Colin James on the proposed RMA reforms

In his weekly column Colin James comments on the RMA reforms proposed by Nick Smith.

…Nick Smith’s Resource Management Act (RMA) reform proposals. That act, a world first in 1991, subjects human material pursuits to judgment as to the effects on the physical environment.

New Zealand First, the Maori party and Peter Dunne and Labour, with a qualification, have also jumped on Smith. Dunne injected a swear-word — democracy — by insisting National and ACT should not ram a cornerstone change to a cornerstone act on a bare parliamentary majority of 61.

That’s an important point. Something as ‘cornerstone’ as the RMA shouldn’t be changed on a bare majority without genuine consultation with and input from all parties in Parliament.

If National are seen to ram through contentious changes it would be a bad look at the start of their third term.

Key may indicate how national might approach the RMA proposals in his state of the nation speech tomorrow.

Smith’s RMA proposals are of two sorts.

One is process improvements, to remove or reduce the fiddly, inconsistent, sometimes nonsensical and often unduly expensive bureaucratic problem-creation for people trying to do commonsense things. Phil Twyford said last year Labour would vote for most of those proposed changes, giving the lie to National’s claims Labour was blocking reform.

Most people (maybe with the exception of the Greens) want to see some changes to the RMA processes.

But Smith also said he wants to radically rewrite the criteria in sections 6 and 7 for local plans and decision-making to include natural hazards (among which he did not include climate-change-driven sea-level rise), “careful design” of urban environments, the “importance of more affordable housing” and “provision for appropriate infrastructure”. He did not include Amy Adams’ abortive proposed insertion in 2013 of economic growth but said he thought it should be recognised.

Critics say Environment Court rulings have made a place for economic development and say rewriting sections 6 and 7 will likely mire planning in 10 years of case law to define exactly what is meant.

That would be a major negative for the RMA.

Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori party and Peter Dunne all object to a section 6-7 rewrite.

Dealing with that be Smith’s (and National’s) big challenge.

But beneath Smith’s showmanship and rhetoric there is a point: human-made law is for humans’ wellbeing and future, not the preservation of some frozen-in-time environmental mix. We live in the human-shaped anthropocene epoch, not in an overhang of some idealised historical period. We started the shaping millennia ago with shovels and fire.

That’s also an important point. The Green approach seems to be to halt or reverse technologiocal advances and freeze the environment in an idealistic time capsule. More on this in another post.

Has Bradbury given up on Mana?

In a post at The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury asks Is it over for the Greens?

From what he says (laments) it’s fair to ask if it’s over for the Mana Party. He starts his post referring to Mana but ignores them in hismusing about the future for the left.

With MANA knocked out of the election by Labour

That ignores the fact that Mana’s wounds were largely self-inflicted. Labour can’t be blamed for trying to maximise their vote and their electorate wins.

I helped start up MANA 5 years ago because Labour + Greens could never make it over 50% without needing NZ First.

He not only “helped start up MANA”, he was on Mana’s payroll a couiple of years ago.

His main point is how NZ First will cut the Greens out of power (which has happened before, in 2005)..

With Labour now chasing the middle, the Greens find themselves at risk of getting politically snookered again.

It was a scenario that was quietly bubbling away at the least election.

If Labour + Greens don’t equal over 50%, then they need NZ First. If Winston is in the mix he will want a Labour-NZ First minority Government with just the Greens as a support Party. This strategy will be the preferred option of Labour who showed last election how focused they are to killing off any real left wing politic

It’s a big question as to whether Winston will be in the mix in 2017. Without him NZ First will struggle to maintain support.

To avoid this political castration, the Greens need to kit 15% and Labour need to hit 36%. With Polls showing the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind still love John Key, those totals 3 years out from the 2017 election look optimistic in the extreme.

Far more likely is Labour and NZ First cutting a deal that leaves the Greens out in the cold again.

Labour has to get back above 36% if they are to recover successfully, but Greens look like they have hit a support ceiling and 15% looks a difficult target for them, They were confident of getting 15% last election and failed to gain ground despite Labolur’s weakness.

But an interesting thing from this post by Bradbury is that he doesn’t include Mana in his musings about the future.

Has he given up on Mana?

