‘Poverty Action Plan’ is a campaign policy

Greens know that they are unlikely too have a lot of leverage in coalition negotiations after the election – if they are still in Parliament then. Their Poverty Action Plan is clearly a policy aimed at the campaign, and aimed at winning enough votes to survive.

Tim Murphy (Newsroom): The Greens’ cunning plan

The Poverty Action Plan sets goals that Labour will find too far, too fast and too risky. But in building towards a coalition, the Greens will surely have factored that in.

Leaders Davidson and James Shaw say it is too early for the plan to be seen as a bottom line for coalition talks. Instead they want sufficient party votes from this political declaration to give them room to prod Labour towards a welfare-tax-income support policy that might emulate the circuit-breaking First Labour Government of the 1930s.

Davidson and Shaw aren’t even sure how hard they will promote this plan.

I expect they will see what the response is, and what the polls do. They will be wary of an adverse impact similar to the Metiria effect that nearly knocked Greens out of Parliament in 2017.

The policy has been applauded by some on the left, but they may end up disappointed. It is unlikely to be a blueprint (Greenprint? Redprint?) for tax/welfare.ACC reform.

Greens will hope it’s a vote winner. But then the reality and hard work will begin, if they get to negotiate after the election.

I think it’s too soon to call it a cunning plan.

Government crumbling?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have been keeping a deliberate distance from the handling of Covid isolation and quarantining, and from most other things that are currently besetting her Government. But questions are being asked.

NZ Herald:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responds to claims Government ‘tearing itself apart’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is shrugging off criticism that her Government is “tearing itself apart,” after New Zealand First killed any hope that light rail in Auckland would get underway this term.

“This is an MMP Government,” Ardern said this afternoon.

“This just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus.”

Greens co-leader James Shaw said NZ First’s light rail moves were a “slap in the face of Aucklanders”.

But he insisted the policy was not dead.

Ardern admitted she was frustrated that the project won’t get underway before the election.

“That was a policy that we campaigned on that we have worked really hard on because we believe it will make a difference to congestion issues in Auckland.”

Light Rail was the first big policy announced by Ardern when she took over leadership of Labour leading into the 2017 election.

Labour made a commitment to the Greens in their governing agreement:

Work will begin on light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland.

But Ardern has not been able to prevent NZ First from delaying and then cancelling the project.

Stuff: James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement by axing light rail plan

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement with Labour by axing Auckland light rail this term.

In some of his harshest ever words against the party, Shaw said NZ First’s killing off of Auckland light rail this term was a “slap in the face of Aucklanders” and breached the coaliton agreement between Labour and NZ First.

He also refused to say whether he would go into Government with NZ First again.

This is unusually strong words from Shaw, but the survival of his party is at real risk.

NZ First leader Winston Peterssaid it was his reading of the clause that his party would act in good faith with the Greens, but did not actually bind his agreement to theirs.

“It asks us to act in good faith using our best information to make judgements on matters,” Peters said.

Pushed on this point Peters asked that the reporter go to the Human Rights Commission to get an interpretation of the clause.

Good faith and Winston Peters? he is also fighting for political survival and is well known to put his interests first, his party isn’t referred to as Winston First for nothing.

He said NZ First had killed off the plans as it was worried about cost blowouts.

That’s from someone who, along with Shane Jones, are doling out billions to regions whiling claiming as much credit for themselves.

1 News Morning Briefing June 25: Ardern denies coalition is crumbling

Ms Ardern says hers is an MMP Government and “this just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus”.

One of a growing number of ‘areas’.

Meanwhile, NZ First has also left business owners frustrated after putting the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, forcing Labour to turn to National for support for the bill.

NZ First leader Winston Peters denies he’s blocking the changes, saying, “We’re just making sure the policy is a sound, commercial proposition in fairness to the contractual laws in New Zealand.”

Peters is blocking changes on a number of things at least until the election.

The Spinoff  The Bulletin: Will the three-party government survive the term?

After several days of frantically knifing each other at parliament, you’d be forgiven for thinking the coalition government is on the verge of collapse. The highest profile incident was the news that the process on deciding how to get light rail in Auckland is now off the table…

As if to underline their independence from the wider coalition, NZ First have inflicted several more quick defeats on their frenemies this week. They’ve refused to support the proposal for hate speech laws. They put the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, in the wake of Covid-19. They stalled changes to how rape trials operate, based on concerns raised by defence lawyers. In each case, the party put up reasons for their opposition. But the cumulative effect of a barrage of similar stories creates the impression that they’re no longer interested in allowing anything else through before the election.

What’s driving all of this? Politik’s Richard Harman is particularly well informed on these matters, and has speculated that what we’re seeing right now is revenge from NZ First around one of their key projects – the movement of Auckland port operations to Whangārei – not making the speedy progress that they would have liked to see. Among the snubs in this area, the report noted that a proposal to build a floating dry dock in the north was not part of the recently announced list of 11 shovel-ready projects.

Peters reacting out of spite? Surely not.

Could all of this actually bring the government down? It’s not impossible that we’ll see an early election, even if it is deeply unlikely.

I think it is unlikely. Even if the Government collapsed now it would seem pointless bringing the election forward by a few weeks – it is currently three months away.

