3 News poll – first for 2015

The first 3 News/Reid Research poll of the year has just been released.

  • National 49.8% (up 2,8)
  • Labour 29.1% (up 4.0)
  • Greens 9.3% (down 1,4)
  • NZ First 6.9% (down 1.9)
  • Conservatives 2.7% (down 1.3)
  • Maori Party 1.3% (no change)
  • Internet Mana 0.6% (down 0.8)
  • ACT 0.4% (down 0.3)
  • United Future 0% (down 0.2)

National will be happy. Labour and Little will be hopeful that it’s a sign of a recovery trend. Greens will be a bit worried.

The small party results mean little this far out from the next election, although Internet Mana is sliding and United Future looks terminal.

Preferred Prime Minister

  • John Key 44.0% (up 3.9)
  • Andrew Little 9.8% (first result

55% of voters thing Andrew Little will be a better match for John Key than the last three leLabour leaders.
48% of National voters thought Little would be a better match.

Is a capable leadeer?

  • John Key 81%
  • Andrew Little 54%

How are the leaders performing:

  • Key – well 63%, poorly 24%
  • Little – well 45%, poorly 24%

On capable leader and performance Little got the best result for any Labour leader since Helen Clark.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent (at 50%).

Mike Sabin resigns

National MP for Northland has resigned from parliament, effective immediately. This was expected, the only real uncertainty was over the timing.

It has been reported since before Christmas that the police were investigating an incident that is believed to involve family violence.

It would have untenable for Sabin to remain as chair of the Law and order committee as next week it is due to question police officers in committee.

This means a by-election for Northland in a couple of months or so.

It also means that National+Act is no longer a Parliamentary majority. The Maori Party or Peter Dunne will be needed to make up the numbers until an expected easy win for the new National candidate.

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.

An accurate pollster on the payroll

David Farrar posted Is Key on drugs ask du Fresne? at Kiwiblog. He quoted from a column by Karl Du Fresne: John Key: Mr Nice Guy’s unbelievable aura of serenity:

I have never met John Key, but like anyone who follows politics I’ve been able to observe him via the media. And after studying him carefully, I think I now realise the explanation for much of his behaviour. He’s on drugs.

Not the illegal kind, I should stress, but the mood-calming type that doctors prescribe. This may sound flippant, but consider the following.

In the 2014 election campaign, Key was subjected to possibly the most sustained media offensive faced by any prime minister in New Zealand history. Day after day he was tackled by an aggressive media pack trying to trap him on dirty politics, illicit surveillance and other touchy issues.

His answers were often unsatisfactory, which served only to ramp up the media frenzy. But through it all, he appeared supernaturally imperturbable. He patiently batted away reporters’ questions and accusations with his familiar bland inscrutability. There were no meltdowns, no hissy fits, no petulant walkouts.

This was downright unnatural. No politician should be that unflappable. He can have achieved it only by the ingestion of large amounts – indeed, industrial quantities – of tranquillisers.

Cameron Slater explains at Whale Oil that the serenity is based on accurate polling.

No Karl, the serenity comes from having an accurate pollster on the payroll.

That way you know that, despite the baying pack of dogs that is the press gallery, your policy platform is being well received, your party is performing well and that Twitter and Facebook aren’t the real world.

This is why John Key thanked David Farrar on election night, he was the one who provided the information daily to John Key to let him know that Dirty Politics, the plot of the left-wing to unseat his government, wasn’t working as they expected.

I agree. Knowledge may not be power but it can help a lot, if it’s accurate knowledge.

Contrast that with the inept polling and claims by people who should know better like Rob Salmond and David Talbot. Salmond constantly inflated Labour’s real poll results, sometimes by up to 10%, giving his small band of readers and assorted hangers on, including the leadership of Labour at the time false hope.

Inaccurate knowledge can be worse than none.

Serenity comes from accuracy, panic comes from idiocy and losing your head.

Slater can still write insightful posts (if he wrote it).

