Tax is likely to be a key election issue

There have been major distractions in politics over the last two weeks, with the fall of Andrew Little followed by the euphoric rise of Jacinda Ardern, plus the self destruction of the Greens which included the end of two MPs and the effective end of Metiria Turei’s political career.

Amongst that earlier this week there were two polls that showed a shrink in support for the greens and NZ First, and the likely return of a head to head battle between National and Labour.

And in a debate on The Nation yesterday between Steven Joyce and Grant Robertson the battle lines were drawn.

Robertson: So, under Labour’s package, every family earning $62,000 or less will be better off than under National’s package. What I don’t want is for Steven and me to get a $1000 tax cut when we’ve got families living in cars and garages, when we’ve got a health system that’s not coping. What we’re saying is we’ll get the money to the families in need, but we’ll get the money that Steven wants to give to us as tax cuts – to wealthy people like us – we’ll get that money, and we’ll make sure it’s invested in public services that have been run down.

Joyce: Well, it’s not actually about me – or about Grant, actually. It’s about those people who are on the median wage who are currently facing a 30-cent-in-the-dollar tax rate, and we have to change that. And the only way we change that is shifting the thresholds. Now, Grant’s allergic to actually reducing taxes and allergic to adjusting thresholds. He’s about increasing taxes.

Labour have pushed the anti-tax cut for rich people since National’s tax cut package was announced in the budget in May.

But it doesn’t just reduce tax or ‘rich people’, it reduces tax for all workers who pay PAYE:

Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. This provides a tax reduction of $11 a week to people earning $22,000 or more rising to $20 per week for anyone earning $52,000 or more.

https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2017/family-incomes-package/index.htm

That’s $1,000 less tax per year for everyone earning over $52,000 (affecting ‘rich people’ of course but also the majority in wage earners).

Of all the polices announced this one directly affects me the most. Labour would scrap it, and that has to be a significant factor in deciding who to vote for.

More on possible tax changes;

Lisa Owen: Capital gains tax — are you ruling it out in the first term absolutely, if you’re in in the first term?

Robertson: We’ve got a tax working group. I can’t pre-empt what they’re going to come back and decide.

Lisa Owen: So you can’t rule it out? Could come in the first term?

Robertson: I can’t pre-empt what that group says, but here’s the important point — right now today we have something called the bright-line test that the National Party brought in. It says that if you sell a house that’s not your family home within two years, you’ll pay tax on it. Steven has a form of capital gains tax.

Lisa Owen: I’ll give you the chance to talk about your policy, Mr Robertson. So a capital gains tax is still on the table? You’re not taking it off?

Robertson: What we’re going to the election with is a commitment that if you sell a property that is not your family home within five years, you’ll be taxed for that.

Robertson clearly avoiding stating a position on a Capital Gains tax, something he has favoured in the past but Little took off the table. It appears to be under consideration again.

Joyce: I think there’s a problem there for the Labour Party, because they’re dodgy on tax. They’re refusing to say about the capital gains, they’ve mentioned a water tax last week, but they won’t tell us how much it is, and then, of course, they’ve got a regional fuel tax they won’t talk about where it goes beyond Auckland.

Expect National to hammer the uncertainty over what additional taxes a Labour government could implement.

Labour are trying to avoid details by deferring to a future tax working group (on CGT) and an ‘expert panel’ (on water taxes).

Lisa Owen: So top tax rate — can you rule out lining yourselves up with the Greens and having 40 cents over 150 grand? Are you going to go for that?

Robertson: No, I don’t think we will be going for that, but what we will do…

Lisa Owen: …but you are not ruling out raising that tax rate.

Robertson: I’m not ruling it in; I’m not ruling it out.

On a water tax:

Lisa Owen: What about your water levy? What’s that going to be?

Robertson: The water levy? Look, what we’ve said there is for every thousand litres of water that’s used in irrigation, perhaps one or two cents.

Lisa Owen: One or two cents. There you go, Mr Joyce. That’s not going to make a huge difference, is it?

Joyce: This is the problem is that he’s not telling.

