Wednesday, September 20, 2017

History repeats itself: Jacinda Ardern to accomplish a Bob Hawke miracle on election night.

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Many harbouring reservations about Labour’s ability to unseat a three-term rule of National Party may feel this is a colossal task for rookie leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Among others, this means turning around a rudderless and crippled ship in such a short lap of time. Has this phenomenon ever been achieved before? No? Never? Impossible? Unhistorical?

Either you have a short memory, or were not even born when it happened.

JACINDA ARDERN: Next Prime Minister of New Zealand will bid farewell to Bill English from the 9th Floor Prime Minister's Office in the beehive in Wellington.

This phenomenon happened in Australia some 34 years ago. There, a new Australian Labour Party’s leader Bob Hawke, squeezed an electoral victory in just four weeks as the leader. He soundly defeated the siting PM Malcolm Fraser’s ruling Liberal Party coalition government in 1983. 

What caused this miracle for Labour? Australia was going through some tough economic times in early 1980s. At the time of proposed election in 1982, the economy suffered from high inflation, industrial disputes and high unemployment, accompanied by a prolonged drought. 

Opposition Labour Party then was led by Bill Hayden. Similar to New Zealand situation, they were also going through disputes, infighting, disunity and instability.  A faction of Labour Party wanted to roll Hayden as party leader in favour of Hawke. Prime Minister Fraser was well aware of the disunity in Labour, and took advantage of this by calling a snap-election.

Despite predictions of all political pundits and polls, FIJI PUNDIT predicts a repeat of history when a new Labour leader, Bob Hawke (left) assumed leadership four weeks before snap election, and went on to defeat veteran Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser (right). Same will happen in New Zealand, with Jacinda Ardern squeezing a victory, despite all odds, and people ridiculing my prediction and faith in the uprising of the Millennials .

He prematurely dissolved parliament and called for election on 5 March, 1983, unaware that Hayden had resigned and was replaced by Hawke. Under leadership of Hawke, Labour Party reassembled, realigned and recovered. It gained its lost territory, credibility and support. They surprised all political pundits. On the election night, Labour Party experienced a massive swing and wrested back power.

Time Magazine of 14 March, 1983 ran the following self-explanatory story:
Voters bet on a chummy, charismatic new leader
Barely a month ago, was Robert James Lee (Bob) Hawke, 53, a fledgling parliamentarian with a mediocre record as his party's spokesman for industrial relations. Last weekend he was elected Prime Minister of Australia, leading to victory a listless, often divided Labour Party that has held power for just three of the past 34 years. Hawke and his Labourites ended the 7½-year reign of Incumbent Malcolm Fraser and his Liberal/ National Party coalition. 

Now, let us compare this 1983 Australia situation to 2017 election in New Zealand.

Leadership in Labour Party in NZ took place just some seven weeks before the election. The party had been going through instability and uncertainty since departure of Helen Clark - they failed to anchor the party with any leader since she left. Political good-fortune eluded them and they were in a free-fall with National Party gearing up for a historic fourth-term as the government.

And then a miracle happened! Very admirably, Andrew Little made a Hail Mary Pass to Jacinda Ardern in a smooth, non-controversial and unanimous leadership change.   And as they say, rest is developing into a history.  

The unsung hero and Queen-maker, Andrew Little who abdicated to ensure a doze of oxygen for Labour Party, by relinquishing leadership to Jacinda Ardern.

In the polls that have been taken since Ardern took over, they have shown one thing clearly - Labour’s consistent march forward, breaking new grounds in polls and preferred Prime-Minister’s choice. What Jacinda also brought to Labour was that zing, x-factor, and identity with the millennials –the new generation. 

The resulting Jacindamania positively echoes one cheer from her re-assembled Millennials- a knockout punch on the election night, with Ardern in driver’s seat.

The meteoric rise for Ardern is contrasted by a drop in support for National, their desperate negative campaigning, and boring Bill , contrasted by Ardern’ s positivity and charisma.

They say, you get a government and leader you deserve: It is Ardern's positivity versus English's lies, scaremongering and dirty -campaigning.

