Today I read a great new phrase to describe John Key’s performance as NZ Prime Minister: Amiable incompetence. I think it describes him quite well, but increasingly he’s not so amiable.
Today we saw another example of the crony politics his government engages in. John Key’s Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce, “persuaded” big players in the telecommunications sector to stay out of an industry campaign called the Coalition for Fair internet Pricing, which aims to stop John Key’s $600 million in corporate welfare for Chorus, the company laying the fibre optic cables for New Zealand’s ultrafast broadband (UFB) network.
The telcos say there was no political pressure, but they also want to be able to buy some of the radio spectrum the government will soon sell when the analogue TV network is completely switched off in a couple months. So, maybe there wasn’t direct pressure, but they want something from government, so would it really be prudent for them to be part of a campaign against the current government?
John Key’s plan is to let Chorus charge artificially high rates for copper wire Internet connections in order to subsidise Chorus’ profits as UFB is rolled out. The Commerce Commission, which regulates wholesale Internet pricing, proposed that the price for these connections should be cut by as much as a third next year. John Key declared that the Commerce Commission didn’t know what it was talking about and didn’t understand the law.
Key also had Amy Adams, his Commincations Minister, claim that if the price of copper wire connections was cut, people would choose it over UFB connections. If she’s really thinks that, she’s incompetent, too: The point of UFB is much faster speeds, which will make things like video streaming (services like Netflix) viable in NZ for the first time. Price is not the main issue, SPEED is, and it’s frankly appalling that she doesn’t know that.
Or, maybe Amy does, and maybe John knows that the Commerce Commission knows its job. These days, whenever anyone has the gall to challenge John Key or his agenda, he lashes out, calling them incompetent, unqualified—stupid, basically. Perhaps he’s projecting his own flaws?
This government is all about cronyism: If you’re pals with John Key or you're a plutocrat or oligarch, John Key and his team are there for you. But he doesn’t care about ordinary hard working Kiwis who struggle to feed their kids and pay their bills in the face of soaring prices.
John Key’s reason for selling off state-owned assets never made any sense, and was, in fact, designed to transfer the peoples’ wealth to those oligarchs and plutocrats. Then, against advice from Treasury, Key went ahead hand gave $30 million of corporate welfare—taxpayer money—to the multinational owner of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, no strings attached. He could only defend all these actions as he always does, by lashing out at his critics and opponents.
It’s now obvious why John Key is being so aggressive and belligerent when people dare to stand up to him: There’s nothing there. Like the Great and Powerful Oz, who turned out to me not so powerful after all, so, too, that “Nice Mr. Key” is all bluff. While he keeps up the “nice” façade, he’ll increasingly be seen as New Zealand’s amiable incompetent, and as that becomes the dominant view, he’ll become more bitter until all that’s left is the incompetence.
The other thing it’ll mean is a new Labour-led Government after the next election.