National’s party list

National have announced their party list for the 2020 election in September. There is nothing remarkable about it. The top 20 are fairly similar to their current rankings.

National’s 2020 Party List:

1Judith CollinsPapakura
2Gerry BrownleeIlam
3Paul GoldsmithEpsom
4Simon BridgesTauranga
5Dr Shane RetiWhangarei
6Todd McClayRotorua
7Chris BishopHutt South
8Todd MullerBay of Plenty
9Louise UpstonTaupo
10Scott SimpsonCoromandel
11David BennettHamilton East
12Michael WoodhouseDunedin
13Nicola WillisWellington Central
14Jacqui DeanWaitaki
15Mark MitchellWhangaparaoa
16Melissa LeeMt Albert
17Andrew BaylyPort Waikato
18Dr Nick SmithNelson
19Maureen PughWest Coast-Tasman
20Barbara KurigerTaranaki-King Country
21Harete HipangoWhanganui
22Jonathan YoungNew Plymouth
23Tim MacindoeHamilton West
24Kanwaljit Singh BakshiPanmure-Otahuhu
25Paulo GarciaList
26Nancy LuList
27Dr Parmjeet ParmarMt Roskill
28Agnes LoheniMangere
29Dale StephensChristchurch Central
30Alfred NgaroTe Atatu
31Matt DooceyWaimakariri
32Stuart SmithKaikoura
33Lawrence YuleTukituki
34Denise LeeMaungakiekie
35Simon O’ConnorTamaki
36Brett HudsonOhariu
37Simeon BrownPakuranga
38Ian McKelvieRangitikei
39Erica StanfordEast Coast Bays
40Matt KingNorthland
41Chris PenkKaipara ki Mahurangi
42Tim van de MolenWaikato
43Dan BidoisNorthcote
44Jo HayesMana
45Katie NimonNapier
46Catherine ChuBanks Peninsula
47Hamish CampbellWigram
48David PattersonRongotai
49Lisa WhyteNew Lynn
50Rima NakhleTakanini
51Liam KernaghanTaieri
52Bala BeeramKelston
53Lincoln PlattChristchurch East
54William WoodPalmerston North
55Nuwi SamarakoneManurewa
56Mark CrofskeyRemutaka
57Jake BezzantUpper Harbour
58Mike ButterickWairarapa
59Tim CostleyOtaki
60Nicola GriggSelwyn
61Christopher LuxonBotany
62Joseph MooneySouthland
63Penny SimmondsInvercargill
64Tania TapsellEast Coast
65Simon WattsNorth Shore
66TBCAuckland Central
67TBCRangitata
68Adrienne PierceList
69Senthuran ArulananthamList
70Sang ChoList
71Rachel Afeaki-TaumoepeauList
72Trish CollettList
73Ava NealList
74Katrina BungardList
75Shelley PilkingtonList

Most list candidates and quite a few electorate candidates will be struggling to get in unless National’s support improves support markedly. An on polling National will do well to get half of that list into Parliament.

This term they got 56 MPs elected with 44.45% of the vote, but recent public polling ranged from 25-32%.

On current polling a number of candidates have no show of getting in unless they win their electorates.

Interesting to see Chris Luxon at 61. He is sometimes toured as a leaderr of the future, but after the Muller experience future caucuses should be cautious about parachuting in someone with little political or political media experience.

RNZ Leader interviews: Judith Collins – ‘I’m always very confident, particularly when I know I’m right’

Collins is still shy of a month into the job but in her media blitz she and her arched eyebrows are everywhere, along with the party slogan “Strong team, More Jobs, Better Economy”.

Is the tagline “strong team” verging on the comedic though, when you look back at the past few horror months for National: a rolling maul of resignations, sackings and leadership changes?

“Look at our front bench. Look at it,” Collins says in defence.

Stuff: National Party announces list of MPs and candidates for upcoming election

On National’s current polling, many of the party’s existing MPs could lose their seat in Parliament. MPs Alfred Ngaro and Jo Hayes appear to be at particular risk after being ranked down the list.

Two candidates – Nancy Lu and Dale Stephens – have entered the list above existing MPs. Lu, a high-flying accountant who was born in China, has been parachuted into 26 on the list.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said that Lu had been placed so high on the list because she had the capabilities the party was looking for.

Collins said many of the promising new candidates in safe seats, such as Luxon, had been grouped together down the list.

