Green Party announce Poverty policy

The Green Party have made their first big policy announcement for the election campaign, and with Marama Davidson ranked #1 it has a social focus.

A Guaranteed Minimum Income “no matter what” is quite controversial.

The new ACC (Agency for Comprehensive Care) needs more detail. It suggests that someone on a benefit or student support who gets injured or sick could get paid a minimum of 80% of the full time minimum wage – if this is on a no questions asked basis (the Greens call it ‘no matter what’) it could be open to a lot of abuse.

RNZ:  Green Party unveils plans to tackle poverty

Davidson said the Green Party’s Poverty Action plan would “replace our outdated, unfair and unliveable welfare system with real, unconditional support for us all”.

With the Greens in government, ACC would be reformed into an “Agency for Comprehensive Care”, she said. It would support people who were injured or sick with at least 80 percent of the minimum full time wage, or up to 80 percent of the salary of the job they had to leave,

“Gone will be the days where people are asked to provide humiliating proof again and again and again”, she said.

In regards to funding the Poverty Action Plan, Davidson said those with a lot of wealth would “pay it forward”.

“If you’re a millionaire, for the wealth you have over that one million dollars, you will pay a one percent contribution. That will increase to a two percent contribution for wealth over two million dollars.”

It would take the Greens to get into Government, and to have a coalition partner (Labour) to agree to all of this, plus to not have NZ First in Government.

Poverty Action Plan

Our Poverty Action Plan will completely change the way we support people in New Zealand so when people ask for help, they get it. It overhauls the broken welfare system and guarantees that everyone who needs it, no matter what, has a minimum income they can rely on.

Sign on to our plan to show your support for this bold policy for change. 

Here’s how our Poverty Action Plan works for all of us:

  • Guaranteed Minimum Income of $325 per week for students and people out of work, no matter what.
  • Universal Child Benefit for kids under three of $100 per week.
  • A simplified Family Support Credit of $190 per week for the first child and $120 per week for subsequent children to replace the Working for Families tax credits with a higher abatement threshold and lower abatement rate.
  • Additional support for single parents through a $110 per week top-up.
  • Reforming ACC to become the Agency for Comprehensive Care, creating equitable social support for everyone with a work-impairing health condition or disability, with a minimum payment of 80% of the full time minimum wage.
  • Changes to abatement and relationship rules so people can earn more from paid work before their income support entitlements are reduced.
  • A 1% wealth tax for those with a net-worth over $1 million.
  • And two new top income tax brackets (for those earning over $100,000 and $150,000) for a more progressive tax system which redistributes wealth.

They have started a ‘petition’ promoting this plan, but that is simply a contact harvesting ploy that parties commonly use. It would serve no purpose beyond party promotions.

There is no indication how much this policy would cost.

Unless Greens get a huge increase in support and votes there is little likelihood this policy would run as it is.

The Greens are taking a risk with this policy given the collapse in their support and the political self destruction of Metiria Turei last election over social welfare.

ACT Party list

The ACT Party have announced their list for this year’s election. The top twenty:

  1. David Seymour
  2. Brooke Van Velden
  3. Nicole McKee
  4. Chris Baillie
  5. Simon Court
  6. James McDowall
  7. Karen Chhour
  8. Mark Cameron
  9. Stephen Berry
  10.  Toni Severin
  11. Damien Smith
  12. Miles McConway
  13. Beth Houlbrooke
  14. Carmel Claridge
  15. Bruce Carley
  16. Cameron Luxton
  17. Grae O’Sullivan
  18. Myah Deedman
  19. David Seymour
  20. David King

Odd to see two David Seymours but #19 is a candidate from Whangarei.

Brooke Van Velden (who has been an adviser to Seymour before running for Parliament) is a good and obvious choice for #2. It looks like five of the top ten are male and female, which looks different for an ACT list.

Nicole McKee is the spokesperson for the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners and has been vocal in opposition to firearms law changes since the Christchurch mosque murders.

Beth Houlbrooke (“an award-winning businesswoman, former farmer, and Chair of the Rodney Local Board”) has been an ACT candidate before and is the only candidate currently featuring on the ACT website.

Going by recent polls there is a reasonable chance of the top few on that list to get into Parliament as long as the Epsom Seymour wins his electorate again, which seems very likely.


Who changes which party they vote for?

Quite a lot of people obviously change which party they vote for, otherwise we would have much the same results every election, with perhaps a gradual shift as some voters die and young people become eligible to vote.

Some people can’t comprehend why anyone would vote for different parties over time, and others can’t comprehend why anyone would always vote for the same party no matter how competent/incompetent or fresh/jaded they look, and no matter who led them.

There are the ideological voters, the policy ones, the fanboy/girl ones and the what’s in it for me ones.

