Could a minority Labour lead a coalition?

Cunliffe’s Labour has shown that it wants to contest the election alone and not alongside the Greens. Part of the reason for that is to keep options open with both Greens and NZ First, and acknowledges the reality that NZ First could decide if the next government is National or Labour led.

Labour has also indicated over time that they see themselves as the major party of the left, even to the extent of implying they are deserving the majority of the votes from the centre-left and left.

But the way things are shaping up, especially if the Internet Party picks up some if the votes from the left, Labour may struggle to hold it’s current share.

Labour have been polling in the low thirties in the polls, as they did leading up to the last election. They ended up getting 27% in 2011.

The following spread of support is not out of the question:

  • Labour 25%
  • Greens 15%
  • NZ First 10%
  • Mana/Internet Party 4%

It would be enough to form a Government should NZ First go that way, or if NZ First stayed on the cross benches. But Labour would have a minority in that mix, 25% to 29%.

That would be an very interesting scenario.

Could we have a minority Labour Cabinet?

 

 

NZ First MP claims Psychoactive Substances Act has failed

Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First list MP) has called on ministers to resign because they are “responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act”.

Pacific Guardians report STEP DOWN: National & United Future MPs for failed ‘Legal High’ law

Heads should roll as a result of the National government’s irresponsible handling of legal high drugs according to NZ First MP Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor.

“The two ministers, Todd McClay and Peter Dunne, responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act should do the right thing and resign from parliament,” she told Pacific Guardians in an exclusive interview. “They are one of the reasons why New Zealanders from Whangarei to Invercargill are marching today [Saturday, 5 April] because those two had the chance to ban these drugs in 2013 but they didn’t.”

She made the comment while walking amongst hundreds of people last Saturday calling for a blanket ban on legal highs.

“The law that was passed in 2013 has failed New Zealand miserably. Proof of that are these marches showcasing the grave concerns of the New Zealand public that the law and parliamentarians are failing them and it must be addressed urgently.”

Failure of the law, she points out lies squarely on the shoulders of the National government and the two ministers responsible.

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

“They failed because they had the opportunity since 2011 to make a law that will control or ban the drugs – but because of they subscribe to the cavalier, hand-off-the-wheel attitude this government takes to governing New Zealand, they have failed the people of this country once again.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

She repeated her call for Mr McClay and Mr Dunne to step down.

“The two men must be held accountable for their lack of action in this case. Families have lost loved ones, a growing number of young people’s lives are wrecked by addiction, their jobs as well as businesses are suffering, all those things could have been avoided if Peter Dunne and Todd McClay as law makers did their job.”

She said their performances “are well below par of what’s expected from members of this country’s executive. They should stand down and remove themselves from running in the September election.”

But before that time, “they should pay a visit to every individual family that has suffered a tragedy from legal highs, and then make a national apology to all New Zealanders for having let them down miserably,” she said.

“Their performance in this debacle whether it is through lack of courage to push through what is right against opposition from their caucus; or perhaps, I suspect, they just don’t have what it takes.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

In the meantime Peter Dunne blogged about the Act yesterday in Dunne Speaks:

A year ago the country was up in arms about the sale of synthetic cannabis in corner stores, dairies, groceries and convenience stores around the country. There were no restrictions on who could purchase these substances, and there was a cumbersome procedure in place which allowed me as Associate Minister of Health to temporarily ban products shown to be harmful. Since 2011, I had banned just over 50 different products under that regime.

But it was clearly not enough. Every time a product was banned, the chemical combinations were manipulated and a new product emerged, often within days of the first ban being applied. It was a never ending game of catch-up which no-one found satisfactory. It was time to turn the situation on its head to ensure that only those products proven to be low risk through a testing process equivalent to that for registering new medicines, could be sold, and even then in restricted circumstances. And so, the Psychoactive Substances Act was conceived.

Since its passage in July last year its impact has been dramatic. The number of outlets selling these drugs has been reduced from around 4,000 to just over 150; the number of products being sold has fallen from about 300 to 41 and is likely to continue falling; and, sales have been restricted to persons aged 18 and over, with no advertising or promotion permitted. The Police and hospital emergency rooms confirm the availability of these products and the number of cases of people presenting with problems associated with their use have fallen sharply. Yet still there are people up in arms.

