Final result in Northland

The final results have been announced for the Northland by-election, with WInston Peters’ majority increasing 429 after the addition to election night totals of 1579 special declaration votes and overseas votes

BONNER, Adrian Paul IND 17 0.06%
CARR, Joe FNZ 113 0.38%
GRIEVE, Robin ACT 68 0.23%
HERBERT, Maki ALCP 94 0.32%
HOLLAND, Adam IND 16 0.05%
OSBORNE, Mark NAT 11,648 39.36%
PAINTING, Rob CLI 39 0.13%
PETERS, Winston NZF 16,089 54.37%
PORTER, Rueben Taipari MANA 60 0.20%
PRIME, Willow-Jean LAB 1,380 4.66%
ROGAN, Bruce IND 24 0.08%
Candidate Informals 42
TOTAL 29590

According to the Electoral Commission the turnout was 65.4 per cent of the 45,955 voters enrolled – that’s a very good turnout for a by-election.

This confirms a resounding win to Peters and an embarrassing defeat for National and their candidate Mark Osborne.

It also goes down in the records as a dismal result for Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime but that’s what Andrew Little and the Labour Party wanted. She comes in under 5% so doesn’t get a refund of her deposit.

30.17% or 13,869 votes were advance votes which is a high proportion, Advance voting is rapidly becoming popular.

If anyone is interested here’s a link to a Statistical Breakdown.

The Whale Oil agenda

I’ll use the name ‘Whale Oil’ at times here because it’s difficult (or maybe not) to know who has written posts under the name ‘Cameron Slater’.

Since the publication of Dirty Politics, the demotion of Judith Collins and the isolation of Slater from John Key and most of the National caucus Whale Oil has adjusted it’s main agenda.

A number of times Whale Oil has pointed out that Prime Minister’s come and go but Whale Oil is in politics for the long game.

Now it looks like Whale Oil and it’s preferred MPs don’t have much influence or future under Key the best way of shortening the long game is to shorten Key’s tenure.

This could be achieved by helping force Key to resign. Otherwise it means accepting a Labour led government for a term and getting National back in with the right (and further right) MPs in positions of power, preferably as PM.

Over the past few months there have been many posts at Whale Oil that have criticised and tried to discredit the Key Government and anyone deemed loyal to Key, including Bill English and Steven Joyce.

The agenda seems to have kicked into another gear spinning off the Northland by-election debacle.

Whale Oil often tries the mass and persistent post approach like this cluster so far today:

The Queensland Premier is going to expel the wife-beating MP, even though that will threaten her razor-thin majority.

A totally different approach to the “Allegations? What allegations? I can’t heeeeaarrr you lalalalala” Key strategy on Sabin.

Northland was a disaster, one which Joyce, de Joux and Bennett have to own, and unfortunately some of that dung flying is going to splatter on the front of John Key’s shirt…he is the boss after all.

Note not just current enemies Key and Joyce but future competition Bennett.

But National will not gain another list MP to compensate for the loss following the shock resignation of Northland’s former MP Mike Sabin.

This is the result of Steve Joyce’s brilliant Northland strategy…and for some reason he is being protected.

MPs and Ministers have been sacked for less.

Caucus tomorrow will either be a slug-fest or Silence of the Lambs…if MPs sit there and take the excuses and don;t say anything then they have resigned themselves to a loss in 2017 and the demoralisation and rot really will have set in.

A party in good heart will have a big donnybrook, and some claret will get spilled and a solution found for the way forward. Anything else will show that National’s caucus are more like Pavlov’s dogs than anything else.

Trying to talk up “a slug-fest” and “a big donnybrook”, ironic after the weekend’s very one-sided and brief boxing bout.

This is the most significant political defeat Mr Key has ever faced. He’d warned his politicians last year not to succumb to third-term arrogance.

But that is what this looks like. National assumed it would have Northland in the bag so it put up a novice candidate.

It’s a tough lesson for the Government. It’ll be rubbed in on Tuesday when Parliament sits again.

Quite a theme developing, even on posts not immediately obviously on the same agenda..

John Key and Steve Joyce need to start showing something other than arrogance…or things are going to go from bad to worse really fast.

