Seymour apologises after “harden up” criticism

One of the dangers with an MP like David Seymour raising his profile is that he will also raise the chances of being taken to task for slip ups.

He appears to have slipped up over the last couple of days when he is alleged to have told students suffering from depression to “harden up”. Syemour has apologised “for any offence his comments might have caused”.

3 News reports Seymour denies telling mental health students to ‘harden up’:

A petition has been launched calling for an apology from ACT Party leader David Seymour after he apparently said university students with mental health issues should “harden up”.

Mr Seymour disputed the Victoria University students’ sequence of events, though he has apologised for any offence his comments might have caused.

He was one of a panel of MPs at the university’s Weir House halls talking about the growing mental health issues among students who face significant pressure from studies, paid work and extra-curricular activities.

There were a number of reports Mr Seymour said students would have to “harden up” before passing the microphone to another MP.

It led student Sophie Wynn to launch a petition asking for an apology from Mr Seymour and to consider how damaging the comment was to those with mental illness.

A petition seems a odd response but Seymour’s comments obviously concerned some people. He defended himself:

However, the party’s sole MP believes his comments have been “misreported” and were taken “quite wildly out of context by people with political motivations”.

“I answered a quite long question on a range of issues and I said that you should harden up if you’re going to blame all of your problems on someone else, then that’s not a way to be happy.”

He said people face a number of difficult challenges – financial, academic, work – and some who do have mental illness should seek help.

“In the broader context, I said, ‘Look, sometimes you have to face up to your challenges and believe in yourself.'”

Mr Seymour said had he been asked directly about mental illness, anxiety and depression, his answer would have been different, “but that’s not the question I was asked”.

In Stuff’s ACT leader David Seymour’s ‘harden up’ line stuns Wellington students more details are given about the allegations.

Victoria University law student Sophie Wynn, who has personally suffered from anxiety and depression, was at the politicians’ debate at Victoria University’s Weir House on Monday night when Seymour made the comment.

A student in the audience raised a question about the the rise of depression and anxiety among students as a result of increasing pressures of money, work, extra curricular activities and university work, she said.

“I was completely and utterly disgusted when Seymour replied with ‘harden up’.

“I was further disgusted when I approached him afterwards, to press him further about his comment.

“I asked him if he knew about how anxiety and depression worked, and he said that those who claim to suffer from it are simply not choosing to be happy.

“He claims that people are over-medicated and that by labelling themselves as being mentally ill, they are making excuses as to why they are choosing not to be happy.

“I pushed further, and I shared my personal experiences with anxiety and depression.

“I asked him if he would tell me to harden up, and his response was a firm ‘yes’.

Seymour’s side of the story is also reported:

Seymour said the telling was “completely misrepresenting” what happened on Monday and came from partisan students.

His comment came after a long question about the wider pressures students faced and the mental health issues were just one part of it , he said.

“If you are going to blame every problem on someone else, sometimes you have to harden up.”

People with mental health issues did at times need medical help but he was not in favour medicating for every problem.

During his discussion with Wynn after the debate he told her there was a lot of help available and she should seek it, he said.

“Sometimes you have to make a choice and choose to make the most of things.”

MPs need to be very careful when commenting on mental health issues. What might seem like sensible advice to a healthy MP may not be seen the same way by someone who is suffering from mental problems, as many people are.

United Future Leader Peter Dunne heard the “harden up” comment and- like Seymour – said it was in relation to a wider question about stresses students faced.

Labour Leader Andrew Little was also at the debate and said the “remarkably insensitive”  comment was followed by a “sharp intake of breath all around”.

The student had asked a serious question and expected a serious answer, he said.

Law student Olive Wilson – who has also had mental health issues – said the comment hit her and the rest of the audience with disbelief.

An audience of students is likely to include some who are prepared and willing to take to task inappropriate comments from an MP.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements said Seymour’s choice of wording was “unfortunate”.

“The idea that people experiencing mental illness need to ‘harden up’ is unfortunately a common misconception, but it is very unhelpful.

“People in distress deserve our compassion and understanding, not our judgement.”

She was pleased he had since clarified his meaning but said it was unfortunate he did not do that on the night.

“His audience was likely to include people who were negatively affected by his remarks.”

The NZ Union of Students’ Associations has issued a media release saying Seymour should sharpen up on facts over ‘harden up’ comments.

National student president Rory McCourt says official data released by New Zealand’s universities shows Mr Seymour’s dismissive approach is out of step with evidence on the issue.