Robertson: One or two cents, Steven. How big a difference?

Joyce: Well, hang on. Don’t ask me; ask the farmers, because I’ve seen some figures that even at those levels, you’re talking about 50,000 a year per farm. So I think it’s beholden on the Labour Party to actually come a bit more clean on their tax stuff, because they’re being very dodgy.

Robertson: We’ve been completely upfront.

Joyce: You haven’t, actually. So you’ve got a water tax that you won’t tell anybody—

On the Panel discussion on The Nation:

Patrick Gower: I actually think that Grant Robertson probably got in a few more jabs in…however in terms of actual overall damage I think some of the talk about tax there that Steven Joyce, in terms of long term damage beyond the debate, in terms of that capital gains tax is back on the table.

The capital games tax is back baby. Labour were going to go to the next election with that, but that could come in next term.

Lisa Owen: Jane, are they doing themselves a disservice by not putting numbers on stuff now.

Jane Clifton: Absolutely. They’re their own worst enemy. This week alone with the water tax issue, because finally we’ve got a figure for irrigators and wineries and so on of one to two cents, although David Parker said three.

…but yeah, just get your ducks in a row, announce them all, don’t leave room for speculation about $18 cabbages and $70 on a bottle of wine…

The Newshub video cut Gower off at the end, but he pointed out a significant power shift in Labour. When Andrew little took over the leadership in 2014 he put a number of Labour policies on ice, including the CGT.

But with Little dropping to the ranks and Ardern taking over the leadership Gower said that this meant also a significant rise in influence of Robertson – he and Ardern have been close allies for a long time. We are already seeing glimpses of what that may change in Labours tax policies.

Gower followed up on Twitter:

So expect tax to be a prominent issue in the election.

It may have a significant effect on the outcome of the election. Labour will need to be much better prepared for the inevitable attacks from National.

Ardern will need to be well prepared for the leaders’ debates with Bill English. She will likely have a ready response to a ‘show me the money’ type line (Key used that to devastating effect against Phil Goff in 2011), but she is likely to get challenged over and over if she remains vague of what taxes a Labour government may impose or increase.

And tax could also have a significant impact on the outcome of coalition negotiations. Both Labour and National will have to try and find enough partners to support their tax (and spending) plans.

Personally a water tax or a CGT or a fuel tax in Auckland won’t affect me.

But I will be seriously taking into account whether National’s income tax cuts might be reversed or not when I decide who I will vote for.

Clifton: post-mortem on the McCarten fiasco

This is one of the few attempts by anyone in media to have a good look at the Labour intern fiasco – a “post-mortem on Matt Mcarten fiasco” (and the Barclay fiasco) has just popped up on Noted after being in the Listener a couple of weeks ago.

Matt McCarten drove the scheme while working for Labour leader Andrew Little, then when things turned to custard he made a rapid exit, leaving Labour to try and clean up the mess.

At issue here was his grandiose scheme to bring nearly 100 young politics students to New Zealand to work for the Campaign for Change, a movement he has set up to motivate perennial non-voters and vote-shy youngsters to get to the ballot box.

Foreign volunteers typically pay their own way and get billeted. That was the deal for McCarten’s intern army. But the plan was both over-egged and underprepared: he didn’t have enough money committed to look after the students properly; many found their marae accommodation inadequate; some had the wrong visas; others felt they were being exploited; one couple even caught the next plane back home.

And just like National’s Barclay issue, the problem had hatched right under the party’s nose.

McCarten was hardly the covert field marshal. Since at least last Christmas, he’s been telling anyone in proximity how he saw his new job – “I’m gonna raise an army!” – and until recently, he was still in Labour’s part-time employ, while prepping the Campaign for Change.

Little tried to claim he knew virtually nothing about it, which seemed unlikely and still does.

That alone merited careful watching: electoral law and parliamentary funding rules mandate strict boundaries between such projects.

And while keeping an eye on that, party officials should have noticed that despite having been told Labour did not support his intern scheme, he was still doing it in Labour’s name. Anyone who has ever worked with McCarten knows very well that he’s congenitally incapable, when around a meeting table, of hearing the word “no” in so much as it might apply to him.