Media worldwide will run similar news story as the Time Magazine story above, after NZ election on 23 September, 2017. My prediction is that this Australian history will repeat in New Zealand. The new leader, Ardern, who took the driver’s seat just recently, would execute a Bob Hawke punch on Bill English. She will wrest back power, and spell good political fortunes for Labour Party and New Zealand’s vulnerable people ignored by National. 

The sceptics who consider this as a mammoth task for Labour Party in general and Jacinda Ardern in particular, are correct. However it is not impossible, and very probable, considering the tell-tale signs already evident. And this is backed by historical precedent. And it will happen again.

Jacinda Ardern - the Queen that Andrew Little help make

Yes indeed, history does repeat itself. It will eventuate in New Zealand on the night of election, 23, September, 2017.

Jacinda Ardern will execute a Bob Hawke stroke on Bill English, to floor him on the count- thanks to Andrew Little"s Hail Mary Pass.

But will happen to Bill English?

For those of you who have seen  "Back to the Future" should know that this would be second defeat for him on his run to be an elected Prime Minister. They will appreciate this NZ Herald cartoon. 

Hence, for Bill English, it is back to the....

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer, a media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Thakur Ranjit Singh

National Party seems to carry the legacy of its past leader, recently Knighted Sir John Key, in copying him to win an election. The hallmark of National’s win in 2014 election was its indulgence in Negative Campaigning.

National’s campaign model was to use outside groups to deliver hard-hitting “mongrel –type” messages on behalf of the Party, while protecting the leader. 

The government machinery rubbished Nicky Hager’s claims raised in his 2004 book, “Dirty Politics” and Key won, largely due to a weak and divided opposition, and effects of negative campaign. (Read analysis of Dirty Politics in KIWI PUNDIT blog, parts 1 to 5. 

Since departure of Key, leadership in National passed to Bill English. National’s smooth and confident fourth-term run was rudely interrupted by Andrew Little’s Hail Mary pass to Jacinda Ardern. Positive poll results for Labour and Jacindamania have been causing uncertainty, desperation and perspiration in National Party.

National Party's smear campaign of discrediting Labour Party was well-depicted by NZ Herald cartoon of 18 September, 2017. This depicts how a scarecrow, usually a figure of a person in old clothes is set up to frighten crows or other birds away from crops. Here the imagery is that National Party is using advertisements of imaginary taxes to scare away the voters.

With departure of Key and the ‘hounds” of National Party being exposed and kennelled, the negative campaigning became obsolete.

Under Bill English, a new form has taken shape- Dirty Campaigning. This involves picking up things that are lies, borders on hypocrisy, using scare tactics and relying on negativity. You discredit opposition because you cannot stand on your own merit, spending all your energies and advertising dollars in smearing your opposition with information that is not even correct.

Their hypocrisy was rudely exposed by Corin Dann of TVNZ . Very cleverly he pulled up Bill English on Q + A (17.09.17) on National’s desperate attempt to discredit Labour. When asked by Dann if there would be any interest increase under National, English replied that no government could guarantee that. Dann retorted, then why National was sending lies in campaign flyers claiming that interest would go up if Labour came to power?  He asked, whether it was not hypocritical, lies and scaremongering, when National could not guarantee interests themselves?

Nicky Hager's 2014 book, "Dirty Politics" that was discounted by National Party as mischief-making. But it revealed how John Key had two-pronged strategy where his hired hounds discredited opposition, while he maintained good clean image, that came to be known as  the"smiling assassin"

English retorted that interest would go up as Labour would have to borrow more. He was again proved a liar and scaremonger by Dann who stated that National’s debt went up from 9% of GDP to 25 % and yet interest rates dropped. Hence, National was relying on misinformation. 

On the $11.7 billion hole, nobody could prove there was one, yet National was still using this as scaremongering in campaign. The other forms of taxation: inheritance, income and capital gains have all been shelved. And fart tax? But why were they still being used by National with negativity in Radio campaign. 

On water tax, there would not be substantial difference, so why are lies presented to people? Lies, and more lies. In a politically-motivated farmers protest in Waikato, we had a scenario made famous by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. In his book, “Things Fall Apart” which I studied as school literature in my Fiji Secondary school, I still recall one memorable adage: “outsiders crying louder than the bereaved”. This was the case at Waikato protest, orchestrated by National supporters, but very conveniently, denied by Bill English.

