Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Andrew Williams, the Great Panjandrum

More sleaze and innuendo, no not from Dunkin Donut Garner from TV3 but from our self appointed king of the North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams.

I have been called much worse than a selfish nasty person in my life but my favorite description of Andy comes from John Roughan from the NZ Herald who called him "North Shore's panjandrum ".  I had fun looking it up too. 

This from the Sunday Herald:

Heather McCracken

Nobody likes being called names, least of all North Shore mayor Andrew Williams. After the outsider wrestled the city's weighty chain of office and $350 million budget from the incumbent in 2007, Williams now believes he has the qualities necessary to become mayor of the new Auckland super-city.

The problem, he said, is that he is being "victimised" by a "nasty and vicious super-city faction" that is out to get him and seize control of the big new council proposed for the region.

He named right-wing Auckland politicians and bloggers, including the author of the Whaleoil blog, who calls him "the Mad Mayor" and "the Clown of Campbells Bay".

But now the criticism is coming thick and fast: Television's Breakfast show labelled him "egg of the week" for spending $1300 of ratepayers' money on Stop Banks sauvignon blanc for the council chambers; NZ Herald columnist John Roughan tagged him "North Shore's panjandrum", and the Herald on Sunday's Dylan Cleaver dubbed him "a joyless sod" for his objection to an Auckland bid for the Commonwealth Games.

Williams is increasingly responding in kind.

Yesterday morning he emailed arch-critic Cameron Slater, the Whaleoil author, with one word: "Tosser!". Earlier this week he called blogger Darren Rickard a "selfish nasty person"; he called email correspondent Stan Blanch a "loser" and a "tosser" ; and a few months ago he left a council meeting in haste after he called councillor Chris Darby a "smart arse".

His own councillors are now divided about the image he presents of the North Shore. The concerns were exacerbated by his absence - cycling around Central Otago - when the region's leaders gathered for the publication of the Royal Commission's report on Friday.

Most were quick to back Williams yesterday, saying he was a tireless campaigner who was prepared to speak up on tough issues.

"I think there's a silent minority who quietly say 'Good on you, mate'," said Callum Blair. "There's a noisy minority who are trying to attack him."

But Ann Hartley, supported by two others, said: "He's burned his bridges on so many issues on the Shore and offended so many people. I don't think he'd get elected as mayor of North Shore again, let alone anywhere else."

Williams was unperturbed about the criticism, blaming it on a "faction" led by Slater, Auckland City councillor Aaron Bhatnagar and the Newmarket Business Association's Cameron Brewer.

"They're all over there in a super-city faction wanting to get control of greater Auckland," he said yesterday. "They attack anyone who opposes them, and they do it in a particularly nasty and vicious manner."

A vocal opponent of a one-city structure, he said the holiday had been planned months in advance and he couldn't return when the report was released early.

Favourite in a crowded field:

Auckland Mayor John Banks is the favourite for the race to be Auckland's first super mayor, but it's shaping up to be a crowded field. North Shore mayor Andrew Williams hasn't ruled out standing but added there was "a lot of water to go under the bridge".

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee wants to see the city structure sorted out before making any decision. He said the candidate would need to be someone with a vision for Auckland, who can work collegially.

Broadcaster and columnist Paul Holmes said the increased powers of the new mayor to "get things done" were attractive. However, it was too early to say whether he would run. "I'll be talking about it with friends, and running it past she who must be obeyed."

Recent Political Animal Reading

  • VIDEO: Daniel Hannan MEP - The devalued Prime Minister
  • Earth Day 2009: Time to turn it on!
  • Herald On Sunday to publish Andrew William's Expose'
  • Hirsute Heffer Hogs the Headlines
  • Shes Gone, only the devil can replace her

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    Monday, 30 March 2009

    VIDEO: Daniel Hannan MEP - The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

    A saw this early last week but this is the first time I have had a chance to post it.

    It is essential watching/listening for everyone because governments around the world are spending taxpayer money we don't have like drunken politicians trying to solve a problem caused by the very same practices.

    Some governments are not, and John Key and the like are the ones on the right track.



    In this speech Daniel Hannon gives the globe a wake up call in his speech to the European Parliament last week and we need to head his advice.

    Enough ranting, watch it.

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    Friday, 27 March 2009

    Earth Day 2009: Time to turn it on!

