Small party leaders’ debate

Five smaller party leaders had a debate on TV1 last night. It was for just an hour (the multiple Ardern v Collins debates are for one and a half hours) and with numerous advertising breaks there was probably just forty minutes for the five to try to swing some votes their way.

David Seymour – ACT Party (2017 election 0.5%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 7, 6.3, 8, 8)

Seymour is now a practiced campaigner and usually spoke well. A funny moment was when he exclaimed that Peters )”said I am out of date”. While some of his policies probably be widely supported they will resonate with enough to have get votes. He has done well to lift ACT to current levels.

James Shaw – Green Party (2017 6.3%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 6, 6.5, 7, 6)

This debate was Shaw’s turn (Marama Davidson did the Nation debate) and he should have pleased Green supporters. He spoke clearly and sensibly to more than the Green constituency), and even pulled the debate back on topic. A good performance that should help Green chances.

Winston Peters – NZ First (2017 7.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 2.4, 1.9, 1.4, 2)

Peters looked out of sorts and out of place – not so much fish out of water but more like a crocodile in a pond of the past. He mentioned last century much more than what he do if re-elected. He tried to play as an underdog, perhaps hoping people will forget his top dog performance in installing the Labour-led government along with pork barrel policy funds that seem to have fizzled. He again claimed nonsensically that everyone in the party had been completely exonerated by the SFO prosecution of NZ First Foundation.

Peters has swung back to campaigning as ‘we the government have done well” rather than attacking Labour and saying he would restrict them (again), but didn’t look really that energised or optimistic, more aged, jaded and fading.

John Tamihere – Maori Party (2017 1.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.9, 1.5, 0.8, <1)

Made some good points about education for Maori but waffled fairly aimlessly too much, or maybe i am just not his target market. Seems resigned to not getting into Parliament via the list, with all his party hopes on winning one or two electorates (reports are they are close in polls in at least one).

Jamie-Lee Ross – Advance NZ (2017 didn’t stand, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.8 NR, 0.6, 1)

Interesting that he fronted up, presumably due to his political experience, but he is tainted goods and is absence the charisma of Billy Te Kahika. Tried when he was given the opportunity to speak but won’t have impressed many, probably not even supporters of his composite party. Claimed that Covid was similar to the flu, that line has been discredited many times. Looks like a futile exercise with Advance NZ not rising above one in polls despite significant social media support.

So with just Shaw and Seymour looking good this fits with the likely outcome of a Labour, Green, Act and National parliament, with the Maori Party a long shot for an electorate seat or two.

Up until the debate last night over half a million people will have already voted. It’s hard to understand why this debate was held so late in the campaign. It looks like most people who might vote are already decided.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – little change

A 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll (with the previous two polls from 17-21 September and 23-27 September in brackets):

  • Labour 47% (48, 47)
  • National 32% (31, 33)
  • ACT 8% (7, 8)
  • Greens 6% (6, 7)
  • NZ First 2.4% (2.4, 1.4)
  • TOP 2% (1.1, 1.0)
  • New Conservatives 1% (1.6, 1.4)
  • Advance NZ 1% (0.8, 0.6)
  • Maori Party 0.2 (0.9, 0.8)

Polling period 3-7 October 2020.

Very little change there from two weeks ago. Party support seems to have set in with little moving it.

National+Act on 40% still well short of challenging Labour or Labour+Greens.

Greens look ok but will still be worried about the threshold, especially if they underperform polling as they have done in some elections. And Labour may stop them picking up as many overseas votes.

NZ First still look to have failed to fire this time. Today’s news of the NZ First foundation in court again won’t help.

New Conservatives claimed to be polling around 4 but no published poll comes anywhere near that.

Advance NZ aren’t \making much progress.

Don’t know or refused 13% (up 2) – but these tend to not change the numbers much.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 50% (54, 54)
  • Judith Collins 23% (20, 23)
  • David Seymour 2% (2, 2)
  • Winston Peters 1% (2, 1)

Don’t know or refused 17% (up 3).

Up to yesterday 478,860 people had already voted.