Federated Farmers, who organised the protest where few of those who attended would ever be affected by such royalty.

Key (pun intended) players in National Party's Negative Campaign, as revealed by Nicky Hager's "Dirty Politics: From left-Cameron Slater, Simon Lusk, Jordan Williams, Carrick Graham and Cathy Odgers ( NZ Herald photo)
Of the 1.2 million hectares of farmland in Waikato, only 20,000 (1.6%) is irrigated, and only 15,000 ha (1.25 %) are dairy farms. Hence, the protest in Waikato was indeed like a funeral where the outsiders cried louder than the relatives of the deceased. The event does not escape the scrutiny that since it was organised at the home ground of Jacinda a few days before election smacks and stinks of Dirty Politics.

Indeed, some farmers felt threatened by a 37 year old woman and held a protest march, strategically in her hometown. For a moment, ignore the fact that many of those farmers have their own water supply, or never irrigate, hence the tax will not affect them. But the fact that the march started and ended  at the local RSA shows how  serious they were, and I suppose they had a good piss-up and enjoyable time after the protest, which ironically was called ‘non-political.

What is very evident in this election campaign is negativity of National versus positivity of Labour. 

Over the last nine years, National has so many skeletons in their closet, but Jacinda is too decent to use them in Labour’s ad to degrade them. If she wanted she could have exposed skeletons that John Key and Bill English amassed in National’s closet.


But no, Jacinda is too decent. If she wanted, she could have arranged a union protest, and gone to Bill English’s back yard, as National supporters descended on Morrinsville. 

She could have organised it in a small town in the Southland region of New Zealand, located 20 kilometres south of Lumsden and 60 kilometres north of Invercargill. In there, she could have taken a dip in local Oreti River, and come with a ton of dirt. That would have been the clean Oreti River of Dipton, hometown of Bill English!

If she really wanted to be nasty, she would have prepared this campaign ad:

What happens when a lying Foreign Affairs Minister misleads a sleeping Prime Minister, and equally intellectually- lazy Finance Minister, who pays $30 million dollar of your money as bribe to a Saudi Arabian middleman to obtain a trade deal that never eventuated? And that payment was based on legal threats, from a legal opinion that never existed!
Now, can you trust such an intellectually-lethargic Finance Minister as your next Prime Minister?“ End of Ad.

But you will never see this advertisement.

Jacinda Ardern is too decent to degenerate and descend to the gutter level that National has sunk to.

This ad will just blow away like National’s Fart Tax in smear campaign.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer, a media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Unsung Queen-Maker: When Andrew Little stands tall

Thakur Ranjit Singh

In 1936, British monarchy faced a crisis when King-Emperor Edward VIII, had to abdicate the throne because he proposed to marry a divorcee, Wallis Simpson. As a result of that abdication, today we have Queen Elizabeth II as Head of Commonwealth. This was when her father George VI took over from his brother Edward, and the Queen inherited the throne through that historical sacrifice for love.

Abdication by King-Emperor Edward VIII in 1936 created Queen Elizabeth II. Abdication by Andrew Little in 2017  created Queen Jacinda Ardern.

There have been other cases in history when such twists and turns of events carved out our history with renewed opportunities and changed fortunes. The coming generations in New Zealand will view similar anecdotal sacrifice and political history that took place just months before 2017 election.

After departure of Helen Clark, New Zealand Labour Party never really experienced stability due to lack of clear succession plans, among others. Leadership was like musical chairs, with Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little temporarily occupying the shaky chair.  It was always expected that the leadership change would spell better political fortunes. But with infightings, poor internal management, a wanting media and communications cell, inability to communicate clearly and a lack of charisma from the leaders, good political fortunes evaded the party. According to the polls, Labour was expected to lose the game, with election months away. They appeared to be in a death-spiral, with National confidently gearing up for a historical fourth-term. They needed a miracle. And miracle they did get - with a Hail Mary Pass before the last whistle!

Best wishes after the ultimate sacrifice: Andrew Little greeting Jacinda Ardern, and wishing her all the best in the election.

Those familiar with American Football would know that a Hail Mary Pass is a very long forward pass made in desperation, towards end of the game. The ball is thrown as far as you can throw, hoping your player can catch the ball and win the game.