    Just like last year, this year's "Earth Day" will prove to be the biggest waste of time since Al Gore's parents decided to have sex.

    Demented unwashed dipsticks all around the world will be turning off electrical appliances for an hour.

    Imagine streets and homes without lights, what a wonderful opportunity for the less law abiding citizens.

    No lights, no heat, no air-con, no commerce, no business...

    All for "climate change", a non-existent problem.

    As I did last year this is what I propose we do this coming Mirth Day March 28:

    My proposal is this. At 8.00pm sharp, when the dolphin loving, Volvo driving, mung bean eating, bearded female, non smoking, non drinking, Leo Dio loving, vegetarian, hairy arm pitted, sandal wearing , finger pointing, lesbian school teachers are sitting in the dark with all their lights out for an hour, playing with the insert appropriate expletive here next to them, I will turn on every light, appliance and electrical device that I can lay my meat eating, chain smoking, 6 litre V8 Holden driving hands on... for two hours.

    My first earth day last year was a success and I will update you afterwards to let you know how much power we used.

    We managed to use so much energy and waste so many of the earths resources we did enough to cancel out the efforts of a dozen brain-dead morons who switched off(their lights as well).

    This year we are hoping to double our efforts.



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    Herald On Sunday to publish Andrew William's Expose'

    An article will be coming out in the Herald on Sunday about North Shore Mayor Andrew William's recent and historical shenanigans with his constituents and other individuals and groups that have had the unfortunate opportunity to meet with him.

    It is being written by Heather McCracken. 

    She has asked me a few questions about that email and is currently trying to get hold of the great one on his cycle trip around the South Island (we on the Shore are grateful he has gone) to get his views about why he is so unpopular.

    It is to be published either this week or next.

    If you have any input you would like to add to the article I am sure Heather would like to hear from you, especially if you are a 'Shore boy(okay or girl) like me.


    As Heather pointed out to me, it seems strange, given Williams very vocal opposition to the "Super City" plan that he would be absent from his post when the news came out that this plan is going ahead.

    Kinda nutty if you ask me.


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    Hirsute Heffer Hogs the Headlines

    There has been much fuss made over Stephanie Mills from Greenpeace and her rather masculine mustache which was made the centre of media attention by Paul Henry, host of the Breakfast show on TV1.



    Lets face it it is hard to get a laugh these days without offending someone and if you are going to offend anybody to get a laugh who better than an officious little hippy commie, with hairy armpits, legs, bum, boobs, and face and a penchant for wrecking the planet.

    Tom Selleck would be proud to call  her his Moustache buddy.

    Well done Henry.

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    Thursday, 26 March 2009

    Shes Gone, only the devil can replace her

    Thursday Mar 26, 2009

    With Helen Clark's imminent appointment to 3rd banana at the UN I am reminded of an incident that happened at the UN building a few years ago.

    After having a 5 star dinner at the UN Council buildings in New York, UN delegates from unpronouncable countries in Africa and Eastern Europe ate off the best china, used fine linen and shoveled it all down with the finest in silver cutlery.

    The only problem was that 10s of thousands of dollars of those utensils were pinched by those same delegates.

    Lets not even mention Serbia, Iraq, Darfur and Zimbawe.

    Clark will be in the company of like minds and I am being very generous when I say that.

    We all know what she has been up to over the last 9 years.

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    c Political Animal 2009

    North Shore Council Lawyers pay a Visit

    Further to email correspondence from Andrew Williams yesterday it appear that he is wasting yet more council money in asking lawyers to have a look at the article written below (it includes said email) to presumably try and take some action to shut me up.

    The Law firm, Burton & Co, don't come cheap so there goes another grand or two of ratepayer money:

    New Zealand
    mis.burtonco.co.nz (203.97.83.106) [Label IP Address]
    darrenrickard.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-correspondance-with-andrew-williams.html
    darrenrickard.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-correspondance-with-andrew-williams.html
    www.whaleoil.co.nz/?q=content/mad-mayor-jussht-keepsh-digging

    Well, it isn't his money so I guess it is OK?

    mmm.

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    Wednesday, 25 March 2009

    My Correspondence with Andrew Williams

    I will give Andrew Williams, the Mayor of the North Shore of Auckland this, he does reply to his correspondence and you cant say that about many politicians.

    He really needs some anger management though, as you will see at the end of this post.

