Annette King versus ‘the Prime Minister’

Annette King targeted John Key’s hair pulling in Question Time. Bill English responded on behalf of the Prime Minister (who is still in the Middle East).

Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Jo Muir’s on-the-fly summary at Beehive Live:

English is responding on behalf of John Key and says yes, based on his observation, he agrees.

King is asking whether Key’s behaviour was appropriate in terms of the hair pulling incident.

English says the PM apologised and long before it was reported in the media.

King has just mentioned Key’s comments of “horsing around” and someone on opposition benches is neighing like a horse.

That’s unlikely to be someone who has been criticising Key for childish behaviour.

English is defending the PM saying that his “inappropriate” behaviour is particularly disappointing considering it’s unusual for him to act like that.

Winston Peters is asking how Key explains the numerous photos of him stroking the hair of young girls and what psychological behaviour that is?

English isn’t impressed and is dismissing the question.

Peters is asking, putting the Auckland cafe incident aside, has Key apologised for all the other times he’s stroked hair inappropriately.

English says if anyone felt he had behaved inappropriately they have means to complain.

Transcript:

[Sitting date: 28 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:2. Text is subject to correction.]

2. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “There’s always a risk with third-term Governments that they get arrogant. There’s always a risk that they veer off into a space they haven’t been, and start surprising their supporters”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes. It was an observation based on watching the third term of the previous Labour Government.

Hon Annette King : Was pulling the hair of a woman worker in a cafe arrogant, veering off into a space where he had not been before, or just totally inappropriate behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, it was totally inappropriate behaviour, for which he apologised to the young woman concerned and, I might say, well before public attention was drawn to the matter.

Hon Annette King : Does he think that in modern New Zealand it is OK to describe repeated and unwelcome pulling of a young woman’s hair as banter, horseplay, joking around; if not, why has he attempted to minimise his weird behaviour?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The Prime Minister has not attempted to minimise the behaviour; he has acknowledged the inappropriate nature of that behaviour and dealt with the issue when it was drawn to his attention.

Hon Annette King : Was the National Party warned of his hair-pulling behaviour before his actions became public; if so, when?

Mr SPEAKER : In as far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the Hon Bill English.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Of course the Prime Minister had an indication about the behaviour, because the young woman raised it with him and he apologised to her. I might say that the Prime Minister has, through intensive interaction with the public over a long period as leader of the National Party and as the Prime Minister, observed almost always the highest standards of appropriate behaviour.

Hon Annette King : Was there any communication between his office or his staff and Rachel Glucina or the cafe owners following the breaking of this story?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I have not had the opportunity to establish whether or not that is the case, so I simply cannot answer that question.

Hon Annette King : Does he stand by his statement that he “needs to be better at reading the tea leaves” when making decisions about how he will behave in public ; if so, how often does he use tea leaves for advice?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Yes, the Prime Minister does stand by that statement. I might say that part of the Prime Minister’s disappointment at these events—

Grant Robertson : He did it!

Hon BILL ENGLISH : —and the inappropriateness of his behaviour is that in almost every other respect his interaction with New Zealanders is positive.

Hon Annette King : What is the difference between his behaviour and that of Aaron Gilmore’s?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : They are different circumstances and have both been dealt with appropriately.

Hon Annette King : I seek leave to table a Facebook post on the National Party’s website—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I do not need any further assistance. It is available to all members if they want to look for it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the numerous Parnell cafe incidents, how does the Acting Prime Minister explain the countless photographs of Mr Key stroking young girls’ hair, and what psychological condition is that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I reject all the imputations of that question. The Prime Minister has a track record that I know Opposition parties resent, and that is of very positive interaction with the whole range of the New Zealand community. In this case he has acknowledged the inappropriateness of his behaviour and dealt with it well before it came to public attention because, in his view, if the young woman felt that way about the behaviour, then it clearly was not appropriate and he had to deal with it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Putting aside the Parnell cafe case, what about the numerous other cases where he has not apologised at all? How does he explain that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Almost without exception the interactions the Prime Minister has with the New Zealand public are not the subject of complaints. In fact, more than any other Prime Minister, he is open to those interactions and they are positive. If anyone felt that he had acted inappropriately, they are able to raise that issue and, I think, as indicated by this incident, the Prime Minister will take responsibility for his behaviour and apologise accordingly.