And the Labour team’s Captain, Andrew Little admirably made that long frantic pass. And the ball is caught by the new Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern. She is now in a desperate run for political touchdown, with Kelvin Davis in the flanks, with a looming victorious touchdown.  

Andrew Little had big burdens on his shoulders. With election just months away, and polls really hurting Labour, he had to rise to the occasion. He thought, Labour would be in better hands with Jacinda at the helms, as she offered better alternative government. As a die-hard Labour man, he had to do something.

And he made the ultimate sacrifice - an admirable and unprecedented call. This came unexpectedly, very suddenly, but very decisively. He handed over the leadership to Jacinda Ardern. What a wonderful gesture, and an exemplary action that dashed the possibility of him ever becoming a Prime Minister. Very few would let that chance go by, never mind how remote the possibility. 

Andrew Little -the unsung-hero, the Queen-Maker

But like a true gentleman and a devoted party Marshall, he made the Hail Mary Pass.  This gesture gave rise to Jacindamania (also referred to as Jacinda - effect). And it created another history - that this Labour transition in leadership was bloodless, without controversy and without opposition. People who had seen enough blood in the past Labour leadership battles would have passed this leadership move as a Sunday school picnic.

Political Editor of NZ Herald, Audrey Young observed this appropriately:

Ardern’ s elevation has been the cleanest transfer of power by any leader in recent memory, way surpassing that of Key  to Bill English last year, in which he faced a couple of faux rivals. Part of the reason for this transition is that it had no origins in a coup or scandal or undertones of a selfish decision, as Key’s had.”(Weekend Herald-6 August, 2017)

We salute Andrew Little - the unsung hero who brought good political fortunes to Labour, culminating in Jacindamania which will rival Bob Hawke’s miracle in Australia. 

Andrew Little's stands Tall, after abdicating, and making way for Jacinda Ardern

Former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke took over Labour Party just a month before a snap election in 1983 and led the party to a landslide victory. And that historical Bob Hawke miracle looks certain to be repeated in New Zealand by Jacinda Ardern. (Read article on Bob Hawke punch by Jacinda Ardern, later in FIJI PUNDIT)

King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, for his love, and created Queen Elizabeth II. 

King Andrew abdicated in 2017, for love of Labour Party, and created Queen Jacinda!

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer, a media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Thakur Ranjit Singh

While dosing off for a catnap, I dreamt a Jeannie-  THE CAPITAL GAINS TAX.

In the dream, I was in the final Leaders’ debate between Bill English and Jacinda Ardern. And a major issue emerging out in the election 2017 is tax in general and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in particular. 

Mike Hosking is the moderator, and his right leaning is very subtle. He has asked a difficult “Sudden Death” question towards end of the debate, and needs a do or die response.

Sir John Key, former Prime Minister of New Zealand who did nothing to arrest spiralling house prices and speculations. Through his neglect in housing governance, real estate values have skyrocketed, and new generation's dream of owning a home is out of reach. And he was able to sell his Parnell mansion at reportedly $20m dollars to a Chinese buyer.. I wonder what do you call a leader (or a former one) who gains out of his neglect?

Mike Hosking: Jacinda Ardern, we come to the final segment of this final debate. Your voters need the answer. Labour wishes to introduce CGT in New Zealand. Why should it make a difference here when it failed to arrest house price rise in Australia. The capital gains tax was introduced in Australia in September 1985 by the Labour government of Bob Hawke, over 3 decades ago. Then, the median Sydney house price was just A$92,000 ($102,000), compared with A$1.1 million in 2016. Please tell us, if it did not work there, how it will make a difference here.

Jacinda Ardern: Since you have asked this complex question, I hope you will listen to my explanation without interruption.

Mike: Agreed, and hope Bill English will also maintain his silence, as his government maintained inaction in this matter. (Love you, Mike)

Jacinda: Thanks. Now listen. Before you jump to the conclusion that CGT is ineffective in limiting property prices, you need to know the reasons why it failed in Australia.

The first reason is that it was never intended to limit house price growth. In Australia, the CGT was intended to raise money for the Government and to ensure that those people who were lucky enough to have investable assets paid tax on those gains, in the same way others pay tax on their wages.

