Trans Tasman’s MP ratings

Trans Tasman has publi their 2016 MP ratings. These are under subscription but Stacey Kirk has some of their more notable scores in  ‘Our best and worst MPs: Quiet achiever Amy Adams takes top gong


  • Amy Adams 8.5
    “She’s had an outstanding year as Justice Minister. She’s handled a huge workload with calm and confidence, and through it she’s been media-friendly, unflappable and accessible.”
    (see MP of the year – Amy Adams)
  • John Key 8.5Key’s “extraordinary media schedule”, may have seen a more subdued Prime Minister, “no one questions his vital importance to winning a fourth term”. 
  • Bill English 8.5English’s “vast experience” had given much the same quiet confidence Adams was now finding, which mean English had “the ability to take the heat out of issues that threaten to run out of control”. 
  • Murray McCully 8.0Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had “huge year on the foreign affairs front”, particularly with the UN Security Council. But if it wasn’t for the Saudi sheep deal, he may have scored higher.
  • Chris Finlayson 7.5
    Due to his treaty negotiations.

At the bottom:

  • Sam Lotu-Iiga 4.5
    “needs to be faster on his feet”
  • Louise Upston 4.5
    “poor performer in the media”


  • Andrew Little 6.5
    – leadership was “solid”, which on it’s own meant he had a good year. The transTasman editors said he lost marks for sounding like union leader, rather than alternative Prime Minister. 
  • Kelvin Davis 6.5
    “cracked open the Serco scandal and made the most of it,” but had to be cautious about “going over the top”
  • Annette King 6.0
    “invaluable” deputy leader, who kept the caucus “and occasionally the leader”, in line
  • Phil Twyford 5.5
    He has a tendency to get “over the top”, and loose data based on the number of Auckland houses sold to people with Chinese- sounding names, does not make a story of overseas property speculation.It does make it impossibly hard for his leader and caucus colleagues to defend however, when allegations of xenophobia inevitably start flying.

No rating given but didn’t ‘fare as well’:

  • Jacinda Ardern
    “at risk of losing her lustre altogether”, “pleasant MP who smiles a lot”, but she had done little with her justice portfolio.
  • Grant Robertson
    Labour’s “strongest debater in the house”, but was failing to land any blows on English. “Must get traction in the finance portfolio”.

Robertson and Ardern went close to becoming Labour’s leadership team.

No MPs from other parties rated a mention from Kirk apart from: Winston Peters’ NZ First party to sap up the protest vote in any “Trump” style rebellion at next year’s election.

The NZ First vote probably tends to be more a vote against the others than a vote for them.

Boardroom rates Ministers and MPs

The ‘mood of the boardroom’ survey has rated the Cabinet Ministers, scoring them out of 5. Finance Minister Bill English was rated the best, scoring a fully 5 out of 5 for 55 chief executives.

1=Not impressive to 5=Very impressive – where known the 2015 rating is shown.

  1. Bill English 4.51 (down from 4.60)
  2. John Key 4.04 (down 4.28)
  3. Steven Joyce 3.51 (down from 3.65)
  4. Amy Adams 3.47
  5. Nikki Kaye 3.36
  6. Paula Bennett 3.24 (down from 3.85)
  7. Chris Finlayson 3.23 (down from 3.41)
  8. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman 3.17 (down from 3.28)
  9. Energy Minister Simon Bridges 3.12
  10. Social Development Minister Anne Tolley 3.09
  11. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse 3.06 (down from 3.22)
  12. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy 2.91
  13. Trade Minister Todd McClay 2.90
  14. Education Minister Hekia Parata 2.85
  15. Police Minister Judith Collins 2.85
  16. Foreign Minister Murray McCully 2.77
  17. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee 2.66
  18. Environment Minister Nick Smith 2.52
  19. Seniors Minister Maggie Barry 2.34 (up fromn 2.22)
  20. Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga 2.15

Opposition MP ratings – Labour:

  • Jacinda Ardern 3.37
  • Annette King 3.10
  • Phil Twyford 2.93
  • Grant Robertson 2.86
  • David Shearer 2.72
  • David Parker 2.55
  • Chris Hipkins 2.46
  • David Clark 2.35
  • Andrew Little 2.22

Not flash for the Labour leader.



  • James Shaw 3.21
  • Julie Anne Genter 2.42
  • Metiria Turei 2.37

NZ First:


  • Winston Peters 2.90
  • Ron Mark 2.13



Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Little trying to forbid MPs associating

Andrew Little is trying to control who Labour MPs can associate with, but not very successfully.

