Have Green transport promises been costed?

The Greens have announced transport policies for the Wellington local body elections.

Newshub: Greens promise half-price buses for Wellington students

The party is promising a 25 percent discount on off-peak bus fares and a 50 percent discount for students.

Election carrots for students isn’t surprising as that’s a target demographic for the Green

They want more central city and suburban green spaces, free Wi-Fi in all transport hubs, modern electric buses within 10 years and light rail development.

Some of that sounds expensive. And how will they get more central city green spaces?

It’s part of the party’s local election campaign, launching tonight.

I wonder if they will provide details in their launch. Like, how much these policies will cost rate payers. Most students don’t pay rates directly so won’t be worried about local body rates.

 

Charter Schools mistake

A wee mistake in a media statement by David Seymour was picked up by the Greens without realising that it was a mistake.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education
18 July 2016 2:24 pm Media Statement
Seymour announces fourth Partnership Schools application round

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour has announced a fourth round of applications to establish Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (Partnership Schools). The fourth round will open in August, with successful Partnership Schools opening in 2018.

“The continuing growth of this policy reflects the achievement of the eight existing Partnership Schools, and the strong levels of interest educators and community leaders are showing in the Partnership Schools model and what it offers students and their families,” Mr Seymour says.

“In the latest application round we received 26 applications, which easily exceeded the available funding. I expect a high number of applications in round four as well.”

All innovative proposals are welcome. However, preference will be given to proposals that:

• make effective use of the model’s flexibilities

• offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds

• are large enough to be comfortably viable

• target students who are not well served by the education system

• bring together effective education, community or business partnerships

• have a focus on science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM)

• are not existing private schools seeking to convert to a Partnership School

Greens were quick to react, as they often are:

Monday, 18 July 2016, 4:08 pm
Press Release: Green Party

‘Charter schools for babies’ a bad deal for Kiwi kids

The Government’s plan to expand its charter-school experiment into Early Childhood Education will put children’s learning development at risk from an even earlier age, the Green Party said today.

The fourth round of applications to establish more charter schools was announced today by ACT MP David Seymour, and will prioritise funding for organisations that cater to children from the ages of 0-8 years.

“Early childhood education is critical to a child being ready for school and it is reckless for the Government to put that at risk for the sake of an ideological experiment,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“Targeting toddlers and babies for educational experimentation seems extreme, even for the ACT Party.

“Having Government-funded charter schools for toddlers and babies is another business opportunity for a few, but won’t help improve the quality of early childhood education across the board.

“Funding for education is great, but it needs to be backed up with accountability and oversight. Unfortunately, existing charter schools have shown that they are unable to provide this.

“Complaints about cultural awareness for Māori students, having far fewer students than contracted for, rewarding students with KFC, and student safety concerns are just some of the issues with current charter schools.

“It is disturbing to see that the Government is prepared to sell out more kids in order to secure the support of the sole Act MP, David Seymour.

“The state school system ends up having to pick up the pieces when these experiments go wrong, and it is children’s education that suffers.

“A greater investment needs to go into public schools that need it, not these experimental, and unproven charter schools,” said Ms Delahunty.

But the mistake was spotted once this went out.

Correction [5pm]: An error in a press release from David Seymour indicated that the Government’s charter school programme would be expanded into education for 0-8 year olds. This is not the case. Please disregard the below media release.

I believe that “offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds” should have referred to years 0-8. Even year 0 is a bit odd.

However toddlers and babies have been targeted for educational experimentation for years now with major changes to early childhood education.

Public inquiry into homelessness

Media release from Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party


 

Public invited to have say on homelessness

People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry.

This inquiry was launched after National MPs turned down Opposition requests for a Parliamentary select committee inquiry into the issue.

Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says many New Zealanders are shocked and saddened by the number of families being forced to live in cars and garages this winter.

“We want to hear from those families and the agencies working with them about the best ways to support them and reduce the reasons they lose their homes in the first place.”

Green Party Social Housing spokesperson Marama Davidson says homelessness is not confined to those who sleep rough on the streets.

“There are many, many families who have no choice but to sleep in overcrowded garages, or in their cars. It hasn’t always been this way in New Zealand, and it doesn’t have to continue like this.”

Māori Party Co-Leader Marama Fox says this issue is too important to use as a political football.

