State of the parties

The election campaign has effectively kicked off in earnest. The next six months will be a long time in politics. It’s difficult to predict many things. Everything remains up for grabs.

Two polls yesterday had similar results for the three main parties, and the recent Roy Morgan is also included.
RM=Roy Morgan, CB=One News/Colmar, RR=3 News/Reid Research

RM 45.5, CB 47, RR 45.9

Polls have ranged in the low forties to low fifties, averaging around the current levels which are similar to National’s last election 47%. They seem to have survived recent Labour attacks on Judith Collins and Hekia Parata reasonably unscathed.

It’s very unlikely National will get a majority of seats alone so is as much reliant on small party results as it is on keeping it’s own support up in the high forties. The Maori Party, ACT and UnitedFuture are all in doubt but stand a reasonable chance of getting several seats between them. It’s doubtful if the Conservatives will get into the mix.

An improving economy is in National’s favour which will be balanced against second term attrition.

John Key remains reasonably popular although down from the last term. He usually does well in one on one debates but has to be careful to not appear arrogant or dismissive.

If they avoid major scandals (especially involving Key) National should hold up but will be hoping for weak partners to step up.

RM 31.5, CB 31, RR 31.2

Polls have settled down in the low thirties after a brief surge after David Cunliffe took over the leadership. Recent attacks on National have failed to lift Labour, negative politics may knock the opposing party a little but it’s usually not good for gaining support, which Labour desperately needs to do.

Labour are totally reliant on a partnership with the Greens. A plus is that Greens look solid. A minus is that Labour remains unconvincing. Labour may also need NZ First and possible Mana and/or the Internet Party. A party that still looks in disarray with a difficult to manage combination of parties makes Labour’s job of convincing voters they are ready to govern again challenging.

After an initial surge of support Cunliffe keeps slipping, getting 8-9% in the latest Preferred Prime Minister polls. He struggles to look authentic and is often missing in action. Labour have not yet succeeding in recovering from the departure of the Helen Clark and Michael Cullen partnership  both a party and with leadership.

It’s possible Labour could end up cobbling together a coalition but the election and the post election negotiations will both be difficult for them. A chance of a collapse in support hovers should the voters give up on Labour’s various vulnerabilities.

Green Party
RM 14, CB 11, RR 11.3

Greens had a recent poll of 8% but that looks to be an outlier, they have otherwise ranged between 10 and 14 averaging 11-12 which means they are holding their last election support (but they often poll higher than they get in elections).

The Greens are looking very well organised and are into campaign mode. They are the one solid party of this term and if they avoid campaign disasters should come to close to maintaining their current MP numbers, and could increase them.

Their main problem is not their own, it’s their essential coalition partner, Labour. If Labour fail then so do the Greens no matter what they achieve.  NZ First are also a threat because if Winston Peters returns he will hold stronger cards then the Greens, being able to play off National against Labour. The Internet Party may take some Green vote.

Russel Norman has often looked like the Leader of the Opposition this term. He is experienced, focussed and ambitious. He is a consistent strength for Greens but his ambitions on economic matters worry some and may end up playing against him. He is being promoted as possible Deputy Prime Minister.

Metiria Turei is co-leader and is currently ranked number one in Green ranking. She tends to work with the Green base more than the wider public. The traditional media seem to dismiss her chances as Deputy Prime Minister but the Greens will decide who they want to put forward. Their official stance is co-leadership but two deputies will be out of balance in a coalition. Turei would provide an interesting dynamic in an old school Labour dominated cabinet.

Greens should do well but their fate is out of their hands, they are reliant on Labour looking like a credible Government and they would prefer NZ First and the Internet Party drop out of the picture.

NZ First
RM 3.5, CB 7, RR 4.9

NZ First is fluctuating in the polls but maintains a healthy average and looks a reasonable chance of beating the 5% threshold again. They are benefiting from National slips and Labour’s lack of traction.

The NZ First MPs are very low profile and as usual look like relying on Winston Peters. The old campaigner pops up occasionally but is mostly out of the news – but he knows how to campaign and will time his run.

Peters is a master of manipulating media and will be looking for any opportunity to jump on a defining issue in the last few weeks of the campaign. National will be doing their best to avoid another cup of tea disaster but the media seem addicted to boosting their ratings with Peters and therefore boosting his chances.