There is a small party debate on TV1 tonight from 7-8pm, not sure why it is shorter than the two leader debates with more leaders participating.

Taxpayers’ Union surrogate election campaigning

A Taxpayers’ Union surrogate has mass mailed letters trying to stop people from voting for the Green party.

The TU claims to “represent the common interests of all taxpayers and to provide them with a voice in corridors of power”, but obviously they don’t represent the interests of all taxpayers. This campaign they are looking to me increasingly like political activists, and little more than a surrogate for the Act Party.

Connections between the TU and Act and National were detailed here: A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

The TU recently a surrogate surrogate campaign directly targeting the Green Party – Taxpayers’ Union Launches Major Direct Mail Campaign Against Green Party’s Proposed Asset Tax

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is today launching the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership to fight against the Green Party’s proposal to implement an asset tax.

Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership spokesperson Islay Aitchison says…

The website does have an authorisation statement:

Authorised by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union – for the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership 

Islay Aitchison is listed on the TU ‘Our Team’ web page as “our part-time research officer”.

A letter from with Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership and with her signature has been mass mailed:

But there is no sign of the TU nor an authorisation statement on the letter, even though the letter would appear to be a form of (deceptive) election advertising.

From the Electoral Commission: What is election advertising?

An ‘election advertisement’ is an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a:

– candidate
– party
– type of candidate or party the advertisement describes by referencing views they do or don’t hold.

All election advertisements must include a promoter statement. This rule applies at all times, not just during the regulated period.

Promoter statements must be clearly displayed in election advertisements. For audible election advertisements, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Not including a promoter statement is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to $40,000.

If you put out advertising about a candidate, party or election issue, but are not a candidate or party yourself, you’re a third party promoter.

The Taxpayers’ Union is registered as a promoter for the 2020 General Election and Referendums, but not their surrogate campaign for home ownership.

I expect that someone will have brought the letter to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

There is also questions being asked about the mailing list used for the letter. The TU membership database is not likely to contain many potential Green voters.

From Martin @dannedaerd

Can confirm. And they’ve got the mailing list improperly – looks like they pulled a list from LINZ data, where you have to confirm you won’t use it for DM purposes.

The address I got mine from isn’t an address I’ve lived at and will not appear on any list – apart from ownership

I guess that will be checked out too, but nothing is likely to happen until well after the election.

Deterring people from voting for the Greens would potentially benefit National and ACT – if the Greens don’t make the 5% threshold (and Chloe Swarbrick doesn’t pull of a surprise win in Auckland Central) then the left loses a lot of votes, and forming a government would come down to Labour versus National+Act.

The TU has properly put an authorisation statement on this:

The TU are clearly ‘pay less tax’ activists, and that would obviously align them with National and in particular Act.

David Farrar is a founder of the Taxpayer’s Union. It’s been interesting to see his posts at Kiwiblog this campaign. He has been targeting Labour in a series of posts, the last one being Labour’s Failures Part 11 – Renewable Electricity.

Kiwiblog has also featured promotions for both the Taxpayers’ Union and the Act Party. Three consecutive posts on 5 and 6 October:

Also on Tuesday was a post promoting the Taxpayers’ Union Scorecard: Taxpayer Scorecard

This omitted the authorisation statement from the graphic:

So it looks like Farrar is advertising for the Taxpayers’ Union who are effectively advertising for ACT.

Yesterday on Kiwblog: Huge tax cuts in Australia with a comment from Farrar:

“Sadly we have a Government here that believes the only acceptable fiscal stimulus is them deciding to spend more money, not giving taxpayers more of their own money to spend.”

Curiously Farrar, who has had close connections to National, is hardly posting any sort of party promotions – since Saturday the only National directed posts are on specific candidates:

Auckland Central – it doesn’t matter whether the Labour or National candidate win, but it does matter to National and Act if Swarbrick wins for the Greens.

Also curiously, there are only two posts at Kiwiblog in August tagged with Judith Collins, one in September and none so far in October:

Farrar and the Taxpayers’ Union seem to be most interested in keeping the Greens out and getting Act in, but the way things are looking they are likely to be unsuccessful.