Hon Annette King : Has the Deputy Prime Minister ever advised him that he undertakes such behaviour in public?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Very generally, the Prime Minister has been able to conduct a very positive relationship with the broader public without the benefit of advice from the Deputy Prime Minister.

Tracey Martin oblivious to NZ First ironies and contradictions

Stuff has an interesting profile of NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin, who is a low profile contrast to Winston Peters. Her party leadership profile may step up a notch or two if Peters becomes committed to spending time in his Northland electorate.

So Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow may have to change.

There’s significant Martin family involvement in NZ First, with Martin’s mother on the board of directors and Tracey’s sister works for her.

And there could be more as the NZ First board will decide on Monday who will ‘choose’ to take up Winston’s vacant list position. If Ria Bond at next on the list turns it down then Martin’s Mataroa Paroro, who is married to Martin’s sister-in-law, will get the opportunity to be instructed by the board to become an MP. That’s the board that includes Martin and her mother.

The profile paints a partial positive picture of Martin.

Living in the shadow of NZ First leader Winston Peters would be a cold place for many and while deputy Tracey Martin is no threat to his popularity she is successfully carving herself a place in Parliament.

Martin is consolidating a reputation in Parliament as one to watch, including nipping at the heels of Education Minister Hekia Parata.

But it also illustrates some irony and contradiction.

“We talk about bullying inside of schools, the abuse the Greens take, in particular Hekia and the abuse she gives Metiria [Turei] in te Reo most of the time is bullying we’d never accept inside a classroom and it’s in Parliament.”

Martin says she’s never formally met  Hekia Parata but is critical of the way she treats other MPs.

“We talk about bullying inside of schools; the abuse the Greens take, in particular Hekia and the abuse she gives Metiria [Turei] in te reo most of the time, is bullying we’d never accept inside a classroom and it’s in Parliament.”

Accusing another MP of Parliamentary ‘bullying’ and sledging while serving in Winston’s shadow is cute – Martin can often been seen laughing and cheering when Peters is in full fight in the House.

At the age of 50, Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow – a surprising claim from an MP only six months into her second term in Parliament.

In 2008 she was 13th on the party list and had no hope of making it to Parliament but when the listing committee, including her mother, met in 2011, she leaped up to second place. ntsG came out as number two. nte

“I deliberately said to my mother if she had any influence at all don’t make me number two because there was a certain group of people who were a bit anti the Martins anyway.”

Has she really not sought some level of power? She wasn’t promoted to second on the list and deputy leader by accident. If she hasn’t tried to get there she has been put there. It’s more likely a combination of both seek and having a hand up, despite her claims.

Martin is a self-professed feminist in the true meaning of the word.

She once asked her daughter what she thought a feminist was, she responded, “a woman who thinks she’s better than a man”.

Martin was quick to correct saying, “no, a feminist is a woman who believes she’s equal to a man. A woman who thinks she is better than a man is Mum”.

Regardless of whether she’s referring to herself or her mother as ‘Mum’ that’s an odd statement.

Better female representation is a long-term goal but for Martin the job is only a three-year commitment.

She’s in her fourth year in Parliament.

“I could happily go home tomorrow and do what I love to do which is raising money to help my community.

“I’m not desperate to stay here and that’s because I think the absolutely worst kind of politician is a person who is desperate to keep their job because they’ll do and say anything to keep it.”

Again that’s from someone serving as deputy to Peters, the king of saying anything to keep his job and do anything to keep it – as happened in the Northland campaign, where it seems the media is so used to Peters making outlandish promises they don’t take him to task for it.

Martin comes across as oblivious to the ironies and contradictions she illustrates.

