How solid are campaign policies and pledges?

A lot of attention is given to policies and pledges and promises and hints during election campaigns. Parties argue for their own ‘if we are in Government’ pitches and examine and criticise opposing parties’ promises.

But how much weight should we put on campaign statements? The way MMP works, especially when there is a balance of power play like now, parties have to compromise, they have to give up some of their own policies and accept others.

Already we have seen that Peters appears to back off Maori seat referendum pledge.

If he stood by that pledge it would rule out governing with Labour (or so Labour have said before negotiations begin) so what would reduce his bargaining power substantially.

The way our MMP works all policies are negotiable after the election.

The cynical amongst us might think that some of the ‘promises’ are made to be broken by a junior party accommodation.

Greens knew that would have to have Labour to get into Government, so would have to give up some of their own policies and accept some of Labour’s.

Even though Labour and Greens had a Memorandum of Understanding to present a combined bid for government a core part of that agreement was to be able to have different policies. Even if Labour+Greens had been able to form a government on their own neither would be able to fulfil all their promises.

Peters has already made an adjustment, and with only 7-7.5% of the total vote will have to accept that many of the NZ First policies won’t (or shouldn’t) hold sway no matter which way they go.

There should always be big caveats considered on all campaign policies and pledges.

This is the last day of the campaign!

Today is the last day of the election campaign for 2017. I’m sure many politicians, candidates, journalists and others such as myself will be relieved when it’s over.

All billboards and other public advertising must be removed by midnight and out of sight by election day (ridiculous given the number of advance votes these days), so campaign teams will be busy today cleaning up their efforts to entice voters.

If you want to promote any candidates or parties here get it done today, because you won’t be allowed to tomorrow because of electoral law.

I won’t be doing any posts on New Zealand politics or the election during the day on Saturday, to reduce the risk of anyone breaking the law and putting the site at legal risk.

I will put up an election night post for anyone who wants to comment after voting closes at 7 pm.

“…this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts?”

Inevitably there are people who are disillusioned by election campaigns as they become aware their ideals are a long way from being realised.

From Reddit: An election of disappointments…

Far out. Is anyone else feeling like this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts? This is the first election that I’ve followed closely (during previous ones I’ve been too young and distracted). But yeah, this whole lead up to the election has continually pushed me further down a path of disappointment in politics.

Before the election campaigning started, the state of NZ was pretty disappointing. Huge inequality, super high imprisonment rates, high child poverty, tax loop holes that were massively perpetuating inequality, disproportionate housing prices, high suicide rates, environmental destruction/pollution… you get the picture – NZ certainly had room to improve.

Initially it was looking like another National win. Disappointing, more of the same inequality perpetuated…

Then the Greens (who were, in my opinion, a shining light of hope in that at least the environment might get some wins) started pushing their environmental policies to the back benches, in their attempts to win more votes through social/economic polity. On top of that, the Greens then fell victim to some silly nonsense that was blown out of proportion by the media. Disappointing that the media did that, and that the general public reacted the way they did…

It was great to see Turei standing up for her values, and to see a bit of an up-rising of people in similar (oppressed) positions. But then she gave up, and stood down… disappointing.

Then Labour changed their leadership (but kept 90% of the same policies), and the public started frothing at the loins. It was heartening that we might be able to take a small step toward more equality with Labour’s policies, but disappointing that the public could be so shallow as to have their vote swung by a new face alone.

And now, for fuck’s sake, Labour has bowed to National’s pressure and the size of the possibly small step in the right direction (toward more equality) just got 100x smaller… we’re now all staring down the barrel of the same old gun of perpetuating inequality no matter which major party wins… disappointing as fuck.

The one true beacon of hope in all of this, in my opinion, has been TOP. A fresh party with fresh policies that are actually based on evidence and expert input. But again, disappointing that the general public seem to be too blinkered to even take the time to consider an alternative…

I guess I should just be happy that I’ve been lucky enough to have had the amazing opportunities that have placed me above the half way mark, and I’m on the lucky side of the perpetuating inequality… but still, it feels like a kick to the guts. NZ can’t really win this election.

