Irritable me

Education Minister Hekia Parata referred queries to the Ministry of Education, which referred them to the Tertiary Education Commission.  Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce declined to comment.

The Wellingtonian, May 30, 2011

It was probably in 1992 that I sometimes used to hang out with a mate who was at the time a communist.  I have some very fond memories of this phase in my friend’s life:

Fond Memory One

“What’s this?”

“Overdue powerbills.”

“There’s a lot of them.”

“We’re thinking of not paying as a protest.”

I nodded silently, but thought: (“a protest against light?”)

Fond Memory Two

“Why did you study engineering?”

“So we can blow up bridges in the revolution.”

“Won’t we need bridges after the revolution?”

Icy glare

Fond Memory Three

Listening to Rage Against the Machine


“Yes, there’s a protest movement out there but who’s really listening to them?” English said, in response to a question from the audience.

“They get on TV and they can make a bit of a racket … dragging a few rubbish bins around, they need some Greeks to show them how to do it,” he said.

Bill English, Minister of Finance, 25 May

I love Rage Against the Machine.  Actually, when it comes to RATM I think you should swear.  So, I F*&king love Rage Against the Machine.  So does Bill English.  I assume.  Otherwise why would he be advocating people do this:

Seems a strange thing for a government minister to advocate.

I guess I’m pretty open-minded about civil disobedience.  It’s a legitimate form of protest, much better than throwing molotov cocktails at riot police, and if the cause is just then the protest will gain force and size.  If the cause is not just then it will fizzle out.

A few days ago some Auckland University students sat down on a main road in Auckland and refused to move.  When I watched the Auckland University students sitting on the road being dragged off by the police, being forced to the ground, having their heads shoved down onto the tar seal, I felt unhappy.  It seemed a legitimate protest to me, and I wondered why it was necessary to do that to them.

Still, inexplicable unpleasantness may just be a reflection of how the Ministers at the top act when in the House:

Speaking in Parliament, Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee rejected Labour’s plans to model the economy on Finland, “which has worse unemployment than us, has less growth than us, can hardly feed the people who live there, has a terrible homicide rate, hardly educates its people, and has no respect for women.”

NZ Herald, 25 March, 2012

”Everybody who knows Gerry knows he’s got a great sense of humour and he gives rollicking speeches in the House from time to time…I’m not going to crtique it, it’s occurred and the Finnish president has seen it in the spirit of which it was intended.”

John Key’s explanation

We know that John Key doesn’t really notice racist jibes though, because he didn’t bat an eye when Paul Henry asked him on TV if the next Governor General of our country would be a “real New Zealander” (i.e. not ethnic looking with a funny name).

It appears to be a fact that when times get tough, brotherly love tends to go out the window a little bit.  Which makes it an excellent time to be a bit brave and stand up for brotherly love. 

Like it or not, criminals are our brothers too.  Of all the rat bags I dealt with as a Dean at my old school I only met one who I would’ve thought of as genuinely bad, and even he was not beyond hope when he came to us aged 12.

The first prison unit built of recycled shipping containers in New Zealand has outperformed expectations in its first year of operation, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

The unit at Rimutaka Prison was opened last June and is housing 60 prisoners in double-bunked cells.

“I’m very pleased that the unit is outperforming all expectations,” Ms Collins said.

“The unit was constructed much quicker and 30 percent cheaper than comparable, traditionally built units.

“The maintenance costs for the unit are 34 percent lower than expected and vandalism is extremely low.”

May 2011, Office of Judith Collins

So much talk of units and percentages and cost, and so little about people, and reform and justice.

The government has been quietly making minor changes to various things for quite a long time.  It works well because each change is so minor, and so hard to really grasp that it is hard to protest about, and easy for John Key to say something reasonable sounding like, “really? Do you really think people will care about some minor change to some minor thing most people don’t do anyway?”  Which is true.  I don’t suggest that there is some secret conspiracy going on either, just that each minor change comes from a set of beliefs I don’t agree with.

An attempted ban on selling unhealthy food in schools has been lifted by the Government.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said she had decided to remove the National Administration Guideline (5) which tells schools that “where food and beverages are sold on school premises, to make only healthy options available”.

Stuff, May 2009

Of course, the government has just announced that in an effort to improve the quality of one of the top education system’s in the world and save some money they are going to increase class sizes at some year levels in schools.  This is ok, they tell us, because research shows that class size is not as important as quality teaching.

it also might be why Key’s children – Stephanie, 12, and Max, 10 – go to private schools. Mostly, he says, that decision was for educational reasons. Their schools have smaller classes and are better resourced than most state schools. But he acknowledges that the connections children make are also important.

Listener, May 2005

The government also like the idea of getting teachers to do a Masters degree in order to become a teacher.  Really?  More post-graduate essay writing about theories of education by people without any experience of teaching will make teachers better?  Offering Masters to teachers with five years experience sounds like a great idea.  Making it a prerequisite for entering the profession is daft.

Reforms of the honours system put in place by the last Labour Government are being rolled back by the National Government.

Prime Minister John Key has announced the titles of Knight and Dame Grand Companion are to be reinstated and formal approval for the move has been given by the Queen.


While letting people get down on their knees and arise again with a Sir or a Dame in front of their name makes my skin crawl, it’s nothing compared to mucking about with human rights.  How about the new Search and Surveillance Act which,

over-rule[s] the right to silence for people questioned in investigation of crimes carrying at least a 10-year jail sentence. Examination orders would also overrule the confidentiality of information people share with their doctors and lawyers, and the information people sometimes give in confidence to news media.  The rights of reporters to protect confidential sources will be seriously restricted.

NZ Herald, 8 March, 2012

Not to mention, of course, proposed changes to the jury system, and court procedure, which are being done to speed things up (i.e. save money), as if good justice has something to do with brevity.  Crime punishable with a sentence of less than two years?  Do we really need a jury?  Have to muck around with an actual trial? Does the jury really need to be unanimous?

I could go on.  Asset sales?  Finance company bail outs? Fracking? Deep sea oil drilling?

It all stinks. 

Which means I was glad to see some people out on the street the other day being a nuisance and vocally complaining.  I was glad that they were so pissed off that they felt like actually letting a little of their rage show.  I was also glad that they hadn’t taken any notes from the Greeks.

After four years of everyone rolling over to have their tummy stroked by John Key it’s good that a few people are hissing.  Which is why I secretly liked the communists my mate hung out with twenty years ago.  All systems need someone hissing at them, and people to remind them to do it.  My mate’s not a communist anymore, but at least I’ve still got my Rage Against the Machine CD, and at least it still makes me want to leap up and pogo around the living room like a loon.

Published by


I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

3 thoughts on “Irritable me”

  1. Sorry, a very NZ focused post, but we down here seem to follow the predictable shapes of the rest of the west in hard financial times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s