Q+A – environment debate

All of Q+A this morning will be a debate on the environment.

The way we care for our environment has emerged as a key election issue – especially the state of some of our polluted waterways. Q+A has an hour long environment debate with 7 candidates on Sunday. Which party wins your environment vote?

Scheduled to take part:

  • David Parker (Labour Party) – Spokesperson for Environment, Water
  • Scott Simpson (National Party) – Minister for the Environment
  • James Shaw (Green Party) – Spokesperson for Climate Change
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party)
  • David Seymour (ACT Party)
  • Damian Light (United Future Party)
  • Winston Peters (NZ First Party) – Spokesperson for everything

Denis O’Rourke is the NZ First spokesperson for climate change and also for the Environment but has been shunted down to 13 on their party list. Peters has chosen to take part in a debate for a change.

Small party leaders debate

 

Tonight at 7:00 pm on TV1 there will be a leaders debate that excludes the two main party leaders).

Taking part:

  • Damian Light (United Future)
  • James Shaw (Greens)
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party)
  • David Seymour (ACT)

This is the debate that Gareth Morgan went to court to try to get in, and failed. And Winston Peters thinks it’s beneath his stature to take part with minnow party leaders.

It will be moderated by Corin Dann (Mike Hosking is sick so had to step down).


I thought it was an interesting debate.

James Shaw looked like he really didn’t want to be there, perhaps a very hard month is taking it’s toll. He was a bit robotic with the standard Green spiel. And at the end when he said he was really excited about the prospects of a Labour Green (and maybe Maori) government he looked like it was his turn to change the nappies.

But he had probably the best line of the night.

Peters didn’t want to take part supposedly because English and Ardern weren’t involved, so in his absence the others took him apart a number of times.

David Seymour was dominant, too much so at times, but he had plenty of opportunity to promote his cause – enough party votes to get at least one fellow ACT MP working with him for the next term.

Marama Fox was the star performer, an informed, eloquent and passionate promoter for her Maori constituency. It will be a real shame if she doesn’t make it back into Parliament.

Damian Light’s presence highlighted the stupidity of TVNZ rules for who could and who couldn’t take part (Gareth Morgan would have made it a better debate), and his nervousness showed at times, but for his first time on the big political stage he did very well, stating clearly and knowledgeable what UF’s policy positions were.

All four who took part had a decent chance to promote themselves a bit, but on a Friday night the audience was probably not very attracted or engaged.

But it was a useful albeit flawed part of our democratic process.

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.

 

Finance debate impressions

The finance debate in Queenstown last night was not broadcast on mainstream TV so I thought that the audience would be small, but going by the surge in hits here due to the debate there seems to have been a lot of interest.

Stuff Live have a lot of points from the debate.

My overall impressions:

Steven Joyce – a knowledgeable and competent performance generally but struggles to be convincing on housing issues, the government’s big problem. Probably gained and lost few votes.

Grant Robertson – also a competent enough performance, knows his lines well. His big problem was emphasised several times, whether Labour would introduce a Capital Gains Tax or not.

  • Robertson keeps saying Labour is being transparent by not saying what they will do.
  • He says they have been transparent since 2015 on waiting for a tax working group to ‘advise’ at some time in the future, but two years is ample time to have got advice from tax experts.
  • He admitted it will be a political decision.
  • He keeps using the example of National increasing GST after saying they wouldn’t, which suggests an intent to do something different to what they are saying.

James Shaw – a very competent performance from him but the quietest and least prominent. He comes across as knowledgeable and reasonable (whether you agree with his policies or not). He won’t have harmed the greens and may have helped. However the Greens would benefit from having a stronger more charismatic co-leader.

David Seymour – promoted ACT policies well, spoke strongly and well, joked, and kept needling Peters with some success. He usually got a good response from the crowd. He won’t have harmed ACT’s chances but has a battle improving them – his performance will have helped.

Winston Peters – but I think he came across far too doom and gloom and cranky. He preached doom for the country unless he gets to run it, but wouldn’t commit to what he might do on a number of things, including CGT and whether he would go left or right. A number of petty attacks, especially against Seymour. A blustering bullying bullshitting old school politician who contrasts a lot with Jacinda Ardern. I doubt he would have increased his fan base last night.

