Stuff, the debate

Last night’s Press/Stuff leaders debate was another step in the campaign contest between Jacinda Ardern.

The first debate last week was fairly cautious and tame. English stepped things up a notch in Monday’s Newshub debate, but Ardern was the improver in last night’s Press/Stuff debate in Christchurch.

Stuff Leaders Debate: Jacinda Ardern wins with our pundits

Associate Professor Grant Duncan, who teaches political theory and New Zealand politics at Massey University’s Albany campus, called it a narrow win for Jacinda Ardern.

Social commentator Emma Espiner gave the debate to Ardern.

“Her debate performance is improving in sync with her poll numbers. I had her losing the first TVNZ debate, drawing even in the Newshub debate and I gave the Stuff debate to her on the basis on her dexterity, ease, humour and command of detail.

“If English debated the whole evening the way he did from about 36 minutes in, when he got angry about Labour disparaging farmers, it would have been closer.”

Political commentator Liam Hehir also gave Ardern the win.

“This debate threw the difference between the two candidates in stark relief with English talking numbers in long sentences and Ardern offering general aspirations but few specifics.

“Ardern was much more aggressive tonight (sometimes to the point of churlishness). But the combination of a hostile audience and issues like the fiscal ‘hole’ fiasco favoured that approach – so Ardern was the winner.”

Stuff’s online survey:

  • Jacinda Ardern 61%
  • Bill English 39%

Vernon Small: Bill English holds his own in even debate, after another polling blow

English had a clear edge talking about water and clean rivers, as well as – less surprisingly  – on the uncertainty of Labour’s tax working group.

But Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, even hampered by a crackling microphone in the first segment, scored points against English over trust and his finance spokesman’s debunked claim that there is an $11.7 billion fiscal hole in Labour’s plan.

There were none of those game-changing moments this time…

English is looking like needing a game changer but not of the Joyce kind.

But perhaps the most telling development of the night was Ardern’s new attack: variations on the idea that the bigger risk is in continuing as we are, the risk is in the status quo.

It is a clear attempt to neutralise National’s key theme – that a change to a new government with an untested leader and an uncertain economic plan is just too risky.

If Labour can harness the mood for change and present itself as the less risky option, then that poll result could soon be baked in.

With just over two weeks to go, English is fighting hard but with early voting starting next week he may be running out of time to slow and reverse Ardern’s momentum.

There is a small party leaders debate tonight, and another debate between Ardern and English next week.

RNZ: Leaders trade blows in feisty third debate

Google highlights depth of political inquiry

Maybe the people who are more serious about politics and were too busy watching and listening to the debate to spend time googling, but yeah, this doesn’t give one a lot of confidence about how well informed many people are.

Who said policies were important?

Leaders debate #2

Tonight Jacinda Ardern and Bill English have their second leaders debate of the campaign.

This one is being run by Patrick Gower and Newshub, and is being broadcast at 8:30 pm, and will also be live streamed:

Livestream: Newshub Leaders Debate

The first debate last Thursday seemed like a feeler for both of them. There could be more tactics used tonight.

First segment done – a lot feistier this time, more challenging of each other’s policies. Also too much rehearsed recital from both but it’s hard to limit that.

Most talked about line – when English was asked what his best attribute was for being Prime Minister, excluding experience, given he lost badly in 2002.  “I got back up again.”

The clapping and cheering interruptions are annoying, stopping the flow.

Certainly more combative this time.

The main difference overall is ploddy old actuals versus vague aspiration and vision.

Q+A: health debate – Coleman & Clark

On Q+A this morning: Who has the best policies for our health system?
Watch our health debate – Political Editor Corin Dann with Labour’s Dr David Clark and National’s Dr Jonathan Coleman.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, glasses

Coleman and Clark also featured on The Nation yesterday (repeated this morning at 10:00 am).

Labour on health:


Additional $8 billion investment in health over four years

See the details in our fiscal plan here.

Cut GP fees by $10 a visit with $8 GP visits for Community Services Card holders

From 1 July 2018, Labour will lower the cost of GP visits by $10 through:

  • Lowering the VLCA fee cap by $10 to $8 for adults and $2 for teens (under 13s are already free), with a funding increase to VLCA practices to cover this
  • Increasing government funding for all practices that lower their fees by $10, low (show all)

Continue reading →

National responded to Labour’s $8b:

Labour’s mythical $8b extra health spend

The Labour Party has been trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with its mythical $8 billion extra health spend, National Party Health spokesman Dr Jonathan Coleman says.

