Dan Bidois on his Northcote win

New MP Dan Bidois has a lot to learn now he has won the Northcote by-election. He will have that chance on the National back bench for at least two years.

Simon Bridges says he will give Bidois some minor responsibilities – his biggest task initially will be coming to grips with being an electorate MP and setting himself up in Northcote.

1 News interviewed Bidois before his win: ‘I have been a fighter my entire life’ – New Zealand’s newest MP Dan Bidois takes out Northcote by-election

“I have been a fighter my entire life. I dropped out of school at 15, found out I had cancer and beat it, completed my butchery apprenticeship, eventually getting mentored to go to University and falling in love with education. Ultimately I went on to win a scholarship and complete my Masters at Harvard.”

“I have had to fight for everything I have achieved in life, and so I want to bring that determination to Northcote and fight for the things that matter locally – improving transport, stopping the fuel tax increases, and getting more investment in local services like health and education.”

He said prior to his victory when asked what issues he would pursue in Parliament, that he was “passionate about education and making sure we’re getting more kids learning good trades. I would like to see more done around apprenticeships”.

The economy has been doing well the last few years, which has lifted incomes and meant the Government can afford to invest more in public services, but we can’t take it for granted. The new Labour-NZ First Government is making a range of changes that will slow that growth down, which is really bad for families. We can’t take good economic management for granted.

There is currently no scheduled vote on abortion or cannabis, but I haven’t seen evidence the current systems aren’t working properly. I would want to study the issues more before I made a decision on these two.

I haven’t read the proposed euthanasia legislation yet. I do have some concerns around it though, in that we have to make sure that there appropriate safeguards so our sick and elderly aren’t abused.

Sounds like he has been well indoctrinated with standard National responses in preparation for the by-election.

Time will tell whether he fights for his own voice and his own views.

 

Looking back at Northcote party polling

Claims were made by Labour, and National in response, about ‘party polling’ leading into the voting period for the Northcote by-election.

NZH: Simon Wilson’s Northcote Notebook: Labour closes gap in Northcote byelection

Labour Party polling for the Northcote byelection puts candidate Shanan Halbert just 2.1% behind National’s Dan Bidois. Sources close to the party confirmed that, in a poll conducted last week, Halbert was preferred by 46.3 per cent of those asked, and Bidois by 48.4 per cent.

That’s a change from a poll conducted by Labour in early May, which had Bidois leading Halbert by a more comfortable margin, 50.8 per cent vs 44.4 per cent.

National Party sources dispute these numbers. They say their polling shows a gap of about 8 per cent.

In the days before election day Labour candidate Shanan Halbert and leader Jacinda Ardern both said the election would go ‘down to the wire’. as did a party press release: It’s down to the wire in Northcote by-election

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Northcote Labour candidate Shanan Halbert campaigned together today in Northcote, emphasising how important it was that people get out and vote for a strong local voice before 7 pm Saturday.

Shanan said “It was a pleasure hosting Jacinda in the Northcote shops today. We spent time encouraging locals to ensure their voice is heard by joining the thousands of others who have already voted in the by-election.”

“We know from the polling that this race is down to the wire. If everyone who voted for me in the 2017 General Election votes for me again in this by-election, Northcote will have a strong local voice in Government come June 10th.”

if everyone who voted for the National candidate in the general election voted National again Halbert wouldn’t have a chance.

It’s normal for parties to talk up their chances going in to an election, but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.

Halbert was running against a nine year MP and Cabinet Minister in the general election, while he was up against a virtual unknown from out of the electorate in the by-election.

Election night results for the National and Labour candidates in the Northcote by-election:

  • Dan Bidois (National) 10,147 – 50.98% (general election 52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 8,785 – 44.14% (general election 35.25%)

Election night majority 1,362 – difference 6.84%.

So that is nowhere near the 2% claimed by Labour. It is quite close to what National claimed.

There could be a number of explanations, like – Labour support faded late in the campaign. or more Labour supporters didn’t get out and vote.

It could also be that Labour bullshitted about their polling to try to talk up a close contest.

Or Labour’s polling is crap.