Ngaro, who is running against Labour minister Phil Twyford in Te Atatū, has dropped from number 19 in the caucus list, to 30 on the list – the only MP to drop from the top 20.

“Alfred has a seat to win, and it is important that we also have renewal,” Collins said.

That’s hardly a vote of confidence in Ngaro. He was 3,180 votes behind Twyford last election. Twyford has been poor as a minister but should benefit from Labour riding high.

Most people will know little to nothing about most candidates on the list. Elections are won and lost on leadership and the top handful of known MPs and candidates.

National’s infrastructure announcement

New leader Judith Collins announced the first chunk of National’s infrastructure policy yesterday – $30 billion to be spent over 10 years on roads, rail, buses and tunnels, with about half in the top of the North Island, particularly addressing congestion in Auckland, and including a full four lane highway from Whangerei to Auckland and to Hamilton and Tauranga.

They also plan on scrapping the currently dysfunctional RMA and replacing it with something that doesn’t restrict anmd slow down development so much.

National had been criticised for not having much policy, but after this announcement the pressure is now very much on Labour to respond.

While I have my doubts about some of what is in the policy I think there’s a lot of worth\while projects to consider.

Opponents were quick to criticise the emphasis on roads and car congestion, including Green Minister Julie Anne Genter, but the simple fact is that road congestion is a major problem in the north and cars won’t suddenly disappear.

A big problem with the Green led push to walk and bike is that it is happening slowly and is limited. In Dunedin most commuter cycle lanes are barely used. Recreational walking and biking is becoming more popular, but weekday congestion is still a huge problem and won’t be fixed by disrupting traffic flows with more cycleways and footpaths, especially when noot separated from cars and trucks.

A big point of difference with Labour is that instead of putting light rail lines down a busy road in Auckland they will branch the existing railway line to the airport. Seems a sensible option.

The National announcement won’t make me suddenly be a supporter of them this election, but it is a welcome bit of beef that should force Labour and other parties to front up with substantive policy of their own that we can then decide on.

The announcement (edited):  Delivering Infrastructure – Upper North Island

Today’s infrastructure announcement is one part of National’s Plan to Get New Zealand Working that we released last week. Today I intend to focus on transport infrastructure.

In the coming weeks, you will hear more about our plans for schools, for hospitals, for water storage, and broadband. But today is all about transport.

There is a congestion and infrastructure crisis in Auckland. It is a crisis caused by decades of short-term thinking and expedience. And that same congestion and infrastructure crisis extends to much of the rest of country.

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.

Today, though, being in Auckland, my focus is on transport – including within Auckland City, and across the whole upper North Island.

This city is broken by congestion. Every Aucklander and every visitor to Auckland knows it. Congestion costs Aucklanders over $1 billion per year. That’s the strict economic loss. It represents lost production, lost productivity, lost opportunity.

But congestion is far worse than that. Congestion means unreliable journey times. It means frustration at sitting idle on the motorway. It means goods being delivered late to our ports. It means Mum being late to pick up the kids from rugby practice. It means a tradie only doing two, rather than four, cross-town trips per day. That’s fewer jobs for him; less income, and less economic activity.

Upper North Island Transport Package

First, National will build a four-lane expressway network from Whangarei in the north to Tauranga, connecting 50 per cent of the country with high-quality and safe expressways.

Second, we will complete the Auckland Rapid Transit network, including massive new investments in busways and our rail network.

Third, we will build a second crossing across the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

These things can’t all happen at once. But we will also begin immediately, by pumping $300 million into digger-ready projects in Auckland and throughout the country in 2021 – like fixing potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners.

Together, our plan, which you can find in detail on our website, is a 20-year vision for transport infrastructure in Auckland and the upper north. Our total funding for new transport projects across New Zealand will be $31 billion over the next decade. Around half of that – $17 billion – will go to today’s Upper North Island Transport Package for the half of the nation’s population who live here. To fund our overall $31 billion package, we have allocated $7 billion from the Government’s $20 billion Covid Fund.

In addition, National will change the way major transport projects are funded, from “pay-as-we-go” to an intergenerational approach. NZTA will be allowed to borrow significantly more on its own balance sheet, using the $4 billion it collects each year from fuel taxes and road user charges to service the debt. Initially, we will allow it to borrow up to $1 billion a year more.

Some of what I am announcing today will also be joint ventures with Auckland Council. The renegotiation of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) will begin with Phil Goff in our first two weeks in office. The first thing you’ll see, as previously announced, is that the Auckland regional fuel tax will be abolished.