Ardern versus Collins in online Stuff debate tonight

Another leaders debate to be live streamed at 7 pm tonight.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins go round three in The Press Leaders Debate tonight

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins are in Christchurch tonight for the South Island’s only election debate, live on Stuff from 7pm.

It will be moderated on Tuesday evening by The Press editor Kamala Hayman and Stuff’s political editor Luke Malpass. The Press is part of the Stuff family of newspapers.

The Press Leaders Debate will be held with a lively sold-out audience of 750 at the James Hay Theatre.

The debate will be split in half with a 15-minute intermission, when Stuff’s head of video Carol Hirschfeld will discuss the debate with Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce CEO Leeann Watson and Canterbury University senior political lecturer Dr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald.

Henry Cooke will also live blog the debate here.

Casting the live stream worked for a short time but them went wonky so i mostly just listened to it streaming on my PC.

Ardern was generally very good. There was plenty of under-achievements she could have been challenged on but that wasn’t done very well.

This was Collins’ worst debate. She started too shouty, and then she seemed to fluctuate between loud and weak with a bit too much smarmy thrown in. Her repeated reference to her opponent as Miss Ardern sounds out of whack this century. Generally I think she didn’t come across very well for a lot of the debate.

Ardern attacked much less but when she did she made it count.

This won’t have anywhere near the audience as the televised debates, which is probably just as well for Collins and for National. Especially with their ongoing ructions in the party I don’t see how they can get close to Labour.

End of Life Choice and Cannabis referendums

Voting for the 2020 election opens in New Zealand today and continues for two weeks through to election day on Saturday 17 October.

As well as our two MMP votes for a party and for an electorate candidate, we also get to vote on two referendums.

End of Life Choice referendum

In this referendum, you can vote on whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should come into force. The Act would give people with a terminal illness the option of requesting assisted dying.

The referendum question is:

Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:

  • Yes, I support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.
  • No, I do not support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force.

Learn more about the End of Life Choice referendum

Cannabis legalisation and control referendum

In this referendum, you can vote on whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal.

The referendum question is:

Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

You can choose 1 of these 2 answers:

  • Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
  • No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

Learn more about the cannabis legalisation and control referendum

Voting in NZ starts today

While voting from overseas in this year’s general election (plus two referendums) began a few days ago, today marks the opening of voting in New Zealand. We can vote from 3 October through to ‘election day’ on Saturday 17 October.

Some links to help with deciding and voting:

Sites to help learn and decide:

On The Fence
Wondering who to vote for this election?
Discover which parties best match your values.

Vote Compass
– a tool developed by political scientists that calculates how your political views compare with party platforms.

Policy makes voting easy: all the policies, parties and candidates, all in one place. See where the parties stand on key issues, find out who’s running in your area, and pick the policies and candidates you like most to help you decide who to vote for.

Policy states “On 17 October, NZ will vote in the most important election of a generation” – this is inaccurate, voting starts today and runs for 15 days, and claiming it is “the most important election of a generation” is very subjective and debatable.

Under MMP we get two votes.

The vote for a party is the key one because that determines the number of seats each party will get, and therefore effectively determines which party or parties will form a Government.

As we saw for the first time last election the party with the most seats and votes doesn’t necessarily get to lead the Government. Getting a combined party majority is what matters.

The vote for an electorate candidate has no effect on the overall number of seats in Parliament, so you can vote for the candidate you think will best represent your electorate regardless of which party they belong to.

Debates – from awful to very good

The US presidential debate yesterday was awful. It was an indictment on the presidency, on the state of politics in the United States, and the state of an increasingly divided society. I watched it all and found it quite depressing, with the only positive being I don’t have to live or vote there.

The debate last night between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins was a huge contrast to the Us debate, and an improvement on their first debate last week.

Ardern was more lively and animated, being prepared to move away from scripted stiltedness and ad lib, something she usually does very well. I think she did well enough to please most people who currently support her.