Are all elections this disappointing?

Can anyone point out some positives for me? Please?

Parties and candidates can’t please all of the people all of the time.

But in their desperation to appeal to all voters do they end up disappointing everyone?

I’m certainly disappointed by the quality of this campaign, by what is on offer and how it has been offered.

ACT campaign launch and education policy

The ACT Party has launched their campaign today and at the same time has announced new education policy – better pay for better teachers.

ACT announces better pay for great teachers

“Good teachers help children grow, develop, and reach their full potential which is vital to their future success,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unfortunately, because of union contracts, teachers hit maximum pay after ten years, schools can’t reward successful teachers, and teaching is not regarded as a strong career choice for our brightest graduates.

“Right now the best teachers earn the same as the worst teachers. Graduates are deserting Auckland schools or deserting teaching altogether. Teachers can only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids.

“ACT says this is crazy. We want the best teachers to stay in the profession and in the classroom.

“With the current government surplus at $3.7 billion, ACT will give principals $975 million to pay good teachers more, without cutting government services or raising taxes. But the schools will only be eligible for this funding if they abandon nationally-negotiated union contracts. This will make it easier for principals to replace bad teachers with great ones.

“ACT’s Good Teacher Grants will boost teachers’ pay by $20,000 on average, and elevate teaching as a profession, to attract the best graduates to teach our children and keep the most capable teachers in the classroom.”

Speech and policy explainer : Pay Good Teachers More

ACT BELIEVES

New Zealand kids should be taught by highly skilled professional teachers. Education is the most important gift we can give our children, to give them a head-start in life.

It is wrong that the best teacher and the worst teacher are paid the same. Incentives matter, it’s wrong that the only way for teachers to increase their pay, in many cases, is to take management hours and spend less time teaching kids.

Teachers, as salaried professionals, are undervalued. To attract the best school leavers and graduates into teaching as a profession, we have to lift the overall salary range.

ACT’S RECORD ON EDUCATION

ACT’s proudest achievement is in introducing choice into education. We championed Partnership Schools which are seeing Iwi, Pasifika Groups, community groups and others running new-model schools which are changing kids lives. We don’t believe that one size fits all in education.

Our policy has been to increase support for independent schools – they save taxpayers money, and provide parents with choice in the type of education they get for their children.

OUR POLICY IS TO PAY GOOD TEACHERS MORE

This policy will add $1 Billion into the funding that is available for teacher salaries. On average we will increase teacher salaries by $17,700 per teacher. This will enable the best teachers to stay in the classroom, and elevate teaching as a profession.

The Government surplus sits at $3.7 Billion. That means this policy is affordable and we can deliver improvements in teacher quality alongside tax cuts, while maintaining all core government spending.

We will enable schools to opt out of union contracts. This will mean they gain the flexibility to recognise great teachers by paying them more and rewarding their achievement.

Schools will be able to pay more to attract teachers to fill specialist skills shortages – in areas like science, technology, Te Reo and international languages.

 

What now for the campaign?

Bill English has proven capable of being a good enough Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardern stepped up in last night’s debate and showed that she can look Prime Ministerial.

Ardern wasn’t flawless in the debate, and English hasn’t been flawless as PM. Both have obvious vulnerabilities, personally and through their parties.

Polls show that Labour and National are statistically level pegging, with yesterday’s Colmar Brunton giving a slight advantage to Labour (43%-41%).

What now for the campaign?

Labour have obvious momentum and could keep rising, or they may have peaked and could settle back. National could slip some more, or when it comes to the crunch voters may be attracted back to the safer option. We’ll have to wait and see.

National have a good record on some things, especially on economic management during some difficult years. They also have valid criticism for their less than capable efforts on housing, and health is a major concern for voters who see growing problems. They have also accumulated a number of stuff ups and embarrassments that have taken their toll.

Labour has finally found a leader that appeals to voters. Ardern has turned around her party quite adeptly and dramatically. But they still have a weak looking caucus.

