National and Labour down in Roy Morgan poll

The latest Roy Morgan polls has drops for both National and Labour with Greens and NZ First up. This may reflect the respective attention the parties got in the Northland by election.

  • National 45.5% (down 1%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (down 0.5%)
  • Act NZ 1% (unchanged)
  • United Future 0% (unchanged)
  • Labour 27.5% (down 3.5%)
  • Greens 13.5% (up 2.5%)
  • NZ First 8.5% (up 2.5%)
  • Conservative Party 1% (down 0.5%)
  • Internet-Mana Party 0% (unchanged)
  • Independent/ Others 1.5% (up 0.5%).

National won’t be too worried with a slight easing but Labour may be a bit worried, it’s the first drop since Andrew Little took over leadership. It’s just one poll but the Northland rock and a hard place may have knocked them.

It demonstrates one of Labour’s problems – if their potential support partners go up they go down.

RoyMorgan2015April

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 888 electors from April 6-19, 2015. Of all electors surveyed 4% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party.

Roy Morgan:

Standard poll reaction – the people are comatose

Reaction from the Labour left to the latest poll is blaming people for being asleep, to the extent of a comatose conspiracy.

Last week’s One News Colmar Brunton poll suggests that little has changed in national support:

  • National 49%
  • Labour 31%
  • Greens 9% (down 1)
  • NZ First 7% (up 1)

So after all the hype and hope after Northland Labour and the Greens have gained nothing – which shouldn’t be surprising, they sought nothing in Northland and have been quiet politically since..

Initial reaction to the poll at The Standard last night, first from Anne:

Have you noticed ianmac there has been virtually no political news since the byelection? The MSM has gone dead quiet. To my knowledge Andrew Little has only been ‘allowed’ one spot on the 6pm TV news since that time. Nobody from the Greens have had a look in.. to anything.

Out of sight and out of mind? I think so.

Political news from all parties was quiet over the polling period with the Easter break dominating. But Anne’s knowledge is deficient. Looking at One News:

Andrew Little featured in all of those items. The polling period was 11-15 April.

‘Paul’ can’t believe the country doesn’t notice something.

So NZ is still sound asleep.
Unbelievable.

So Anne plays the grand conspiracy card:

They are now in a politically comatose state – as planned.

That card is well worn. The Joker isn’t worth anything in this game.

And this morning ‘Notices and Features’ (the author that doesn’t want to be known as an author) has posted:

No significant changes in yesterdays TV1 / Colmar Brunton poll, with National unchanged on 49%, Labour unchanged on 31%, and all changes within the margin of error.

Certain Nats have started counting their chickens for a fourth term!

Yes, there’s a bit of that at Kiwiblog in comments on Latest poll. But looking at opponents is ignoring one’s own predicament.

And Paul continues his disbelief here:

Northland bridges.
International Milk prices.
Housing bubbles
Iraq.
Child Poverty
The TPPA
The attack on Campbell Live
Clear and present warnings from economists that NZ’s economy is vulnerable.

And 49% of NZ is still sound asleep.
Unbelievable

It’s the people’s fault. If only they would wake up and see how awful National are and marvellous the Labour-Green-NZ First fantasy is.

Whateva next?

It is, and I don’t believe that 49% of the country akshully think that National are any good.
questions can be asked to produce desired answers, just like Key can find a lawyer or a scientist to say whatever he wants.

Questions like “If a general election was held today, would you be eligible to vote?” – whatever next, perhaps wanting a question like “Do you support the fantastic Labour Party over the lying corrupt National Party?

But Paul seems to think it’s Colmar Brunton who are lying and corrupt:

Maybe they just ask property owning Aucklanders, with good savings and therefore no reliance on a thriving NZ economy. These same people must also be either unaware or don’t care about the rest of the issues mentioned.

And Sanctuary tries facts…

Time to face facts – we’ve psychologically become a third world country, where the top half of the population dominates the media and has given up even caring about the bottom half, and the bottom half have slipped into invisibility and inertia.

…with no evidence of any actual facts.