Collins also played to her own strengths, and was prepared to be herself. That will have pleased her supporters, but some Ardern fans were repelled by her intwrupting, talking over and her perceived bullying style.

There are no winners and losers of political debates, there are only winners and losers of elections. I doubt that this debate will have changed many minds, it will more likely have confirmed voters’ impressions of both leaders.

The winner for me was New Zealand democracy (both Collins and Ardern said the time was not right to rename the country Aotearoa). It was a lively and informative debate.

I was particularly pleased that the last ten minutes of the debate highlighted as much disagreement as disagreement between Ardern and Collins, and they even managed a few laughs. This was a huge contrast to another debate yesterday.

While he was off target occasionally a lot of credit has to go to moderator Paddy Gower. I didn’t expect to quote Sean Plunket on the debate, but here goes:

Debates are part of a campaign process, they aren’t deciding battles.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom) from Ardern steps up but Collins holds her own in second debate:

The second leaders’ debate of New Zealand’s election may not have been perfect, but it was a distinct improvement on the inaugural match-up last week – and immeasurably better than the American presidential debate which served as a bizarro curtain-raiser of sorts on Wednesday afternoon.

That both Collins and Ardern brought higher energy levels was a tribute to the moderation of Gower, whose hosting of a 2017 debate likewise proved a step up.

Where TVNZ’s John Campbell was somewhat ponderous, the former Newshub political editor offered up a sharper and tighter style.

His repeated use of specific scenarios gave less room for the leaders to revert to their standard talking points, even if it sometimes tilted too far into absurdity – as when Ardern and Collins were both pressed to back “meat-free Mondays” for New Zealand.

But as a result of Gower’s approach, voters got a far clearer contrast between the ideologies and styles of the two leaders than could be said last week.

He also secured some newsworthy snippets, including Ardern seeming to promise a climate emergency declaration and Collins pledging to claw back taxpayer money from businesses that had claimed the wage subsidy, only to lay off workers and declare record profits.

The winner is almost irrelevant, although for the record it seemed close to a draw – certainly each side had enough moments to gee up their supporters.

This debate did seem to inject some life into a fairly listless campaign.

A couple of interesting bits from the debate:

Collins gave ACT leader David Seymour a big shout out, saying he would be a good deputy PM.

Ardern supported James Shaw’s much derided decision to fund a private Green school.

For me a big issue this election is not the leaders but the lack of quality in party lineups, but that is a fairly even problem across the parties.

With several recent polls giving us an idea where party support lay over they past couple of weeks I think the deciding factor will be tactical voting.

While National seems to have stemmed their slide Labour should comfortably either win a majority on their own or with the Greens.

I think quite a few could vote tactically, some to try to bolster the Green vote and leverage to swing the Government left, while there’s signs that others may move their votes from National to Labour to try to reduce or eliminate Green leverage to keep the next Government more in the centre.

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): Gower gets the debate into top gear

It’s unanimous. This was an enjoyable debate, a better debate, and finally, a debate that produced some answers.

Newsroom managed to find six and asked them if they had been swayed to either National or Labour.

All said that the debate had left them more undecided than ever. One said he had been leaning slightly towards National but “Jacinda pulled me back to the middle “

Most said they were thankful the debate was a lot better the “train wreck” of the Trump v Biden contest earlier in the day.

All agreed that commentator Trish Sherson summed things up well when she told Tova O’Brien in the post-debate analysis “I think New Zealand is lucky it’s had had a debate of this quality tonight with leaders of this quality.”

I agree.

Collins versus Ardern – round 2

The second debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins will be on Newshub tonight from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Collins and National seem to have at least stemmed their slide, but are still getting low thirties in public polls at best, and are a long way from challenging Labour.

Ardern is quite different this time, she has brought her A game. And helping her kick off strongly the first questions were on Covid, one of her strengths.

Collins started with a disadvantage, but she didn’t help with her repeated snarky manner. Against Ardern in top gear that just doesn’t come off well.

Looking grim for Peters and NZ First

Both poor poll results and also a lack of traction in media are pointing increasingly towards NZ First being dumped from Parliament this year, and with the lack of energy and lack of success for Peters this campaign that would likely mean the end of his long political career.