How can this be? After all, the market has shrunk; the number of products is down over two-thirds and retail outlets numbers have fallen over 95%. The present situation is far more tightly controlled than ever before, even at the time we were banning psychoactive substances. And I have already foreshadowed more regulations are coming in the next couple of months.

So he claims that the Act is working as intended, to an extent. He  highlights what he thinks is holding the Act back.

Sadly, one of the major reasons has been the inexplicable tardiness of local authorities in implementing their local plans to regulate the sale of psychoactive substances. And some Mayors have shown an ignorance of the issues that borders on breathtaking stupidity.

The facts are these: as the Act was being developed various local authorities and Mayors pleaded with the government to give them local powers, similar to those they already have to regulate the sale of alcohol in their areas, to control the sale of psychoactive substances. Parliament listened to their pleas, and by a vote of 119 to 1 gave them the powers they were seeking.

But – and here is the rub – despite the grandstanding and tub-thumping of the Mayors (just before last year’s local elections significantly) nine months later only 5 of 71 Councils have implemented the local plans the Mayors said they needed so desperately. That delay is unacceptable. It is time for them to stop bleating, and start using the tools they implored Parliament to give them.

Drug use and abuse is a major problem but there are no simple solutions. Blanket bans don’t work, as ongoing problems with other drugs proves. Per capita New Zealand is one of the highest users of cannabis in the world.

Attacking ministers who are trying to take practical steps to address legal high issues is not going to achieve anything except perhaps pander to uninformed voters.

NZ First firmly against foreign ownership

In a Q & A interview this morning Winston Peters confirmed that NZ First had a firm policy against foreign ownership.

Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged

Winston Peters has sent a strong signal that his party would stop foreigners buying property in New Zealand.

The New Zealand First leader says it has always been the party’s bottom line for NZ housing and farmland to be for New Zealand people. He said he would adopt the same view as China where foreigners cannot buy property but can lease it for 70 years.

Mr Peters told Q+A this morning NZ First doesn’t want NZ land to be “owned by everybody around the world – and absentee-owned at that”.

Edited video:  (Source: Q and A) Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged (0:46)

Full interview: Peters – Polls don’t tell the real story (11:10)

Peters didn’t quite say this would be non-negotiable post-election but made it clear it was a high priority policy for NZ First. He said people should check the NZ First policy. I checked for policy and other references to foreign ownership.

Policy: Housing

Ensure that New Zealand’s housing stock is restricted to New Zealanders

  • Non-residents who are not New Zealand citizens would be ineligible for home ownership except if a genuine need to do so can be demonstrated.
  • The terms and conditions upon which existing approvals by the Overseas Investment Commission for the ownership of land by non-residents would be fully monitored and enforced.

Policy: Primary Industries

  • An end to land sales to foreign interests, and policies to ensure the retention of the farming sector in the ownership of New Zealand resident and New Zealand farmers.

Policies updated 20 March 2014.
Further updates in the 2014 election campaign.

Members Bill: Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide vital information on the extent of foreign ownership of New Zealand. This Bill proposes a comprehensive register of all foreign owned land in New Zealand. The register will record names and nationalities, the amount of land and value of land, and the regions in which the land is situated. Purchasers will provide the information for the register.

Media Release: Going Going Gone – The Kiwi Family Farm

19.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“To allow one foreign company to buy 29 farms is a sin,” says Rt Hon Winston Peters, in reference to the sale of 13 Synlait Farms in Canterbury to a majority-owned Chinese company which was also allowed to buy the 16 Crafar farms.

“This is not foreign investment, it is the transfer of Kiwi wealth in wholesale quantities.

“Many of our family farms are disappearing. Young would-be farm owners are being priced out of ownership as foreigners are allowed to buy-up blocks of farms in one go.

“This Government clearly favours foreign ownership over ordinary New Zealanders and their dreams of doing well on the land.

“It is not a fair go for New Zealanders. There is no reason why these farms could not have been sold individually giving Kiwis a more competitive chance at ownership.