    I initially emailed him on Monday about a piece I wrote on Political Animal about his shenanigans with ratepayer money, principally his use of NZ$1342 to buy wine for his political allies to popularise his opposition to John Banks and his great idea for one Auckland, one mayor.

    My initial email:

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Darren Rickard
    Sent: Monday, 23 March 2009 9:05 p.m.
    To: mayor@northshorecity.govt.nz
    Subject: Article in Political Animal on Andrew Williams

    Dear Mr Andrews,

    please see the article below that was published on Monday 23 March. I attach
    it as a courtesy to you and hope you take it on board...

    Regards,  Darren Rickard.

    The Mayor's reply:

    date Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 1:21 AM
    subject RE: Article in Political Animal on Andrew Williams
    mailed-bynorthshorecity.govt.nz


    Hi Darren

    Thanks for emailing me this info. Much appreciated. The media love to sensationalise trivia but ignore all the positive work I am doing, and the results of my council.

    Regards 

    Andrew Williams Mayor Andrew Williams


    He thought I was supporting him which would have been bizarre because the content of Monday's Political Animal post wasn't exactly complimentary. It is clear that both the emailer(me) and the writer were the same.

    I tried once again with a similar reply.

    I then emailed this last night to finally get my point across:

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Darren Rickard

    Sent: Tuesday, 24 March 2009 10:43 p.m.
    To: Mayor Andrew Williams
    Subject: Re: Article in Political Animal on Andrew Williams

    Hi Andrew,

    I do NOT support you. Your arrogant, money wasting, rude and sometimes
    downright nutty antics as Mayor led me to write this.

    Regards, Darren Rickard.

    To be sure the content of this email might seem a little strong and my article was even stronger but they are facts as I see them and they are shared my a large majority of people who live on the North Shore of Auckland and the Mayor has been, well , nutty.

    Here is Andrew's unedited reply, 

    from Mayor Andrew Williams
    to Darren Rickard

    date Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 8:51 AM
    subject RE: Article in Political Animal on Andrew Williams
    mailed-bynorthshorecity.govt.nz


    You selfish, selfish, selfish nasty person. How dare you email me in such a mannerwith total ignorance of the facts.

    I work long hours day, night and at weekends helping people and groups all over the Shore. Every day people ask me for help with issues and I assist them. And I also have taken leadership with my council to sort out big problems such as PAK n SAVE, Birkenhead Library, TAKAPUNAkiosk, Albany high school, Long Bay Great Park, Whenuapai airport., Chelsea heritage park. And the list goes on.

    I have revised budgets and expenditure to reduce rate increases from 8.4% to 5.9%. Efficiencies have been found across council spending.

    And yes 15 yr old filthy shabby couches have been replaced. As they should be for important VIP guests to NZ's 4th latgest city. And for 20 years and before that there has been a civic events budget, including wine. This council has had the lowest wine use I am told. We didn't even have wine at our swearing in function.

    The bridge at Campbells Bay has been a 10 year community project. To provide safe access across an all too often sizeable tide of water. To provide safe access to the toilets and playground. Council officers have however over engineered it, OSH rules have added cost. We will deliver this community project at lower cost.

    So, don't email me with uninformed slaggings. You should be grateful that this Mayor is a hands-on Mayor who gets on with the business, takes a 'can do' attitude, and is leading this city strongly...to get the best outcomes for our city.

    What have you ever done for anyone else but yourself?. And what have you done for our city? ANYTHING APART FROM MOAN AND SLAG OFF AT THE MAYOR???

    Andrew Wiliams
    Mayor

    My only conclusion is that Andrew thinks it is OK to waste ratepayers money on expensive bottles of wine for political reasons and that his record rate rise because of his wasteful spending is hunky dory as well.

    Interesting the kind of people that we vote to represent ourselves huh?


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    Monday, 23 March 2009

    "Crunchy the Clown" Andrew William's drunken joke

    "I represent the people of North Shore and the best interests of my citizens". Andrew Williams, North Shore Mayor.

    I voted for Andrew Williams, the Loony Mayor of Auckland's North Shore, because he promised to focus on cutting costs to ratepayers and bringing an open an honest way of operating the council.

    Not only are we going to get a another massive hike in rates this year but Andrew and his mates have been busy spending millions on buying beach front houses to "make parks", putting in swing bridges in Castor Bay at the bottom of his street at the cost of half a million, spending up large on food and alcohol for himself and councilors and allowing private contractors to increase their bills on Council works projects when quotes were given at a set price.

