Speaker reprimands Phil Twyford

The Speaker Trevor Mallard has come down quite hard on Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford for giving flippant answers to written questions submitted by Judith Collins. Twyford wasn’t in Parliament to face the flak.

The Opposition (National) were given 20 additional supplementary oral questions, which seems quite a significant penalty for the Government.

Mr SPEAKER: Replies to some written questions to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development have been drawn to my attention. In particular, I have considered the answers to written questions Nos 12234, 12225, 11652, 11710, and 11715. The answers are an abuse of the written question process. In my view, they show a contempt for the accountability which a Minister has to this House. The Minister knows that they would be completely unacceptable as answers to oral questions, and the same rules apply.

Ministers are required to endeavour to give informative replies to questions—Speaker’s ruling 177/5. While the Speaker is not responsible for the quality of answers, I do expect Ministers to make a serious attempt to provide an informative answer. These questions do not come close to meeting that standard.

As a result of these answers that I have seen, I rule that: (1) the Minister will provide substantive amended answers to the questions concerned by midday on Tuesday, 3 July; (2) since the Opposition has been denied an opportunity to use written questions to scrutinise the Government in a timely manner, they will receive an additional 20 supplementary oral questions, to be used by the end of next week.

I have also written to the Minister indicating a form of reply he is using to avoid giving substantive answers is unacceptable, and that he has until next Thursday to provide corrected answers.

There was more later when Leader of the House Chris Hipkins raised a point of order.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. At the beginning of question time today, you made a ruling regarding written question answers that my colleague, the Hon Phil Twyford, had put forward. I’ve had a chance to now look at those questions. I know that you have written to me about this matter as well.

Certainly I can understand the concern that you have raised about some of the answers that my colleague has given, and I agree with you that some of the flippant comments that he has made in those do not reflect well on the House. However, the question that I would like to raise with you is around some of the ironic expressions that are made in some of the questions themselves and whether, in fact, one or two of those answers were in fact appropriate given the context of the question. For example, in question No. 11652, the operable part of the question was how many more sleeps are required before a decision is made regarding KiwiBuild eligibility rules and income testing, to which the Minister replied, “it depends how frequently the member sleeps”. The point that I would make there is that the question itself did set itself up for that kind of answer. So—

Mr SPEAKER: No, you will sit down.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I fully understand a more rigorous approach to the answers and I wouldn’t contest that at all. The question that I would ask of you, Mr Speaker, is that a rigorous approach is also taken to the accepting of the written questions themselves, because some of these questions do invite answers that would not reflect well on the House because the questions themselves don’t reflect well on the House.

Mr SPEAKER: I can deal with that point of order very easily. If the Minister of Housing and Urban Development had not used the expression “not many more sleeps” in this House to the member when she asked the oral question, then I would not have allowed it in the written question. The original offence, the original irony, was quoted from the Hon Phil Twyford, and, from my perspective, that is an acceptable use within a written question. If the Minister had not used the expression, he wouldn’t have been subject to what looks like an ironic question but, actually, is just a straight response to what was almost certainly an inappropriate comment that he made in the Chamber.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): A further point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you, therefore, ruling that the phrase “so many sleeps” is out of order, because that is an answer that has been given for many, many, many questions in the House.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I’m not doing that. But what I am indicating is that when that is quoted or used in a written question which relates to the answer given in the House, I’m not going to rule it out; whereas if it didn’t have a context, then at that stage it could well be considered ironic.

Twyford has frequently shown signs that he hasn’t been able to step up to the responsibilities of being in Government and being a Minister.

IRD advised against good looking racehorse tax break

IRD advised against giving tax breaks to the race horse breeding industry nine years ago, as they did recently, this time warning it could cost ten times what Winston Peters has suggested. But the Government went ahead with the only tax cut included in this year’s budget.