“Homelessness is a blight on our society and we need to work together to find enduring solutions. This is a valuable opportunity for us to hear more from whānau, experts and those most impacted.”

Submissions will initially be heard at four locations: Te Puea Marae in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch between the end of August and early September.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

1. Consider whether the official definition of homelessness needs updating, and recommend accordingly.

2. Assess the evidence on the current scale of homelessness, whether it is changing and how, and what the causes of that change might be.

3. Evaluate possible policy responses to homelessness, including international best practice, and recommend accordingly.

4. Consider how homelessness is experienced by different groups in society and evaluate policy responses that respond to that experience. For example, Maori experience of homelessness and Maori-led initiatives to respond

5. Hear public submissions and expert evidence, particularly from those directly affected by homelessness and their advocates, and issue a written report.

Submissions open Monday and will close on Friday, 12 August and can be sent to: Homelessnessinquiry@parliament.govt.nz

Submissions can also be made through the Labour and Green Party websites from next week.


A useful inquiry or futile political grandstanding?

Labour’s new co-leader

Perhaps this was a Freudian slip by Andrew Little’s office in a letter sent out by Labour and the Greens this week, announcing the parties’ joint inquiry into homelessness.

LabourCoLeader

A possibly unobservant Metiria Turei signed off as Labour Party Co-leader.

11 month Government surplus

The ODT reports a better than forecast Government surplus in  in Surplus to requirements:

The Government accounts are in surplus by more than $2.3billion for the 11 months ended May…

The last time the Crown accounts recorded a larger year-to-date obegal surplus than the May 2016 surplus of $2.3billion was the June 2008 annual financial statements, when the year-to-date surplus was $5.6billion.

This should be something to celebrate.

The financial accounts, released by the Treasury, showed core Crown tax revenue was $64.7billion, 0.6%, or $364million higher than forecast, largely due to customs and excise duties ($188million), source deductions ($182million) and GST ($98million). The variances were a mix of timing and permanent in nature.

Core Crown expenses of $67.2billion were close to forecast.

And in what has become a familiar theme, the operating balance, which includes all the losses and gains, was in a deficit of $1.5billion, $82million larger than forecast.

The operating balance was again hit by ACC actuarial losses, this time of $880million. The Emissions Trading Scheme liability increased due to an increase in carbon prices, resulting in losses of $520billion. But the losses were partly offset by favourable movements in Crown investments of $1billion.

But the ODT says that no one cared, or at least politicians didn’t seem to care:

However, Finance Minister Bill English did not bother to put out a statement congratulating himself or saying how the Government’s fiscal prudence was paying dividends. Nor did he comment on how the accounts were subject to seasonal influences and there was no guarantee a surplus would be achieved next month.

There should have been something from Mr English, especially around whether debt repayment, more infrastructure spending or tax cuts were on the agenda.

Neither the Green, Labour nor New Zealand First parties bothered to put out a statement criticising the Government for racking up a surplus…

The end of year result should receive more attention, from the Government if it’s good news and from Labour and the greens if it’s negative.

Voters would switch to keep Greens out

I found an interesting poll snippet from the past (June 2002) in Boxing Bill loses charity bout:

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that four out of ten National voters are seriously considering switching to Labour to keep the Greens out of government.

I have found more detail in a Victoria University Press book “New Zealand Votes The General Election 2002”.

Apart from polling published by media agencies, political parties carry out their own research into the views of voters. UMR Insight is Labour’s pollster, as well as conducting a regular poll for the National Business Review.

A UMR poll commissioned by Labour in May found that 39 percent of National voters, seeing their own party in disarray, were willing to ‘do the unthinkable’ and vote Labour to keep Greens out of government.

This finding was leaked and mistakenly reported by other media as part of a National Business Review poll (Evening Post, 7 June 2002) but it supported anecdotal feedback from voters.

I wonder if Labour have done any similar polling lately. Nothing appears to have been leaked about anything like this to Martyn Bradbury.

That is a long time ago, 14 years, and much will have changed since then. It is now Labour that looks in disarray  (and has done to varying degrees for the last 8 years). Greens have changed considerably and are now well established with a significantly higher level of support.

But anecdotal feedback suggests that there are still a voter sentiment of ‘keep Greens out of government’.

And Greens have been kept out of Government, not just by voters but notably by Labour and NZ First in 2005.

So the possibility of vote shifting to Labour, or to NZ First, or to National is still there.