Final result in Northland

The final results have been announced for the Northland by-election, with WInston Peters’ majority increasing 429 after the addition to election night totals of 1579 special declaration votes and overseas votes

Candidates
BONNER, Adrian Paul IND 17 0.06%
CARR, Joe FNZ 113 0.38%
GRIEVE, Robin ACT 68 0.23%
HERBERT, Maki ALCP 94 0.32%
HOLLAND, Adam IND 16 0.05%
OSBORNE, Mark NAT 11,648 39.36%
PAINTING, Rob CLI 39 0.13%
PETERS, Winston NZF 16,089 54.37%
PORTER, Rueben Taipari MANA 60 0.20%
PRIME, Willow-Jean LAB 1,380 4.66%
ROGAN, Bruce IND 24 0.08%
Candidate Informals 42
TOTAL 29590

According to the Electoral Commission the turnout was 65.4 per cent of the 45,955 voters enrolled – that’s a very good turnout for a by-election.

This confirms a resounding win to Peters and an embarrassing defeat for National and their candidate Mark Osborne.

It also goes down in the records as a dismal result for Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime but that’s what Andrew Little and the Labour Party wanted. She comes in under 5% so doesn’t get a refund of her deposit.

30.17% or 13,869 votes were advance votes which is a high proportion, Advance voting is rapidly becoming popular.

If anyone is interested here’s a link to a Statistical Breakdown.

The Winston congregation

A funny coincidence – someone told me that during a church service they attended last Sunday the Minister praised Winston Peters’ victory in Northland, and most of the congregation clapped.

Someone else (Guy Body at NZ Herald) had a vision of something similar:

Another congregation claps for Winston:

WinstonCongregationClapfest video: 31.03.15 – Question 11: Rt Hon Winston Peters to the Prime Minister

Peters versus Key, Auckland versus Northland

Winston Peters played Northland versus Auckland and Northland versus Wellington well in the by-election campaign. It looks like he is continuing to try and build a provincial constituency.

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald:

National’s great fear will be the wedge politics Peters deployed with such devastating effect in Northland spreading to other provincial regions. That strategy involved pitting Auckland against the “neglected” regions. In his speech in the general debate yesterday, Peters made it clear he was intent on seeding that in other regions.

Having eked out a political living for so long by relying on the votes of the fringe, Peters is reinventing himself as the friend of the provinces, the farmers, the rural sector. He is putting out a slate as the home of the anti-Auckland vote. “It’s not all about Auckland,” he cried. He is making a clear pitch into National’s provincial heartland.

It certainly worked for him last last month.

And John Key played into his meme on Tuesday in Parliament in the final response to questions from Peters:

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Will he, as Prime Minister, support me, as the member for Northland, to address responses to one of the most serious and most abhorrent issues facing Northland—that of sexual violence?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Actually, the member makes an excellent point—an excellent point—which is that he wants to work constructively on issues that will support Northland. If that is what the member is saying to me today, well, I can say, as Prime Minister,that I am more than happy to work with him on those. I look forward to him supporting the Ngāpuhi settlement and the legislation that will go through there.

I look forward to the member working constructively in areas like Resource Management Act reform so we can see more investment going into Auckland.

Probably a slip but it could well be an Auckland influenced Freudian slip.

A Little overshadowed in Parliament

Andrew Little has looked subdued and perhaps uncomfortable in Parliament this week. He is operating in the shadow of Winston Peters, who is at his best/worst at stirring up the House. This winds up John Key into full flight, and it’s not something that Little enjoys by the look of him yesterday.

Question Time was led by Peters, who again tested David Carter’s patience and was again threatened with ejection. NZ First colleague Ron Mark also joined the fray, fraying the patience of the Speaker.

Key revelled in the heated atmosphere, perhaps it is a release valve from his perpetual pressures as Prime Minister. It doesn’t look pretty at times.

After a patsy question it was Little’s turn to be ridiculed, and that happened at Key’s first opportunity. Not surprisingly Little didn’t seem to like it.