Stuff: Officials warned against racing tax breaks

Inland Revenue officials have warned against tax breaks for the racing industry, saying they could cost the Crown up to $40 million in lost revenue – but the Government is proceeding regardless

NZ First and its leader Winston Peters had been backed at the election by prominent racing industry figures, who demanded those bloodstock tax breaks, as well as an all-weather track and control of the NZ Racing Board.

Peters’ policy was a big win for the racing industry, because they had failed to convince the previous National Government to implement the tax relief. Inland Revenue documents seen by Stuff warn of the potential for race horse owners to game the system.

Officials saw no need for tax relief to the industry, but worked on tax rule changes with tighter restrictions. But that policy was dismissed by industry players just before the election.

Peters’ policy allows tax deductions for an investor who buys a race-horse and declares an “intention to breed for profit.” He said it would cost $4.8m.  He’d previously tried to introduce the deductions when racing minister in the previous Helen Clark government.

Details of Peters’ new policy are vague. But a strikingly similar proposal was advanced by the Racing Board last year. Officials cautioned against it because the deductions could be claimed even if a breeding business never eventuated.  The Racing Board believed the policy would cost around $5 million a year.

IRD didn’t accept that figure and put the cost at around $40 million a year because it had the potential to apply to an extra 7000 horses a year.

My mother loved horses and every one of them looked good to her. It wouldn’t be hard to find someone who has an eye for good looking horses – which could be any that apply for the tax break.

I don’t know where the ‘7,000 horse a year’ come from – NZ Racing: “In 2015-16, the industry produced 3500 foals and exported 1700 horses”.

Stuff;

Former Revenue Minister Judith Collins confirmed she couldn’t reach agreement with the Racing Board. She said a 2013 court case involving IRD and a racing syndicate, known as Drummond vs the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, made it difficult to implement the tax breaks that the industry was asking for.

“I wouldn’t have or couldn’t have opened up a complete change in policy without actually complying with the law. The law was pretty clearly stated in [that case] that just buying a horse and hoping you might breed from it one day was not actually a business.”

Collins said she would be “deeply surprised” if Peters wasn’t given the same advice. “It does smack of a lack of rigor when it comes to policy development.”

A similar claim from former revenue Minister Peter Dunne.

Peters said:  “The same arguments against bloodstock tax rules were raised during my previous tenure as Racing Minister, they were false then and they are false now.  The evidence comes from when the previous Finance Minister Michael Cullen agreed to a similar approach and the positive impact that generated for the industry.

What would the IRD and previous Revenue ministers know.

“There are legitimate reasons bloodstock tax investment helps create investment in horse racing which in turn will generate greater revenue for the taxpayer.  It will become fiscally positive.

“The National Party has been naïve and poorly managed the racing industry, nor did it maintain the previous rules on tax write downs.  The racing industry has become at best static and has not been achieving its genuine potential. The bloodstock tax write downs announced in Budget 2018  help attract new investors to the breeding industry.  And next year’s Yearling sales at Karaka will be one to watch.”

Peters’ party got vocal and financial support at the election from industry players. ​

With the tax breaks he has given them there could be more spare cash available for donations and campaign assistance.

See Bloodstock tax rules to change

Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced changes to bloodstock tax rules for the New Zealand racing industry as part of Budget 2018.

“The Budget allows $4.8 million over the next four years for tax deductions that can be claimed for the costs of high-quality horses acquired with the intention to breed”.

“These changes mean that a new investor in the breeding industry will be able to claim tax deductions for the costs of a horse as if they had an existing breeding business. To qualify, the horse must be a standout yearling.”

Yearlings don’t race. I don’t know how it will be decided if a yearling is a stand out so it qualifies for the tax break. This hadn’t been decided by budget time a month ago.

Stuff: NZ First gets tax change for race horse investors through the gates

Each yearling would need to be assessed based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

“Further consultation with the industry will be undertaken to finalise policy settings, draft legislation and set up administrative processes,” a statement released by Peters said.