“The end of the treasured Kiwi farm, as the backbone of the economy, is nigh unless we say no to more farm sales to non-resident foreigners,” says Mr Peters.

Media Release: Another Rubber Stamp For Foreign Buy-Up

04.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“New Zealand First wants a halt to sales of farmland to non-resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: New Zealand First Says No More Farm Sales To Non Resident Foreigners

09.11.2013
Richard Prosser

New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of New Zealand farmland to non resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: Go Buy American Farms Harvard

03.05.2013
Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First has criticised the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for allowing Harvard University to buy a big dairy farm in Otago.

Media Release: Keep Crafar Farms, Appeals Winston Peters

04.04.2012
Rt Hon Winston Peters

Rt Hon Winston Peters has made a last ditch appeal for the government to keep the Crafar farms in the hands of New Zealanders where they belong.

This confirms a consistent opposition to foreign ownership.

Despite this we will have to wait until after the election before we find out whether NZ First get a chance to negotiate to play a part in the next government, and if they do whether foreign ownership of houses and land is a part of any policy agreements.

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

National
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.

Labour
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.

UnitedFuture
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.

Summary

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.

Mischievous tweet by NZ First MP spoof

NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor has had problems with a spoof Twitter account for a month or so. It has caused genuine confusion about which account is the MP’s account – the correct one is @asenatitaylor (as per her profile on the NZ First website).

The spoof account is @asenatitaylormp which in itself is mischievous as it uses a naming convention commonly used by MPs.

The account has tweeted today:

Have had many media inquiries today, it is me who has been meeting with Mr Dotcom. Expect announcement soon.

I think that’s beyond a joke and is quite mischievous. There is a lot of speculation today after NZ Herald said that several MPs had been talking to Kim Dotcom about jumping from their party and joining his Internet Party.

But the Herald refers to electorate MPs, and Lole-Taylor is a list MP. And I think she would be very unlikely to be connected to Kim Dotcom.

 

Jones rubbishes NZ First speculation

Shane  Jones was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report and he has fairly comprehensively denied any attempt by him or by Winston Peters to get him to jump waka to NZ First (see Shane Jones and NZ First speculation).

 

Jones referred to Matthew Hooton’s speculation in an NBR article as, amongst other things, mischievous and scurrilous.

And Stuff reports I’m not leaving Labour – Jones

Labour MP Shane Jones denies he is planning an exit from Labour, but accepts his chance to be leader had “come and gone”.

When asked if he would be in the Labour Party at the next election, Jones said “absolutely”.

A curious comment from Jones about his chance to be leader having “come and gone”.

Does that mean if Labour miss out on forming the next government and David Cunliffe is dumped as leader Jones wouldn’t have another crack at the top job?

It’s possible that after the experience of last year’s leadership contest Jones realises he would never have wide enough caucus or party support, and he is unlikely to be backed by the union affiliates.

Shane Jones and NZ First speculation

It has been suggested that Shane Jones may be considering jumping from Labour and joining NZ First, as a successor to Winston Peters. That would enhance NZ First’s chances of making 5% in this year’s election. But is it anything other than speculation?

I’ve seen the possibility of Jones moving to NZ First discussed for months – and also to National. In many ways he has seemed an odd man out in Labour.

A blog post at The Conservative last week suggested Shane Jones belongs in NZ First.

Jones has been saying some good stuff lately and in a language that resonates with Joe-Blogg Kiwis. So much so, I question what he is doing in the Labour Party, and if Labour don’t watch out they may very well lose him to NZ First.

Whale Oil in Is Shane Jones rehearsing for leader?

Could he be auditioning for leader…and after today’s headlines is it for labour or for NZ First?

A comment by ‘gazzmaniac’ on Kiwiblog:

Jones needs to split from Labour and start his own party. Or join and lead NZ First.

‘MARC” at The Daily Blog:

Shane Jones should perhaps join NZ First or Winston First, and he would possibly be Winston’s most “suitable” successor.

Matthew Hooton has sparked the current speculation @TheNBR – Shane Jones plots exit from Labour. This is paywalled but Newstalk ZB report on it in Shane Jones may defect to New Zealand First.

Political pundit Matthew Hooton has floated the scenario in a column today in the National Business Review.