Peters should be very wary of bringing down another Government, he has a reputation for not going the distance and another failure would not be helpful for his re-election chances.

But an ongoing train wreck won’t help either.


RNZ: Casualties of the coalition government continue to grow

Labour and Green MPs have given up hiding their growing frustrations with New Zealand First vetoing their flagship policies.

Once again the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens has taken a hit.

Justice Minister Andrew Little hasn’t had a good run negotiating with New Zealand First in the past.

While he’d work with them again, he also said “I might change the ground rules”.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is less forgiving that yet another policy in the Greens’ confidence and supply agreement with Labour has been placed on the backburner.

“I have faith in the Green Party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour, yes. I don’t have faith that New Zealand First are able to uphold their own coalition agreement.

“Their coalition agreement says that they will act in good faith to ensure all other agreements can be complied with,” he said.

But NZ First Leader Winston Peters brushed off the accusation.

“We’ve acted in good faith but the Greens’ three hours ago were telling you they’re responsible, and then two hours later they had an epiphany and now they’re saying we’re breaching some kind of agreement to which we were never a part.”

Sounds like a dysfunctional government.

Cannabis referendum could be ignored or low priority by incoming Government

We get to vote on the cannabis legislation that allows for recreational for those 20 or older bit with strict controls.

But will the next Government honour the result if a majority vote in favour? There’s no guarantee of that as it is not a binding referendum.

The cannabis reform bill got this far due to a governing agreement between Greens and Labour at the Green Party’s request. The Greens have not had a strong influence in Government (they operate outside Cabinet) and the Bill is quite conservative.

And it could still be ignored or put on the back burner. At best it could take a year or two to happen, depending on what priority the Government gives it in the next term.

If Greens don’t make the threshold, or just get in again with a small number of MPs, or are rejected by Labour in the next governing arrangement (NZ First may make a condition of support being that Greens are left out), then Greens may have little or no say.

NZ First + Labour may not honour the referendum result, but that would be a ridiculous stance for NZ First given their insistence on referendums to let the people decide.

If National lead the next Government they may ignore the will of the people, they have been very conservative on cannabis reform.

But a possibility that should not be ignored is if Act get a few seats and enable National to govern – they may insist on change.

Peter Dunne discusses these issues except the last point (Newsroom):  Cannabis questions dropped in too hard basket?

Given that the moves towards freeing up the recreational cannabis market were primarily Green Party initiatives that neither Labour nor especially New Zealand First were all that keen about, the proposal that has now emerged hangs together reasonably well. It is an improvement on the current de facto situation, and for that reason alone is worth supporting in the referendum.

However, possibly reflecting the awkwardness of its development, it is far from perfect, with a significant number of issues either apparently unresolved, or seemingly parked in a very deep too hard basket.

What happens if the referendum supports change?

The present Government has made it clear that while it will not regard the outcome as binding, it will undertake to introduce reform legislation at some unspecified time during the next Parliamentary term.

There is no guarantee within that commitment that any such legislation will mirror the referendum proposals or that the Labour Party will even support it beyond its introduction stage. If, for example, the Greens have less influence in the next government, what influence will that have on the shape of legislation? Conversely, if the next government is more reliant on New Zealand First, what assurance is there that a Bill will even make it to the introduction stage?

Should the National Party lead the next government, the prospects for any form of legislative change following on from a positive referendum vote seem pretty low, based on statements to date from its various spokespeople.

They reinforce my own experience working as Associate Health Minister responsible for drug policy, in the last National-led government where National was extraordinarily wary of any changes to drug laws.

How long it will take to pass such legislation?

Typically, a Bill of this type takes between six and nine months to pass through all its stages in the House, including the select committee process and the hearing of public submissions.

Even if such a Bill were to be introduced early in the life of the next government, it would most probably be the latter half of 2021 at the absolute earliest before it would be passed by Parliament. Again, typically, allowing time of say two to three months as a minimum for the development and implementation of the regulatory regime to follow, it would most likely be late next year at the earliest before recreational cannabis could be legally available.

So if the law change is supported will people wait until it actually becomes law? If not, how will the Police deal with it?

In the meantime, assuming a vote for change, there will be a strong public feeling that having voted for change it should be permissible to use cannabis recreationally immediately.

That would put the police in a very awkward position. Would they be quietly encouraged to go lightly on the current law, because it is about to change, which would be a very dangerous precedent, or would they be expected to keep enforcing a law that everyone knows is about to be overturned?

Either way, their position is invidious, and does not appear to have given been sufficient consideration. Certainly, to date, the Government has given no indication of its thinking on this point, which is not helpful.

Maybe they haven’t thought about it. The Greens should be making sure the Government does think ahead on this.

Presumably, the police would be expected to enforce these new restrictions vigorously, otherwise they are pointless. But enforcement of this type would lead to more people coming before the Courts for diversion, a fine, community service, or even possible imprisonment.

However, the current law on illegal use has been barely enforced by the police for years now, so it is an open question whether they would be any more diligent in enforcing any new, tighter law. And if they are not going to do so, what is the point of making the law tougher?