Since the aim was to maximise revenue, GST was applied to any investments, be they houses, other property, shares, bonds, works of art, or whatever. Thus, the intention in Australia was NOT to shift investment away from housing to other areas. To illustrate, Australia example is shooting with a scatter-gun, M16, for wide tax coverage. Labour Party’s policy here can be likened to a sniper gun, with telescopic lens, homing on, (excuse the pun) addressing booming house prices and property speculations.

Our CGT will target housing. Investors here will now think twice before rushing headlong into housing. Australians did not target housing, hence it did not deter people from house investment. That is why their form of CGT failed to address booming house prices.

To make matters worse, when Liberal Government of John Howard came into power in 1999, they reduced CGT by half and removed inflation adjustment provision. My tax advisory team would learn from pitfalls of Australia. This was one of many generous financial benefits Howard handed to his core constituency of middle class voters. The result is many of those voters' adult children now can't afford their own homes. That is exactly what National Government did here, by not doing anything to arrest the situation. And my generation is paying the price for a lackadaisical attitude of National Government for the last 9 years. For the sake of new generation, we need a change.

FIJI PUNDIT, yours truly, Thakur, had a dream- he dreamt a Jeannie (Genie) which in the current election is CGT. He dreamt of the final leader's debate where moderator, Mike Hosking cornered Jacinda Ardern on why Capital Gains Tax failed to arrest house prices in Australia. And Jacinda gave a very informed response. 

Subsequent to an enquiry, the Reserve Bank of Australia explained how the capital gains tax interacted with other tax concessions for property to actually encourage investors to buy up houses. One of such incentives is negative gearing. We have already announced we will scrap it.

Mike Hosking: Perhaps you will explain to your voters what this monster, “negative gearing” is.

Jacinda: This is where losses made on investments can be deducted from taxable income derived from other sources. Negative gearing and the lowered CGT discount combined together to encourage Australian investors to invest in residential property which was having the effect of pushing up house prices and lowering rates of home ownership. Same as our situation.

These tax perks encourage investors to make a loss and to focus not on rental returns but on capital gains. They are able to get refund on their high salaries or other income by claiming house interest and other losses on the house, while gaining handsomely on capital gain of the house.

Apart from Australia only two other OECD nations allow full tax deductibility on this negative gearing - New Zealand and Japan. 

It is ironical, we invest money to make money. Under the system in NZ, people invest to lose money, but gain twice - through tax deduction and capital gain. 

As a result, many residential investment properties are designed to make a loss to take advantage of the tax deduction.

We have learnt from Australia experience. We will introduce CGT, and also remove negative gearing that fuelled higher price rises in Australia.

As the next Prime Minister, I will put a stop to this and allow my generation to once again fulfil the dream of owning a house in Auckland…….”

And my alarm went off, and I woke up. We hope New Zealand voters also wake up-especially the new generation millennials. 

Hope somebody can brief Jacinda Ardern about my dream, as I believe Mike Hosking will ask this question in the final leaders debate. I am sure Labour management has more qualified people than my dream, to brief Jacinda on this subject. I can rely on my Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford to do this- Let's do this , Phil!

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer, a media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Thursday, August 31, 2017

$18 Cabbage: Mother of Misinformation and Ignorance

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Disinformation and misinformation on Labour Party’s water policy shows why it is so urgent for New Zealand’s education system to strengthen its third “r”, arithmetic in particular, and maths in general.

It appears many political leaders, journalists and media commentators are very grossly misinformed, without ability to differentiate between a litre (just one litre) and cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water.

When Labour Government comes in power in a month’s time, it should have special Arithmetic classes for journalist and some elderly political leaders, to ensure they do not make a laughing stock of themselves. As a first lesson, they need to know the difference between a litre and a cubic metre of water. 

Extremely nonsensical misinformation propagated by some ignorant politicians priced a cabbage at $18 each. And at Labour's proposed taxation price, this giant cabbage must require few swimming pools of water to grow. (1.8 million litres). This is ignorance at best, and sheer stupidity at worst.

A litre of milk uses some 960 litres of water to produce. At Labour's proposed tax of 1 cent per cubic metre (1,000 litres of water) this will cost less than a cent per litre. So what is the issues here? Where do they get their figures from?

