Michael Wood talks up Labour’s Northcote result

Michael Wood won the Mt Roskill by-election in 2016 after Phil Goff resigned so he could take over as mayor of Auckland.

He has tweeted his thoughts on the Northcote by-election (@michaelwoodnz):

What can we say the morning after the Northcote by-election? The first is to congratulate new MP . He seems like a nice guy, ran a clean campaign, and should be proud of his result.

The second is to acknowledge @shananhalbert for a superb campaign. I had the pleasure of being his Campaign Chair and saw 1st hand the huge effort he put in and the qualities of the man. Built up an incredible team. Will be a great MP one day.

Then to the numbers. Labour’s vote increased by 10% from 34% to 44%. This is a significant result in a seat Labour has not held in 13 years.

This represents a swing to Labour of 4%. Swings *to the government* hardly ever happen in by-elections.

What he doesn’t say is that Bidois got 50.98% of the votes (on election night numbers), just 1.29% less than MP for 12 years and Minister in Cabinet for 7 years Jonathan Coleman in last year’s general election.

While National was in government they faced 6 general electorate by-elections:

  • In Roskill 2016 a 24.5% swing to the oppstn
  • In Albert 2017 no govt candidate
  • In Chch East 12 a 25 % swing to oppstn
  • In Mana 2010 a .5% swing to govt
  • In Botany 11 a 5% swing to oppstn
  • In Albert 09 a 19.5% swing to oppstn

And while I have not checked the numbers I am pretty sure that all by-elections in the 1990s and 1980s saw swings to the opposition.

So, the swing of 4% to the government candidate in the Northcote by-election is unprecedented in recent electoral history.

Politicians are good at picking statistics that suit their narrative.

The ‘swing’ to Labour was mostly due to a slump in the Green candidate support (6.73% to 2.9%), and no NZ First candidate who got 3.73% in 2017 (they stood as an independent getting 0.47%).

The ‘swing’ from Government parties to National was negligible.

Finally, here is what John Key said when National reduced the Mana Labour majority from around 6000 to around 1400 (very similar to Northcote) in that by-election:

“John Key said “I never thought coming second in politics would feel so good….Sometimes losing is winning and this is one of them where we have had a tremendous result here. In all probability, the swing should have gone against National because that’s what happens when you are the Government campaigning in a very safe Labour seat and he has been thrashed. When this campaign began, Phil Goff said this by-election would be referendum on the Government’s policies. Well he was right!”

Jacinda Ardern seems to have a good feeling about coming second in Northcote.

Newshub: ‘Very good outcome’ in Northcote despite the loss – Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she’s proud of the party’s efforts in the Northcote by-election, despite coming up slightly short of victory.

“There was a lot of eyes on this, and you did us proud, Shanan,” she told the runner-up. “You were an excellent candidate, you spoke about the things that mattered.”

She said it was a “very good outcome” for a sitting Government’s candidate to improve on his vote so much.

“We’re really proud of that. We certainly expected it to be close, and of course you go into every election race hoping for a win. We couldn’t have had better in Shanan and the team that ran the campaign here.”

She said it alarm bells would be ringing for National, despite their win.

“When you compare other by-elections when you’ve been in Government, this is a very good outcome for us.”

She doesn’t mention the collapse in the Green candidate Rebekah Jaung’s vote, despite her seeking votes for herself, and there was no attempt by Greens to promote tactical voting for the Labour candidate.

Labour without the Greens would be a problem for Ardern, especially with National’s support overall support (like their support in Northcote) remaining above Labour’s.


Labour, Green MPs block holding Curran to account

The Government that promised more openness and transparency has taken another step backwards, with Labour and Green MPs on the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee voting against asking Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran to appear before it to clarify unanswered questions about her meeting with ex-RNZ employee Carol Hirschfeld and her communications with RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.

NZH: National members blocked from getting Clare Curran to appear before committee over meeting with RNZ Carol Hirschfeld

National was blocked from asking Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran to appear at a select committee to clear up unanswered questions around her communications with former RNZ executive Carol Hirschfeld, a report says.

The Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee released its report
today on a briefing in which the committee was inadvertently misled by RNZ chairman Richard Griffin and chief executive Paul Thompson about a meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld last December.