Will IRD get to determine “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”, or will ‘the industry’ be allowed to decide this for themselves?

Hager recap on ‘Dirty Politics’

Nicky Hager has recapped what his 2014 Dirty Politics book was about at Newsroom.

Most controversial, the book revealed that prime minister John Key had a full-time dirty tricks person in his office researching and writing nasty attacks on opposing politicians, quietly sent through to Slater to publish as if they were his own.

Slater was genuinely powerful at that time because the media, to which he fed many stories, knew he was friends with Key and justice minister Judith Collins.

Key survived as prime Minister as long as he wanted to, but Collins copped a setback as a result of what Slater called embellishment and has probably had her leadership ambitions severely hobbled by it (Slater keeps promoting her on Whale Oil, reminding people of it to Collins’ detriment).

The book’s subtitle was “How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment.” Does anyone think these aren’t issues deserving sunlight?

This certainly deserved sunlight, and good on Hager for doing that. I have serious concerns about illegal hacking (if that is what actually happened), especially in a political environment, but this was a serious abuse of political and media power that deserved exposure.

‘A boil that needed lancing’

When I decided to research and write about Slater and his associates, I knew I was taking a personal risk. They were well known for personal attacks and smears. They have hurt many people. I expected retaliation.  But I knew what I was taking on and felt strongly that this boil needed lancing.

While Dirty Politics lanced a political boil (in the Prime Minister’s office) and exposed Slater and Whale Oil, rendering them far less effective, it hasn’t stopped them from continuing with attacks and personal smears. Like many others I have been the target of dirty smears and legal attacks since Dirty Politics broke.

That they have been reduced from being a festering boil to being more like cry baby pimples that hasn’t stopped them resorting to dirty attacks. And it ‘is ‘they’ – Slater is aided and abetted on Whale Oil by others, in particular Juana Atkins and Nige who also seem to fucking people over is fair game, for click bait and seemingly for fun. I’m not sure how they sleep easy.

Dirty Politics hasn’t eliminated attack politics, but by exposing some of the worst of it the poisoning New Zealand’s political environment has been reduced. It needs more exposing and more reducing – as well as involving dirty personal attacks dirty politics is an attack on decent democracy.

Is synthetic food going to be safe?

There’s growing interest in things like fake meet – laboratory concocted food. It is seen as potentially a better alternative to meat to feed a growing world population.

But is is safe? I think it’s too soon to tell.

There was an interesting item about this in Q&A this morning.

The general rule is that the less processed food is the better it is for us. Our digestive systems have slowly evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and are used to diverse diets of plants and meats.

The rapid change to processed foods is leading to problems like obesity and the proliferation of diseases like diabetes and heart problems.

A sudden switch to super processed foods would be very risky. It will take many years, perhaps decades, to prove whether it is safe and whether it is healthy.

And there’s this.

I presume she is alluding to patent protection of methods of food processing.  This raises serious issues about the potential control of food production by large multi-national companies.

What if companies suppress adverse information to protect their products and markets? That’s been done before (and is still being done).

What if large companies push their products via marketing to a gullible public when it could cause major health problems.

That’s being done already as well.

This probably won’t be much of a problem for me – I can keep running a few sheep, and other meats are likely to be available for yonks, as long as the Greens don’t take over the Government.

But the health of future generations may have some big things to deal with with food supply. The future of human existence could be at stake.

Back to the headline question – is synthetic food going to be safe? I don’t think anyone can answer that with anything close to certainty.

Dirty campaign continues at WO

Cameron Slater made debatable denials of involvement in the spreading of rumours. Both he and ‘Nige’ (Helper and problem solver for Cam Slater’s Whaleoil) have stated there was no factual basis to the rumours.

But Whale Oil has continued to run a smear campaign against Clarke Gayford. Dirty politics, and proud of it.

Posted by SB on Tuesday: Help us update the Whaleoil dictionary

Political retard A politician who has said or done something stupid politically.