Current policing attitudes notwithstanding, one of the strongest criticisms over the years from cannabis reform advocates has been of what they have seen as the clogging of the Courts from cannabis prosecutions and the consequent labelling for life of many people with criminal records as drug offenders.

Yet under the new regime, this could potentially intensify, making the situation much less satisfactory than at present.

An unintended consequence could be more arrests and convictions.

All this could be rendered moot if the majority vote against change.

If a small majority vote for change it may give National or NZ First (or Labour without the Greens) to drag it out over years, or ignore it altogether.

The best way to make it difficult to ignore the referendum result is for a significant majority to vote in favour of the modest reform being proposed, but it could be difficult getting enough to see it this way.

Government fast-tracking RMA procedures, green concerns

The Government is changing the law to enable the fast-tracking of Resource Management Act procedures

Beehive:  Fast-track consenting to get shovel-ready projects moving

The Government has announced a major element of its COVID-19 rebuild plan with a law change that will fast track eligible development and infrastructure projects under the Resource Management Act to help get New Zealand moving again.

Environment Minister David Parker said the sorts of projects that would benefit from quicker consenting included roading, walking and cycling, rail, housing, sediment removal from silted rivers and estuaries, new wetland construction, flood management works, and projects to prevent landfill erosion.

The changes were approved by Cabinet last week and new legislation is expected to be passed in June.

“We are acting quickly to get the economy moving again and our people working. Part 2 of the RMA will still be applied. Projects are being advanced in time, but environmental safeguards remain,” David Parker said.

If the process can be sped up like this without compromising on environmental safeguards why couldn’t something like this have been done years ago?

“The consenting and approval processes that are used in normal circumstances don’t provide the speed and certainty we need now in response to the economic fallout from COVID-19. The new processes will get projects started sooner and people into jobs faster.

“Investment in infrastructure is central to the Government’s economic plan to keep New Zealanders in jobs. We have already signalled major projects as part of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade project.

“Ideas from district and regional councils as well as NGOs and the private sector will be considered.

“Job-rich projects like core infrastructure, housing, and environmental restoration are crucial to the Government’s plan to stimulate the economy and help us recover from the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some large-scale government-led projects, including those in the NZTA’s Land Transport Programme, will be named in the legislation to go through the fast-track consent process. Some works by government agencies will be able to start “as of right”.

“Projects that help alleviate housing challenges, encourage active transport and enhance the environment are prioritised under the proposal,” David Parker said.

I wonder if this will be a temporary fast tracking or a permanent reform.

RNZ: Government looks to fast-track infrastructure projects after lockdown

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said it was important that those projects get back under way as soon as possible because of the wider impact on the nation.

“You’ve got 300,000 Kiwis approaching a level of joblessness that no one of my generation ever saw – and I was a child of Rogernomics.

“We have got to be prepared to follow basically the old saying of Machiavelli … which is never squander a good crisis to address issues that ordinarily you wouldn’t do.

“As I’ve said in the past, needs must where the devil drives.”

Mark Binns is the chair of the infrastructure industry reference group leading the project, and said creating jobs was one of the key focuses of the group.

“What we’re looking to do is obviously support New Zealanders in jobs and support key strategic disciplines in horizontal and vertical building around the country, so we’re looking right around the country in all the regions as to where we can help and we will have a list with the ministers sometime in early May.”

Construction businesses endorsed the move, with Fulton Hogan managing director Cos Bruyn saying the announcement gave him confidence – but it was still a case of wait and see.

While Greens have been suggesting that projects that help the climate and the environment should be given priority they are wary of speeding up processes.

RNZ:  Greens raise concerns about planned law to fast-track resource consents

The new legislation, due to be passed in June, would take away the ability of the public and councils to have input into whether projects proceed and instead hand this power to a small panels of experts, chaired by an Environment Court judge.

Decisions would be issued within 25 working days and, while existing Treaty of Waitangi settlements would be upheld, appeal rights would be limited to points of law and judicial review.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said her party objected to removing public consultation, even for a limited time.

“This is why I want to hear from the public, and iwi and hapū, with concerns to the select committee process … we will be listening and taking on those concerns to get further improvements to this bill.”

That sounds like it could take a lot longer than the Government would like, but the the Greens may be impotent on this.

Labour, New Zealand First, National and ACT are all agreed on something – the RMA is not doing its job.

National’s spokesperson for RMA reform, Judith Collins, said it was about time changes were made and her party would likely consider the changes “favourably” once it had a chance to see the details.

“It does seem to me to be a recognition the RMA is not fit for purpose for doing almost anything.”

Mike Smith from the National Iwi Chairs Forum is leading their work on the matter – he will be meeting with ministers about it later today.

He said they’re glad to see environmental initiatives are now more front and centre and that land returned via treaty settlements will be protected from development.

The legislation risks poor decision making, Jen Miller of Forest and Bird told Morning Report.

There is a lack of clarity and communication about what the legislation will mean for the environment, she said.

She isn’t confident that the decision-making process will factor in a large project’s long term environmental effects.

Under the RMA there’s been ongoing destruction of the environment, she said.

“Climate disruption will cause huge impacts on people and our environment.

“In our view, projects need to provide help genuinely provide opportunities for recovery for people and the planet.”