    The latest money wasting exercise is William's use of over $1300 of ratepayer money (see video below) to buy private label wine at 18 bucks a bottle to give to political allies and friends.

    The wine is labeled "Stop Banks" and is a reference to John Banks and his advocacy for a "Super City" for Auckland, which Williams is against because he wouldn't stand a shit show of getting anywhere near being elected, because the guy is barking.




    William's priorities are wrong, he has broken most of his pre-election policies and this latest scandal should surely mean he falls on his highly paddled arsehole and give the Mayoral chains to someone who has respect for the office of Mayor and the ratepayers who have paid for his grand schemes and this latest little tawdry muck fest.

    William's Mayoral term thus far has been mired in controversy, arrogance, paranoid rantings, stupidity and downright nuttiness at times.

    I am truly ashamed that I voted for this mad prick. I wish I could take my vote back.

    Tell Crunchy what you think of his disrespectful ways at mayor@northshorecity.govt.nz  Dont be nasty just state your opinion forcefully.

    More Mad Mayoral Musings



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    Freedom of choice at centre of new Holiday Law

    The opposition to a move by National to allow a week of employees holidays to be "sold" to employers is perplexing to say the least. 

    It will mean that those employees will now have a choice to sell and or work that week and get in effect double the pay.

    Unions and the Labour Party are bleating that this will effect "workers rights" but it is clear that the former setup rather than the new one impinges on those workers rights.

    The new law will allow workers more freedom of choice, something the left hates.

    It cannot be left to those Unionists within and outside the Labour Party (very hard to tell which is which now that Andrew Little is inside Labour) to tell vulnerable workers what to do, and how long they should take for a holiday. It is nobody else's business but the employees and employers.

    Unions and their bully boy tactics are best assigned to the past, where they well and truly belong.

    The only problem with the National's plan is that it will only come in April 1 2010 and it will only be for 1 week of the 4 week entitlement.

    The whole 4 weeks should be up for negotiation.

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    Saturday, 21 March 2009

    Bashing Obama for joke retarded

    I'm not the worlds greatest Barack Obama supporter, in fact I think he is an evil greedy little socialist control freak, but be that as it may he certainly doesn't deserve the borax thrown at him by his own sensitive PC freak supporters for having a joke at his expense.

    In an appearance Thursday night on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," President Barack Obama made a joke about his lackluster bowling skills by saying: "It was like Special Olympics or something." Kanzas City.com

    But the comment caused an immediate stir in Washington and around the nation.

    For Christ sake he is a well know supporter of the special Olympics and for people from all political sides to critique him for this is nothing short of brain dead moronity.

    When is saying what is on your mind some sort of crime! do we want the prominent people to sanitise what they say and not say what they really mean?

    Hell no!

    With politicians we get enough of the flim flam, bullshit and political speak, this is the first time Obama has looked human in his political life!

    No well written empty of content speeches to hide his true self and agenda.

    Give him a break and let him become the man he really is.

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    Leftist Economic shell games: A letter to the Editor

    The Rant:

    The following is from the Mesquite Local News in Nevada, in the letters to the editor page and written by one Richard N. Suter an 80 year old plus retired pilot.

    It is well worth a read because it explains the blame for the current global financial mess so well and so fully.

    Politicians mostly from the left in American caused this and Wall Street naturally climbed on board.

    He rightly fears for his America in the hands of the insane socialists now in power and one wonders how we might expect things to get better because they are now doing what was done to get us in this mess in the first place but to the power of 10.

    What is different to Bernie Madoff's shell game and Obamas?

    Obama's is much bigger and the mess will be felt for generations.

    The Letter:

    Defending The Rich

    (Letter to the Editor) 03-20-2009


    I very much enjoy the Mesquite Local News.


    But I have to question your tirade against the rich.


    Sam Walton took an idea and built a phenomenal empire.


    Bill Gates did the same.


    Prior to my retirement in this lovely town, I worked as a corporate pilot for twenty five years.


    I rubbed elbows with Warren Buffett in the hangar in Omaha as he deplaned, carried his own bags to a several year old Lincoln and drove to a fairly modest home.


    I flew Tom Watson (IBM blue) to Eagle, Colorado.


    These folks, and the multi-millionaire that employed me provided quite a few jobs, sir.


    I also have carried Senator John McCain, Senator Chuck Hagle and others I can't remember as my personal responsibility.