Debate reports

ODT: Tax main debate topic

On a capital gains tax, Mr Gower asked New Zealand First leader Winston Peters if he would stop the Labour Party introducing one during potential post-election negotiations between the two parties.

Mr Peters avoided the question, instead telling Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson that he should tell the public before the election what rate the tax would be.

On an international tourist tax, Green Party leader James Shaw said his party had a different version to that announced by Labour on Monday, but he was confident any border levy up to about $50 a head would make no difference to tourist numbers.

Mr Peters said the Government should instead return the $1.5billion in annual GST receipts from tourism back to the regions where it was generated.

On the question of a bed tax, Finance Minister Mr Joyce said it was unnecessary because local councils, such as those in Queenstown Lakes and Auckland, effectively already had them in the form of targeted rates on businesses benefiting from tourism.

Mr Peters said he favoured the idea as a last resort if the Government failed to return more of its GST take to the regions, while Mr Shaw said he supported a recommendation for a national bed tax contained in last year’s McKinsey report, and also wanted campervans to be taxed.

But Mr Seymour said Act opposed bed taxes, and councils should instead be able to keep half the GST receipts on construction activity in their districts.

Newshub: Female candidates a sticking point at ASB Great Debate

ACT’s David Seymour, Labour’s Grant Robertson and Green’s James Shaw all amped up the popularity of their female politicians, at the end of the finance debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night.

Newshub:  David Seymour to Winston Peters on pension scandal: ‘Give them the file’

ACT Party leader David Seymour has called for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to release his original form applying for the pension, after it was revealed he was receiving more than he was entitled to for seven years.

“I know that secret files don’t get out of the Government’s computers and into journalists’ inboxes by mistake,” Mr Seymour said at the ASB Great Debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night.

“One of the best things we could do is Winston, mate, just give them the file, so we can know it really was just a minor administrative error and we can all move on.”

It’s since emerged a number of National Party members were told about Mr Peters’ pension problems, as part of the ‘No Surprises’ policy. National finance spokesperson Steven Joyce, also at the debate, “categorically den[ied]” that a National member was involved in the leak.

Mr Peters argued they shouldn’t have been told at all, as it wasn’t relevant to the Government.

It wasn’t the only clash between Mr Seymour and Mr Peters during the debate, which saw another party representative joke the two were “like a couple of Chihuahuas”.

At one point Mr Peters scornfully pointed out Mr Seymour was talking big talk considering what his party was polling – 0.6 percent, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll – and called him “a National party puppet”.

At another, Mr Seymour criticised Mr Peters’ many “bottom line”, his rules to working in a coalition with any party.

“He’s got more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant,” Mr Seymour cracked.

But Mr Peters was the one with the final laugh: “Mr Seymour, let me tell you: I will be there after the election and you won’t be.”

Stuff:  Winston Peters and David Seymour let it rip at debate

1 News: Watch: ‘Chinese sounding name argument’ hits a nerve in finance spokesmen’s debate

National’s Steven Joyce hit back when Labour’s Grant Robertson argued foreigners are speculating on NZ houses.

 

Election 2017 – Finance debate

Tonight there us an election finance debate in Queenstown from 7.00 – 8.30pm. The change of mind by one person to participate has increased media interest (it shouldn’t have made any difference). Those taking part:

  • Steven Joyce (National)
  • Grant Robertson (Labour)
  • James Shaw (Greens)
  • David Seymour (ACT)
  • Winston Peters (NZ First)

Topics: immigration, housing, tourism, the retirement age, inequality, employment and water.

Time: 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The debate will be broadcast with live video on the RadioLIVE and Newshub Facebook pages:

The ASB Great Debate is being hosted in Queenstown, with Newshub’s Patrick Gower as the MC.

There will be a catch-up audio broadcast on RadioLIVE beginning at 8:30pm.