Rules of politics, The rules as devised by Cam.

  1. If you are explaining, you are losing
  2.  Utu is good, even necessary
  3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too
  4. Always know where the bodies are buried
  5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels
  6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate
  7.  Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.
  8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer
  9. Speak plain, Speak Simple
  10. Remember, I’m telling this story
  11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2
  12.  Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name.

Ratf**king  Undermining or ruining someone’s reputation. Not a personal profanity but an actual political term. Google it.

Slater’s reputation is well known. He is now supported by SB (aka spanishbride aka Juana Atkins) who seems to be just about as shameless.

Who is Nige? He works in the shadows at WO, but seems to have become a major cog in the Oily machine. Ity’s easy to get dragged into things online – I wonder if he has ever stepped back and reflected on what he has become a part of.

Slater has some problems and helping perpetuate dirty smears is hardly going to solve them. It is digging deeper into the mire.

The media mostly ignores WO these days, and that seems to annoy the hell out of them because they have long seeded  stories relying on mainstream media to give them momentum.

They seem to have decided that getting dirtier will somehow make a difference. All it does is reinforce how toxic they are politically.

National leader Simon Bridges made a major faux pas yesterday, ‘liking’ a smear tweet (yet another in the dirty campaign against Clarke Gayford). This is very unfortunate for Bridges and National, who will have hoped to have put 2014’s ‘Dirty Politics’ behind them along with Jason Ede and John Key.

Now Bridges has attached himself to WO, and unless he clearly and unequivocally disassociates himself from WO and from doing dirty politics that is   stain that will be difficult to shed.

Slater may see Bridges’ balls up as an opening for Judith Collins to take over the leadership she has been seeking, but her past association with Slater and his continued championing of her must count strongly against that, unless the aim is to drag National rightwards and downwards to niche party status. Ironically Collins is one of National’s best performing MPs.

Regardless, expect the dirty campaigning to continue at WO. It seems to be the only way they know, along with whinging about being held to account for their despicable smears.

They appear to be gearing up for an attack the messenger outburst.

 

‘I’d rip their throats out’ over the top

When I saw this via Stuff – ‘I’d rip their throats out’: Nats’ Judith Collins slams Labour’s handling of sex claims – I thought it sounded over the top and not good for building support for the new look National Party line up.

Judith Collins has hit out at the Labour Party for not telling the victims’ parents of the alleged assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

On Friday, National Party MP Judith Collins told the AM Show if she were a parent she would expect to be told what had happened.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that if it was my kid, I really would,” she said in reference to Labour not telling the parents.

Collins said the “culture of secrecy” bred abusive and coercive behaviour.

To me that sounds like an inappropriate expression, and it isn’t great regardless of it touching on something like a feeling many parents might have if they found out a political party had kept the abuse of their teenager secret from them.

But hang on a minute. here’s a Newshub report – ‘I’d rip their throats out’ – Judith Collins tears into Labour’s handling of Waihi camp incident

Judith Collins says parents of the kids allegedly sexually assaulted at a Labour Party youth event should have been told right away.

The Housing Minister admitted if it was one of his own children, he’d liked to have been told right away.

“It’s not a good situation. We’re not happy about it. I think we let these young people down,” Mr Twyford told host Duncan Garner.

Ms Collins, appearing alongside Mr Twyford, said there should never have been any question about what parents would have wanted.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that, if it was my kid, I really would. Obviously not physically, but you might as well. That’s what I’d want to do.

“I cannot believe they’d sit there saying, ‘Let’s not widen the circle.’ Why not? This is the culture of secrecy that actually breeds this sort of behaviour.”

“Obviously not physically” puts quite a different complexion on Collins’ turn of phrase. I still don’t think ‘rip their throats out’ sounds very good, but it’s not dissimilar to ‘give them a kick up the bum’, albeit more impactful being less comon (I haven’t heard it before). She could have said something without violence connotations, like “I’d be bloody pissed off’, and ik think many parents would identify with that.