At this stage NZ First looks a good bet to succeed this election. The big question mark is what that means for any coalition possibilities and there will be fears of Winston induced instabilities. This is more likely to limit their numbers rather than drop them below 5%.

Maori Party
RM 2.0, CB 0.9, RR 1,5

Party support in polls and elections hasn’t been a significant factor for the Maori Party in the past because their strength has been in electorate seats, but this may change this year.

The Maori Party has a battle on it’s hands to retain any of it’s three electorate seats this time but the odds are good to keep at least one of it’s current three. If it only keeps one or two then their party vote may become a factor in their final count.

New leader Te Ururoa Flavell is out there trying to build a profile but is an unknown at this level. He needs to step up and find a way of getting some media attention, which could be difficult because he is (so far) uncontroversial.

The Maori Party should return but will have to battle hard to keep their numbers up. Labour’s struggles may help them

ACT Party
RM 0,5, CB 0.3, RR 1.1

ACT have recovered from poll zeroes but it’s early in their attempted recovery. All will depend on Epsom. If they succeed there they could help National retain power.

The ACT party vote could lift from their 2011 debacle when Don Brash ousted Rodney Hide and took over, and installed an unlikely John Banks in Epsom.

New leader Jamie Whyte is intelligent but intellectual. He will struggle to interest the media unless he stuffs up. He will also struggle to appeal to voters. As he builds experience and if he can appear confident he may lift things a bit.

ACT’s best chances may come from National spin-off. If enough voters want National returned but don’t want to reward National too much or don’t want a single party majority  then ACT may benefit.

Mana Party
RM 0, CB 0, RR 1.1

You can’t take much from the polls for Mana, their supporters may be the hardest to find for pollsters.

On their own Mana are unlikely to lift much in party support. This is probably why they are considering a deal with Kim Dotcom, realising lifting their own party vote will be difficult. This may help them, but it could just as easily damage their brand.

Hone Harawira is the obvious essential for Mana and should retain his Te Tai Tokerau electorate – unless there’s a backlash against the Dotcom dalliance. This is a real risk for Mana. Labour have got the respected Kelvin Davis as candidate again, he has been closing the gap on Harawira in previous elections.

Mana are a good bet to retain an electorate but the Internet Party is a risky punt.

RM 0.5, CB 0.1, RR 0.1

United Future have really struggled to impress in polls for two terms. To the voting public the party is non existent, although a surge of membership last year when UnitedFuture was de-registered shows there is still some interest out there.

Peter Dunne’s chances in Ohariu look reasonable. Labour and Greens no longer have candidates with public profiles. National are likely to assist with a low profile candidate. Dunne knows how to work his electorate.

Otherwise the prospects for UnitedFuture simply aren’t there. They don’t have a very active party and they have no people other than Dunne with any profile.

Dunne is a good bet to retain Ohariu and may help National stay in power but that is the best that can be expected.

Conservative Party
RM 1.5, CB 2.3, RR 1,9

The Conservative Party has maintained an average of around 2% with a range of 1-3. They should be able to maintain this – but doubling support to make the 5% threshold will be very difficult, despite being one of the best financed parties.

Colin Craig is determined and rich, and he has some appeal but he is also seen as wacky and is sometimes unfairly called Crazy Colin.

An easy electorate ride has been talked about but it remains elusive for Craig. National would be taking a big risk gifting him a seat and look lukewarm on it at the moment.

The jury is out on Craig’s chances. The Conservatives may pick up some ‘alternative to National’ votes but 5% looks a high hurdle. The media probably won’t do them any favours like the do for Peters.

Internet Party
RM 0, CB 0, RR 0.4

The polls were too soon for the Internet Party launch this week so don’t mean much. Roy Morgan had them on 0.5% for two polls when the first launch attempt was aborted but they got publicity. They are likely to feature in polls from now because the media will give them coverage.

It’s far too soon to tell how the Internet Party will go. Kim Dotcom will attract some support from his substantial existing following but he will put others off – and he can’t stand so either has to fade into the background or he will be seen to be interfering.

The Internet Party needs some credible candidates. They’ve said they won’t be announcing them until June but have claimed to have an existing electorate MP ready to join. There’s a lot of doubt about this, and even if they did it would be extremely difficult for such a candidate to hold their seat, they would be competing with their ex party and risk splitting the vote.