Stuff will be live blogging and have a preview: Live: The big finance debate

We’re going to be live blogging through the night on this one and also bringing you some live stand-ups because what makes this particularly interesting tonight is that Peters is showing up. It’s understood Peters wasn’t going to be here because he refuses to debate Seymour but the leak of his superannuation overpayment has changed all that.

Being here gives Peters the opportunity to debate Joyce (remember Peters is blaming the National Party for leaking his overpayment and doesn’t believe Joyce that he didn’t know about it). So in short, expect some fireworks.

No doubt Seymour will do his best to wind up Peters over the course of the evening as well. They were on the same plane down to Queenstown and some of us on that flight were slightly alarmed about how that might turn out (for the record they didn’t speak to each other).


It was advertised to start at 7 pm. Live streaming started just after 7:10, to a peech by someone from the ASB. And the last 10 minutes the mayor of Queenstown has been speaking. He has just now finally stopped at 7:25 pm.

Starting with an opening statement from each MP.

James Shaw first. He says government should be solving the great problems of the time, and new Zealand has been run by grey administrators. He is giving a very general election speech, going through the three key Green policies. He got to the second, fixing a busted system of poverty. Then he ran out of time.

Winston Peters starts by saying how much the others in the campaign are throwing money around like 8 arm octopusses, without a hint of irony. He says we need a dramatic change of direction with economic and social change required.

Steven Joyce starts by positively promoting how well business is doing. He is targeting business but also mentions families. National’s main thrust. A fairly good speech for a business audience.

Grant Robertson talks about ‘the opportunity facing New Zealand”. “If we invest properly in our people…we will be able to seize those opportunities”. He claims New Zealand is in a “productivity recession”.  He pushes the three years free education not just for university but also trades.

David Seymour says we are heading towards bankruptcy and if the election doesn’t get here soon the country will run out of money. Not just financial bankruptcy but also intellectual bankruptcy. A few swipes at National. “We have to fix our RMA”. He’s got a few facts and figures. He claims to be 16 points ahead in the Epsom electorate so says a part vote won’t be wasted.

Then a diversion to the Super leak.

Joyce categorically denies any Minister leaked.

Shaw says he it is very said we are going through a series of scandals. Big cheer.

Robertson agrees and says that is not what this debate is about to bigger cheers.

Peters goers over all the claims he has made over the last few days. He has been allowed to hijack the finance debate. Major accusations. Polite shot applause. Nothing gained by letting him rehash.

Now something key to Queenstown – housing. But each MP is allowed to give a speech which is saying nothing much new.

Robertson carefully talks about cracking down on speculators to a Queenstown audience.

Peters gives his usual spiel, subdued applause.

Shaw gives a reasonable speech, promotes CGT, reasonable applause.

Seymour gives one of the strongest speeches and criticises National more than Labour, strong on reforming the RMA. He promotes half GST on construction to local government. His speech gets strong applause and laughter.

Peters then attacks Seymour saying he is giving a valedictory speech.

Robertson is asked to rule out CGT on businesses and farms – he defers to ‘getting the best advice possible’. Joyce slams him for not being up front, Robertson has a response ready – back to national raising GST, but that’s risky territory promoting the idea of a post election somersault.

Peters sounds very whiny about how bad things are, but he won’t commit to any policy positions. Asked about stopping Labour imposing a CGT and he says he was a Treasurer once.

Robertson again asked on CGT on businesses – he again avoids it. Audience groans.

Seymour and Peters going hammer and tongs again, Seymour digging on peters not deciding if he would stop a CGT or not, or whether he would go left or right, and saying businesses want certainty. Peters bites and rants and says Seymour won’t be back in Parliament after the election.

The Nation – election debate

This morning on The Nation (early start at 9.25 am) is an election smaller party debate.

  • James Shaw (Greens)
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party)
  • David Seymour (ACT)
  • Gareth Morgan (TOP)
  • Hone Harawira (Mana)

No one from NZ First, I presume a continuation of the refusal to be in anything that includes Gareth Morgan.

I presume United Future wasn’t invited or was dumped.


Shaw starts with a familiar poverty spiel.