“Between 2009 and 2014 New Zealand’s eight universities experienced a 24 per cent increase in counselling sessions. At Victoria University, where Mr Seymour spoke, the number of individual students being seen by the counselling service has jumped 44.7% in the same time, to 2,139 students last year.”

Mr McCourt says Mr Seymour should spend some time on campus with students and ask them about the impact of rising rents, longer working hours and unsustainable academic pressure on their studies and mental health.

“I think we’re risking creating a generation of highly-strung graduates. With rises in counselling sessions on almost all campuses, this is a real issue. We’re disappointed Mr Seymour has taken this approach despite the evidence. The data suggests this is a growing problem.”

“How bad does it have to get for politicians to take the deteriorating mental health of our students seriously?”

Hopefully Seymour will learn something from this university experience.

This has nothing to do with ‘PC’ – MPs need to be sensitive to issues like mental health.

UPDATE: NZ Herald has also covered this today – David Seymour’s ‘harden up’ talk blasted

Mr Seymour denied he made those comments, “but I actually said you did have to choose sometimes how you are going to feel about something, which I think is true. But I did not say if you have a mental illness, you have chosen it.”

“You did have to choose sometimes how you are going to feel about something” is on shaky ground when talking about mental illness.

Even in general terms it’s an odd comment. Feelings are felt, not chosen.

The Herald lists some useful contact details:

Where to get help:
 Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
 Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
 Youth services: (06) 3555 906
 Youthline: 0800 376 633
 Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
 Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
 The Word
 Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
 Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
 CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Labour diversion #1 – provisional tax policy propasal

Labour launched Andrew Little’s first policy yesterday to try to help businesses pay tax – but it’s a policy that other parties (National, Greens, ACT) have already promoted.

Was Labour that the Government had announced implemetation of an almost identical policy earlier this year and had already had public consultation on it?

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson announced Labour’s first policy since Little became leader on Twitter at the same time as Little was announcing it in a speech.

Andrew Little addressing the Hutt Chamber of Commerce. Announcing new proposal to make life easier for small business

Embedded image permalink

Labour proposing Flexible Tax for Business. Optional system to manage provisional tax when it works for them.

Planned change to business tax is Little’s first policy as Labour leader

Little has been leader since November 2014, eight months ago.

Under Labour’s proposal business will have option to pay tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust.

Discussion document on Labour’s flexible tax for business available
Email your feedback to

Little’s media release on it:

Labour is launching a new proposal to give businesses more flexibility and control over when they pay their tax, Opposition Leader Andrew Little announced today.

“Today I am launching a discussion document to give businesses the option of paying their income tax through a system similar to PAYE called Flexible Tax for Business.

“Business people know their business better than the IRD so Labour wants to let business owners tailor their tax payments to fit their cash flows.

“Small businesses frequently tell me one of their biggest bugbears is how difficult it is to pay provisional tax.

“Under the current system they are forced to guess their annual income and pay tax in three large instalments throughout the year. If they guess wrong, they can be faced with a big bill at the end of the year which can push a small business to the wall.

“Under Labour’s proposal, businesses will have the option of choosing to pay their tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust. This means businesses can align their payments to suit their circumstances.

“To further help our businesses get ahead, our proposal scraps harsh late penalties for provisional tax, and raises the level at which provisional tax kicks in from $2500 to $5000.

“Flexible Tax for Business is about giving our businesses more control over how they pay tax.  That’s how we will help them do well, grow and create jobs.

“From here, we will be sending out the discussion document for feedback from business owners around the country on how we can improve the proposal before we take it into the 2017 election,” says Andrew Little.

To read Andrew’s speech click here.

To view Labour’s discussion document click here.

This all sounds quite good. It also sounds quite familiar.

As Steven Joyce quickly pointed out:

Labour re-announces Government announcement

Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has congratulated Labour Party Leader Andrew Little on finally announcing his first “new” policy after eight months in the job, although unfortunately for Labour it’s a cut and paste of a previous Government announcement.

“Labour announced today it was launching a discussion document on changes to provisional tax for businesses. However it seems to have overlooked that the Government launched its own discussion document containing almost identical proposals back in March,” says Mr Joyce. “These in turn were based on National Party policy at the last election.”

The Government has already consulted on proposed changes to provisional tax including a business PAYE, changes to use-of-money interest and penalties, increased use of tax pooling and the use of tax accounts. A Green Paper was launched on 31 March this year and submissions closed on 29 May.