We now have three weeks and a day until the election, but advance voting opens in 10 days (on September 11). Not much time left, but going by a tumultuous campaign so far any number of things could still happen.

Barring any more major surprises I think the crux of the election will come down to three things in particular.

 1. The tide of change versus staying with what we know.

 2. Tax cuts versus uncertainty over possible tax changes and increases.

The National Government have already scheduled tax cuts from next April which amount to about $1,000 in the hand per average wage earner.

Labour have said they will wipe those cuts, they have announced a number of tax increases, and they won’t say what they will do with a capital gains tax (the implication is they will introduce a CGT with exemptions).

 3. Many voters will be having a good look at potential coalition arrangements and what that may mean beyond a single party’s policies.

On current polling:

  • National could only form a coalition with NZ First.
  • Labour could also form a coalition with NZ First.
  • Labour are close to being able to form a coalition with Greens and Maori.
  • Greens are close to not making it back into Parliament.

If National slip more, and/or if NZ First slip more (they have been trending down in the polls) then National may have no coalition options.

If Labour gain more and Greens survive then Labour could have a choice between NZ First and Greens.

An obvious advantage to Labour, but events and polls may have some more twists yet.

 

 

Q+A: Steven Joyce and National’s campaign

Q+A this morning: “Our political editor Corin Dann talks to the National Party campaign manager Steven Joyce about how National will respond to Labour’s rise in the polls.”

On Ohariu – Joyce says they have been doing numbers there too and it’s closer but he said Dunne has it all ahead of him. he gives a big plug for Dunne due to his contribution to stability in government.

He makes the point that voting choices tend to be made quite late in key electorates involving large amounts of tactical voting.

Joyce downplays the strength of Winston peters and New Zealand First.

He concedes that National are about 3% shy of where they want to be, confirming recent public polls that have National in the mid forties.

On the Jacinda effect? No more worried than in any election. Elections are won and lost on small margins, ‘it’s slightly different’, he says similar to 2005 (in which NZ First called the coalition shots).

Aim: TOP dog on cross benches

It’s getting hard to differentiate between attention seeking stunts, a normal day in the campaign, and official party launches these days.

Gareth Morgan and the The Opportunities Party have been campaigning for Months, but they had their official campaign launch today.

Scoop:  Labour will need more than ‘Jacinda Trudeau’: TOP

“Quite clearly, Jacinda’s a great communicator, so that’s good,” said Morgan, who welcomed Labour’s resurgence as “great for New Zealand democracy”.

“It’s an issue of whether that’s sufficient for Labour: the Jacinda Trudeau Effect, I call it,” he said, referring to the impact a young, stylish leader has had on Canadian politics through its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

On TOP:

While TOP’s plan was to “to be a 30 percent party by 2020”, he expected TOP to poll 10 percent at the Sept. 23 election, although modified that to “being realistic” 5 percent and six MPs in the next Parliament, enough potentially to help form a minority government led by either National or Labour.

TOP has polled 2 percent in three published polls and 3 percent in a UMR poll reported this week by Radio New Zealand.

The party hopes that means it has the momentum to make 5 percent by election day. As TOP expects to win no electorate seats, a party vote under 5 percent would be wasted as it would gain no parliamentary seats under New Zealand’s MMP proportional voting system.

Morgan insisted he did not want to become a Cabinet Minister and would look only to provide support to a government from Parliament’s ‘cross-benches’.

Rather than naming non-negotiable ‘bottom line’ policies, if TOP had a choice of partners, it would pick the one that promised to enact the largest number of TOP’s 15 main policies, said Morgan.

“Whoever gives us the most will get the nod.”

So Morgan wants to be TOP dog on the cross benches.

Little and Labour’s fresh approach

Andrew Little with Labour’s first campaign advertisement.

Promoting candidate or party?

Interesting to see the candidate most prominent on that hoarding. Under MMP the party vote is what really counts.

In past elections, 2014 in particular, Labour electorate candidates had inconsistent approaches. Some virtually hid their Labour connections and promoted their own interests. It will be interesting to see if they are more consistent this time.