“The ‘$8 billion more’ health spending argument is smoke and mirrors. They are simply rolling out normal baseline increases and comparing them with a mythical situation of an alternative government that apparently doesn’t add a single dollar to health expenditure for four years. That’s laughable and has simply never happened,” Dr Coleman says.

“The Labour massive extra spending myth also shows up in the amount of new budget money they propose to add each year. Labour is planning to add less in health for each year in the next four years than the National Government has added in the last budget alone.

National new budget operating spend (actual):

  • 2017/18        $879 million

Labour proposed new budget operating spend:

  • 2018/19        $847 million
  • 2019/20        $689 million
  • 2020/21        $826 million
  • 2021/22        $795 million

“The reality is every government makes big increases to the health budget. Of course it’s all about what you do with the money rather than the money itself. And the National Government has an absolute focus on lifting results from the health investments we make.

“The irony is that whether you measure by our respective history of results or just the dollars, when you compare Labour’s proposed plan with National’s track record New Zealanders would receive less from the health sector under Labour.”

Q+A: education debate – Kaye & Hipkins

This morning on Q+A: Who has the best policies for our students and schools?
Watch our education debate – Political Editor Corin Dann with National’s Nikki Kaye and Labour’s Chris Hipkins.

The Nation: Coleman v Clark on health


There will be a debate this morning on The Nation on health spending, between the Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman, and Labour’s health spokesperson David Clark. These two have clashed a number of times in Parliament.

Health is on of the biggest issues of concern to New Zealanders. In the latest Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online survey of 1000 voters…asked which of eight issues was most likely to affect their vote:

  • Economy 25%
  • Health 16%
  • Housing 12%

You need a healthy economy to provide good health care (and housing).

Providing healthcare is very expensive. here will never be enough money to provide all the health care wanted. Governments have to balance health spending against need and against other spending demands.

Labour have claimed that health funding has been effectively cut.

Stuff: Frustration, disappointment over health funding in Budget 2017

Patients and healthcare workers say they have been left frustrated and disappointed by “inadequate” funding for health in the 2017 Budget.

They said the Government’s announcements on Thursday would not go nearly far enough in addressing concerns about overworked staff, access to new medicines, and access to mental health treatment.

The Government said total health spending would be a record $16.77 billion in 2017/18 – an increase of $879 million, with an overall increase of $3.9b over the next four years.

However, the record claim does not take inflation into account, and sidesteps the fact that almost half the spending will go toward mandated wage increases as part of the pay equity settlement.

Budget 2017: Health funding to record levels with $1.7b injection to DHBs 

A strained health sector is set to receive a record $3.9b shot in the arm, with $1.8b going to District Health Boards (DHBs) alone.

While DHBs funding is above the $1.7b figure Labour claims has been stripped out of the health service, the Council of Trade Unions is warning the devil is in the detail.

The increase to DHB funding has built on previous years – going up to $1.8b across four years, up from $1b last year. As a yearly figure, DHBs will get $439m, up from last year’s $400m.


Who won the debate?

There have been a number of online polls following the debate between Jacinda Ardern and Bill English, with varying results.

Media seem determined to find a winner, but that seems to be missing the mark, like this:

Stuff: Who won the debate?

Three experts with three different verdicts on the winner of the first leaders debate between Jacinda Ardern and Bill English.

Associate Professor Grant Duncan teaches political theory and New Zealand politics at Massey University’s Albany campus. He called it an honourable draw.

A policy analyst at the New Zealand Initiative, Janesa Jeram awarded the debate to English.

“Bill won the debate, but Jacinda successfully proved that ‘relentlessly positive’ doesn’t mean pushover,” she said.

“Bill was surprisingly upbeat given tonight’s poll, and could give policies that should make sense to New Zealanders across the country. Whereas Jacinda struggled to sell some of Labour’s more theoretical, less fleshed out policies.”

Political commentator Liam Hehir said Ardern was upbeat, conversant enough with the details and made no real missteps.

“Bill English was his usual sober self and also didn’t make any real mistakes (though there was a hint of defensiveness at times).

“Neither combatant landed a knockout blow, but there was more positive here for Ardern than there was for English – so it is a victory on points to her.