And now Labour of Greens have indicated a close campaign arrangement and an implied but unstated intent to jointly form a government if they get sufficient votes it raises another possibility – that voters shift from Labour to National or NZ First to keep Greens out of government.

Polls over the next few months may give some indication of this possibility – or not. Voter leanings this far out from an election can be quite different to campaign time when voters assess the possibly permutations for coalition arrangements and decide to vote based on who they want and don’t want to be in government.

I think there are two very notable aspects of this from 2002.

National’s vote collapsed to 20.93%, having been 30.50% in 1999, 33.87% in 1996 (the first election under MMP), 35.05% in 1993 and 47.82% in 1990.

Their vote had gradually declined through the 1990s and then plummeted in 2002.

Labour’s share of the vote has been declining in each election this century 20 last years 25%.

And that 39% of voters would consider voting for a party they wouldn’t normally support suggests that a large number of voters will potentially move their votes around.

There’s a lot that can happen in the next 15-17 months, especially in the lead up to next year’s election as voters seriously consider the keep options and decisions.

Internal polling shock

A surprise result from an internal political poll: “Do Bomber’s attempts at talking up a Green-Labour bloc perception have any credibility?”

  • No 100%
  • Yes 0%

Margin of error: 0.00
Sample size: 1

As predicted here Martyn Bradbury has followed up claims that ‘internal poll rumours’ would support his rants with Latest Internal Polling – National in trouble.

The impact of the Memorandum of Understanding has triggered something deep in the electorate if the latest internal polling is anything to go by.

Obliging the mainstream media to change the way they report politics from a first by the post perspective to an MMP one changes the way voters see the Opposition.

That change seems to be happening at an alarming pace.

The mainstream media aren’t obliged to report things the way Bradbury insists and they haven’t changed how they report polls, which is poorly.

Bradbury claims to have “the latest internal polling” without disclosing:

  • Who has done the polling?
  • What was the question asked?
  • What was the sample size?
  • When was the polling done?
  • What was the margin of error?
  • Is Bradbury making things up?

So what result is Bradbury claiming?

The latest internal polling has National free falling to 44%, Labour at 31% and Greens at 12%.

That means the Labour-Green bloc is at 43% and National is on 44% – that’s a mere 1 percent lead and the speed of the turn around suggests something has snapped in terms of voter apathy.

Even if those are actual results from a credible poll they aren’t particularly surprising or much out of the ordinary. All three party results are within the ranges they have been getting over the past year.

Bradbury has been making unsubstantiated claims and has been trying to talk up a political revolution for several days, ignoring more realistic assessments of polling by the likes of Phil Goff and Michael Cullen.

Bradbury actually had both Goff and Cullen talking about polls on Thursday night on Waatea 5th Estate.

Bradbury:

Sir Michael isn’t the biggest change here the perception, we report polls like sports results, National 48, Labour 30, that’s an FPP view, and we are in an MMP environment. The combined bloc of Labour Green shows voters the election is a lot closer doesn’t it?

Cullen:

Well yes but not significantly different. I mean the poll out today, there was another poll from Roy Morgan which showed Labour up just one, Greens two, and they seem to be taking the votes off New Zealand First if you believe, ignoring the fact that it never works like that and polls bounce around.

Basically we’ve still got this gap between Labour Greens on one side and National on the other of about five to eight percent. 

And it still comes down to they key issue which I think the Greens privately recognise…but it’s Labour’s got to win votes off National for there to be a secure change of government, and so far we’re not seeing that.

I mean for Labour to go up and the Greens and new Zealand First to go down it just means that the sort of the same not large enough plate of beans is being passed around between three eaters.

And it’s a fact that National keeps sticking around  forty seven forty eight which is the thing that’s still got to be concerning for Labour and the Greens in particular because you can’t say that Winston’s locked into a change of government.

Anybody who thinks that doesn’t understand how Winston operates in any particular situation.

National has dropped into the low forties occasionally but also sometimes goes up into the fifties but as shown by the RNZ poll of polls “National’s average through this year has been between 44% and 48%, remarkably high for the midyear of a third term in government”.

Bradbury:

Phil there are lots of rumours about the new internal party polling…

Substantive polling usually takes longer than two days to do (this was two days after the MoU announcement). And Labour or the Greens woukld hand their internal poll results over to blabbermouth Bradbury? (Possibly if they thought he would do a job for them)

…that would suggest the blocs are even closer. If you gain momentum could we see level pegging before the end of the year?