    As a retired USAF fighter pilot, I respect Senator McCain's service.


    Several squadron mates and friends were privileged to serve with him in those "difficult times."


    But in the course of this discussion, neither of them, nor many others in government have created a real job.


    Sure, they have guaranteed pay raises, the very best health care, a short work week/month/year, and very seldom retire in poverty.


    Now, if I were to pick on a gang to pillory, I would look to Foggy Bottom.


    Let's start with Jimmy "Malaise" Carter, signatory to the CR(a)P, (may have mis-spelled that; could have been the CAP), lowering lending standards, coercing risky loans.


    Who aided and abetted this foolishness?


    Why, non other than B.J. Clinton.


    Fast forward to Barney Frank, who assured us less knowledgeable that Fannie and Freddie were in great shape.


    And then came the Mad Marxist with his litany of change.


    And Biden.


    And Pelosi.


    This is the best we can do?


    Well, change we got.


    Hubris, banality, venality, mendacity and plain damn lies.


    Almost daily I see the 21st century version of Joseph Goebbels stuttering, er, and, ah, but, stumbling his way through a "press conference."


    Now I have my version of penalties for the gang.


    You are far too cruel.


    Bernie Madoff is going to reside in a 7.5x 8 foot Manhattan government subsidized condominium.


    Please take my share of the "bailout" money, construct about 150 more of these, provide free orange jumpsuits for the criminal class in Congress, and I will die a happy old man, devoid of most of my investments, 30 or 40 percent of the value of the home I will pay for every month, and the extra money me and the missus have after groceries, gas, health care and gambling.


    On second thought, let's get out the guillotine.


    I am sick to death of these pissants.


    My very best wishes that you may become wealthy in your endeavors.


    I can only be glad, that now well into my 80th decade, I will not be around to see this great country fail.


    -Richard N. Suter


    Mesquite, Nevada


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    Sunday, 15 March 2009

    Matt McCarten tells a Whopper

    We all know the left of the political sphere will do just about anything at all to make a point and Matt McCarten in the Sunday Herald is no exception:

    "Warren Buffett...has claimed that capitalism as we know it is over". NZ Herald 15 March 2009

    Those of us that know a little about Warren Buffett, and I know a reasonable amount about the great investor, will know that he said nothing of the sort.

    In Buffett's 2008 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders out two weeks ago he actually endorsed the American capitalist system more strongly than he ever has: 

    "America has had no shortage of challenges.

    Without fail, however, we’ve overcome them. In the face of those obstacles – and many others – the real standard of living for Americans improved nearly seven-fold during the 1900s, while the Dow Jones Industrials rose from 66 to 11,497. Compare the record of this period with the dozens of centuries during which humans secured only tiny gains, if any, in how they lived. Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time. It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so. America’s best days lie ahead". Page 2, 2008 Berkshire Hathaway Letter.

    Buffett is talking about capitalism here, no doubt about it and while acknowledging its drawbacks he also re-enforces his faith that it will bring us out of the mainly Government induced economic mess we now find ourselves in.

    What McCarten has said is at best stretching the truth to breaking point and at worst an outright lie.

    I lean towards the latter in describing what McCarten has written.

    He uses the rest of the article to rant about his usual socialist ideals of Government control and state interference. The rest is misfired commentary on things he knows little about; economics, business, finance and probably life in general.

    Steer clear.

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    Wednesday, 11 March 2009

    Sacking of Bureaucrats makes good financial and Practical sense

    The sacking of various State lackies  in completely unproductive positions by the new National Government may seem callous in this time of economic crises but it actually makes sound financial sense in addition to the practicalities of getting more knuckle daggers off the taxpayer tit.

    These pen pushers and paper shufflers, most of who earn way above the average wage for doing nothing would save thousands of dollars per year per employee if sacked and returned to the dole queue,where they might hopefully gain employment in something that produces economic value.

    It is a great way to save money during this recession. $200 per week on the dole vs a couple of grand of taxpayer money via wages is economic brilliance.

    If you cant see the merits of this you are either a socialist loser, a Labour Party voter (or both) or simply have problems with maths.

    Drop off 10000 State dependants and we are talking billions saved. 


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    Monday, 9 March 2009

    WALL STREET JOURNAL: John Key Interview

    It is great to see acknowledgement from that great bastion of capitalism the Wall Street Journal, that John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister just might know what he is doing and it is Obama, Brown et al that are making big mistakes by spending taxpayer money like drunken socialists.