Seymour points out that NZ First isn’t there, and also that he is the only leader on the stage who is an electorate MP.

Morgan “we stand or fall on policy. All I can so is sell the message”.

Harawira – I missed what he opened with.

Fox “We’re the party of the future, the country is sick of the red and blue bus.”

Shaw was pushed to state a single priority (and was stopped from his normal 3 key spiel) – he said he would want an act stipulating zero carbon by 2050.

Harawira (feeding kids) and Fox (no GST on primary produce) say that the cost of their number one policies doesn’t matter, it should just be done.

Shaw rules out working with National, more or less – he promotes changing the Government with Labour.


A decent debate as far as it could be, five didn’t seem too many, they all got a few shots in. I doubt it will have changed many votes though.

The panel all picked Marama Fox as the ‘winner’ through her heartfelt personality. Like her or not, agree with her or not, she expresses herself strongly.

Loser – Winston Peters for refusing to take part.

And it was suggested that all the smaller parties were the losers now that the campaign looks like being dominated by two parties only.

And once the media have an excuse to call a two horse race the other party jockeys don’t stand a chance of being heard.

NZ First disarray on asset buyback policy

NZ First has struggled to get attention in a volatile election campaign, but they attracted the wrong sort of attention today at Business NZ conference at Te Papa.

MP Richard Prosser caused a stir – he warned he would “set the cat among the pigeons” – with comments on a State buyback of power company assets, and ACT MP David Seymour lashed him for it.

NZH:  Act Party leader David Seymour blasts NZ First MP over Contact remarks

Prosser was part of a political panel at the Business NZ conference at Te Papa, and said his party would bring electricity assets back to a simple state-owned, state-controlled umbrella.

“That means if you have shares in Contact [Energy] – get rid of them now.”

A representative from Mercury Energy asked Prosser after the session how he proposed to fund such a buy-back of electricity companies, given it would cost at least $11 billion.

Prosser said that would be done over time, but NZ First’s stance was the institutions would be purchased back at the price they were sold for.

Seymour addressed that statement early in his own speech to the conference, saying it was an example of how reliable economic management could crash down in four weeks’ time.

“The idea that you would have somebody who pretends to hold the balance of power – to come and tell you that a stock trading at $5.85 is going to be nationalised at $3.10 and you better all sell it.

“Well, I realise in a role such as mine you are supposed to have a certain amount of decorum. But that makes me really angry – what a f***ing idiot.”

That met with approval from the audience, but Seymour then said something definitely lacking adequate decorum:

“That is someone who can barely manage his own diet and exercise regime.

“And he thinks he is going to be managing a ministerial post. And actually could be – we shouldn’t joke about it.”

Both Prosser and Seymour caused a stir.

Later Winston Peters tried to minimise the damage:

New Zealand First Policy on Power Companies

New Zealand First’s policy on power companies relates to our opposition to the sale of these state assets, as well over two thirds of New Zealanders were in 2013 when a referendum on the sale of state assets was held, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Richard Prosser MP’s comment at a BusinessNZ panel in Wellington today can be described as a throwaway line that was not fully explained.

But it seemed like a prepared line at the start of Prosser’s speech – and he said that it was a repeat of what he had said in 2014.

Had he had the time, he would have explained that the buyback of power companies would be at an appropriate time in the future, that is, we would only be buying back shares when they became available.

“This was explained by Mr Peters later in the day at the same conference to a question from the floor.”

More from Peters in Winston Peters ticks off Prosser over ‘dump Contact shares’ comments

Peters initially said the policy was long established, but later stressed that NZ First would only take back ownership by buying shares in the market.

He had spoken to Prosser directly about the comments.

“We don’t believe in nationalisation,” Peters said.

“On that aspect he [Prosser] is just not accurate and I made it very clear to him.”

No one would be required to sell their shares at a price they were not happy with. NZ First would wait until the share price fell, Peters said.

“We think this cartel can’t go on and sooner or later when that is discovered, and with a whole lot of other things happening in energy, the price will come back,” Peter said.

“I made it clear at the time that we would pick the time in the market to enter it, it’s still our view.”