It is said that Key relies heavily on his monitoring of public opinion as provided by Farrar’s Curia polling. It is certainly going to be more useful than reading blog opinions, which are slanted towards the vocal fringes (except here of course!)

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Cabell, 22 January 1820:

…my hopes however are kept in check by the ordinary character of our state legislatures, the members of which do not generally possess information enough to percieve the important truths, that knolege is power, that knolege is safety, and that knolege is happiness.

Key may not always be happy with what happens but he is safely in power for now.

National up in silly season poll

The latest Roy Morgan poll is of minor interest but I wouldn’t bet the year on it – National up to 52%, they same as they were mid-last year.

  • National 52% (up 6% since November 24-December 7, 2014)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (down 0.5%)
  • Act NZ 1% (down 0.5%)
  • United Future  0% (unchanged)
  • Labour Party 26% (down 1%)
  • Greens 11% (down 1%)
  • NZ First 6% (down 1%

Apart from National hey are insignificant changes especially for this time of year.

  • Conservative Party of NZ 2% (down 0.5%)
  • Internet-Mana Party alliance 0% (down 1%)
  • Independent/ Others 0.5% (down 0.5%)

Internet-Mana down to 8% is one of the more notable results. The Internet Party seems doomed but Mana has been dragged right down with them.

Source: National surges in 2015 – Biggest lead since September 2014 NZ Election

RoyMorgan2015-1

RMA reform – same old opposition

Nick Smith says National is reviewing the most contentious parts of it’s last (failed) attempt at RMA reform and stated “National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority” but “made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party”.

National pushes on with Resource Management Act reform is a bit contradictory.

After failing to gain the support it needed to pass changes proposed in 2012 during the last term, today National signalled that it could use its stellar election result to proceed – with little change.

Although Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority, the MP for Nelson made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party, which has long objected to what it considers to be an anti-development bias in the environmental legislation.

“Our first duty is make changes to the RMA that make the act work better for New Zealand. If we can’t get the support of the Maori Party and the United Future Party to be able to advance the reforms, then we will still be progressing with the support of the ACT Party,” Smith said.

Smith signalled that National was reviewing the most contentious of its proposed reforms of the RMA, covering changes to the act’s principles – a move critics have argued would aid development – but otherwise the tone of today’s speech was consistent with the last term.

“It’s consistent with the direction that was set in 2012, but there’s still a lot of detail in the amendments to deliver the overall package of reform,” Smith said.

He expected “intense discussion” over some of the “hundreds” of amendments to the existing legislation.

Not surprisingly the ‘Opposition” opposes it, for now at least.

Labour leader Andrew Little

…said the changes would do nothing to cut the price of building or increase the supply of affordable homes.

“National has spent six years claiming they will change the RMA to make housing more affordable but have yet to produce any tangible solutions. Nick Smith’s proposals are underwhelming and show the Government is out of ideas.

“It is critical that changes to benefit housing are not used as a smokescreen to undermine the environmental protection standards.”.

NZ First leader Winston Peters…

…said if the government was to curb rising house prices it needed to deal with speculation, immigration and a lack of construction.

“The minister’s planned changes to the RMA to address housing affordability do nothing of the sort, they are just a sop to developers. He is blaming the RMA for a high price of Kiwi homes, the lack of supply and making speculators rich as a red herring to National’s complete failure.”

The Green Party…

…said the changes would not build more homes.

“The Government has the ability to build affordable homes and address the housing crisis now but it is simply not doing it. New Zealand needs a major state home building programme, to meet the need for new homes and drive down high prices,” Green Party RMA spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

But the mayor of the major housing problem area approves.

The reforms would streamline “complex” processes for house-strapped Auckland, Mayor Len Brown says.

Brown said Auckland Council had been working closely with the government to find a solution to Auckland’s housing crises.

“From Auckland Council’s perspective, there is considerable scope to improve the RMA,” he said.

“In particular streamlining the complex processes councils are required to work within, reducing duplication and providing more affordable housing.