A minority report by the five National Party members of the select committee said questions remained unanswered regarding the appropriateness of communications initiated by Curran, with Hirschfeld and Griffin.

Curran’s behaviour was potentially in breach of parliamentary standing orders covering “intimidating, preventing, or hindering a witness from giving evidence, or giving evidence in full, to the House or a committee”, the National members said.

The National members also sought to invite Curran to the committee to give her the opportunity to clear up the unanswered questions.

“Regretfully, this resolution was not supported by other members of the committee, once again leaving the matter unresolved.”

The National members of the committee – chairman Jonathan Young, Andrew Falloon, Paul Goldsmith, Melissa Lee and Parmjeet Parmar – said they felt Parliament itself had been impugned by the inadvertent misleading of the committee by RNZ and actions of the minister.

The MPs who blocked holding Curran to account:

  • Paul Eagle (Labour, Rongotai)
  • Tamati Coffey (Labour, Waiariki)
  • Michael Wood (Labour, Mt Roskill)
  • Deborah Russell (Labour, New Lynn)
  • Gareth Hughes (Greens, list)

Coffey had a surprise win against Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell in last year’s election.

Eagle, Wood and Russell scored fairly safe Labour electorates – Wood got into Parliament in a by-election in 2016 after Phil Goff resigned, while Eagle and Russell are first term MPs. Russell was rated as a good prospect as an MP, but she is putting party before principles here.

Hughes keeps a low profile in Parliament these days – Greens are also supposed to be strong supporters of open and transparent government and of holding the government to account (going by James Shaw’s comments in handing Parliamentary questions over to National) but joining the blocking of holding Curran to account suggests big talk, walk away from responsibilities.

Tn the whole scheme of things this isn’t a big deal, but it leaves a cloud over Curran’s ambitions to significantly boost RNZ, and she is likely to be reminded of this embarrassment whenever she tries to do anything on open government.

The final commitment in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

20. Strengthen New Zealand’s democracy by increasing public participation, openness, and transparency around official information.

Labour and Greens have weakened democracy through their weasel blocking in the committee.

Newsroom: When ‘open government’ becomes a joke

Curran isn’t just the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media but the Minster of Government Digital Services and Associate Minister for ACC and Open Government (via a State Services portfolio).

Open Government now becomes something of a joke under Curran at a time when we need it to be the very opposite.

What’s important now is RNZ and the many other initiatives Curran is involved with don’t keep on paying the price for her mistake. Curran’s copybook may well be blotted but she presides over portfolios that are far too important for us to allow that stain to spread.

That was on 2 April. Labour and Green MPs on the committee have spread the stain further.

Most of the public won’t know or care about this festering, but it remains hovering over Curran, and it is a confirmation that Labour and the Greens are in Government more for themselves than for integrity.

Labour and local versus national

Michael Wood came across very well on Q & A, articulate and confident.

Andrew Little not so much.

He sounds convinced that Labour efforts and successes in the local body elections and the Mt Roskill by-election will translate to the general election next year.

He seems convinced they are getting it right about campaigning on issues ‘that matter to new Zealanders’.

But he is repeatedly asked about Labour’s poor poll results – and he confirms their internal polls is a smidgen better than the recent Colmar Brunton 28% last week – but keeps avoiding that lingering problem.

Little and Labour seem convinced that what they are doing now is the right strategy for the election next year.

Having faith that local political strategies – people tend to vote on local issues in by-elections – will work for them in the big one next year is a big risk.

In the current turbulent political environment world wide anything could happen.

Little is getting more practiced at switching questions to his rehearsed lines. That approach didn’t work for Hillary Clinton in the US. It could work here, but at the moment Little is not working very well.

A good win for Labour but…

Michael Wood and Labour had an emphatic win in the My Roskill by-election, but they still have a lot to do to turn around their Parliamentary performance.

They put in a lot of work and got a result Labour needed – but there was probably little doubt they would win, especially after Greens decided to not stand a candidate to help Labour, and National’s Parmjeet Parmar turned out to be an unimpressive candidate.

