Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Plain speaking; Taranaki style

We do a bit of business in the Taranaki region. And there's one thing about the people up there; they call it as they see it.

Gordon Brown is the former Chief of Staff of the Taranaki Daily News and former Head of Journalism at the Western Institute of Technology. He continues to write columns for the local paper, and he's written a beauty this morning which is plain speaking at its best; check this out:

It's a funny old world at times.
Last November we had an election and rather naively, I thought National won, with an unprecedented, at least in modern times, 47 per cent of the vote.
So remind me again, who won the election? Or better still, remind Labour list MP Sue Moroney.
She got lucky when her private member's bill was plucked out of the ballot and understandably she is going to make the most political capital possible from it.
Do bear in mind, though, that it is official Labour Party policy for New Zealand to have 12 months paid parental leave, and Ms Moroney acknowledges that this is a step along the way to achieving that.
It is also pertinent to note that Ms Moroney has been a list MP since 2005 but owes her place in Parliament to her strong union ties and subsequent high place on the list. She was a Labour electoral candidate in 1996, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011.
Her proposal is to extend paid parental leave from the present 14 weeks to six months. Finance Minister Bill English was quick to publicly state that the Government would exercise its right to veto it on financial grounds.
But for Moroney and her supporters to be talking about that response as nothing less than a threat to democracy is nothing more than a sad joke.
She refuses to cost the bill, although others have costed it at $150 million, but says by 2014 we'll be able to afford it. Fine, by then there will have been another election and at that stage Moroney and her colleagues will have the chance to sell it to the electorate (again), and if successful, pass it into law themselves. 

We agree wholeheartedly with Gordon Brown's opinion-piece. Although Ms Moroney's Bill has been drawen from the Members' ballot, it is very much Labour Party policy, which the John Key-led government has no obligation whatsoever to support. 

But for Sue Moroney to describe the government's intention to us its power of veto as "a threat to democracy" is absolute bunkum, especially when one considers that the Helen Clark-led government used the power of veto more than 30 times between 1999 and 2008. It's a case of pot; meet kettle for Labour and its prophets of doom.

And one other thing that we've discovered about the good folk of the 'Naki is that if they don't know for sure that you've grasped the point they're making, they'll tell you again, just to make sure. Gordon Brown does just that in his close:

Now before anyone thinks I'm picking on women, let me state categorically I'm not anti-women. In fact, I think every man should have one, at least. And I'm not anti-babies or children either. Some of my own family have been those.
But I am anti-bludging. Let's call it what it is.
It's about a small but growing group of people who think they have a right to make any decision they like and we should pay for their consequences.
It's not about rights, it's all about choices.
I have nothing but the greatest admiration for those couples, and women, who went without to give their children a good upbringing. Anyone over the age of 30 or so will know what I mean. They, like us, never received a cent from the Government (or us) for childcare. My wife worked, we paid the costs and what was left over went towards our savings to buy our first house.
It may come as a shock to the likes of Ms Moroney to know that women generally planned their pregnancies and the last thing on their minds was a Government hand-out.
Just why we should pick up the tab and somehow be jointly responsible for anyone else's child isn't the sign of a more enlightened society. It is a symptom of a reluctantly indulgent society, which simply can't afford such profligacy, that allows others who abdicate their own responsibilities to bludge off the rest of us. 

Doubtless the feminists will seize on that first paragraph to attack Mr Brown; good luck to them. We are sure that he is up to the contest. But he is absolutely right in his remarks about days gone by. When the first Mrs Stock and ourselves had our children, we made sure that our finances were in order first. We saved everything we could, which would have made our dear departed father proud. We paid off our second mortgage (remember second and even third mortgages?), and made sure that we could cope on one income for however long it took. And we didn't ask the state (Sir Roger Douglas was the Finance Minsiter when our eldest was born) for anything over and above the Family Benefit which every New Zealand parent received.

We live in a society where instant gratification has become the norm, and whilst the intention of the extension of Paid Parental Leave is not without merit, it is simply unaffordable at the moment when the books do not balance. "Profligacy" is Gordon Brown's description; we can think of others. But we thank Brown for his plain speaking, in the best traditions of the Taranaki and of provincial New Zealand in general.


