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Looking at the front page of Stuff I couldn’t help but notice that it is a negative looking news cycle out there right now.


Smiling yet?

John Key desperately needs good news right now. There’s a palpable absence of a “smart growth idea” in the National brand.

Last term it was all about the cycle way and home insulation. They were long term projects that let MPs all over the country get engaged with positive community based public investment. There are supposed to be happy Chch rebuilding stories happening about now – but continued shaking has delayed starting.

This term the best idea so far is the Sky city convention centre and pokie machine expansion, which will do little to impress the heternormative white middleclass electorate* who make up the swinging vote in this country.

*Key’s taken to calling them “kiwi mums and dads” – keep an eye out.


Default Dialogue

No doubt you’ve noted recent moves to remove state house tenants from Auckland properties.

David Farrar turns in a small and perfectly formed take on things:

There will always be a limit to the number of state houses available at any time. Hence, one should try and help as many low income families as you can, by making sure that the family size and the house size are aligned.

Some tenants are no longer poor, and are paying market rents. It makes total sense for them to find a private sector landlord, and let a low income family get the benefit of a state house.

Pithy common sense.

I’m being serious here, I think David writes very well. And I’m an open admirer of David’s leveraging off his blog to create a small media empire and ubiquitousness as the go-to political pundit. Take a look at the Herald, at Stuff. Or even that bastion of free-market thought, RadioNZ National.

If you want to deconstruct his post further with me, then go look at the original again. DPF simply tells us what a statehouse is; what purpose within the welfare state it serves. I’m pointing out the obvious here but bear with me.

What other alternative narrative is out there? I’d love to read a different explanation of things. Why do we have state houses, who uses them and why? Hey, I’m just fishing here.

The reason I’m interested is that some point someone must have known the answers to these questions. It must once have been a good idea for leaders to stage photo opps like this:

Contemporaries within the Labour Party are clearly uncomfortable with this mantle from the past. Why else when you go to Red Alert do you find that only 5 posts have appeared that are tagged Housing NZ, none of which communicate to much to anyone anything about Labour’s attitude towards social housing.

So what does Red Alert write about? Sadly, David Farrar is as always ubiquitous.

Snark aside, I simply don’t understand why Labour doesn’t talk to the electorate about housing.

It’s not like housing is critical to health, education and societal wellbeing, and it’s not like our current housing stock registers on the scale somewhere between appalling and Dickensian. It’s not like the chattering middle classes aren’t interested in housing; “Someone recently suggested to me that a typical Listener cover story nowadays would run something along the lines of “Is Your House Making You Fat?””.

Maybe this is just a consequence of a GenX/Y upbringing. I missed the boat on the Mickey Savage. But listen the voices around us. Labour isn’t helping to challenge the default dialogue on the issue, and I’m not sure why. Surely housing is important?

Here, have a cicada

I’ve been away, but don’t fret dear reader. I met this charming little fellow just long enough to find the macro button on my camera. The green and yellow markings probably indicate that it is a greater bronze cicada Kikihia caut.

New Zealanders have a wonderful shared experience of cicada song – a droning that is a soundtrack to summer.