It takes a righty to suggest reality – Matthew Hooton:

For a govt to change, the incumbent needs to look arrogant, dodgy, corrupt, out of touch, out of ideas, or a combination of these; and the challenger needs to look attractive and competent.

National is doing it’s bit for a change of govt even if Labour is not!

The degree of disillusionment, despondency and dissing at the Labour left Standard does the opposite of making the challenger look attractive and competent.

National rejuvenation

National did a reasonable job of rejuvenation last term, with a number of MPs resigning, most of whom had minimal political futures. National have also turned over some ministers too, like Simon Power from the first term and Tony Ryal last year.

Andrea Vance has a look through the current ranks to see who might exit this term and who might be on the rise in Reshuffle likely as Nats rejuvenate.

Wellington’s worst-kept secret is that Trade Minister Tim Groser is shortly off to relieve Mike Moore as New Zealand’s ambassador in Washington.

Also likely to be waving goodbye to Parliament in 2017 is Assistant Speaker Lindsay Tisch, whether he likes it or not.

Murray McCully was talked about as a potential retiree before the last election and is a possible but it looks like he remains unwilling to indicate what his intentions are.

Bill English must also be considering his future. He gave up his Clutha-Southland electorate last year and is now a list MP, making it easy to retire without disruption this term.

And who will be looking to rise? As far as rising to the top goes this depends on how long John Key wants to stay, and there’s no sign yet that he wants to give up the top spot.

Amid the wreckage of the Northland by-election, there was conjecture about the damage it would do to the career prospects of Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett, who led the campaign.

After Judith Collins‘ sacking during the Dirty Politics saga, it became accepted Joyce and Bennett were front-runners to replace John Key as leader.

Bennett is probably fairly unscathed but Joyce was the face and the ‘mastermind’ of National’s Northland disaster and following his handling of the Sky City embarrassment he must have damaged his future chances.

Collins has been quietly rebuilding her career and is expected to be reinstated to Cabinet at the next reshuffle, presumably later this year (unless forced by an earlier resignation). She will have support but the Whale Oil taint might be hard to forget,

Vance also lists four up and comers, although three are rookies so may have to wait for promotion.

Alfred Ngaro, Parliament’s first Cook Islander and a thoughtful community worker, is almost certainly next cab off the rank into Cabinet. His campaign to win Te Atatu off Labour’s Phil Twyford has already begun.

I met him early in his first term at a National Party event. He seemed nice but was not very outgoing.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller (a former Zespri and Fonterra high-flier) is not new to politics: he was a staffer to Prime Minister Jim Bolger and has served on National’s list-ranking committee.

Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, like other female backbenchers, has kept a low profile.

Chris Bishop (list MP), a protege of Joyce and a former tobacco lobbyist, was tipped to rise through the ranks even before he entered Parliament.

So there looks to be scope for rejuvenation in National this term, but the latter three would have to leapfrog quite a few other longer serving MPs.

A big issue for an overall perception of rejuvenation could be whether Key can look revitalised or at least interested. Being Prime Minister is a hard grind. More and more often he looks frustrated or annoyed at what he has to deal with.

Especially if English retires I think it’s likely Key will try and stay on to try for a fourth term.

Re Joyce – not over the Steven stumbles

One of the strengths of the current National Government has been the strength of John key’s support team.

Bill English has been solid and dependable. Dour is fine for a Finance Minister, resolute monetary control and no surprises is good for crisis recovery and the markets like it.

Steven Joyce has also been a significant factor. He hasn’t had electorate commitments so Key has been able to use Joyce as his roving fixit man. That seemed to work well enough during the first two terms.

But Joyce has had two significant stumbles since last September’s election – the Sky City debacle when they tried to extort money out of the Government, and the Northland by-election disaster (or series of disasters).

The Northland embarrassment has piled problems on top of Key’s mismanagement of the Mike Sabin issue. Presumably Key wants to carry on as leader and Prime Minister, so how do National look like they have listened and learned?

Reducing Joyce’s responsibilities and profile is an obvious option for National to be seen to have responded to their weaknesses.

Key had the convenience of the cricket world cup to avoid having to front up after the Northland result. That was Joyce’s job. Fair enough, he mismanaged the campaign.