The partial reporting by Stuff was quite poor. It was written by Laura Walters.

Bridges shuffles National deck

With Bill English and Steven Joyce gone or going soon, and Simon Bridges now leading the national party, the Opposition  responsibilities and rankings have been announced.

New lineup (with movement from last ranking in brackets).

  1. Hon Simon Bridges (+4), Leader, National Security and Intelligence
  2. Hon Paula Bennett (-), Deputy Leader, Social Investment and Social Services,Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Women
  3. Hon Amy Adams (+3), Finance
  4. Hon Judith Collins (+5), Housing and Urban Development, Planning (RMA Reform)
  5. Hon Todd McClay (+8), Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism
  6. Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman (+1), Health, Sport and Recreation
  7. Hon Mark Mitchell (+14), Justice, Defence, Disarmament
  8. Jami-Lee Ross (+19),  Infrastructure, Transport
  9. Hon Paul Goldsmith (+5), Economic and Regional Development, Revenue,Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage
  10. Hon Nikki Kaye (+2), Education
  11. Hon Gerry Brownlee (-7), Shadow Leader of the House, GCSB, NZSIS,America’s Cup
  12. Hon Nathan Guy (-1),  Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety
  13. Hon Michael Woodhouse (-3),  Immigration, Workplace Relations and Safety, Deputy Shadow Leader of the House
  14. Hon Louise Upston (+1),  Social Development
  15. Hon Alfred Ngaro (+5), Children,Community and Voluntary Sector, Pacific Peoples
  16. Hon Christopher Finlayson QC (-8),  Shadow Attorney-General, Crown-Māori Relations, Pike River Re-entry
  17. Hon Scott Simpson (+9), Environment
  18. Hon Jacqui Dean (+5), Local Government, Small Business
  19. Melissa Lee (+12), Broadcasting, Communications and Digital, Media, Ethnic Communities
  20. Sarah Dowie (+19), Conservation
  21. Hon Anne Tolley (-5), Deputy Speaker
  22. Rt Hon David Carter (-5), State Owned Enterprises
  23. Hon David Bennett (+1), Corrections, Land Information, Associate Infrastructure
  24. Jonathan Young (+8),  Energy and Resources, Regional Development (North Island)
  25. Hon Maggie Barry ONZM (-6), Seniors, Veterans,  Associate Health
  26. Hon Dr Nick Smith (-8),  State Services (including Open Government), Electoral Law Reform
  27. Barbara Kuriger (+1), Nominee for Senior Whip
  28. Matt Doocey (+1), Mental Health, Nominee for Junior Whip
  29. Simon O’Connor (+5),  Customs, Associate Housing (Social), Associate Social Development
  30. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (-), Internal Affairs, Associate Justice
  31. Hon Tim Macindoe (-6), ACC, Associate Foreign Affairs and Trade
  32. Brett Hudson (+8),  Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Government Digital Services, Associate Transport
  33. Stuart Smith (+13), Earthquake Commission, Civil Defence, Viticulture
  34. Todd Muller (+8), Climate Change
  35. Dr Jian Yang (+1), Statistics, Associate Ethnic Communities
  36. Dr Parmjeet Parmar (+7),  Research, Science and Innovation, Associate Economic Development
  37. Nuk Korako (+4),  Māori Development, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  38. Chris Bishop (-), Police, Youth
  39. Ian McKelvie (-5), Fisheries, Racing
  40. Hon Nicky Wagner (-18), Arts, Culture and Heritage, Greater Christchurch Regeneration
  41. Andrew Bayly (+4), Building and Construction, Associate Finance
  42. Dr Shane Reti (+2), Data and Cybersecurity, Disability Issues, Associate Health
  43. Alastair Scott (+2), Forestry, Associate Finance
  44. Jo Hayes (-11),  Whānau Ora, Māori Education
  45. Simeon Brown, Associate Education
  46. Andrew Falloon, Regional Development (South Island)
  47. Harete Hipango, Māori Tourism
  48. Matt King, Rural Communities
  49. Denise Lee, Local Government (Auckland)
  50. Chris Penk, Courts
  51. Erica Stanford, Associate Environment
  52. Tim Van de Molen, Nominee for Third Whip
  53. Hamish Walker, Associate Agriculture
  54. Lawrence Yule, Horticulture
  55. Maureen Pugh, Associate Children
  56. Nicola Willis, Early Childhood Education