No wonder, National Government should have invested in maths teachers, so politicians and general public can grasp simple arithmetic. And Beehive need to have maths classes for Parliamentarians, so that people like Winston Peters, and Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy get better informed and enlightened on intelligent water debate and modes of measuring volume.

Nathan Guy made a spectacle of himself when he could not differentiate and distinguish between a litre and a cubit metre of water. This Guy said it took 900 litres of water to make a bottle of wine, and a 10c per litre charge would add $75 to a bottle's price. Where did he get his figure from? He does not even appear to have facts as a Minster to credibly debate an issue.

Labour’s environment spokesperson MP David Parker corrected Guy, and pointed out that Labour would charge by the cubic metre and not by litre. Hence, a tax of 1 cent per cubic metre would therefore lift the cost of a 750ml bottle of sauvignon Blanc by less than 1 cent.

Those politicians, radio talk back journalists and misinformed DJs at radio stations not comprehending simple maths need to distinguish water measures between a litre and cubit metre. Under farms taxation, you pay only one cent for 5 x 44 gallons (204 litres) drums of water (1,000 lit). For a cabbage to cost $18 each, it needs to take 8, 800 of 44 gallon drums or 1,800,000 litres (you talking million litres) of water to grow. That can fill a few swimming pools.

Any irrigation irrigates thousands of plants, and at Labour's proposed rates, it would not even amount to a cent per each plant.

Water spokesperson for Labour Party, David parker said that Labour Party was proposing charging 1 or 2 cents for each 1000 litres farmers use - but the details are yet to be hammered out with those involved. He said erroneous claims that such levies would equate to $50,000 a farm are rubbish.

"It would be about $100m across the whole of the country for a year," he told Q+A .
Perhaps Winston Peters can tell us which thirsty cabbage would need a few swimming pools of water to grow.

Labour’s environment spokesperson, David Parker said that NZ First's cabbage example was "amusing" and at a million litres of irrigation, it would indeed make one extremely watery cabbage.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer and media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Labour’s Hail Mary pass: Jacinda Ardern gallops for a political touchdown.

Thakur Ranjit Singh.

Those familiar with American Football would know that a Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass made in desperation, towards end of the game. Here, all receivers run straight towards the end zone and the quarterback will make a long pass that is often "up for grabs".

And the Labour team’s Captain and quarterback, Andrew Little has admirably made that pass and Jacinda Ardern has grabbed the ball in a desperate run for political touchdown, with Kelvin Davis in the flanks. Can they do this? 

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the next Prime Minister of New Zealand, JACINDA ARDERN
For somebody who served “apprenticeship” under Helen Clark, Jacinda Ardern appears to have very ably displayed elements of the former Prime Minister’s mettle within very short time of assuming leadership. She embraced the position very confidently with her command performance in the first press broadcast within hours of taking up the office.

She repeated her admirable performance as an able leader, with a combination of empathy for common people, compassion and force - within four days of taking up the helm of a sinking ship.

Lizzie Marvelly, writing in NZ Herald summed it well:

“New Zealand was delivered a Prime Minister-in-waiting… Jacinda Ardern... the uncontested leader of the Labour Party, stepping into shoes that realistically haven’t been adequately filled since they were worn by the formidable Right Honourable Helen Clark.”

And I repeat my Facebook observation - Ardern is a resurrection of Helen Clark. She is lovable, and can also be ruthless when needed. And she displayed those qualities admirably by her decision not to have Materia Turei in her cabinet.

Political Editor of NZ Herald, Audrey Young, observed rightly:

It was case of smiling assassin –sacking her first minister before she even had the chance to be a minister. It had echoes of both Helen Clark and John Key.” 

The Hail Mary Pass: The former Labour Leader, former captain and quarterback of Labour Team, Andrew Little, made the desperate Hail Mary Pass to Jacinda Ardern, who is GALLOPING FOR A POLITICAL TOUCHDOWN.
Motherhood has become international news here. What is also noticeable about Ardern is that as a former journalist student from Waikato University, she has the understanding and appreciation of halo effect certain mainstream male journalists possess. With that false sense of conceit, they have a habit of bullying, interrupting and humiliating politicians. They certainly have no such chance with Ardern who can trim down journalists who think they are Little Gods.  One journalist rightfully quipped that Ardern grabbed the opportunity to metaphorically club a few media cavemen over their stone-age views on working women and pregnancy. 