[Sitting date: 01 April 2015. Volume:704;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that “falling off a high horse in Northland can force ACC levies up”; if so, is that why the Government has set work and earners levies above the levels recommended by ACC?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I say to the junior leader of the Opposition—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : —yes and no.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! It is that sort of start to the answer that does not help the order of this House.

But the point had been made – earlier in the week Little tried to talk up his status as ‘Leader of the Opposition’ but after handing over everything to Peters in Northland he is also being overshadowed substantially by Peters in Parliament.

The exchange ended with a a weakly asked question from Little, responded to very strongly by Key.

Little has a double challenge – trying to assert some sort of ascendancy over Peters, and if he manages that trying to go toe to toe with Key.

At least with Russel Norman bowing out of leadership last year’s dominant Opposition leader Little doesn’t have to compete there as well. For now.

But trying to better Peters and equal Key will be difficult, especially since rolling over to Peters in Northland. Parliament now has a three week recess (politicians get a long Easter), giving Little and his strategy team to think of a way of standing tall.

In Parliament yesterday he looked stooped.

The rest of Question 3 transcript:

Andrew Little : Is his concern about horses in Northland really about high horses, or well-run thoroughbreds?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : All I know is that in 2014, like in 2011 and 2008, we went off to the races and we won big time.

Andrew Little : Given that ACC itself has recommended against the $350 million overcharge, why is National forcing Kiwi businesses and workers to pay excess ACC levies that even ACC says it does not want or need?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I would remind the member, firstly, that the ACC board often makes a range of recommendations. In 2010-11 the Government actually increased ACC levies by $1.137 billion less than what was recommended by ACC. Today, actually, I read an interesting quote that said the following: “The Employers’ levy remains the same at an average of 90 cents per $100 of payroll. Although ACC recommended a reduced levy rate of 85 cents, the government decided there was a need to give employers more stability in levy rates from year to year, as well as building up reserves.” That was from Lianne Dalziel, Labour’s ACC Minister in 2002-03.

Andrew Little : Moving on 13 years to this year, is it in the public interest, particularly the interests of levy payers, for ACC to take more in levies than it needs and more than it wants when its work and earners accounts are already overflowing; if so, how?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I take it from the member that he is thinking that we should do as he says, not as Labour has done. That seems to be the subtext of his question. I go back to the point I made earlier. Over time the ACC board has made a series of recommendations. The Government adopts what it thinks is right. It is on track to do that. As you know, from 1 April—today—there have been further cuts. There will be more on 1 July, I think from memory. It is on track for about $1.5 billion worth of cuts in the last 12 to 18 months alone.

Andrew Little : Given his failure to end his ACC rip-off this year, will he now commit to cutting next year’s ACC levies by at least $350 million in the coming Budget; if not, why on earth not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What the Government will do is get a further set of recommendations, as is required by law, from the ACC board and consider those in context. But I would make a couple of points, and that is that if one looks at ACC and the factors that drive its levy recommendations, one sees that there are a number of moving factors in there, including the discount rate. So the member just better be a little bit careful what he wishes for, because the ACC board may well come out with a recommendation he does not like.

Andrew Little : Why did he fail to tell New Zealanders that most of his ACC reductions were just reversing his Government’s earlier levy hikes, put in place because of Nick Smith’s creative and fake crisis as the smokescreen for privatisation? Why does he not reverse those? Tell the truth.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It is true that this Government put up ACC levies when we first came into office. [Interruption] Interestingly enough, the member says “unnecessarily”. The recommendation from the board, which, by the way, he wants us to adopt this year, was to put them up by $1.3 billion, and the reason the board wanted them to go up by so much was that Labour left ACC unfunded and broke. What a disgrace from the Labour Opposition. What a disgrace.

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.

Winston Peters apologises, pledges to work constructively

A very sober looking Winston Peters made several apologies last night and pledged to work constructively, first for the people of Northland who voted for him, second for the good of Parliament and of the country, and third to restore his credibility as a politician (Winston third).