“Feedback on the Green Paper’s suggestions has generally been supportive, and provisional tax was the part most commented on. As we’ve said previously, the changes will require new technology to be implemented, which will be developed as part of the IRD’s Business Transformation project,” says Mr Joyce.

“Quite why Labour has started its own consultation is beyond me.

“Submissions are now closed but the Government would be happy to accept a late submission from the Labour Party in support of the proposal,” Mr Joyce says. “We also appreciate its implied endorsement of the Business Transformation process that will make these policy changes possible.”

A link to  the March announcement can be found HERE.

A link to the Government’s Green Paper, Making Tax Simpler, can be found HERE.

A link to the National Party’s 2014 election policy on this issue can be found HERE.

Same for ACT Party@actparty  Here’s our statement, from May, on scrapping provisional tax:

Scrap provisional tax? Yep

The provisional tax system should be scrapped, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Having to estimate volatile incomes is unfair on taxpayers, especially given the penalties that occur if you get it wrong.

“I am pleased to see the government recognise that the use of technology allows provisional tax to be managed much more like PAYE – calculated as you earn income.

“The Government is seeking views on whether provisional tax estimations should be scrapped in favour of simply paying tax as you actually earn it.

“I urge businesses and individuals to take up the invitation by the Government to submit on this issue.”

Go to to have your say.

  • Discussion on Better Digital Services – closes 15 May
  • Discussion on the plan for the Tax Administration – closes 29 May
 Same for Rod Drury:

IRD already working through changes to Provisional Tax for small biz. Cloud Accounting software can bring this to life quickly

Same for NZGreenParty@NZGreenParty Greens support simplifying tax for small business: Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on:

Greens support simplifying tax for small business

Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on the way forward, it’s time for the Government to get on with simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, the Green Party said today.

“The Green Party has been talking about simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, like Labour suggested today, since before the 2011 election,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“Anyone who talks to small business operators knows how annoying and difficult the current guesswork-based provisional tax system can be. Moving to a simpler, pay-as-you-go model would make life so much easier for small businesses and free up their time to focus on growing jobs and revenue.

“Labour’s announcement follows similar recent comments by NZ First, and Steven Joyce says the Government and IRD are open to ideas around simplifying provisional tax for small businesses. Even Act seems to agree with what is clearly now the mainstream consensus.

“Now that there’s political consensus about helping small businesses by simplifying the provisional tax system, the Government needs to get on with making the change,” said Mr Shaw.

It doesn’t sound like Labour are at the consensus stage yet, they have launched ‘a proposal’ and ‘a discussion document’ for consultation.

Was Labour unaware this was already policy shared by most other parties? Were they unaware the Government had already announced it and have already had a consultation process on it?

Was this thought through by Labour or was it thrown together to try and take the spotlight off their ham fisted approach to data analysis and targeting of Chines property buyers?

Williamson flayed, National frayed

Paul Henry interviewed Act leader David Seymour this morning about the alleged attempt by Maurice Williamson to jump from National to ACT.

As a result of clarifications Henry stated that Williamson has lied to John Key about having no contact, and Seymour didn’t dispute that assumption.

Williamson has been flayed by ACT (and Henry), and National looks more frayed around the edges.

This started with a ‘tidbit’ in Free Press 25/05/2015 ACT PARTY / NEWSLETTER:

Where’s Maurice Williamson Going?
Betting site iPredict has opened up stocks for a by-election in Pakuranga, and for incumbent Williamson to be the candidate by 2017.  The interesting thing is the opening odds, respectively 30 and 25 percent likely.  iPredict’s operators, who have deep political connections, set these odds.  Something’s up.

ACT’s Board has unanimously rejected an approach by the hapless Don Brash (no joking, this is too good for us to have made up) for Williamson to join ACT’s caucus.  “My own party don’t want me no more” is not an attractive pitch. For similar reasons, what poor country would accept him as ambassador?

Henry’s interview Is National MP Maurice Williamson a waka-jumper?

The transcript:

Henry: Ok the reason we all know about this is that you went public in a newsletter and said that this approach through Don Brash had come to the party and the party said no.

Seymour: Well that’s right we put a tidbit at the end of our newsletter, um and a lot of people seem to have found it very interesting.

Henry: Well because it makes a fool of Maurice Williamson. Was that your intention?

Seymour: Ah no not at all, but what I do know is that you can’t lead a party, try to rebuild a party, and offer a party that voters can confidently vote for, ah when you have this kind of back door swirling stuff going on, so ah we put it out in the open and made it clear this is not how we do politics, ah if we want to expand the ACT caucus and we certainly do, ah we’ll put it to the voters at a general election.

