When political debates go crazy

A raging verbal fight broke out at an mayoral candidate meeting, promoted as The Anti-Debate, at the University of Auckland on Monday night.

AUSA and the Daily Blog present The Anti-Debate

Tonight we’re proud to put on the debate that no one else will – the Anti-Debate. Come to Shadows at 7 to watch some of the 14 OTHER mayoral candidates give you their vision for Auckland.

CAN’T MAKE THE DEBATE? No problem! We will be LIVE STREAMING the event from the Daily Blog – also at 7! A copy will be available afterwards too, but if you’re stuck at home tonight make sure you go to thedailyblog.co.nz so you don’t miss out!

It lived up to it’s ‘anti-debate’ billing in an unexpected way.

Stuff: Auckland mayoral debate turns into shoving match between screaming candidates

Auckland mayoral candidates came close to “a brawl” at a debate on Tuesday night, after a screaming war of words descended into a shoving match.

David Hay was abused by rival Alezix Heneti as he tried to make a speech at the debate, which was hosted by Auckland University Students’ Association at university bar, Shadows.

Hay arrived late from another meeting, but was given permission by a students’ association representative to make a 30-second statement.

However, Heneti took umbrage, and a fracas ensued.

The debate was MC’d by Martyn Bradbury and all he seemed concerned about was that it was being live streamed.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Adam Holland – dressed in a kaftan – then commandeered the mic to yell “vote for me! Vote for me!”.

Not good for the ALCP credibility nor good for the pro-cannabis lobby.

As 22-year-old mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick stepped in between Hay and Heneti, Holland continued his commentary: “There’s going to be brawl! Ooh, I can feel a brawl!”

Swarbrick tried to placate the mayhem and was the only one to come out of this with any credit.

The AUSA president was understandably disappointed.

AUSA regrets the incident that occurred at the end of the Anti-Debate. This unnecessary conflict between two candidates marred an otherwise enjoyable and informative debate in which a wide range of mayoral contenders were given a platform to have their views heard. AUSA encourages peaceful and democratic resolution of all issues, and appeals to mayoral candidates to maintain a standard of behaviour expected of the Mayoralty.

Unfortunately, one of the candidates present chose to waste the opportunity given to him and attend the debate in a highly offensive costume. AUSA is fundamentally opposed to racism and bigotry in all its forms. We are sure that Aucklanders will see this and be able to exercise their best judgement in choosing which mayoral candidate will earn their votes.

The day before Hay had conceded his campaign and said he supported Phil Goff for mayor:

MEDIA RELEASE 25 September 2016

Speaking at a mayoral panel debate for the African Community, in Mount Roskill on Saturday afternoon, mayoral candidate David Hay threw his support behind Phil Goff to be the Mayor of Auckland.

Another view:

I’m reluctant to suggest that non-serious candidates be excluded from standing for elections, but this makes a mockery of the democratic process. Electing the mayor of a major city is a big deal.

Hay  said the debate turned out to be the most exciting one so far on the campaign.

“Great political theatre!” he said.

No, it trashes what should be a serious process. Democracy is turning off too many voters as it is.

Managing the number of candidates – there are 18 standing for mayor in Auckland – is a problem. The AUSA tried to give the ‘lesser’ candidates a forum and some of them blew it.

I wonder if some sort of democratic pre-selection process would help.

Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’

‘Best city’ surveys give a bit of an indication of what people think but there are many factors to consider, like family, work, weather, education, health and what you are familiar with.

The ‘Quality of Life’ project does a two yearly survey, and in the latest one Dunedin and Wellington have come out on top:

Overall quality of life – extremely good+very good:

  • Dunedin: 27+61=88%
  • Wellington: 28+59=87%
  • Porirua: 19+65=84%
  • Hutt: 22+60-82%
  • Hamilton: 18+64=82%
  • Auckland: 18+61=79%
  • Christchurch: 20+58=78%

Those are percentages based on city councils.