Has Mana given up? The last post on the Mana website is a Media Advisory dated October 7, 2014.

Metiria Turei versus John Key (Ratana speech)

Metiria Turei continued a tradiotion of “the Māngai spent his life confronting politicians” in her prepared speech for Ratana yesterday.

In fact due to time constraints she didn’t get to make her speech but she distributed her speech notes.

Here is the part of Turei’s speech that referred to John Key.

I want to speak today about one aspect of that legacy, and that is the Māngai’s efforts to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Māngai spent his life confronting politicians and Pākehā society about the need to provide redress for past injustices and to move forward as a true partnership.

Even now, in 2015, we are still struggling to truly honour the agreement that lies at the foundation of our nation.

This came to a head last month, with the release of stage one of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into the Treaty claims of Te Paparahi o Te Raki. The decision reflected decades of scholarship and affirms what we, as tangata whenua, have always known: that the Māori text of Te Tiriti o Waitangi never ceded the tino rangatiratanga of Māori over our lands, peoples and resources.

To have this stated, once and for all, was huge. It was an enormous step forward. But the Prime Minister’s response was to knock us several steps back.

John Key had the gall to claim that NZ was settled “peacefully,” as if all Māori grievances evaporated into irrelevance on his command.

But he didn’t finish there. In an attempt to really put us in our place, John Key said Māori would have been grateful for the injection of capital early Pākehā brought with them when they settled in Aotearoa.

Māori would have been grateful. For the capital.

The Prime Minister’s warped and outrageous view of history is deeply offensive to Māori but it also undermines decades of effort by Māori and Pākehā, including even by his own Government, to address some of the historic wrongs and to encourage an understanding of Aotearoa’s true history, both the good and the bad.

While in recent times Governments have made significant progress in completing historical settlements, all too often these are undermined as Ministers resort to cynical dog-whistle tactics that play to the widespread ignorance of Te Tiriti and, in so doing, shore up their Government’s short term political goals.

Sadly, this has long term consequences for all of us, Māori and non-Māori, by entrenching prejudice and wedging us further apart.

We saw this when John Key allowed Pita Sharples to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples in New York, giving the Māori Party a token win and then immediately undermining that by telling journalists the declaration would have “no practical effect.”

And therein lies the rub. John Key can’t actually abide by that declaration because that would mean acknowledging that the Māori text of Te Tiriti is the only legitimate and legally binding text. That would mean conceding that tangata whenua never ceded tino rangatiratanga. That the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, was so quick to dismiss the Tribunal’s ruling and assert the Crown’s sovereignty, prove that National won’t do this.

I am proud that the Green Party has, for many years, held the Māori text of Te Tiriti as a core part of our party’s constitutional arrangements.

I was honoured, today, to walk on to this marae alongside Labour’s new leader Andrew Little. I am very much looking forward to working with, and getting to know Andrew better.

Our respective parties are focussed on changing the Government in 2017. The Greens are committed to creating a new Government which will be better for Māori and better for Aotearoa New Zealand.

That alternative stands in stark contrast to the current Government that believes New Zealand was settled peacefully and that our people were somehow grateful – grateful for the bloodshed, the loss of millions of hectares of land.

Grateful. For the capital.

From Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Rātana speech

Interesting to see that Turei (with Greens ap;proval presumably) has chosen to start the year in attack mode.

NZ Herald reported Ratana: Turei launches stinging attack on Key

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.

Green gloves are off.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is filling in for Mr Key and it was left to him to defend the PM.

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.”

Time will tell whether this is blast at the past from Turei or whether it signals an intention for an aggressive approach by Greens this year.

Barbed wire bum

It’s often amused me to see how political activists on the political extremes don’t understand how anyone can see things both left and right to praise and criticise. And they also don’t tolerate non-strongly aligned politics.

Vto at The Standard aimed this barb at me today:

I really don’t know how you manage to sit on the fence all your bloglife and not end up with numerous barbed wire gashes interrupting your thought processes on a daily, hourly, minutely basis ……………….

But I don’t have a barbed wire bum problem. I try to see both sides of arguments and the good and bad on both sides of politics. That’s quite different to sitting on the fence. I sometimes express strong views on issues and policies, but I don’t see them red or blue, black or white, left or right.