Henry: What you’re doing is something quite unusual in politics, you’re taking the moral high ground, ah and and given the story to date you deserve the moral high ground. However the opposite is true of Maurice Williamson, or as for some reason I’m referring to him as ‘Maurice’ [sort of a French pronunciation]. Seems more appropriate for some reason.

Um for him it’s not the high ground. You must have known by going public with this, that people were going to point the finger at Maurice and say at the very least you are disloyal, this is about you party hopping and causing problems for the National Party.

Seymour: Well bear in mind we’ve just reported the facts of the case, which is that ah Don approached our president, ah and we said no, ah we’ve left it up to them to explain ah where they’re coming from.

They haven’t been prepared to do that, ah which was as we suspected, um but nonetheless I’d rather ah do things out in the open, ah than have innuendo and swirling rumours around the party.

Henry: All right, lets just establish one thing. You understand, and the president of ACT understand that Don Brash was acting for Maurice Williamson, with the clear knowledge the request actually of Maurice Williamson. Is that correct?

Seymour: Well, I’ve known Don for a long time and one thing I know about Don is he’s certainly a very sincere guy, ah so if I was to bet on the character of Don Brash, ah which is very very good, I can’t imagine ah that he woke up and fabricated it, but who knows? Ah Maurice seems to be saying the opposite.

Henry: I agree entirely with what you’re saying there, but did Don Brash make it clear to your um president that he was acting for Maurice Williamson?

Seymour: Yeah that that that’s the assumption for sure.

Henry: But that’s the assumption. Did he make it clear?

Seymour: As far as I’m aware he did, yes.

Henry: All right, in which Maurice Williamson is now lying to John Key.

Seymour: Well certainly, I mean the other thing is that you know ah John did follow up ah and ah call Maurice and had several texts, ah and of course he’s saying there’s been no contact. Um so but that’s look that’s that’s for them to work out, we’re just telling um…

Henry: Ok, hang on, just make sure I’ve got that right because this is an actual fact you’re dealing in now, you’re saying the the ACT president John Thompson has specifically spoken to Maurice Williamson about this.

Seymour: Well he did, he undertook, he said to Don “look Don, sounds a bit crazy to me but you know we’ll  give him a call um and John tried to do that, ah then several texts. Ah Maurice never properly returned his call, ah but certainly ah there was some contact.

Henry: Well did they talk to each other or not? Was there actual contact or not?

Seymour: Well what happened is that John called, ah Maurice Maurice said “I can’t talk now, I’ll get back”,  um they had a couple of texts back and forth ah and…

Henry: So there was contact.

Seymour: There was contact, that’s right.

Henry: Maurice Williamson is in fact lying to John Key.

Seymour: Well ah that’s up to up to Maurice to ah decide, um but we’re just reporting what’s happened with ACT and  saying  this is how we play, ah we’re not really interested in party hopping or waka jumping, that’s for others to say what their position is.

It looks like Seymour and ACT have really dumped Williamson into an inextricable position.

This must rule out any chance of Williamson getting back into the National  Cabinet – but for Williamson to approach ACT one could assume a return had already been ruled out by John Key, hence seeking some other party opportunity.

I can’t imagine Williamson being happy about this being out in the open. Nor Key.

If it’s true I don’t see how Williamson can continue being a National MP. Resigning from his Pakuranga electorate would seem to be the honourable thing to do. That would mean an interesting by-election.

If Williamson chooses not to budge then it could mean a very awkward two years for National as he may be less loyal and more difficult to deal with than National’s coalition partners.

This looks like more fraying around the edges of National’s third term.

And it indicates a bit of political ruthlessness from Seymour and ACT.

Tax threshold indexation

ACT MP David Seymour is promoting the indexation of tax thresholds to prevent bracket creep – where tax levels effectively slowly increase as earnings push people into a higher proportion of higher tax rates.

Michael Cullen and Helen Clark were rejected by voters  in 2008 and tax bracket creep became a significant factor. Times were good but the Government allowed tax to increase as a proportion of wages earned.

Indexation is already used with the threshold where the ACC earner premium stops being incurred. This creeps up every year, slightly increasing the amount higher earners pay (it went up to 120,070 this month).

Politicians seem less inclined towards adjusting against a raising of tax.

Seymour will be hoping to have success with this during this term, because if National lose so does any chance of indexation happening.