He says the maverick MP is becoming ever more indiscreet and he sees his recent behaviour as a pretext to either leave Labour or be expelled.

Hooton says Labour’s rainbow division, unions and women’s council all loathe him and he despises the Greens.

And he sees himself and Winston Peters as “two Maori boys from the North” who could hold the balance of power between National and a Labour-Green coalition.

Hooton says the plan would be for Peters, who will be 72 at the 2017 election, to hand over the leadership of the party to Jones, who would be 59.

Without any indication from Jones or Peters whether there’s any substance to this or not this can be presumed to be Hooton speculating and possibly mischief making.

UPDATE: Jones has just been interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report and he has fairly comprehensively denied any attempt by him or by Winston Peters to get him to jump waka to NZ First. He referred to Hooton’s speculation as, amongst other things, mischievous and scurrilous.

NZ First bottom lines

Winston Peters had a typically rambunctious interview with Patrick Gower on The Nation, but he did give some indications about NZ First bottom lines in any coalition negotiations.

In summary:

  • The Super eligibility age must be a bottom line.
  • Peters suggested NZ First has strong asset buy backs, foreign property ownership and foreign fishing policies but there was sufficient vagueness to be uncertain what exactly would be bottom lines.
  • Peters ruled out working with UnitedFuture or the Maori Party, the two other parties most likely to be in contention for coalition negotiations whether National or Labour form the next government.
  • Peters continues to insist that John Key has lied about Kim Dotcom.

Right from the start of the interview Peters made a point about NZ First not being a one person party.

NZ First not a dictatorship

Winston: Well first of all, I’m grateful that you said New Zealand First and not, try to personalize it as everybody else has sort to do. We’re a democratic party and we make decisions as a caucus, and as a board and as party supporters.

And again soon afterwards.

If your party is having its 21st birthday, in July of this year, which means we haven’t been around because one guy’s been running the show by himself like a dictator. We consult, we ensure that everybody signed up, even to these sorts of arrangements and talks…

On buying back power companies

So that means buying Genesis back?

That’s right…at no greater price than they pay for it .

And so does that mean the other power companies as well?

It means exactly that, that’s what our position has been for some time.

So that’s a priority for you in any negotiations?

It is a priority and it also has the best things in terms of economic calculations from treasury. If what they said about selling off 49% is correct then it goes for the whole lot.

So in terms of walking away, we’re not even walking in until we get what we believe New Zealand economically and socially needs.

So that’s a deal breaker essentially if either side doesn’t want to buy back the assets yet?

Well if either side prefers to sell out New Zealand’s long term heritage, then they can line up and find their own support. But if they want to line up with the mass majority of New Zealanders as the latest polls says on this issue of asset sales, then they can perhaps line up with New Zealand First.

So that’s a deal breaker, buying back the assets is a deal breaker?

Hang on; I’m not going to be sitting here like some sort of uh, star chamber, federal case in the United States while you think you’re going to nail me down. I think you need to understand one thing about MMP. And it goes like this. Even the old system went like this. The voters vote first, and then they decide in what numbers that the parties and parliaments are comprising parliament. Then you know what you’re dealing with. Here we are six months out from election. We don’t know whether for example National is going to re-nuclearise New Zealand so to speak. Or whether Labour is going to come up with some policy…

So that seems to imply asset that power companies buybacks are a non-negotiable priority – but we won’t know what NZ First is dealing with until the voters have decided.

It sounds like definitely, maybe. I don’t know how NZ First will determine from the election vote what policies to make non-negotiable.

On raising the National Super eligibility age

Let me tell you what happened in 2011. We saw a Labour party come out and announce an increase in the retirement age, and putting GST on, and taking effect…not GST no…capital gains tax on, and it would take effect in 2017. As for the increase in age…2021. We said straight away then, we can’t go into any arrangement with these people and so we made a statement and said we’re going to the cross benches between 2011 and 2014. And we did.

And that would stand again if Labour tries to change the retirement age, you’d go to the cross benches again?

Look, I think they can be persuaded, if that was the issue, I think they can be persuaded that that fatally cost them the election. All the old people coming near 65 heard was, not 2021, they just heard the age is going up.

