Armstrong thinks National is boring

When it comes to absolute non-events, there is nothing as mind-numbingly tedious as the Prime Minister’s annual written statement to Parliament.

So utterly underwhelming was Tuesday’s effort that it was three days later before someone noticed it had not been posted on the home page of the official Government website.

The Prime Minister’s statement had its genesis in the 1990s following a rewrite of Parliament’s rules. The idea was to start the political year with a wide-ranging debate on a scene-setting document somewhat akin to a State of the Nation address.

The Prime Minister is thus required to present a statement on the first sitting day of the new year.

The document is supposed to review “public affairs” and outline the Government’s legislative and other policy intentions for the next 12 months. It does so – but only to a limited extent. The ruling party never gives its opponents advance notice of its intentions until the very last moment – and not always then.

Tuesday’s statement sought to demonstrate a third-term National Government is still busy-busy and not running out of ideas.

Even so, the content of the statement was largely confined to things already announced or which have been long signalled by the governing party.

…and it is exactly what the electorate wants. ? I would have though John Armstrong had been in the game long enough to realise that politics isn’t the same as launching the new iPhone 7. ? This electorate is used to steady running and no stupid bribes (although the tax cut talk before the election still sticks in my craw) ?

From day one of his leadership, Little has confronted Key more directly and more pugnaciously, especially in Parliament where his “cut the crap” crack at Key has been the most vivid example.

Little’s tone and demeanour carries an unspoken message: “I don’t care who you are or where you came from. You may have grown up in a state house. Your way of saying thanks is to sell them. You are a Tory, you are the enemy.”

Little’s belligerence prompted National’s Steven Joyce to label him as “Mr Angry”. But that will not stick.

Outside the parliamentary chamber, Little is far more softly spoken. He lets the words he chooses do the talking.

He is having to learn to pick his fights, however. As this column predicted last week, the “what John Key knew about Mike Sabin and when” conspiracy theory has turned out to be an absolute fizzer.

It’s certainly true that the public never cared. ?And the polling shows that every time Labour go down that track, their numbers suffer. ?But the sad thing is that those who know the facts behind the alleged Sabin debacle know it is potentially explosive for a prime minister to be seen to keep the lid on something that allegedly unacceptable. ?Allegedly.

Suppression killed it. ? And Little should have let it go at that. ? Let’s hope justice is served even if it isn’t in the public eye, and even if certain people in National could have had a career ending situation had the facts been allowed into the public.


– NZ Herald