Obviously with a much bigger population Auckland numerically has many more people satisfied with their city, but also quite a few more who are dissatisfied, 4% of one and a half million people is 60,000 people, about half the population of Dunedin.

A notable omission of the major cities is Tauranga.

Overall quality of life – poor+extremely poor


  • Dunedin: 2+0=2%
  • Wellington: 2+0=2%
  • Porirua: 2+1=3%
  • Hutt: 3+0=3%
  • Hamilton: 2+1=3%
  • Auckland: 4+0=4%
  • Christchurch: 4+0=4%

Those are remarkably low levels of dissatisfaction with cities, especially considering Christchurch and it’s problems with earthquakes. However about 20% of Christchurch residents said they were stressed “always” or “most of the time”.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

Dunedin has pipped Wellington to become the best city in New Zealand to live in, according to a new survey.


Statistically Dunedin and Wellington are the same so ‘best’ is barely . However if you combine the greater Wellington cities which include Porirua and Hutt they drop a bit down the scale.

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin in the biennial Quality of Life Survey.

Those in Dunedin were also more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed than their urban counterparts.

The study questioned 7155 Kiwis across seven urban areas and two wider regions. Quality of life in general was relatively steady across the two previous surveys in 2014 and 2012.

The Stuff article covers a number of issues affecting people’s opinion s on their cities, such as stress, traffic and safety.

Wellingtonians were also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital’s respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in.

Aucklanders were the least welcoming, with just over half (52 per cent) saying diversity was a net positive and one in five saying it was a net negative.

It’s interesting that Auckland has by far the most immigrants and is the least tolerant of them, but ‘locals’ will be seeing huge changes to their city (or in many cases their adopted city).

I will post separately on what the survey found about housing.

Palino can’t quit the mayoral race but…

John Palino, who came a distant but creditable second to Len Brown in the 2013 Auckland mayoral election, is standing again but is failing to fire.

But he fired some shots that seem to have been aimed footwards this week when he made a claim about what amounted to Maori extortion.

In Our leaders need some steel in the backbone, not just in their roads and building projects Jonathan Milne writes:

Now in Auckland, mayoral candidate John Palino has backed off claims that if a home-owner wants to build a garage, Maori can demand $50,000. “You’ve got some individuals saying look, give me $50,000 and then I’ll sign off on that,” he alleged in a live debate.

In fact, iwi don’t have veto rights on developments. Now, back-pedalling wildly, Palino says that if such an extortionate demand was made, it was for a large commercial building on a farm, not a residential garage. More likely, it never happened at all: he admits it was just something someone once told him in the restaurant; he doesn’t know who the bloke was.

Sounds like he made it up

This is the same politician who beggared belief with his incredible attempts to justify sitting in a car in a darkened carpark talking to Len Brown’s mistress Bevan Chuang about “the mayor’n’all” just before she revealed the sordid affair in the council’s Ngati Whatua Room. He is either stupid or reckless or dishonest.

He’ll be gone soon – it seems likely he’ll quit the race before the voters throw him out.

I think that Palino’s campaign was doomed before he started this year, and with Simon Lusk running his team and an odd launch it never got off the credibility ground.

So it’s not a surprise to see the media hammer him when Palino spins blatant bull.

But he can’t quit the race. Once you’re in the ballot system you remain there until the election.

Palino could quit campaigning, he could tell people not to vote for him, but he can’t quit the race. Regardless of what he does the voters get the opportunity to choose him or throw him out.

UPDATE: I have removed a reference to Cameron Slater also being in Palino’s team. I accept that he isn’t. He says he has never been on Palino’s team.

It was reported that Slater was involved in Palino’s launch:

Meanwhile he batted off suggestions Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater – who broke the story about Brown’s affair – was also involved, despite Slater setting up an interview he gave to the Sunday Star-Times newspaper 


So Slater has had some involvement at the start of Palino’s campaign, and has associations with Lusk who widely thought to have had input into content at Whale Oil (this is covered in detail in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics), but is not in Palino’s team.