If they secure a high profile candidate I would expect the Internet party to announce it as soon as possible. Otherwise a leaderless candidate-less party will struggle to impress.

The Dotcom financed party could play a significant part in the election. It’s possible (but unlikely) they boost Mana’s seats to two or three. They may take some National vote and are likely to pick up some protest vote.

But as Russel Norman openly fears they could take votes from the left and waste them by failing to reach 5%. The Internet Party make their primary goal of defeating John Key harder for the left.

Other Parties

There are no other parties with profiles.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party keeps getting some support but is generally looked on as a protest or wacky baccy party. They have competed with Greens on cannabis law reform and could get some traction on this – Russel Norman said on The Nation in the weekend that cannabis law remained a Green policy but it would not be one they would be promoting.

The Alliance and Democrats for Social Credit keep chugging away but will continue to be ignored by the media so have no show. Losers are already picked regardless of their merit.

Focus New Zealand registered in January and are targeting the rural vote but will struggle with that.

Brendan Horan has been trying to get an Independent Candidates party off the ground but his own chances of retaining a seat and any party chances have been written off already. The media doesn’t do different approaches to democracy. And Horan doesn’t seem to have a significant following.

This simple fact is that it’s a near impossible for new parties without rich founders able to buy attention.

After the MMP review the threshold has stayed at an insurmountable 5%. The review recommend a drop to 4% which would have made no difference for small parties wanting to add themselves to the mix.

The large parties seem to actively avoid allowing nuisance parties to interfere with their ambitions and shut down their chances. Ironically more small parties would give the large parties more options and more bargaining power.


National may slip in support a bit but are still looking reasonably in charge. Greens are looking strong. But the rest is up for grabs, which means this year’s election is still very open – with more complicating factors than usual.

The Colmar Brunton poll showed a large wild card (or cards): Don’t know 13%, Refused 5%

The media play a major role and can make major stories out of the trivial. It’s a major concern that the balance of our democracy could swing on the whim of journalists. They have become very powerful, and they know it. And they are accountable to no one but their ratings and egos.

Our elections risk being more superficial lottery than a contest of policies and parties.

Unfortunately this year’s election may be decided on the least worst option as the positives in our politics are paltry. The parties, press and people are all culpable.

Voting deciles in Ikaroa-Rawhiti

The Daily Post has done an interesting analysis of the voting patterns in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election, looking at approximate votes per decile by matching votes per booth linked to school. See Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election autopsy.

Bradbury is over-enthusiastic about what this might mean for Mana’s chances in the next election, and bashes the Maori Party (Bradbury is paid as a consultant by Mana) but the results show a predictable leaning of low decile voters towards Mana.

The decile results for the 4 main candidates are:

Greens            2.51
MANA            2.08
Maori Party  2.52
Labour          2.57

Mana is on it’s own, significantly lower in the deciles.

Looking at just the decile 1 schools (which account for over a third of the votes taken at schools) the % vote for each party are:

Greens            12.6% of the vote
MANA            30.6% of the vote
Maori Party   18.8% of the vote
Labour          36.2% of the vote

Odd that Labour rates higher than Mana in decile 1.

It’s not surprising to me to see the difference between Mana and the Maori Party, it’s known that they appeal to different demographics.

Overall the Green Party is similar to the Maori Party and Labour.

It’s especially interesting to see how much lower the vote looks for Greens are than all the others for decile 1. The Greens try to appeal to the poor, those in poverty, those on benefits – in other words one of their major target demographics is low decile.

But the Green candidates look like they represent a different demographic – educated middle class and even well off voters. So I don’t think it’s a surprise to see them struggling to attract low demographic votes.

But having done all that it’s worth comparing the above percentages to the total vote. It’s possible to read too much from limited statistics.

Greens            11.1%
MANA            26.0%
Maori Party   19.8%
Labour          40.7%

There’s not a big variation to that, the analysed results are probably within the margin of error.

I doubt that it’s the massive election winner that Bradbury hopes for.


Ikaroa-Rawhiti result a bit interesting

The result of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by election is a bit interesting but not much can be deduced from it. By-elections are generally not an accurate reflection of how an electorate or the country would vote in a general election.