Newstalk ZB: Labour MPs forbidden from associating with “right-wing” Wellington mayoral candidate

Wellington Mayoral candidate Nick Leggett appears to be public enemy number one for the Labour Party as its MPs are forbidden from associating with him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little has pulled rank, preventing MP Stuart Nash from speaking at an event where Mr Leggett was also speaking.

Mr Little said the event was for right-wingers who have routinely sought to undermine the Labour Party and it’s not right for a Labour MP to share a platform with people who do that.

And he’s making it clear he considers Nick Leggett, a former Labour Party member, a right-winger.

“His campaign manager is well-known ACT party identity. We know that there’s money from the right-wing that has gone into his campaign. He’s a right-wing candidate.”

This is stupid. Is Little going to stop Labour MPs and candidates from associating with right wingers and people who try to ‘undermine’ Labour during next year’s election as well as this year’s local body elections?

However, Leggett is laughing off suggestions he’s right wing.

Mr Leggett said he’s standing as an independent and doesn’t believe there’s a place for party politics in local government.

“I’ve got people that have worked on my campaign from all parts of the political spectrum, mainly Labour and National obviously. That’s local government, you unite around good ideas for the communities that you live in.”

Labour has endorsed current deputy mayor Justin Lester for the position.

Little doesn’t think it’s a good idea though. If Labour candidate Justin Lester wins the Wellington mayoralty will Little try to tell him who he can’t associate with? Councillors who until recently were members of the Labour Party?

And it gets stupider.

When it was pointed out to Little that David Shearer had attended the same function, Little said: “I’m saying it is not right for Labour MPs to be associated with events like that and with people who seek to undermine the Labour Party.”

Shearer attended – as any MP should be able to – but Nash was prevented from associating with Shearer and others by Little.

Will Little try to stop Labour MPs from associating with right wingers and people who try to undermine Labour in Parliament?

Chester Borrows charged

National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows has been charged with had been charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury to two people following an incident in March where Borrows ran over the foot of a TPP protester – see Foot runneth over.

Stuff: MP Chester Borrows charged over protester incident

Former police officer and National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows is being charged over allegations he drove into a group of protesters.

Under section 38 of the Land Transport Act, the maximum penalty for careless driving causing injury is three months’ jail, or a fine of up to $4500.

An MP must resign from Parliament if convicted of a crime with a maximum penalty of two or more years’ jail time

So whatever the outcome it won’t force a resignation.

Borrows’ first appearance would be on Tuesday, August 2, in the Whanganui District Court. 

“Mr Borrows intends to defend the charge and says he will be making no further comment as the matter is before the court,” a statement from him said.

There’s been some interesting comment on this at The Standard in Borrows charged for injuring protestors.

Some of the comments are typically ridiculous, like the lead comment by ‘One Anonymous Bloke’:

Hard not to be cynical about the fact that the charge makes a by-election unlikely. Or is it more a case of no-one who has a public difference of opinion with Oravida Collins is above the law?

I can play at insinuations too. The post was under the authorship of ‘Natwatch’. One Anonymous Bloke was quick off the mark, first to comment, and had a lot of interest in the discussion, posting 30 of the 103 comments (to date).

A debate about the right to protest versus the right of free passage came up, with OAB prominent both in dumping on Borrows but also in abusing people who challenged their messages. Like:

One Anonymous Bloke:

Observation isn’t your strong point: the protesters were on a footpath (yes, they were). I suggest you remove your bullshit-smeared right wing facemask and have a look at the photos.

Even if they’d been on a road, the police response to the TPPA protests – ie: to allow them – shows exactly how grounded in reality your lickspittle opinion is.

Psycho Milt:

Being on a footpath and/or being a protestor doesn’t magically endow you with the right to obstruct a vehicle entrance or other public way. That’s why the cops will come along and tell you to fuck off. Also why they’ll drag you out of the way and arrest you if you don’t. Borrows’ offence was more serious than the protestors and resulted in injury, which is presumably why he’s been charged, but both parties were committing offences.

Seems like a fair comment and seems to sum up the situation well.

One Anonymous Bloke:

@Psycho Milt: I’d like to see the argument in court. They weren’t obstructing a right of way they were expressing their disapproval of government policy.