But what now? Bill English is great with business as usual.

But Key and National won’t want any more Steven stumbles. Or of they want to get their third term on track they should be doing something significant to avoid them.

Two strikes in six months for Joyce. Can Key afford to risk any more?

JoyceSuperMisery

(slightly amended)

National’s survival may depend on being seen to get over the Steven stumbles, but there’s no sign of stepping over that yet.

Is some super redundancy in order?

With the right approasch sensible RMA reform should be easy

One of National’s few election pledges last year was to reform the Resource Management Act to reduce roadblocks to development. This was a major issue in the this month’s by-election with National claiming a less restrictive RMA was essential to promote development in Northland.

A number of parties recognise the problems that have evolved with ridiculous application of the RMA by some councils but wish to retain the fundamental environmental protections that the Act is based on.

Labour ‘happy to look at’ sensible RMA changes:

Labour is offering to look at “sensible changes” to the Resource Management Act as the Government takes its proposed amendments back to the drawing board.

Labour’s environment spokeswoman, Megan Woods, says the Government never had broad political support for its proposed changes.

“Labour is happy to look at any sensible changes that do not water down our environmental protections,” she said.

And three parties outlined their positions to Radio NZ in Govt to ‘rip up’ RMA plans.

Labour’s environment spokesperson Megan Woods:

“We’ve said all along that we’ll look at sensible changes to the RMA.”

She said cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine consultation with all political parties in Parliament.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox:

“We don’t want to hold up economic progress in this country. We don’t want to be seen as the ones who are stopping that from happening but, in the same breath, we will not put our environment at risk for our future generations in doing so,” she said.

“So, yes, we need economic benefit for the country and the development of some of these things but not at all costs.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne:

“I’ve always said that, while I am not in the favour of any changes to the principles of the RMA, that I think there are process changes that can be made and we should be talking about them but, to date, those talks haven’t been held.”

There’s a common theme – retain the bedrock environmental protection but sort out the processes.

As is typical Winston Peters is all over the place on the RMA and can’t be relied on:

Mr Peters said New Zealand First was seeking to work with the Government on legislation that would change the lives of those in the regions – and he said that was not the RMA.

Mr Key said…

…it was still possible some process changes could be made to the act with the support of Mr Dunne or the Maori Party or both.

The Green Party is more hardcore environment over development for example: Failings in the Resource Management Act need to be addressed:

“The RMA is supposed to balance the short term needs of landholders with long term care of our environment. Clearly, the balance has tipped in favour of landholders.

“While the public have been able to protest this particular case and have been able to halt the felling of this tree, the RMA still favours developer profits over our environment, and this battle will have to be fought again and again to safeguard what we hold most precious.

“That the legislation failed to protect this kauri is astonishing. Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is planning a further brutal attack on the RMA this year, to tip the balance further in favour of his developer mates.

Despite this National should give all parties the opportunity to have input into possible changes – especially Labour, but also the Greens.

The Resource Management Act should be given every chance of wide cross-party consensus on reform.

The Whale Oil agenda

I’ll use the name ‘Whale Oil’ at times here because it’s difficult (or maybe not) to know who has written posts under the name ‘Cameron Slater’.

Since the publication of Dirty Politics, the demotion of Judith Collins and the isolation of Slater from John Key and most of the National caucus Whale Oil has adjusted it’s main agenda.

A number of times Whale Oil has pointed out that Prime Minister’s come and go but Whale Oil is in politics for the long game.

Now it looks like Whale Oil and it’s preferred MPs don’t have much influence or future under Key the best way of shortening the long game is to shorten Key’s tenure.

This could be achieved by helping force Key to resign. Otherwise it means accepting a Labour led government for a term and getting National back in with the right (and further right) MPs in positions of power, preferably as PM.

Over the past few months there have been many posts at Whale Oil that have criticised and tried to discredit the Key Government and anyone deemed loyal to Key, including Bill English and Steven Joyce.

The agenda seems to have kicked into another gear spinning off the Northland by-election debacle.