For the record here’s a summary of the official results:

Michael Appleby (ALCP) 161 1.5%
Marama Davidson (Greens) 1188 11.3%
Adam Holland (Independent) 13 0.1%
Te Hamua Nikora (Mana) 2607 24.8%
Na Raihania (Maori) 2104 20.0%
Maurice Wairau (Independent) 27 0.3%
Meka Whaitiri (Labour) 4368 41.5%
Informal 51 0.5%
TOTAL 10519

As predicted the turnout was very low with about 1/3 of registered voters participating. In the previous general election in 2008 the turnout was 20,455.

Turnout in the last by-election, Te Tai Tokerau in 2011 was 13,594.

During the campaign there were claims from Mana that their candidate was polling within 5% of Labour. No evidence was shown.

It’s difficult to meaningfully compare by-election results with previous elections, especially when an icon like Parakura Horomia was involved.

Here are the last three election results:

Candidate/Party  % Vote  % Party
2005 Parakura Horomia (Labour)  53.75      58.28
Atareta Poananga (Maori)  42.80  28.06
Tauha Te Kani (Destiny)   3.47  1.97
2008 Parakura Horomia (Labour) 51.49     57.20
Derek Fox (Maori)   42.96 26.89
Bevan Tipene (Green)   5.55  3.16
2011 Parakura Horomia (Labour)    60.71  49.58
Na Raihania (Maori)  23.10  14.98
Tawhai McClutchie (Mana) 14.28   9.60

There was no Maori candidate prior to 2005 so earlier results are difficult to compare.

It generally looks like Labour support moved to Mana and the Greens.

Labour will be happy to have had a comfortable win, albeit with a significantly lower %.

Mana will be happy to have nearly doubled their %.

The Maori Party had a strong candidate (I thought he looked the best) so should be a bit concerned about their drop.

Greens will be happy, but they promote themselves are strongly pro treaty and pro Maori and got just a little more than their general poll support level. They had by far the best party leader support in the campaign from Metiria Turei.

Bottom line

The end result is that Meka Whaitiri has a new job and Labour have a new MP. And the parties and the pundits will scratch around claiming positives and negatives that don’t really mean much in the whole scheme of things.

If you want some amusement check out Martyn Bradbury’s take on it: BREAKING: Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election: Labour limp home

Meat and three veg coalition?

Labour supporters are in a stew over polls again. Unenthusiastic hopes rest on being the meat in coalition stew.

There’s been the usual gnashing of teeth at The Standard over another disappointing poll result for Labour. The latest Roy Morgan poll has them still wobbling, down 2 to 33%.

Most comments are despondent.

Some assure themselves that all that matters is that “the left” wins.

“nothing to worry about if you’re a left supporter.”

It is now a fixed view that Labour+Green is the left hope, not just Labour. Labour is never talked of as a one on one competitor with National any more, there is a general acceptance that Labour’s only chance of Government is joined at the hip with Greens.

“labgrn moving from well behind to consistently too close to call (even nudging ahead at times, not seen for years)?”

“The polls say Labour/Green Government. Hardly a massive failure.”

“It’s the policies that count, because, on the left, that’s what we’re about. And if Shearer scrapes in, as it appears he will, then we get the best of Labour and the Greens to set our country’s future. That’s a pretty cool outcome, whoever the PM is.”

There’s a lot of Green hope and optimism – despite their lack of traction in the polls they are at least holding ground with their best election result.

I have never seen the Greens so popular. In the inner city liberal suburbs it is touch and go if Labour or the Greens are the most popular liberal party.

I have never seen the Greens win the party vote like they did in Wellington Central last time. I have never seen an electorate lose 10% points of the party vote like Labour did in Auckland Central.

I have never seen Dunedin swing so powerfully to the Greens like it did in 2011.

So nothing to worry about if you are a Green supporter. But if you are a Labour supporter well what can I say?

Despite the hope that Labour might still manage a win thanks to Greens and possibly others there is mostly Labour gloom.

The polls are a massive failure for Labour. The Labour strategy is wrong. The wrong people are at the top table. Look at the figures. Every member of the party sees them.


Yes, many are disappointed or disillusioned. Those who collected Asset Sales petitions saw it mismanaged and we had to back out again.

Then we found out that our “Leaders” were flying up from Wellington and Christchurch to sup in the Sky Box the same day.

The sense of hope that existed last year has been replaced with numbness.


Nothing cool there. It is very chilling. All Labour people should be very very concerned.