Whale Oil has favoured Palino as a candidate in posts, and has attacked other mayoral candidates, especially Palino’s main right-ish opponent Vic Crone, but that may be more to do with Slater’s well known dislike of Michelle Boag and others supporting Crone than anything.

Housing headlines

The big housing headline yesterday was the latest QV news that shows that the average Auckland property value now tops $1 million.

NZ Herald: It’s happened: Auckland house values top $1m

Auckland house values have just topped a record $1 million, putting the city’s housing stock even further out of the reach of thousands of first home buyers.

The QV House Price Index out at midday showed Auckland region average values stood at $1,013,632 in August, up 15.9 per cent compared to the previous year and 6.1 per year during the last three months.

High house prices, particularly in Auckland, have long been of deep concern to the Reserve Bank and others, having the potential to cause wide economic distress, particularly if interest rates rise. However, the market shows little sign of declining and spring could see a further surge.

There are major problems with the escalation in house prices, especially in Auckland, and there are no easy or quick solutions. But it’s not just Auckland:

Hamilton values now stand at $518,387, up 29.3 per cent year on year, QV said. Tauranga values now $557,640, up 26.3 per cent year on year and Wellington values now $536,065, up 17.6 per cent.

The Government can only suggest possible tweaks.

ODT/NZME: More limits on housing demand possible: PM

Prime Minister John Key says he will back the Reserve Bank to introduce further controls on housing demand if property prices continue to rise.

In particular, Mr Key said he would be open to new measures which limit how much people can borrow for a mortgage, known as debt-to-income ratio restrictions.

Speaking to reporters at Parliament this morning, Mr Key said he expected house price inflation to “take some time to slow down”.

“I think you are starting to see some quite significant uplift in supply and over time that will have some impact.”

The Government has reacted to social housing pressure.

Stuff: Government announces $24m boost for social housing in Auckland

A $24 million funding boost for Auckland’s social housing will help ease pressure on the city’s “extremely tight” housing market, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.

The $24.4 million of funding will allow community housing providers to receive a grant worth 50 per cent of any new social housing they build, or a weekly grant of up to 50 per cent of a property’s market rent.

Organisations leasing private properties for social housing can also receive a grant worth up to 50 per cent of the market rent.

Bennett said the funding, in addition to $120 million allocated for Auckland social housing places in the 2016 Budget, would help community housing organisations to create more social housing at a faster rate.


High rents killing band culture

Escalating property prices and escalating rental rates have many effects. The Auckland band scene is just one of them.

HERE’s AKL issue. Muso just told me, Band culture is dying in AKL because hi rents have killed every single practice space.

It won’t kill the music scene but it will be making it harder for many bands to find a decent and affordable place to practice.

‘Living wage’ promise from the other side of Goff’s mouth

Just after posting on Phil Goff’s vague ‘promises’ to reduce rates rises – ‘Reduce rates’ promises – he is now speaking out the other side of his campaign mouth:

RNZ: Goff promises push for council staff living wage

Former Labour MP Mr Goff said he wanted all council staff earning at least the living wage.

Mr Goff estimated about 1500 of the more than 9000 council staff were being paid below the living wage and said the council should be leading by example.

“People are struggling to look after their families properly when they’re on the minimum wage. I can’t do much about the vast majority of those people but as mayor at least I could meet the obligation of being a good employer, to pay a decent living wage to the people that at the moment are barely on the minimum wage.

“Auckland is the country’s most expensive city to live in. We have to recognise that in how we treat our staff.

He said it would be just for staff directly employed by the council, but he would look at broadening that to contractors in future.

At a cost of $4 million it would not be funded from increasing rates but through cutting council costs, Mr Goff said.

Which costs Goff would cut to fund this increased expenditure are not specified.

“Now this isn’t something I can do unilaterally, it would require a vote of a majority on council and I’m conscious of the fact that it was voted down by councillors,” he said.