Whale Oil often tries the mass and persistent post approach like this cluster so far today:

The Queensland Premier is going to expel the wife-beating MP, even though that will threaten her razor-thin majority.

A totally different approach to the “Allegations? What allegations? I can’t heeeeaarrr you lalalalala” Key strategy on Sabin.

Northland was a disaster, one which Joyce, de Joux and Bennett have to own, and unfortunately some of that dung flying is going to splatter on the front of John Key’s shirt…he is the boss after all.

Note not just current enemies Key and Joyce but future competition Bennett.

But National will not gain another list MP to compensate for the loss following the shock resignation of Northland’s former MP Mike Sabin.

This is the result of Steve Joyce’s brilliant Northland strategy…and for some reason he is being protected.

MPs and Ministers have been sacked for less.

Caucus tomorrow will either be a slug-fest or Silence of the Lambs…if MPs sit there and take the excuses and don;t say anything then they have resigned themselves to a loss in 2017 and the demoralisation and rot really will have set in.

A party in good heart will have a big donnybrook, and some claret will get spilled and a solution found for the way forward. Anything else will show that National’s caucus are more like Pavlov’s dogs than anything else.

Trying to talk up “a slug-fest” and “a big donnybrook”, ironic after the weekend’s very one-sided and brief boxing bout.

This is the most significant political defeat Mr Key has ever faced. He’d warned his politicians last year not to succumb to third-term arrogance.

But that is what this looks like. National assumed it would have Northland in the bag so it put up a novice candidate.

It’s a tough lesson for the Government. It’ll be rubbed in on Tuesday when Parliament sits again.

Quite a theme developing, even on posts not immediately obviously on the same agenda..

John Key and Steve Joyce need to start showing something other than arrogance…or things are going to go from bad to worse really fast.

Like in a slug-fest in caucus tomorrow?

But this sort of complacency is bred by arrogance…and if they haven’t learned from the shellacking Winston Peters handed out to them on the weekend then there is more pain to come.

John Key is a fool if he thinks that he can be “philosophical” over the result. He can’t.

I share some of these views – but I’m not promoting a faction of National.

A “reader”? I wonder which reader.

Following Mike Sabin’s resignation for “personal reasons” an astute opposition would be asking John Key is he protecting any other MPs or Party office holders who have suppression orders over criminal acts?

There is no excuse for covering up criminal acts or even unconscionable ratbag behaviour, and John Key would have a huge problem if he has covered up any other offenders.

It’s not clear if this is promoting some new dirt or if it’s part of a long-running campaign against a certain party official that has clashed with the Slater dynasty.

Expect a barrage like this to continue, possibly for days, or weeks. Whale Oil tends more towards persisent than subtle.

Is this opportunist off the by-election debacle?

That’s where things get interesting. One of a number of National’s mistakes in the by-election was their choice of candidate. Many of asked how on earth they selected such an ill-suited person as Mark Osborne.

It almost looks like self-sabotage.

There was a sub-agenda running on Whale Oil during the selection process – a dirty personal campaign against one of the favoured candidates. Personal and very dirty in what is usually a no-go area in politics, involving the person’s family. The target ended up not being selected.

Curiously despite those pre-selection attacks Whale Oil chose to wait until after the by-election to dump on Osborne.

NOW THAT IT’S OVER, LET’S SPEAK THE TRUTH ABOUT MARK OSBORNE

Mark Orborne was, is and remains seriously out of his depth.

Sadly, you’re not up to it.   You’ll go down in history as the man who took a 9300 majority and lost.  Your political career lasted four weeks.  As you’ve discovered, politics is brutal, and you are like a baby playing on the motorway

(That sounds like Slater talking). Why has he waited until afterwards to criticise an obviously ill-fated candidate? Maybe because he was happy to see Osborne stand?

Just after Osborne was selected he got a passing mention in SOME THOUGHTS ON WINSTON AND NORTHLAND:

TV3 commissioned this poll literally just hours after Mark Osborne had been selected for National. He is an unknown to the wider electorate.