For all we know Labour’s poll asked something like “Will you vote for the local candidate SHANAN HALBERT, or the unknown out of electorate candidate with a foreign sounding name?”

Or the polling was done by Labour’s door knockers.

Whatever the reason it emphasises that caution should be taken about any polls – they are an approximate measure in the past, not a prediction of the future despite what media try to say.

And one-off party polling claimed during an election campaign, with no details given and no history of polls showing trends, should not be promoted by media as news, and should not be taken to seriously.

 

Northcote by-election result

Voting will have just closed in the Northcote by-election. Results should be known tonight.

In the first week of advance voting numbers were well ahead of the same period during the general election, but they slowed down inn the second week, finishing up just ahead.

Total advance votes:

  • 2017 general election 10755
  • 2018 by-election 11464

All this means is that a few more people have voted early this time. It may or may not favour any candidate.


Northcote – Preliminary Count

Electorate No. 34 – 33 of 33 results counted

VOTES COUNTED:
19,900
100.0%
LEADING CANDIDATE:
BIDOIS, Dan
10,147
2nd CANDIDATE:
HALBERT, Shanan
8,785
CURRENT MARGIN:
1,362
Candidates Party Votes
BIDOIS, Dan
NAT
10147
HALBERT, Shanan
LAB
8785
JAUNG, Rebekah
GP
579
BERRY, Stephen
ACT
157
KOLONI, Kym
IND
95
LYE, Jeff
ALCP
76
CHEEL, Tricia
NZDSC
30
WALSH, Liam
NAP
5
Candidate Informals: 26
TOTAL: 19,900

This is not the formal declaration of results.


So that’s the final election night result.

The general election results:

  • Jonathan Coleman (National) 19,072 (52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 12,862 (35.25%)
  • Rebekah Jaung (Greens) 2,457 (6.73%

Majority 6,210

Northcote by-election doesn’t rate in celebrity stakes

For most people the Northcote by-election is a non-event. The outcome will make virtually no difference to Parliament, and neither of the candidates with a realistic chance of winning are particularly inspiring.

They are campaigning more as local candidates than party representatives, predictably for a by-election, but this leaves national issues, and therefore issues of wider interest, largely out of the contest.

Snippets of claims about internal party polling, without full details of the polls, are being used as a campaign tool and can’t be given much credence.

Advance voting began a week and a half ago, with ‘election day’ – the final day for voting – this Saturday. The only aspect of real interest is the unusually large number of advance voters:

Voting numbers are well ahead of the election advance voting numbers. This is probably due to two factors – the increasing preference for early voting generally, plus the concentration of party operators in one electorate working to get out their voters. It’s impossible to know what this means for the various candidates.

Pre-result claims are being made about what a win will mean for either National or Labour, and what the majority will mean, but the latter particularly is fairly meaningless.

If the Labour candidate wins it will buck a tradition of the governing party being hammered in by-elections so they would get some bragging rights.

Both the likely winners are bland party candidates, or that’s how they look from a barely interested distance.

Greens also stood a candidate, presumably to assert their independence of Labour despite it making it harder for the Labour candidate to win. She looks like a capable candidate, but in the unlikely case of her winning she would add to the gender imbalance of the Green caucus even more, as they already have six female to two male MPs – the excuse this anomaly as necessary to provide better gender balance in parliament overall, but that seems a bit lame.

The media is only giving the big party contenders any significant coverage. This is undemocratic but normal for the media in elections – their own interests are severed ahead of fair balance.

There was a grizzle on Whale Oil yesterday – Northcote by-election Media party bias?

Of course the media are biased for some candidates and against others, but it’s not a party specific thing.

The full article mentions ACT candidate Stephen Berry but he is missing from the image.

The article (and tweet) did mention all eight candidates and only featured three in their photo – but the political activist blog chose only to highlight that lack of balance for the sole candidate they have been promoting, which is more biased than the media.

SB seems unaware of her hypocrisy. And also unaware of the chances of the ACT candidate. In response to someone quipping “They know ACT won’t get more than 20 votes” she responded:

Or they are worried that they might actually have a chance?