That has conflicted with growth and ‘progress’, and is now going to come up against the rush to reinvigorate business and the economy after the Covid shock.

 

Newshub/Reid Research poll – February 2020

The first political poll of election year is of interest but doesn’t change much.

  • National 43.3% (down from 43.9)
  • Labour 42.5% (up from 41.6)
  • Greens 5.6% (down from 6.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down from 4.0)
  • ACT Party 1.8% (up from 1.4)

No surprises there, all margin of error movements.

On those numbers National/ACT are short of getting a majority but not far away and if NZ First miss the threshold it opens possibilities.

Labour+Greens are close to a two party majority of seats.

The others:

  • Maori Party 0.9% (up from 0.7)
  • New Conservative Party 0.7% (down from 1.0)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.6% (down from 1.1)

None of those parties look like getting anywhere near the 5% threshold. The Maori Party are going to contest seats to try to avoid needing the threshold.

Stated margin of error: 3.1%

Newshub: National and Labour neck-and-neck in new Newshub-Reid Research poll

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 38.7% (up from 38.4)
  • Simon Bridges 10.6% (up from 6.7)

Newshub poll: Simon Bridges breaks 10 percent as preferred Prime Minister

Polling period 23 January – 1 February, before Bridges ruled out NZ First from any coalition deals, and before Waitangi Day week.

Their last poll was in October 2019 – Newshub Reid Rese

Polling for this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

NZ: Turnout of voters matters more than swing voters, candidates or policies?

Does  apply US: Turnout of voters matters more than swing voters, candidates or policies? to New Zealand politics? Will it affect this year’s election here? Is the outcome of our election virtually determined already? (Going by our history of rarely dumping a first term government, quite possibly).

Our politics is much different, far less polarised than in the US, and less red and white due to MMP.

Maybe with less polarisation and demonisation  (and demons) swing voters, candidates and policies play a bigger part here.

But the theories in the above article probably favour Jacinda Ardern success. Apart from some frothing on the fringes there doesn’t seem to be a strong anti-Ardern sentiment here. There also doesn’t seem to be a strong anti-Green sentiment.

Sure National have already been campaigning along anti-Labour lines, but one of the most consistent criticisms of the Labour led government is that they are under performing. This is actually helpful for there chances – the more conservative voters who don’t like radical change probably won’t be strongly motivated to replace Ardern and Labour.

Climate change policies are mostly long term with wide support, some strong and some soft, with few fears about what changes they will force on us.

The economy is not causing any great concerns, with Grant Robertson hardly being seen let alone being feared by the right.

I think there’s likely to be more motivation to stay with what we currently have than to switch right to National.

The noise over NZ First may not matter very much. Most voters are not motivated for or against them. Whether they survive or not will depend on whether a small niche of voters want them to remain enough, but I doubt there are strong feelings on that. And whether NZ First survives or not may not make any difference to Ardern’s and Labour’s overall chances.

There’s unlikely to be a strong anti-National/Act motivation here, but neither is it likely there will be a strong anti-incumbent motivation.

With all this in mind and National lacking in coalition options then Labour+Green looks to have the inside running, with a side issue of whether NZ First is retained or dumped, and if they survive whether Labour need them to govern or not.

Foreign donations bill passes after ugly debate, more ugliness likely

Party donations are still in the spotlight due to the passing of  foreign donations bill under urgency. The debate has been ugly.

RNZ: Dirty laundry aired as foreign political donations bill passes third reading in Parliament

A bill cracking down on foreign political donations has passed its third reading in parliament, with MPs using it as an opportunity to air the dirty laundry of other parties.

National used this morning’s debate on the bill to highlight questions around New Zealand First and the party’s foundation, and its handling of donations.

MP Gerry Brownlee questioned why the government had introduced a bill for anonymous foreign donations, rather than for a much bigger issue.

“We are ignoring the fact there is a massive loophole here available and used so far by New Zealand First and available to others, to avoid the scrutiny of where the money comes from,” he said.

MP Nick Smith told Parliament foundations and societies should be included in the the law change.

“We should not put up with the farce of New Zealand First having a foundation that collected over half a million dollars of secret donations,” he said.

Mr Smith also took a swipe at the Greens.

“How is it possible that the Green Party has championed banning foreign donations for the last five years, but has got 50 times more foreign donations according to the regulatory impact statement than any other party?”he said.

But Minister of Justice Andrew Little didn’t let National’s attacks go unanswered.

“There is only one party in this Parliament that is currently the subject of a serious fraud office investigation, it happens to be the National Party,” Mr Little said.

“There is only one party, who in their returns in the 2017 general election showed an extraordinary number of donations to candidates from their head office and that is the National Party,” he said.

The bill just passed will have little effect on donations, apart from giving party secretaries a lot more work to do checking smaller donations (above $50) to assure themselves they aren’t from foreign donors.

But it has stirred up the whole issue about party donations.

