So we finally have a decision on having the little boys on and I was rather entertained by the placement that they got. But to the debate itself. I got to sit around watching it with a bunch of Greenies and anarchists, which was almost as entertaining as the debate.
John Campbell is one of my favourite TV presenters, as he is smart and rather witty. But he was particularly crap at explaining the worm. Apparently it’s like ‘high tech applause’. And it’s not a worm, it’s a Reaktor! Righty.
So here’s my blow by blow analysis.
The first round was designed to check out their leadership style, and what they think are the qualities of a leader. The order was drawn out of a hat (plastic viking hat apparently) and Dr Don went first.
And Brash fucks up on the first sentence. He tried to say a good leader is one that listens but it came out ‘a good listener uh uh uh leader uh uh listener, is a leader that listens’ or something like that. He did recover from that blunder and actually managed to discuss his vision for the country, which is a big step forward from last year when he was asked what his vision was and he couldn’t answer (think he was still looking to the early 90s for vision then). I didn’t see the Reaktor during that bit cause someone was in the way.
Next up was Jeanette (looking gorgeous by the way, darling!) who talked about progress being about more than making money, it’s about cleaning up our rivers, cleaning up our air etc. She was obviously well prepared and practised and came across really good. Reaktor was steadily moving up the whole way through.
Then we had Rodney (we’ll be back after the elction, I promise) Hide talking about tax cuts *shock, horror* and the end to PC, which the Reaktor did react rather well to. But it was one of the rare times in the deabte that the Reaktor liked negativity.
Jimbo got his turn and bored everyone to death. His speech was a lot of “I’ve been here forever and done all this wonderful stuff” but considering that there is still noone who knows what party he is in even after he changed the name *again* I’m not sure if it was a successful strategy. The Reaktor flatlined and then went down.
Then we got to see a real leader when Helen took the stage. Have to say she’s got the presidential style down pat. All the stuff I have heard about how to engage with tv to come across like a good leader, Helen does like a pro. She talked about strong leadership and experience (ie I’ve got it, Don hasn’t) and the Reaktor kept on going up.
Next up was Tariana and boy she looked nervous. She started by talking about a vision of a nation founded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Reaktor screamed and burrowed down as fast as it could) and then started talking about family
Talked about people. Line plummeted but then went up, steady just above the line.
Then we got the supposed ‘worm-master’ Peter Dunne. Talked about commonsense straight away and then rambled on about family values. The Reaktor liked it.
Finally we get to hear from Winston and he started talking about what leadership is about, but didn’t say if he actually fitted that description. Reaktor was pretty steadily high for that. And then he talked about getting punished by his dad and the Reaktor dropped down.
Ad break! doo dee doo
We came to the next round which was the number one issue facing NZ and what each party is planning to do about it.
Don first and he surprises us all by talking about Education. He went on and on about all the problems of the education system – Reaktor goes up, and up. But he neglected to say what National was going to do about it. Absolutely no policy excpet right at the end he said he’s going to ‘get things right’. What ever that means.
John Campbell hit him up about tax cuts with a noble yet tokenistic attempt to get the National tax policy out of him.
Don tried to take the opportunity, but John cut him off and moved on to the others.
Peter went next – Stated some numeracy and literacy targets which the Reaktor liked, but then he mentioned ‘mind changing’ which elicited an amusing response amongst the people I was with, and a dip with Reaktor. Reaktor was pretty high through out.
Tariana had a go and talked about the problems with Maori getting their basic educaiton in prison which the Reaktor didn’t seem to get. But then when she talked about how to prevent this from happening ie investment in tertiary, debt, and the end to older generations ripping off younger generations, the Reaktor liked that.
Jeanette (with a beaming grin) spelt out Green Party policy of addressing the causes of debt, fees, lack of Universal Living Allowance, 1 years work for one years debt and the Reaktor shot up. John interjected about cost and the Reaktor had a moment of hesitation but when she explained the accounting implications the Reaktor seemed satisfied and wiggled up again.
Peter got asked about it and he said that it was one of the few areas the Greens agreed, called it ‘common sense’ even. Much to the amusement of our audience and to the approval of Reaktor.
Don then slagged off Labour policy and Reaktor dipped below line. Tried the whole line about students borrowing money for the hell of it, the Reaktor obviously didn’t buy that at all. He did gain ground by talking tax cuts agin, but not enough.
Helen had her go on student support said their policy is good for New Zealand, and listed some of the positive impacts, Reaktor really likes and goes up. She was ‘thrilled with policy’ (which she should be since she promised us all in 1995 that if Labour got in we’d get a Universal Student Allowance pfft).
Winston the proceeded to slag off labour policy as bribe, Reaktor glared at him. He mentioned that the cause of debt needs to be addressed and mentioned their student allowance policy. But he wasn’t clear enough on that and Reaktor didn’t really get it.
Rodney tried the line that if you make it easier to borrow they’ll borrow more, which was a silly move if you were able to see Reaktor, but understandable if you weren’t. Tax cuts will fix it was his line, and he was clever to mention that tax cuts affects all New Zealanders, not just students. Said the number one isssue is to make people ‘proud and prosperous’. Again Reaktor likes a bit of vision and positivity.