“I particularly welcome recognition of the needs of cities and urban areas, including housing and infrastructure, which the current legislation doesn’t cover well.

Wider support will depend on what changes National are prepared to make.

Radio NZ reports Smith’s RMA speech strident, says Dunne - Dunne has appeared to be peeved that so far he has been left out of the loop and doesn’t know if he will support changes or not.

He said he had thought the Government was moving down a more pragmatic path, but he was not so sure.

“I just don’t quite know what the intended strategy is here. This speech just leaves you wondering frankly.”

Mr Dunne said the speech was short on detail, so he was still no closer to knowing whether he could support any changes.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell…

…said he still believed the Government was willing to compromise, even though it no longer needed their support.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, these things are by negotiation and I detect certainly a desire to work with us.

The detail and the debate is yet to come so it’s too early to tell how thios reform will be dealt with.

Right of National (the coffee party)

A proposal for a Right of National party from Holysheet at Kiwiblog (curreently well supported with 30 upticks and 4 downticks) is little more than a futile wishlist.

Redbaiter and all other moaners about what National is not doing, here is a challenge for you. Instead of saying what national are not doing, why not say what you would do if you had the chance.

Hypothetically, we form a new party called Right of National (the coffee party)

My starting list of changes would include the following,

– Abolish all race based representation in local and national government. There is no need for the maori party or separate seats in local govt set aside for maori.

That’s a common and popular wish from the right, but there’s no sign of it being popular with any parties in Parliament apart perhaps ACT..

It’s up to voters in the current system to decide if there’s any need for the Maori Party. I think holysheet means there is no need for Maori seats. I don’t see any particular problem with them, they give similar numbers of voters the opportunity to vote for their preferred party or candidate as general electorates.

What is the actual problem with the Maori seats apart from them having a special status? Do they cause any democratic problems?

– Abolish all unnecessary govt departments. The following would be gone by lunchtime. Dept of child, youth and family services, Ministry of culture and heritage, Ministry of pacific island affairs, Ministry of Women’s affairs, (Woman don’t need govt money to have affairs), Ministry of Youth development, Office of ethnic affairs, Office of treaty settlements, Ministry of maori development. Ministry of social development. Ministry of Research Science and Technology, Ministry of economic development. Employment relations service. Citizenship and Passport office ( why have we got these separate?) By my calculations thats a total of 13 CEO’s and all office staff not required. Together with all the funding it would reduce govt expenditure greatly.

Also very popular on the right. Again there doesn’t seem much desire in Parliament to greatly reduce the bureaucracy.

This reflects an idealistic wish to have smaller government but proponents rarely analyse the actual value we get (not just monetary value) from having these departments.

I’d prefer government expenditure to be reduced but at what cost?

– Introduce minimum sentencing for any crime for which there is a jail sentence of more than 2 years jail. Remove the right to automatic name suppression.

Is there any evidence that current sentencing is not approximately the best balance?

The right to automatic name suppression is primarlly to protect victims of crime so that shouldn’t be removed. There’s a small number of high profile cases involving name suppression that look like an abuse of privilege but I don’t see any evidence that name suppressin as a whole isn’t working reasonably well.

– If you stand for election on a party list seat and an electorate seat, and you do not get elected by the electorate you wish to represent, then you do not get into parliament on the list seat. If you cannot convince your electorate to vote for you, then you obviously aren’t good enough to be in parliament.

I don’t see any point in this, I don’t know what it is trying to fix.

It would lead to a poorer quality of list candidates or less competition in electorates, neither of which would improve anything.

It would also mean that electorates would see less party variety in election campaigns, pretty much ruling out Green and NZ First electorate candidates. Some electorates could end up being virtually uncontested.

It would mean Paul Goldsmith would either not get into Parliament or would not have stood in Epsom. What would that improve?

It would mean Chris Bishop wouldn’t have become a list MP or he would have chosen not to run Trevor Mallard close in Hutt South. What would that have improved?

It would mean Labour’s most promising leader for six years would not have stood in an electorate or would not have got in on the list.