Looking further ahead, if we and Auckland Council ever look at congestion charges in the future, my Government will insist they are only ever revenue neutral, with other fuel taxes reduced to compensate.

Upper North Island Expressway Network

The first project I am announcing today is to connect Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways. This will also include Marsden Point. We will also build the Hamilton Southern Links project to connect the southern part of Hamilton to the Waikato Expressway. And we will build a four-lane expressway from Tauranga to Katikati. Desktop work to get the four-lane expressways underway will begin immediately upon us forming a Government.

National will seek also to improve the rail networks between Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga. National will extend commuter rail to Pokeno, beginning in 2024. That will then allow the possibility of proper commuter rail to Hamilton to be considered.

Auckland Rapid Transit

The second project I am announcing today as part of National’s Delivering Infrastructure Plan is Auckland Rapid Transit. We will measure our progress against those goals, of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city.

We don’t support light rail. National believes light rail will be to the 2020s what monorails were to the 1980s. We do support completing Auckland’s existing train and bus system.

I am announcing, therefore, that there will be rail to the airport from Puhinui, starting in 2026, and then up to Onehunga, to create a rail loop. This was the plan for Auckland for decades, as Mike Lee will tell you.

Rather than just doing a third main rail line Quay Park to Wiri, we will do the third and fourth at the same time. This will allow the separation of commuter and freight traffic, and for express commuter services and regional rail.

Additional Harbour Crossing

I am announcing today that National’s Plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels. Our Plan is that it should be for both road, rail and new public transport technologies that come on line. And, yes, the new tunnel will be tolled – but the existing bridge never will be.

In terms of a timeline, I am announcing National’s Plan is to fast-track the consenting so that work can begin in 2028.

In terms of cyclist and pedestrian access across the harbour, National is sceptical of the $360 million Labour plans to spend on Skypath 2. Unlike the Dominion Road Ghost Train, I am not announcing today that Skypath 2 will certainly be cancelled. But, the likelihood is that we will want to work with the experts on a more cost-effective way for cyclists and pedestrians to get across the harbour.

Resource Management Act Repeal

Aucklanders, and all New Zealanders, are sick of:

  • The diabolical processes and never-ending but insincere consultation.
  • The endless cost and delays the RMA gifts to seemingly every development.
  • Good projects falling-over in Court.

It has to stop.

…I am making a very firm commitment that the National Government I lead will repeal the RMA altogether. It won’t be “reformed” – it will go.

We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency. We will begin this work in our first 100 days. We will introduce new legislation by the end of next year.

That process, though, is too slow for the projects I have announced today – and those we will announce in the next few weeks. The RMA fast-track legislation passed in response to Covid-19 provides a useful interim framework.

National will make far more extensive use of the fast-track Act. New Zealand is facing an extraordinary jobs and economic crisis; and it demands a proportional response. We simply cannot let the RMA stand in the way of urgently needed infrastructure development. In Auckland and right around the country, we will work with local government to try to make existing RMA procedures more efficient.

But I want to tell you all right now, we will legislate for our projects if necessary. We will be respectful of local government and local stakeholders, most particularly mana whenua, and the likes of NZTA and the Infrastructure Commission.

More detail:

You can view National’s Auckland Transport Plan here

You can view National’s Transport Funding Summary here

You can view National’s Upper North Island Infrastructure Package Q & A here

Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams to quit politics

NZ Herald:  National Party MP Nikki Kaye quits politics

The National Party is set to be rocked by another high-profile resignation today with former deputy leader and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye expected to announce her departure from politics.

She stood down as deputy when the caucus held an emergency meeting to elect Judith Collins to replace Todd Muller as leader.

A National Party spokesperson said this morning: “Judith Collins won’t be commenting until the reshuffle announcement at 10.30am.”

“Nikki will make her own announcements when she is ready,” said Brownlee, the man who replaced Kaye as deputy leader.

It is understood several people have tried to dissuade Kaye from quitting or at least to put more distance between the decision and the events of the past 10 days but she is adamant.

It is understood she is disappointed by the Todd Muller sudden resignation.

She has come in for some criticism over the handling of the Covid patient privacy breach scandal, which led to the imminent resignation of first-term MP Hamish Walker from politics at the election and which appeared to place intolerable strain on Muller.

Presuming this is correct this is another significant blow for National. It’s not unusual for MPs to reassess their political careers after leadership changes, especially ex leaders. But this will not help National’s re-election chances, and is an immediate challenge to Judith Collins’ leadership.