Going by the ‘never change your allegiance/ideals’ proponents but allowing for the change in the way we vote to MMP in 1996, the  results from there:

  • National 33.87%
  • Labour 28.19%
  • NZ First 13.35%
  • Alliance 10.10%
  • ACT 6.10%
  • United NZ 0.88%

Quite different to the current spread of party support. Alliance and United NZ didn’t survive for long, and the Greens aren’t there at all.

By the next election in 1999:

  • Labour 38.74%
  • National 30.50%
  • Alliance 7.74%
  • ACT 7.04%
  • Greens 5.16%
  • NZ First 4.26%

NZ First were a bit of a disaster in coalition and deserved their drubbing, and National were also affected by a poor term in government.

Party support has ebbed and flowed since then, sometimes quite drastically – the following election National plummeted to 20.93% and NZ First bounced back to 10.93%, and in 2005 National bounced back to 39.10% and NZ First nearly halved their support, dropping to 5.72%.

In a democracy parties and politicians have to earn their support. If people voted for the same party each time then we would never have a change of government, and the governing party/parties would become increasingly complacent and arrogant.

There are some interesting responses on the Twitter thread. Here are some in favour of committed voters.

Yeah I don’t get it either. I knew where my values were as a teenager and it was easy.

Man you know what’s even weirder? Candidates changing parties! Seeing their TL’s is truly bizarre. Have to wonder about how firm their value system is.

Some are staunchly anti:

If people voted in their self interests there would never be a Tory govt but many believe the empty slogans and bs they are fed daily to encourage fear and hatred by the very people they should be fearful of.

As a life long socialist I was torn about a vote for the 2nd Lange government, I would not have voted for Blair following his stance over WMD had I remained in Britain, and have only recently rejoined Labour after their TTPA stance. But I’d cut both my hands off before I vote NZN.

I vote differently most elections, but always with the same goal – anyone but national. The 5% threshold decides who needs it.

Some switch and stay.

My ideals haven’t changed but my awareness has. As a naive youth I voted National twice but a single Polytech Employment Relations Law paper that I took after my BE was enough to break the spell. I’ve voted Green ever since.

My first election I voted in i was 19 and heavily involved in a church that was very anti-Labour (the anti-smacking bill had just passed at this stage i think) so I voted National without thinking too much about it. I left the church & have been Greens ever since.

And here are some in favour of changing voters:

I don’t find any party particularly appealing to be honest. I’ve always voted on the left, but for various parties/candidates over the years. I don’t really understand party allegiance and kind of find it strange.

You start to educate yourself in political doctrine… neoliberalism, socialism, marxism etc .. then you start to question. Who gains what? And how?

There’s a few times polling has indicated which major party will be in government, and people vote strategically, to provide a less-bad support option for the other, or push a useful ally over 5%.

Times change so do people. Parties change as well. Blind allegiance is dangerous.

I’m the same. My first vote ever went to National. My father voted National, so I voted National. That was the 90’s and the last time I ever voted National. Never again. I’ve voted between Labour and Greens depending on how they’re looking pre election.

I’m 57 years old . I was ought up in a Labour party home. When I became management I went right. Now I’m wiser I di what’s best IMO and vote Labour. Also, don’t forget Rogernomics came from the left too. Then ACT . Society changes too.

Policies dictate how I vote…coming from farming background everyone blindly voted blue..until SMPs disappeared! Personalities do matter of course ie could never vote for Winnie.

My first vote was for Matiu Rata-Mana Motuhake then Act-Donna Awatere swung me then Parekura Horomia not Labour- threw my party vote 2 legalise cannabis after the Helen Clarke disgrace it was all Māori Party and will be again I will never vote for National or Labour or the Greens.

Small parties rely on swing voters. Small parties – or rather, new parties – wouldn’t exist without them. And they certainly can’t grow without them. So your party of choice – and mine – had better have a good answer to your question.

And of course some parties are quite similar. Used to vote Labour, then Green for ages. Even joined & got quite active. Then quit Green (don’t like getting shouted at). Now feeling liberated, happy that I can vote for whoever. Entrenched voting = entrenched thinking.

Interesting anecdotes here. I suppose your life circumstances change the way you lean too e.g as you get older you may becomes less idealistic and sway towards a party that offers lower tax, more economic stability, more security in a time of crisis etc…

Some people think and and consider what is happening around the world and our once great country, others blindly follow what mummy and daddy told them! I’ve changed many times over the years and at 52 voting green for the first time! The bueaty of having the freedom to do so!!!

I used to vote lab/lab. In the last election I voted lab/green. I would have voted lab/green in the upcoming election but Ive moved and I dont like the lab candidate so Im gonna vote green/green.