A number of promising MPs are brought into Parliament via the list but gain valuable experience in electorate campaigns.

– If you are elected into parliament and and you have a dispute with your party and leave that party then you have to resign from parliament. No ifs or buts. No waka jumping, no forming another party while on the public purse.

There’s pros and cons to this.

Walking out on the party that enabled you to get into Parliament and going solo or starting another party is not a good thing.

However there’s a risk that parties (or party leaders like Winston Peters) would abuse their power by getting rid of non-supportive or non-silent MPs.

Would this actually fix anything? How often is it a problem? And what would it improve?

If Brendon Horan had been compelled to resign when dumped by Peters then Helen Mulford would have replaced him from the NZ First list. What would that have improved? Mulford wasn’t on the NZ First list this year.

Holysheet’s list is popular in the right of or to the right of National but it’s as viable as Labour’s left wishlist like a return to compulsory unionism or the top tax rate doubled or a ‘livable wage’ for everyone whether they are in employment or not.

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.

Action needed on Sabin

The Sunday Star Times keeps revealing bits about the assault investigation into Northland MP Mike Sabin – Call for Nat MP to stand down.

They say a number of journalists have been investigating the investigation.

Media inquiries about Sabin have been ongoing for at least four months.

The National Business Review has been asking questions about assault allegations since before the election. Other media, including Radio Live and One News, have also been inquiring into the assault allegations.

Four months ago it was August, well before the election. It may have been too vague and too late to withdraw Sabin’s electorate candidacy. Or not.

Parliament’s committees were announced in October, two months ago, with Sabin appointed chairperson of the Law and Order committee – see Judith Collins on two parliamentary select committees (October 23).

John Key must have known about it by then. Or at least he should have.

He may be on holiday now but the longer nothing is done the worse it looks.

Judith Collins stood down as Minister pending the outcome of a non-criminal investigation.

If Sabin won’t step down Key needs to step up and do something.

National, Labour up in Herald Digipoll

NZ Herald reports on a Digipoll, probably the last political poll of the year. While it’s indicative of support it’s an odd time of year to run a poll, many people will have their minds on things other than politics.

They incorrectly claim:

…in the first political poll since Andrew Little took over the leadership and the first major poll since the September 20 election.

Roy Morgan have published three polls since the election, one of them since Andrew Little became leader.

You have to read through the article to find the key numbers:

  • National 50.4% (up 2.2 on last Digipoll, election result 47.04%)
  • Labour 28.9% (up 3.0, election 25.13%)
  • Greens 9.5% (down 1.6, election 10.7%)
  • NZ First 5.6% (down 2.8, election 8.66%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (“up a little”, election 1.32%)
  • Mana Party 0.2% (Internet-Mana election 1.42%)
  • United Future and ACT were not given poll results

It’s not surprising to see the two largest parties increasing at the expense of the smaller parties when most people’s minds won’t be very politically inclined.

National will be happy with their result considering they haven’t had a great start to their third term.

Labour and Andrew Little will be encouraged to see their support recovering slightly.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • John Key 65% (up 0.7%)
  • Andrew Little 13.6% (Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe peaked at 18-19%)

This result means little at this stage.

Rating Andrew Little’s performance:

  • Excellent 5.3%
  • Very good 19.4%
  • Good 24.7%
  • Adequate 23%
  • Poor 7%

That’s very encouraging for Little. I’d rate his performance so far as leader as very encouraging/very good. It will be important for him to start strongly in the New Year and not take too long. David Cunliffe had a poor and belated start to this year and he and Labour never recovered.

Source: Nats, Labour both on rise

It’s annoying that NZ Herald scatters incomplete results through and article and doesn’t provide at least a link to all the pertinent details of the poll. For all I know they could have only managed to poll 200 people this close to Christmas.

UPDATE: Full results apparently

National 50.4%
Labour 28.9%
Greens 9.5%
NZ First 5.6%
Conservatives 2.9%
Maori 1.5%
Act 0.4%
Mana 0.2%
United 0.0%

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