Vernon Small writes about ACT’s campaign in Tax threshold indexation sounds like a good idea – but beware the chewing gum tax.

Roy Morgan poll – National up

The second Roy Morgan poll since the election shows National recovering support and Labour languishing leaderless (Annette King is doing a reasonable job but just as deputy caretaker leader).

  • National 49.5% ( up 6% since early October)
  • Maori Party 1% (down 1%)
  • Act NZ 0.5% (unchanged)
  • United Future 0% (down 0.5%).
  • Labour Party 24% (up 1.5%)
  • Greens 14.5% (down 3%)
  • NZ First 6.5% (down 0.5%)

Parties outside Parliament:

  • Conservative Party 2% (down 3%)
  • Internet-Mana Party 0.5% (down 0.5%)
  • Independent/ Others 1.5% (up 1%)

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 866 electors from October 27 – November 9, 2014. Of all electors surveyed 2.5% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party.

Predictable result

In the main the election result and sub-results were quite predictable.

Polls were a reasonable indicator but only look backwards so show trends that have happened. They can’t predict to late campaign shifts that are common.

This election was peculiar in that many decisions were put on hold until Kim Dotcom’s big reveal. When it came to nothing it strengthened resolve of swing voters to ensure National retained it’s hold on Government.

Labour dropping below poll results was not surprising. They were obviously not going to do well and non-committed voters either change their minds or simply don’t bother voting.

Claims like “but Cunliffe ran a good campaign” have been proven wrong. As David Shearer said, the end result was tragic for Labour. Cunliffe may have appeared to be campaigning strongly but he puts on a variety of acts. While they might be slick acts voters see through this lack of genuineness. Cunliffe also has a problem that is probably unresolvable – too many people simply don’t like his persona (or personas).

Greens will be disappointed to have struggled to maintain their level of support while Labour were shedding votes. Greens weren’t able to pick them up. This suggests that 10-12% is the upper limit for them. This also shouldn’t be surprising outside the Green bubble. People like to have a party promoting environmental issues but most don’t like the extreme Green stances like no drilling, no fracking, no motorways.

And Greens misread public sentiment if they think that handing out more money to poor people with no responsibilities applied will be popular. Middle New Zealand see this as imposing costs and taxes on them. Socialism is fringe ideology these days.

Winston Peters is adept at picking up protest and shedded votes. NZ First gained vote, gained MPs but otherwise gained nothing. Most of the 91% who didn’t vote NZ First will be happy with this outcome.

The 5% threshold always looked a very high hurdle for Conservatives and so it proved. This was a failure of MMP. The threshold should be no higher than 3%. I don’t personally support the Conservatives but their missing out is a travesty of democracy.

Hone Harawira losing his electorate was a bit of a shock but not really surprising given the severely compromised position of Harawira and Mana hitching their ambitions to Kim Dotcom. Dotcom’s expensive disaster was Harawira’s failing.

Internet-Mana was always a high risk alliance. They might have succeeded as a combined party but Dotcom realised too late that his brand was toxic and he couldn’t resist being prominent. His final week failure to deliver on his promises to hit John Key compounded the problem.

Laila Harre severely compromised her credibility and was still blind to this yesterday, blaming everything but reality. Her political future is very limited.

The Maori Party lost two of their three electorates as widely predicted. For the first time they had sufficient party vote to pick up a list seat to go with Te Ururoa Flavell’s retained seat. Flavell was a minor star of the campaign but will have a difficult job keeping the Maori Party afloat.

David Seymour retained Epsom as expected but also as expected ACT failed as a party. Jamie Whyte failed to step up as leader in a challenging attempt to rebuild a battered brand.

Peter Dunne held is Ohariu seat. That didn’t seem to surprise anyone but unrealistic Labourites from the electorate. As a party United Future was nowhere to be seen, and accordingly votes were nowhere to be seen, dropping to a third of the low return they got in 2011.

Just two more seats for National but this strengthens them substantially, giving them a majority vote on their own as long as they don’t lose any seats this term. They also have ACT, Dunne and Maori Party support options on standby.

Just two less seats for Labour and this weakens them substantially. The result is tragic for them and the outlook is no better. They have done very little to move on the old guard and bring in new talent. They seem out of touch with their constituency of last century. They have yet another failed leader with no obvious replacement. This was also predictable.

Labour have failed for six years to rebuild from the Clark/Cullen era. Unless someone out of the ordinary steps up their future looks bleak.