Judith Collins has been promoted to #4, meaning 3 of the top four MPs are female.

Alphabetical (apart from the two leaders):

Grandstanding pundits versus Simon Bridges

There have been some fairly bitter responses to the National caucus selection of Simon Bridges as their new party leader (and Leader of the Opposition).

Graham Adams at Noted: Bridges and Bennett: National’s B-Team

Noted that the headline frames the new team as inferior (b-team).

Bridges’ other big problem will be convincing the media he is the man for the job. The National caucus obviously took no notice of the many media commentators, both on the right and the left, who were certain that what the National Party needed was Judith Collins, and said so loudly.

Some ‘media commentators’ act more like political activists wanting to have an influence.

Mike HoskingBarry SoperCameron SlaterChris Trotter, Rachel Stewart and Heather du Plessis-Allan all rooted for Collins (although Hosking defected to the Steven Joyce camp late in the piece, possibly aware by then that he had backed the wrong horse, only to find he had switched to another dud).

The hostile reactions to Bridges’ accession suggest that some commentators may not like their lack of influence being so brutally revealed.

Barry Soper in particular seems to be annoyed that Bridges got the job.

Some of the media’s support for Collins, of course, was undoubtedly less about what she might do for the country than what she might do for the media.

Probably. These days controversy and click bait headlines seem more important than independent and balanced coverage.

Journalist grandstanding is a growing issue in political coverage.

Another media trends seems to be that political ‘reporters’ seem obsessed with predicting outcomes to show how good their sources and their political acumen is.

The hissy fits over Bridges’ selection (and Collins’ non selection) may be more than or alternate to “their lack of influence being so brutally revealed”, it may also be in part at least annoyance at their failure to get it right brutally revealed.

National party leadership contest

After a lot of initial media attention the contest to become the next National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition seems to have become more of an in-house affair. This isn’t surprising given that the contenders only need to convince enough of the 56 National MPs top vote for them.

It is now expected no deal will be done and it will go to a vote in Caucus next Tuesday.

Most indications point to Amy Adams and Simon Bridges being the front runners, but both short of a majority.

Judith Collins seems to be popular amongst party members, or at least has successfully created that impression, but has few supporters in caucus.

Steven Joyce may have some powerful allies, but too few.

Mark Mitchell must have a hard task, unless his aim was to raise his profile with an eye to the future.

There is no point in trying to out-Ardern Jacinda Ardern. Her situation in rising to leadership was quite different, and her mastery of media muppets is unlikely to be matched. In addition, none of the candidates looks likely to become pregnant.

However National should be mindful of the fact that Ardern has pulled quite a bit of female support from other parties, including National.

Joyce and Mitchell are unlikely to swing that back. I have no idea whether Bridges would attract female votes but I doubt it.

Collins may get some female support but deter others.

And the Slater effect shouldn’t be underestimated. Collins has been associated with Slater in the past, and that led to a major hiccup in her political career – Slater ended up limiting the damage by claiming he had ’embellished’ stories that looked bad for Collins.

Mitchell used his services to get nominated for a safe electorate but now distances himself – however his inclusion in the leadership race has revived ‘Dirty Politics’ claims. Most of the wider public probably know or care little about Slater, but it is likely all of the 56 National MPs are well aware of his past, and his personal agendas and feuds. He looks politically toxic.