Like in a slug-fest in caucus tomorrow?

But this sort of complacency is bred by arrogance…and if they haven’t learned from the shellacking Winston Peters handed out to them on the weekend then there is more pain to come.

John Key is a fool if he thinks that he can be “philosophical” over the result. He can’t.

I share some of these views – but I’m not promoting a faction of National.

A “reader”? I wonder which reader.

Following Mike Sabin’s resignation for “personal reasons” an astute opposition would be asking John Key is he protecting any other MPs or Party office holders who have suppression orders over criminal acts?

There is no excuse for covering up criminal acts or even unconscionable ratbag behaviour, and John Key would have a huge problem if he has covered up any other offenders.

It’s not clear if this is promoting some new dirt or if it’s part of a long-running campaign against a certain party official that has clashed with the Slater dynasty.

Expect a barrage like this to continue, possibly for days, or weeks. Whale Oil tends more towards persisent than subtle.

Is this opportunist off the by-election debacle?

That’s where things get interesting. One of a number of National’s mistakes in the by-election was their choice of candidate. Many of asked how on earth they selected such an ill-suited person as Mark Osborne.

It almost looks like self-sabotage.

There was a sub-agenda running on Whale Oil during the selection process – a dirty personal campaign against one of the favoured candidates. Personal and very dirty in what is usually a no-go area in politics, involving the person’s family. The target ended up not being selected.

Curiously despite those pre-selection attacks Whale Oil chose to wait until after the by-election to dump on Osborne.


Mark Orborne was, is and remains seriously out of his depth.

Sadly, you’re not up to it.   You’ll go down in history as the man who took a 9300 majority and lost.  Your political career lasted four weeks.  As you’ve discovered, politics is brutal, and you are like a baby playing on the motorway

(That sounds like Slater talking). Why has he waited until afterwards to criticise an obviously ill-fated candidate? Maybe because he was happy to see Osborne stand?

Just after Osborne was selected he got a passing mention in SOME THOUGHTS ON WINSTON AND NORTHLAND:

TV3 commissioned this poll literally just hours after Mark Osborne had been selected for National. He is an unknown to the wider electorate.

Most of the post was talking down Winston’s chances, like “So will Winston win? Personally I don’t think so” and “Frankly Winston is past it.” But also:

Can Winston win? Of course he can…then watch the political blackmail start…and it won’t be for the benefit of Northlanders.

I presume Winston was the one suggested as a political blackmailer.

But perhaps that’s how Whale thinks about politics. And not necessarily be for the benefit of National.

And while I was putting together this post there’s another post at Whale Oil.

What is interesting is that there are complaints from inside caucus that they had to fund the campaign but they were not given any information about the polls.   

They picked up information through back channels and this blog, but the campaign team decided against sharing them with the people who paid for them.

Having a centralised campaign team that taxes electorates to fund their campaign is ok as long as you keep winning.

When you lose a race you should have won, and lose it through making stupid, unforced errors, your supporters start looking at you pretty hard.

And they want answers to how you are using their money, and why you keep taxing them without sharing information.

Factional agendas played out on public forums can be interesting. Factionalism was a major factor in keeping Labour out in the political wilderness.

It can also be a sign of a failing Government as self-interest and survival kicks in.

Publicly stoking factionalism can also be a way of speeding up failure.

Who knows if this is the Whale Oil agenda?

UPDATE: they’re coming thick and fast today:

The teflon has worn off the Key frying pan and now stuff is starting to stick…it might have taken 8 years or so, but it is happening. To deny it is foolhardy.

That’s ten posts (at least) on a common theme today.

Winston’s whopper win

Winston Peters has been given a huge victory by voters in Northland by-election.

  • PETERS, Winston (NZ First), 15,359
  • OSBORNE, Mark (National) 11,347
  • PRIME, Willow-Jean (Labour) 1,315

Votes for others totalled 403:

  • CARR, Joe (Independent) 107
  • HERBERT, Maki (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) 85
  • GRIEVE, Robin (ACT) 66
  • PORTER, Rueben Taipari (Mana) 55
  • PAINTING, Rob (Climate) 38
  • ROGAN, Bruce ((Independent) 22
  • BONNER, Adrian Paul (Independent) 17
  • HOLLAND, Adam (Independent) 14
  • Informal votes 43

Votes counted 28,468 – it was a big turnout for a by-election.