Wood has done a lot of groundwork before succeeding in getting in to Parliament, first standing for an electorate in 2002. His record:

  • 2002 stood in Pakuranga
  • 2005 stood in Pakuranga, 58 on the Labour list
    – he got about 9,5000 votes both times against Maurice Williamson
  • 2008 stood on the Labour list only, at 56
  • 2010 elected to the Puketapapa Local Board
  • 2011 stood in Botany by-election, lost to Jamie-Lee Ross
  • 2011 general election on the Labour list only at 32
  • 2014 stood in Epsom, 39 on the Labour list
  • 2016 elected in Mt Roskill by-election

So Wood has been persistent in seeking a seat in Parliament, and has now succeeded. He looks like he could be a good electorate MP. Time will tell how he goes in Parliament.

Wood is 36 so adds a youngish MP to the Labour caucus, replacing 63 year old Goff who was first elected in 1981, a year after Wood was born.

He doesn’t help Labour improve it’s gender balance, and doesn’t improve their ethnic representation, although Wood is now MP for an electorate with the highest number of overseas born residents (probably about half).

This win will gave Labour a boost of confidence after a bad week, with three polls at 23%, 28% and 29%, and a number of pundits writing off Labour’s chances for next year.

However Labour were buoyant after successes in the local body elections and that didn’t translate into better poll results or performance in Parliament.

With the by-election success Labour has something positive to end the year with, but they should do a lot of soul searching over the summer break if they want to look like realistic contenders next year.

This win won’t fix Andrew Little’s deficiencies as Labour leader, nor will it fix Labour’s baffling strategies.

Both Wood and Little will be interviewed on Q & A this morning.

Mt Roskill poll v. political claims

There seems to have been a non-public poll done for the Mt Roskill by-election for Labour, but there are mixed messages.

A week ago in NZ’s feeblest John Key parrot is on the brink of a shellacking in Mt Roskill  Simon Wilson wrote:

Labour has a poll that puts their candidate, Michael Wood, 30 points ahead, at 58 to 28. That’s a spectacular fail in an electorate where National won the party vote in 2014 by 2000.

That would be a spectacular result, but without any details about the poll, when it was taken, what the questions were, and what the sample size and method were, it’s worth being very wary – especially when a party with a vested interest promotes the results.

This came up again today, started by a tweet from Labour MP Phil Twyford.

Never mind Key’s spin, the Herald has the numbers on why Roskill is no slam dunk for Michael Wood

Even post-Trump, NZ spin is parties vying to claim that they will in fact suffer the most humiliating defeat

Unlike Key we are not predicting defeat, just that Roskill may be close run and that we have to work hard for it.

Thought your internal polling was supposed to be putting you 30 points ahead?

Don’t believe every bit of unsourced speculation you hear.

I didn’t say I believed it. But @simonbwilson was on NatRad this morning saying Labour had told him this. So either Simon’s bullshitting (which I very much doubt) or someone’s bullshitting Simon.

No reason to doubt my sources. Plural. Both parties have reason to argue it’s close. Both bullshitting? Oh dear, agony for another 28 hours!

Theoretically, that poll *should* be accurate [safe seat; 3rd term Nat govt, etc]. But things are weird right now.

@simonbwilson  Strong Lab cand + strong campaign. Weak Nat cand. Greens X. 3rd party votes off Parmar. By-elect. Crime. House $. Key says nah.

Most things point to a comfortable win to Labour’s Wood, but it may close up, that poll is over a week old.

But why did Twyford emphasise “Roskill is no slam dunk” and “Roskill may be close run”?

Mt Roskill by-election

The Mt Roskill by-election is tomorrow, but the campaign has failed to raise much interest. It’s expected that Labour’s Michael Wood, anointed and promoted by Phil Goff who has left the electorate to become mayor of Auckland, will win, and probably comfortably.

For Labour’s sake Wood has to win well. They have put a lot of effort into campaigning.

National’s candidate Parmjeet Parmar stood in Mt Roskill in the 2014 general election but lost to Goff by 8,091 votes. National got over 2,000 more party votes, but a Government candidate has never won an election off an opposition party before. John Key has been playing down his candidate’s chances.

Roshan Nauhria is standing for the recently formed New Zealand People’s Party, mainly on immigration and law and order issues. He was cold shouldered by media in some debates as they often do. It will at least give an indication of whether Nauhria’s party has much chance of competing in next year’s general election.