So it looks like ‘a fresh approach’ is going to be the Labour campaign slogan.

Their website features this:

LabourCampaignAFreshApproach

That seems to be promoting people more than party as well.

 

NZ First campaign launch speech

Winston Peters launched NZ First into the election campaign with a speech in the weekend.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.

Interesting to see “It’s time for a change” in there. That’s similar to what Greens and Labour have been campaigning on (they say ‘change the government’ or ‘campaign for change’).

Full speech:


The regions – Together, for New Zealand

It has been an explosive week in politics.

A week that will go in the history books as the time two Prime Ministers covered up a crime and were party to a payout to buy off a witness.

We have heard the people of Clutha-Southland feel hurt, fragile and let down.

They have every right to be.
While The Barclay Debacle revealed the corrupt inner workings of the National Party machine, it told us also that National Party takes the regions for granted.

One television commentator said National could stand a blue sheep in Clutha-Southland and it would still win the electorate.
The sheep would also be more honest. On television yesterday Mr English said in excusing his behaviour, “I am not a lawyer”. He conveniently forgets the adage, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

This is a sad state of affairs.

“Defibulators” – for National

The National Party Cabinet are into spin, downright deceit and Fibs. As Mr English displayed alongside Paula Bennet and others, they simply can’t tell the truth. So as part of our Heath Policy this election we’re going to order up a whole lot of defibulators and send them to their offices. Every time they tell a lie this machine will give them a shock. It might be painful but that’s what it will take.

Men like Keith Holyoake must be rolling in their graves.
Not only that – National has no sound policies to progress all of New Zealand.

They have let the wealth get sucked out of our regions with little payback.
They have let much of our assets and land be sold off to foreign buyers.
They have under-funded regional roads and hospitals.
They have no coherent plan for our regions just as they have no coherent economic plan for this country.
And they’ve have turned their backs on our young people.

They’ve allowed the situation to descend to the point one economist has said some of our provincial centres are “zombie towns.”

We’ve got zombies alright – but they’re not in our provinces.
They’re in the Beehive.

It is the regions that produce by far most of our country’s wealth.

Our biggest export earners, the sectors that pay our way in the world, are tourism, dairying, meat, and forestry.

We have Queen Street farmers but what are they doing for the wealth of this country?

Within a few years experts tell us more than half of New Zealand’s population will live north of Taupo.

Thats because of a lack of political vision and a contempt for the real wealth creators of this country.

National is most at home when they are in Wellington, among all the shiny suits and bureaucrats, adjudicating on New Zealand from their ivory towers.

Mr English has just finished his speech to the National Party conference. Bereft of ideas and excuses, all he could promise after nine years of National was increased incomes and lower taxes by 2020. Surrounded by all manner of deficits, Canute like he promises surpluses and tax cuts.

The Regions and Reserve Bank Reform

Fundamental to a successful economy – and thriving regions over the long term – is an exchange rate that supports exporters and the regions.

Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.

We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters.

Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies

We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports

The Bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.

As a small open economy New Zealand is dependent on a competitive exchange rate.

NZ has a persistent and chronic balance of payments deficit – and this shows the New Zealand dollar does not reflect the underlying reality.

Risks abound in the global economy and New Zealand is highly exposed and vulnerable to any volatility.

NZ First is committed to reforming the Reserve Bank Act as a vital step in safeguarding our economic future –and the future heath of regional New Zealand.

The Regions and Small businesses

Small businesses are the engine room of New Zealand’s economy and are critically in regions such as Manawatu.

Ninety seven per cent of all businesses in New Zealand are small businesses. They employ over 2 million people and produce 27 per cent of GDP per year.

By helping more businesses become profitable, sustainable and competitive will ensure they are in the best position to hire new employees and create jobs.
To boost small businesses New Zealand First will in this Campaign, set out its policies, to really help them start and grow by:

•  A wage subsidy for small business that take on job seekers and provide work experience.

•  Real incentives for small businesses to help disengaged youth become work ready and support mature age job seekers back into work.