National campaigned on ‘steady as she goes’ and the voters delivered the platform for National to be a little more politically steady than expected providing outstanding issues don’t impact too much.

Judith Collins has already been sidelined and is expendable should inquiries further damage her.

Now the election is over ‘dirty politics’ should be addressed by Key. And by Labour. And to a lesser extent by Greens. Peters won’t change from his habit of attack without evidence but he will be largely impotent unless the media keep pandering to his baseless allegations.

Some embarrassments may emerge for Key and National out of surveillance and GCSB issues but they look to have been overplayed, and most people accept the need for some surveillance protection.

The simple fact is that most people don’t feel threatened by surveillance and they are concerned about about terrorism.

And it’s ironic that the supposedly net-savvy who campaign strongly against surveillance must be aware that the Google and Twitter and Facebook social media tools they willingly use are tracking what they do far more than any government.

But we can predict they will continue to fight for a free internet that gives them far more public exposure than they ever had. They claim that privacy is paramount in a very public online world.

Otherwise we can predict have much the same Government as we’ve had over the past six years. Most people will be comfortable with that.

It’s harder to predict if Harawira will make a comeback or if Mana will survive their battering and their harsh reality check.

If Dotcom pulls the plug on Internet Party funding it’s demise can be predicted. If that happens it can also be predicted that Laila Harre will find it very difficult to find another party that would risk being tainted by her lack of loyalty and sense.

It is not hard to predict that Labour’s struggle to be relevant and their lack of connection to anyone but some special interest groups will continue.

John Key has shown he is aware of the dangers to National of complacency and arrogance – it can be predicted that some of his MPs will struggle to heed his warnings. But most likely things will continue much as they have.

Poll hits dirt, rewards clean

There can be many reasons for poll movements but whether by coincidence or not the parties most associated by dirty smear politics have all dropped in the latest NZ Herald poll, and parties not associated with dirt have gone up, especially the Greens.

Dirty parties:

  • National 50 (down 4.9)
  • Labour 25.2 (down 1.3)
  • NZ First 4.3 (down 0.3)

Clean parties:

  • Greens 13.7 (up 3.8)
  • Conservatives 2.6 (up 1.4)
  • Maori Party 0.7 (up 0.2)
  • Act 0.6 (up 0.6)
  • United Future 0.4 (up 0.4)


  • Mana-Internet 2.1 (down 0.1)
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis (down 0.1)

Having made that point poll to poll movements are not as important as trends.

Herlad poll trends Aug14

  • National’s last poll result may have been an outlier.
  • Labour continue to trend down.
  • Greens have surged but time will tell if it is temoporary or becomes a positive trend.

Herald poll trends small Aug14

  • Winston Peters has been struggling to sustain a profile in a very competitive media.
  • Conservatives will be hoping they are on the rise but 5% is a long way up from there.
  • Internet-Mana climbed initially but may be leveling off.
  • Maori, Act and United Future will be grateful for any scraps they can get.

The poll of 750 respondents was conducted between August 14 and 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. On the party vote questions 12.5 per cent were undecided.

Source: Greens spring in polls as National takes hit

Polls and election prospects

A number of recent polls have given pointers to where the parties stand with less than two months to go until the election.


National have been polling in the high forties through to mid fifties but are expected to drop back a few percent in the final count. They are aware of this and are trying to minimise that drop by playing as safe a game as possible.

They have had some hiccups with embarrassments through Claudia Hauiti (now withdrawn from candidacy) and Gerry Brownlee’s airport security slip-up. Hauiti was National’s lowest ranked MP so she won’t be a loss, and Brownlee has front footed the damage control with what appears to be genuine contriteness.

National have just announced their list with no real surprises. They will say this week what other parties they will be prepared to work with and give a nod to some potential support parties in electorates.

They have yet to reveal much about policies. There main plank seems to be more of the same, steady sensible management of the economy.

That will be enough to win the most seats by far but they are not expected to get enough to rule on their own so their fortunes may be dictated by small parties. They will be hoping Winston Peters isn’t the main dictator.

Likely result range 45-50%.


The polls have not been good for Labour with the last twelve results being in the twenties, as low as 23%.

David Cunliffe continues to fail to impress as leader. He says his string of apologies are behind him but he is dropping in preferred Prime Minister polls, the latest having him on 8%. Some hope he will show his mettle in leader’s debates but it’s unlikely he will do enough to shine over the seasoned Key.