I usually vote NZL but change to NZL & NZF. This is because I’ve lost 2 (1 Kiwi & 1 Oz with the AFP) mates to Peacekeeping both KIA. I nearly lose to cousins on a trip down Sth with RNZN when the OPV they were on almost capsized. Hence my Defence leaning to NZF, NZL socialism POV. But I’m struggling to vote for NZL or NZF this yr, but I would love to vote NZG this yr. As I agree with mostly what the NZG stands for, except for its Defence, Policing including firearms licensing, Foreign Affairs and I’m in favour for heavy rail to AIA not light rail to AIA.

  1. Lots who felt good voting Labour in 1987 weren’t so excited to in 1996, & vice versa.
  2. If people didn’t change votes, no new parties/movements would have a chance.
  3. Parties change. If we lived forever, people who voted Democrat in 1860 definitely would’ve have since 1968.

I’ve voted for a few different partiea, my ideals have for the most part remained the same but the party on the ballot best upholding those ideals hasn’t been the same each election

Never voted for the same party twice. First there votes were for the parties that most aligned with me in policy (Greens then Mana than Internet Mana). Then I joined and voted Labour for their industrial relations focus. Could well vote Māori Party in 2023 (if they drop JT).

Parties change. People change. Ronald Reagan, when asked why he was now a Republican despite being a Democrat during his tenure as Governor of California – said that he didn’t leave the party behind …. they left him.

There’s probably a lot of personality driven choices, like:

I know someone who was a big Winston fan who now loves Ardern. People are definitely swayed by popularity and personality.

Lots of reasons. Parties change, for one thing, as do people. Also, tactical reasons. In 2011 some progressives party-voted for NZ1, hoping they’d form a coalition with National and then pull the handbrake on asset sales.

And policy specific votes.

They vote on issues that effect them personally not for a ideology. Horrible guy I once new voted Natz bc they promised faster internet so he could steal and download videos faster. That was it.

And like Labour’s student loan policy in 2005 that may have swung the election their way.

I’m firmly in the swinging voter camp, and have changed my party vote frequently. Like:

Because people learn and grow (hopefully) the politicians within the party change & therefore details can be different each election. Policy promises change. I vote for the person & the policies that I think are closest to beneficial overall to the country.

I think I’m a pragmatic voter, so I can change the party I vote for. For example, I would vote for a party if it was around the borderline 5% mark, if I thought the party should be represented in parliament, even if they were not my ‘favourite’ party.

I don’t think any one party probably represents my ideals. I wouldn’t vote for a party that was completely at odds with my values but I might vote for my 2nd choice if I think my vote might help them get into parliament.

Each election I decide which of the major parties with their current leadership, lineup and policies I prefer. And if I’m not keen on either I look to the smaller parties to see which one i would prefer to hold a power balancing role. Or sometimes if I can’t decide which lot I want in government I just look to which party deserves to promote certain policies in the parliamentary mix, which is why I have voted Greens a couple of times (but not for a while).

Twelve weeks out from this year’s election I haven’t yet seriously considered who I might vote for.

There are significant things that that could affect my decision, in particular the Covid-19 pandemic (generally fairly well handled by the Government but with some concerning slip-ups but a lot could happen yet), the economy (too soon to tell what will happen with job losses and business closures personally and country-wide), and party strengths and weaknesses (for example Labour seem to tolerate poorly performing ministers, Nationals leader Todd Muller is yet to convince he is up to the task).

Then there is this:

In recent elections I’ve voted for the least worst of the alternatives on offer.

I’ve been in that camp before. And also in the related ‘can’t be bothered voting for any of them’ camp, but usually get out to vote to support democracy.

Once I collated responses it seems apparent that there are a lot of swing voters and people who change political ideals and party allegiances. Election results tend to support this.

Colmar Brunton polling for National this year:

  • February 46%
  • May 29%
  • June 38%

And Labour:

  • February 41%
  • May 59%
  • June 50%

There was the extraordinary situation with the Covid pandemic, but that has shown that a lot of people are potentially swinging voters.

Winston ‘spray and walk away’ Peters and NZ First failings

NZ First looks to be in big trouble. It is still twelve weeks until the election, and Winston has been good at pulling campaign rabbits out of the hat, but prospects currently look a bit grim for NZ First.

This far out from the 2017 election Peters was confident of getting 20+% in the election, beating Labour and being top dog in coalition negotiations.  In June-July 2017 NZ First were getting 8-11% in polls and Peters always claimed polls were wrong (unless he liked the results).

Jacinda Ardern took over leadership and Labour bounced back in the polls, and NZ First dropped, getting 5-8% results towards the election. Still Peters claimed ‘Crap’ polls don’t reflect NZ First’s position:

RNZ’s latest poll of polls – which is the average of the major polls – has New Zealand First at 7.5 percent and falling.

Mr Peters today said despite the party’s slump in the polls, New Zealand First was actually going “very well” and the large variation between the recent polls showed they could not be relied upon and should not be taken seriously.