Roy Morgan:

During September (2015) support for National fell 6% to 44.5% now just behind a potential Labour/Greens alliance 46% (up 8%).

During April (2016) support for National fell 3.5% to 42.5% – the lowest for two years since April – May 2014, now only 2% ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance 40.5% (down 1.5%).

Labour+Greens have fluctuated in and out of level pegging so it’s already an unsurprising poll outcome.

Goff:

Well I think that’s certainly what Labour wants to see. At the moment, ah,  you know National has been reasonably consistent in the public polls, around forty seven, forty eight.

On public poll of poll averages, yes they have been consistently in the high forties but not in individual polls as shown by the above Roy Morgan results.

Ah in our own polling they have from time to time dropped as low as forty three percent and Labour on thirty six. Ah then you can see that a Labour Green coalition could easily become government at the next election.

If Greens poll high when Labour do, but as Labour goes up Greens tend to go down (they have been as low as 8% in public polls).

And ah in the midst of all of that of course you’ve got Winston Peters who has that balance of power. I doubt that he’d want to come in with, ah, let the left if the left was still polling well behind National.

What Labour has to do as Mike Cullen has said, it’s gotta win some of those light blue votes off National. That’s what changes an election.

And ah I think there are a lot of things in that environment out there, I’m thinking of housing, and I’m thinking of transport problems in Auckland. There are a lot of things out there that people are really unhappy about in a way that they haven’t been over the last two terms of the National Government.

So the environment is there.

If Labour and the Greens look like a stable coalition force, and not like the, you know the Kim Dotcom Mana Internet mix that was at the last election, then I think there’s a prospect that Labour and the Greens can win the next election.

That’s probably an unintentional dig at Bradbury who promoted the Kim Dotcom Mana Internet mix as the supposed game changer last election.

Neither Cullen nor Goff mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding.

Some interesting and probably widely shared measured views on polls and election chances by Cullen and Goff, but since then Bradbury has ignored most of that (what would they know?) and continued on his perception building exercise that ignores basic facts about past polls.

The only shock would be if Bradbury’s claims and promotions were taken seriously.

One News Poll – June 2016

One News Colmar Brunton poll for June 2016:

  • National 48% (down from 50)
  • Labour 29% (up from 28)
  • Greens 12% (up from 10)
  • NZ First 9%
  • Maori Party 0.7% (down from 1.1)
  • Conservative Party 0.7% (up from 0.3)
  • ACT Party 0.3% (down from 0.7)
  • Other 0.6% (up from 0,2)

Base(n=) 1,245

Despite the commentary on One News I think it’s far too soon to read much into this result in relation to the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding.

Polling was done between 28th of May and 2nd of June, after the budget and with the MOU announcement part way through.

Regardless of that, Labour+Green at 41% is still a long way short of National’s 48%.

ColmarPollJune2016trend

For preferred Prime Minister:

  • John Key 39%
  • Winston Peters 12% (up from 10)
  • Andrew Little 7%

Before and after MoU:

cku-ghbuoaaoo3x

That might surprise and worry some people but I still think it’s too soon to judge much from this poll in relation to the MoU announcement. I’d say that Greens will be a tad anxious.

Full report (PDF)

Green belief in change of Government

After their annual AGM in the weekend the Green Party believes it has what is required to change the Government.

RNZ: Greens and Labour cement plan to oust National

The Green party believes it has the money, members and momentum to finally change the government at the next election.

They believed that in 2014 too.

But there are two or three vital things missing from that list.

Votes.

The Labour Party, an essential for Green success, appears to be short of money, members and momentum.

And probably, Winston. NZ First will probably be required to make up the numbers, and will also have to choose Labour over National despite Labour presumably having significantly lower support than National, and even if NZ First chooses Labour over National that could be on the condition that Greens are left out in the cold, as happened in 2005.

The Greens can’t change the Government on their own. Despite targeting 15% in 2014 they failed to increase their vote in 2o014 (it reduced slightly) and may have hit a Green ceiling.

By symbolically joining with Labour in an agreement (that expires before coalition negotiations begin) Greens may feel they have strengthened their position but it could just as easily play against them, or at least play against Labour as it makes them look weaker.

