Research NZ – low confidence and trust in politicians

Members of Parliament and local council members are the least trusted of a range of professions and groups, and journalists are virtually the same.

Research NZ asked the general public to rate their level of trust and confidence in parliamentary representatives compared to some other professions.

  • Fire Service 89%
  • Ambulance Service 81%
  • Doctors and nurses 81%
  • Police 69%
  • School teachers 65%
  • Lawyers 43%
  • Government workers 35%
  • Journalists 23%
  • Local council members 22%
  • Members of Parliament 22%

Respondents were considered to have trust and confidence if they rated it between 7-10 on a 0-10 scale.

With elected representatives and those who are supposed to hold politicians to account grouped a distant last this doesn’t look good for our democracy.

Confidence rising, costs falling

A number of business and economic indicators are positive, immigration and tourism are at record highs while mortgage rates are at record lows and oil prices continue to fall (Brent crude at 11 year low).

ODT reports in Full of confidence:

At a glance

• Westpac McDermott Miller December consumer confidence: 110.7 points, up 4.7 points on September

• ANZ Business Outlook – business confidence rises to an eight-month high

• ANZ Job Ad Series has risen for the third consecutive month, first time since early 2014

• Strong retail sales expected, but warnings about getting into debt issued

• Gross domestic product (economic) growth in the third quarter outperformed the first and second quarters put together.

McDermott Miller director John McDougall said the December result in the consumer confidence survey was still 4.2 points below the level prevailing last Christmas but marked the largest quarterly increase since December 2013.

The lift was largely driven by a return to positive sentiment about the short-term prospects for the New Zealand economy with a net 7.7% expecting good times over the coming year – a sharp contrast with the net 15% expecting bad times in September.

Among those consumers expecting good economic times over the next year, the most commonly cited reason was a belief in “effective government economic policy”.

Only 10% credited better export prospects.

Among those expecting bad economic times, the most common reason was “wrong government economic government policies” followed by low dairy prices, he said.

So economic indicators and confidence are looking positive.

Tourism and immigration are both at record highs.

NZ in demand as destination

New Zealand remains an attractive destination to move to permanently or visit, with both November’s monthly migration and tourism numbers reaching record highs.

Statistics New Zealand figures show net migration inflows remain at an extremely high level with no signs of moderating.

ASB chief economist Chris Tennent-Brown said strong net migration inflows were helping support robust levels of consumption but were also adding workers to the labour market and helping keep a lid on inflation.

Seasonally-adjusted visitor numbers were also at a record level and that was boosting service exports.

“We expect visitor arrivals growth to remain firm over 2016, with the lower New Zealand dollar boosting spending.”

Also helping many people (in business and with mortgages) are record low interest rates.

Record-low rates; bank margins fall

The competitive lending environment of the first half of the year intensified in the three months ended September as banks offered record-low interest rates to attract customers.

And oil prices (and petrol prices) keep going down.

Brent oil hits 11-year low

Brent oil cratered to its lowest price in more than 11 years, as demand for heating oil slumped on warmer-than-normal temperatures and traders tested for a bottom.

Brent futures were down 53 cents at $36.35, falling as much as 2 percent during the session to a low of $36.04, their weakest since July 2004.

Brent has dropped nearly 19 percent this month, its steepest fall since the collapse of failed US bank Lehman Brothers in October 2008.

US crude remained above its 2009 low and settled up a penny a barrel as traders squared positions ahead of the January contract’s expiration. The February contract declined and analysts expect stockpiles to build again this week, signaling further oversupply in already glutted market.

So business confidence and spending are up, while significant personal and business costs are down.

These things are reported in passing by the media but seem to get far less attention than trivial things.

Journalists, MPs least trusted

A lot is surmised about why people are turning away from voters and turning off politics. There’s also a lot of comment on why there are diminishing audiences for news and current affairs.

A repeat of a trust and confidence survey may give some idea of why.

Journalists and MPs are a clear bottom of the trust and confidence pile. NZ Herald reports Trust survey results revealed: MPs, journalists least trusted.

Trust and confidence in members of Parliament has increased, but in the public mind MPs are still second-to-bottom of a list of 10 types of jobs and organisations.

MPs rank slightly ahead of journalists, the least-trusted group, and behind local council members, lawyers and civil servants, who are all below the half-way mark in a survey of public trust and confidence.

