Waka jumping/oil and gas an MMP trade-off?

When the Greens supported the introduction of NZ First’s ‘waka jumping’ bill into parliament it raised eyebrows and angst. The Greens had until then always strongly opposed legislation like that.

When the Government announced they would not issue any new oil and gas exploration permits the body language of Shane Jones suggested a large degree of discomfort with having to support the decision.

The oil and gas decision turns out to have been made by Government party leaders only without going through Cabinet – see Party leaders made oil and gas decisions, not Cabinet.

Richard Harman at Politik that suggests the two dead rats may have been a tradeoff in Waka jumping and oil exploration

Did the Prime Minister get Winston Peters to support the petroleum exploration ban by locking in Greens support for the waka-jumping legislation?

That is a possible scenario suggested by the papers relating to the ban which were released under the Official Information Act on Tuesday.

The papers set out a timeline which eventually leads to both Peters and Shaw.

A detailed timeline covering March and April is shown, followed by some poindering, .

There is a chain of events here which strongly suggest that Ardern was having to play Peters and Shaw off against each other.

Peters clearly was not happy with the exploration ban.

So how was he persuaded to support it?

Did Ardern persuade Shaw to ignore the protestations of many in his party and support Peters’ waka jumping bill and was that enough to persuade Peters to forget his concerns about the exploration ban?

With a Government relying on two support parties with a sizeable number of MPs, and leverage, this may be a reality of MMP in action.

The oil and gas decision is a done deal – although the possible implications and negative effects of the decision are gradually emerging.

However the waka jumping bill is still going through the parliamentary process. A lot of pressure may go on the Green MPs to not support it through it’s final stages. However will Shaw insist on a dead rat deal being honoured despite party opposition?

 

China-US trade war on hold, deal pending

The risk of a trade war between the United States and China has diminished after a deal has been made, which means threatened US tariffs and counter tariffs from China may be scrapped.

Avoiding a trade war is better for both countries – and for world trade – than trying to win a war that would adversely affect both countries.

RNZ (BBC): Trade war on hold as US and China halt imposing tariffs

China and the US say they will halt imposing punitive import tariffs, putting a possible trade war “on hold”.

The deal came after talks in the US aimed at persuading China to buy $US200 billion of US goods and services and thereby reduce the trade imbalance.

The US has a $335b annual trade deficit with Beijing.

In March this year, Mr Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports – mainly steel and aluminium.

Beijing threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on a number of US imports – among them aircraft, soybeans, cars, pork, wine, fruit and nuts.

Two days of talks ended in Washington DC on Friday with a framework agreement.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin…

…told Fox News on Sunday that China would buy more US goods “to substantially reduce the trade deficit”.

Concrete numbers had been agreed, he said, although he refused to disclose if this meant China was buying $200bn in return for the US threat to be lifted. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would travel to China soon, he said, to work on details, which would involve industries – not just the two governments.

“We are putting the trade war on hold. Right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework” of the agreement, Mr Mnuchin said.

But he warned that failure to implement it would result in the imposition of the threatened US tariffs.

Chinese vice-premier Liu He…

…said his visit to the US had been “positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive”.

He described a “healthy development of China-US economic and trade relations” which would result in enhanced co-operation in areas such as energy, agriculture products, healthcare, high-tech products and finance.

“Such co-operation is a win-win choice as it can promote the high-quality development of the Chinese economy, meet the people’s needs, and contribute to the US effort to reduce its trade deficit,” he added.

Mr Mnuchin said the new framework agreement included structural changes to Chinese economy to enable fair competition for US companies, but this would take time, China’s vice-premier said.

And, perhaps because of that, he said the two countries “should properly handle their differences through dialogue and treat them calmly in the future”.

That’s a much better threat than making public threats and launching a trade war. But as is normal with the trump administration, there is some uncertainty.

Reuters: U.S., China putting trade war on hold, Treasury’s Mnuchin says

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow…

…told CBS “Face the Nation” it was too soon to lock in the $200 billion figure. “The details will be down the road. These things are not so precise,” he said.

Trump was in a “very positive mood about this,” Kudlow said.

However, he said there was no trade deal reached.

“There’s no agreement for a deal,” Kudlow told ABC. “We never anticipated one. There’s a communique between the two great countries, that’s all. And in that communique, you can see where we’re going next.”