He said political polls were akin to voodoo.

“I think your polls are crap and I’ve always thought that,” Mr Peters said in Whangamata today.

“What you should say is ‘Mr Peters – my crap polls should be listened to’, and my answer’s ‘no your crap polls should be totally ignored by the public because they’re rubbish’.”

Eleven days later NZ First got 7.2% in the election, so the polls weren’t that far off.

Peters still acted like he had won the election and dictated the terms of coalition negotiations. He dominated proceedings, played the media, Labour and Greens, and came out with a disproportionate deal – the Winston tail wagged the Labour puppy which was desperate to get back into Government after nine years in opposition.

NZ First scored  the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund prize and they have been dishing out dosh as if it was election bribes all over the country. Donors from the racing and fishing industries were also rewarded with favourable policy changes.

Peters started the term as Deputy Prime Minister but acting as if he was the virtual leader with Ardern his rookie subordinate.

But Ardern’s leadership overshadowed Peters, especially in difficult times such as the Christchurch mosque murders, the Whakaari/White Island eruption and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peters lost a court battle against National MPs and public officials over his super overpayments being made public.

And this year NZ First was exposed with the use of a trust to hide and effectively fiddle party donations. Whatever the Serious Fraud Office decide to do damage has already been done. One NZ First MP, Clayton Mitchell, won’t be standing this election and that looks a bit like it could be connected to his involvement in party donations.

Peters is starting to look old and stale alongside Ardern and in Parliament.

NZ First have been polling around the all important threshold and have recently slipped well below it. At the start of the year poll results were 3-5%, but last month (May) they got a consistent 2.7%, 2.9% and 2.5% across three polls, and yesterday they dropped to 1.8% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, their lowest result since 2014.

Winston’s reaction was predictable. 1 News headlined NZ First sees disastrous poll result but Peters responded

Asked about the party’s poor showing in the poll, party leader Winston Peters told 1 NEWS – “your polls are crap…your polls are rubbish…your problem is you don’t have the intellectual capacity to absorb the mistakes of your polling industry.”

Mr Peters denied that the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the secretive foundation bankrolling his party was contributing to its poor results.

“Once again that’s a jack-up as well, and we’ll prove that….this is the point here New Zealand First is so effective, that we’re impervious to attack on any reasonable grounds so common dirt is what they try against us – it’s not going to work,” Mr Peters said.

But Peters is looking like a repetitive, faded jaded mandarin.

On Thursdays in Parliament Peters gets to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. I wonder what he thinks of being referred to as ‘she’ and repeat lame Government lines, like (from Hansard):

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will she absolutely guarantee there will not be an inquiry or investigation into the failures that have occurred?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it would be wrong to actually guarantee against a future inquiry. We cannot see the purpose of making such a commitment when, in fact, transparency and openness is our middle name.

Lack of openness and transparency have dogged the government, and have never been attributes associated with Peters.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Would the officials working at the front line have more time to do the jobs that we desperately need them to do if they weren’t having to investigate spurious and baseless claims being made by members of the Opposition?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. To have an official having to behave like Sherlock Holmes to find a guilty party that doesn’t exist is preposterous behaviour, and Mr Woodhouse should be apologising to the country.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Will she commit to telling the New Zealand public if and when the investigations being led by Dr Megan Woods reveals the veracity of the claim?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. But this is how the real world works—this is how the real world works. When an allegation is made, especially from someone who’s educated and a member of Parliament and a former Minister, you expect that member to back it up. We do not the old fungus or moss ad that used to go like this, “I just spray and walk away.” Spray and walk away won’t do, Mr Woodhouse.

That’s a laugh coming from him. Peters has been the spray and walk away champion of Parliament for decades. One of his trademarks is to make outrageous allegations in Parliament, insists he has evidence, but fails to front up with it.

Things are looking grim for Peters and the future of his party. Sure, he may pick up on a scandal and milk it for all it’s worth between now and the election, and pull off another miracle recovery, but he may struggle with that.

NZ First has never survived in Government for more than a term, and didn’t survive in Parliament after the 2005-2008 stint.

This campaign Peters is not just having to do a ‘me against them’ battle while claiming he would do a deal with anyone.  He is having to deal with pushback from Labour for doing the dirty on some of their policies, and Greens are also targeting NZ First for dumping on some of their aspirations. Plus of course National currently have a position of not dealing with NZ First after the election.

The threshold is looking like a difficult target for NZ First.

Their other way back is for Shane Jones to win the Northland electorate that Peters lost in 2017. Jones has never managed to win an electorate yet. Voters don’t seem to like his over-hyped oratory anywhere near as much as he does.