This is an election night majority of 4,012 which is a huge turnaround from National’s Mike Sabin’s 9,300 lead last year (52.74%of the candidate vote).


  • PETERS, Winston (NZ First), 53.95%
  • OSBORNE, Mark (National) 39.86%
  • PRIME, Willow-Jean (Labour) 4.62%

Interestingly that matches what polls had predicted for Peters midweek (53% and 54%) but shows an increase for Osborne (from 34% and 36%) and a decrease for Prime (10% and 9%).

Party vote in the 2014 general election:

  • National 17,412 (48.97%)
  • Labour 5,913 (16.63%)
  • NZ First 4,546 (12.79%)
  • Green 3,855 (10.84%)
  • Conservative 2,243 (6.31%)
  • Internet-Mana 601 (1.69%)
  • Focus 216 (0.61%)
  • ACT 162 (0.46%)

So even the small party vote reduced significantly. This time it turned out to be a two horse race between a nimble old nagger and a draughthorse.

NZ First didn’t stand a candidate in Northland last year so the candidate vote isn’t a useful comparison.

Another ominous Northland poll for National

A day after a 3 News poll had Winston Peters nearly 20% ahead of National candidate Mark Osborne One News has published a poll with a similar result.

In a telephone poll of 501 eligible Northland voters:

  • Winston Peters (NZ First) 53%
  • Mark Osborne (National) 36%
  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour) 9%
  • Don’t know/refused 7%

That’s a huge lead that will be difficult for National’s get-out-the-vote campaign to overcome.

The maximum sampling error for the poll is about plus or minus 4.4 percetage points at a 95% confidence level.

‘National Party voters’ support :

  • Peters 15%
  • Osborne 80%
  • Prime 3%

– that’s on a subset of the respondents, presumably about half, so the sampling error (often called margin of error) will be higher

…nearly 70% of Labour voters polled in the region now saying they will vote for Mr Peters.

That’s two thirds who say they will switch their vote to Peters.

Northland Poll: Peters 54%, Osborne 34%

3 News have just announced a new poll for the Northland by-election (although some of the numbers don’t add up).

  • Winston Peters (NZ First) 54%
  • Mark Osborne (National) 34%
  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour) 10%
  • Other 2%

That’s a significant lead. But some of the numbers are a bit weird.

Can you trust Winston Peters?

  • Yes 43%
  • No 48%
  • Don’t know 9%

So 11% more say they will vote for Peters than trust him. It’s possible that voters on the left don’t trust him but put more priority on scoring a hit on National.

But more curious is the number who say which party they have switched from to support Peters:

  • 75% of Labour voters
  • 25% of National voters

In last year’s election:

  • National got 49% – 25% of that is about 12%.
  • Labour got about 17% – 75% of that is 13%.
  • NZ First got 13%.

That adds up to 38%, well short of 54%. Greens got about 11% and Conservatives got 6% which if all voted for Winston gets up to his poll support.

And if you take 25% off National’s 49% you get about 37%, a bit above 34%. This suggests that the poll isn’t particularly accurate.

500 Northland voters were polled.

The margin of error on a poll that size:

  • 40%-60% ±4.5
  • 25% or 75% ±3.9
  • 10% or 90% ±2.7

That allows for quite a bit of variation.

Regardless, Peters is well out in front. National will have much more organisation and help to get their supporters out the vote than NZ First who haven’t stood a candidate in Northland for about a decade, but it still looks ominous for National.

There has already been a much higher than normal number of people who have early voted.

Other poll results:

Are the bridge upgrades a bribe?

  • Yes 74 – percent
  • No 22 – percent
  • Don’t know – 4 percent

Do you agree with the bridge upgrades?

  • Yes – 58 percent
  • No – 39 percent
  • Don’t know – 3 percent

Read more:

Peters huffs pot then blows cold

Winston Peters is being reported as huffing hot on pot reform them blowing cold a short time later while campaigning in Northland.

