Some fave speeches:
Some fave speeches:
Claire Trevett at the Herald has a piece up examining the five National Party leadership candidates’ views and voting records on various social issues. It’s interesting reading. And the conclusion I draw is that whoever’s on top when the dust settles will take the party screaming back into good old-fashioned conservatism.
Adams: anti-general decrim of marijuana; supported first reading of Seymour’s assisted dying bill; voted for drinking age of 20
Bridges: anti-decrim of marijuana; voted against marriage equality; opposed first reading of Seymour’s assisted dying bill
Collins: opposed first reading of Seymour’s assisted dying bill; voted for drinking age of 20
Joyce: anti-decrim of marijuana; opposed first reading of Seymour’s assisted dying bill; supported drinking age of 18
Mitchell: voted against marriage equality; supported first reading of Seymour’s assisted dying bill
Trevett notes that Mark Mitchell “in hindsight … would now support [marriage equality].” This should be a black mark against him whether you agree or disagree. It’s impossible to put trust in politicians who pander to reactionaries when it actually matters, but turn around later and insist “I would totally vote for equality and basic human rights now, if I had the chance.” There’s no high democratic principle in place: it’s an overriding instinct to cover your ass and please whoever you’re currently talking to. (God, he’s sounding more and more plausible as “New Zealand’s Trump” every day.)
All five candidates are against abortion law reform, even though Simon Bridges’ favourite Bill Clinton quote specifies abortion should be safe, rare and legal. (Abortion is still covered by the Crimes Act in New Zealand, Simon, and its safety is reduced by the bureaucratic hoops pregnant people have to jump through, delaying their access to safer procedures. Something to think about?)
Family First’s ever-ironically helpful Vote Your Values website also has a guide to the contenders. Judith Collins … certainly has a voting record.
The others are more of a mixed bag, and it might seem premature to assume that all five would drag the party back into the dark ages. John Key’s own voting record was hardly a clean sweep of decency and compassion. But the thing about Key was not that he was tremendously socially liberal, nor conservative: he was simply pragmatic. He let the dice fall where they may, and when he did look like being on the wrong side of history, he had an incredibly slick media strategy and no compunction about rewriting that history to make himself the hero.
It worked for him. It did not work for English. It is not going to work for self-proclaimed scrappers like Collins or Joyce. Bridges doesn’t have the panache to carry it off (his infamous Campbell Live interview shows what happens when he’s not given the easy ride he thinks he’s due.)
Nobody except Simon Lusk wants to have a beer with Mark Mitchell, and although Amy Adams comes to many voters as a relative unknown, that’s really a weakness when you’ve been in Parliament for nearly a decade and a Minister for two-thirds of that time. (Nanaia Mahuta took this criticism a lot in the 2014 Labour leadership election, albeit mostly from Pākehā who never pay attention.)
So the best-case scenario is National gets a new leader who can’t/won’t articulate a strong position on social issues, either to conservatism or liberalism, and who lacks Key’s ability to make that work. And we know that more conservative, religious candidates started to come up through the National ranks the minute Bill English became leader. Is there a big chunk of socially judgey National supporters, who were simply biding their time while things were going well under Key, now ready to push the party back towards its “real” values? Buggered if I know. But if there is, are any of the leadership contenders willing to take those guys on and keep them mum until the party can Labour Lite its way back into the Beehive? Mitchell will fold. Bridges and Adams will weasel. And Joyce, of course, stands on a strong record of fixing things.
The worst-case scenario is National gets a leader who can articulate a strong social position, and it’s Judith Collins and her position is strongly terrifying.
And the real winner may be David Seymour. More than anything he and his funders are capable of doing, National swerving into the judgemental daddy-state ditch could deliver a lot of “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” votes back to the yellow clown car.
Labour could benefit too: but it’s going to take more than sitting back and reaching for the popcorn. They have to seize the opportunity to drive one hell of a wedge between National’s new conservatism and the progressive values most New Zealanders hold. That means being active and unapologetic on drug and abortion law reform, and unequivocally rejecting the kneejerk law-and-order frame.
I hope they can do this.
Danyl has some thought-provoking comments about the Herald’s analysis of electoral donations:
MPs and other political insiders get really upset if you suggest to them that this is all basically political corruption. Partly this is down to their massive egos. MPs don’t think it’s strange that corporations just give them huge sums of money. Are they not extraordinary individuals? Have they not been chosen by destiny to lead the nation? Related to that is cognitive dissonance. The system around political donations might look totally corrupt, but MPs all know that they personally are not corrupt – how dare anyone suggest that? – so Tallys must just be giving free money to the MPs that happen to sit on the Select Committee that oversees and regulates their industry because they personally believe in those individual MPs.
A lot of it looks pretty dodgy, especially National’s apparent funnelling of larger anonymous donations through party HQ, and the Talleys’ enthusiastic support of people making the laws which affect the Talleys’ business.
But it also led me to reflect on some of the criticisms – from the left and right alike – of Andrew Little and Carmel Sepuloni’s decision that she give up the social development portfolio temporarily while her mother faces charges of benefit fraud.
The same kind of arguments that Danyl outlines were in play – everyone knows Sepuloni is a person of integrity! How can she be held responsible for the actions of her mother? No one would dare accuse her of impropriety!