Raising the Super age would seem to be a deal breaker, and it would probably be a party breaker of NZ First changed their stance on this.

On foreign ownership

Let’s look at foreign ownership and the restrictions on essentially foreign buyers or non New Zealand citizens. You want an immediate ban on them buying residential property with either government?

Look, the non-New Zealand buyer, if that non-New Zealand buyer is buying into a new business here to create new exports and new work, or to move their family here and put their heart and soul for the rest of their lives into this country, then we don’t have a problem as we didn’t have with the labour…

No ban if there’s business involved or for genuine residency, but that may be difficult to determine in advance and difficult to police. What happens if a foreign buyer says they will live most of the time here but travel overseas a lot?

Yeah, I’m talking about residential property, do you want to an immediate ban on non-New Zealanders?

Well I’m not going to stand around while somebody from off shore with 77 homes, and has now become a major landlord in Auckland and filtering in, and gouging money out of our economy…

That’s a sort of a “no way”.

Who is this person?

Well it’ll come out in time, but we’re a long way from the election and some of the doubters in this country are going to get some facts in this campaign.

With a big “but”.

You want an immediate ban on foreign ownership of property?

Well first of all I want to know why we have not got in place a land and house register so that authorities and bureaucrats, know what they’re dealing with and what numbers they’re talking about, rather than if they go around likening anyone like me to being xenophobic.

A register that determines detailed numbers would take some time (far longer than a coalition negotiation period) so this would have to involve a commitment to set up a register. But it’s very vague about what would allow and what would rule out ownership.

Immediate ban’s your policy, so you’d want that in place. That would drive down property prices. Are you happy with that?

No, with the greatest respect it would not. What it would do, you would see at some ends of the market…

No challenge to “immediate ban’s your policy, so you’d want that in place” but it’s left unclear and vague.

On foreign involvement in fishing

The fishing industry, what do you want to do there? You know a lot about fishing…

Well our policy is for the New Zealandisation of the industry, just like Iceland, just like Norway, who understand something about this. It’s Norway’s number one income earner, its Iceland’s survival. Here’s my point; we want the New Zealandisation of the industry, so our fish is caught by New Zealand boats and New Zealand fishermen and is added value that is packaged here and sold here and sold offshore. I don’t see how we can get any advantage from foreign crews sending the raw product to China, and have it tinned back to our supermarkets.

So how do you enforce this? You ban foreign crews, you’d ban processing offshore?

Well I’m not saying banning processing offshore; they will not take it off shore. But we’ll give them an exit strategy and make sure they’re compensated – but we want this great resource, which is ours and we’re lucky people to have it, to be part of the growth and the employment and wealth creation of this country. For goodness sake, the Maori people have got a sizeable chunk, as you know, of the Maori fishing industry and who’s catching Maori entitlement or Maori quota fish? Foreigners are. Who’s working on…

So would you ban it? Would you ban foreigners if they were taking all the chunks?

Well I make it very clear that our policy was specified that those days will be over.

Very clear that it’s NZ First policy but not clear what they would actually insist on and no indication it would be a bottom line.

The first option for coalition negotiations – the party with the most seats

Okay so in terms of negotiations you’ve said it’s a constitutional convention – your words – to negotiate with the biggest party first. That’s right isn’t it?

Look, as I said – and it’s all on our website, been there for 20 years – that we will negotiate in the first instance with the party with the most votes. That is in the first instance. But if there is no possibility of a sound coalition from them, then you would talk to others.

So that negotiation, does that mean a phone call, the first phone call? Or do you actually enter negotiations in that scenario and start to look at what policy gains you can get?

Well I suppose if we’re talking about logistics then it probably starts with a phone call, because if nobody is phoning each other then there’s no conversation.

Yeah but after that do you negotiate with that biggest party first, do you sit down and talk with them?

Well I think you’d have a preliminary discussion about what do you think your priorities are and what do you think ours might be.

So you would sit down with John Key for instance first before you sat down with David Cunliffe?

Not necessarily would it be a leaders discussion, because frankly, I assume he hires key people with far more experience than him in this matter…like Wayne Eagleson for example. Helen Clark had…

So you’d prefer to sit down with the chief of staff before you had even talked to John Key?

