TRP Adviser 11 August 2017

This week we learned many things.

Bill English is donkey deep in the Todd Barclay affair, Labour have their mojo back and it’s all about me me Metiria.

The revelations that Bill English was texting his former electorate secretary hundreds of times in the lead up to her resignation was bad enough. Now we learn that English unlawfully destroyed the incriminating texts, presumably to avoid public opprobrium.

It seems likely that Winston Peters has some or all of the communications and is going to drip feed them over the next few weeks. He’s going to let English squirm and fret. That’s as it should be, because forcing someone to resign against their will is appalling behaviour.

In the legal trade, that’s known as a constructive dismissal. It’s when someone of power and authority makes life so miserable for an employee that they have no reasonable alternative but to resign.

At least that’s what I hope English was up to with his txt torrent. It’d be truly awful if, as some people have suggested, he was a sex pest. No, that simply can’t be true.

The latest polls have Labour riding high. They’re back up to the giddy heights of the mid thirties, a place that was only a few years ago the death knell for former leaders Shearer and Cunliffe.

There’s a sad irony that a mediocre result is a cause for celebration, but kudos to Andrew Little for allowing this to happen. The Jacinda Affect is real. But will it be sustained? And after the Greens implosion, will the coalition numbers still stack up, even with NZ First’s support?

This has been a chastening week for the Greens. The initial response to Metiria Turei’s admission that she was a benefit fraudster was a leap in support. There was clear public sympathy for her claimed circumstances, but as her story unravelled, that faded fast.

It was political madness to alienate middle class support. The Greens don’t exist without the money and votes of the relatively well off. Trying to rebrand the party as mana with muesli was always going to come at a cost.

The maths simply don’t add up. The beneficiaries Metiria was pitching to are notoriously hard to get enrolled, let alone to get to vote. The gain was always going to be minimal and the potential downside catastrophic.

In short, Meteria Turei’s attempt to be down with the kids has cost her and two other MP’s their jobs. Because they will know struggle to get to double figures, she’s also cost 4 or 5 list candidates seats in parliament as well.

And still she won’t apologise. That’s weird, because she’s going to be doing a lot of apologising in private in the coming weeks. Mainly to the wider family of her child, who she has effectively cast as uncaring and distant.

One last question I haven’t heard asked in the media. Was James Shaw aware of the content of her speech? If he did and was supportive of it, he should also go, because the polling is not their only problem. They’ve effectively given Winston Peters the right to demand they be left out of cabinet if Labour form the next Government.

That’s the real damage me me Metiria has done.

Who has the better skill set to run the country?

More from the Newshub/Reid Research polling:

Who has the better skill set to run the country?

English: “My skills have been tried and tested – that’s for sure. But the big opportunity ahead is to build on what we’ve achieved”.

Ardern:: “I would expect the Prime Minister to have some home ground advantage.”

Obviously English is a lot more experienced at running the country, all incumbents are, but sooner or later voters prefer a change.

Is Jacinda Ardern old enough to be Prime Minister?

  • Yes 79%
  • No 17%
  • Don’t know 4%

Silly question. Of the 17% who voted ‘No’ many of them may just not like Ardern. Ardern has been an MP for 9 years and has prior political experience to that.

Is Bill English too old to be Prime Minister? Is Winston Peters too old to try to be Prime Minister? Just as irrelevant.

Of the 44.4% who supported National:

  • Female 46%
  • Male 54%

That’s a fairly even split, leaning slightly toward male support.

Ardern has strong support from women. Of the 33.1% who supported Labour:

  • Female 63%
  • Male 37%

Labour support ‘when Andrew little was leader’:

  • Female 55%
  • Male 45%

This suggests that the initial surge of support for Labour is from female voters. This isn’t really surprising.

What Newshub don’t reveal is the gender split for other parties. The total remaining:

  • Total 22.5%
  • Female 13.8%
  • Male 8.7%

NZ First + Greens totalled 17.5% with 5% supporting other parties.

I thought that women tended to favour the Greens, if so this suggests that either NZ First support heavily leans male, or the other party support is almost all male.

From: Newshub poll: Women key driver behind Jacinda Ardern’s surge


From: Newshub’s poll data bank

The election is National’s to lose?

General political wisdom claims that elections are for the incumbent to win or lose.

They have a significant advantage in resources and in public recognition because they attract much of the news during a term. But some things even up in an election campaign.

National and Bill English could still plod to victory on the back of their record, especially on the economy. But they are vulnerable on other key issues such as housing, growing concerns about poverty, and health.