At least quitting now means that Collins should only have to reshuffle her lineup once, unless there are more shock withdrawals later.

Kaye has held the Auckland Central electorate since becoming an MP in 2008, twice defeating Jacinda Ardern. But if she doesn’t stand there the attempt by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick to take the electorate becomes more interesting.

Losing another experienced MP will be a blow to National, but they will still go onto the election with a lot more MPs with Cabinet experience than Labour had last election. However the perception of a disintegrating party will be difficult to combat.

But wait, there’s more.

Adams had already announced she would quit, changed her mind when Muller took over but seems to have changed her mind again. With that level of commitment to the cause the party is better off without her.

Kay and Adams will be big losses, they have been two of National’s more capable performers in the past.

Judith Collins launches herself as leader

National ended up settling their leadership very quickly, announcing that Judith Collins will take over from Todd Muller after Muller stepped down yesterday morning. Gerry Brownlee takes over from Nkiki Kay as deputy.

“I can’t wait to take the fight to the government. Our goal is to put in place a far better government focused on the people of this country and what they are going to need, particularly from an economic point of view.”

“Experience, toughness, the ability to make decisions. Jacinda Ardern is not someone we should ever underestimate. She is an adversary that I would absolutely respect, but I tell you what, our team is better than their team and we are going to take it back.”

According to Richard Harman – Why National finally called on Collins – Mark Mitchell also stood for the leadership, and Paul Goldsmith also stood for the deputy position.

This morning Collins is doing the media rounds, and she has started that showing her experience.

After her media interviews she will work out her shadow cabinet – she says she will only make a few changes, she said it is too close to the election to make major changes. Mostly the changes are those required by the change in responsibilities for her and Brownlee. Kaye will keep a significant role, and Muller is also likely to be included.

Then they will review their policies and no doubt review their approach to the election campaign, but as Brownlee was managing their campaign that shouldn’t be difficult.

Collins has also said she will retain most of the Muller appointed staff in the leader’s office. At this stage before the election that’s another sensible decision.

“I respect the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and I believe she is a very good communicator. She has communicated very well during the Covid crisis.”

“Jacinda Ardern, I think she is a spot on excellent communicator…Communication’s one thing execution’s another and I haven’t seen that much coming out of the Government”

There’s a stream of opponents busy on social media dredging up whatever they can find about Collins’ past – her connection to Dirty Politics and to Cameron Slater is a common thread with even Nicky Hager having a go (Press advisory on Judith Collins and the book Dirty Politics), despite that coming to a head six years ago. There is no sign other than Collins keeping a big political distance from Slater since then.

Running dirty attacks in social media is how politics works (unfortunately), but it will be far more critical how Collins handles the media and political journalists, and she is generally very adept at this.

Time will tell how Collins and National do from here. They have a big challenge repair substantial damage so it won’t be easy, but for the good of a health democracy I hope they at least survive in a reasonable state. Their chances of succeeding this election are slim, but they need to become a sensible, strong opposition at least until the election and probably after it as well.

Collins should manage the initial media onslaught ok.

The first big test will be her ranking of her front bench and spokesperson roles. Collins has indicated that Paul Goldsmith will retain the Finance role. She is not committing on Michael Woodhouse until she ‘gets the facts’ today.

Some will demand ‘balance’, especially gender and ethnic. The latter could be tricky but she could promote Simon Bridges and in particular Shane Reti.

However every party doesn’t have to represent everyone, that’s a nonsense that keeps getting promoted. ACT doesn’t represent everyone, Greens don’t represent everyone, neither NZ First or the Maori Party or Labour.

Parties should represent their own constituencies and their own target demographics. But it’s far more important that they represent some semblance of competence and integrity than ticking every box insisted on by others.

Collins: “I’m the right person at this time for the caucus”.

She is going to target economic issues and is still trying to promote the ‘strong team’ theme.

“I know that this is a tough job but we can get it done”.

Collins leader, Brownlee deputy

Judith Collins is the new leader of the National Party.

I really think this was inevitable. She will have heaps of crap thrown at her by partisan opponents, such is the dirty game of politics. And she will be tested by media, as it should be.

And time will tell how this pans out, at this stage we can only guess but that would be pointless.

And they have gone to experience and stability with Gerry Brownlee at deputy. His biggest challenge is within the caucus, it will be his job to demand loyalty and teamwork, Failing that National’s outlook is dire.