•  Immediate Tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000

•  Immediate Tax deduction for professional expenses when starting a business, and by

•  Streamlining business registration for those planning to start a business

• And we are going to get Nationals Ninny, Nosey Nannie state off your back.

Virtually overnight, New Zealand’s oldest licenced premises at Russel, The Duke of Marlbourgh Restaurant had to pull a burger that is a cornerstone of its menu –because it offended MPIs food preparation guidelines by the meat being “pink and raw”.

“Basically the Ministry is telling us how our customers need to eat their food”, said the good people at the Duke.

In Wellington now more tedious bureaucrat’s regimes of food preparation are being dreamt up requiring small businesses to pay thousands of dollar to comply or shut down.

You vote for New Zealand First and we’ll put a leg rope on them whilst reminding these bureaucrats who pays their wages.

The Regions and Student debt

Palmerston North is a university town.

Let’s face it there are a lot of hard-up students here, wondering how they’re going to get by with the weight of massive debts on their shoulders.
New Zealand First will get rid of the student loan for Kiwi students staying and working here in NZ after they finish their studies.

The only requirement is that they work for the same number of years as they have studied.

So three years in tertiary education requires three years in the workforce – five years tertiary means five years in the workforce.

But if they leave for a big OE, and decide to work overseas, they will have to pay back the cost of their tertiary education.

Where they have a current student debt then the system changes to our dollar for dollar policy.

For graduates with skills required in the regions, like teachers, nurses, doctors, police and other much needed regional skills, we plan to use a bonding system.

We will also introduce a universal student allowance.

These are our practical solutions to the huge debt students have to grapple with.

Our policies will also address many of the skills shortages we have in our regions.

The Regions and Infrastructure Deficits

If you were at the National Party conference you would have heard the sound of coughing and spluttering. That’s the sound of their Auckland delegates choking under the sheer weight of numbers due to a reckless and irresponsible open door immigration policy.
Billions are being spent to address Auckland’s chronically overloaded infrastructure.
Last weekend marked the official completion of the Waterview Motorway Tunnel in Auckland – the bill $1.4 billion.
The Auckland City Rail link is underway – there will not be any change out of $3 billion when that project is completed.
Yes Auckland’s infrastructure deficit is plain to see.
But what about regional New Zealand?
Regional infrastructure is the poor cousin – it is being overlooked and put at the end of the queue when it comes to funding.
And this is despite the massive growth of tourism – the costs of which fall primarily on regional NZ
The government boasts of a tourism bonanza, which is based in the Regions, and yet gives almost nothing back to the Regions to fund the cost of it.
We have 30,000 Kilometres of unsealed roads, single lanned bridges and a serious lack of toilets, parking and basic infrastructure.
In this campaign New Zealand First will detail how we are going to return the full GST from Tourists back to the regions in which they spent the money. The data, easily accessible which measures this spend already. You make the money here and you’re going to get your fair share back.
NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.
The Regions and Rail
Rail has a valuable role to play in the development of regional NZ.
But the National Government has run the railway network down to a neglected and parlous state.
NZ First will give rail a real role in regional NZ by properly investing in the rail system.
And we will stop the made conversation to diesel from electrification.
We will stop National’s Luddite behaviour.
Broadband
Regional NZ also has to deal with the unreliability of cellular services and patchy broadband.
This is another illustration of where the government’s heart lies and it’s not in rural and regional New Zealand.
Regional NZ needs massive infrastructure improvement – urgently.
That will take substantial investment and NZ First is committed to making that happen.