Claire Trevett in Winston Peters backtracks on marijuana referendum:

NZ First leader Winston Peters promised to hold a referendum on legalising marijuana while campaigning for the Northland byelection, but rapidly backtracked on it straight afterwards.

Mr Peters was holding a street meeting in Kaikohe when a man asked whether he would legalise marijuana.

Mr Peters replied: “you want to legalise marijuana? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a referendum and if the answer is yes, the answer is yes. I’ll give you a vote on the referendum and if the answer is no, it’s no. Yes if you’ve got the majority, no if you haven’t. That fair enough? Wonderful.”

Peters was shown on 3 News saying that.


Asked about it later he denied he was supporting any such proposal or putting up a referendum himself, saying his comments were simply the shorthand required on a campaign trail. “I didn’t say ‘I’m going to give you the referendum. I said our policy is a referendum and if you want one, you’ve got to go and get one.”

He didn’t say either, but was closer to the first – ” I’ll give you a vote on the referendum “.

That’s a Clayton’s election promise – he’s not offering anything, especially after his backtrack.

He did not personally support it and had never smoked cannabis himself.

He was setting out NZ First’s longstanding policy that citizens’ initiated referendums should be enforceable.

That’s not how it came across at all. Peters is promoted as being very experienced at campaigning. He was initially misleading and then made things up to try and cover up his mistake.

NZ First appear to have no policy on cannabis. There is no reference to it in their policies, and their only policy mentioning drugs is under Law and Order:

  • Reintroduce the chargeable offence of being intoxicated and disorderly in public, to include intoxication from the use of drugs whether legal or illicit.

Mark Osborne seems to have a similar position to National, unsurprisingly.

For the record I don’t support legalisation of marijuana and won’t be putting up a bill for it; or promising it and then unpromising it 5 minutes later.

National appear to want to leave the current legislation as it is – which means leave the same mess in place. But they don’t refer to cannabis in their Law and Order policy.

Mike Sabin a prominent elephant in the Northland room

The Northland by-election is due to Mike Sabin’s mystery resignation.

Press Release: New Zealand National Party

Northland MP, Mike Sabin, today announced he has resigned from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.

That’s all the public have been told. Except that it remains a prominent topic in the campaign, albeit spoken about in code public, but just about every New Zealander seems to think there is some sort of dirty secret. The rumours must be common knowledge in Northland.

SabinElephantThere seems to be general acknowledgement that a concurrent story is related.

National candidate Mark Osborne has struggled with awkward questions about the ex-MP he wants to replace.

Plunket: Oh there were rumours. And you had heard the rumours?

Osborne: Oh yes.

Plunket: Yes. Did you ask Mr Sabin or did anyone ask Mr Sabin to clarify those rumours when he was re-selected as the candidate?

Osborne: Well I can’t speak for anybody else, but ah I asked if he was ok.

Plunket: Well what do you mean, did you ask if there was anything that might damage his candidacy or the National party?

Osborne: No no I didn’t, no I just…

National, Sabin, Osborne, train wreck

Winston Peters uses Sabin as a key part of his campaign strategy:

Winston Peters: Nats covering up Sabin issue

The New Zealand First leader used his personal “paradise” to launch a political attack at the town hall, accusing National of covering up why MP Mike Sabin left Parliament.

“They are still trying to shut it down as we speak,” he says.

Mr Peters says the National Party knew before the election of a police investigation into Mr Sabin.

“That’s why $1 million is being spent on this by-election, to cover up that mess.”

National are spending big and keep rolling out their big guns to try and rescue a by-election disaster. Trying to sweep the Sabin elephant under a rug is part of their strategy, but is there any Northland voter who hasn’t heard the rumours?

He also accused his opponent Mark Osborne, who was the local party treasurer and a friend of Mr Sabin’s, of knowing about Mr Sabin’s issues.

But Mr Osborne denies the allegation.

“The reality of it is I knew nothing until the end of last year, and they are only rumours, and that is what they are still,” he says. “I still know nothing about the details.”

Osborne is playing right into Winston’s hand with his denials. I doubt anyone believes he didn’t know something. And it’s preposterous to still be claiming he doesn’t know about the details.