For the good of the country this has to work, it is imperative we have a strong Opposition Party to hold the Government to account, and to be a next government in waiting, in 3 or 6 or 9 years or however long it takes.

 

Time for Judith Collins?

There is only one person I can see who would be capable of stepping up and taking over the National Party leadership – Judith Collins.

National is in real trouble with the struggles and now resignation of Todd Muller they quickly need to get someone else in charge.

Collins is very good handling media, and she has a lot of support in the party.

She just lacks major support in the National caucus. A lot of their recent problems have been factional – the aggrieved Bridges faction versus the new Muller faction.

Having a leader independent of both of these factions would be a plus for someone able to command respect and demand loyalty.

National MPs either have too accept and support someone like Collins as leader, or continue to self destruct.

There is some talk of the reappointment of Simon Bridges, but I think that would be a bad move. National support was sliding under his flawed leadership, and he lost the confidence of a majority of his caucus. Putting him back in charge would be nuts.

So I don’t see any option but Judith – if she is willing to give it a go.

Walker stepping down, Muller steps up, but National down and out of contention

After admitting sending personal details of Covid cases to several media outlets National MP Hamish Walker took the only course open to him – yesterday he pre-empted a Party board meeting considering a request to dump him from the party by announcing he wouldn’t stand in the Clutha Southland (now Southland) electorate in September’s election.

Personal Statement From Hamish Walker

Today I am announcing that I will not be standing for re-election for the Southland electorate at the upcoming 2020 election.

I wish to thank the people of Clutha-Southland who I have loved meeting, assisting and representing over the past two and a half years.

I sincerely apologise for my actions.

I will be making no further comment.

Todd Muller Accepts Hamish Walker’s Decision Not To Stand In 2020

National Party Leader Todd Muller has today accepted Hamish Walker’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for the seat of Southland and not stand at the upcoming election.

“Rachel Bird, the National Party’s Southern Regional Chair, has received a letter from Hamish confirming he will withdraw as the National Party candidate for Southland.

“There was a clear breach of trust, which goes against the values National holds as a party.

“The National Party Board will still meet today to discuss the selection of a new candidate.”

Statement From Peter Goodfellow, National Party President

Yesterday evening I received a letter from Leader Todd Muller, asking the National Party Board of Directors to urgently meet and consider some very serious, publicly reported, issues concerning Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker.

The Board met at midday today (Wednesday 8 July) via videoconference and was advised that Mr Walker has now formally resigned his candidacy for the National Party in the Southland Electorate for the 2020 General Election.

A selection process will therefore begin almost immediately to find a new candidate for the Southland Electorate, and we look forward to a robust and democratic process.

On behalf of the National Party Board of Directors, I would like to apologise for any distress caused to the individuals concerned as a result of the actions of one of our Members of Parliament.

RNZ: Hamish Walker’s exit from politics ‘was the only option’ – Todd Muller

In an announcement on transport this afternoon, Muller said the board will be looking at installing a new National Party candidate for Southland in the coming days.

“This was the only option because as we have well traversed the events of the last few days have not reflected from my perspective the appropriate National Party behaviour and values.

“He has worked very hard for his community over the last three years, and ultimately it was an error of judgement, a serious error of judgement that has cost him his career.

“It’s the right decision and I acknowledge that and now of course we seek to move on.”

He said he would not talk through the advice Walker had received, which was in a letter between himself and Walker.

Muller said Walker’s judgement was “fundamentally flawed”.

“And I’m on record a number of times now confirming that, and he’s paid the ultimate price of doing that.

“This is an isolated incident and we’ve got to see it through that lens, and I have acted very swiftly and we’ve got the right outcome.”

He said his MPs were clear around the expectations of them and they reflected a party with a “fine tradition of values, of achievement for this country and every one of us knows that we are there because at the last election well over a million people supported our cause and our view that the government is stronger when we’re in control”.

“Hamish Walker went behind my back and made his own judgement, and I’m sure that he is ruing it today.

“We have had one MP who made a serious error and has paid the ultimate price in terms of his political career. I think that talks to a party that does have high standards and when people breach them there is consequences.

“It was totally inappropriate for that personal information to be leaked to the media, because they are New Zealanders who are suffering because they have Covid and are in a constrained environment.”

But he said National would continue to critique the government’s “every day glitches” in the managed isolation programme.