Yet somehow, he was left to carry on, plastering Labour’s brand and reputation all over a scheme that might have been tailor-made to contradict the party’s core messages. This is the Chinese-sounding-names fiasco to the power of 10.

From now on, anytime anyone mentions sub-standard housing, the living wage, student-visa manipulation, the perils of immigrant labour, exploitation of workers and dubious electoral expenses, Labour’s opponents will have this almighty compound hypocrisy stick with which to beat the party.

Labour will now have to be ultra-cautious they avoid anything that could give opponents a free shot on a number of issues.

Then there’s the ticklish matter of electoral law. McCarten part-funded the scheme with money from a donor whose identity and donation size he won’t disclose, even to Labour. The party risks being deemed to have benefited from that as electoral spending, though it did not want, authorise or control it. It was also misleading that McCarten used the term “fellowship” for the scheme, a term that connotes at least a quasi-formal tertiary-studies orientation, when it was nothing of the kind.

Now, Labour is morally obliged to reimburse the disaffected students’ expenses and pay for those still working here, which could badly dent its campaign war chest. Labour’s donors are entitled to be hopping mad that some of their money will be used not for campaigning but to mitigate McCarten’s folly. Lord only knows what the party will face if the scheme proves to have broken labour or visa rules.

Or electoral laws.

But the most damaging aspect of this affair is what it strobes about Labour’s competence to govern. If it can’t control one known excitable within its ranks, what chance would it have of wrangling New Zealand First and the Greens in a putative coalition?

Labour may think they have successfully kept this fiasco fairly well suppressed, but the media, and many left wingers, are more aware than they had been how shaky Labour’s competence looks.

For Labour, on the other hand, there may be no delay button. The polls are already suggesting that voters don’t think it’s ready to govern. The intern fiasco risks adding a big dump of concrete to the weight of that perception.

Labour avoided it blowing up into a festering public nuisance, thanks to much of the media which seemed to lack curiosity and interest – but this may have been in part because they had already given up on McCarten’s competence, and on Labour’s competence, and on Little’s competence, so didn’t see much point in hammering away at a coffin already in descent.

Tiso versus senior political journalists

In Tending Fascist Giovanni Tiso blasted Patrick Gower and Jane Clifton for not investigating “the scandal of their careers” (yeah, right) – dirty politics.

As senior political journalists who failed to uncover the scandal of their careers, Gower and Clifton may have a vested professional interest in arguing that it wasn’t in fact a real scandal, or that it wasn’t worth uncovering if one couldn’t also uncover what the Left has undoubtedly been doing.

But theirs is also part of the continuing and increasingly brazen attempt to normalise dirty politics, which is also the overt significance of the hiring of Collins (and the reason why Phil Goff provides no balance – although to be fair Goff would struggle to drag leftward a panel with Tomás de Torquemada).

There is no role of the media establishment to re-examine, no collective conscience to interrogate: just old prerogatives to re-establish and a fragile status quo to defend.

Putting the harsh criticisms aside, I would be appalled if senior journalists like Gower and Clifton used illegal hacking as a means of investigating stories.

Tiso campaigns very strongly against legal and court approved surveillance.

But he blasts journalists for not doing the job a hacker and associates did.

So he’s against legal surveillance but supports illegal hacking.

This looks like a continuing and increasingly brazen attempt to normalise dirty politics, as long as it’s the ones he agrees with doing the dirty digging.

Clifton backs Dunne on party registration fiasco

Jane Clifton shows her lack of bias and goes in to bat for Peter Dunne over United Future’s problems with the Electoral Commission  with party de-registration and re-registration.

Jane Clifton: Why I’m feeling for Peter Dunne

The demands made of the United Future party to re-register are downright inane.

The Opposition, and doubtless members of the public, will see the financial penalties Dunne has incurred as perfectly righteous – but that’s a different argument.