With or without an SFO decision before the election it’s going to be a big battle for Peters this time, and after a busy term he may struggle to raise the energy needed to pull it off. Most people are wise to his hype, hypocrisy and forked tongue.

Winston will spray, but we will have to wait until September to see whether he has to walk away from a long career in politics or not.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – June 2020

The latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll – party support:

  • Labour 50% (down from 59)
  • National 38% (up from 29)
  • Greens 6% (up from 4.7)
  • ACT Party 3.1% (up from 2.2)
  • NZ First 1.8% (down from 2.9)
  • Maori Party 0.9%
  • New Conservative 0.7%
  • TOP 0.5%
  • Don’t know/refused 15%

Not surprising to see Labour down from the extraordinary high of the previous poll.

National will be relieved to have recovered from their low.

Greens will be cautiously pleased to be creeping up above the threshold.

ACT are climbing up still and are in a good position for them.

The biggest surprise is a further dip for NZ First to just 1.8%.

Polling was done this week up until and including yesterday, so after last week where there were a lot of Covid quarantine/isolation and testing issues highlighted, but during the ongoing issues this week but barely touching the David Clark versus Ashley Blomfield thing yesterday and last night.

These issues may be partially reflected in this poll.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 54% (down from 63)
  • Todd Muller 13% (up from 0.2)
  • Judith Collins 2% (down from 3)
  • Winston Peters 2% (up from 1)
  • Simon Bridges 0.4% (down from 5)

The poll also asked if they approved or disapproved of the way Todd Muller was handling his job as leader of the National Party.

  • Approved 36%
  • Disapproved 27%
  • Don’t know/refused 37%

That’s not disastrous for Muller after 5 weeks  as leader.

Between June 20 to 24, 2020, 1007 eligible voters were polled by landline (404) and mobile phone (603). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.


May results:

Muller’s move centre may divide National

Todd Muller gave a speech yesterday in an attempt to position his leadership of National – “kind, competent and bold” – in the political centre, but he is struggling to be seen as competent or bold, and he will have problems competing with Jacinda Ardern on kindness.

National’s official promo of his speech: Todd Muller outlines National’s first term priorities

Creating tens of thousands of new full-time jobs and building a better economy than before the Covid-19 crisis will be National’s top priorities in its first term, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller told his home community of Te Puna today.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Te Puna Rugby Club, referencing everything from his high-level foreign policy priorities to water management policy, Mr Muller said his Government’s approach to day-to-day economic management would be based on that of his friends, colleagues and mentors, the Rt Hon. Sir John Key, the Rt Hon. Sir Bill English and the Hon. Steven Joyce.

“The story of the next three years will initially be about a desperate attempt to protect all our families from the worst effects of the worst economic downturn any of us has ever known – and then it will be about building a better economy than we had before.

“New Zealanders trust National Governments to come to power at times of economic crisis and to steer New Zealand safely through them.

“However proud we are of how our Team of Five Million addressed the health crisis, we cannot risk a Labour Government being in charge of the economic and unemployment crisis ahead.”

Mr Muller said he backed his strong National Party team over the Prime Minister’s clumsy and incompetent ministers to get New Zealand through the crisis.

According to Infometrics, 40,000 jobs were destroyed in the first wave of the economic and unemployment crisis in April, to be followed by another 80,000 in the second wave before the election. A third wave is also expected before Christmas, which Mr Muller fears will be the worst of all.

“Around 120,000 families will have lost their income by the election and it will be worse by Christmas,” he said.

“National’s prudent economic management, plus our new initiatives like JobStart, will immediately create the conditions for tens of thousands of new real, permanent full-time jobs.

“The practice of the last 20 years of working groups flying around before governments get on with helping New Zealanders is over. The game’s up, because Covid-19 has shown us that the Wellington bureaucracy can in fact move much faster when it needs to.”

They are promoting this coverage:


The Spinoff Bulletin: Muller makes his pitch for the middle

The pitch was very much one aimed at the middle of the electorate. Among the commitments, the NZ Herald reports he promised to never either raise taxes or cut benefits if elected, and signalled continued investment in social services and the welfare safety net. It’s not exactly stuff that will set the world on fire, and is arguably pretty indistinguishable from the sitting government, but it’s good to have on the record all the same.

After the setup, Muller got to his main point – he argued that National will be much better at managing the recovery than the incumbent government. In the pitch, the reason for that was not so much ideological and being based on competency – Muller said that the government had a poor record of delivering on big projects.

This sounds like same old from National.

There was also something of an olive branch to Māori. Muller was clear that he saw the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document, discussed the connections between tino rangatiratanga and his party’s view of the world, and talked up the work of Whānau Ora by the last government. In this area, the speech was in sharp contrast to previous efforts by National leaders to define themselves, such as Don Brash’s infamous Orewa speech in 2004. It may not necessarily matter though, as many of Muller’s early controversies have been pretty tone-deaf in this area, most notably the selection of an all-Pākehā caucus top-10.