The vto’s of the blogosphere expect everyone to have one eyed views like them, either totally for or totally against.

Practical politics doesn’t work like that. Most politics involves finding common ground, compromising, and settling on policies far closer to the centre than the fringes.

‘Karol’ quotes Metiria Turei from Radio NZ:

Turei adds that politics goes in cycles, and she expects that over the current term, the pendulum will swing against Key’s government and their very radical policies.

There’s little radical about Key’s government, clling them that is laughable. National gets as much criticism for being non-radical (moderate conservatism) from the right as it gets for being extreme or radical from the left.

That means they are somewhere in between. It doesn’t mean they are sitting on the fence. It just means that most politics is done closer to the centre ground. And fringe activists remain frustrated.

Colin James – the Green factor

Colin James looks at Greens post-election (surprisingly without mentioning Russel Norman oir Metiria Turei):

Then there is the Green factor
And, for Labour to be competitive in 2017, it needs to re-forge a working relationship with the Greens so that there is a visible alternative government.

The Greens have become well established, with close to 11% of the party vote in both 2011 and 2014. They have become a respectable option for disillusioned Labour supporters or environmentally conscious National supporters. In 2011 they decided they did want to be part of a government, with all the risks of attrition for smaller partners in coalitions. In 2014 they proposed to Labour that the two parties run as a coalition.

Labour rejected that. But Labour also knows it is unlikely to be the government in 2017 without the Greens alongside. Ideally, it would like the Greens a bit smaller than 11% but not so small as to drag the combined vote down short of a majority. The Greens in their turn wanted a higher vote and talked of getting 15% but recognised privately that too high a vote for the Greens would reduce Labour’s vote and could cause the combined vote to fall short of a majority.

In fact, the Greens’ vote went down slightly, by 0.4%, not up. This may have been in part because some potential young voters went to the Internet part of Internet Mana, which did best in the same general electorates as the Greens did, in part because other potential voters concluded there was not going to be a Labour-Green government and in part because the Greens were stereotyped as well to the left of Labour on social and economic issues – and too sympathetic to “poisonous” Kim Dotcom on spying matters – which may have discouraged environmentally conscious centrist or National-leaning voters.

The static vote has triggered a debate within the party. Kennedy Graham, in an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald on 9 October, argued that the Greens need to reposition themselves on a “vertical sustainability axis” as distinct from a left-right axis, which he said consigns sustainability to secondary status when it is the primary issue – “whether we shall live, tomorrow”.

He noted that one of the Greens’ charter’s four principles is “social responsibility”, a centrist notion flowing from sustainability and implying individual obligation, and not “social justice” (a left-right term, which is one of the Global Greens’ six principles). “The vertical axis of sustainability allows us to move more freely along the left-right axis in analysis and prescription,” Graham wrote, implying Greens could (in theory) be open to coalition with National as well as Labour. [Graham 2014]

With new MP James Shaw, a business consultant, Graham also shares an understanding that the economy is global (as well as the environment) and that policy has to reflect that reality – which poses difficult policy questions similar to those Labour faces.

From Colin James to the Victoria University post-election conference, 3 December 2014 DRAFT – MAYBE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT

Russel Norman versus Trans Tasman

Russel Norman took exception to the Trans Tasman ranking of Green MP Cath Delahunty. They rated her a 2/10, down from last year’s 3, and commented:

A brighter year, she’s had plenty to say about education and more recently human rights – from a hard left perspective, of course.

Trans Tasman have a right leaning perspective.

On Stuff’s Beehvive Live they report Norman tweeting:

Hey @oneforthedr why promote Trans Tasman far right assessment of MPs’ performance in Dompost?

For the record @greencatherine is doing a great job as an MP, that’s WHY TransTasman hate her @oneforthedr . Print that.

Rating isn’t hating.

Delahunty was at 4 on the Green list in 2011. She was down a couple places at 6 this year.

Hamish Rutherford (@oneforthedr) returned Norman’s serve.

Poor old Russel Norman is clearly a little upset at our reporting of the Trans Tasman annual roll call.  It would almost be odd if he didn’t stand up for his colleagues (Catherine Delahunty scored two out of 10), and he has a point that the annual ranking of Trans Tasman is broadly sympathetic to the right, and especially the right of the Labour Party.