Anderton then got questioned about his position on tax cuts and he tried to justify it, Reaktor went to sleep, literally, the line just flatlined.
Rodney then claimed credit for Progressive policy on tax, much to the amusement of John and the audience. John said that it was incredible to see ACT and the Progressives agreeing on something and said ‘something beautiful is happening here’. Reaktor liked that but it wasn’t supposed to be judging John!
John then asked which parties didn’t support cutting the corporate tax rate. Jeanette and Helen proudly raised their hands so John got them to justify their positions.
Helen – no cause we want companies to invest in New Zealand. Most important issue is the economy because of jobs and she raved about how great the economy is – Reaktor not interested much in that explanation, bit too complicated and boring.
Don leapt in and explained that the economy is bouyant because of exports, not government, Reaktor looks blankly at him too, obviously bored with economy.
Then for some strange reason John rewards Winston for good beahviour and lets him have ago on the tx thing. His argument that tax cuts are important but so is critical social investment, stats, stats, keyword, keyword, Reaktor goes way up. But again, no policy statement.
Finally John lets Jeanette respond on tax and she changes tack completely and talks about what we’re taxing, ie we’re taxing the things we like (work) and not taxing the things we don’t like (pollution). Jeanette mentioned more policy specifically cutting the tax off the first $5000 of income, and eco tax. To encourage clean business and discourage dirty business was the mantra and the Reaktor really dug that. She also talked about the golbal energy crisis.
Which resulted in the panel indulging in the only bit of poking fun at the Greens regarding bike riding, Peter Dunne actually got a laugh when he slagged the Greens off, not a surprise there.
Winston then had another go on the ‘kiwi way of life’ Reaktor didn’t reakt at all, he talked about criminals and police and the line went up. But then when he got onto the ‘interferring government’, Reaktor went back to sleep. Key word, key word didn’t work that time. He finally picked up a bit of traction with foreign asset sales. Talked in particular about Labour asset sales (Telecom key word, Reaktor up).
That got John started on asset sales and he first turned to Don Brash. And this is where it got funny.
Don says “Not in the next term”
Helen says “I read the National Party policy and it says they will look to sell farms owned by Landcorp, and open up private shareholding into Solid Energy.” (Reaktor sits up and takes notice)
Don tried and failed to justify himself “it’s just a few wee farms” and the Reaktor sent evil laser beams out of its eyes (see picture above to realise how scary that is) and sizzled him on the spot. He then tried to justify himself further! and Reaktor leapt across the room and ground his ashes into the carpet. Bad dude, bad.
Anderton jumped in to defend Solid Energy and was his most lively for the night, actually stepped away from the monotone, albeit briefly.
Helen jumped on the yay us bandwagon and brags about buying back the railway track, and gets some rare applause.
And then Peter spoilt all of the fun by getting boring again. I didn’t even pay attention to what he was saying it was so boring. Something about family I think. I did hear him mention income-splitting which made Reaktor perk up, as did talking about anti-PC keywords. Then he got onto the environment and talked abuot how you can’t save the environment with lots of red tape.
(aside – our audience rolled around on the floor entertained with the UFO party’s determination to protect the environment so we can all drive all over it with our SUVs – he he)
John gave Jeanette an opportunity to respond so she took advantage and talked about UFO’s voting record on protecting rivers (which isn’t very environmentally friendly by the way).
Tariana then got a go on her issue and chose children and poverty – Reaktor must like the kids cause it went up for her for first time. Reaktor also liked her policy of a tax reduction for those earning under $25k p/a and tax credits for children.
But any gain Tariana made then was snatched by Helen as she jumps in with a big brag about Working for Families.
Winston claims WFF is an illusion and got quite nasty. He still doesn’t know that Reaktor doesn’t like negativity, and it plummets again for him.
Brash and Hide then got put on the defensive by John and asked about how come tax cuts are always going to disproportianately affect rich people.
Hide went forst and went for the flat denial apprach – want people to keep what they earn.
Brash said yay for tax cuts – John tries again to get the tax policy out of National. Didn’t work. And he said something really weird about preschool children getting student loans under National. I’m sure it was a mistake, but you never can tell with that lot.
Jeanette finally gets a go on her number one issue but she takes a moment to resopnd to previous discussion and drops in MORE POLICY: increasing the minimum wage to $12, Universal Child Benefit, but then says the most important issue has to be energy. She talked about the issues (eg climate change), and the impacts on our daily lives (eg power prices), and then talked solutions (eg smarter energy use) and Reaktor grew robot wings and flew off the chart. That was definitely Jeanette’s biggest win of the night.
John then turned on the other parties and questioned their lack of priority on these issues.
Helen steps up to that one and claims the ‘slightly too hard basket’ defence but said they like RE. She also talked about conventional energy sources eg coal and Reaktor glares (of course Reaktor is conscious that its very existence comes from coal and has guilt about this. Don’t worry, is seeing a counsellor).