And this won’t help:

So Muller is going one way politically, but much of his party may be heading in a different direction. 

Politiik: Muller goes one way; his party another

National’s new leader Todd Muller set out yesterday to answer critics who had charged that his “Make America Great Again” cap and the absence of any Maori on his new front bench pointed to him being tone-deaf on racial matters. But within hours of him making a speech in his home town of Te Puna  in front of a Tina Rangatiratanga flag, his party was once again rejecting one of its ethnic MPs for an electorate nomination.

The party’s candidate for the heavily Polynesian South Auckland new electorate of Takanini is a Sydney-born Lebanese who migrated to New Zealand eight years ago, Rima Nakhle. Ms Nakhle beat Samoan sitting list MP, Agnes Loheni for the selection.

This is the second time this election cycle that National has passed over a sitting list MP of colour for selection.

Newman is a controversial figure within the National Party and was rejected at the pre-selection stage for his own bid to get the Hunua nomination in 2014. (The National Party conducts  pre-selection interviews  with candidates and checks their backgrounds before they send a shortlist of candidates to a selection meeting.) Newman enjoys the support of right-wing blogger Cameron (“Whaleoil”) Slater and since his own defeat in 2014 has become known within the party as an effective organiser capable of marshalling the number of delegates needed to gain a nomination.

Predictable Slater continues his anti-National campaign today: No Point in Voting National, They’re Just like Labour. He has an obvious agenda and a lot of spite.


What makes the events at Takinino potentially worrying for the party is that they would seem to fly in the face of the image of National that Muller presented at Te Puna.

Helensville MP, Chris Penk, who is a social-conservative and Bridges supporter, has just published a 130-page book which is predominantly an attack on the way the Government managed the Covid-19 lockdown. But Penk also defends Bridges and the confrontational approach he adopted during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Muller’s decision to move the party to the left, closer to the centre, makes perfect strategic sense. It means he can now contest Labour from the centrist vote knowing that ACT can absorb some of the right-wing votes that might previously have gone to National.

But whether the party members at large or even some of the caucus understand this yet, is another matter.

Muller seems to have a long way to go to win over his own party let alone the political centre.

Those who are listening to him (or at least commenting on him) seem to be disgruntled people who will never be happy with National or any party that isn’t hard right, while big centre vote is unlikely to be very interested in what Muller says. It could be a tough campaign for him.

Promising speech from National leader Muller

National leader Todd Muller has made a number of promises in a speech today. As we know, ‘promises’ made during an election campaign are:

  • Subject to getting into power
  • Subject to support parties allowing them to happen
  • Subject to major things happening like pandemics or financial crises or earthquakes
  • Subject to politicians not changing their minds or priorities once elected.

Muller made the commitments in a wide-ranging speech in his home town of Te Puna this afternoon.

The National leader touched on many topics, including his family, his early life and his private-sector experience.

But a major element of his speech was setting out the priorities of a National-led Government.

Chief among those was “the welfare of every New Zealander” and rebuilding the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 recession.

“National will not increase the taxes New Zealanders pay. Nor will we ever cut benefits, and we will continue to increase New Zealand’s investment in hospitals, schools and the welfare safety net,” he said.

He said successive governments should have acted “faster and more boldly” on issues such as water management and climate change.

On the latter, Muller said he was proud of the work he had done on getting National to support the first reading of the Zero Carbon bill.

Muller also said the previous government had not moved fast enough, or boldly enough, to address New Zealand’s social deficit, help the underclass, or “however you describe the deep-seated social problems we continue to see all around us”.

A clear push to the centre, where they reckon that in the main elections are won and lost,.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says ""Someone else once said 'Let's do this' say, sure. But you need need a National Government to get it done. Todd Muller National Party Leader National"

I think that sounds quite lame and just a repackaged variations on past claims from National.



Todd Muller recruits media trainer, promotes direct social media approach

New National leader Todd Muller got quite a bit of negative publicity for his first week in the job, but has struggled for coverage since.

He is trying the direct social media approach:

He is also recruiting staff to help him with his media profile – Todd Muller’s new chief spin-doctor revealed: broadcasting veteran and media trainer Janet Wilson

National’s new leader Todd Muller has signed up broadcasting veteran and media trainer Janet Wilson as his chief press officer until the election.

Wilson and her husband Bill Ralston were involved in media and election debate training for former Prime Ministers Sir John Key and Sir Bill English, as well as several other National Party MPs. Both are also regular commentators in the media.

Wilson’s television experience will fill a hole left in the National Party’s press team by the resignation of Bridges’ press secretary Rachel Morton. Morton quit the day of the leadership change.

Other new hires by Muller include Matthew Hooton in a communications role and Megan Campbell as his chief of staff.