One next step will be dispatching Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to China to look at areas where there will be significant increases, including energy, liquefied natural gas, agriculture and manufacturing, Mnuchin and Kudlow said.

So there is a lot of work to do yet.

Kermadec sanctuary deal smack in Green face

It is being reported that the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, long championed by the Green Party and progressed by the National Government last term, has been put on the back burner in a deal between NZ First and Labour.

James Shaw will probably put on a brave face but this is a smack in Green faces.

Shaw had expressed confidence that Labour would represent Green interests in their negotiations with NZ First.

No party should underestimate Jacinda Ardern’s ability to be ruthless.

Stuff: Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary put on ice by NZ First, catching Greens unaware

The 620,000 sq km Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by John Key at the United Nations in 2015, was hailed around the world and passed its first reading in Parliament unopposed.

But fishing companies and iwi bodies filed legal action opposing it, saying the sanctuary would deny them fishing rights agreed in Treaty settlements.

NZ First, whose senior MPs are close to the fishing industry and whose campaign was partly bankrolled by players in the fishing industry, demanded Labour stop the sanctuary.

And it is understood Jacinda Ardern agreed a Labour-NZ First government would not progress legislation to establish the sanctuary in this three-year Parliamentary term. That will disappoint some of her MPs and supporters, but will win favour among her Maori MPs who argued it undermined iwi commercial fishing rights.

The Kermadec sanctuary was one of the dealbreakers that swung negotiations in Labour’s favour.

Had Greens known about this would they have been so willing to rubber stamp the Labour-NZ First coalition deal without knowing what was traded?

UPDATE: James Shaw responds on Q+A:

JAMES Yes, well, it’s certainly still on the table. Obviously, there’s still a lot of issues to work through. It is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens.

GREG This has obviously come out – Winston Peters’ relationship with the fisheries industry – is it in jeopardy? Let’s put it another way.

JAMES Is the relationship with the-?

GREG No, is the sanctuary in jeopardy?

JAMES No, I don’t think so. It is a complicated issue. We absolutely need to work alongside Maori in order to make sure that it happens, but I think that we are all committed to making sure that it does.

That really doesn’t say much apart from expressing a determination to make it happen, eventually.

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.

Maori/Mana party deal

The Maori and Mana parties have announced a deal that will remain in place up until the election on 23 September.

Hone Harawira will stand in Te Tai Tokerai again (Labour’s Kelvin Davis one the electorate off Harawira in 2014), and the Maori Party won’t stand a candidate there.

And Mana won’t stand a candidate against the Maori party in any of the other 6 Maori electorates (one held by Te Ururoa Flavell, the rest held by Labour).

Both parties can still campaign for the party vote and criticise each other’s policies but won’t be allowed to attack each other’s candidates.

This looks like a good deal for the Maori Party, with Mana seemingly intent on putting much of their effort into taking Te Tai Tokerau back again and perhaps picking up a list seat or two through party vote.

This seems a fairly realistic and pragmatic approach.

RNZ: Māori and Mana parties sign deal to work together

Annoucing the deal in Whangārei this morning, Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan blamed Māori disunity for gifting the Māori seats to Labour in 2014.

He said it was time to bring all the seats home to kaupapa Māori parties, so they could hold the balance of power in Parliament and ensure a strong voice in government, regardless of which major party ruled.

Mr Morgan said a simple analysis of the Māori seat results from 2014 showed the combined votes for the Mana and Māori Party candidates would have given the parties three electorates.

But the Labour MP for one of those electorates, Te Tai Tokerau’s Kelvin Davis, said the dynamics had changed and people needed to know a vote for Mana was a vote for National.

No, it would be a vote for Mana. While it could help National retain power the aim is to get Mana back into Parliament.

If Labour diss off both the Maori and Mana parties they are reducing their own chances of ousting national from Government.

English on Peters

 

Seems to be a thing in media today to check out Bill English’s views on how National might work with Winston Peters after the election.

In the latest Colmar Brunton poll National were on 46% and NZ First remain high for them this far out from the election on 11%.

That’s a pragmatic position to take at this stage of election year.

1 News: ‘No’ – Bill English stands firm on chances of a pre-election deal with Winston

Prime Minister Bill English says there is no chance of pre-election talks with Winston Peters, but if New Zealanders want Mr Peters in Parliament, National will work with him.