John is nice to Rodney and gives him an opportunity to discuss their polluter pays policy. He said you can’t have a clean environment with lots of regulation. It needs to be polluter pays.
(Another aside, I was shocked that ACT have a polluter pays policy, but it’s true. I wonder when they’ll actually apply it to parliamentary decision making. Oh that’s right, never, they’re not coming back are they?)
Jeanette then ever-so-politely pointed out that polluter pays is what Kyoto is all about but ACT don’t support that, hmm.
Winston pulled out that plant a billion trees trees policy and Reaktor finally decided to like him a bit.
Anderton then killed everyone’s fun and started talking about the reasons why he chose to be Minister of Economic Development and the Reaktor and everyone who I was in the room with went to sleep. Seriously, Reaktor didn’t reakt for a whole minute! But then he got a wee bit lively and said
Brash then started ranting about losing 600 kiwis a week overseas, Reaktor again, doesn’t like the negative stuff.
Helen rebuts with the old “more people went to Australia when Nat’s were in govt, than now” line and started talking about a ‘brain exchange.’ and Reaktor liked that heaps more.
Winston FINALLY pulls out the third world card, and whined about ‘us’ being replaced with ‘them’ and Reaktor didn’t really react at all. Which was very interesting.
Finally we stopped talking about the greater picture and got down to the nitty-gritty “Who Would You Work With”. I’ll cut this short cause their blabbing was exactly that.
Dunne – can work with Labour (stern face), or Nats (winks and cute smiles at Don), it’s the voters choice.
Tariana – voters will chose, set a deadline of 7 days to go back to electorates for guidance. This stunned the Reaktor and probably the panelists too. Seemingly unheard of concept, but in her constituency it would probably be a piece of piss.
Helen – likes Jim, UF and the Greens. And made point to say she appreciated Winston’s help on the Foreshore and Seabed Act *cough*confiscation*cough*
Jeanette – Greens are straight up with voters can work with Labour on policy, no way will they work with Nat’s.
Winston – anyone apparently, Reaktor and panel openly laughed at him. Then he abused both major parties, Reaktor sat down and had a rest.
Brief aside while they talked about the National position on nuclear. Brash affirmed that no change in anti-nuke legislation would be made without a referendum. And he was pushed into saying that they’re not currently planning on holding one.
Brash – any party that shares values of National. Three parties they could talk to, UF, maybe Winston, ACT.
John then asked if Brash wanted people to give their party vote to ACT to keep them in parliament so he’d have a friendly potential coalition partner. His brian went ‘yes, yes!!!!’ and his training went “No John, Party Vote National”. Reaktor seems to hve a programming error against those key words cause it went down again.
ACT – Nat’s can’t do it alone.
Jim – Labour, and then he claims to works well with others and isn’t divisive, the Greenies I was sharing a room with pissed their pants hysterically at that, and I’m sure anyone who was ever a member of the Alliance did too, even Reaktor had a wee chuckle. And again the Reaktor monitor flatlined.
Finally we get to the closing statements in reverse order from the opening statements.
Winston was up first and bombed. He pulls out his 5 issues (yes it’s not three this time) But in his whole statement, didn’t tell us what they were. Reaktor held its breath (as did my buddies) witing but nothing. He was unbelievably crap.
Peter – Small party that makes things work, key word, key word, Reaktor got the warm fuzzies.
Tariana – pulled out Te Tiriti o Waitangi again and Reaktor plummets (not a Treaty aware robot, only gets the three laws, and Tariana never recovers.
Jim – Track record, key word, key word, (takes credit for Laila’s work) Reaktor swallows it.
Helen was a at her best here. Talks about strong stable government, experienced leadership, strong economy, investment in the future, Nuclear Free, not sending people to war’s that New Zealnders don’t support *cough*Afghanistan*cough* and Reaktor loves her, roses are thrown. Helen for President etc.
Rodney went for the last ditch attempt on the bossy boots government, Reaktor didn’t like that much. And didn’t believe his plea that you need to vote ACT for a change of government.
Jeanette talked about a future of warm homes, clean air and water, healthy food, debt-free graduates, and saving the animals. Went a bit far on that last bit and Reaktor stalled (not being a fluffy animal itself) but was generally impressed at the vision.
Don – Talked the issues and Reaktor liked it, but the second he said Party Vote National Reaktor turned aruond and walked out of the room.
Last but not least John Campbell did a lovely wind-up and said thanks to everyone for Giving a Damn!
Debate awards according to me and Reaktor
Winners – Jeanette for talking policy and staying positive the whole way through. And Helen for proving that she kicks Don’s ass any day of the week.
Losers – Don for being totally unconvincing and making major blunders and Winston for being too negative and not knowing how to be friends with Reaktor.
I won’t make Tariana a loser cause it wasn’t her key audience. But she does need some serious media training!!
And finally a piece of advice to the leaders:
Student debt is obviously a big issue with voters and those leaders who don’t know their student support policy inside out better learn it pretty damn quick.
Forgot to add. NRT has a good roundup of the blogospherical analysis here, OK I’ll stop now.