Monday, May 15, 2017

National: Party of bullies

Over the weekend National showed its true colours, with Associate Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro openly threatening to cut government funding for political purposes:

He even suggested Labour list candidate Willie Jackson could expect to lose Government support for his Manukau Urban Māori Authority interest in a second charter school, and its Whānau Ora contract should he "bag us" on the campaign trail.

"We are not happy about people taking with one hand and throwing with the other," Ngaro said.

"Do not play politics with us. If you get up on the campaign trail and start bagging us, then all the things you are doing are off the table. They will not happen."

He's since apologised (for being caught), but its worth remembering that National has form on this. John Key threatened to cut the Human Rights Commission's funding when they criticised his increased spy powers. Backbencher Shane Reti threatened to cut roading funding to critics during the Northland by-election. And of course there's this little gem from then-MP Tau Henare:

It seems to be a deep-seated belief in National that government funding is for donors and cronies, and that it should be deployed as a weapon to silence and bully critics. This isn't just deeply undemocratic - as Andrew Geddis points out, it is also illegal. And the fact that such statements have been made gives every critical organisation denied funding a prima facie case to have the decision overturned. But the existence of a theoretical remedy doesn't really help if your organisation will go bankrupt or have to lay off skilled staff in the interim, and so National will probably get away with its American-style threats. Unless we vote the bullying pricks out of office in September.