Norman’s answer to this? To moan on social media about how we should print what a co-leader thinks about one of his lower ranked MPs. Nice try. Say whatever you want about a publication, the Trans-Tasman rankings have been going for a decade and involve a lot of work. If the left want to establish something equivalent that lasts the test of time, I dare say we would print it.

Perhaps he’s as ready for the Christmas holidays as the rest of us are. But thanks for the mentions Russel – it got me a few new followers on Twitter.

Trans Tasman serve their own market, and that’s obviously not Green inclined.

Should Stuff/Dominion Post not publish something because it’s deemed “a far right assessment” by a party leader from the far left?

If so they shouldn’t publish any PR churned out by the Green Party. That’s at least as politically slanted.

Have a good break Russel.

Norman on China: Leader of Dissidents

Russel Norman was interviewed on Q & A yesterday.

What is your problem in general with Chinese trade?

Norman: Well I mean we basically you know New Zealand alonmg with you know Australia, Japan and a number of other countries through South East Asia, we’re trying to manage this relationship between these two superpowers, the United States and China.

Um and essentially the New Zealand Government strategy is to in a way head towards being a client state of the United States militarily so we align ourselves with the US militarily, and then being a client state of China economically, um so milk powder into China, and raw logs.

The problem is that’s quite a precarious situation to be in because of the tension between those superpowers, so our approach is we should have a much more independent foreign policy, and also that we need to diversify the New Zealand economy and invest far more in research and development and value add away from a simple commodity, milk powder into one market China which is a real danger to New Zealand.

Dumping China and the US and becoming major trading partners with the Dalai Lama may be a bit more precarious.

It would be ludicrous to not trade with a country because at some time in the future that market may diminish, that’s always a risk – and a far greater risk with vague “green economy” trade as proposed by the Greens.

We sell milk powder (and cheese and other milk products) all over the world. China is a major market but is far from the only market.

We are trying to improve diversification through trade agreements like the proposed TPPA but Greens strongly oppose that.

If you had the ability to change our relationship with China in any way how would you change it?

Norman: Well I think we need to change it in the sense I’ve just described which is investing in a much more diversified and resilient and broad based New Zealand economy, um so that we’re not just dependent on a single commodity into a single market.

We are not “just dependent on a single commodity into a single market”.

Is Norman suggesting we deliberately reduce our milk powder trade with China? He is vague.

I think it’s also important too that we speak out clearly on human rights and democracy issues.

I mean I’m sure President Xi is a nice guy but let’s remember he, you know there’s a seventy year old journalist called Gau Yu, um who’s locked up in China. She’s ah, for spreading state secrets which was that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like free speech. She was tortured in jail.

They took her son, and President Xi’s Government took her son, locked him up as well and said if you don’t give a false confession we’ll keep him in jail.

Um Liu Zaobo is a is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he, President Xi has locked him up.

Should we halt all trade with any country who’s human, civil and human rights don’t meet the Green standard? That would have a massive impact on New Zealand trade and our economy.

Ah so I think you know there is a contest between democratic capitalism and authoritarian capitalism if you like, you know I think it’s very important that we speak out in favour of democracy because China is only going to become more influential.

Speaking out in favour of democracy is finer, but what would Norman change in our relationship with China other than protesting with words?

What struck me as very interesting in this visit by the Chinese delegation was that Andrew Little as leader of the Labour Party was meeting with the Chinese president, but you were meeting with the Tibetans. Is there a problem with your priorities here? Should you not be doing the same thing as Labour and saying that you’re on the same page?

Norman: Ah, well we’re obviously an independent political party so what Labour does is Labour’s business and what the Greens do is their business.

Does it not illustrate how difficult it’s going to be for you guys to work together?

Norman: No, so um in terms I would have been obviously perfectly happy to meet President Xi but President Xi did not wish to meet us, ah because he doesn’t like hearing dissident voices.

I mean in China he literally censors the Internet. I mean you know you’re not allowed to publish things on the Internet that are critical or President Xi, um you will be arrested if you do that.

And meeting Tibetans in an obvious demonstration would not help Greens get an audience with Xi in the future.

