Ardern v Collins debate

The first leaders’ debate of the election is tonight on 1 News at 7.00 pm until 8:30 pm.

This puts Jacinda Ardern head to head against Judith Collins, Labour versus National.

We will have to wait and see what impact this will have on the election.

1 News/Colmar Brunton poll

The latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll:

  • Labour 48% (July 53%)
  • National 31% (July 32%)
  • ACT 7% (July 4.8%)
  • Greens 6% (July 5%)
  • NZ First 2% (July 2.0%)
  • New Conservatives 2% (July 1.2%)
  • Maori Party (July 1.0%)
  • TOP (July 1%)
  • Advance NZ 1%

These are rounds they do for their initial results and will be updated when the more accurate results are available.

Their last poll was done 25-29 July.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 54% (July 54%)
  • Judith Collins 18% (July 20%)
  • David Seymour 2% (July 1%)
  • Winston Peters 2% (July 1%)

So as expected Labour are still looking very comfortable despite dropping a bit, but if they come down much more and Greens survive, as looks more likely, it may be a two party Government.

Greens seem to be benefiting from the ‘not Labour on their own’ sentiment.

National are just not making up any ground 9althoughb are higher than on some other recent polls).

ACT will remain confident.

NZ First look like they are being largely dismissed by voters. It’s going to be very tough for Peters from here, with Jones seeming to have pretty much conceded Northland already.

New Conservatives are gaining ground but probably too little, too late.

Maori Party have to win an electorate to get back in.

Advance NZ make their first showing but are a long way from the threshold.

Ardern now admits campaign selfie was ‘a mistake’

Jacinda Ardern had been enjoying her ability to attract enthusiastic supporters while campaigning, but she was held to account for this over the weekend after this photo was published:

The offending selfie.

Stuff: David Seymour criticises Jacinda Ardern’s lack of social distancing in selfie while on the campaign trail

ACT leader David Seymour criticised Ardern on Saturday, and said New Zealanders would be asking whether she was part of the team of five million after she “clearly flouted the rules she has asked us to live by”.

In a statement, Seymour said hospitality businesses were going broke at alert level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules.

“Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is breaking them. Small business owners will be incredibly angry.”

I’ve heard from people who generally support Ardern being very disappointed.

Initially Ardern left it to a spokesperson to deal with it.

In response to Seymour’s criticism, a spokesperson for Ardern said the PM asks members of the public to keep appropriate distancing when interacting and getting photos.

“There are a number of handshakes and hugs she unfortunately has to decline and best endeavours are made to keep separated when people ask for photos, but often members of the public will come very close to the prime minister which is difficult to control.”

That’s a poor response. Ardern was actively encouraging the public getting very close, and it should have been easy for her to control.

This came up gain at yesterday’s Covid media conference, and Ardern did respond herself this time.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern admits close-quarters selfie was a ‘mistake’

Asked about the photo on Monday, Ardern said she acknowledged an error.

“Look, I just need to acknowledge I should have moved further forward and asked them to step away from each other,” she told reporters.

“I work really hard not to shake people’s hands, I sanitise, I wear my mask in Auckland, and I work hard to try and keep my social distance. In that particular photo I did make a mistake. I should have stepped further forward, I should have asked them to step apart from each other”.

“I totally acknowledge that.”

She hasn’t ‘totally acknowledged’ the mistake. She tried to mitigate it by saying how much she did to keep her social distance, but I this isn’t the only time she has worked crowds of fans while campaigning. It’s just the first time media have made a thing of it.

Election 2020: David Seymour criticises Jacinda Ardern's lack of social  distancing in selfie while on the campaign trail | Stuff.co.nz

Ardern at fault for campaign selfie gaffe | 7NEWS.com.au

Ardern at fault for campaign selfie gaffe | 7NEWS.com.au
Kate Hawkesby: Why isn't the PM social distancing? - NZ Herald
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12366457

Back to level 1 for most of us

Most of New Zealand is back too Covid alert level 1. This means minimal restrictions apart from international travel.

Auckland has been tweaked from level 2.5 to 2.0 which I think means just a change to gathering numbers allowed. This will be reviewed in two weeks.

At 11.59pm on Wednesday night, Auckland will shift from ‘Alert Level 2.5’ to Alert Level 2. That means from Thursday, Aucklanders will be able to attend social gatherings of up to 100 people, and Auckland-based funerals or tangihanga can host up to 100 people.

From midnight (Monday), the rest of New Zealand will return to Alert Level 1.

At Alert Level 2, Aucklanders are still required to wear a face covering on public transport and are encouraged to wear them in places where physical distancing is difficult. 