But that Dunne should lose these entitlements because a) his party was the only party foolish enough to be honest with the commission, and b) because the law is an ass and it was unclear how to process such a novel situation through the red tape and c) because in all likelihood officials were spooked by the histrionics of Winston and Labour in Parliament about Dunne’s entitlements, is very unfair.

Dunne is facing a tricky climb-back to redeem his career. But the commission needs to redeem itself too, by instigating equal treatment for all registered parties. Having taken such a flinty line with United Future, it should now actively check the numbers for all the parties, and keep a running monitor. That would, of course, be to look for more trouble, so it will probably handily find it lacks the resources for such rigour.

The moral of this story might be that honesty is not necessarily the best policy. Keep quiet and fix your faux pas before anybody notices.

Fair comments. Winston won’t listen to anyone but Labour should take note of that.

It will be interesting to see if the Electoral Commission will hold any other parties to account on membership to anything like the same degree they have with United Future.

 

Jane Clifton on leaks, and more tasty morsels

Bryce Edwards has tweeted a series of quotes by Jane Clifton on issues surrounding the recent leak and other political pointers.

Parliament is in a ‘sanctimony-fest about the propriety of leaks, leakers and leakees’.

None of the players seem to realise they are merely wrestling for the right to be considered the most blatantly hypocritical

Labour beats its chest about the impropriety of this one leak, it remains unrepentant about its own veritable irrigation scheme

it’s mendacious to hold the one set of leaks to be righteous and the other punishable by political death

Labour is on slippery slope: emails ‘should be compulsorily published if there’s a question of the politician’s conduct at issue’

Labour is relying/hoping on National to make its critique of the Greens

‘signs of quite belligerent muscularity from the Green leadership… concentrating more power in the hierarchy than the grass roots’

Peters is a vampire: ‘Winston is suspiciously ageless and of long-established nocturnal habit’

Peters ‘can be dormant for long periods, then explode into public scattering corpses and gore like a hand grenade’ = vampire

Peters ‘could be a political vampire, werewolf or zombie leader, or a hybrid of the three’

Norman ‘has become relentless and hectoring when contradicted’

Norman ‘can be found… brawling at length on Twitter with journalists and other individuals who have disagreed with him’.

Ahh, it’s from here:

Jane Clifton (Listener): The (self) importance of being Winston http://bit.ly/19s6G05  – paywalled must-read on unholy NZF-L-G alliance.

@bryce_edwards

 Just providing some tasty morsels from it!

Peter Dunne – an unlikely leaker

Winston Peters has made a serious accusation – that Peter Dunne leaked the Kitteridge report the day after he returned from an overseas trip.

Like many I would be very surprised if Dunne was the leaker.

John Key has strongly backed Dunne’s integrity. In PM backs Dunne over Peters’ GCSB leak claim:

Key told reporters that Peters has produced no evidence to back his claim.

“All I’m saying is that he’s using Parliamentary privilege. Mr Dunne’s given a categorical assurance that he didn’t’ leak the report and I accept him at his word,” Key said.

Key in Parliament on Wednesday in Questions for oral answer:

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who was investigating the matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to any member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not party to any conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry, but what I have seen is Mr Dunne’s categorical assurance that he in no way leaked that report.

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who is investigating this matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to a member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To repeat my first answer, I am not privy to the conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry. I am aware of the statements that Mr Dunne has made where he has categorically ruled out that he had played any part in leaking the report. If the specific question is about Mr Dunne’s staff, I have had no conversations with them at all nor seen any statements, because they would not be requested. But you are inquiring about the chief of staff for Mr Dunne, who is Rob Eaddy. He is person of absolute integrity and I would be absolutely stunned if he played any part in leaking the report.

John Armstrong in Who-Dunne-it adds spice to dreary day:

He is the most unlikely leaker.

Jane Clifton in An inquiry into the inquiry over the leaks:

Parliament was still agog over quite what magnitude of midlife political crisis Revenue Minister Peter Dunne would have to have had for Mr Peters’ earlier assertion, under parliamentary privilege, that Mr Dunne was the source of the original leak to be true.