The candidate’s minimal chance is unlikely to have been helped by WO campaigning for him. Probably the opposite. A waning party promoted by a politically toxic and largely irrelevant activist blog does raise some questions about ACT’s desperation to be seen.

Whoever wins on Saturday will get a whiff of publicity but the largely disinterested public will take no notice as the new MP disappears onto a back bench of one side or the other.

I note that the Labour PR machine has chosen to give the media details of opportunities for another result due this weekend.

The timing of births is less predictable than the result of by-elections, but that’s likely to get a lot more attention than the by-election.

None of the Northcote candidates look likely to fit the celebrity billing that media are increasingly obsessed with.

Northcote by-election polls

Early voting has opened in the Northcote by-election. ‘Election day’ is 9 June.

There have been claims from both Labour and National about polls leading into the voting period, however these are internal polls commissioned by the parties with no details made public, so should be viewed with scepticism. I’m posting about them here to put it on the record, so claims can be compared to results.

The Daily Blog on Thursday:

The latest internal polling by Labour astoundingly suggests that Labour could beat National in Northcote!

I’ve just seen the latest polling for the Northcote by-election and it’s much closer than we thought.

Going into this race we knew we were underdogs – and, if I’m honest, it looked like we had a huge mountain to climb to even get close given National’s huge majority.

But the latest polling we received yesterday reveals there are just a few points in it. There is a chance Labour could do well on June 9.

Labour have just sent this out to their Northcote support team, and if true could be one of the biggest upsets in a  safe National electorate since Winston took Northland!

Labour has emailed not just members but apparently it’s whole email list (someone I know in Dunedin with no connection to Labour got one).

Referring to a tweet that it had been posted on The Daily Blog:

We will just have to wait and see what the result is. A lot may depend on party ‘get out the vote’ organisation and voter motivation, which can be low for by-elections like this with little but party egos at stake.

Typically single electorate polls can have quite small sample sizes so have higher than normal margins for error.

And by-elections with nothing much riding on them can have very low turnouts. Turnout comparisons in Mount Albert (which Jacinda Ardern won early last year):

  • General election 2014 – 36,922 votes
  • By-election 25 February 2017 – 13,649 vote
  • General election 22 September 2017 – 38,760 vote

These are the by-election candidates in Northcote:

Candidate Name Party
BERRY, Stephen ACT New Zealand
BIDOIS, Dan National Party
CHEEL, Tricia Democrats for Social Credit
HALBERT, Shanan Labour Party
JAUNG, Rebekah Green Party
KOLONI, Kym Independent
LYE, Jeff Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
WALSH, Liam NAP

Hipkins clarifies Northcote school rebuild not by-election related

Labour’s candidate in the Northcote by-election, Shanan Halbert, tried to capitalise on a school rebuild announcement in his campaigning.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins clarified – albeit a day later – that the rebuild had nothing to do with campaign promises, it would have happened anyway.

Māori wards and democracy

Five regions have had or are having referendums on whether they should have Māori wards. Councils have decided to introduce wards but referendums have been forced.

Palmerston North result:

  • 68.7% AGAINST the establishment of a Māori ward or wards for Palmerston North City Council
  • 30.88% FOR the establishment of a Māori ward or wards for Palmerston North City Council

Initial voter return 37.21% so a majority didn’t vote, but of those who did a clear majority voted against.

Manawatu District result:

  • 77.04% Against
  • 22.76% For

Voter Return 44.47%.

Whakatane District:

  • Against Māori Wards 55.43%
  • For Māori Wards 44.33%

Voter return 44%.

That was closer but still a clear majority.

RNZ: MP surprised and disappointed Whakatāne rejected Māori wards

The MP for Waiariki says the rejection of Māori wards in Whakatāne is a huge disappointment.

Mr Coffey said the results meant Pākehā councillors would remain the voice of Māori in the Whakatāne District Council.

He said given the high percentage of Māori in Whakatāne, he was surprised at the result.

That suggests that he and the councils that tried to bring in Māori wards are out of touch with the electorates.