We strongly encourage Aucklanders who leave the region to ‘take their Alert Level with them’. 

If you are travelling out of or to Auckland, be aware that face coverings will be required on all inter-regional public transport journeys to and from the Auckland region. This includes flights, inter-regional buses or trains.

The level 1/2 split is a new arrangement. There have been no community Covid cases outside of Auckland for months (apart from a few in Tokoroa but linked to the Auckland outbreak) but in making previous decisions Jacinda Ardern had said it was too hard to have Auckland restricted on level 2.x while the rest of the country was unrestricted. Cabinet now thinks this isn’t such a problem, but nothing has really changed apart from the election getting closer.

Cabinet will meet on Monday 5 October to review these new Alert Level settings – presumably the primary consideration will be whether Auckland drops to level 1 or not.

Early voting for the election starts on Saturday 3 October, and this will be on the minds of the politicians in Cabinet.

For ‘the rest of New Zealand’ level 1 means a mostly unrestricted lifestyle, except for international travel which looks a long way off being possible.

Air New Zealand says even travel to Australia will be well into next year at the earliest.

NZ Herald: Transtasman travel bubble on hold till at least March – Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has shot down the idea of a transtasman bubble until March 2021, at the very earliest.

“I certainly do not believe we will see anything across the Tasman this calendar year. It’s hard to believe it would be before March next year and could well be longer,” he said.

So we’re likely be confined to Aotearoa for at least 6 months and possibly quite a bit longer.

Open Forum Tuesday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Decision due today on Covid alert levels

Cabinet is due to announce today whether the Covid alert levels will be reduced or not. Auckland is currently on level 2.5 with the rest of the country on 2.

It had been looking promising for a lowering of levels, with several days of no new community cases – until yesterday when the Ministry of Health announced: 4 new cases of COVID-19

There are four new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today; two community cases and two cases in managed isolation.

The two community cases are household contacts of the case reported yesterday, which is not connected to the Auckland cluster. The case reported yesterday is a recent returnee who arrived in New Zealand from India on August 27 and completed managed isolation, returning two negative tests at the facility in Christchurch before returning home to Auckland on September 11. 

The case reported yesterday was tested after developing symptoms on September 16, and returned a positive result. He and his household contacts self-isolated when he developed symptoms. They were all moved into the Auckland quarantine facility on September 18, when the first case returned a positive result. 

All identified close contacts have been isolated and tested. 

The source of the case’s infection is still under investigation, but genome sequencing is consistent with two confirmed cases from the same flight from India to New Zealand that landed on August 27.  

It is possible that this case was infected during that flight and has had an extremely long incubation period – there is evidence that in rare instances the incubation period can be up to 24 days. This person developed symptoms 21 days after he arrived in New Zealand.  If this is the case, it sits well outside the standard incubation period of the virus. 

The vast majority of people who are infected with COVID-19 will become unwell within 14 days. Having returnees stay in managed isolation for 14 days remains the gold standard, and this is also the approach adopted by other countries. Our own modelling confirms that 14 days spent in managed isolation with two tests leaves a very low risk that someone will leave managed isolation with COVID-19.

Another possible scenario is that the case may have been infected during the flight from Christchurch to Auckland – other passengers from that flight are currently being contacted and assessed as a precautionary measure in order to exclude them as the source of infection.

This sort of uncertainty must weigh on the Cabinet decision, but Government advisers and allies are downplaying the implications.

Newshub: Fresh COVID-19 community cases lead to call for border restrictions review

It’s prompted the question – do we need to keep returnees in isolation for longer?

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield…

…says there are two most likely ways the man could have become infectious.

“Could be the person was actually infected before they left India, on the flight from India, during the period of managed isolation or subsequently even on that flight from Christchurch to Auckland.”

But he says there’s no risk to the public

Auckland University Professor Shaun Hendy:

“There’s a low likelihood that the new cases have led to unknown cases so I don’t think this will affect their decision tomorrow,”

Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker…

…says the chances of incubating the virus for longer than two weeks is low.

“It’s between 1 and 2 percent,” he says.

But Prof Baker says border restrictions need to be reviewed.

“If we find that some countries have such intense transmission that we’re seeing a lot of imported cases from there I think we’d want to think hard about that and how to manage that risk,” he says.

He wants returnees to isolate at their homes for a week after leaving quarantine facilities.

So perhaps we will lower levels but with another tweak to the rules.

While Jacinda Ardern says that decisions will be based on expert advice and science she received increasing criticism last week over the alert level being maintained outside Auckland. Cabinet Minister and deputy PM Winston Peters broke ranks with her.

I expect she will have one eye on expert advice and one eye on the election when making the decision today.