“The government continues to demonstrate by the day actually that their border management is still not at the expectations that New Zealanders have of keeping us safe.”

What Michelle Boag and Hamish walker did reflects very poorly on the National Party. Walker is a first MP but especially after his Clutha Southland predecessor Todd Barclay crashed and burned his political career Walker should have been well aware of the dangers of stuffing up.

Walker should have also been well aware that personal information given to MPs has special privacy requirements.

Boag has shown that her long history of political involvement is a risk to any other work she does, as she has put political dirt first. She is likely to be shunned by National from now but she knows a lot of people in the party and it will be hard for her to be separated from it.

Leader Todd Muller has had a disaster to deal with, and I think he has dealt with it about as well as he could have. He made it clear he was totally opposed to what happened, and he made it clear that he had lost confidence in Walker and that Walker should resign, which he did.

In an adverse situation Muller looked reasonably principled and decisive, considering he had to allow Walker and the party to make decisions, and had to deal with legal issues.

But despite looking more sort of like leader material Muller has to now deal with his party in a dire situation. National’s chances of succeeding this election looked a long shot before this happened, but it now looks like they are virtually out of contention.

Unless Jacinda Ardern resigns or does something terrible, or someone in Labour does something as bad as Walker and it is handled poorly by Ardern and the party, or Covid turns to custard in New Zealand, then it looks likely now Ardern and Labour should cruise back into power.

Labour are sort of vulnerable on the economic risks, but that looks well covered with wage subsidies running through to September, and large amounts of money are being dished out around the country to try to keep the economy from crashing. It would take a major turn for the worse in the next two months for this to risk labour’s re-election.

So Muller and National are left to try to rescue as much support as possible to prevent their caucus from being decimated. It is too early to tell how bad the Boag/Walker effect will be, but National will struggle to get over 40% this election, and could easily crash to under 30%.

Muller asks National board to remove Walker from party

There has been widespread calls for Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker to be dumped. While the party leader doesn’t have the power to sack an electorate MP, Todd Muller says that the leaking of health information showed ‘serious lapses of judgment’, and ‘appalling lack of judgement’, and was ‘completely unacceptable’, and has written to the National Party board asking that Walker is removed from the party.

Muller says he us very angry about what happened.

RNZ:  Todd Muller on Hamish Walker – ‘There needs to be consequences’

The National Party leader says he has written to the party’s board asking them to remove MP Hamish Walker from the party after it was revealed he leaked private health information to media.

Prior to that revelation, National Party leader Todd Muller described the leak as “loose, shabby and a reminder these guys can’t manage important things well”.

“The problem is when you’ve allowed a culture of sloppiness and clumsiness to take over and become pervasive, you know, really history suggests you need a new broom to be able to sort and set the tone from the top,” he said on Monday.

Walker, who admitted the leak late yesterday afternoon, has already been stripped of his portfolios and is now subject to an independent State Services inquiry.

Muller told Morning Report there needed to be consequences and he has written to the party’s board asking it to remove Walker from the party.

Muller has given a lengthy interview to RNZ, they say they will post more details. Walker and Boag would not do interviews. They will be subject to the inquiry set up to investigate the leak.

The board will meet to discuss the matter today.

Muller said he learn on Monday at lunchtime about who leaked the information when Walker contacted him to inform him. He is not aware of any other National MPs being aware of who was responsible for the leak.

Muller also said the consequences will be significant for Michelle Boag, who obtained the information in her role as Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Muller says that Boag did not assist him with his leadership takeover, and he’s not aware of her helping Walker on other matters.

I think that Walker should jump before he is pushed from the party, or al least announce he won’t stand for re-election in  September.

This is hugely damaging for National as it is, but if Walker doesn’t resign or withdraw the damage to the party will increase.

Muller is saying and doing about all he can in the circumstances. It must have removed any hope of success for him or national this election.

UPDATE:

He had little choice but to do this, and jumping before being pushed reduces the substantial damage he has done to his party.

Todd Muller accepts Hamish Walker’s decision not to stand in 2020

National Party Leader Todd Muller has today accepted Hamish Walker’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for the seat of Southland and not stand at the upcoming election.

“Rachel Bird, the National Party’s Southern Regional Chair, has received a letter from Hamish confirming he will withdraw as the National Party candidate for Southland.

“There was a clear breach of trust, which goes against the values National holds as a party.

“The National Party Board will still meet today to discuss the selection of a new candidate.”