Despite what some claimed Muller was obviously not prepared to take over the leadership when he challenged Simon Bridges, it is taking him a while to get a team together.

Newshub –  ‘Unlikely, but he’s got a chance’: Todd Muller’s best path to becoming Prime Minister

Dr Edwards says Muller can’t be written off just yet – as the health crisis winds down and Ardern gets less screen time, voters will start to remember the country’s other, long-running issues.

“It can’t just be about personalities and Jacinda Ardern. They really do have to defend their record on housing, on inequality, on the things that they promised. It’s not just about the health crisis anymore…  It’s certainly possible [Muller can win]. I think it’s unlikely, but he’s got a chance. Things change quickly at the moment in global politics. So no, don’t rule him out. It’s certainly possible.”

It will be a big battle for him to get across to the public. His success is probably more dependent on Jacinda Ardern and the Government than anything, if they lose support he may be able to pick some up. But he has to try to get himself across to the voting public.

I think that stopping National’s slide in the polls will be a minor victory for Muller, and recovering some support by the time we get to vote should be enough for him to keep his job for a while at least. But it would take a crash in support for Ardern for Muller and National get back into power.

James Shaw: “I think people look at us as the reliable government partner”

The Greens has generally been a low profile support party in the current Government, overshadowed by the high profile of Jacinda Ardern and the bargaining power of NZ First.

With an election coming up they are trying to differentiate themselves from Labour and promote themselves as a successful and worthwhile part of Government.

Their priority must be to make the 5% threshold and survive in Parliament. Co-leader Marama Davidson is standing in the Tāmaki Makaurau and is promoting her chances – Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson will run hard for a Māori seat – but she must be an outside chance there.

If they survive the election their next priority must be to negotiate as a coalition partner with Labour, and they will be hoping without NZ First in the picture, to give them more negotiating power and some say in Cabinet (this term they are outside Cabinet).

Stuff: Portrait of Green leader James Shaw: ‘Labour wasted its political capital’

Shaw was selected as male co-leader in May 2015. He’d been an MP for just eight months, and even in the helter-skelter world of New Zealand politics, the victory was a shock. His main rival was genial senior MP Kevin Hague.

Shaw admitted his corporate background put him at a disadvantage in a party of radicals and nonconformists. With neat suits and a clean-cut style, he seemed an unlikely partner to anarchist-turned-firebrand politician Metiria Turei.

Shaw still seems to have detractors amongst Green supporters.

Within just over two years, Shaw would be the Green’s sole leader. Turei was forced to resign, weeks out from the election, after confessing to benefit and electoral fraud. Their polling slumped dramatically.

Shaw was left to shepherd the party through the rest of the campaign, the bitter internal fall-out over Turei’s disclosure and highly-charged negotiations to join the Labour-led Government.

Support for the Greens is still half what it was before the Turei tumult, almost continuously in the threshold danger zone.

“The second most stressful was the seven weeks leading up to those negotiations: like, you’re the front man while the Greens are in danger of never returning to Parliament.”

The negotiations were “really tough,” he says.“We weren’t prepared for them.”

Nothing could really prepare a party for post-election negotiations, but like Labour the Greens were probably not expecting to be in negotiating positions even a month before the election.

There is an enduring perception the Greens have yielded much to Winston Peters and, despite securing only 24,000 votes fewer than NZ First, have significantly less clout.

“We’re not [achieving everything we wanted],” Shaw conceded. “But neither is anybody else. Right? If you went through the NZ First coalition agreement, or the Labour Party manifesto, or even a speech from the throne, there’s stuff that we all haven’t got done.

There is a justified perception that the Greens are by far the weakest of the parties in Government. They were no match for Winston’s negotiating experience and Labour’s acquiescence to Winston in largely calling the shots after the election.

And as Greens had ruled out negotiating with National they had to pretty take what they were given from Labour and allowed by NZ First.

“The new narrative that irritates me is that we only got 95 percent of what we were asking for, therefore it’s a total failure. It drives me up the wall.”

I haven’t heard that narrative. A common perception is that they got nowhere near 95% of what they asked for – unless they were asking for bugger all.

And many in the party seem to have negative perceptions.

From the outset, Shaw’s centrist, corporate style has rubbed against the party’s more radical members.

When he compromises, they see the white flag of surrender. Some members chafed against budget responsibility rules, which set targets for lowering government debt and spending, and were eventually dumped by members.

Last year, candidate Jack McDonald upstaged Shaw at the annual conference by quitting and complaining about a “centrist drift”. Former high-profile MP Sue Bradford penned a piece lamenting the loss of the party’s radical, anti-establishment streak. Outgoing MP Gareth Hughes said the Government had not been transformational.