But a coalition might still get Labour home in 2014. An interesting description of Labour+Green – meat and veg:

The Labour party is doing fine under MMP. MMP, if you don’t recall, is supposed to have coalition governments. They provide the meat, the greens provide the healthy veges.

Clearly Labour haven’t been doing fine under MMP over the last two elections and five years. The meat is looking well past it’s best.

And on the last election result and current polling Green veges would not be enough. Labour also need a wilting Winston and possibly a Mana side salad (way out on the left side).

So that could be a meat and three veg coalition.

And Labour may find it tough being the meat in a multi-grained sandwich.

Opposition discover existing policies will solve manufacturing crisis

After a a several month long inquiry into manufacturing the opposition parties – Labour, Greens, NZ First and Mana – discovered that a collection of previously announced policies will solve the manufacturing crisis.

Major recommendations 

Recommendation 1: The government adopt macroeconomic settings that are supportive of manufacturing and exporting, including:

  • a fairer and less volatile exchange rate through reforms to monetary policy;
  • refocusing capital investment into the productive economy, rather than housing speculation;
  • and lowering structural costs in the economy, such as electricity prices.

After this success the parties are believed to be considering launching further inquiries. They hope that the same politicians running those inquiries will also discover that repackaging policies was much more efficient than coming up with new ones.

They are optimistic that NZ Power, NZ CGT and NZ Money will alsobe able to be packaged and sold as capable of addressinmg other crises and will:

  • Eliminate poverty
  • Reverse global warming
  • Cure cancer
  • Win them the next election

They are believe that at least one of those will be seen as a realistic goal.

MANA on earthquakes and fracking

After an earthquake in Hawkes Bay today a Mana Party candidate issued a statement:

“There’s nothing like a reminder from Ruaumoko why we shouldn’t allow fracking in Ikaroa-Rawhiti” said MANA Candidate Te Hamua Nikora following today’s 4.2 earthquake in Napier.

“I was in Napier when it struck and it freaked me out. We all know that our country sits on fault lines and today was a reminder of that”.

“If ever there was a reason to not allow fracking to take place in Aotearoa, I would have thought being on fault lines would be more than enough. This Government thinks it’s ok to open up the lands and seas of Ikaroa-Rawhiti so that the multinational oil and gas companies can come in and plunder all that they can. Potentially they may cause the odd earthquake and turn our underground water supply into fuel lines. Why take the risk?”

“MANA’s message is simple; Frack Off!”

Maybe it was an opportune sign. Other signs that might be Mana reminders:

  • A rain storm might remind us not to bore for water.
  • A snow storm might remind us not to go skiing.
  • A washout on a road might remind us not to use cars.
  • A landslip on a railyway line might remind us to avoid trains.
  • A tornado might remind us not to have rooves in case they blow off.



“Feed the kids” all berate, no debate

Martyn Bradbury claims “These are not the rational debates of a person who wants to contribute” – as he rants and rages while ignoring important questions about Mana’s Feed the Kids campaign that is being supported at The Daily Blog.

I have tried to offer different ideas and engage in discussion, but most of the response is berate, no debate. This makes me wonder if all Mana and it’s bill supporters want to do is try and score political points, and the “poor kids” are being used.

From the latest threads in Why Peter Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids”:


Pete — did you receive free milk when you were at school? Did you have to go to the dental nurse?

Food in schools is merely the same thing as the free milk in school initiated, as well as the school dental nurses, so I get a feeling that you would have opposed those programmes as well had you been a blogger in the 1930′s.

Or is it that you just generally oppose any universal taxpayer program because you are just ideologically opposed to public social welfare type programs, and it should be just Tory charity.

My response:

It’s nonsensical suggesting I oppose all social welfare because I’m questioning whether the Mana bill is the best way to address a problem.

Dunne is suggesting an alternative state funded approach, and I agree with that more than I agree with Mana’s bill, which I think is well intended but misguided.

We have an extensive (and expensive) social welfare system and I agree with the need for most of that. Families and kids are already extensively assisted by the state.

I think smarter better targeted assistance would help kids more than feeding a lot when a few are hungry while not addressing the causes of the problem.

If half a billion dollars a year was available to help kids do you really think feeding all kids in school would be the best use of that money?

Martyn Bradbury took over from there:

But Pete, where are all your glorious stories of baby boomer rose tinted glasses of yore??? Yell us about the magical world before user pays uncle Pete, measure them against todays standards and tell us all how lucky we are.