One of the biggest stirrers was Winston Peters, who ironically accuses others of hypocrisy and lying, but himself making unsubstantiated accusations under the protection of parliamentary privilege. His speech on the bill started:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): I decided to make a speech here this morning because I’ve sat in my office and other committee meetings, hearing these attacks on a party called New Zealand First from the biggest bunch of you-know-whats this Parliament has ever seen.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Answer the question.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Answer the question, Mr Smith. I’ll answer the question. That’s a man who told Parliament that he’d made a declaration to the Parliamentary Commissioner, excepting when I asked the Parliamentary Commissioner, she wrote to me and said he did not. So, in short, did he tell the truth to Parliament? No, he didn’t.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): Order! I really don’t—I think that is against Standing Orders—

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: What is?

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): To accuse a member of deliberately misleading.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I didn’t say that, did I? That’s your inference from my conclusion in my speech. I said, “except Margaret Bazley told me that he didn’t.” Now you infer from that he’s a liar. Go right ahead, but I didn’t say it.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): Well, I’m sorry, but just a minute. I am dealing with my concern about the comment you made following that, which then accused Dr Smith of telling an untruth.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Read the Hansard.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): Well, I don’t have to because—

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, you do.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): —I’m the Speaker.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: You’ve got to provide evidence like everybody else. You’re not a law unto yourself here.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): Excuse me. Excuse me. Actually, I am in the Chair and I’m trying to deal with this. I would ask you to withdraw and apologise because you have made an unparliamentary accusation against a member.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Madam Chairperson, I want to know what the accusation was that I’m meant to be apologising for.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): I’ve explained that to you.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, no—you haven’t, madam. You’ve made the claim, but you haven’t provided the evidence, and you, in your position, are required to do that.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): I am not. I am asking the member to withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I withdraw and apologise.

Bickering continued. Later:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No—of course I don’t like it. I don’t like people with a capital “H” as their major feature of their character. The people who are screaming out over there evince that.

Last night, there was a speech made in this Parliament that should have made the headlines all around this country. It was about a political party—and I want to know how this Part 1 is going to catch this sort of behaviour—that went offshore and raised $150,000. Just one donation—one donation—$150,000. All the emails and all the texts and everything associated with that arrangement were offered to this Parliament, but not one of those people over there, acting as though they’re as pure as the driven snow, asked for a shred of evidence. You know why? Because they’re as guilty as sin, and they’re not going to win getting away with the kind of behaviour they thought to get away with.

You can look as cross-eyed as you like, Mr Penk, but you’re not going to win here. The fact is he was the one that shouted out last night. He shouted to Jami-Lee Ross. He said, “But you did it.” See? There he was, a colleague of the very guy that did it, and he’s shouting out “But you did it.”, as though, somehow, that sort of behaviour, or that sort of comment, exonerates their attempt to get around, in the most devious way, the law of this country.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Tell us about your foundation.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I’m very happy to tell us about the foundation, because it’s based on the National Party’s foundation. Isn’t it amazing? It’s based on the National Party’s foundation. Oh no—these people are so born to rule—

More irony from Peters, who seems to think he deserves to rule in his later life at least. More bickering. Finally:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Speaking to the bill in Part 1, the reality is that all these matters should be transparent within the law. Can I say, with respect to the last question from over the other side there, in respect of New Zealand First, this matter is being examined by the very authorities qualified to do so. But they don’t include the biased media, and they don’t include the biased, prejudiced, and deceitful members of the Opposition. Simply this: it won’t stop there, of course, because I’ve got senior National Party members contacting New Zealand First saying, “Why on earth did they start this attack, because it’s going to rebound on us.”

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): Could we talk about the bill?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yeah, well, I want to know—if we speak to Part 1—how does the Minister feel about that? Is there going to be some sunlight—is there going to be the disinfectant of truth—shone on a certain political party that has had for years in excess of $100 million never disclosed ever. They have the gall and the audacity to rise in this Parliament and condemn by attempts by innuendo and slight a party that has behaved within the law and will be proven to be so. We are the ones who are volunteering to the Electoral Commission the information. We’re not asked for it. No, no—we’re volunteering it. But here comes the rub: you’re next, Mr Brownlee.

A hundred million dollar accusation with no substance, as is typical of Peters. Just after saying “So, in short, did he tell the truth to Parliament? No, he didn’t.”

With this sort of carry on (with donations and in Parliament) it’s no wonder the public has a very poor view of parties and politics.


The Greens have supported rushing this bill through under urgency, which seems contrary to their principles on proper democratic processes.

The Beehive announcement on the bill:

The Bill also introduces a new requirement that party secretaries and candidates must take reasonable steps to ensure that a donation, or a contribution to a donation over the $50 foreign donation threshold, is not from an overseas person. The Electoral Commission will issue guidance on what ‘reasonable steps they might take to check the origin of the donations.

I wonder if this is a bit of an own goal for the Greens. They rely on a lot of smaller donations solicited online. They may now have a lot more work to do ensuring that dominations they receive are not from “an overseas person”. They provided political backing for the bill, but it could add substantially to party administration. Same for labour (and all parties).


More on donations from NZH: Former NZ First officials want private hearing on donations with justice committee

The former president and treasurer of the New Zealand First Party, Lester Gray and Colin Forster, want to appear before the justice committee to reveal what they know about the party’s donations.