Generally regarded as being on the goodie-two-shoes side of the political ledger, Mr Dunne has stoutly denied leaking his copy of the spy report to anyone.

So while it can’t be ruled out it would shock many (including me) if Dunne was the leaker. It just doesn’t make sense, there seems no reason why he would have leaked or that he would risk his career on something that this.

Disclosure: from time to time I have some communication with Peter Dunne on political issues, always at my instigation. He usually responds to questions I put to him.

I asked Dunne some questions about this story when it first broke on Wednesday. I have only had this response from him, when I asked “To me it seems Peters was totally off topic in the finance and expenditure select committee- is that sort of unrelated questioning allowed? Accepted practice? Common?”

His reply:

The questions were certainly beyond the committee’s scope, which was to examine the 2013/14 Estimates for Inland Revenue.

I haven’t had any communication with Dunne since then.

Carter struggling as Speaker

David Carter is struggling as new Speaker. It’s a daunting task countrolling a house of harangers and Carter is finding the initial going tough.

Cam Slater at Truth slates Carter:

Just dreadful – A lesson in how to win in Parliament

Despite all my warnings to the contrary, and because of a shabby little back room deal the man who never wanted to be Speaker is. The results so far are dreadful and I suggest it won’t improve.

David Carter Speaker

Mike Smith at The Standard:

Mr Answerer

Oh dear. Lockwood Smith was by common consent one of the best Speakers we’ve had. David Carter seems to be heading in a different direction. Lockwood required Ministers to give direct answers. Today in the House Carter gave the answer for Hekia Parata, interpreting her words to  get her off the hook. He may well have put himself on one though, if that is the way he is going to go.

Jane Clifton at Stuff in About The House:

Adding to the Opposition’s frustration was that when Mr Key gave his more elliptical answers, new Speaker David Carter, in a misguided attempt to keep the peace, tried to interpret them.

His interpretations led even the mild-tempered Labour leader David Shearer to say tersely that he was entitled to a clear answer from the prime minister, not a disputable interpretation from the Speaker of what he might have meant.

Increasingly flustered, to the point of referring to Winston Peters as “prime minister”, Mr Carter tried to enforce peace from on high by making two new rulings.

One was made after a row with Greens co-leader Metiria Turei, in which he forbade her to table a transcript of a radio interview with Mr Key.

The rules disallow tabling of news items and other freely available material. When their exchange became dangerously fractious, Mr Carter ruled that MPs were henceforth only to table “documents that I feel will be of benefit to the debate”.

Opposition MPs’ eyebrows rose as fast as their jaws dropped. This was unbridled Speakerly power.

Mr Carter tried to shut down further unpleasantness by reminding MPs that Standing Orders made him the arbiter of the quality of questions and answers.

On that basis he ruled that the prime minister had every right to respond in a political vein to Ms Turei’s questions.

“Point of order! Which Standing Order says that?” the Greens’ Russel Norman asked with some belligerence.

“Oh, we’re not getting into quoting Standing Orders,” Mr Carter said grumpily – forgetting that he just had.

He unwittingly caused a further dust-up when he tried to enjoy an oasis of light relief. Mr Key was taunting Mr Peters with one of his old controversies, the “scampi” scandal, and Mr Carter was unwise enough to share the Government benches’ amusement.

“You might well smile there, Mr Speaker,” Mr Peters barked at him, “but you were sued on that issue yourself so I would not get too happy about that!”

Mr Carter’s one consolation was that even if the Speaker is not always right, the office confers a degree of immunity, enshrined in the final Standing Order he managed to quote – and with great severity: “The member must not bring the Speaker into the debate!”

Parliamentary Speaker is a tough job – and someone new to the job will find it hard dealing with seasoned pushers of boundaries and avoiders of questions.

How was Lockwood Smith when he first started in the job? I doubt he would have earned instant control or respect.

Carter looks easily flustered. Time will tell whether he grows into the job or keeps blustering his way through it. In the meantime we can expect a lot of frustration from the opposition.

National MPs would help the Speaker – and Parliament – if they supported Carter and didn’t abuse their speaking rights and obligations in the House.

