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.

TOP lose legal bid to debate

The Opportunities Party went to court to try to get included in tonight’s minor party leaders debate and lost. This isn’t surprising, it’s hard for a court to force a media organisation, but it’s very disappointing to see our state owned television broadcaster using ‘rules’ to be undemocratic.

The MMP system – in particular to ridiculously high 5% threshold – is stacked against new parties making it into Parliament.

TVNZ’s ‘rule of not allowing parties who haven’t got at least 3% in their last two polls to take part in the biggest debate of the campaign for minor parties is a disgrace to democratic principles.

RNZ: TOP loses legal bid to appear in multi-party debate

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has lost its legal fight to appear on TVNZ’s multi-party debate tomorrow evening.

TVNZ lawyer Stacey Shortall said it had robust criteria for parties to be involved, including either already being in parliament or polling at at least three percent in one of the two Colmar Brunton polls before the debate.

It is not ‘robust criteria’. State owned broadcasters in particular should have a responsibility to be fair to serious contenders, but TVNZ is denying TOP a prime  chance of being seen and heard.

TOP polled at 1 percent in its poll at the end of August and at 1.9 percent today.

TOP’s lawyer Francis Cooke QC argued the party’s inclusion in the debates was critical to the election process and TVNZ’s criteria should be more robust.

But the political-media system remains stacked against them.

Key points from Edwards’ affidavit:

24 Fourth, in my view the use of such criteria is self-perpetuating and antidemocratic. A party that is excluded from the debates has little chance of making headway in the polls. What is more, I think that excluding them from the debates sends the message to viewers that their views and policies are not worthy of consideration. I think this is dangerously undemocratic.

25 Fifth, this year’s election campaign is proving extremely volatile. Political scientists and commentators appear to be in consensus that we are witnessing the greatest polling volatility yet recorded in an election campaign in New Zealand. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to take two Colmar Brunton polls as a snapshot of likely outcomes in the election – the flux is just too great at the moment in politics to regard such polling to be definitive.

27 Finally, the minor parties seem set to play a pivotal role in this year’s election as they are likely to hold the balance of power after the election. In my view, this makes it particularly important that the public is given sufficient exposure to their leaders and policies.

30 In my view TVNZ’s exclusion of TOP would do a disservice to democracy.

31 If TVNZ proceeds with minor party leaders’ and young voters’ debates without The Opportunities Party (TOP), this will have a significantly negative impact on TOP’s chances to be taken seriously by those members of the public looking to vote for a party other than Labour and National. It will send a strong signal to voters that it is not a viable candidate for voting consideration. It may seriously affect TOP’s electoral chances. And given the inclusion of less popular parties, it would be arbitrary and irrational.

The full affidavit:

The judge probably had no legal basis to rule in favour of TOP, but TVNZ are doing a disservice to taxpayers and to democracy.

Large and incumbent parties (and their supporters) and large media do what the can to deny newcomers a fair chance. Incumbent also have other substantial financial advantages.

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.