There’s very likely to be no chance Peters would have pre-election talks with any other party, at least not that the public would find out about.

New Zealanders get to say who they want in Parliament but they don’t get to say who they want in Government. That is left to party wheeling and dealing after the election.

Mr English, speaking this morning to TVNZ’s Breakfast programme, said there had been speculation around Mr Peters’ role at the last few elections, but National is not looking to make a deal if he becomes kingmaker.

“He’s signalled it’s unlikely with him either,” Mr English said.

That’s confusing (from 1 News).

However, should voters put him into Parliament, Mr English said National is quite capable of working with him.

“If you needed to, you can work with anyone if that’s what the voters tell you is needed for stable government, and the way the world is, I think that’s what is needed here,” Mr English said.

So English is leaving his options open, as he needs to do.

I think that English may be more likely to try to do a coalition deal with Peters if that is what is required to form the next government.

Key would have more easily walked away from an unpalatable arrangement – perhaps this is what he has done.

But English will presumably be keen to be Prime Minister with an election mandate. He is currently a party appointed mid term replacement.

Deal or no deal?

There has been argument over whether the Green Party decision not to stand a candidate in the Ohariu electorate constitutes a political deal or not.

Some are adamant it is not a deal because it is different to what National and Peter Dunne, and National and ACT (in Epsom) do.

Call it what you like, it is the pragmatic putting aside of party principles to maximise a party’s chances of winning what they want. It’s politics.

Weka at The Standard: What’s the deal? There isn’t one.

There is no deal. The Greens appear to have made a unilateral decision for the good of the party’s own goals and for NZ. What I like about the MoU between Labour and the Greens is that they kept their independence. Labour are still free to act in the ways they see fit and likewise the Greens. The Greens have acknowledged that they’re not that keen on one of Labour’s candidate choices, but they’re behaving as if it’s not really any of their business. Which it isn’t. This is how adults behave when engaged in respect.

They’re acting freely while engaged in respect? This sounds like trying to claim the political high ground while doing what parties have done for a long time, made campaign decisions that play around with our system of MMP.

The Greens have been standing candidates in electorates with no intention  of winning, and have often nodded and winked at Green voters to vote for Labour candidates. Greens stand aiming deliberately not to win the battle in order to win the war, the all important party vote.

Not standing a candidate at all in an electorate, as Greens have decided to do in Ohariu, is a risk, because it will be harder for them to convince voters to give them their party vote.

In 2014 in Ohariu The Green candidate Tane Woodley got 7.25% of the electorate votes (actually up 1.65 on the 2011 election) but the Greens got 15.01% of the party vote, significantly higher than their nationwide 10.7%. It will be interesting to see what party vote they get in Ohariu this year.

I think that the Greens are so determined to get into Government for the first time that they will be prepared to risk losing some votes in order to achieve their goal.

However if Labour fails to lift their vote significantly overall it may all be in vain.

In a neighbouring electorate: No Green deal for Labour Party in Hutt South battle

Labour will have to win Hutt South without help from the Green Party in the September election.

There has been speculation the Greens would do a similar deal to Ohariu, where they agreed to step aside to give Labour a clear run against United Future’s Peter Dunne.

Constitutional lawyer and Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven  said the situation in Hutt South was different.

Ruthven stood for Rimutaka in 2014, where she was fourth behind New Zealand First, but this time was standing in the electorate she lived in and was looking to do well.

It’s unclear whether that means to do well with the party vote or the electorate vote.

On her website she says:

It’s about our Community
Hutt South is where I belong. It’s where I was born. It’s where I grew up. It’s where my children are growing up.

It’s where the people are that I want to represent.

That sounds like she wants to represent the electorate. However it’s not unusual for Green candidates with electorate ambitions to be pulled into line by their party strategy and to effectively campaign on ‘vote for the Greens for party vote buit for the Labour candidate for the electorate vote’.

Stuff:

Dunne was likely to be needed to help National form a government and unseating him would help Labour.

That was not the case in Hutt South, which would see  a close battle between National list MP Chris Bishop and Labour’s Ginny Andersen.

In the last election Trevor Mallard defeated Bishop by 709 votes, with Green candidate Holly Walker third with 4966. National won the party vote by just under 7000 vote.

Andersen said there had never been an expectation that the Greens would not contest Hutt South.

If Green voters wanted Hutt South to remain Labour they had to vote strategically.