If Parliament descends into more chaos than usual John Key will have to take some of the responsibility. It seems that he pushed a reluctant Carter into the job, so if the job isn’t done reasonably and fairly then Key will have to deal with it or be dealt the responsibility card.

UPDATE: See Much better Mr Speaker – rulings without interpretations

The kneecapping of United Future?

Much has been said about the influence of polls and media leading up to an election. Did a single shaky poll and one negative article kneecap United Future in the 2011 election?

The 2011 election was always going to be a tough task for United Future. Peter Dunne had been one of the busiest MPs, with ministerial, party leadership, sole MP and electorate responsibilities. And as usual for coalition partners United Future operated under the large shadow of the National Party. It was going to take a lot of effort and good luck to improve on 2008’s result.

There are a significant number of floating voters who make late decisions, having a big influence on the final make-up of parliament. In 2002 United Future was the beneficiary of fortuitous circumstances – and a worm. But it wasn’t the worm that turned the election for UF, it was the publicity the resulting media attention gave them.

The 2011 election swung strongly New Zealand First’s way in the last few weeks, influenced in part by the cup of tea debacle (credit is also due Winston Peters and his efforts throught the year).

And United Future support shrunk some more. There are a number of reasons for this, but one poll and article may have been the two nails that fixed the party’s fate.

The poll

A “Fairfax Media-Research International mini poll” was released two weeks before the election – this is the time when the undecideds start to make up their minds. The results:

  • Peter Dunne 37.4%
  • Charles Chauvel 35.6%
  • Katrina Shanks 19%
  • Gareth Hughes 1.4%

That comes to 93.4%, they didn’t say anything about the remaining 6.6%. But there were other very significant facts:

  • Undecided 34.6%
  • Margin of error 7%
  • Number of people polled 163
  • conducted on Wednesday night

That’s a small sample for a poll, conducted on one evening of one day. There’s questions about some of the calculations based on the numbers given. And the huge number of undecideds render it impossible to determine any accuracy. The poll really doesn’t give an accurate forecast of what might happen.

The article

An article accompanied the release of the poll  results on stuff and in newspapers. Comments included:

  • Headline: Dunne’s hold on Ohariu shaky – poll
  • Peter Dunne is facing the fight of his political life with a new poll showing he is holding on to the Ohariu electorate by the skin of his teeth.
  • …shows the UnitedFuture leader…could be ousted by Labour’s Charles Chauvel.
  • It put Mr Dunne on 37.4 per cent, less than two points ahead of Labour’s Charles Chauvel on 35.6.
  • Prime Minister leader John Key has urged National voters in Ohariu to back Dunne; he even attended UnitedFuture’s annual conference in August to extol the virtues the Government’s stable support partner.
  • However, Mrs Shanks has been campaigning hard, hitting the malls and building her support.
  • The poll shows voters like her and many are refusing to accept the deal National struck with UnitedFuture in a bid to guarantee it coalition partner after the election.
  • Of those who are going to give their party vote to National, 40 per cent said they would vote for Mrs Shanks.
    ‘What that is saying is that her strength in the electorate is undermining Peter Dunne’s likelihood of retaining the seat,” Mr Epplett said.
  • Mr Dunne had a noteworthy resurgence during the 2002 election campaign…Mr Dunne has struggled to find a winning formula and his popularity has fallen every election; from a giddy 12,500-vote majority in 2002, to 7700 in 2005 and plummeting to 1000 after the 2008 election.
  • it appears voters are becoming irritated with deals done over electorates.
  • At a heated candidates’ debate in Wellington suburb Ngaio this week, Mr Dunne was accused of being a ”fence sitter” who changes his allegiances when voters change the government.
  • The fact that Mr Dunne remains popular in the electorate can be partly attributed to the lifeline National has thrown him.
  • Even the ever popular Mr Key seems unable to convince Ohariu voters to back Mr Dunne.

Balanced against all the negative comments about Dunne and United Future and being reliant on National was one positive:

  • UnitedFuture represents a solid partner which hasn’t faced the dramas that have befallen ACT and the Maori Party over the past term and led to MPs quitting their parties.