They have had to rapidly reassess their campaign after Labour switched leaders, Jacinda Ardern is very different to Andrew Little and Labour’s campaign has been changed and revitalised.

English versus Ardern will be an intriguing contest.

In the past few elections National tended to have low key campaigns with few significant new policies.

Their main point of difference this campaign is their proposed tax cuts, due next April. This could be a powerful difference as Labour’s policies miss the middle voters, while tax cuts target them.

The one policy that will affect me personally the most are the tax cuts.

But against that is National’s stale pale male dominance. And they may have overestimated Paula Bennett’s appeal outside parts of Auckland.

National need to find a way of combating both this and the contrasting youthful energy exuded by Ardern.

Peters blusters through another QT

Winston Peters is determined to keep banging on about Bill English and texts, and the media keeps feeding his bitch, but so far it has been little more than bluster absent anything of substance.

In Question Time today he quoted one of the gazillions of texts English sent every day, but that happens to be one that has already been made public.

Peters has past for for saying, suggesting, insinuating and hinting that he has heaps of damaging communications, the media buy into it, and he doesn’t front up. He seems to expect the media, or Parliament, or the Police to come up with evidence to back his assertions.

So far though this has been a lame attempt at getting back attention sucked away from him by Labour and the Greens.

I’m not sure if he has a cunning plan or he is flailing in hope.

2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how does he actually do that?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes; because I said them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t aware of the employment settlement” relating to the Todd Barclay matter, when one of his texts says: “settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That was the text that came out with the police report. That was the discussion that was had with them at the time. There is absolutely nothing new in that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will have the supplementary question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, when his text message states that Glenys Dickson’s settlement was “part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action.”—his words?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I stand by what I said at the prime ministerial press conference.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Which of the following statements does he stand by: (a) “I wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, or (b) “The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”, and “Had to be part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action. Everybody unhappy.”? Which one of those two statements does he stand by?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just remind the Prime Minister that in rising to answer the question, he does not need to make any comments around the leader’s budget. He has no prime ministerial responsibility for that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, he put it at issue at his Prime Minister’s press conference yesterday, which makes it relevant, and that is why he should be answering the questions, not ducking behind—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I will resume my seat, but you answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: In the first two—I advise the member that when I ask him to resume his seat, he does so. In the first two questions, he certainly referred to statements made at the press conference. In the third supplementary question, which he has just asked, he did not, and that is why I gave that warning to the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That will not do. The Prime Minister at his press conference said he—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume seat immediately, and if he carries on behaving like that—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Don’t threaten me.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I will threaten the member. If he carries on behaving like that, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber. Does the Prime Minister wish to address the question that was asked?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that.

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Without questioning any of the previous rulings that you have made on this, with reference to Speaker’s ruling 170/2AA—which has not previously been canvassed—by Speaker Carter, it states: “Although considerable weight must be given to Minister’s claim that actions or statements were not made in a ministerial capacity, this can never be definitive. Where I judge a question to reveal a reasonable likelihood of a connection to ministerial responsibility, an informative answer must be given.” I would contend that given that it was the Prime Minister’s office that arranged that additional payment, I would say that there probably is a reasonable likelihood of a connection to the ministerial responsibility that is there for you to judge.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his scholarly study of Speakers’ Rulings. Can I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through Parliamentary Service to the party.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister tell us why he deleted hundreds of his text messages relating to the Barclay matter, according to the media, yet insisted upon Judith Collins producing her telephone records when she was a contestant against him for the job of leader of the National Party?

Mr SPEAKER: The right honourable Prime Minister, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no idea what the member is referring to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Of the times he has been down to the Clutha-Southland electorate since he retired as its MP, how often were those trips primarily to meet with Glenys Dickson?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that, that is for sure.


English’s credibility damaged by Barclay

It was fairly obvious Bill English’s credibility, and National Party credibility, will have taken a hit over the now long drawn out Todd Barclay issue.

This has been confirmed by a Newshub poll:  Bill English’s credibility hit by Todd Barclay saga

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows Prime Minister Bill English’s credibility has taken a hit over the Todd Barclay scandal.

By party:

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted July 20-28. One-thousand people were surveyed – 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

This isn’t surprising. I think English handled it poorly – but he was put under extreme pressure by a sustained avalanche of media coverage. It was a big learning experience for him after managing to stay out of the spotlight for years apart from when presenting the annual budgets.