A candidate in his situation would surely make it their business to know what the details are, unless it is deliberate ignorance – but even that isn’t credible.

Sabin remains an elephant in the Northland room and if Osborne chooses to pretend it isn’t there he courts trouble and risks getting stomped on. And National will have to wear own the resulting mess.

National successfully diverting attention from Winston

But I’m not sure if all good publicity is good publicity. Emmerson at NZ Herald:

Northland candidate meeting

What appears to be an unedited question time in a candidate meeting in the Northland by-election has been posted on Youtube.

Candidates for the Northland by-election gathered in Kerikeri at the Turner Centre on Friday, March 13th, 2015 and answered questions posed by members of the public on a wide variety of issues.

It was posted by SayNoToThe TPPA but appears to be unedited so gives a bit of an idea of how eight of the eleven candidates perform at a public meeting.

Candidates speaking:

  • Winston Peters (New Zealand First)
  • Joe Carr (Focus New Zealand)
  • Rueben Taipari Porter (MANA Movement)
  • Robin Grieve (ACT New Zealand)
  • Mark Osborne (National Party)
  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour Party)
  • Rob Painting (Climate Party)
  • Bruce Rogan (Independent)

Northland deserves more than chutzpah klutz

The National Northland campaign machine is in chutzpah overdrive in an apparent attempt to swamp and sideline the audacity of Winston Peters, who’s sudden awareness of Northland neglect looked like little more cynical opportunism.

But National, led be John Key and Steven Joyce, have launched a mass of campaign crap. It’s a shame Labour chose to sideline themselves, Little could have had a ‘cut the crap’ field day.

John Armstrong calls this chutzpah campaign in Questionable tactics in race for Northland votes:

National trots out smoke-and-mirrors statistics and old promises.

Is there no limit on the lengths to which the National Party will go to pull the wool over voters’ eyes and hope that prevents the seat of Northland from falling into Winston Peters’ clutches?

It would seem not. The prime lesson to be taken from the first week proper of the byelection campaign is to treat every utterance from National with a healthy and hefty degree of scepticism.

He details less than open and honest claims about jobs, bridges and broadband.

Even battle-hardened Labour MPs are surprised by the degree to which their traditional enemy is trying to hoodwink voters.

The major Opposition party has also been somewhat stunned by National’s brazen and questionable exploitation of incumbency.

But National does not care one jot what Labour or anyone else thinks. It is locked in an almighty struggle with the man who has been its nemesis for longer than the party cares to remember.

National don’t need to care, Labour can do little more than wave their white flag and hope that voters see “Vote Winston” on it.

Its priority in the next two weeks is somehow to puncture the spell that Peters has cast over that electorate.

So far, National appears to have no idea how to do that beyond trying to crowd him out of the media.

And there may be an element of ‘anything but Sabin’ in their media mania.

National is still trying to work out how it completely misread the mood in the seat it has held for the past 77 years apart from a brief interlude in the 1960s when it was captured by Social Credit.

Like they misread the degree of feeling of concern about them appearing to protect Sabin.

National’s post-mortems on the byelection will also have to ask how the party managed to select a candidate who is so obviously out of his depth. Putting him up against Peters was lamb for the slaughter.

It’s difficult to judge why they chose a floundering Osborne. Perhaps they thought he was less able to be connected to the Sabin case, after all he was only Sabin’s electorate Treasurer.

National might do better to be more honest and upfront about the dismal socio-economic status of Northland.

The honest and upfront horse bolted from National’s stable before the campaign started.

That National is punting on a few electoral bribes suddenly fixing things will be treated by Northland voters with the contempt that deserves.

The three candidates chosen by the media for the by-election:

  • Osborne (National) – chutzpah klutz.
  • Peters (NZ First) – the old nag that thinks his place is in the grandstand
  • Prime (Labour) – a decent looking candidate, far better than the above two, who has been lamely sent to the campaign knackers yard by her party.

I think Northland needs something radical. Two things actually:

  1. For Parliament to take them and their problems seriously beyond a three week frenzy of self-interest.
  2. An MP that is none of the above three. There’s another eight to choose from.

Northland deserves more than a chutzpah klutz, Winston Poohbah or Un-Primed.