Press Release
Winston Peters (NZ First Party)
31 March 2015

First I want to apologise to the people of Northland for using them as a means of carrying out political utu. I pledge to put their interests first and to work hard and diligently for the betterment of Northland.

Second I apologise the the Speaker David Carter for acting like a petulant child in Parliament and disrespecting the Chair and the House. I am sorry I acted like as bad a winner as Brad Haddin.

Third I apologise to John Key for calling him ‘a spolt brat’ and ‘lad’. I was the one who acted like a childish brat. I respect Key as the Prime Minister and work with him as best I can in a constructive manner for the benefit of Northland and the country.

Fourth I apologise to Andrew Little, who I ran all over after he threw Willow-Jean Prime under my campaign bus. He clapped me as loudly as anyone in the Labour caucus when I first rose in Parliament after my win. I thank him for what he’s done for me and humbly recognise him as the rightful Leader of the Opposition. I will go and talk to him about what I can do for Labour as soon as he summons me.

Now the euphoria of my grand triumph has worn off a bit I pledge to put the interests of the Northland electorate first and foremost, as I promised in the campaign.

I also pledge to start respecting the sanctity of Parliament and authority of the Speaker and act in accordance with positive and constructive politics.

And only my third priority I am determined to restore my dignity and credibility to the highest level it was at over the last forty years of my career.

A senior journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, remarked “I’m shattered. If Winston reforms and becomes sensible, co-operative and constructive I’ll never get any headlines off him. Which politician will we laud over and promote now?”

Peters – kingmaker or King Cranky?

I had a brief hope that his win in Northland would give Winston Peters a new challenge in his old stomping ground, where he could work out his swan song for the good of his own people.

But it doesn’t appear that his focus was on one electorate. His reaction over the last couple of days is a confusion of king-maker and King.

He seems to think an electorate win in Northland means he can now call all the shots in Wellington.

And he seems to despise Johnny-come-lately Key holding the reins of power…

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says Prime Minister John Key is “acting like a spoilt brat” by saying he doubted Mr Peters would work constructively with National.

“I’m not going to have Mr Key roaring when his toys have been taken out of the cot, as they were last Saturday, making these sort of protestations. What you’re getting now is protestations of innocence and good faith which don’t exist. The National Party has not come to us.”

…along with anyone who might compete as king-maker.

Mr Peters’ win has meant National can no longer rely on only Act to pass legislation, giving increased influence to United Future’s Peter Dunne and the Maori Party.

However, Mr Peters said he had no intention of letting those parties flex their muscle. “I’ve made it very clear that we didn’t slog it out up north to have them in any way think they are going to be the beneficiaries of it. No way will Peter Dunne, the Act Party or Maori Party be allowed to behave in this way.”

NZ Herald

He’s going to somehow make Key work with him (by abusing him) and exclude the three parties with a proven willingness to work constructively with National?

Key isn’t going to roll over for Peters like Little did – talking about that, Labour seeks closer relationship with NZ First:

Little told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on Tuesday that it had been weeks since he had met with Peters, but he intended to do so this week.

“As leader of the Opposition, it’s my job to forge as best a relationship as possible with all the parties,” he said.

“I’ve been working with the Greens and will work more closely with NZ First now the by-election is out of the way.”

Little got sucked in and spat out by Peters in Northland, and his response was to roll over thinking it would somehow benefit Labour. Peters will barely waste time sneering at that naivety.

He seems to think he’s not just Leader of the Opposition but also the newly anointed King (Cranky).

Of a very childish variety. His performance in Parliament today was farcical from his first word, which was “Boo!”

Key understands Peters far better than Little. Just after the by-election: Winston won’t play ball: Key

“For the most part, if we are in favour of something, he is opposed,” Mr Key said from Melbourne last night.

“We’re always more than happy to talk to him and we’ve tried in the past and we’re certainly happy to try in the future.”

But Mr Key was not hopeful.

He said Mr Peters had made a lot of commitments to the people of Northland during the by-election campaign.