“But I believe if we relate the living wage solely to those employed directly by the council and we fund that out of efficiencies that we find then I can get a majority of councillors to support this.”

“Fund that out of efficiencies that we find” – yeah, right.

From Goff’s policy:

Where new expenditure is sought, the expectation will be that funding should be secured by the discontinuation of lower value activity, rather than simply assuming the continuous growth in functions and expenditure.

There is no mention of a living wage in his policy at the moment. On staff costs:

As a first step each department within Council will be set an efficiency target, averaging 3-6 percent across total Council expenditure to contribute toward future cost pressures. 

Areas where staffing and expenditure are very high or have increased disproportionately, such as in governance and communications, will be expected to find higher levels of savings.

He may have to factor in a disproportionate increase in wages of $4 million now. Or he could just ignore it and hope no one notices the conflicts.

Like many political candidates Goff talks costs and rates reductions out of one side of his mouth and spending promises out of the other.

National (-Key) for Crone

Vic Crone’s Auckland mayoralty bid has had obvious backing from a political party, and her National crew were out in force for the launch of her mayoral campaign (I thought she launched months ago but that’s what last night’s event was called) .

National minus John Key of course. And minus Bill English, who has a candidate to promote in Wellington.

Tim Murphy reports at Politik:

The National Party turned out in force last night for the launch of ‘independent’ Victoria Crone’s Auckland mayoral campaign.

… last night looked like Crone had finally got the formal approval of the National Party.

She was Introduced by National MPs Mark Mitchell and Alfred Ngaro and with a video exhortation from former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Crone’s big night was an emphatic coming together of the centre-right.

Speakers from both the Communities and Residents (C&R) and Auckland Future blocs spoke in her favour. 

Government ministers Nikki Kaye, Maggie Barry and Paul Goldsmith were joined in the 130 strong crowd by National Party president Peter Goodfellow, the current Auckland regional chair, Andrew Hunt and the two immediate past chairs Alastair Bell and Alan Towers.

Crone played up her links to the National-led government.  “I have been building on my existing relationships with the government and how do we partner together. I worry about a 30-year politician who has been boxing out of the red ring….”

With three weeks to go before three weeks of postal voting opens, the right’s anointed one declared: “This thing is winnable. Let’s not let a leader from yesterday cruise into the mayoralty of Auckland.”

There was one notable absentee:

But missing from the launch was John Key who has maintained a refusal to endorse Crone arguing that as Prime Minister he will have to work with whoever wins the Mayoral race.  

That seems a bit quaint.

Key has pretty much praised Phil Goff without endorsing him, but he also let a bit out about his likely actions last year.

Newshub: Key: I could work with ‘Mayor Goff’

Prime Minister John Key says he would be happy to work with Phil Goff as Auckland Mayor, should the veteran Labour MP throw his hat in the ring and win.

This morning on the same show Mr Key didn’t give Mr Goff his endorsement, but had praise for his former Prime Ministerial opponent’s skills and experience.

“I don’t mind the guy.”


Mr Key says he won’t be giving any candidates his official endorsement, but may work behind the scenes to give whoever is standing on the right a fighting chance.

“Last time I went to a few fundraisers for John Banks – so privately I’ll do some things where there are people around, and people could have worked it out. But we won’t actually ultimately go out and say ‘it’s this candidate’ or ‘that candidate’.”

Key may work behind the scenes for Crone but the National Party is openly virtually endorsing her campaign.


McCarten moving to Auckland

Matt McCarten is leaving Wellington and his job as Andrew Little’s chief of staff, and is moving to Auckland to apparently head a new Labour office there. Things seem up in the air with an expected official announcement later in the week.

Stuff: Little’s chief of staff to head new Labour office in Auckland

Labour leader Andrew Little’s chief of staff Matt McCarten is poised to quit the job and head up a new Labour office in Auckland.

Little said he had not finalised who would staff the Auckland office, though he had been looking at setting it up for some time.