Parties that are in Government have to balance politics with diplomacy.

Norman wants to be seen as the Leader of the Opposition but if he effectively insults visiting presidents It’s difficult to see how he can be anything more than Leader of Dissidents.

So you know it’s the nature of their authoritarian regime that they don’t want to hear dissident voices and clearly the Greens who speak out in favour of human rights, democracy, Tibet, the Falon Gong, um all those basic democratic issues, he’s not interested in hearing our voice.

Being a proud and loud dissident is a choice the Greens can make for themselves, but it doesn’t seem very compatible with being in Government, nor as leading the Opposition.

I don’t agree with some of the ways the Chinese Government does things. I don’t agree with things that many Governments do.

But it the real world (as opposed to the Green world) you have to associate with and trade with countries that don’t fit your ideals.

This doesn’t just make it difficult to see how the Greens could operate in as a part of a Government.

It makes it very difficult for Labour to present themselves as a credible alternative lead party in a coalition when they would have to rely on the Greens to form a Government in the foreseeable future.

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.

The Green ceiling

The Greens had high hopes for their party vote this election, expecting an upward trend to continue. Targets and claims were 15% and higher. If you believed their hype like Greens did a significant improvement was not only feasible, it was a certainty.

Green reaction to a mediocre result shock, disbelief that their rising greatness wasn’t reflected in the polls. Depending on the special vote count they may barely get the same as in 2011, which to Greens is a pounding of their pride and expectations.

But from outside the Green bubble it is not surprising, despite Labour’s weakness leaving many left wing votes up for grabs.

While many people have some admiration for Green advocating on environmental issues there are strong concerns for too much Green influence, especially anywhere near Government. This is due to extreme stances, such as moratoriums and bans on anything to do with fossil fuel and mineral exploration and extraction.

And it’s due to their strong socialist leanings and policies. Greens try to disguise their socialism with do-good fronts like lifting children out of poverty, but many voters see through their solutions, which invariably mean giving everyone the same amount of money and housing, all provided or imposed by the State.

Making things better for kids and poor people is admirable and should be given more political attention. Greens have succeeded there. But there is not a lot of support for their blanket ‘handout’ approach, which many people see as idealistic and unworkable.

A major push for Green growth was based on giving much more attention to their economic credentials and ambitions. Instead this helped fix the Green ceiling in place.

A common phrase that’s associated with Greens having anything to do with running the country’s finances is “scare the bejeebers”.

At a time when the country is just emerging (relatively successfully) from the worst world financial situation in generations there is a wariness of starting a Government spending spree, handing out money and houses to every poor person who “deserves” as good as anyone else regardless of their efforts.

It’s ironic that a party that campaigned hard on having a forward looking “smarter cleaner” economy wants to achieve their aims through last century socialism.

There’s also a number of conflicting images.

Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Nandor Tanczos looked and acted like real Greens. Sue Bradford looked and acted like a sleeves rolled up social campaigner.

While Greens transitioned to new leadership very successfully and improved their vote Russel Norman and Metiria Turei look  very different to their target constituency. Bradford left the party when she missed out on the leadership (and this year she left the Mana Party when they betrayed their principles by joining forces with Kim Dotcom).

Green election results:

  • 1999 – 106,560 votes, 5.16%
  • 2002 – 142,250 votes, 7.00%
  • 2005 – 120,521 votes, 5.30%
  • 2008 – 157,613 votes, 6.72%
  • 2011 – 247,372 votes, 11.06%
  • 2014 – pre-specials 210,764 votes, 10.02%

Greens will have picked up a significant share of Labour’s decline in 2011 but although Labour kept shedding votes this year Greens weren’t able to capitalise.

The Greens seem to have hit a support ceiling and unless they change markedly 10-12% is likely to be their limit.

And they will be a little nervous about Gareth Morgan proposing a ‘blue-green’ party that is prepared to promote environmental issues with any government with a more pragmatic and effective approach, and without the socialism.

Greens do contribute significantly to Parliament and will be partly responsible for National paying more attention to environmental and “poverty” issues. But they haven’t yet been a part of Government after nearly two decades of trying.

And a support ceiling won’t prevent them from declining due to competition and ongoing impotence.

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.


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