And there were two comments about the uncertainty:

  • A massive 34.6 per cent of voters were undecided.
  • Research International spokesman Paul Epplett said that means the race for Ohariu is too close to call.
    ”There are a lot of people who are going to stand in the ballot box and make up their mind at that point in time.”

The media

Those are headline examples, there were other items talking up the electorate “dirty deals” (notably Patrick Gower on TV3) and dismissal of United Future’s chances – a Firstline item on the small parties discussed all the other small parties and flippantly tossed United Future off the end of their report.

The uncertainty seed sown

Obviously there was a degree of uncertainty in Ohariu. Some of this uncertainty was logical. But most of it was based on one small poll that was very uncertain.

Looking at the wider picture it looked more than likely Dunne would prevail. Act succeeded against poll predictions election after election in Epsom. The polls backed Dunne, albeit narrowishly.

The result

It’s obviously impossible to know what caused voters to make up their minds. But it is widely thought that swinging voters are influenced by the chances of success of small parties. If they thing the chance of a party getting into parliament is slim they will look elsewhere so they won’t ‘waste” their vote.

The only result we can be certain of is the election numbers:

  • Peter Dunne 37.4%
  • Charles Chauvel 34.84%
  • Katrina Shanks 18.56%
  • Gareth Hughes 5.8%
  • Other 2.32%

Those results aren’t that far away from the Fairfax poll, a slight widening of the Dunne/Chauvel gap, and a significant jump for Hughes (maybe Greens had another engagement on the evening of the poll).

And Dunne actually increased his majority, to 1392.

What else is known? The 2008 result:

  • Peter Dunne 32.61%
  • Charles Chauvel 29.95%
  • Katrina Shanks 26.53%
  • Gareth Hughes 7.06%

That suggests a shift in tactical voting but no significant change.

After the election Stuff reported in Ohariu: Dunne back for 10th term

Labour’s own polling put Mr Chauvel at 31 per cent, with Mr Dunne on 29 per cent.

Chauvel made a numbr of questionable claims during the campaign – was this actual poll results? It would be good if Chauvel coukld confirm this.

Other polling always indicated Dunne was likely to retain his seat:

OHARIU POLL SUMMARY

 Our three Ignite Polls since March 2010 have shown the following results:

Candidate                                           Range                                   Average

Dunne                                                  31% to 34%                         32.3%

Shanks                                                  19% to 27%                         22.6%

Chauvel                                                21% to 24%                         22%

Hughes                                                 5% to 7%                              6.3%

Don’t Knows                                      12% to 13%                         12%

Lead                                                      4% to 12%                           8%

I understand these results were shown to some media during the campaign, and Dunne publilcy commented on having confidence he would be returned in Ohariu.

The power of polls

There’s been a lot of discussion about the misuse of polls be parties and media.

Jane Clifton wrote on this in the Listener:

The Conservative Party: Creative creationists?

The “polls” that catapulted the Conservatives into prominence barely deserve the name.

The source of the word about the poll? The Conservative Party, which had its eye on Act’s voters – such as they were by then. Then word got around of another poll, showing Craig ahead in the Rodney electorate. Source of the poll? Again, the Conservative Party. Well, good news should be shared, shouldn’t it?

In the rush of the election campaign, the provenance of the polls was never examined by the media.

And it’s well known how easy it is to manipulate online opinion polls and purported serious polls like Horizon and iPredict.

Yet polls are run and reported on by media like they are newsmakers. Like one small poll run by Fairfax in Ohariu, that possibly had a major impact on a party, and on the makeup of the balance of power in parliament.

The conclusion

This is obviously viewed from a United Future perspective but similar applies to all parties.

All parties (and small parties in particular) can stand or fall on the whim of media and polls, and there’s probably not much they can do about it. Media have a lot of electoral power, and there’s little that can be done to effectively contest them or hold them to account.

Is this good for our democracy?

There’s a lot of uncertainty and “ifs” in politics, but should it be a lottery with some people having the power to stack the balls?