Media are writing Labour off and talking more about how low they might go instead of how much they might get. There’s good reason for this, they look divided and disorganised.

Labour’s best hope seems to limit the damage and not get any lower than their record low in 2011 of 27.28%. A more common hope is probably that their vote doesn’t collapse.

Likely result range 20-29%.

Green Party

The Greens bounce around in the polls, usually in the 10-15% range.

They look to be the best organised party by a long shot, and seem determined to finally get into Government. They deserve it on their own efforts but they are relying on Labour who will be worrying and disappointing them.

Without Labour improving substantially Greens look like at best competing for attention and influence amongst a mish mash coalition but more likely being denied by Labour’s failure.

Many voters are happy to see Greens in the mix but one negative is there is a wariness (and in some cases fear) of Greens getting to much influence, especially on economic matters. Some Green good, too much Green scary is a common sentiment.

Likely result range 10-15%.

NZ First

NZ First have been polling from a bit under to a bit over the magic 5%.

Most expect them to lift a bit in the run up to voting as happened last year but National will be taking as much care as possible not to hand Winston Peters another opportunity like the cup of tea debacle.

Peters is a seasoned campaigner and the media help his cause because he is good for stories, but time will tell whether there is too much seasoning in the old warrior and too little substance in the rest of the party as the other MPs have failed to impress.

One thing that may make it harder is direct competition for attention  and votes with the Conservative Party.

Likely result range 4-6%.

Maori Party

Poll results have been low for the Maori Party. That doesn’t usually matter because in all elections they have contested so far they have got more electorate seats than their party vote would give them so it has been unnecessary. Last election they got 1.43%.

It’s tougher for them in electorates this time with Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia retiring. It will be challenging for them to retain their current three seats, with some suggesting they might lose most or all of them.

There will be strong competition from the Dotcom financed MANA Party, but they may be helped by Labour’s woes.

For the first time the party vote may matter to the Maori Party, especially if they only hold one electorate seat.

Likely result range 1-2%.

Conservative Party

Polls have been in the 1-3% range. It’s now looking unlikely National will help Colin Craig in an electorate so they may have to get 5% to make it. That will be difficult, especially if Winston Peters competes openly with them.

Formed just before the last election the Conservatives got 2.65% and hope to improve on that. They have had much more exposure but that may have lost as much support as it has gained. Craig still seems politically naive. He has tried to turn the ‘Crazy Colin’ meme to his advantage but that’s a risky strategy.

Conservative fortunes are relying on National’s decision this week but it’s not looking positive for them.

UPDATE: John Key has just stated that National won’t help Craig in East Coast Bays so Conservatives only hope is getting 5%, which looks a big hurdle.

Likely result range 2-3%.

ACT Party

Act has been polling poorly, often under 1%.

Act were in turmoil last election with a very Brash takeover and installing John Banks as Epsom candidate. Banks won to save Act but has had a troubled term.

Act have made a concerted effort to rebuild over two elections. They have split responsibilities between Jamie Whyte as party leader and David Seymour in Epsom. Seymour looks a good bet in Epsom but the political jury is still out on Whyte and Act.

Much could come down to how Whyte looks in the minor party debates. He is intelligent and has good political knowledge but can look to serious and too polite – he hasn’t been forceful enough in interviews.

Act may benefit from being an alternative to giving National sole charge.

Likely result range 1-3%.

United Future

UnitedFuture has been languishing in polls, as often on 0% as slightly above.

More than ever UF hopes seem to rest solely on Peter Dunne in Ohariu. His chances are reasonable there. He has held the seat for thirty years so is very well known. He hasn’t had the best of terms but seems determined to rebuild his credibility.

Dunne looks to have been helped by all the major parties:

  • National have a new candidate who looks likely to campaign for the aprty vote only and has been given an almost certain list position.
  • Labour’s Charles Chauvel resigned mid term and has been replaced by a relative unknown.
  • Green’s Gareth Hughes has withdrawn from the electorate to promote youth and party vote and has been replaced by someone.

Like last election voters are likely to return Dunne and ignore the party. The party seems to be virtually ignoring the party.

Likely result range 0.3-0.7%.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

ALCP rarely feature in opinion polls, but they manage to get votes in elections. In 2011 they got 0.52%.

They are under new management this time and are likely to get some stoner and protest votes but 5% is just too high a hurdle for the influential media to pay them any attention.

Likely result range 0.4-0.8%.

Internet Mana Party

As a newly formed combo IMP have been polling 1-2%. They have a huge budget so will feature in the attention seeking stakes.