Peters first stood (unsuccessfully) for Parliament in 1975, and became a National MP in 1978 after winning a High Court electoral petition that overturned the election night result.

He left National in 1993 and retained his Tauranga seat as an Independent MP in a by-election, after which he established the NZ First Party.

Peters and NZ First unexpectedly enabled the National Bolger government in 1996, but he broke off the coalition, and NZ First were punished in the 1999 election, failing to make the threshold (they got 4.4%). The party survived through Peters retaining his electorate.

NZ First formed another coalition in 2005, this time with Helen Clark’s Labour government.

In 2008, NZ First was again punished by voters, coming short of the threshold with 4.07% of the votes. Poll results were relatively flat:

Peters also lost his Tauranga electorate (to Simon Bridges) so NZ First failed to make it back into Parliament.

NZ First made it back into Parliament in 2011 after a late surge in support, after Peters, aided by the media, made the most of the ‘tea pot tapes’ controversy.

In the 2014 NZ First increased their vote to 8.66% with support increasing during the campaign.

In the three months up to the election NZ First poll results ranged from 3.4 to 8.4% with most being over the threshold.

In 2017, up to when Andrew Little handed over the Labour leadership to Jacinda Ardern, NZ First were often polling over 10% and up to 13%, but they dropped off a bit ending up with 7.2%.

This time Peters keeps rubbishing the polls, but it’s unlikely they are all wrong. His big play last week, playing a well worn race card, failed to make much impression. That may have been his last chance to play a get into Parliament free card.

The poll trend looks bad for NZ FirstL

Splashing money around the provinces via the Provincial Growth Fund doesn’t seem to have helped. Money doesn’t seem to buy elections in New Zealand.

Shane Jones seems to have given up in the Northland electorate where a poll showed him trailing in third place. He has a reputation for not being a diligent campaigner anyway,.

So the campaign has been left to Peters. He has been busy touring the country but has just failed to fire.

Even Grey Power seem to have tired of Peters.

Stuff: Collins goes on the offensive at public meeting in Nelson

National Party leader Judith Collins went on the offensive at a packed public meeting in Nelson, taking aim at the Government’s “tremendously stupid” decision-making.

The event was organised by Grey Power, with most of those in attendance belonging to the older demographic.

Since getting 3% in a Roy Morgan poll in March NZ First has been under that, and got only 1% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, down from 2.4% last week. In between those polls they were 1.9% in a Reid Research poll.

It’s possible a miracle may happen but time is running out for Peters to find something to grab the limelight. And history is against NZ First, as they have done poorly after being in Government twice in the past.

Peters will have to try something a lot more positive than ‘we’ll stop Labour doing stuff’, but it looks like he simply can’t compete with Ardern’s popularity that he has in part enabled.

Small movements in another Colmar Brunton poll

We are finally getting a few polls leading into the election, with 1 News/Colmar Brunton releasing another poll, this one with polling done following last week’s leaders debate. This may have slightly lifted National support.

And Labour have slipped enough to raise doubts they may be able to govern alone, especially with a bit more of a Green rise.

  • Labour 47% (down 1)
  • National 33% (up 2)
  • ACT 8% (up 1)
  • Greens 7% (up 1)
  • NZ First 1% (down 1)
  • New Conservatives 1% (down 1)
  • TOP 1%
  • Maori Party 1%
  • Advance NZ 1%

Refuse to answer – 3%
Undecided – 8%

Polling was done from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 September.

These are well within margin of error shifts.

Greens are looking healthier but will need to keep fighting for every vote they can get. They sometimes do better in polls than elections.

Winston Peters won’t quite have to rename his party NZ Last, but this loos increasingly like his last stint in Parliament.

The other small parties look like they are getting little to no traction.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 54% (no change)
  • Judith Collins 23% (up 5)
  • David Seymour 2% (no change)
  • Winston Peters 1% (no change)

That’s a semi significant rise for Collins but she is still a long way off the pace.

1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll: Labour and Greens in driving seat, but ACT still strong