Joel said...

Really great column there from Mr. Brown. All I see this as is another set of handouts - being used as a voter bribe yet again. Like John Banks said in the house a couple of weeks ago, it's taxing the middle class more to offer them some back as a bribe.

Maybe I'm too young to know much about paid parental leave and the family benefit - but I was born while Ruth Richardson was finance minister. I like to think that I, and my two siblings (also raised without PPL) are turning out alright.

More money (in general) does not turn bad parenting into good parenting. I think the left fails to understand this...

Keeping Stock said...

Agreed Joel; it's good that there are still columnists out there who are prepared to call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

"But for Sue Moroney to describe the government's intention to us its power of veto as "a threat to democracy" is absolute bunkum, especially when one considers that the Helen Clark-led government used the power of veto more than 30 times between 1999 and 2008."
Transparent and pathetic spin there, Inventory2. Labour only used 'veto' for ammendments and only at the end of the process. English flashed it about before the process was even begun, in a way that Labour never did. The charge of 'undemocratic' is a fair one and your shameful attempt to play the whiney 'But Labour did it!"
card is a fail. F.A.I.L.

Siena said...

Good, bold and courageous journalistic comment from Mr Brown. His logic is hard to fault unless you are standing there with your hand out to purloin more of other people's money in order to indulge your own personal decisions.

Personal responsibility for one's own actions would be a fine thing if the majority of our population had not been hijacked already by the addiction of ever expanding "social welfare".

At its core, welfare is the mark of a decent society looking after the (usually) temporary needs of those who have suffered a setback in life. The boundaries of that "assistance when in need" philosophy have been expanded beyond recognition over the last 30 years.

It's time for New Zealanders who want to control the course of their own lives to stand up against further socialist "redistribution" of our taxes. Otherwise, NZ will become a classic case of a wealthy, well-endowed country following the likes of Greece down the path to international servitude.

Joel said...

Come off it, Anonymous. Amendments to bills can cause as much change as a whole new bill.

As I see it, it is very easy for Labour, The Greens, UnitedFuture, NZFirst, Maori and Mana to pass this [PPL extension] into law. All David Shearer must do is use these votes to pass a no-confidence motion in John Key's ministry, (and apparently they've got the numbers to do it). Then he can show Sir Jerry that he has the confidence of the house, and voila - he can create as much new spending as he likes. He will be Prime Minister, Labour will control the treasury, and they can pay for parental leave (and whatever else) to their hearts' content.

But wait - United and Maori want to support John Key's government. I knew I was forgetting something... [end sarcasm]

That explains why the veto is not undemocratic. Only the ministry, who has support of the majority of the house, can control the budget - revenue and expenditure. The veto can only be effected at the 3rd reading - the bill still gets a parliamentary process. I think it's good that Bill English announced the intention to veto early - it's not going to surprise anyone at the end of the process.

Anonymous said...

"They, like us, never received a cent from the Government (or us) for childcare"
"And we didn't ask the state for anything over and above the Family Benefit which every New Zealand parent received"
- Was the baby delivered in a private hospital?
- Did the nurse/mid-wives/doctors all pay for their own tuition, at private universities/polytechs?
- Did you use private roads to get to the hospital?
- Did you send your child to private doctors during its life?
- Did you send it to a publicly funded schooling system?
etc. etc. etc

Brown received a great deal of state assistance to raise your child - since the 1980s, a great range of services have been made user-paid (to some extent), and consequently other benefits have been created to fill the gap. New Zealand was famous for its strong welfare state - the author was a "bludger" just as much as the modern family who receives a childcare subsidy.

Keeping Stock said...

That's a fair point Anon, but it doesn't change the bottom line; my then-wife and I planned the timing of our children, and made provision for them so that we would NOT be a burden on the state.

And having been a taxpayer since 1974, I reckon that the government would be some way in the black in terms of the cost of my consumption of services versus the money it has extracted from him hip pocket week in and week out!