The other candidates have been virtually ignored by media coverage outside the area so I have no idea whether any have made any impression. They are:

  • Richard Goode (NAP)
  • Andrew Leitch (Democrats for Social Credit)
  • Tua Schuster (Independent)
  • Brandon Stronge (The Cannabis Party)

I haven’t seen media murmuring about a surprise result. There was one claimed poll which gave Wood a huge lead but without any details that should be ignored.

Yesterday the Herald suggested Mt Roskill: closer than you think but that is largely based on past voting and electorate demographics.

Voter turnout could be important. Parties will be working hard to ensure their supporters actually bother to vote.

Early voting up to Wednesday was tracking well below that in the last general election. By-elections usually have lower turnouts.


Updated with Thursday’s numbers showing no sign of a late surge.

So it’s up to the Mt Roskill voters tomorrow to decide who they have for an MP for the next 9-11 months.

The New Zealand politics task force is prepared for what looks to be the likely outcome:


Housing in Mount Roskill

It looks like the Mount Roskill by-election campaign may feature in Parliament over the next month. Today Andrew Little put a few local housing questions to John Key.

Building and Housing, Minister—Confidence

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Minister for Building and Housing, given the nearly 8,000 shortfall in new houses in Auckland in the past year?

Andrew Little: What impact has the $273,000 increase in Mount Roskill house prices over the past 2 years had on young people there hoping to buy their own home?

Andrew Little: Given Quotable Value says that the median Mount Roskill house has increased in value by $2,300 each week for the last 2 years, how are young people meant to save for a deposit for their first home?

Andrew Little: Why, under his Government, are 80 percent of adults under 40 in Mount Roskill renters, with just 20 percent owning their own home? What is there to celebrate about that?

Andrew Little: Talking of special housing areas, how many of the exactly 18 affordable homes that have been built in Auckland special housing areas are in Mount Roskill? Would he be surprised to know that, actually, it is zero?

Key wriggled and diverted with general replies to the first four questions, then suggested Little’s numbers were dodgy on affordable houses.

Then Nick Smith stepped up to hit back at Labour.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Prime Minister aware that the Three Kings Quarry housing project would put 1,300 new homes in the Mt Roskill electorate, a large portion of which would be affordable, and that the lead opponent of these homes over the past 5 years has been the former chair of the local board, Mr Michael Wood, the Labour candidate?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY:  I was aware of that, actually. I was aware of that and, you know, I would not expect anything different, because it is the same Michael Wood who does not believe in dodgy deals, except he has done one with the Greens to get himself over the line—or, at least, he wants to but because his potential leader is so worried, he is offering $1.4 billion worth of light rail, which, actually, the former member for Mt Roskill does not even support.

So where did that come from? Here’s an indication: Three Kings development “rammed through”

Two local board members have accused Environment Minister Nick Smith of “bullying” the community to back a Fletchers proposal for 1500 homes in the old Three Kings quarry.

Puketapapa Local Board deputy chairman Harry Doig and member Michael Wood, a Labour candidate at the last election, said Dr Smith’s decision to join a legal case over the housing development in support of the developer represented “central government bullying and stand-over tactics”.

Labour will have to be careful that some of their campaign strategies don’t backfire.

$680 million for Mt Roskill by election

Labour is promising to spend $680 million on light rail from Britomart into the Mt Roskill electorate. Andrew Littler announced this along with Labour’s candidate for the by-election in Mt Roskill, Michael Wood.

NZ Herald: Labour to fund early start on light rail in Auckland

In an announcement linked to the Mt Roskill byelection on December 3, Labour leader Andrew Little today promised the first stage of a light rail system from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill.

The 13km line would run via Britomart, along Queen St to Dominion Rd, ending near the Stoddard Rd-Sandringham Rd intersection, said Little, who was joined by Labour’s candidate in the byelection, Michael Wood, at Dominion Rd in Balmoral.

Little said accelerating light rail on the Auckland isthmus – known as the “void” because it lacks access to rail and mass transit – would tackle the city’s worsening congestion problems.

“Right now, gridlock is choking Auckland’s ability to grow. Auckland is crying out for infrastructure projects to get the city moving, but the Government is out of touch and ignoring the problem. Labour will deliver, starting with a modern light rail line,” Little said.