“I am saying to Green voters give me your candidate’s vote if you want to keep Hutt South Labour.”

She planned  to push the message that if Green voters wanted a change in government, then they needed to vote Labour.

That doesn’t make sense. It’s not clear whether she means vote Labour in the electorate – that will make no difference to whether the there’s a change of government or not.

So is she going to ask Green voters to party vote Labour? While the Greens ask voters to vote for Labour in the electorate but for Greens for party vote?

This confusion won’t help. Without a consistent approach in electorates voters are going to wonder what Labour and Greens want them to do.

Perhaps Labour and the Greens need to do some sort of deal about their approach here, otherwise the different nods and winks in different electorates will end up with voters blinking in confusion.

Wheeling and dealing is a normal part of politics. What Labour and Greens need to try and do is get all their wheels turning in the same direction.

Nelson electorate deal denials

Mixed messages over Labour-Green electorate deals or no deals continue, with denials from both Labour and the Greens that there there will be no deal in Nelson.

In the original 1 News report Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election Andrea Vance said:

In Nelson the Greens fell like they can pick up a lot of votes and so they’re in talks with Labour at the moment to stand a Labour candidate aside so that the Greens can have a clear run in that seat in Nelson.

The reason the greens have chosen Nelson is because it’s a classically Green seat. Now they’ll campaign hard in that seat because they’ve been given a chunk of money by an anonymous donor who has specified it must be used in the campaign in Nelson and the West Coast only.

And so Labour found it easy to stand aside because the candidate there would go up against Nick Smith for the electorate vote who’s been there for years and years and years and there’s a strong incumbent.

There is some very specific information there. Someone must have given this to Vance. Metiria Turei and her plans to stand in Te Tai Tonga also featured in that item.

Little responded on 1 News’ Breakfast programme: “This is news to me, we have no agreement on any seat”.

A follow up from 1 News: ‘Bugger that!’ – Labour members leave party over proposed deal with Green Party in Nelson

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson.

One of those who quit said the members had emailed in their resignations – and the reasons – to the party.

“They were eight core people and they’ve walked away. They expected us to help the Greens… we’re not going to work for the Greens, bugger that.”

The ex-member said supporters were unhappy about how they learned about the proposed deal.

“It leaked out at the [annual] conference. One of the candidates was told by Andrew Little… people here are really angry.

But Labour continues to deny any deal in Nelson. Stuff: Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson:

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

“This is about how to work together under MMP to change the Government and get the economy working for all New Zealanders.”

A “no such plan for Nelson” denial followed by general poliwaffle.

Greens are also now denying a deal has been done.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said no decisions had been made about any electorate seats, including Nelson. He also said was wrong to suggest that there was any connection between this donation and its candidate selection process in Nelson.

“That is patently incorrect … no decision has been made about the Nelson electorate seat, or any others, and no donation, regardless of its size, will have any bearing on our decision-making process.”

The original report didn’t say a deal had been done, just that Greens were ‘in talks with Labour’, albeit implying it looked likely to happen.

And of particular note is that Shaw is doing the backtracking, not Metiria Turei.

This is a real muddle and doesn’t help Labour and Greens look like a cohesive government-in-waiting.

Hundreds of thousands march against free trade dealing

Does this sound familiar, apart from the numbers?

Massive march against trade deal in Berlin

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labour and environmental standards.

Consumer rights activists take part in a march to protest against TTIP in Berlin

Organisers – an alliance of environmental groups, charities and opposition parties – said 250,000 people were taking part in the rally against free trade deals with both the United States and Canada.

Opposition to the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has risen over the past year in Germany, with critics fearing the pact will hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers.

It looks like they are working from the same script that anti-TPPA protesters have used here.

“What bothers me the most is that I don’t want all our consumer laws to be softened,” Oliver Zloty told Reuters TV. “And I don’t want to have a dictatorship by any companies.”

Dieter Bartsch, deputy leader of the parliamentary group for the Left party, who was taking part in the rally said he was concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the talks.

“We definitely need to know what is supposed to be being decided,” he said.

Left wing Opposition parties being involved is also familiar.

The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government by surprise and underscores the challenge it faces to turn the tide in favour of the deal which proponents say will create a market of 800 million and serve as a counterweight to China’s economic clout.

Also similar to the TPPA, claimed to be a counterweight to Chinese trade in the Pacific rim.