In April, a rump of about 100 members tried to oust Shaw, Minister Eugenie Sage and MP Chlöe Swarbrick by placing them far down the party’s list.

At mention of the ‘Green Left’ faction, Shaw slowly rolls his eyes.

“When you’ve spent 16 years in Opposition, you get so used to that. One of the challenges we’ve had is trying to shift to thinking like a party of Government, not a party of Opposition.

“We’ve got a very strong anarchist tradition. There’s still a lot of people around who used to be members of the McGillicuddy Serious Party. I think you have to honour that.

Turei was in the McGillicuddy Serious Party, but that’s quarter of a century ago. Most of the unrest and dissatisfaction seems to be coming from Green supporters that were not born then, or were very young.

He appears cautious, but Shaw says he’s picking the right battles: especially when it comes to unnatural bedfellows NZ First.

It’s not obvious what battles they have won against NZ First. And they seem to have lost significant battles.

There was surprise when the Greens recently voted, under urgency, for warrantless search powers for police contained in new Covid-19 emergency laws.

Eyebrows were also raised when Shaw defended a controversial memo from the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling ministers they had “no real need to defend” decisions made during the health crisis.

It looks like hypocrisy from a party who railed against the expansion of surveillance powers in Opposition, and have campaigned for transparency in Government. Shaw is resigned to, if not embracing, the cynical realities of holding power.

He talks of “tempered radicalism”.

“You hold onto your radical values and principles. And you work with the system that you are in, whether you like that system or not, to change it from within.

“Tempered radicalism” risks looking like letting values and principles slip with little gained.

NZ First slowed and ultimately diluted some of the Government’s flagship climate change policies. A capital gains tax – originally a Greens policy – was dropped in part due to Peters’ resistance.

Timidity on welfare reform can also be put down to his reluctance. And the Greens were also reluctantly forced to vote for their waka-jumping legislation, which allowed leaders to expel MPs from Parliament, boxed in by their confidence and supply agreement.

This doesn’t look radical at all – and it seems to annoy the hell out of green radicals.

While NZ First will position themselves as a ‘handbrake’ on radical reform, the Greens election campaign will centre on pushing the Government to go “further and faster”.

There is a long pause before Shaw, 47, answers a question about how he’s changed over the last five years. He rubs his face, deep in thought.

“It’s so hard to answer because this place is so intense and you don’t get a lot of time for personal reflection.

“Finding the path of least resistance. There’s that horrendous phrase about politics being the art of the possible, which can be read two ways.

“You can do things, it’s a really expansive notion. And there are some moments where we have changed things.

“And then there are others where you can only do what is possible. Maybe moving from naivety to experience is being able to live in both those worlds at the same time.”

Will this approach attract more votes? It’s hard to say at this stage.

Co-leader Davidson is the number one ranked Green, and she will likely become more prominent in the election campaign. She may please the more radical side of the Greens, but she may not do well attracting more moderate potential Green voters. It’s going to be a big challenge.

“Even when I was elected as co-leader, that bloody clip of people dancing around the maypole at the 1990-something [conference], that was the intro. That was the thing that I most wanted to change.

“I knew the way to do that wasn’t by public relations. It was by getting into government and just demonstrating that our policies are good for people and actually kind of sensible.

“And I think we have. I think people look at us as the reliable government partner.”

Can Davidson do that?

The most recent polls for the Greens:

  • Newshub/Reid Research: 5.6%, 5.5%
  • 1 News/Colmar Brunton: 5.0%, 4.7%
  • Roy Morgan Research: 7%, 7%
  • UMR Research: 5%, 4%
  • Curia: 7%, 9%

I think that the greens should be able to get back in, but are unlikely to do much if any better than their 6.3% in the 2017 election.

New Conservative, old bull and division

The New Conservative party emerged when Colin Craig and his Conservative Party were wrecked by Jordan Williams, Cameron Slater and John Stringer on the now defunct Whale Oil blog.

They are trying hard too be controversial to attract attention, and have a bit of a following, but are unlikely to get anywhere near the 5% threshold that would get them into parliament. Craig’s Conservatives got 2.65% in 2011 and 3.97% in 2014 after the party secretary resigned just before the election.

The New Conservatives don’t have the money or the profile of Craig. They have been given a bit of publicity at The BFD blog, but that’s largely seen as toxic for politics these days, especially after Slater resurfaced there, but he seems more intent on promoting Winston Peters still (which is probably negative promotion for NZ First).

And the New Conservatives seem intent on a toxic divisive approach to politics. They have tried to use the George Floyd killing and demonstrations and riots to gain some support from the political and social fringe.

That’s just conspiracy theorist divisive bull that will struggle to gain any traction in New Zealand.

It is more likely to ensure they don’t build popular support. The party has mostly polled under 1%, only twice getting to 1.1% (the last time in February 2019).