“He has told them he is going to change their lives, so what I am telling him is that if he is really genuine about that, that it won’t happen through rhetoric, it will happen through action.

“If he wants to be part of that, then we are happy to work with him, but history tells you that that is not his strong suit.”

It’s not just history tells you that. Today in Parliament:

I’m not sure that’s the sort of message Northland meant. Peters acts like he’s too big for Parliament let alone one wee electorate in the far north.

It looks like just a game to him, and if today is any indication of his approach to his new responsibilities then he doesn’t want anyone else with the ball – except for a compliant media lobbing lollipop microphones in his direction.

Northland may have been sucked in as much as Little and Labour. How soon voters’ remorse?

How National can show they’ve learned from Northland

There’s many lessons National could learn from their Northland debacle.They’re at real risk of falling out of favour with the nationwide electorate unless they are seen to have learned, and are seen to rectify the exposed shortcomings.

These numbers in particular should be food for thought.

  • SABIN, Mike 18,269 (September 2014)
  • OSBORNE, Mark 11,347 (March 2015)

That’s about 7,000 fewer people voting for the National candidate, despite a massive campaign effort including blatant election bribing and scare tactics. And despite the fact that most people never expected Winston Peters to deliver on many some major promises he made.

Safe seats and safe vote levels aren’t safe. If pissed off enough many voters will punish politicians and parties in the only way they can, and that’s what has happened in Northland.

OnTheCanvas

Slater. Osborne. National in Northland.
Key and National in 2017?

There’s two things they could do straight away that would indicate they have learned and they are prepared to act on a strong message sent by the voters of Northland.

1. Be up front and honest about when they knew about the police investigation of Mike Sabin

John Key’s and National ministers’ refusal to be open and honest about when they learned about Mike Sabin being under investigation has been arrogant and dishonest, and has proven very damaging to their Northland campaign. And to their nationwide credibility.

And it is likely to get worse when details go public. Information is widely known but if the media and other parties become unconstrained by legal suppression then Key and National will be hammered even harder. Unless they own up and front foot this, albeit belatedly.

John Key needs to lead on this and be open and honest about when he knew and when his office knew and when his Ministers knew.

Otherwise the impression of him lying to hide a dirty secret will linger on and keep damaging him and National.

2. Show that they will genuinely engage with Winston Peters and NZ First on Northland and regional issues

Winston Peters won a resounding victory in Northland. Voters there expect something for it, and if they don’t get what they want National should struggle to win back what should have been a relatively safe seat. Peters has indicated he will stand again in 2017.

Genuinely working with Peters on Northland issues will recover some support and credibility in the north. Peters may still hold the seat – if he reciprocates and genuinely works with the National government – but National have a party vote to protect.

And if National shuns Peters and NZ First it will look like petty punishment of them and of many voters.

Peters has a major mandate in Northland. NZ First have 11 MPs (and could get a twelfth, Peters hasn’t decided whether to drop out of his list position and bring in another MP yet).

Key and National have to show they are prepared to put wider Northland interests and democratic interests ahead of political pettiness (as do Peters and NZ First).

And if they don’t?

If National don’t show they’ve learned lessons from their hammering then they could get hammered on a wider scale in 2017.

They were helped in the 2011 and 2014 elections by the weakness of the alternative. But Winston Peters showed that if a Government does badly enough and is arrogant enough then voters will reject them and take their chances on an alternative.

If National don’t demonstrate they are prepared to act on and rectify lessons learnt in Northland then they could get thrashed in 2017.

And they should be addressing this straight away, demonstratively. Or voters will think they haven’t learned or that they think people will forget their failures and mistakes.

National can and should show they’ve learnt from their Northland debacle – if they want to stem a massive loss of confidence in them.

UPDATE: it looks like Key is planning on continuing to sweep Sabin under the National rug.

“The Mark Sabin situation is something we can’t adequately talk about” – Key on Northland loss

There are some aspects he could talk about if he chose to be honest and up front.

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