If these Kiwi journalist had done their research, they would have found out that almost three decades ago, in 1990, Prime Minister of a very conservative Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto had a baby while in office. That was 27 years ago. Some “cavemen” journalists need refresher course in research and probing journalism.

In the first weekend as the leader, she dominated both- TV 3’s “The Nation” and TVNZ’S “Q+A” and showed her advanced media skills. Unlike Winston Peters who has a habit of ridiculing and shooting the messengers, Ardern is more civilised and humane. The observation was that she possess an ability to rattle them respectfully, and pass on her message.

Labour for the past many years suffered from lack of penetration of their messages. Ardern is a fresh breeze. Positivity, vision for NZ, working for all with integrity, firmness, fairness, equality for all… These were themes that resonated in all mainstream media from this lass with roots in rural Murupara (in Bay of Plenty, 65 km from Rotorua) and Morrinsville, Waikato. Hence, her empathy for the down-trodden - a leader with a heart, not necessarily a rock!

The winning team of Leaders - Jacinda Ardern and Deputy, Kelvin Davis, ready for political touchdown and the winning score on the elction day.

A political party is best judged by how smooth the transition of its leadership is. Labour, since departure of Helen Clark, has been in disarray - until Jacindamania. It was the cleanest and unanimous transfer in history, not borne in any scandal or for selfish reason. In fact it was rooted in a huge sacrifice of Andrew Little (FIJI PUNDIT will have an article on this sacrifice). 

Not many would pass a chance to be Prime Minister. This transition even eclipsed the one between Key and English where challenges (read Collins, Coleman) were suppressed by the departing smiling assassin. No such thing here - a very smooth transition – with a resounding applause which drowned the past bloody battles of Labour leadership.

The youth and media look of Labour needs to be celebrated-and enhanced. Stuart Nash, Michael Wood, and incoming hopefuls of Tamati Coffey and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, among others, helped by Willie Jackson and old hands from the Labour team, including Phil Twyford, David Parker, and Grant Robertson, among others, comprise a challenging team. Their strengths are in media, communications and they project diversity. Labour needs to rectify its deficient communication cell – and colour it to reflect modern NZ.

Part of the winning Labour Team, led by new Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern.
A word of advice and caution. Jacinda Ardern has to maintain herself, and cleanse (read sack) those in Labour Office who have been responsible for a wanting support to the past leaders. She needs to get a new team, especially those who can communicate. They need diverse support service that reflects the demographic make -up of the country, unlike a very white NZ mainstream media. 

David Cunliffe and Andrew Little failed to listen to this advice at their peril. Had Little done this, there would never have been the intern controversy (read Matt McCarten). I am hopeful Ardern will have her media radars on, be herself and have a support office that can serve the leader effectively-and efficiently, for a change.

And yes, Murupara means to “wipe off mud”. And that they will do as they march into Government after election.

Hail Mary…it is a winning touchdown…Let’s DO this.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a media commentator and a political observer. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Baa… Baa… Barnaby: When Australia interferes in New Zealand elections

Thakur Ranjit Singh

The unprecedented reaction of Australian government in Barnaby Joyce affair is their attempts to hide their internal shortfalls by seeking sacrificial lambs in New Zealand. They are throwing a rotting and stinking rat our way as a means of political distraction that they urgently need. And National Party, some mainstream media journalists and others here pointing figure at New Zealand are wrong and misled by Australian government, which is blaming others to cover their idiocies.

An unprecedented diplomatic brawl erupted when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop jabbed New Zealand Labour Party, accusing them of conspiring to bring down the Turnbull government.  NZ Labour Party’s star performer and a minister prospect, MP Chris Hopkins became the unfortunate fall guy. He is reported to have asked parliamentary questions about citizenship after a chat with a former Helen Clark staffer. In fact it eventuated that a Fairfax media investigation into Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Baa… Baa… oops (my jest), Barnaby Joyce confirmed earlier this week he was a dual New Zealand national, which could disqualify him from Parliament. 