Most of the post was talking down Winston’s chances, like “So will Winston win? Personally I don’t think so” and “Frankly Winston is past it.” But also:

Can Winston win? Of course he can…then watch the political blackmail start…and it won’t be for the benefit of Northlanders.

I presume Winston was the one suggested as a political blackmailer.

But perhaps that’s how Whale thinks about politics. And not necessarily be for the benefit of National.

And while I was putting together this post there’s another post at Whale Oil.

What is interesting is that there are complaints from inside caucus that they had to fund the campaign but they were not given any information about the polls.   

They picked up information through back channels and this blog, but the campaign team decided against sharing them with the people who paid for them.

Having a centralised campaign team that taxes electorates to fund their campaign is ok as long as you keep winning.

When you lose a race you should have won, and lose it through making stupid, unforced errors, your supporters start looking at you pretty hard.

And they want answers to how you are using their money, and why you keep taxing them without sharing information.

Factional agendas played out on public forums can be interesting. Factionalism was a major factor in keeping Labour out in the political wilderness.

It can also be a sign of a failing Government as self-interest and survival kicks in.

Publicly stoking factionalism can also be a way of speeding up failure.

Who knows if this is the Whale Oil agenda?

UPDATE: they’re coming thick and fast today:

The teflon has worn off the Key frying pan and now stuff is starting to stick…it might have taken 8 years or so, but it is happening. To deny it is foolhardy.

That’s ten posts (at least) on a common theme today.

National in denial over vote haemorrhage

While it was ‘only a by-election’ National haemorrhaged votes in Northland – 7000 of them. And they had a seat amputated.

But campaign mastermind Steven Joyce (“we lost some of our votes”) and party leader John Key (“bled a little”) are in public denial

Steven Joyce on The Nation:

Winston Peters said, ‘Send them a message.’ What message have you heard?

Joyce: Oh, well, obviously, you know, we lost the election. And so there is a number of messages. I actually thought he campaigned pretty well. He got out in front at the start and stayed there, and we worked to try and close that gap, actually made some progress but ran out of runway. I thought Mark campaigned pretty well, but we didn’t get there in the end.

Before the by-election started National were a way out in front. They owned the runway. By the time Peters had put himself forward and Mark Osborne was selected National had lost a big lead.

Joyce: I look at it, and if you go through it, you know, we had of the opposition votes swinging in behind Winston, but we also lost some of our votes. And there’s reasons for that, and we’ll need to reflect on that, and I think we’ll reflect on it in a pretty clear-headed sort of way.

No sign of that yet.

So you’re not hearing a National message in this? You’ve heard a local message; you don’t think there is a National overarching message that people are starting to tire, that it’s third-term-itis, basically?

Joyce: No, I don’t think so.

In denial.

Yeah, and last week you sat here and you said that this was not just about who people were going to vote for in Northland; it was about what they were going to vote for. And you said they would be voting for strong and stable government. By definition, then, and by your own definition, your government is less strong and less stable now, isn’t it?

Well, it’s back to where we were between 2011 and 2014. As you point out yourself, one less seat means that we’re in virtually an identical position as to we were then. And that makes some things more challenging.

‘It’ may be back to where they were last term overall but Northland has gone backwards for them big time and arguably so has National’s credibility. And Joyce’s credibility.

Did you get the wrong guy? I mean, did you get the wrong person for the job? Because that does happen. That’s no slight on Mark Osborne, but was he the wrong person for this job?

Joyce: I don’t think so.

In denial.

And was that too slow at the very least?

Joyce: Well, possibly. It’s one of the things we’ll definitely look at, because, frankly, we ran out of time. I’ve said that to you previously. That was the risk, and that’s what happened. We did run out of time to get him over the line, and so we’ll go back and look at all of that.

There was talk in National circles of an inevitable by-election at least as far back as December. National didn’t run out of time, they tried to deny a Sabin problem and seem to have presumed they would hold Northland comfortably by going through the motions, belatedly. And got caught with their pants down. And their support down with it.

And John Key on One News:

But it does also mean that Northland doesn’t want National.

Key: No, if you actually look at the National voters, this is the interesting thing, we bled a little bit of support to Winston peters, probably not as much as people think. Um so we lost a little bit. We our vote actually held up.