But NZ First policy seems to have a different clarity:

This doesn’t help NZ First’s business credibility.

NZH: Winston Peters hits back at Bill English: ‘Arrogance in the extreme’

In the PM Job Interview with a panel of NZME journalists this week English was asked about Peters’ possible influence post the election and said he “certainly wouldn’t want Mr Peters near monetary policy”.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has hit back at Prime Minister Bill English for saying he doesn’t want Peters near monetary policy – saying, “that’s what they think”.

Peters told business leaders today that such comments were “arrogance in the extreme”, and his party was the only one that realised the importance of exports to turn around New Zealand’s economy.

To compensate businesses for a pledged increase in the minimum wage to $20 per hour Peters has announced policy that would:

  • Cut company tax rates to 25% over three years, starting from April 1 2019
  • An export tax rate of 20% applied to export-generated income
  • Small and medium-sized businesses allowed 100% depreciation for business equipment worth up to $20,000 for each item

Sounds complicated.

Euthanasia bill does not infringe human rights

David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill has been passed by the Attorney General, who is required to check bills against the Bill of Rights Act.

RNZ:  Euthanasia bill gets legal tick from Attorney-General

A bill proposing to legalise euthanasia has been given a legal tick by the Attorney-General, who said it would not infringe basic human rights if enacted.

Proposed laws are tested using routine assessments by the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, who weighs legal validity under overarching legislation such as the Bill of Rights Act.

In a report, Mr Finlayson said the bill was consistent with rights regarding freedom of conscience and freedom of expression.

His report related to the legal framework, not any moral or philosophical questions.

Mr Seymour’s bill provides for a legal landscape in which people with a terminal illness or a ”grievous or irremediable” medical condition [have] the option of requesting assisted dying”.

“It allows people who so choose, and are eligible under this bill, to end their lives in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.”

Seymour is pleased his bill passed this test.

“Critics of my bill, short of substantive arguments, have called it ‘poorly drafted’.

“[The] report from the Attorney-General debunks those claims.

“Opponents will now need to explain why they would not allow dying people, in extreme suffering, to have a choice about how and when they die – rather than hiding behind those straw men.

“The report says that the eligibility criteria are narrow enough, and the safeguards strict enough, that the bill will not cause wrongful deaths, and that assisted dying will be available only to the group the bill intends – incurably or terminally ill, and in unbearable suffering.”

Parliament will rise next week and ity looks unlikely the Members’ Bill will get it’s first reading before the election.

Seymour versus Peters hots up

David Seymour and Winston Peters have been clashing for a while. As we get towards the business end of the election campaign their feuding is hotting up.

Seymour in a speech in Parliament on Wednesday:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

But then you come round to New Zealand First. What a disaster. There is Winston Peters. He has been sacked from Cabinet three times by three different Prime Ministers. He has been voted out of two electorates, and the third electorate has not had an opportunity to vote him out yet, but help is on its way. It is going to vote him out on 23 September. This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to 9 bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility. He still has not paid back the $158,000—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

DAVID SEYMOUR: —and frankly, the way he campaigns is racist.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order—the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tolerate a fair bit from that member, but I will not tolerate him getting up and making deceptive, deceitful statements like that. I know what we paid back—all $158,000, in circumstances—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. That is very much a debating matter. The member can continue his speech, and if the member feels he has been misrepresented throughout the speech there is another means. It is not raised on the floor of the House, and I refer the member to Standing Order 359.

DAVID SEYMOUR: If one ACT MP can get that far under Winston Peters’ thin skin, imagine how far five ACT MPs could get. He does not like it up him but the ACT Party has kept him out of power for the last three elections, and we are going to do it again. I understand his frustration, but he has got to stay there.

Peters responded in the same debate:

We have seen the last National Party polls—the most recent ones—and it is all bad news for them, for them, and a whole lot of parties here, but it is good news for one other party. Take a wild guess which party that is.

We do not care about Epsom’s three-quarters of a million dollars bludger and his cuckolded behaviour in this Parliament.