A more important question though is how much this has damaged his and National’s credibility. Do people trust him less than any other politician?

I could answer yes to ‘have I lost some trust in English’, but would how much would that influence my vote this election? That’s a much more complex question that a vague poll cannot address. Neither can I at this stage, there’s going to be many things to consider before I vote.

I could also say that I have lost trust over the media handling of the the Barclay saga.

Poll: 13% want Maori seats scrapped ASAP

A 1 News Colmar Brunton poll asked what New Zealander’s views on the Maori seats were.

  • They should be kept: 55%
  • They should be abolished some time in the future: 23%
  • They should be abolished as soon as possible: 13%

So there is not much immediate pressure to abolish the Maori seats.

1 News: Majority of New Zealanders want to retain the Maori seats

The poll tested opinion after Winston Peters announced three weeks ago that a referendum on the Maori seats was a bottom line for New Zealand First support after the election.

Maori Party co leader Te Ururoa Flavell says…

…he’s “pretty buoyed” by those results.

“I think that endorses the notion that New Zealanders see some value in those seats, number one, and rejects the notion that has been promulgated by Mr Peters”.

Winston Peters:

“The MMP promise was that in time it would demonstrate there was no need for Maori seats. And today we’ve got 24 per cent.”

I think he’s referring to 24% of MPs who identify as Maori.

Prime Minister Bill English:

“We’ve always said our preference is current coalition partners. We don’t rule out New Zealand First.”

An odd comment on this but that has a clear implication National value the Maori Party as a coalition partner and have no immediate plans to address the Maori Seat question.

Ardern’s comment in the 1 News item doesn’t relate to the Maori seat question, but she was clear on The Nation in the weekend:

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

…Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that…

…Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Andrew Geddis at The Spinoff:  The trouble with Winston Peters’ referendums

…his call to allow voters to decide the future of the Māori seats is superficially attractive. However, it ignores the fact that the five-yearly Māori electoral option already provides a de-facto referendum on this question.

During this option period, every voter of Māori descent can choose whether to be on the Maori or General electoral roll. If enough Māori voters decide to switch from the Māori to the General roll, then the Māori seats automatically will cease to exist.

Instead, 55% of all Māori voters prefer to be on the Māori roll. That point really needs emphasising; a majority of those Māori enrolled to vote consciously have chosen that the Māori seats should continue.

So most Maori prefer to be on the Maori seats, and most New Zealanders (78%) support retaining the seats or see see it as something to look at some time in the future.

Peters now is proposing the non-Māori majority will get to decide the future of these seats for Māori. That is just a really, really bad idea. Putting aside the sheer injustice of the proposal, it is a recipe for divisive social conflict.

And so, the Constitutional Review Panel charged with examining New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements concluded in 2013:

Although the Panel received a large number of submissions supporting the removal of the Māori seats this option is not recommended. It is inappropriate for longstanding rights of a minority to be taken away simply because that minority is outnumbered. The existence of the Māori seats does not impede or limit the rights of other New Zealanders to exercise their vote.

For the same reason the Panel does not support the view it heard that a general referendum should be held on the retention or abolition of the Māori seats. The question about options for the Māori seats and Māori representation requires a more nuanced decision-making tool that takes account of minority views. The Panel agrees that the decision about the future of Māori seats should remain in the hands of Māori.

That conclusion was right then, and it remains right today. Peter’s attempt to stir up some Don-Brash-Orewa-speech-era poll magic is a mad, bad and dangerous one.

An important aspect of a representative democracy (and a key reason why we have such a system) is that it is a responsibility of elected representatives to protect the rights of minorities.

That’s why we don’t have binding referendums on reducing taxes for the majority and putting them up for a minority, or having state subsidies on fuel, or banning minority political parties, or banning Catholics, or scrapping the Maori seats.

English announces National’s transport policy

Bill English is in Auckland announcing National’s transport policy.

Today we have announced that we will invest $267m to accelerate the construction of key commuter rail projects in Auckland & Wellington.

We will electrify the Southern Rail line to Pukekohe ($130m), and accelerate the delivery of the Third Main Rail Line in Auckland ($100m).

Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

We’ve worked with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 yrs.

In Wellington, we will deliver a package of projects worth $37m to support the increased use of commuter rail.

$267 million investment in commuter rail 

National is committing up to $267 million of investment over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks to support future passenger growth, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

“Commuter rail has experienced strong growth in Auckland and Wellington. The National-led Government is continuing its already considerable investment in public transport with a further $267 million investment in commuter rail,” Mr Bridges says.