We moved Mark Osborne, our first poll had him at 30 percent, our internal poll, and we got him to 40 percent.

Twenty two points backwards, ten points forwards is not “bled a little bit”.

  • 2005 John Carter 16,577 (54.12%)
  • 2008 John Carter 19,889 (59.14%)
  • 2011 Mike Sabin 18,188 (57.55%)
  • 2014 Mike Sabin 18,269 (52.74%)
  • 2015 Mark Osborne 11,347 (39.92%)

Nor did their vote actually hold up. It haemorrhaged and National don’t think a tourniquet is necessary.

Steven Joyce and John Key have become isolated from reality with no sign of that changing – instead they are actively in denial.

This isn’t a good sign for their chances in 2017.

Will John Key decide to stand aside and allow a fresh approach?

If not, will he recognise that Steven Joyce has badly misjudged Northland and look for someone with a hold on reality to take over deciding and running the party strategy?

Or will they just continue their denial? If so they may run out of time to get over the line in 2017.

Every step backwards in the credibility race is very difficult to claw back.

Winston’s whopper win

Winston Peters has been given a huge victory by voters in Northland by-election.

  • PETERS, Winston (NZ First), 15,359
  • OSBORNE, Mark (National) 11,347
  • PRIME, Willow-Jean (Labour) 1,315

Votes for others totalled 403:

  • CARR, Joe (Independent) 107
  • HERBERT, Maki (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) 85
  • GRIEVE, Robin (ACT) 66
  • PORTER, Rueben Taipari (Mana) 55
  • PAINTING, Rob (Climate) 38
  • ROGAN, Bruce ((Independent) 22
  • BONNER, Adrian Paul (Independent) 17
  • HOLLAND, Adam (Independent) 14
  • Informal votes 43

Votes counted 28,468 – it was a big turnout for a by-election.

This is an election night majority of 4,012 which is a huge turnaround from National’s Mike Sabin’s 9,300 lead last year (52.74%of the candidate vote).

Percentages:

  • PETERS, Winston (NZ First), 53.95%
  • OSBORNE, Mark (National) 39.86%
  • PRIME, Willow-Jean (Labour) 4.62%

Interestingly that matches what polls had predicted for Peters midweek (53% and 54%) but shows an increase for Osborne (from 34% and 36%) and a decrease for Prime (10% and 9%).

Party vote in the 2014 general election:

  • National 17,412 (48.97%)
  • Labour 5,913 (16.63%)
  • NZ First 4,546 (12.79%)
  • Green 3,855 (10.84%)
  • Conservative 2,243 (6.31%)
  • Internet-Mana 601 (1.69%)
  • Focus 216 (0.61%)
  • ACT 162 (0.46%)

So even the small party vote reduced significantly. This time it turned out to be a two horse race between a nimble old nagger and a draughthorse.

NZ First didn’t stand a candidate in Northland last year so the candidate vote isn’t a useful comparison.

http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electorate-35.html

Hooton on Sabin: tick tick TICK TICK

NBR have chosen to post Matthew Hooton’s latest column outside their paywall – Sabin clock keeps ticking for Key.

The longer it takes to try and keep Sabin’s secret the more damage it could do to John Key’s Government when it comes out.

It appears that National have at best remained deliberately ignorant about an embarrassing story about one of their MPs through a general election, and the story seems to have also survived the Northland by-election.

It’s something like this that could easily bring down a Government. Hooton:

At the time of writing, National had also been spared the full story becoming public about the resignation of former MP Mike Sabin.  Those close to Mr Peters suggested he would return to Wellington before the by-election to reveal all under parliamentary privilege.

Instead, the NZ First leader elected to stay in Northland talking about his proposal to expand the port at Marsden Point, a referendum on cannabis and his forthcoming bill to remove name suppression from alleged paedophiles if victims say they don’t want it and to launch a register for parents to check there are no sex offenders in their neighbourhood.

No doubt there was a sigh of relief at National Party Headquarters.  But that may be short-sighted.

It may well be short sighted.