    It is something I agree with as well and would also make sense to those who are doing well in a Cambridge 3rd form economics class.

    No mention of Phil Goff in the following article.

    You Can't Spend Your Way Out of the Crisis

    New Zealand's prime minister wants to give his country a competitive advantage instead.

    By MARY KISSEL

    Wellington, New Zealand

    These days, you have to travel far to find a national leader who is talking about market-based approaches to the global recession. All the way to the other side of the world.

    [The Weekend Interview] Terry Shoffner

    "We don't tell New Zealanders we can stop the global recession, because we can't," says Prime Minister John Key, leaning forward in his armchair at his office in the Beehive, the executive wing of New Zealand's parliament. "What we do tell them is we can use this time to transform the economy to make us stronger so that when the world starts growing again we can be running faster than other countries we compete with."

    That idea -- growing a nation out of recession by improving productivity -- puts Mr. Key and his conservative National Party at odds with Washington, Tokyo and Canberra. Those capitals are rolling out billions of dollars in stimulus packages -- with taxpayers' money -- to try to prop up growth. That's "risky," Mr. Key says. "You've saddled future generations with an enormous amount of debt that then they have to repay," he explains. "There is actually a limit to what governments can do."

    The 47-year-old Mr. Key, a pragmatist by nature, knows a thing or two about how the public sector works. The youngest of three children, he was raised in state-owned housing in Christchurch, on New Zealand's South Island, after the death of his father. His mother worked at blue-collar jobs to keep the family afloat. Mr. Key earned a bachelor's degree in commerce from the University of Canterbury, took a job the next day at a local accountancy firm, and married his high-school sweetheart. After seeing a TV advertisement about a foreign-exchange trader, he started canvassing banks for a job. That kicked off a career as a foreign-exchange trader, with postings in Singapore, London and Sydney -- most recently at Merrill Lynch. "Bank of America," he says, with not a little mirth, "it's probably soon to be owned by Barack Ob-ah-ma!" -- emphasis on the "ah" in Kiwi-speak. His press secretary rolls her eyes.

    Mr. Key's coalition government, which includes parties to the right and left of the Nationals, has moved fast to implement a program of tax cuts, regulatory reform and government retooling. He won't label it supply-side economics and smiles when I ask if he's a Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek acolyte. "I'm not deeply ideologically driven," he says. "I believe in good center right politics."

    Mr. Key is returning the country to a formula for prosperity that's worked in the past. As in Britain, the U.S. and Australia in the 1980s, New Zealand's government implemented a wide-ranging program of economic liberalization, including deep reductions in tariffs and subsidies, and privatization of state-run industries. The plan, nicknamed "Rogernomics" after then-Finance Minister (now Sir) Roger Douglas, was akin to Reaganomics, and the island nation grew smartly.

    But while the U.S. and Australia broadly continued their economic liberalization programs under both right- and left-wing governments, New Zealand didn't -- until now. Over the past nine years, Helen Clark's left-wing Labour government rode the global economic expansion and used the revenue surge to expand government welfare programs, renationalize industries, and embrace causes like global warming. As a result, the economy stagnated while Australia took off.

    "We have been on a slippery slope," Mr. Key says, pointing to the country's slide to the bottom half of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's per-capita GDP rankings. "So we need to lift those per-capita wages, and the only way to really do that is through productivity growth driving efficiency in the country." He talks at length about how to attract and retain talented workers. What does he think about populist arguments about the end of capitalism? "Nonsense!"

    Mr. Key's program focuses first on personal income tax cuts, which -- given that the new top rate, as of April 1, will be 38% -- are still high, especially when compared to Hong Kong and Singapore. "We just think it's good tax policy to lower and flatten your tax curve," he says. "People will move in labor markets and they look at their after-tax incomes."

    Cutting the corporate tax rate -- which is now 30% -- isn't as crucial just now as keeping liquidity flowing, Mr. Key argues. "A lot of [companies] won't pay tax if they don't make money," he reasons. "So they might be slightly less focused on corporate tax in the immediate future. Longer-term, they will be." Why? Corporate money is "mobile." "If you really are out of whack with the prevailing corporate tax rates, and there's been a global shift toward countries lowering their corporate tax rate, then you're not likely to attract capital, or you're likely to lose capital." Mr. Key and his coalition partner, the ACT Party -- Mr. Douglas's party -- want to eventually align personal, trust and company tax rates at 30%.