Borrows and Bennett aren’t Joe Public going about their lawful business. They’re ministers of the Crown ripping the guts out of this country.

They have every right to expect hostility, obstruction and contempt wherever they go. Diddums.

Further on Psycho Milt addresses the law:

they are standing on the footpath- look up rules about cars and footpaths

Yes, do look up the rules, for instance the Summary Offences Act 1981:

“22 Obstructing public way

(1) Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 who, without reasonable excuse, obstructs any public way and, having been warned by a constable to desist,—

(a) continues with that obstruction; or

(b) does desist from that obstruction but subsequently obstructs that public way again, or some other public way in the same vicinity, in circumstances in which it is reasonable to deem the warning to have applied to the new obstruction as well as the original one.

(2) In this section—

obstructs, in relation to a public way, means unreasonably impedes normal passage along that way

public way means every road, street, path, mall, arcade, or other way over which the public has the right to pass and repass.”

A further exchange with William:

But the protesters haven’t been charged with an offence under the Summary Offences Act, so that’s all irrelevant.

Possibly the police examined whether that would have been a goer but observed the constable didn’t warn them to desist, he merely ushered them to the side. They were moving there when silly old Chester drove on through before the way was clear.

Psycho Milt:

It’s not irrelevant to the implied claim in 5.1 and 5.1.1 that the protesters had the right to block the footpath – the Summary Offences Act makes it clear that they didn’t.

And just in case that particular logic fail comes up again: no the fact that the protesters were illegally obstructing a public way doesn’t imply Borrows had a right to drive into them.


Read the section of the act you quoted. It doesn’t create an offence of blocking a public way, only of unreasonably blocking it. The corollary of that is that it is possible to block it in a reasonable manner, which is not an offence.

Watch the video, the blockage lasts no more than 15 secs before they’ve moved aside. I don’t envy you arguing in a court that they created an unreasonable blockage.

Psycho Milt:

The concept that you have a right to obstruct a public way if you want to is as bizarre, if not quite so scarily insane, as the Kiwiblog commenters’ view that you have a right to run people over if they’re in your way.

For future reference, no it’s not “reasonable” to deliberately obstruct other people, regardless of how long you do it for or what you personally feel about the people you’re obstructing, and yes you can be arrested for it.

For a different take Te Reo Putake is a tad contrarian (the the standard bashing):

If I can be a tad contrarian , I can see a couple of points worth making about the debate so far.

First up, the protesters were not pedestrians. They weren’t using the footpath for the purposes of travel. Having been on about a zillion protests and pickets (and having organised a good percentage of the same), I can assure readers that blocking driveways isn’t legal. But it is terrific fun.

Secondly, Borrows is actually one of the better Tory MP’s. He’s an old fashioned kind of Nat and tries to behave decently. He’s also publicly anti-racist. That combination possibly explains why he has never been given senior posts by Key and Joyce.

If the Whanganui seat was redrawn to reflect the wishes and needs of the town and district, he wouldn’t be the MP. The excellent Hamish McDouall would be instead. But the electorate is gerrymandered so that the urban majority are disenfranchised in favour of the Taranaki rump. So, a by-election would be likely to return a Nat MP, which is a boost I don’t think they deserve, So lets be careful what we wish for there.

For all of the above, Borrows has broken the law and deserves a conviction. However, I wonder if he’ll be offered diversion, as I imagine this will be his first serious offence (other than a speeding ticket a few years ago)

A good comment despite a bit of political snark, and quite a contrast to the OAB approach.

Rino Tirikatene on Twitter

A number of MPs have got into trouble with Twitter. Last term NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor earned a reputation for tweeting gaffe after gaffe. She was dumped down the list by her party.

Yesterday someone suggested that Labour MP for Te Tai Tonga, Rino Tirikatene, may be headed for similar infamy.

He had this exchange with a journalist:

Well, stage a walkout then.
And miss all the fun? Not likely.Best I stay here and observe the shenanigans.
You are not paid to “have fun”. You are paid to hold the govt to account.

As if I needed reminding. Don’t worry, I’m only having fun at Nationals expense in my own snarky way. Much like yourself.

Yes.I particularly like spending your miniscule portion of tax while I’m here. It won’t make you happy but,hei aha

Gee there are some humourless people. Why do National’s trolls even bother.

Caffeine Addict is nowhere near being a National supporter or troll. His Twitter description: “NZ Journo/comms, and social media”.