At the other end of the scale – the occupational groups and organisations which inspire the greatest public trust and confidence – are the ambulance service, the Fire Service, doctors and nurses, the police and school teachers.

Can we trust this report? It is based on a media release from Research New Zealand and the numbers support it.

These are public perceptions only but it is not a good look for our democracy.

Research New Zealand asked 500 adult telephone survey respondents to order the work groups and organisations from zero, those in which they had no trust and confidence, to 10, full trust and confidence. The survey results report the percentages of respondents who scored each group or organisation between 7 and 10, which the researchers considered was the range between which a group could be said to have the trust and confidence of the public.

The question was first asked in 2013 and repeated in a survey last month amongst other topics

That’s a relatively small sample size with the margin or error for results 20-30 of +/- 4% but they are clearly at the bottom of the trust pile.

I wonder where bloggers would rate in a survey like that.

Research New Zealand survey media release.

Has Bryce Edwards manufactured news?

No, he has prompted some blog opinion and then summarised it.

Whale Oil is acting upset about Bryce Edwards asking for bloggers to write on a specific topic. Edwards tweeted on Thursday:

I’m writing a Political Roundup for tmrw on ‘National’s overconfidence problem’. Any bloggers wanna address this issue, so I can link?

That’s a bit unusual, Edwards usually does round-ups of news and opinion that’s already published.But more widely it’s common for journalists to seek opinions that go with a story they are doing, it’s a core function of journalism.

The resulting column went online at NZ Herald – Bryce Edwards: National’s overconfidence problem  -and NBR yesterday.

Whale Oil blogged Herald and Bryce Edwards manufacturing news again today:

So there wasn’t any copy for him to use on his chosen topic so he went out and begged for it…to create the impression that there was over confidence and arrogance amongst National. He had nothing..and so begged for copy. And so his dutiful obedient left wing followers all piled in to help him with his column.

And concludes:

Bryce Edwards might be ab academic, but with his columns for the Herald in election year he is increasingly partisan, and in this case he has manufactureed his content and aided conveniently by a compliant and obedient left wing of the blogosphere.

So how bad was Edwards’ column? His opening paragraph:

Voters like politicians to be confident – and the National Government is certainly obliging at the moment with supreme self-assurance. In politics, however, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and any successful government risks tipping into overconfidence, with its associated pitfalls. It could be argued that signs of arrogance are emerging at the moment for National.

It can always be argued that a Government is showing signs of arrogance and overconfidence, right through their term. They are natural occurrences in a bubble of power. They are a potential danger in an election year so it’s reasonable to examine them.

Cameron Slater has long campaigned against standards at NZ Herald and this is a continuation, plus he makes the point…

I’m not upset, merely drawing attention to the double standards of people like Bryce Edwards who accuse me of manufacturing issues or stories and then go and do it themselves aided and abetted by useful idiots who can’t see when they are being manipulated.

Everyone commenting on politics constructs/manufactures their articles and posts. There’s just different ways of doing it. As Whale Oil well knows, he’s at the forefront of constructing political narratives.

See previous post: Overconfidence versus undercompetence

Overconfidence versus undercompetence

Are National getting overconfident? And does it matter?

There’s always smatterings of overconfidence and arrogance with any government. There’s a notable smattering right now in the way Judith Collins and John Key have dealt with the Chinese milk company visit.

Is it more prevalent in a Government’s sixth year compared to their first year? That’s hard to judge.

It’s a long way out from the election, there’s months in which National can tweak their confidence levels and present themselves as capable enough to do another term running government.

Voters like confidence, they like backing winners.

National will be well aware of the dangers of appearing too cocky, even if they are justifiably feeling cock-a-hoop over their current obvious advantage over their opposition.

It’s how National appear compared to Labour that’s the key. This will be most important in the two months leading up to the election, in five or six months time.

Tweaking confidence levels a bit over a few months looks far less difficult than overcoming undercompetence that appears to be getting worse by the week.

I expect National supporters will be very confident that John Key can front up with the necessary demeanour during the election campaign, when it really matters, and when nine tenths of the focus will be on party leaders.

At this stage of an election year I know what I’d want to have if I had a choice between a bit of overconfidence and a cancer of undercompetence.

It’s sad when something like this is viewed more in sympathy than as an attempted put down.

The National supporters circulating that have good reason to be feeling very confident.

Confidence can dissipate overnight, but getting confidence back can take too long, especially if influential members of your caucus have no confidence in you and seem to be only confident of one thing – saving their own sorry seats.