“We want to shed some light on the inappropriate internal workings of the party that seemingly aren’t monitored or controlled by electoral law,” the pair said in a joint letter to the committee.

“Our major concern is that the party affairs have effectively been taken over by the caucus [despite] public comments saying the opposite.”

The justice committee will tomorrow decide whether to allow them to appear or not.

“The committee needs to be aware that we face substantial legal and personal threats should we make public statements on these issues,” the letter says.

NZ First lawyer and Foundation trustee Brian Henry made a multi-million dollar legal threat against Nick Smith and National last week.

It said the committee’s inquiry into the 2017 election would be a “safe place for us to disclose our knowledge of what has taken place.”

“We are happy to make our submission to a closed committee without New Zealand First officials present and will make ourselves available at the earliest opportunity.”

Nick Smith’s distribution of the letter follows a row in Parliament today in which New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters accused National in Parliament of failing to declare $100 million of donations.

It looks like ugly debate on donations will continue.


Stuff: Winston Peters says the NZ First foundation is similar to the National Party’s foundation. Here’s how it isn’t

“It’s based on the National Foundation,” he said.

But while the initial brief for the NZ First Foundation did name-check the National Party’s foundation, in practice it has operated completely differently.

National Party spokesman Mark Nicholson said the National Party Foundation is treated by the Electoral Commission as the same entity in terms of donations.

“All donations to the National Foundation are treated as donations to the political party and recorded,” he said.

Nicholson said a system to aggregate donations is in place and all donations are declared by the party secretary in their annual returns.

Electoral returns from New Zealand First do not match up with donation amounts into the foundation bank accounts.

In 2017, NZ First declared 13 donations of more than $5000 to $15,000 but bank records show at least 26 donations within the same range were deposited into foundation accounts.

In 2018, NZ First declared just five donations between $5000 and $15,000 but bank records for the foundation showed 10 across three months of records.

“The Foundation will be a key part of the activities of the NZ First Party but will not be involved in policy development, organisation, structure or day-to-day operation of the party.”

However, bank records show the capital was spent on party-related expenses including: campaign headquarters, legal advice, internet, signage, advertising, website, storage, political advice, staff and reimbursed MPs for travel expenses.

Stuff/YouGov poll: Labour 41%, National 38%

Stuff have started political polling again, this time with YouGov, who are new to New Zealand polling. With no record to give any idea how they compare to other polls analysis of this poll should be even more cautious than normal (not that media or parties treat polls as they should).

  • Labour 41%
  • National 38%
  • Greens 8%
  • NZ First 8%
  • ACT 2%
  • Maori Party 1%
  • TOP 1%
  • Other 1%

The poll was conducted between 7 and 11 November by YouGov so events over the past two weeks are not reflected in these results, of particular note the revelations last week about a secretive foundation that handles party donations.

Labour and National shouldn’t be too worried bout this result. Greens will be happy. Winston Peters usually slams polls and had a major hissy fit against media last week, but should be relieved with the timing of this poll.

There’s a glimmer of hope there for ACT, who may benefit from David Seymour’s hard work and success over the End of Life Choice bill.

Stuff: Labour ahead while National dips below 40 in new Stuff poll

Labour and its coalition partners are riding high while National have dropped below 40 per cent support in a recent Stuff/YouGov poll.

That is a mediocre summary. National are down on other polls but have not dropped under YouGov polling, which is untested in New Zealand. Labour, Greens and NZ First together look strong, but that could have changed last week.

It is the first poll published by Stuff from YouGov, a global polling firm who run regular polls for The Australian, The Times, The Economist, and CBS News.

A spokesperson for National leader Simon Bridges said the poll did not match their own figures and was incorrect.

The poll isn’t incorrect, it is the results YouGov got. There could be a variety of reasons it differs from National’s own polling – and without publishing National’s polling it’s impossible to compare anyway, politicians are notorious for promoting their own polling (when it suits them) without showing any evidence or details.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “encouraging”, as it showed Labour building on its election result.

“It’s really encouraging to see all of the coalition parties up when we compare the numbers against the last election. We’ve taken on some big challenges but we’re making good progress — I’d like to think this poll reflects that,” Ardern said.

Ardern may like to think that but it’s also nonsense. It shows only what those who were polled thought 2-3 weeks ago.

Labour is widely seen to be making mediocre and disappointing progress. The poll is more likely to reflect the lack of progress Bridges is making with his negative, whiny dog whistle strategy.

Leaders’ favourable/unfavourable rating:

  • Jacinda Ardern +35%
  • Simon Bridges -37%

Winston Peters was about -23% (30% favourable, 53% unfavourable, but that was before last week’s Foundation/donation revelations.

That’s good for Ardern and bad for Bridges, but unsurprising.

The methodology for the YouGov poll is different to other political polls in New Zealand, which rely on phone-calling or a mix of phone calling and online responses. It is conducted entirely online by a panel of respondents, as other YouGov polls around the world are.

Certainly YouGov is untested in New Zealand, but Reid Research (for Newshub) have already been using part “online methods” (along with “Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing”)

We need to see several YouGov poll results alongside the other public polls from Reid Research and Colmar Brunton, and at least one general election, before we can see how close to or distant from reality they are.