The Regions and Stopping the Selloff of our Country
New Zealand under the old parties has been a soft touch for foreign buyers.
The wealth generated in regional NZ is increasingly flowing into the pockets of overseas owners.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a facade – a token exercise intended to give the impression that someone actually takes the national interest into account before foreign buyers get the green light.
The losses of land into foreign ownership are staggering 460,000 hectares alone last year.
The deals invariably get the usual Overseas Investment Office rubber stamp.
There is no requirement on foreign buyers to invest locally in downstream production or new technology.
Under our policy the rules would be strict – there would need to be clear, unequivocal and quantifiable benefits to New Zealand before foreign ownership was allowed.
The Regions and Water
A few years ago the Manawatu River was rated the most polluted river in the Southern Hemisphere.
Three hundred rivers and streams across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand were assessed.
And clean, green NZ came up with the worst river of the lot.
Most of the Manawatu River’s was due to nitrogen runoff from farms; but treated sewage discharged by councils was also a major contributor.
No doubt councils and most farmers would accept such degradation of waterways around New Zealand is not acceptable.
New Zealand First is calling for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to be reviewed.
We cannot allow our rivers and waterways to descend to the level of cesspits.
New Zealand Frist would ensure that only the sustainable taking and use of water for commercial purposes is permitted by developing a national water use strategy.
Legislation must be in place to make sure that the granting of RMA consents is consistent with the proposed new national policy statement and the Strategy.
But we are going to properly finance rural New Zealand into environmental recovery because we are all in this together.

Royalties to the Regions

NZ First has a Royalties for the Regions Policy.
Under this policy, 25% of royalties collected by the government from enterprises such as mining, petroleum and water stay in the region of origin.

As an example, the government collects over $400 million in royalties.

Under our scheme over $100 million, year on year, would remain in the regions for investment.

That money would help to regenerate regional New Zealand.

It is demonstrably wrong that companies like Coca Cola, Suntory Holdings, Oravida, Fiji Water – can take our water for a pitiful token fee while they make millions of dollars from it.

National says no-one owns the water – so foreign companies can come in and take it.

Do you think that is right? No. And nor does New Zealand First.

National arrogance

As we said at the start, National have been a major disappointment, not just to the wider population of New Zealand but to their own faithful followers.

Arrogant National MPs –  Alfred Ngaro acting like a Mafiosi heavy telling the Salvation Army to shut up or else.

Nicky Wagner tweeting frivolously and insulting the disability community.

Simon Bridges blocking information being released on KiwiRail in reply to an OIA.

And now hush money and a prime minister donkey deep in a cover-up.

The true economic reality

In spite of all the pixie dust Mr English and his colleagues come up with, there is not a lot to be optimistic about.

The government says we have GDP growth rate of 2.8%.
But New Zealand’s population has been growing at 2% annually, mostly from overseas.

So, 2% has to be deducted from GDP numbers before any real growth can be claimed.

The real barometer of prosperity, GDP per person is pitiful – less than 1 per cent a year.

We have homelessness.
Growing inequality.
Thousands of young New Zealanders aimlessly going nowhere.

Record net immigration has now shot up to another record of more than 73,000.

And the government tells us they’re skilled workers and we need them.

Most of them aren’t skilled.

We have a director general of health who can’t get his sums right and a health minister who is so obsessed with taking a hatchet to health, he didn’t notice the funding blunders until it was too late.

Fourteen DHBs overpaid and six under-paid.

This is banana republic stuff.

95% of the NZ banking system is held overseas

NZ’s net debt to the rest of the world has soared up to $156 billion.

We have regions running on empty.

We have unacceptable delays from the Electricity Authority sorting out their pricing methodology creating uncertainty and preventing business owners investing in the regions.

Law and order has fallen apart in many provincial areas with fly-by policing and empty police stations.

These are facts.

The Regions and Personal Security

In the last eight or nine years new Zealanders have been told that crime is falling. It’s a lie of course hidden by the Governments catch and release policy – catch criminals but warn them and not charge them. That’s how National has got lower crime figures but their deceit has been exposed and they’re trying to cover it with and extra 880 police over the next four years. And that’s 1000 short of what’s needed.

New Zealand First will recruit 1800 extra front line police in the next three years. Just like we recruited 1000 front line police the last time we had the power to.

Restoring hope

New Zealand First wants to restore hope in our young people.
Hope so that a job is achievable for them.
Hope so that they can one day own a home of their own.
Hope so they don’t see despair, but a future for themselves, their families and their communities.

And hope in our regions and our whole country.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.