This is on the one hand rubbish – just look (or don’t!) at how furiously Cameron Slater, of all people, defended Sepuloni, with the exact same arguments. Wouldn’t you know it, just a few days later we got a well-timed story about Sepuloni asking the Minister questions about benefit fraud. Slater’s fury probably has a lot less to do with Due And Fair Process and a lot more to do with whatever additional attack lines he had queued up.
And on the other hand, it’s rubbish again, because that’s not how conflicts of interest work. People in positions of influence don’t get to walk around saying “I’m making decisions about something I have a personal stake in, but I’m a good person so it’s not a problem!” or “But I haven’t done anything corrupt yet so I can’t have a conflict of interest!”
It’s all there in the name: when your interests are in conflict, you have a problem. And the unfortunate reality of our society is that people are judged by what their family members do – otherwise stories about Hone Harawira’s nephew’s conviction or John Key’s daughter’s art would never get the headlines they get. And those aren’t issues where you can make any kind of case that the famous person “involved” has done anything dodgy.
But it does look dodgy as hell when Talleys are pouring money into the primary production select committee. It does look dodgy as hell when Amy Adams as Minister for the Environment is overseeing freshwater management changes which just happen to massively increase the value of her land, or Gerry Brownlee denies there’s a problem with rental prices soaring in Christchurch, where he happens to own four properties.
And it would have been child’s play for the right to make it look dodgy as hell for Sepuloni to stay on as social development spokesperson. They already had the ratf*cking machine up and running and ready to go.
We can’t give our people a free pass just because they’re our people and we know they’d never do anything wrong. And the good ones who have integrity – like Carmel Sepuloni – don’t expect us to.
It’s a temporary situation for Sepuloni, and she’s continuing to do damn fine work in the meantime. The issue of political donations – and how much our political system is influenced by the people with the most money to spare – is going to be far more difficult to change.
The Sony hack just keeps hurting, with revelations about the pay gap between male and female actors leading one leading lady to demand a raise:
After leaked emails in the Sony hack showed unequal pay between male and female actors, Charlize Theron insisted she get the same pay as her male co-star Chris Hemsworth for “The Huntsman.”
She succeeded, netting a $10 million increase that puts her on par with Hemsworth.
It seems pretty straightforward: in case after case, women were being paid less than their male co-stars. Even, to be blunt, male co-stars who no one was going to see that film for:
For their work in the movie “American Hustle,” male actors Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and the director David O. Russell all got 9 percent of back-end profits, while Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, the movie’s two female leads, were each getting 7 percent. (Lawrence was originally going to get 5 percent but her pay had been raised.)
But not everyone see this as a problem. One of the top comments when I read that article said,
Charlize Theron was free to negotiate whatever she wanted to be paid as part of the movie. The fact that her co-star was a better negotiator doesn’t mean anything sinister is at play.
This is one of the major myths of wage-setting in general, and the gender pay gap in particular. The biggest hole in the argument is this: most people do not have detailed information on (a) pay rates in their industry, (b) pay rates in their workplace, (c) the financial status of their employer. The idea that every worker – from a checkout operator to an A-List actor – has a perfect idea of what they should be able to negotiate for from their employer is a fantasy.
When Charlize Theron was offered X, and Chris Hemsworth was offered X+10, they obviously didn’t compare notes and go “okay, that pay gap’s totally fine.” They didn’t have an industry-wide collective agreement setting out pay rates for their roles.
The only reason Charlize Theron knew she was getting paid less is because of the Sony hack.
Look at the other examples in that article. For American Hustle, the (male) director and male co-stars got 9%, while Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence got 7% each. Surely it’s a coincidence all the guys were on the same, higher payrate? They obviously just negotiated better.
Do we really believe that the studio itself saw no problem in paying Jennifer Lawrence – one of the biggest, most-beloved stars of cinema at the moment – less than Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper?
Are we really going to pretend that Jennifer Lawrence just “didn’t negotiate” as well?
There are many factors to the gender pay gap, including the fact that jobs which are traditionally women-dominated are paid less than jobs which are traditionally men-dominated, despite involving just as much skill, qualification, and hard work.
But there is also just sexism, and the Sony hack has highlighted this.
I’m not suggesting that studio executives sat in smoke-filled rooms twirling their moustaches, saying “Muahahahaha, we’re going to pay Charlize Theron less than Chris Hemsworth because she’s a lady!” (Though that hacked email calling Angelina Jolie a “spoiled brat” means we shouldn’t 100% discount the possibility.)
It’s far more insidious than that. Sony probably offered Theron less money, and agreed to pay Hemsworth more, because it just seemed natural to do so. It’s just automatic to treat a male co-star of a movie as The Star and a female co-star as The Supporting Actress.
If actors’ pay was about qualifications or pull, we might look at the fact that Charlize Theron is a critically-acclaimed performer whose list of award nominations is can’t be captured in one screenshot on my monitor and includes an Oscar. And Chris Hemsworth is a hunky bit of man-flesh who’s mainly been nominated for Teen Choice Awards for starring in comic-book adaptations. Which might suggest that if there’s going to be a $10 million pay gap, it should go in the other direction.
But that would be weird.
And that’s why there’s a gender pay gap in Hollywood.