Who’s ‘s press secretary. Who checks the checkers. Watch out for the bus cause the Nats. like rolling people in front.

Perhaps a press secretary/media person from Labour could have a quiet word with Rino.

Possibly the worst action of the day was this re-tweet:


It doesn’t look good for an MP to associate with and distribute comments like that.

More generalist and careerist MPS

A new study has put numbers to what has often been suggested – that today’s MPs have less traditional backgrounds (like farming and unions).

A third of MPs are political careerists with limited experience outside public service and politics. “Over 30% of them have entered Parliament after careers exclusively spanning government, public sector or politics.”

“If you have no real career other than politics, you are unlikely to want to rock the boat. Challenging the establishment will seldom be in a career politician’s best interests.”

New Zealand MPs are now less likely to be from traditional careers in business and unions, and more likely to be generalists who turn to politics as a career, according to a study released today.

The study, by political researcher Geoffrey Miller and public relations expert Mark Blackham, researched and compared the career histories of all 121 Members of the current Parliament.

They found that business owners, agriculturalists and unionists have a falling share of voice in their traditional parties, and have been replaced by people with no specific career interests, or careers limited to government and politics.

Miller said 23% of National MPs had experience working in a business, and only 10% of Labour MPs had worked in a union.

Miller said that while Parliament had become more ethnically and gender diverse under MMP, the range of prior occupations was becoming increasingly narrow.

Miller added that younger MPs were especially likely to be beholden to the parties they represented because of their decision to pursue politics as a profession.

Blackham said the rise of generalists reflected both a change in employment patterns in the wider community, and a perception that politics was an employment option as well as a calling. Almost a fifth of MPs had no definable career before politics.

“Parliament is reflecting something ordinary people are experiencing; the tendency to go through a range of jobs rather than a single career. Wide experience of life may well help MPs to understand the public they represent.

“But there is a less creditable trend toward seeing politics as an employment option. For these MPs, the job follows a working life solely in government or politics. This is a new phenomenon.”

Three major conclusions from the report:

  1. The traditional difference in economic sectors represented in the major political parties is extinct;
    National now has proportionately few farmers or business people.
    Labour has few unionists or blue collar workers, but is strongest in MPs with varied non-specific employment experience.
    The Party with proportionately the most business experience is New Zealand First.
    The party with proportionately the most activists is the Green Party.
  2. One third of our politicians have only ever worked in political jobs. Over 30% of them have entered Parliament after careers exclusively spanning government, public sector or politics.
  3. MPs are now reflecting the wider employment trend of having multiple careers or having worked in a wide range of jobs. Nearly 20% of all MPs have had ‘multiple’ careers.


Noteworthy findings

  1. 34% of MPs have a career history entirely working for the government in some form.
  2. The biggest category was “multiple” careers – where MPs have worked in various employment, and not followed a particular career or field of expertise. Labour had proportionately the greatest number in this category (one quarter of its MPs)
  3. The single most common career has been employment in the business world (19 MPs, and generally management work, not entrepreneurial or operational), followed by a career in government (15 MPs).
  4. There are 10 career politicians (vs. 12 MPs in previous Parliament).
  5. Labour Party now has a notable presence of MPs with careers in the Maori sector (5/32 MPs in 2015 compared to 3/34 MPs in 2014).
  6. New Zealand First remains dominated by MPs with business experience, particularly within SMEs.
  7. The Green Party remains dominated by those with a Unionist or Activist background (5/13 MPs).
  8. The two Maori Party MPs both have a background in education.
  9. Between the 50th and 51st Parliaments, Labour has seen a decrease in MPs with unionist backgrounds (3 vs 5 MPs).
  10. National has fewer agricultural MPs than the previous parliament (6 vs 9 MPs)

National MPs have a wider variety of backgrounds than Labour MPs but part of the reason for this is there are nearly twice as many.



I think that two significant factors behind choices to stand for Parliament now are:

It can be much more high profile with the chance of high media and opponent examination.

The time and cost commitment to standing as a candidate with a chance of being elected is high, especially standing for electorates. You pretty much have to dedicate several months at least to full time campaigning.

This is easier for people already employed by parties.

This isn’t as necessary for small parties (Greens and NZ First) where political unknowns can get in via their party list placement.

But even NZ First’s most recent MP, Ria Bond, a hairdresser from Invercargill, had spent time working for NZ First MPs in Wellington.