Seymour followed up: ACT to keep the cabal of crooks out of office

“Metiria Turei’s proud theft of taxpayer money qualifies her perfectly as a Green Party activist. However, it should exclude her from ever entering Government. The people who write our laws should not thieve from the taxpayers who already pay their salaries.

“That goes for Winston Peters too,” says Mr Seymour.

“Yesterday in the House he claimed to have ‘paid out’ the $158,000 in taxpayer money he illegally spent during the 2005 election. The truth is Parliamentary Services never got this money back, leaving taxpayers with the bill. I’ve laid a complaint with the Privileges Committee today over Mr Peters’ attempt to mislead the House. Just like Metiria Turei, Winston Peters is a fraud, and should never be let near the baubles of office again.

“The safest way to keep the cabal of crooks out of Parliament is with a stronger ACT. With more MPs we’ll ensure stable National-led Government, while also forcing National to address issues they’ve ignored, like New Zealand’s chronic housing and infrastructure deficit.”

Yesterday to media Peters referred to Seymour as “a cuckolded political prostitute”.

This is a part of the competition for attention that has ramped up significantly.

Seymour is trying to claw ACT support up so he has at least one MP working alongside him.

Peters would seem to wish that ACT disappears from Parliament.

ACT’s one vote has been enough to keep NZ First out of a balance of power position after Peters won the Whangerei by-election. It is possible that this could be repeated after September’s election, depending on how close National get to a majority.

With Labour languishing and Greens taking what looks like a desperate gamble the best chance of Peters getting power is with National, and he won’t want to be competing for that with Seymour.

But feuding with Seymour is a side show for Peters. It’s hard to see him improving the NZ First vote much by having an ongoing spat with Seymour.

Seymour is fighting to remain relevant. It looks likely he will keep his Epsom seat, but is struggling to lift ACT’s support enough to get a second MP in on the list.

But Seymour probably has more to gain by attracting attention from Peters, because the media tend to go where Peters goes.

Seymour’s position in a Government alliance does look a bit precarious, and NZ First strength could sideline him. But he is young and potentially has many years ahead of him for a political career.

Peters must be getting near the end of his long career. This election may be his last shot at the Government limelight, so it could be boom or bust for him. So he has more to lose if he gets dragged down by feuding Seymour.

Clear signal from National on support parties

It’s good to see the era of farcical nods, winks, cups of tea and media mania are over. Today National clearly signalled which parties and electorates they would help to try and maximise the chances of returning the current Government much as it is.

National signals election intentions

Prime Minister Bill English today signalled National’s intention to work with support partners – United Future and ACT – in this year’s General Election.

“Under MMP, voters determine the make-up of the Government by voting a combination of parties into Parliament, which means every election is close.

“After the election, parties must then work together to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In February, Mr English made it clear that if National is re-elected his preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“While we don’t always agree, our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008 and we would like to see that continue for the benefit of New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

“New Zealand’s political stability over the last several years has given this country a consistent economic advantage over many other countries we compare ourselves with.

“We are encouraging National supporters to give their electorate vote to ACT candidate, David Seymour, in Epsom, and United Future candidate, Peter Dunne, in Ohariu – and their party vote to National.

“To be clear, we want to increase our party votes in those electorates and that’s what our National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“Our MPs are working hard throughout New Zealand to increase our party vote, so we can earn the right to stay in Government, keep the economy growing and provide opportunities for all New Zealanders.”

Media seemed a bit taken aback by this forthright approach, perhaps because it has removed one of their traditional election games.

Some quibbled over whether there was less preference for the Maori Party or not, and predictably Patrick Gower glowered about ‘dirty deals’, but the reality under MMP is that most parties now get involved in boosting their own chances by helping others.

  • Labour and Greens helped Winston Peters in the Northland by-election.
  • Greens helped Labour in the Mt Roskill by-election.
  • Greens and Labour worked together in the Mt Albert by-election.
  • Greens are not standing a candidate in Ohariu to try to help Labour candidate Greg O’Connor against Peter Dunne, who is in turn being assisted by National.

So it makes sense to be up front and early on signalling intentions, before the media have a chance to make an issue about it, and so voters have a clear choice.