PGF wouldn’t fund Green school

This looks like a continuation of the campaign scrap between NZ First and Greens, who appeared to be trying their hardest to mutually destruct.

It appears that Shane Jones has fed a story to Newshub (PGF applications mustn’t be confidential: Green School previously turned down for Provincial Growth Fund cash

Newshub can reveal the nearly $12 million of taxpayer money netted by the controversial Green School wasn’t the first time they’d tried to dip into the public purse.

The Green School – now one of New Zealand’s most well-known schools for all the wrong reasons.

And it scored millions of dollars of Government funding signed off by Green Party co-leader James Shaw in his capacity as Associate Finance Minister – a decision at odds with the Green Party’s policy to phase out funding for private schools.

Shaw has described it as “an error of judgment for which I apologise”.

It turns out Shaw’s error of judgment – demanding the green light for the Green School’s request for cash – wasn’t the school’s first rodeo.

“The Green School made an application to the Provincial Growth Fund. It was rapidly nixed,” says NZ First MP Shane Jones, who oversees the PGF as Regional Economic Development Minister.

A document obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act shows the school had a crack at getting far less funding last year but failed.

It wanted just under $1m – that was declined. But when it applied for 12 times that – the funding was approved.

“James got his nose out of joint and fought for it to be restored through the shovel-ready money,” Jones says.

The application was refused partly because it wouldn’t create sustainable new jobs. The school’s now promising to create 200 jobs.

In the 2019 application – for a fraction of the funding – the school was promising in excess of 100 new jobs.

Documents say: “the applicant estimates that the project will bring in around [redacted] in economic benefit on annual basis and will create at least 100 jobs linked to the project.”

But officials in the Provincial Development Unit which determines PGF funding were sceptical.

“The success of the Bali operation may not be an appropriate indication of the likelihood of success for a venture based in Taranaki. There is insufficient market research to justify that it will be successful.”

It may be that after failing with the PGF application the Green School did more work on their market research, or on the presentation of their application.

Jones declared on Newshub Nation he was determined to kill off his Government sibling.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure the Greens do not survive,” he said.

So this looks like a hit job by Jones. His problem is that he is performing poorly in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate, and polls suggest that NZ First is struggling to get near the 5% threshold, so NZ First are at real risk this election.

I think that this sort of minor party conflict is likely to drag both parties down.

National embarrassed by $4 billion mistake

I’m sure National will have checked their fiscal policy numbers carefully, but not carefully enough. Grant Robertson pointed out they made a mistake – apparently National didn’t notice that the Government had changed a Super repayment amount,

This was very embarrassing for National, and for finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, pretty much stuffing up the the day of their official campaign launch. And it stuffs National’s attempts to portray themselves as better managers of the books.

Richard Harman at Politik: Surging into National’s space

National’s campaign launch yesterday was overshadowed by its Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith having to admit before the broadcast that the figures on which he had based the affordability of his $4 billion tax cut were wrong.

The error yesterday centred on what is supposed to be the heart of its campaign; $4 billion in tax cuts to boost the post-Covod recovery.

National’s tax cuts were to be financed by stopping contributions to NZ Super Fund, but the party had used figures from the May Budget to support their affordability and failed to recognise that Robertson had reduced the estimated contributions to the fund in the PREFU published last Wednesday.

The error might have been avoided had National taken up the long-standing Opposition “perk” of having a Treasury official embedded in the Leader’s office. But the former Leader, Simon Bridges, refused to accept a Treasury official being part of his team.

Ultimately it was an error which while massively embarrassing is unlikely to impact National in any structural sense. The party has never looked like winning the election, so all that it may do is knock a few more points off its ultimate share of the vote.

We will never know what effect it ends up having on the election result, but it makes a difficult campaign harder for Judith Collins and National.

Harman went on to evaluate the fight for votes on the right, claiming the new Conservatives were “on a roll” (the lack of polls makes this hard to confirm), but it’s well known how hard this election already was for National.

The worry now for National must be that if NZ First fails to make it back to Parliament; if the Billy Te Kiha – Jami-Lee Ross Advance Party gets some support and if the New Conservatives continue their surge, then the foundations are there for a populist right-wing party.

What seems possible is that the centre-right space in New Zealand politics, which only a year ago National was beginning to believe it could have to itself is now becoming more contested by ACT and by the populists.

That is one of the potential implications of a lacklustre showing by National at the polls on October 17. And after the events yesterday, that lacklustre showing looks even more possible.

It’s quite possible ‘lacklustre’ may end up being a National disaster.

This sort of coverage doesn’t help: National’s disastrous day:

But there is one optimist:

No post on it at Kiwiblog yet.

Open Forum Monday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Open Forum Sunday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).