Not trusted: bloggers, MPs, media

Many people have little or not trust in bloggers, MPs and media.

NewsHub reports Kiwis don’t trust MPs, bloggers – survey

What the headline doesn’t say is that not far behind bloggers and MPs in levels of distrust is the media.

Victoria University’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies surveyed 1000 adults at the end of February (via Colmar Brunton).

Least trusted professions (little or no trust):

  • Bloggers 60%
  • MPs 55%
  • Ministers 53%
  • Media 46%

A healthy democracy needs a strong media to hold politicians to account. That about a half of those surveyed don’t trust the media is a major concern.

Bloggers are relatively small, relatively unknown and non-influential. Even the most notorious bloggers, Cameron Slater, David Farrar and Martyn Bradbury are not well known or unknown amongst much of the public.

The major political blogs – Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, Public Address, The Standard and The Daily Blog are fringe media ignored or unknown by most.

Most blogger publicity associates blogs with Dirty Politics. The biggest blogger, Slater, has openly promoted dirt in politics.

It’s generally healthy to be sceptical of MPs.

Most of the major blogs have affiliations or close connections with politics and political parties so it’s no surprise to see that the lack of trust of both groups is similar.

But distrust of the media is a real worry. If they can’t be trusted to keep politicians honest or expose their dishonesty our democracy is in a shaky state.

Institute director Michael Macaulay claims it’s the most in-depth study of its kind undertaken in New Zealand.

“It shows the people, the public, the 1000 people we spoke to don’t trust the media, don’t trust MPs and don’t trust local Government.

“It may well be that this is the result many politicians fear but also expect. It might be something to worry about, it’s certainly something that needs to be discussed.

“But before anyone jumps to conclusions, before anyone goes crazy or takes offence or decries this as the last part of human civilisation, we need to take stock, have a chat and see how bad it actually is.”

To have a proper chat to try to evaluate how bad it actually is we need to see details of the survey. I can’t find them online.

By-election in Clutha-Southland

What are the chances of a by-election in the Clutha-Southland electorate?

It has been  reported that 24 year old MP Todd Barclay, or something related to him in his electorate, is subject to a police inquiry. See Police involved in MP complaint.

Two of Barclay’s staff members have resigned, as has his electorate chairman who said his position was ‘untenable’.

There has been talk of a secret recording being made, but (and this is only online speculation) there are suggestions the problem could potentially be more serious.

There have been posts about this at Kiwiblog – More weirdness in Clutha-Southland – and The Standard – Wee Todd Barclay may have a wee problem with discussions about possibilities in comments.

National have already had electorate problems this term, at the other end of the country in Northland. MP Mike Sabin mysteriously resigned not long after the 2014 election, and the damage from that and the skilled political opportunism of Winston Peters meant an embarrassing electorate loss for National, and the loss of a crucial seat in Parliament.

National can ill afford to lose another electorate and another vote in Parliament.

What are the chances of a by-election in Clutha Southland? I don’t know, it’s too soon to tell.

Could National lose the seat in a by-election? I doubt it, it currently has one of the biggest National majorities in the country. And Winston Peters is tied to his electorate at the opposite end of the country.

Comparing the two electorate party vote results from 2014:


Barclay got a similar electorate vote (63.27%) to the party vote.

Labour’s candidate Liz Craig bettered her party result with 19.62% but it’s hard to see a Labour candidate getting close in a by-election. In the past two elections they haven’t stood a local candidate. Craig is an epidemiologist from Dunedin (Otago University child health academic). And  in 2011 Labour’s candidate was Dunedin chiropractor Tat Loo (aka Colonial Viper).

NZ First didn’t stand a candidate in either electorate in 2014.

After Peters won Northland in the by-election last year Southlander Ria Bond entered parliament as NZ First’s next list candidate. But she hasn’t got anything like Peters’ experience or profile, and her background in the hairdressing industry is unlikely to gel in a largely rural electorate.

Bond didn’t stand in an electorate in 2014 so presumably has scant campaigning experience.

So it looks unlikely that National could lose Clutha-Southland in a by-election.

But they could lose a lot of votes and be embarrassed, not just be a reduced winning margin but by the bad publicity another electorate MP in trouble would give them.

Currently John Key and Bill English (who had been Clutha-Southland MP until going list only in 2014) are publicly standing by Barclay.

But they and National can’t risk botching another MP scandal. The Clutha-Southland electorate is probably not a serious threat for them, but the overall party vote and their hold on government could take a serious hit.

