Josie Pagani



Conservatives can't decide who they are

Another punk-right populist has won in Argentina. Javier Milei, whose 1970s hair makes him look like the offspring of Liberace and a Bond villain with the mad eyes of a coked-up Angry Bird, won on a promise to cut spending and taxes, ban abortion, close the central bank, and only make friends with countries that want to “fight against socialism”.

Conservatives around the world are confused whether they are libertarians, authoritarian populists, or prudent managers of the status quo.

National campaigned on the slogan “Get our country back on track”. Like “Make America Great Again”, the statement seeks to own both the past and the future. ACT has liberal ideas for conservative government – cutting taxes and spending. NZ First is culturally conservative, more supportive of big state intervention in the economy. The profound changes they seek in the way services and government work do not sit easily in a cautious and managerial cabinet.

Christopher Luxon has yet to articulate a coherent theory for why they are in government. If he wants an authentic statement of moderate conservative values, he could channel Rory Stewart, now a podcaster and previously a Tory superstar.

"My vision of conservatism is about limited government, individual rights, prudence at home, strength abroad, respect for tradition, love of my country," he says.

Read the column here.

The Hoon, 23 November 2023

Josie joined Robert Patman, Bernard Hickey and Peter Bale to to discuss coalition n negotiations, Javier Milei's win in Argentina, Gaza and the US's support for Israel.

Listen here.

The Hoon 17 November 2023

Josie Discussed Gaza, Ukraine, China and the US, and the Pacific Islands Forum with Professor Robert Patman, Bernard Hickey and Peter Bale on The Hoon.

Listen and watch here.

Our Pacific neighbours are allies, not beneficiaries

Josie was at the Pacific Island Forum last week, where she says Pacific leaders bristle at being seen as bit players in their region.

The Pacific has become expert in navigating political changes in donor countries. Right-wing governments prioritise building stuff, from runways to solar farms. Left governments prioritise climate change. Often, lip service is paid to Pacific priorities. Pacific countries have commonalities, but they are as different as European countries. They speak different languages, look different, and their cultures are as diverse as any region. As a collective identity, though, they are getting stronger and they know their worth. Everyone wants a piece of the Pacific today. They want to call the shots.

Her column is here.

Successes and risks of the minor parties

The minor parties all have something to celebrate in the election result. In her Post column Josie argues the success of the smaller parties is partly explained by irritable voters choosing Neither Of The Above out of disillusionment with the old parties.

The minor parties stepped in where the old parties left a vacuum. They promised to dismantle bloat in the public sector, or introduce eye-watering wealth taxes, make dental care free, de-regulate, de-centralise and de-carbonise. They took risks, ran towards the frontline, not away from it, and were rewarded. Now, with greater power comes greater responsibility, or at least increased accountability and scrutiny.

Get Email Updates