Helen Clark's Labour Party is still trying to muster enough seats to form a government. And so is Don Brash's National Party. It looks like the safe bet that Ms. Turia of the Maori Party would still side with Labour because their platforms are so similar was not such a safe bet afterall and writers in New Zealand are placing the Maori Party in with National though the Maori Party has still not issued a press release announcing who they are siding with. Which leaves Labour with 57 seats and National with a possible 57 seats, remember it takes 61 seats to form a government.
So here enters the possible king maker, Winston Peters of NZ First. NZ First has seven seats so both sides are courting Mr. Peters assiduously. Looking at NZ First's platform - raising minimum wage from $9/hr to $12/hr and raising the super entitlement upto 72.5% to name two things, I do not see the more free enterprise oriented National crafting any kind of package to entice NZ First to join if NZ First says those planks of its platform are non-negotiable. But I have been wrong before; just look at my previous post doubting that the Maori Party would even make friendly noises with National, whatever Helen Clark did to cheese off Ms. Tariana Turia must have been spectacular since she and Peter Dunne of United Future have met with Don Brash of National.
Looking at the monetary side of things, Labour's campaign promises of interest free student loans and expanding Working for Families could cost $3.5billionNZ over the next three years. If Labour or National concedes to all five of NZ First's platform planks to get those seven seats, that could add another $4billionNZ in costs.
That about covers the political suicide New Zealand is suffering, Helen Clark's Labour government has emasculated the New Zealand military also. I am still laughing at how much Ms. Clark reminds me of some American politicians. When it was revealed that New Zealand had sold all of its combat aircraft to an American company for $110millionUS on September 12th, 2005, here is how One News reported it: "One News can reveal the planes have been sold to an American company but the deal is so top secret Prime Minister Helen Clark claims she did not even know about it." It took PM Clark an hour to admit the deal was about finalized.
What was sold? Seventeen A-4K Skyhawk fighter-bombers[amalgamation of NZ bought A-4Ks and surplus Australian A-4Gs that had been updated with APG-66 radar and rewired to accept smart bombs] and seventeen Aermacchi trainers to an American company called Tactical Air Services. With this one sale, all of New Zealand's airpower is gone. The Navy is not much better, just two frigates and a few amphibious vessels. The Army is now equipped with light-armoured vehicles that do not fit in the RNZAF C-130s.
Under Labour's stewardship, the national defense of New Zealand is so anemic that if Brazil, with its ex-Kuwaiti A-4KUs operating off its aircraft carrier, decided to attack; there would be nothing except some missiles to oppose Brazil's aircraft from carrying out their missions. Those two frigates would be sunk before scuffing any Brazilian ship's paint. And all Prime Minister Clark could do is appeal to Australia and the US for help. Though there would be very little either country could do immediately, down at Christchurch the US maintains its supply link to Antarctica with LC-130 aircraft while Australia might be able to stage its F-111Cs with tanker support. New Zealand would be on its own for all practical purposes.
Oh did I mention, National, in the lead up to this election, had been making statements wanting the Skyhawk force brought back to flight status. Very interesting that all of a sudden Labour manages to sell these jets after several years of failing to do so.