“I had thought if there was one place in New Zealand that was going to get it over the line it would be Whakatāne but sadly I was wrong.”

Mr Coffey said he was in talks with the mayor about other ways to have more representation for Māori in the area.

Instead of promoting separate wards for some voters, why not promote equal democracy for everyone?

All the time and effort put into trying to bring in an obviously unpopular ward system and campaigning for referendums might be better put towards encouraging greater Maori participation in democracy open to everyone.

I think it’s backward trying to give special democratic privileges to some people.

These referendum results may make other councils think more carefully before trying to impose privileged democracy on their constituents.

Northcote by-election candidates

Greens have announced their candidate for the Northcote by-election – Rebekah Jaung selected as candidate for Northcote

Jaung wasn’t on the Green list in 2017 but stood in the Northcote electorate. She got 6.73% of the vote, almost the same as the party vote for the electorate which was 6.75%. This is slightly better than the 6.27% overall Green party vote.

Greens have been criticised for standing a candidate as it makes it much harder for the Labour candidate Shanan Halbert, but an upset was unlikely anyway (he lost by 6210 votes in the general election), and Greens need to be showing they are not just a party supporting Labour’s interests.

Candidates announced so far (Wikipedia):

  • Stephen Berry (ACT) – 2017 candidate for East Coast Bays, 5th on party list
  • Dan Bidois (National) – economist, 72nd on National’s 2017 party list
  • Tricia Cheel (Democrats) – social justice campaigner, 22nd on Democrats 2017 party list
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) – head of Relationships at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, 2017 candidate
  • Rebekah Jaung (Greens) – doctor, Greens 2017 candidate for Northcote

Winston Peters has said the by-election is a waste of money and NZ First won’t stand a candidate, which will only save money for the party, and may be aimed at saving face (not putting NZ First to the test in an election).

Nominations close next Tuesday 15 May.

The by-election is in four weeks, on Saturday 9 June.

Nation: Northcote by-election

Is anyone interested in the Northcote by-election?

As usual media select their preferred candidates and ignore the rest – poor democracy.

With a by-election looming, National’s Dan Bidois and Labour’s Shanan Halbert join Lisa Owen to discuss why they should be Northcote’s next MP.

One of them is almost certainly going to become an MP after the 9 June by-election.

Both are pushing themselves as a local electorate MP. That’s the nature of by-elections, but most of the country is likely to have little interest.

Auckland traffic problems is not the a particularly riveting topic.

I don’t really care who wins. It’s up to the Northcote voters who take the time to vote.

Electoral Commission recommendations for improving democracy

Bryce Edwards has a good summary of an Electoral Commission report: 10 ways to improve our elections

Last week the Electoral Commission released its report on the 2017 general election. It contained useful information about voting last year but, more importantly, it made a number of important recommendations to Parliament about improving New Zealand elections.

Recommendation 1: Fix MMP by dealing with earlier recommendations

The most important recommendation to come out of the report is for Parliament to again consider the 2012 Review of MMP. This report came up with some significant improvements, but was buried by the then-National government, which claimed there was not adequate consensus in Parliament to implement the changes.

It remains a disgrace that the 2012 review was ignored by self-interested politicians.

Notably, this 2012 report suggested that the MMP threshold of 5% should be lowered, because it had proved to be too high, in terms of being a barrier to new political parties gaining election to Parliament. To back up this point, the Commission’s recent report includes a table of information about the declining number of parties representing in Parliament.

With both NZ First and Greens just bettering the threshold in the 2017 election and at real risk of dropping below it next election there is a real risk that the number of parties will drop even further, with little chance of a new party getting into Parliament.

The 5% threshold is a failure for representative democracy and should be reduced at least to 3%, if not lower. It has been retained to protect large parties and is anti-democratic.

Recommendation 2: Update the prohibition on electioneering on election day and during the advance voting period

The Commission says the current election day rules, which essentially prohibit electioneering, are inconsistent with the rules in place during the advance voting period. This means there are only very limited rules for the couple of weeks prior to election day – when about half of votes are now made – but suddenly things become extremely restrictive on the actual final day of voting.