We need universal food schemes like they run in most developed country’s around the world. We all appreciate from your great vantage point that the suffering of children is a more academic thing to be spoken of in wide brushes, but for those of us who have to inherit your corrupted legacy, we’d like to make change now and feeding the kids in the lowest two deciles does that.

At $100m per year it is not half a billion dollars at all, so please at least stick to the facts while you rush around to defend Peter Dunne’s inaction.

Poverty denial is as low as climate denial.

We don’t NEED universal food schemes. They are one of a number of possible options.

It’s said to be $100m for decile 1-2 schools. Some have said the obvious, that’s just a beginning, for 20% of kids. You have implied that too – a universal food in schools scheme would be closer to half a billion dollars. That’s simple maths.

Do you think a universal food in schools programme would be the best use of half a billion dollars a year?

You are lying again – it is $100million per year it is not half a billion dollars. If you can’t spin lines from yesteryear do you just make shit up in the present do you Pete?

Perhaps you didn’t understand my point.

How much do you think a universal food in schools programme would cost per year?

I understand perfectly well, you are justifying your political inaction on this issue and so have attempted to inflate the annual cost by $400 million to desperately make your invalid and extremely weak point.

That’s pretty obvious.

Or putting it another way, is spending $100m per year feeding all kids in decile 1-2 schools better than feeding all hungry kids across all deciles?

If feeding hungry kids is seen as an urgent priority then surely suggesting excluding hungry kids in deciles 3-10 will condemn you to Jackal’s hell.

LMAO – let me get this straight shall we? After all your spin attacks against the feed the kids bill, your fall back position after all the rose tinting pre-user pays baby boomer crap is ‘what about the hungry kids at other schools????’

That’s the best poverty denial you can muster is it Pete? We shouldn’t target the poorest children in the poorest classes because there might be some other hungry kids in other schools?

Well that nonsense argument might be all that needs to intellectually justify your inaction on this issue, it isn’t mine Pete.

“What about the hungry kids at other schools” is an important point.

If you and Mana thought that feeding hungry kids was an urgent need then you would support a policy that would feed hungry kids, not feed kids in 20% of schools and exclude many hungry kids going to other schools.

And if you were serious about hungry kids you would be considering the many kids who don’t go to school – good nutrition for babies and infants is at least as important as food for kids who go to school.

And nutrition of pregnant women is also vital for the wellbeing of babies.

Isn’t it?

Yawn – your attempt to show you ‘care’ for the other hungry children is just sad far right tactics to do nothing. The MANA bill is focused on the poorest kids in the poorest schools – for you to dare stand there and write that effort off because it won’t feed all kids is hysterical because you have no bloody intention of feeding the other kids Pete.

All we’ve heard from you is ‘I was poor (during full state assistance) and it didn’t hurt me’ to lying about it costing half a billion per year to ‘we can’t feed the poorest kids in the poorest schools because it won’t feed other hungry kids’.

These are not the rational debates of a person who wants to contribute, they are hard right poverty denial.

Gotta laugh at “These are not the rational debates of a person who wants to contribute“.

Trying to engage in debate seems futile.

I think there are serious questions about targeted assistance and addressing the causes of the problems versus a bill that only addresses one symptom, feeding all of the kids in just 20% of schools whether they are hungry or not.

Serious debate doesn’t seem to be on the Mana menu. Absent any arguments all they seem to be able to do is berate.

The bill will probably have failed anyway because it is a flawed approach to a much wider, more complex problem.

But it is certainly doomed if it’s supporters can only resort to attempts at emotional blackmail and abuse while ignoring legitimate questions.


Dunne won’t “Feed the Kids”

Hone Harawira has a Feed the Kids bill:

The Bill aims to set up government funded breakfast and lunch programmes in all decile 1-2 schools.

The Bill is expected to come before Parliament for its first reading on Wednesday 5 June.  So far Labour, Greens, Maori Party, NZ First, and Independent MP Brendan Horan have agreed to support it.  We need one more vote to get it passed and to a select committee for further consideration.

Peter Dunne’s vote would be the one that makes the difference to get this bill passed on the first vote. I asked him if he would support it. Dunne responded:

I fully understand what is intended by this essentially laudable proposals, but I think it is fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons.

