordinary working New Zealanders and also punishes the poor, if it thinks it can wreak havoc on conservation land, if it thinks it can treat ordinary New Zealanders with utter contempt, while rewarding the corporate elites and the wealthy, then they had perhaps better start packing now. There’s no reason this can’t be a one-term government, after all—the people will decide that.

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