No clear winner and missing the point. The election is still more than three weeks away when voters get to decidce, and the debate was just one chance of assessing the options.

And then Stuff lists these experts pre-debate predictions.

Duncan predicted the debate would be an “honourable draw”.

Jeram said the debate could go either way, but if she had to choose, “I’d back Bill”.

“I predict that Jacinda Ardern will win,” Hehir said.

No change from in their verdicts from any of their predictions.

Civility won the debate.

Democracy won the debate, if you believe that it’s good democracy to promote the two biggest parties and ignore the rest.

Rugby tests tend not to be determined by pundits trying to work out who won the first kick off.

The campaign continues today, and regardless of opinions about the debate there will be no clear winner until September 23, and even then we may have to wait for another few weeks to see what our next government will look like.

First debate – Ardern v English


—The first leaders’ debate in the 2017 campaign will be live on TV1 tonight at 7 pm, and will also be on Newstalk ZB.

It was a much anticipated test of both Jacinda Ardern and Bill English, and interest has just been ramped up after a Colmar Brunton poll has Labour just tipping National off top spot, 43-41, still margin of error territory but a major vote of confidence for Ardern..

Labour have all the momentum at the moment. English will have a big task to stop it and turn it around. Ardern is likely to be cut some slack in her first big debate.

The first round started fairly even but when English warmed up he got the upper hand on tax, but Ardern is hanging in there.

Round two on housing and employment English got lost and Ardern finished more strongly.

And so it went on.

Ardern was well prepared and well versed, often passionate, but tending towards a bit airy fairy. Overall a good performance, especially first up.

English wasn’t always fluent. He knew his topics well but got into a bit much depth and detail at times. Overall ok but he didn’t stand out as he probably needed to do to stem the bleeding.

There were a few strengths and weaknesses from both but fairly minor overall.

No obvious bad mistakes or major hits. No winner or loser, that’s just the first round.

They both conducted themselves cordially and there were no personal attacks or antagonism – if this respectful approach to politics spreads our democracy will be much the better for it.

So the campaign will continue with uncertainty about the outcome of the election.

The most common reaction on Twitter was how refreshing it was to see a civil debate, with both Ardern (especially) and English contributing.

I think this is a quote from English afterwards:

‘The whole atmosphere was quite civil, people don’t want low level politics’

In last night’s finance debate the audience made it clear they weren’t interested it being hijacked by the Peters super saga, they wanted a debate on economic issuees.

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.


Hosking should moderate election debates

I’m not a fan of Mike Hosking. I rarely watch or listen to him or read his opinion pieces.

He has been named as moderator for the 1 News Debates and some on the left are trying to kick up a storm and get him kicked off the debates. For this reason, trying to demand who shouldn’t be involved, I think Hosking should remain as moderator.

In any case he did a good job of moderating debates last election. The opposition to him moderating is just another example of social media pettiness.

Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t care who the moderator will be, she will be focussed on her opponent, Bill English. As she should be.

1 News:  TVNZ’s election leaders debate dates and coverage team for September’s vote revealed

Newstalk ZB and Seven Sharp host Mike Hosking will be the moderator for the three televised leaders debates while Breakfast host Jack Tame will lead the Young Voters Debate.

The leaders debates between National Party’s Bill English and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern will take place on August 31 and September 20 at 7pm.

A multi-party debate on September 8 will bring together the potential coalition partners of the major parties, while the young voters debate will take place on September 14.

Action Station have started yet another lame petition:  Replace Mike Hosking as Election Debate Presenter

Please replace Mike Hosking as the host for the upcoming election debates on August 31, September 14 and September 20. Hosking is well known for his aggressively right wing views in his segments as a political commentator. As such, Hosking cannot be trusted to present each candidate fairly in a moderated debate.

Section 4(1)(d) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 requires broadcasters to maintain standards consistent with the principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

I’m not aware of any evidence or record that should rule Hosking out.

Why is this important?

It is vital that the nationally broadcasted election debates offer an unbiased opportunity for candidates representing their political parties to debate on policies. Mike Hosking’s socially irresponsible style of presenting has led to public campaigns for his removal, notably his comments on Andrew Judd in 2016. Hosking is an inappropriate choice to present the election debates in a fair, unbiased manner.

It’s important that activist groups do not get to dictate who should moderate debates.

This petition is ridiculous. It will probably get a similar number of signatures (actually clicks online) that all the other organised Action Station petitions get.