The current election day only rules have become a nonsense.

Recommendation 3: Fix the election broadcast allocations and prohibitions

This is especially a problem in terms of the money allocated each election to the parties, which they can spend on television, radio, and now also internet advertising. Last year the Commission allocated $4.1m to parties, but notes the ongoing complaints about lack of fairness in these allocations, drawing particular attention to smaller parties who claim to be disadvantaged by the unequal distributions of monies.

The Commission recommends a review. But these issues fall into both the “too hard” and “self-interest” baskets of the current parliamentary parties who benefit from the broken system.

The major beneficiaries of a badly flawed system should not be the ones who decide on a system that favours them.

Recommendation 4: Update rules about the misuse of electoral roll data

All sorts of companies, such as debt collectors and marketers make use of the printed electoral roll in order to carry out their commercial activities. There are huge privacy issues involved, which the law appears to be ignorant of, and there are people who therefore choose not to enroll to vote precisely because they don’t want their residential addresses to be made public.

The risk is made worse by the fact that the political parties are provided with the electoral roll in electronic form. This is a provision designed by the politicians so that their parties can more effectively send election advertising to voters and so forth. It’s questionable whether the parties should be given this data, and it seems that it’s an accident waiting to happen, as there are no procedures or guarantees that any of the 16 registered political parties will prevent this personal data falling into the wrong hands.

Recommendation 5: Allow Māori voters to change rolls at any time

Māori voters should be able to switch between the general and Māori electoral roll at any time according to the Commission. Currently, people of Māori descent can only change during the Māori Electoral Option period, every five-six years.

It seems odd that roll switching can only happen at specific times each 5-6 years.

Recommendation 6: Electoral offences system needs updating

When someone is deemed to have breached election rules, the Electoral Commission’s only remedy for this is essentially to refer the case to the Police for prosecution.

A substantial review of these laws is called for by the Commission. And although the politicians would surely welcome a chance to fix up some of the problematic rules they have to deal with, this area is a minefield of difficulty which could cause all sorts of prolonged debate about how to ensure elections are properly run without undue influence.

And the Police usually do nothing, or if they do something it takes so long it is ineffective.

Recommendation 7: Ban rosette wearing in polling places

Following last year’s election there were 342 complaints to the Commission about political party scrutineers wearing their party lapel badges or rosettes at the polling booths. Currently this is legal, but there seems to be an expectation that all voting places should be “campaign-free”, and therefore the Commission recommends a ban.

Seems trivial, but “campaign-free” polling places seems reasonable.

Recommendation 8: Allow voters to enroll on election day

Currently, voters can enrol to vote right up until election day. They can even enrol to vote at the same time that they make an advance vote in the two weeks leading up to election day. And of course, there are always a number of unenrolled voters who attempt to vote on election day, and have to cast a “special vote”, but have these disallowed. In 2017, 19,000 people had their votes disallowed. But the Commission suggests they should be allowed to enrol voters on election day.

A no-brainer – the current election day ban on enrolment is dated and ridiculous.

Recommendation 9: Introduce a fixed date for elections

The current rules for setting the triennial general election date are deliberately loose, allowing incumbent governments the choice of when to go to the polls. The Commission raises the prospect of changing the law to provide for a fixed election date – they suggest some discussion about this. They say that this would provide more certainty for voters, campaigners and candidates.

Is this fixing a problem that isn’t really broken? Some flexibility and pragmatism about election dates can’t be a problem.

Recommendation 10: Update where voting booths can be sited

The locations were people can cast their vote should be modernised according to the Commission. Currently there are a number of prohibitions relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol, which was historically meant to prevent voting in pubs where undue influence might occur. But now the Commission wants to set up booths where voters regularly gather, such as supermarkets and shopping malls.

In fact, in 2017 the Commission was remarkably successful in setting up advance voting booths in such places. But for election day, the rules are stricter, which meant that the booths had to be removed.

Bizarre. You can buy a bottle of wine or beer at a supermarket and then vote before election day but not on election day.

Finally, there are plenty of other recommendations of various levels of importance in the report.

The full Electoral Commission report.