And while Kim Dotcom can’t stand as a candidate his attention seeking will keep him to the forefront of party success or failure.

Dotcom is promising a town hall circus five days before election day – he thinks this will destroy John Key and National but it could just as easily backfire.

His personal crusade is to oust the National Government. He is more likley to fracture the left wing vote and scare people off a Labour let government.

IMP’s monetary might will gain them some party votes but may fail in the ultimate aim.

Likely result range 2-4%.


IMP could be pivotal in the final result but it looks most likely to be a failure for them and a win for National with a few small allies.

Fairfax exclude small parties from poll results

Fairfax released their latest IPSOS poll on Saturday. How did the small parties fare? It’s been difficult to find out.

If you go to Stuff’s See the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll you’ll find detailed breakdowns of support for National, Labour, Greens and NZ First, but nothing at all for other parties (apart from a mention in the projected make up of Parliament.

I did manage to find a mention of all parties in a non-Fairfax report, so they must have shared the results.

So I’ve included all parties here: Fairfax/IPSOS poll good for National.

But in what appears to be the main Stuff coverage of the poll – National on wave of optimism – poll – the Conservative and Internet Parties get a mention (neither are currently in Parliament and the Internet Party isn’t official yet and Kim DotCom has promised to self-destruct it if as expected it fails to poll above 5%) . But there is nothing for Maori Party, Mana Party, ACT and UnitedFuture.

I tweeted my disappointment on the exclusion of over have the parties:

@dpfdpf @tracy_watkins @avancenz @VernonSmall @michaelfoxnz Very poor not publishing full party results.

One of them responded:

Not poor. Party vote breakdown in the paper and on Stuff. Where were you looking?

I didn’t see the print version, but I’ve searched Stuff and can’t find it. I asked Tracey:

I’ve looked on Stuff in all the references to the poll I can find. Can you give me a link?

I didn’t get a reply to that.

The small parties don’t get much support in polls, including this one, and this won’t be helped when major media exclude them. The Fairfax poll coverage favours the large parties and larger small parties.

UPDATE: an Australian tweet with a link to an Australian news site has the full results.

Roy Morgan@roymorganonline

NZ PM’s National could govern alone: poll  via @newscomauHQ


Act take a big risk

Act have taken a big risk in their selection of Jamie Whyte as Act leader and David Seymour as their candidate for the pivotal Epsom seat.

They have left out experienced politician and campaigner and widely respected good bloke John Boscawen and instead have chosen two virtually unknown political novices.

Act’s situation has been precarious for years, particularly with John Banks now in serious in trouble and indicating he will bow out this year. Ironically Banks gave the stand-out speech when Parliament opened for the year  last week.

Feedback on yesterday’s selection (by the Act board, members don’t take part in the selection) from Act supporters and Epsom voters is mixed. Some are very disappointed by the rejection of Boscawen and say they won’t vote Act now. Others are pleased to see the party redefining itself with fresh faces.

It’s difficult to judge how many voters will be attracted by a more ideological Act as opposed to a politically pragmatic party.

With Boscawen staying out of the party president role and substantially reducing his input of his own money plus his fund raising Act nor only have to get a leader and their key electorate candidate up to speed plus build a party virtually carried by Boscawen over the last year it’s going to be a huge challenge.

Whatever the Act board decided would have been a risk. Choosing a balance of down to earth experience (Boscawen) and renewal (either of the other two) would have been their safest option but they have instead taken a bigger risk going for novices.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the Act camble will pay off or not over the next nine months.

NZ Herald report:

Dr Whyte, aged 48, has recently returned to live in New Zealand from abroad and has only recently become active in the party.

Mr Seymour, aged 30, first stood for Act in 2005 in Mt Albert against former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Last election he stood in Auckland Central.

He has been working for a think-tank in Canada and may well have returned permanently had he not been made candidate for Epsom.

So neither have been embedded in New Zealand politics recently.

Act announcement (by acting president Barbara Astill): ACT Leadership and Epsom Candidacy

The Act Board who presumaby made the decisions:

ACT Leader John Banks
President (John Boscawen) -resigned
Vice President Barbara Astill -acting President
Treasurer Lindsay Fergusson
Auckland North Beth Houlbrooke
Auckland South John Thompson
Waikato/BoP Bonnie Leonard
Central Vacant
Wellington Sashi Meanger
Upper South Gareth Veale
Scenic South Guy McCallum

– as listed on their website


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