    For now, the prime minister is focusing on chipping away entrenched regulations that drive away foreign capital -- a contrast to the U.S. and Australia, which are reregulating their markets in the wake of the financial crisis. "Good regulatory reform can be an important catalyst toward driving economic growth and coming out of the recession faster," Mr. Key says. His government is revising legislation meant to protect New Zealand's pristine environment from private-sector development but misused by greens to stymie all stripes of business plans.

    Big government is also coming under the gun. Mr. Key launched a "line-by-line review" of every government department, and committed the government to cap new spending in its May budget. "If we want to fund new initiatives, we by definition have to stop [funding] some of the things we don't think were working. . . . We're just getting better value for money."

    The Key government also is wary of climate change orthodoxy. "Half of all of our emissions come from agriculture," he says, meaning cows "burping and farting." "We don't have an answer to that. . . . So at the moment, we either become more expensive or we cut production. And neither of those options are terribly attractive." Mr. Key is reviewing the economic impact of the previous government's cap-and-trade plan. "New Zealand needs to balance its environmental responsibilities with its economic opportunities, because the risk is that if you don't do that -- and you want to lead the world -- then you might end up getting unintended consequences."

    Much of Mr. Key's reform agenda hinges on his belief that he has to prepare his country to compete in the global economy. "The world, whether we like it or not, will become more and more borderless," he says. That means Wellington is planted firmly behind free trade. "The sooner Doha is completed," Mr. Key says, referring to stalled global trade talks, "the better from our point of view."

    Mr. Key chuckles when I ask him about the "Buy American" provision tucked into the Obama administration's stimulus package. The previous government's "Buy New Zealand" campaign got a "lukewarm" reception, he recalls. "There are so many component parts manufactured in different parts of the world, you're chasing your tail the whole time about where something's actually made."

    New Zealand last year inked a free-trade agreement with China, recently signed a deal with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and announced the start of negotiations with India and South Korea last month. Korea "obviously" wants an FTA with the U.S., he says.

    Does New Zealand's model hold lessons for the Obama administration? Mr. Key says that might be "presumptive." But he does outline a few general lessons: "Your citizens are entitled to expect you to be realistic . . . to be specific about what it is you're going to do, what you can or can't do. And finally, I think, to be confident that you can get through it. Now there's plenty of doom and gloom merchants out there. But the single biggest risk is that everyone believes them and stops doing anything. I can't see how that helps us." What did he learn in his former trade? "It taught me not to panic."

    Going forward, he worries about, among other things, the U.S. dollar's path. Like most other trading nations, the bulk of New Zealand's exports is denominated in dollars, and the country's private sector borrows heavily from offshore markets. Says Mr. Key: "For anyone trying to manage currency risk, and indeed often interest-rate risk, you know, it's not generally the absolute level, it's more the volatility that becomes the determining factor." A strong and stable dollar policy out of the Obama administration would be helpful.

    But ultimately, Mr. Key says his biggest fear is rising inflation on the back of rising money supplies. "Economic theory will tell you that inflation is going to rise -- and that inflation will be exported around the world. . . . In the short term, I'm not criticizing U.S. policy: I think inflation is probably the thing that's going to be necessary to get them out of the current issue. [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke sort of signaled that. But longer term, inflation is cancerous to your economy."

    So would Mr. Key, the onetime foreign-exchange trader, buy or sell the U.S. dollar? As we move toward the door, the press secretary steps in: That's one call that's off the record.

    Ms. Kissel is editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia.


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    Reinstated Honours bring meaning back to Excellence

    "The Government is making these changes because it believes reinstatement of knighthoods and damehoods are a visible sign of celebrating success for a lifetime of service and achievement." John Key, NZ Prime Minister March 8 2009

    While some recipients of honours do not arguably deserve a title, the one that did exist under the previous Labour Government was incomprehensible and therefore meaningless.

    Removing Knighthoods from the New Zealand honours scheme was one of the first things that Labour did when elected almost 10 years ago and replaced by something that didn't place due importance on the recipients. It was an ideological move designed to make winners more like everyone else.

    Sirs and Dames celebrate excellence, Labour's honours system acknowledged nothing.

    Helen Clark must have had trouble sleeping last night and I couldn't be happier.

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