No I didn’t say that, I said the chiefs of staff would go across and map out the talking grounds. And then you might have the discussion.

I think it’s standard for chiefs of staff to set the groundwork for negotiations, and Peters has had a lot of experience in this process, so nothing unusual about this.

How far down this path do you go before you go to the other side?

Well ideally you’d start with one and you’d ensure that the other one is not left out. Because frankly…

So you’re talking to both sides…

If you cannot get reconciliation over here then you need to have some chance of getting reconciliation over there. As distasteful as it is to you, and others, the public is demanding a stable Government, and that is the number one responsibility of anybody in politics.

That sounds very much like NZ First will negotiate with both sides (National and Labour) from early on.

Peters’ relationship with John Key

I want to turn now to John Key and what is essentially your weird relationship with him. You’ve called him arrogant, pretentious, a liar; you’ve said his Government was incompetent; you said he worked in Merrill Lynch, which you called corrupt. You really don’t like him. Now, how on earth are you going to work with this guy, and will you make John Key Prime minister?

I’ve heard you burbling away on TV every night describing this relationship as toxic. You know nothing about it. Now cut it out. I happen to see John Key at the races, I said gidday to him, I see him around the place we say hello. I walked into a coffee bar and shook his hand.

That doesn’t sound like a close relationship, far from it. And it doesn’t give any indication of respect or rapport. Saying hello occasionally is not a political relationship.

You called him an arrogant liar, you think that he’s spied on you…

All right, well I’ll explain this to you. I’ll explain this. When he gave witnesses to that event about which he spoke I knew that person could not have been there, because I checked the persons diary and I thought well who else is the person making the information. But here’s the real point here. Of course he worked for Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch is one of the companies that brought the western economies to their knees. The global financial crisis was never a global crisis.

The upshot is how could you make him Prime Minister when you talk about him like this?

No, no I want you to have a debate where we have a chance to have our say. The western financial crisis has cost the world plenty. Now when I say he’s arrogant, he has been arrogant. He comes in and says I want certainty about the election I’m giving you September. This is balderdash.

Let me ask you one last time. Can you make the man you call an arrogant liar Prime Minister?

OK one more point. Do you think he’s telling the truth on the GCSB? Because there’s not one western leader who would believe…

You haven’t answered the question. But you’re saying he’s a liar on what he knew about Kim Dotcom aren’t you?

I am.

Insistence that Peters believes Key has lied about Dotcom

Yep. Will you make him PM then? If you’re saying he lied about what he knew about Kim Dotcom will you make him the Prime Minister?

Paddy we’ve got a long way to go until the election, and when it emerges that there’ no way the SIS and GCSB leader of this country’s administration, namely John Key, could not have known, I think you might look with different eyes at that matter.

Peters appears to believe that it will be proven that Key has lied before the election. If that happens then for Peters to be consistent he will demand that Key resigns.

If Key doesn’t resign before the election then Peters would be very hypocritical if he negotiated a coalition agreement with Key.

The only out here is if Key resigns than NZ First may then be able to negotiate with the new National leader.

Rules out working with UnitedFuture and the Maori Party

Can you work with UF in government?

Well, you know, can I tell you the truth? In 2005 I was the one who went to Peter Dunne and said to him, Peter do you want to be a minister. Not Helen Clark.

Will you make him a minister again in the next government? Would you give him the go-ahead?

Well no. Given how he’s behaved…

So he’s out. What about the Maori Party? Can you work with them?

I’m not working with a party that believes in racial separatism.

That rules out NZ First working with them but it doesn’t necessarily rule out a coalition with National or Labour that also involves United Future or the Maori Party. Coalition agreements are between the major party and individual minor parties. The minor parties don’t negotiate with each other, nor do they have to work together.

There’s no indication here a coalition arrangement that involved NZ First would have to rule out United Future or the Maori Party being in the coalition.

About your transparency now. You’re shutting essentially 95 percent, maybe 90 percent, of the New Zealand voters out of the equation with your balance of power. What is fair about that?

How did you possibly extrapolate this conversation to that extraordinary conclusion?