A young and inexperienced MP in a super safe seat could potentially end the Key Government’s tenure.

Whatever the police are investigating and whether the police lay charges or not may determine whether there is a by-election in Clutha-Southland.

How National are seen to handle it may significantly influence the outcome of the next election.

Team Key and English are one of National’s  main strengths. Hugging another political corpse would not be a good look. They must have checked out the risks that Barclay poses, it would be politically stupid not to have.

Giving an impression of sweeping things under the carpet will be a bad look.

The Clutha-Southland may not be at risk for National, but Government could be.


Police involved in MP complaint

It has been reported that the problems with MP Todd Barclay in the Clutha-Southland electorate involve the police.

Two electorate staff members and National’s electorate chairman have all resigned recently – see Three’s trouble in Clutha-Southland?.

The ODT reports that one of the ex-staff members has made a complaint to the police.

Barclay staff member to talk with police

A Clutha-Southland electorate staff member has confirmed she is in contact with police over a complaint about National MP Todd Barclay.

Barbara Swan, who is working out her notice period in the MP’s Queenstown office, confirmed that a meeting with police had been arranged, but yesterday it was postponed.

‘‘[The police] had requested that, and then they rang and said: ‘It’s been delayed’.” Ms Swan had ‘‘no idea” what police wanted to talk to her about, and she declined to comment further.

The ODT understands the complaint stemmed from the ‘‘employment issue” that led to Gore electorate secretary Glenys Dickson’s departure, and it involves a claim the MP made a secret recording.

It is also understood police in Gore have contacted another person connected to the electorate about the complaint.

Earlier this week Prime Minister John Key played down the problems swirling around New Zealand’s youngest MP. Radio NZ:

PM backs Clutha-Southland MP on staff resignations

Prime Minister John Key is backing Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay following the resignation of three staff members.

Mr Key told Morning Report such staff turnover in an electorate office was not unusual with a change of MP, and Mr Barclay had his full confidence.

“I’ve had the discussion with Bill about it, because he was the former MP, but it’s not something of major significance,” he said.

“I mean there’s clearly been a desire to have a change in staff and it’s changed. It’s not, as I said, entirely unusual when you get a new MP.”

It’s quite unusual when an electorate chairman says that his position is ‘untenable’ and an ex electorate employee makes a complaint to the police.

Wednesday’s Southland Times editorial:

Even safe seats can be high-maintenance

Todd Barclay has now acknowledged he hasn’t “always got it right” and still has a lot to learn as Clutha-Southland MP.

What he hasn’t done is provide even a skerrick of detail about what, exactly, his mis-steps have been and exactly what these areas of profitable study that lie ahead of him may be.

If it clarifies nothing much, his new position is at least a measure of improvement on his unconvincing “problem, what problem?” stance over the resignations of his senior electoral agent in Gore, Glenys Dickson, electorate chairman Stuart Davie, and Queenstown-based electoral agent Barbara Swan.

There’s even murmurs of dumping Barclay:

Now comes the suggestion, we grant you from an unnamed source, that some party members are keen to choose a different candidate to contest next year’s election.

It is hard to escape the view that Barclay has some serious catching-up to do among his own people. That is not to say it can’t be done and the party hierarchy is optimistically saying annual meetings are the place to do it. Can the problem really be that tidily corralled?

It seems far from tidy at this stage. More from Stuff:

Disquiet over MP Todd Barclay’s performance could spark selection challenge

Disquiet over a spate of resignations in Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay’s electorate could spark a challenge from within the National Party at the next election, a party source says. understands that the “employment problem” which led to Dickson’s resignation relates to unproven allegations of a secret recording made by Barclay, although what was allegedly recorded is unclear.

A number of party sources expressed concerns about Barclay’s dealings with both his staff and his constituents.

Several people suggested the 25-year-old’s age was behind some of the problems, due to his lack of experience.

While one source said the party was working hard to deal with the situation, another person said they were not sure whether officials were aware how widely concern had spread.

“I don’t think that the party has come to grips with ill-feeling in the electorate: I’m hearing a lot of things like ‘We won’t be voting for National again’, and there’s a lot of people who need to be listening.”

National have what should be a very safe majority in Clutha-Southland – one of their largest – but in their third term they can’t afford to lose party votes. It won’t be just Clutha-Souhtland voters who have concerns over these southern rumblings.