Show us some respect, if it’s not too much trouble
As the recently released register of MPs pecuniary interests has shown, our elected representatives live a long way away from Struggle Street. Housing policy has left home ownership simply unaffordable for many New Zealanders. Currently, our rates of homeownership sit at their lowest level since the early 1950s, but the MPs themselves seem to be doing alright. A
According to the register, National’s 57 MPs collectively own 135 residential properties – or 2.2 homes each, on average - and seven out of 29 Labour MPs own rental properties.
On foreign policy, we appear to be doing no better at protecting the interests of Kiwis abroad. By courtesy of the Australians, hundreds of New Zealanders have been penned in dire conditions on Christmas Island. Kiwis who’ve lived in Australia for decades – and families whose kids have known no other home – have been uprooted and sent back to New Zealand. The protestations by our political leaders have been politely expressed – with no hint of tit-for-tat measures - and blithely ignored. Meanwhile, Australians continue to have access here to welfare assistance denied (for almost two decades) to Kiwis living in Australia.
A fortnight ago, the latest expression of this lopsided relationship saw young Kiwis at Australian universities being hit with a trebling of their tuition fees. Henceforth it seems, Kiwis will be treated like any other foreign students, even while we continue to extend special concessions to young Aussies studying here. Prime Minister Bill English professed himself ‘‘pretty unhappy’’ at this policy change. Why, only the previous week, English had been discussing issues concerning New Zealanders living in Australia, yet Aussie PMMalcolm Turnbull hadn’t breathed a word about the upcoming policy shift in education.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, according to a headline in the Australian newspaper, was going to ‘‘tackle’’ his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop on the issue. Less a tackle as it turned out, and more of a hug. Brownlee was in full appeasement mode. Even before arriving in Canberra, Brownlee backed away from our co-sponsorship last year of a UN resolution on Israel, a measure that Australia had opposed. Show us a little respect, New Zealand appears to be saying to the Aussies, if that wouldn’t be putting you to too much trouble.
As English has explained, he’d prefer a positive relationship with Australia instead of an ‘‘armed war to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse.’’ Which would be fine if Kiwis were getting a good deal across the Tasman – rather than a constant, one way shellacking while our government whistles Dixie. For his part, Labour leader Andrew Little has sensed there’s political
As English has explained, he'd prefer a positive relationship with Australia instead of an "armed war to see who can treat each other's citizens worse".
mileage to be won here in election year when Australians choose to treat a New Zealand government with contempt.
Blokily, Little has claimed that any policy friction between us and Australia can be readily resolved, once the centre-left holds power in both Canberra and Wellington. Why, he’d be able to sort this stuff out with his Aussie counterpart Bill Shorten ‘‘over a beer’’ - just like good mates always do. Such attempts at mateship may rule our foreign policy, while at home… the helping hands into home ownership appear to be proving almost as ineffectual.