Under Labour’s plan, the Government would pay half of the $1.36b cost and Auckland Council the other half.

So it would also cost the Auckland ratepayers $680 million.

The council has no money for light rail, but new mayor and former Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff has promised to bring forward light rail subject to a business case in the next long-term budget in 2018.

Is Goff co-operating with Labour to enhance their chances in the by-election?

This is a fairly expensive carrot for voters.

And a fairly favourable response from The Standard: Labour wants light rail for Auckland!

Vernon Small at Stuff: The unmistakable sound of by-election bribes crackling in the air

Labour leader Andrew Little argued it was not an election bribe, because he was only promising to bring forward from 2028 a project already on the books. And it would provide broader benefits to Auckland. But the timing had that familiar porcine smell.

Parmjeet Parmar standing for National in Mt Roskill

In very unsurprising news it has been announced that current list MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar will stand for national in the Mt Roskill by-election. She stood in the same electorate in the 2014 general election.

She has joined Michael Wood standing for Labour to replace Phil Goff, and the People’s Party which was launched recently has confirmed Rohan Nauhria will stand as their candidate.

Greens won’t stand a candidate to try and help Labour, and ACT won’t stand a candidate to try and help National.

Over 40% of voters in Mt Roskill were born overseas. Immigration, law and order and housing are expected to be high profile issues.

The official announcement:

National selects Mt Roskill candidate

Parmjeet Parmar has been selected by the National Party to contest the Mt Roskill by-election.

Dr Parmar entered Parliament following the 2014 election. Since then she has worked as National’s List MP based in Mt Roskill.

“This election is about ensuring people in the Mt Roskill electorate have a dedicated local MP to stand up for their interests. I’m really excited to be running,” Dr Parmar says.

“Despite no Government ever winning a by-election off the Opposition, and the deal done by Labour and Greens for the seat, I will run a strong campaign to offer a clear choice to Mt Roskill voters.

“Mt Roskill is an area I’m passionate about because it truly reflects the best about Auckland and New Zealand. It’s full of diverse families who care about one another and work hard. There are a huge range of businesses, large and small, providing job opportunities for people from right across the city.

“Like any part of Auckland, it also has challenges. Local residents need an electorate MP who understands their concerns and advocates tirelessly for them to   ensure both central and local government is delivering results.

Dr Parmar says the National-led Government has worked hard to deliver more for Mt Roskill and her campaign would give a strong account of that work.

“From National’s strong economic management, to the comprehensive plan that is increasing the housing supply, to record investment in vital infrastructure like transport and health.  

“I’ve been working hard in Parliament for the people of Mt Roskill for the last two years, so this by-election is a fantastic opportunity to talk about the issues that I know people care about.”

Biographical Notes – Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Dr Parmjeet Parmar is a scientist, businesswoman, broadcaster and community advocate.

She was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1995. A proud mother of two sons, she lives in Auckland with her husband Ravinder.

Dr Parmar holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland, as well as Bachelor and Masters degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Pune in India.

Prior to entering Parliament, Dr Parmar was the Operations Director of her family’s Auckland-based Kiwi Empire Confectionery, a confectionery and natural health product manufacturing enterprise. She knows first-hand the challenges of running a small business.

Naturally community-minded, Dr Parmar has also served as a Families Commissioner, a Community Representative on the Film and Video Labelling Body, and as Chair of the NZ Sikh Women’s Association.


Michael Wood MP they presume

Michael Wood was appointed as Labour’s candidate to stand for the Mt Roskill by-election unusually early in June, just after Phil Goff announced he would vacate the seat if elected mayor of Auckland.

Goff has just been elected mayor and has just resigned, four months later, so this was all a bit presumptive.

What looks even more presumptive is this draft page on Wikipedia, that heralds Wood as a ‘New MP’ and says that Wood is “a New Zealand politician and a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives”.


National’s presumed candidate Parmjeet Parmar has her own Wikipedia page but this hasn’t been updated for nearly a year and doesn’t mention anything about the by-election.

The Mt Roskill page hasn’t even been updated yet about the by-election:

Goff is expected to resign after contesting and being elected Mayor of Auckland in October 2016 in the Auckland mayoral election, 2016. His resignation will necessitate a byelection in this electorate.