Campbell White, YouGov’s head of polling and public affairs for Asia Pacific, said online sampling was the best way to make sure a wide variety of people were polled.

“The reason is over time we are better able to represent the population online. Rather than just the people who answer their phone and don’t use call screening,” White said.

The sample has quotas, so various demographics are represented, and the figures are scientifically weighted to match the voting population.

Phone surveys also screen respondents to try to ensure they poll a representative sample of demographics are obtained.

I don’t know there is any research or evidence to show whether online only polling is any more accurate than other polling or not.

Mrgin of Error stated as +/-3.1% which is standard for 1005 respondents.

It’s good to see another public political poll, there has been a lack of polling over the last few years. YouGov results will add to the mix, but need to be viewed cautiously until they build a track record.

Sustainable NZ could help Labour, Greens as well as environment

The newly launched Sustainable NZ Party has been criticised a puppet party set up to either give National  coalition option they are currently lacking, or compete with Green votes to try to stop the Green Party making the 5% threshold,

But if SNZ makes it into Parliament (this is a long shot but possible) they could help Labour or the Greens (if the get back in) as much if not more than they could help National.

SNZ in Parliament could give Labour a choice between them and the Greens, giving them more coalition bargaining power.

SNZ could also give Labour or Labour+Greens an alternative to NZ First for a coalition.

A Labour+Greens+SNZ coalition should have a strong environmental mandate, far stronger than currently with NZ First in the mix.

The Greens have actually reacted with “it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections”.

And even if National and SNZ form a coalition, that must be better for environmental policy implementation than National on their own or with ACT.

The bleating from the left seems more old school politics where parties like Labour think they should be able to effectively rule on their own, or as far as the Greens are concerned worried about self preservation (the threshold), or seeing themselves as the exclusive champion of environmental policies.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog: The real purpose of National’s new ‘Sustainability NZ Party’

The point of Sustainability NZ for National is not to get over 5% and join them in Parliament, it’s to take just enough green voters away from the Greens so as to sink them under 5%.

That’s just one possibility. Voters may see differently – two environmental parties could be better than one.

If we had a Green movement that wasn’t more focused on meaningless consensus and middle class identity politics, they could see this challenge off from Sustainability NZ, but because of the shrill alienation the Greens  manage to create, this could be the plot to rob them of any representation post 2020.

He also takes a swipe at the Greens. The bitterness of someone with no party to support.

Voters could dump the Greens from Parliament regardless of SNZ. If that happens and SNZ manages to get in then we must be better off than being left with National versus Labour.

MickySavage at The Standard: Sustainable Party launches

The Sustainable Party, National’s sock puppet party designed to weaken the Greens has launched.

That’s a negative Labour reaction, without stopping to think through the possibilities.

At a time when the world is in a crisis caused by run away climate change there is only very oblique reference to this most pressing of problems.  It should be centre and front of any policy announcement by a so called environmentally focussed party.  That it is not speaks volumes.  And that the policy is being used to try and wedge the Greens on  Generic Engineering shows the real motivation behind the party.

The Greens should be challenged on their ridiculous entrenched anti-GE position,

Of course the reality is that this party is a puppet party, designed to cause as much grief as possible to the Greens.

And he refuses to accept that late stage capitalism and unfettered greed and growth are the cause of our problems.  That economic disparity and ecological decline are happening hand in hand because they are symptoms of the same problem.  Instead he claims that his party is  “pro-progress, pro-technology and pro-science” and seems to think that eternal economic growth is possible.

This sounds like knee jerk anti-new party syndrome – established parties seem to hate newbies with new approaches. They seem to feel threatened.

Beyond the overreaction of political bloggers, RNZ – Sustainable New Zealand political party: Other parties unruffled

The Greens said they were “not too fussed” about a potential rival, saying in a statement the ‘teal’ vote was miniscule.

“We think National are the only ones likely to lose support,” it said.

“However Mr Tava is welcome to give it a go – he has every right to and in fact it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections.”

Yes, under MMP more parties in Parliament strengthens democracy, giving major parties more options to get genuine majorities to progress policies.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford did not think Sustainable NZ would take many votes from the Greens.

“While Mr Tava talks about being willing to go with National or Labour or anyone else I think it’s pretty clear that they are positioning themselves very much on the right side of the political spectrum with all their talk of working with business…

Funny, Bradford equates “talk of working with business with “very much on the right side of the political spectrum”. Even Russel Norman appeared willing to talking with businesses, and James Shaw certainly is willing.

Apart from the fringe far left healthy business is seen as an integral part of the way we live.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said more voices for protecting the environment was a good thing, but he thought the party might struggle to get a coherent message through.

“Much of the destruction of the environment has been the result of commercial exploitation and it seems like their economic policies may not be ones that would actually change that, so we look forward with interest to see what the full suite of their policies might be,” he said.

Mr Hague said focusing the majority of their policies on the environment, could place them at a disadvantage too.

“If they say they’re just going to have environmental policies that is going to make them pretty much a lame duck within Parliament on most issues.

Not necessarily. All parties in Parliament have to make decisions on issues they don’t have policies on.  That doesn’t make them lame ducks on those issues.  And where parties have policies on issues the reality is that most parties have to compromise on their own policies most of the time.