National promote ‘Strong Team’ over limp leadership

Last week the National Party launched their campaign approach, promoting team instead of leadership. They have to do that to try combat Labour’s focus on the very popular Jacinda Ardern, but it will be an uphill struggle.

Leader Todd Muller and National’s campaign are a bit like the far side of the moon, you know they’re there but you don’t see them, you just see the glowing other side.

A while ago Muller gave a speech that outlined their campaign focus but it was hardly noticed.

Leader of the Opposition’s Te Puna speech

I will speak at some length today, and I have chosen my words carefully, because I want to outline clearly, to you and the wider New Zealand audience:

  • Who I am, and where I have come from;
  • How my values have developed as a result, and my core political beliefs;
  • What sort of Prime Minister I plan to be; and
  • My broad aspirations for New Zealand.

That was a week ago, but who noticed?

We are going to need to confront, honestly, the challenge ahead.

That means the election will be about:

  • Which of us – the Prime Minister or me – has the team and background to get you, your families and your communities through the economic and unemployment crisis ahead;
  • Which party has the best track record in creating more jobs; and
  • Which party has the record in building a better economy, while caring for the welfare of every New Zealander.

New Zealanders trust National Governments to come to power at times of economic crisis, and to steer New Zealand safely through them.

That’s what the John Key led National government did fairly successfully (dealing with the New Zealand recession and the Global Financial Crisis), but Key was a widely popular leader.

I will build on the fundamental economic, financial and commercial strengths of the last National Government as we face an even more terrible crisis, later in the year and beyond.

My job, over the next three months, is to earn the trust of New Zealanders:

  • For my commercial experience at the most senior levels of Zespri, Fonterra and Apata; and
  • For my background and values on which I will draw, when making judgment calls as Prime Minister, as we work together, to build a better economy out of the crisis.

This may have been aimed more at trying to convince political journalists that Muller was a serious challenger.

The economy I see is the economy you live in – the economy in your community:

  • Your job,
  • Your high street,
  • Your marae,
  • Your local sports club,
  • Your school or kura,
  • Your business,
  • Your home, and
  • Your families.

It’s going to take a lot to get this across to the wider public.

One thing that will never change is that, for me, what makes a family is love.

You can have the most traditional family structure, as we did, yet if you do not have love, you are not a family at all.

But a family with love:

  • A traditional mum-dad-and-kids family;
  • A wider whanau of grandparents, grandkids, aunties, uncles and cousins;
  • A family where the two parents no longer live together but share the parenting in different homes;
  • A family with one parent;
  • A blended family;
  • A family where it’s mum-and-mum or dad-and-dad;
  • Two people who love one another, and
  • Single people whose families might be dispersed around the world …

If these have love, then each is a family like any other.

Muller is trying to appeal to everyone here, but no one really listened.

I support New Zealand’s basic macroeconomic framework that was put in place from the mid-1980s, and which remains broadly supported across parties.

That is, I believe in:

  • An open and competitive economy;
  • A broad-based, low-rate tax system;
  • An independent central bank with the primary goal of price stability;
  • The book-keeping rules of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, now part of the Public Finance Act; and
  • Voluntary unionism and a flexible labour market, underpinned since 2000 by good faith.

Maintaining a firm and disciplined commitment to this basic macroeconomic framework is absolutely fundamental to our recovery from Covid-19.

By this stage of his speech (in printed form) there had been 43 bullet points. This looks like a scatter gun approach hoping something will be highlighted out of this, but it shows a lack of focus.

After several other lists I glazed over, Muller seems to get to the business end of his very long message:

My job, in the 2020s, is to make sure that, at the end of this crisis, your family is not just left with the $140 billion loan Labour is taking out against your future earnings, but that we have:

  • Protected you through the economic and unemployment crisis, and immediately created the conditions for tens of thousands of real, permanent full-time jobs;
  • Finally addressed long-term social deprivation, with the urgency applied to the economic crises a generation ago;
  • Finally built the first-world road and public transport infrastructure New Zealand needs;
  • Backed our families, and rebuilt the fabric of our communities;
  • Restored our Government’s books so there’s more money for schools, hospitals, housing, mental health, addiction services, cancer screening programmes and treatments;
  • A stronger social safety net;
  • And, built a better economy for all of us.

These things are urgent.

By now zzzzzz.

My passion in politics is that all of us can choose our own paths and stand tall as New Zealanders in whatever we seek to do, fulfilling our own dreams and our own potentials.

My passion is that we all feel confident in our nation and its place in the world.