Because you won’t be transparent. You don’t say, you won’t say anything about where you’re going.

You see Paddy you’re back to you again. You’re not listening to anything I’m saying. What I said was that we’re going to see what happens in the next six months we’re going to ensure as a party we make a democratic decision that includes caucus, and the board and our support base.

So no more transparency.

Now the next thing is that the mass majority of New Zealanders, including 35% of National voters, don’t like the sort of deals you advocate. They think they’re odious. They think they’re anathema. And so do I. And one last thing. You must be much smarter than me but I’m not able to play cards I’ve never seen.

Asset sale buy-back and keeping the Super eligibility age at 65 appear to be non-negotiable.

Everything else seems to depend on what happens between now on the election, what the voters say (except they only vote, they don’t say what bottom lines they want)  and what the NZ First caucus, board and members democratically decide they want.

The bottom line

The Super age has to be a bottom line. Giving in on that would be like the Greens giving in on deep sea drilling, it’s totally against what NZ First stands for.

Peters working with Key would be very hypocritical. Peters claims that Peter Dunne lied and Judith Collins lied, and because of that he insists they should resign. Peters also insists Key lied.

The rest looks up for negotiation. Even apparent bottom lines could be fudged, like asset sales buybacks – there could be an agreement that buy backs be investigated and take place “when economic conditions allow”. Foreign property purchases and foreign fishing positions appear to be strong but they are vague.

There are only two bottom lines that appear to be certain.

  1. Leave the Super eligibility age at 65.
  2. Anything else is possible.

And the voters will decide one thing – whether Peters and NZ First get the opportunity to negotiate. If they give NZ First 5% little else is certain.

Note that this interview did not examine how NZ First might work with Labour, nor whether NZ First would agree to a coalition that involved the Greens.

Source of transcript- Scoop The Nation: Patrick Gower interviews New Zealand First leader Winston Peters

Winston first or Winston First?

Will David Cunliffe talk coalitions with Winston first or Winston First? Barry Soper at Newstalk ZB writes on Labour hedging its bets over preferred coalition partner:

 Labour leader David Cunliffe says the Greens won’t necessarily be the first cab off the rank if he’s in a position to form a Government after the election.

He says he’ll be talking to the centre left party with the most seats.

“I’m not saying that there’s any pre-ordained order. I quite expect that we’ll be in discussions with the Greens and there’s much we have in common. We may well in discussions with New Zealand First and there’s a substantial amount in common.”

There was another oops in David Cunliffe’s life earlier this morning when he referred to his possible coalition partner New Zealand First as ‘Winston First’.

“Winston’s a good guy but I’m not doing coalition negotiations before the vote and we will work with whatever cards the voters put on the table. That may indeed quite likely will be with the Greens, it may well be with Winston First.”   

It’s not clear from that whether Cunliffe meant he would talk to Winston Peters first, or mistakenly called Peters’ party Winston First.

UPDATE: I’ve now seen video of this and Cunliffe immediately corrected himself, following ‘Winston First’ with ‘New Zealand First’.

McCarten move a Green squeeze?

Matt MCarten’s appointment as David Cunliffe’s chief of staff strengthens connections between the Labour Party and the Mana Party/Movement.

What does this mean for Greens?

It appears that Labour is reaching across the Greens to the Mana constituency, trying to build (pr rebuild a broad centre-ish to left Labour grouping that also targets the poor. And that encroaches on the main focus of the Greens – they seem to have relegated environmental issues and have a preference for promoting social change.

Labour+Mana will also try and squeeze the Maori Party out of contention.

Add to this Cunliffe’s recent comments about Winston Peters that suggest an attempt to work with NZ First and the Labour election strategy may be  being revealed.

Labour either need NZ First or need for NZ First to not go with National to be able to form a coalition. It’s well known that Peters has an aversion to working with the Greens.

Labour may see problems working with the Green co-leaders too. And there is a few percent of the party vote up for grabs, the last poll hints this may be slipping from the Green grasp already.

A Labour+Mana+NZ First combination may be hoping to squeeze the Greens out of contention, or at least relegate them to making up the numbers without having much clout.

The McCarten move may be part of a Labour Green squeeze strategy.

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