Labour’s 2020 campaign chair Megan Woods said they had not yet discussed the prospect of working with the party.

Ms Woods said however it would not change anything about their campaign and Labour would just be focused on telling its own story.

“[The] launch comes as no surprise, this has been well signalled, but what it does show yet again is that National still has a big strategic dilemma around a lack of coalition partners,” she said.

If she or Labour thought things through it could be a positive change for them – providing they can win more votes than National next election.

Newshub: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern throws doubt on Vernon Tava’s Sustainable NZ

Jacinda Ardern has hit out at the newest political party Sustainable New Zealand, saying the Government is already catering to the environmental needs it’s offering.

“I do believe that environmental matters are a huge focus for this Government and I don’t see that there’s necessarily a space that [Sustainable NZ] need to fill,” the Prime Minister said Monday.

But Labour leader Ardern questioned the need for Tava’s party in the current political space, asking reporters at her post-Cabinet press conference: “What is the political issue that they are trying to solve?”

Ardern said the current Labour-Green-New Zealand First Government is already doing plenty for the environment, pointing to the Zero Carbon Bill that passed its final reading last week.

She also reflected on the $181.6 million funding boost over four years given to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2018 – the largest bump in conservation funding since 2002.

“If they claim that they are operating in an environmental space… I’d say that it’s being very well catered for by this Government,” Ardern said.

How well the environment is being catered for is debatable, and could be better catered for if SNZ replaced NZ First as a coalition partner for Labour+Greens.

SNZ could compete with votes that could otherwise go to Labour, and that’s not what a party leader wants.

But for non-aligned people like me another party option to vote for is a good thing. I don’t think there are any current parties in Parliament that deserve my vote. I’d like more options, and SNZ looks to be potentially a good one.

Two political polls with similar results

Newshub released a Reid Research a poll on Sunday with ridiculous headlines and claims. 1 News released a Colmar Brunton poll last night with less dramatic but still over the top claims. Polls are just polls, especially this far from an election, but they try to get value from the expense of polling by making stories out of them that aren’t justified.

Last time the two polled the biggest talking point was how different their results were. The Reid Research poll was regarded as an outlier, being quite different to any other polls this term.

The most notable thing about the polls this time is that the results are very similar, taking into account margins of error of about 3% for the larger results, and the fact that Colmar results are rounded to the nearest whole number.

  • National: RR 43.9% (+6.5%), CB 47% (+2)
  • Labour: RR 41.6% (-9.2), CB 40% (-3)
  • Greens: RR 6.3% (+0.1), CB 7% (+1)
  • NZ First: RR 4.0% (+1.2), CB 4% (+1)
  • ACT: RR 1.4% (+0.6), CB 1% (-)
  • TOP: RR 1.1% (+1.0), CB 1% (-)
  • Maori Party: RR 0.7% (+0.2), CB 1% (-)

I don’;t think it’s surprising at this stage to see National a bit ahead of Labour, Labour has had a mixed month or two and is struggling to make major progress due to the restraint of coalition partner NZ First.

Green support looks at a safe level, but is well below what they were getting last term (about half).

NZ First are still polling below the threshold and will be in a battle to stay in Parliament.

Is is fairly normal these days there are a number of borderline governing scenarios with these numbers, with National+ACT and Labour+Greens thereabouts but not certainties.

A lot may depend on whether NZ First make the threshold or not next election. Both other times they have been in a coalition government they have lost support at the next election.

Trends from Opinion polling for the next New Zealand general election (Wikipedia):

That shows the last Reid Research anomaly well.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern: RR 38.4% (-10.6), CB 38% (-3)
  • Simon Bridges: RR 6.7% (+2.5), CB 9% (+3)
  • Judith Collins: 5.2% (-1.9), CB 5%
  • Winston Peters: CB 4%

Ardern a bit down, Bridges a bit up but still a big difference.

Newshub also did a poll on performance:

  • Ardern: performing well 62.4%, performing poorly 23.1%
  • Bridges: performing well 23.9%, performing poorly 52.7%

UPDATE: 1 News/Colmar Brunton have also started asking a similar question:

  •  Ardern handling her job as Prime Minister:  +33
    approve 62%
    disapprove 29%
    don’t know or refused 8%
  • Bridges’ handling his job as National Party leader: -22
    approve 29%
    disapprove 51%
    don’t know or refused 20%

Ardern performance is well above her party support, while Bridges is well below National support (about half).

  • Newshub-Reid Research Poll was conducted between 2-9 October 2019.
    1000 people were surveyed, 700 by telephone and 300 by internet panel
  • 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll conducted between 5-9 October
    1008 eligible voters were polled by landline (502) and mobile phone (506)

So both now rely on some polling by something other than landline, Reid Research 30% by internet panel and Colmar Brunton 50% by mobile phone.

1 News link here.

Newshub/Reid Search links here and here.

The Newshun headline says “Jacinda Ardern, Labour take massive tumble in new Newshub-Reid Research poll” but a more accurate description would have been “Newshub poll looks more likely following last rogue poll”. It wasn’t a massive tumble for Ardern, more like a large correction by Reid Research.