Fragments are on the public record: that Mr Sabin has been under police investigation since August, that Mr Key was “happy” for him to remain chairman of the law and order select committee overseeing the police budget while that investigation was under way, and that Mr Sabin resigned “due to personal issues … best dealt with outside Parliament.”

Mr Sabin himself is no longer that important: the police and any other relevant arms of government will now deal with him as they see fit.

While there appears there could be a significant story about Sabin politically he’s history (albeit leaving a very embarrassing legacy in the Northland electorate).

But Mr Key’s government stands accused of somehow covering up after Mr Sabin, with Labour leader Andrew Little going so far as to say he believes Mr Key is lying.

That is not entirely implausible.  Although NBR has been unable to substantiate allegations the National Party top brass knew all about Mr Sabin as far back as before the 2011 election, police commissioner Mike Bush has made clear that he and his officers did not “drop the ball” when it came to informing the Beehive about the Sabin investigation in August.

The NBR wrote that the issue could pre-date the 2011 election. If so that makes it potentially TICK TICK TICK.

The Beehive line is that Mr Bush told police minister Anne Tolley about the investigation in August – and her successor Michael Woodhouse after the election – but didn’t name the MP concerned. Nor, we are meant to believe, did Ms Tolley or Mr Woodhouse ask.

The Beehive will not answer questions about whether or not either passed this information to Mr Key or his office. Answering such questions, according to chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, would violate the privacy of natural persons.

If the Beehive’s account of the Sabin matter is true, then Mr Key’s government has become deeply dysfunctional.

At best it looks dysfunctional.

Given the proximity to the election, Ms Tolley in fact had a public duty to ask the commissioner who was involved.  Was it Mr Key or David Cunliffe, the candidates for prime minister?  Was it Bill English, David Parker or Russel Norman, the candidates for finance minister?  Or Murray McCully, David Shearer or Mr Peters, the candidates for foreign minister?  Maybe Judith Collins or Mr Little, the candidates for justice minister?

Even if Ms Tolley neglected her duties to the public, is it plausible her political duty to the prime minister didn’t lead her to inquire?  “Please god, let it be Cunliffe!” she would surely have thought.

Mr Woodhouse’s story is just as odd. When briefed by Mr Bush after the election, we’re told he too ignored his public and political duties to inquire further.

Perhaps even more incredible is Mr Eagleson’s claim that, when he was contacted on November 26 by Labour’s chief of staff Matt McCarten about the Sabin situation – which he says he already knew about from others – he waited until the following week to mention it to the prime minister, who remained, he claims, utterly ignorant until December 1.

It’s beyond belief that politicians wouldn’t make it their business to know whatever they could know about a potentially embarrassing and problematic issue.

The risk for Mr Key is that if the full Sabin story becomes known in a week, a month, six months or a year, it will look as if his government covered it up not just through a general election campaign but then again through the by-election as well.  The clock keeps ticking.

Variations of the Sabin story have been widely known – and none of them look good, for Sabin (if they are true) and for National (regardless of the outcome of any legal or court action).

It already looks bad for National. They look like they could lose an electorate over it.

Whether the full story goes public or not Sabin and the resulting Northland disaster could well result in tick tick TICK general election BOOM.

Another ominous Northland poll for National

A day after a 3 News poll had Winston Peters nearly 20% ahead of National candidate Mark Osborne One News has published a poll with a similar result.

In a telephone poll of 501 eligible Northland voters:

  • Winston Peters (NZ First) 53%
  • Mark Osborne (National) 36%
  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour) 9%
  • Don’t know/refused 7%

That’s a huge lead that will be difficult for National’s get-out-the-vote campaign to overcome.

The maximum sampling error for the poll is about plus or minus 4.4 percetage points at a 95% confidence level.

‘National Party voters’ support :

  • Peters 15%
  • Osborne 80%
  • Prime 3%

– that’s on a subset of the respondents, presumably about half, so the sampling error (often called margin of error) will be higher

…nearly 70% of Labour voters polled in the region now saying they will vote for Mr Peters.

That’s two thirds who say they will switch their vote to Peters.

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