“In Auckland we will invest $130 million to electrifythe track between Papakura and Pukekohe to support these important growth areas in the south and provide a more reliable and efficient services for commuters.

“Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

“Auckland’s population growth has meant more commuter trains using the rail network around Auckland and competing with the growing number of freight trains using this important corridor.

“We’re committing to invest $100 million for a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield providing a dedicated freight line. This will increase the efficiency of this important corridor, allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide more reliability for commuters.

“We’ve worked closed with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 years.

“This means we’re investing in the right projects, at the right times. Projects like the City Rail Link which will deliver a step change in Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“We are also announcing a $37 million Wellington Commuter Package. This will further enhance the reliability of Wellington’s commuter rail network and builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Wellington’s commuter rail package includes:
• A full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham – $22 million
• A third platform for Porirua Station – $3.5 million
• A turn-back facility at Plimmerton – $2.5 million
• Upgrade of bridges and slopes – $9 million
• Upgrade of ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines
• A programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

“The Wellington commuter rail package will enable a more reliable, efficient and frequent commuter service in Wellington. These improvements will support the growing the patronage of these services, Mr Bridges says.

“Together these projects represent a $267 million investment in commuter rail in our biggest cities commuter rail networks.

Q&A:  $267 million investment in commuter rail


These two tweets happened to end up adjacent on my Twitter feed.


Don’t forget National

The National Party has been left in the media dust over the pas few weeks. Metiria Turei grabbed the headlines with her confession about lying to WINZ, and she kept stoking that story along for a couple of weeks.

Labour was virtually invisible, until last Sunday when a bad poll and a bad interview by Andrew Little grabbed the spotlight. Most of the political media attention was on Little until about 10:15 am on Tuesday, when he was suddenly no longer of any interest,

Jacinda Ardern and Labour took over most of the media coverage. This continued through to the weekend, with this ironic tweet pointing out the media overload.

However from Thursday night Ardern had competition when revelations about Metiria Turei’s registered addresses reignited her beneficiary issues – but on Friday Ardern became a significant part of that story too.

Ardern featured on The Nation yesterday and will be on Q+A this morning, as will James Shaw.

What has happened to National? They have largely dropped off the political radar as far as media coverage is concerned.

A search on Google news for Bill English is also dominated by Ardern coverage:


The latest ‘news’ on the National party website:

Minister attending regional security meetings

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today arrive in Manila to meet with his Asia-Pacific counterparts. From August 5 to 8, Mr Brownlee will attend ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial consultations, the…

Minister welcomes pest control ruling

A decision by the High Court today confirming the legality of national pest control regulations is a significant win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds, Environment Minister Dr…

‘Living with Low Vision’ resource

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says a new resource is available to help people with low vision better manage everyday tasks.  Low vision — reduced vision or vision loss…

Nothing from English on page 1 of their latest news. No wonder they aren’t getting much media coverage.

Paula Bennett was on The Nation yesterday, presumably trying to show off National’s female face, but saying nothing of much note.

Labour and the Greens will feature on Q+A shortly.

Ardern is announcing new policy today on Auckland transport or infrastructure (claimed to be either light rail to the airport or a regional tax but they might be diversions).

English is Missing In action.

National seem to have really dropped the campaign ball.

Have they effectively conceded the election? Bugger all policy and bugger all campaigning and bugger all media coverage could result in bugger all votes that matter.


What now for National?

Bill English and National have been left in the dust over the last few weeks, apart from some remnant negative coverage of the Todd Barclay issue.

There has been scant positive coverage of English or National.

Last week the may have thought they could keep their heads down, put out a minimum of new policies, campaign on their record and let the opposition make all the mistakes.

Metiria Turei and the Greens have made a major mistake, but Labour has ditched the poorly performing Andrew little and is resurgent under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership.

Since Tuesday Ardern and Labour have taken over most of the positive coverage, and have had a lot of it.

National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce has mumbled a bit but Bill English has been virtually anonymous.

In the meantime Ardern and Labour continue to build momentum.

English has a real challenge competing with Ardern for attention. He has experience and competence on his side, and the economy is doing well.

But English has to overcome looking old, stale and male. So does National as a whole. There is no sign of them dealing with this yet.

National are at real risk of being overwhelmed by a wave freshness, relative youth and positivity. Doing as close to as little as possible is a poor option.

What now for English and National? I have no idea, there is no sign of a plan.