The Labour-Green alliance has accentuated the Winston elephant in the room.

It’s a bold move by the Greens to define fights against both National and NZ First at the same time.

Money – Greens do well with fund raising but money doesn’t buy success in politics, as Colin Craig and Kim Dotcom and Hone Harawira discovered in 2014.

Members – Greens say they have significantly increased their membership but also admit a high level of churn – they also lose many members.

Momentum – the Greens are trying to create a perception of momentum but herere there is a disconnect with reality. Momentum hasn’t been evident over the past few years, and there is no sign of it in anything other than their rhetoric at the moment.

Belief is one thing – and the Greens have had no shortage in belief in their ideals and their attractiveness to voters. In ways they are like a cult religion.

Getting enough people to share their beliefs – in their policies, in their abilities, and just as critically in their partner party or parties – is a big challenge for the ambitious and determined (and largely reliant on labour and probably NZ First) Greens.

The Greens may think the MoU now has them and Labour facing in the same direction in their campaign row boat, but no matter how frantically the Greens row if Labour continue to catch crabs and have slackers the Green boat may continue to circle in frustration.

False claims by Peters

In an interview with Katie Bradford on Q+A Winston Peters made claims that appear to be blatantly false.

This one may have been tongue in cheek but it is fairly obviously incorrect.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

The Speaker David Carter might well disagree with this. So might Peter Dunne, And David Seymour. Peters has had an acrimonious relationship with a number of journalists, unless it is all just an act. I doubt he has a good relationship with David Farrar or Cameron Slater.

The Maori Party has also been attacked by Peters. For example: Long, rambling and late: Winston attacks regular foes in speech

Peters said the Maori Party is “brown-mailing” National over the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.

“It is obvious that National have been brown-mailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party that doesn’t even get one percent of the vote.”

And his relationship with me is closer to very bad than very good. He’s one of a number of MPs who try to hide from me – “You are blocked from following @winstonpeters and viewing @winstonpeters’s Tweets” – and the only direct relationship I have had with Peters involved a threat of legal action.

Bradford asked Peters four times whether he had ‘a better relationship with the Greens, including:

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

That’s obvious nonsense. Peters shut the Greens out of a coalition with Labour in 2005

In August 2015: Peters: NZ First will decide 2017 election

Mr Peters’ first job of the day was to hurl criticisms at the media – “your polls are crap”, “stop this nonsense” and “you ask some stupid questions”. Mr Peters also launched an attack on the Greens, saying it cost the Left last year’s election by attacking Labour, adding the Greens will be irrelevant by 2017.

It goes back, this from October 2000: Winston Peters accused of Gay-bashing

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been accused of gay-bashing after attacking Green Party co-convenor Richard Davies’ naked appearance on a website advertising his gay homestay near Takaka.

June 2005: Peters says Green Party has ‘sold out’

Mr Peters yesterday described Mr Donald as “a man who’s obsessed with being in Cabinet and will sell any principle down the drain”.

Very ironic.

“They [the Greens] are going off to political oblivion. They don’t actually stand for anything and won’t stand up for anything,” he said on the Paul Holmes television show last night.

September 2014: Winnie on Waiheke: A Day Out with Winston Peters

He can also get pretty weird. To another man, he says: “You’re a Green supporter. That explains everything. You don’t care about the economy, you care about flies and bees. And trees. Let me tell you, man is more important, and womankind too. It’s in the book. Remember the book? God gave man dominion over them.”

Peters has attacked the greens directly (September 2014): Alternatives In Election 2014

“Of late the Greens have been talking about being co-deputy prime ministers and wanting the finance portfolio.

“Does that mean when the Prime Minister is abroad we are going to have two acting prime ministers instead.

“This situation would be farcical.

“If the Greens think they are going to take over the levers of economic management they are assuming other parties are not watching their record.

“Voters need to be disabused of the view promoted by the Greens that we in New Zealand First would stand by whilst they promote extremist policies in government.

“This is not indicating a choice but the media seem to have overlooked one option entirely, a Labour-New Zealand First combination in Coalition or Confidence and supply.

“This emerged in 2005, has precedent, and it was a stable, successful government that delivered the greatest surpluses in recent years.”

That’s an attack that the Greens will keep in mind, especially as their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour expires just prior to the business end of next year’s election, negotiating coalitions.

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