The Careless, the Fall Guy and the Pretty Leader: Barnaby Joyce, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, caught with his pants down, Chris Hipkins, the star Labour MP, and fall guy and sacrificial lamb for Julie Bishop, Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia, and the smiling assassin, the new Labour Leader  Jacinda Ardern, who teaches international diplomacy to Bishop.
It is reported Joyce’s father was New Zealand born and he left NZ in 1947, and Barnaby was born in Australia. An archaic clause in Australian Constitution says anybody with a foreign father also assumes citizenship of his/her father. Ironically, Barnaby with his mother and grandmother are Australian born, hence the laughable clause in Australian Constitution.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, contrary to her surname, was full of venom, bitterness and desire of a battle with NZ Labour Party. "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government, “Bishop said. What a load of hogwash, and what a joke.
Neither Australian Labour Party, nor New Zealand Labour Party, not the fall guy Chris Hipkins, not even remotely the new NZ Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern made Barnaby Joyce a Kiwi – Barnaby’s father did! So why is Bishop barking up the wrong tree?  They need to take some personal responsibility.

Let me tell you a story. My grandfather, Bansi came to Fiji in 1915 from British India as an indentured labourer from Karouli, Rajasthan, India. He was a British subject, and as a result my Fiji-born father was also a British until Fiji gained independence in 1970, and he became a Fijian, and so did I. When I migrated to NZ, I became NZ citizen, and also obtained dual Fijian citizenship. If I were to contest an election, as an intelligent and wise person who considers himself worthy of representing others, I need to possess grey matter to do due diligence to enquire about my eligibility. I make it my business to know about my heritage, ancestry and legal matters relating to citizenship, especially if you intend to be in politics. And here we have an Australian leader caught with his pants down, and blaming others for his predicament, despite saying that ignorance of law is no excuse. Perhaps his government can walk his talk and stop blaming Labour Parties of both countries, Chris Hipkins or Jacinda Ardern, for their folly.

Look here Jacinda Ardern, "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government" What a load of crap. IN FACT AUSTRALIA IS INTERFERING WITH NEW ZEALAND ELECTION BY PROPPING UP NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH HER STANCE
Australia’s Deputy prime Minister and other politicians have an army of staff, with some of the best brains money can buy to find out and fix these things. They cannot and should not blame others for sleepwalking.  Ask Indian MPs in NZ Parliament, Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi, Paramjeet Parmar’ and Mahesh Bindra – they are smarter than some Australian politicians when it comes to due diligence. Does somebody so ignorant of his genealogy and citizenship deserve to be Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister?

Julie Bishop need to dwell on this issue, rather than blaming others for political misfortune of her party.  After her boorish performance, it should be Jacinda Ardern who should be saying, that when Labour Party in New Zealand comes to power after election next month, (August 23, 2017) she would have difficulty working with an Australian Government with such shallow and interfering Ministers. 

Julie Bishop needs to appreciate that who sought clarification of NZ laws is irrelevant. The real issue is her interference in our elections. Bishop used this issue to suggest if NZ Labour won the upcoming election, then that Government would not be trusted by Australia. Ironically, she happens to be the one who is interfering in the electoral process of New Zealand and thus propping up National government. She appears to be attempting to influence NZ election outcome with her unethical and unwarranted threats. She is the real culprit who deserves scorn.

Jacinda Ardern, the new leader of NZ Labour Party (Centre), flanked by her Deputy, Kelvin Davis (left) and Finance Minster-in-waiting, Grant Robertson (right). Ardern came out with flying colours in this episode.Unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. 
In this whole sordid affair, anybody who came out shining and winners is Jacinda Ardern, who had been on the job for only some two weeks. In the first international controversy after taking the helm, she lived up to her reputation of the smiling assassin. Rightfully, she refused to apologise, as there was no wrongdoing on her part. And unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. She did not call Bishop, but was, and is still, waiting for her to call her – as Julie Bishop was the one who drew first blood.

And that distracting stinking rat is back on the government side of Australian Parliament – creating a stink which may result Labour Party assuming control in Australia, as we will do in New Zealand.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a NZ Labour Party Member, is a media commentator and runs his blog-FIJI PUNDIT]