Thursday, November 18, 2010

Key to heckling

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was heckled as he campaigned in the Mana electorate for the by-election there on Saturday. Supporters of the Labour candidate, Kris Faafoi, and a leftwing independent heckled the prime minister, who said it was a sign of “desperation”.

No, it’s a sign that his goofy grins and smarmy smiles are beginning to wear thin. He had a minister rort the travel allowance system and resign when caught—how many of his shady ministers have resigned now? I keep losing count.

But the main reason the prime minister was heckled—and should expect to be—is that average New Zealanders are worse off now than when National won the election two years ago, with median incomes, adjusted for inflation, lower now than in 2008, when the election was held (in fact, it's the first drop since 1998). National has raised GST, ACC levies and cut funding for early childhood education—all of which hit ordinary Kiwi families hard.

The government is also forcing through under urgency (what is it with them ramming their agenda down our throats under urgency all the time?) a plan to take back one week of annual leave, pretending that ordinary working people will be able to “negotiate” with their employer over whether they'll keep the leave or cash it in. They’re also extending the 90-day probation period to all employers, not just small/medium enterprises, meaning that all employers will be able to fire workers without cause and without any recourse for the worker during those first 90 days.

Add it all up, National’s assault on ordinary hard-working New Zealanders is why John Key was heckled. If anyone should be facing desperation, it should be Key as the wheels fall off his government.

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