Of course, there is a significant number of children who go to school to hungry, because they have not been properly fed at home, and of course poor nutrition has an adverse effect on learning and the subsequent development of the child. That is not the issue – rather, the question is what is the best way of addressing this problem.

At one level, the idea of meals in schools is superficially attractive, but it is essentially palliative, and does little to deal with the circumstances of these children on a long term basis.

Then there is the question of which group of children should we be focusing on. After all, not all children in schools will come from the same socio-economic backgrounds. So, should such a programme be applied universally, which would be as expensive as it would be impractical, or should it be more tightly targeted?

And if so, how? Should, for example, it just apply in low decile schools, even though there will children in those schools from a higher socio-economic status who would not need such a programme?

In that event, what about low-income household children in higher decile schools? Or, to get around income definition problems, should the children of beneficiaries be the only ones eligible?

Whatever way one looks at the issue, the definitional problems are massive, and strongly suggest that such a programme would not only be unsustainable, but also impractical, and in a number of cases potentially inequitable.

That is why I take the view that a much more realistic and workable approach is to target directly, through early identification by community agencies, at risk families and to work with them to help them  get the support they need to properly feed their children.

That support could take any number of forms, depending on individual circumstances, including direct assistance with the provision of food, at one end of the scale, through to such things as life skills advice on cooking, for example, and proper budget advice at the other end of the scale.

Such a targeted approach is far more likely to succeed in the long term, and benefit directly at-risk children, and would have my full support. 

So that looks like a no for the Harawira bill.

Dunne makes a strong argument for a far more targeted approach at the source of the problems (and there are multiple problems that need addressed).

Is GCSB spying on me?

Ok, I realise they would only do it on behalf of the SIS, or the Police, or John Key, or David Shearer (what politician can you trust?) – but being paranoid seems to be the “Look at ME!” thing to do right now.

The Mana Party think they may be included in the 88 who have been allegdedly illegally spied on.

John Minto in particular seems to be starting to get suspicious – John Minto curious to know why house full of tiny microphones.

And Martin Bradbury wonders if  he’s a target in Did the GCSB spy on MANA members? Bradbury claims to have been the driving force behind Mana starting up after Pita Sharples wouldn’t let him lead the blogging for the Maori Party.

I have been critical of the Government and I helped argue for the creation of MANA – has the GCSB spied on me?

Am I threat to national security?

This week we have all become Kim Dotcoms.

Ah, not me, I did just eat a bit of chocolate but I’m not claiming to be anything like Dotcom yet.

Maybe Bradbury’s nickname is as good as inviting the SIS to his IP address but I just can’t see why any spooks would be interested in a benign middle of the road centrist like me.

I’m sensible. And the GCSB obviously doesn’t do sensible, they wouldn’t know sensible if it waved a red flag in front of their cyberspace.

And anyway, I’ve used GCSB as a tag that often lately they probably think I’m just another overblown blogger like Bomber.

Whoops, shouldn’t use that word, it might attract attention.

Dunne on parties and Christmas

Peter Dunne has been tweeting his thoughts on how the political parties might view Christmas.


…want Santa’s sleigh run banned – inadequate effluent collection systems in place for reindeer and tipsy Santas flying across skies


…worried Santa’s elves non-unionised, so possibly exploited and under paid. Want them covered by Actors Equity, with no special deals

NZ First…

…angry North Pole elves being used to make toys for Kiwi kids – opposes foreign influence of Christmas

Maori Party & Mana…

…decry lack of iwi influence on Christmas – now seeking urgent hearing before Waitangi Tribunal


…has forgotten altogether about Christmas this year


…believes Christmas lacks a a hard commercial focus – will sell shares next year to Kiwi mums & dads in a competing Santa business

And UnitedFuture?

It just wants everyone to be nice to each other and get along this Christmas.

Some responses:


@PeterDunneMP ‘s Tweets quite humorous this morning. Must have a new Press Secretary or intern.

Peter Dunne

@sthnjeff No, just a fun, quiet morning dispensing Christmas cheer – I’m not allowed to be grumpy!

Dene Mackenzie @mackersline

@PeterDunneMP That seems fair as we have forgotten about Act.

And a serve back:

Joel Rowan@RealJoelRowan

UnitedFuture can’t decide whether to have Christmas with Mum’s side of the family or dad’s side?


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