That leaves Adams. She could compete with Ardern as a successful female politician, but she can also differentiate on experience in actually achieving things. She was a high performing Minister in the last Government.

Any of Joyce, Bridges or Mitchell could provide a good balance as deputy to Adams. Joyce is way ahead on experience there, but if National want to show they are intent on rebuilding and looking forward one of the other two may be a better bet.

Adams as leader and Collins as a strong deputy would be an interesting combination, if they could work together. A double female team may be a step too far for National though.

Much may depend on how well the new leader can manage the National caucus, and keep it from splitting into factions. The MPs who choose will be wanting someone they feel they can prosper under.

Most predict at least two votes will be required, and possibly more until a clear leader is decided on.

National leadership – safe option or risk?

National support stayed remarkably high throughout their three terms in government, barely changing when John Key stood down and Bill English took over. This was partly due to the performance of National – voters tend to prefer steady, sound and predictable governance – and partly due to the weakness of the Opposition, especially Labour’s failure to find a leader who appealed, until Jacinda Ardern took over.

Labour chose steady but uninspiring Phil Goff after Helen Clark lost in 2008 and resigned, and made no real progress for three years. They then flirted with more radical options, David Shearer then David Cunliffe, but the former failed to rise to the occasion and the latter was too flawed (and disliked). They went back to steady but uninspiring with Andrew Little and were tanking leading into last year’s election, until Ardern took over and turned things around dramatically.

Now National is in Opposition ‘steady as she goes’ may not be such a good option.

They may feel that ‘same old’ will maintain their support and get them back into government in 2020, but Ardern has changed to whole political vibe. Unless Ardern and Labour stuff up badly National with ‘same old’ may find it very difficult to appeal sufficiently.

Running a ‘same old’ style leader and party against a first term government is high risk for National. The last time a government only lasted one term was 1972-75, when Labour failed to survive after Norm Kirk died in office.

Steven Joyce hasn’t put his hat in the leadership ring yet, but as he worked closely alongside Key and English, he would be seen as ‘same old’. He is reasonable competent but is unlikely to inspire, so I think he would be a high risk option.

There are a couple of ‘change a bit’ options standing, Amy Adams and Simon Bridges. Both promise to be a change, Bridges claiming to be a generational change to try to compete head to head with Ardern. Both would probably be safe-ish choices for National, but safe is going to struggle to compete. Neither looks likely to wow the voters, and that would be a problem for a first term Opposition struggling for attention.

As big a risk as Joyce, but for a very different reason, is Judith Collins. She would be likely to change the look of National significantly, and she would get much more media attention, both positive and negative. She has already got much more media attention than Bridges and Adams, and on top of that seemed to be prepared and is running with a social media campaign as well.

Collins promises to shake up Ardern and the Government, and she would probably succeed to an extent. However she would also shake up the National caucus and party, something they may be reluctant to allow. It is reported that Collins isn’t in favour with senior National MPs, still. It has also been reported that she has been working the back benches, but may not have swung many of them yet. There are also a big unknown, the allegiances of their new MPs.

Collins is in the category of high risk and possible high reward or crash and burn. I’d be tempted to give her a crack to break to first term opposition hoodoo, but the National caucus that chooses a new leader may be too cautious and too timid.

Labour took risks with each of their five leaders in Opposition, and finally hit the jackpot with Ardern in a high risk leadership switch just before the election (albeit aided in a significant way by Winston Peters and NZ First).

Any new choice of leader is a risk. As always the actual leadership qualities of each of the candidates is unknown until one of them takes over.

It is also unknown in advance how united or factionalised the caucus will be under a new leader. Successful leaders minimise factional friction by looking decisive, by being successful in scoring hits against the Government, and scoring good poll results.

National MPs have to make a choice on the level of risk they are prepared to take. Being too conservative is probably as big a risk as being too radical, if not more, because conservative Oppositions tend to be ignored by voters in first term.