But the move there by McCarten was “voluntary, willingly and with agreement, not in high dudgeon”.

Asked if he had anyone in line to take over as his chief of staff, after McCarten shifted north, Little said: “That’s part of the detail that is to be finalised”.

Sounds like the story got out before things were sorted out.

His move to Auckland will leave Little searching for both a new chief of staff and a new chief press secretary after Sarah Stuart quit the latter role in May.

And more sorting out to do too.

NZ Herald says:

Labour leader Andrew Little is to open a new Labour Party office in Auckland and re-deploy his chief of staff Matt McCarten as Labour prepares for battle in 2017.

Little said Labour’s new office in Auckland would open by the end of September and McCarten had offered to head it.

It was part of the planning for election year, including how to target the voter-rich Auckland.

Little said he would be spending a lot of time in Auckland and needed a base there. It would be formally announced at a Labour function for Auckland businesses, interest groups and movers and shakers on Wednesday.

McCarten had volunteered to take on the role and was not being pushed.

“He wanted to do it. His strength is in the networks and setting up programmes and places for me to go to and getting stuff organised. And that is what I need.”

Labour currently does not have a party base in Auckland other than its MPs’ electorate offices.

That’s odd. From early July and the Taxpayers’ Union – Speaker’s Warning To Labour Over Parliamentary Funds:

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. Use of taxpayer resources in this way is clearly against the rules.

This says that Labour had already opened a campaign office in Auckland.

Does anyone know what is actually going on here?

The Nation – male suicide, housing and US politics

On The Nation this morning…

Auckland housing again:

Has the Government done enough to tackle Auckland’s housing crisis? Newshub’s political editor Patrick Gower asks Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Same old.

Smith says he can’t force private landowners to build.

Smith says the best way to fight land banking is to create a competitive market … cites Chch as an example.

Last year Smith wrote to four developers to ask them to contact the Council with a time frame for development.

Smith sticks by his previous comments that he wants a house price to income multiple of 4.

MBIE figures show it’ll be 2030 before Auckland’s housing shortfall will be met.

Male suicide (‘the silent epidemic’):

Last year 428 New Zealand men took their own lives. Three times more men die by suicide than women, leading some experts to call male suicide a silent epidemic

This week The Nation investigates what causes men to take this step and what can be done to prevent it.

takes a look at a new prevention programme.

NOTE: If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Prevention Helpline on 0508 828 865

And US politics:

And Paddy also talks Trump with Philip Rucker, a Washington Post political correspondent.

says the Trump campaign is “flailing”.

Spinoff Auckland poll

As a part of their SSI polling The Spinoff got some numbers from party support in Auckland that should cause a bit of concern for National – but Labour and Greens won’t be encouraged much either.

In what appears to be an Auckland poll only, party support:

  • National 42.6%
  • Labour 32.7%
  • Greens 11%
  • NZ First 10.4%

They compare this to the Auckland vote in the 2014 election:

  • National 48.6%
  • Labour 27.7%
  • Greens 9.7%
  • NZ First 6.8%

From: Housing crisis uselessness costing National in Auckland – Spinoff poll

The latest nationwide political poll, this month’s Reid Research-Newshub survey had Labour sitting about the same as the SSI result in Auckland at 32.7 – for National, its 45.1% countrywide figure suggests it might be Auckland at 42.6 in SSI that is weighing it down.  Does the housing bubble turn out to be an anchor?

National has ranged from low forties to low fifties in polls over the last few months, suggesting a lot of volatility in support.

Much may depend on the state of housing this time next year.

The Spinoff-SSI poll was online only. I presume this applies to the above poll:

Survey Sampling International (SSI) conducted an online survey among a representative sample of 760 Auckland residents aged 18 and over with quota applied to gender, age and region within Auckland. All respondents were screened to ensure they were New Zealand residents and eligible to vote. The polling period was 17-19 August and the margin of error is +/- 3.6%.