We should all feel grounded in a nation of remarkable natural beauty that we all take care of.

We should be grounded in a history to which we are all reconciled, and in our families and communities in all their different forms.

We should live our lives with genuine love for our country and neighbours, so that we help pick one another up at those times that we all have, when we need help.

This is my vision. That is what I believe in. That is what will guide me as Prime Minister.

Most voters just want to know what’s in it for them.

Someone else once said: “Let’s do this”.

I say: “Sure. But you need a National Government to get it done”.

Sure. or something.

Muller is going to have to say a lot more than this in far fewer words if he is going to get across to voters.

Clearly at this stage the election is Labour’s to win or lose. Only if they or the economy stuffs up badly are voters likely to vote more for whoever leads the other party.

Muller’s move centre may divide National

Todd Muller gave a speech yesterday in an attempt to position his leadership of National – “kind, competent and bold” – in the political centre, but he is struggling to be seen as competent or bold, and he will have problems competing with Jacinda Ardern on kindness.

National’s official promo of his speech: Todd Muller outlines National’s first term priorities

Creating tens of thousands of new full-time jobs and building a better economy than before the Covid-19 crisis will be National’s top priorities in its first term, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller told his home community of Te Puna today.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Te Puna Rugby Club, referencing everything from his high-level foreign policy priorities to water management policy, Mr Muller said his Government’s approach to day-to-day economic management would be based on that of his friends, colleagues and mentors, the Rt Hon. Sir John Key, the Rt Hon. Sir Bill English and the Hon. Steven Joyce.

“The story of the next three years will initially be about a desperate attempt to protect all our families from the worst effects of the worst economic downturn any of us has ever known – and then it will be about building a better economy than we had before.

“New Zealanders trust National Governments to come to power at times of economic crisis and to steer New Zealand safely through them.

“However proud we are of how our Team of Five Million addressed the health crisis, we cannot risk a Labour Government being in charge of the economic and unemployment crisis ahead.”

Mr Muller said he backed his strong National Party team over the Prime Minister’s clumsy and incompetent ministers to get New Zealand through the crisis.

According to Infometrics, 40,000 jobs were destroyed in the first wave of the economic and unemployment crisis in April, to be followed by another 80,000 in the second wave before the election. A third wave is also expected before Christmas, which Mr Muller fears will be the worst of all.

“Around 120,000 families will have lost their income by the election and it will be worse by Christmas,” he said.

“National’s prudent economic management, plus our new initiatives like JobStart, will immediately create the conditions for tens of thousands of new real, permanent full-time jobs.

“The practice of the last 20 years of working groups flying around before governments get on with helping New Zealanders is over. The game’s up, because Covid-19 has shown us that the Wellington bureaucracy can in fact move much faster when it needs to.”

They are promoting this coverage:

.

The Spinoff Bulletin: Muller makes his pitch for the middle

The pitch was very much one aimed at the middle of the electorate. Among the commitments, the NZ Herald reports he promised to never either raise taxes or cut benefits if elected, and signalled continued investment in social services and the welfare safety net. It’s not exactly stuff that will set the world on fire, and is arguably pretty indistinguishable from the sitting government, but it’s good to have on the record all the same.

After the setup, Muller got to his main point – he argued that National will be much better at managing the recovery than the incumbent government. In the pitch, the reason for that was not so much ideological and being based on competency – Muller said that the government had a poor record of delivering on big projects.

This sounds like same old from National.

There was also something of an olive branch to Māori. Muller was clear that he saw the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document, discussed the connections between tino rangatiratanga and his party’s view of the world, and talked up the work of Whānau Ora by the last government. In this area, the speech was in sharp contrast to previous efforts by National leaders to define themselves, such as Don Brash’s infamous Orewa speech in 2004. It may not necessarily matter though, as many of Muller’s early controversies have been pretty tone-deaf in this area, most notably the selection of an all-Pākehā caucus top-10.

And this won’t help:

So Muller is going one way politically, but much of his party may be heading in a different direction. 

Politiik: Muller goes one way; his party another

National’s new leader Todd Muller set out yesterday to answer critics who had charged that his “Make America Great Again” cap and the absence of any Maori on his new front bench pointed to him being tone-deaf on racial matters. But within hours of him making a speech in his home town of Te Puna  in front of a Tina Rangatiratanga flag, his party was once again rejecting one of its ethnic MPs for an electorate nomination.

The party’s candidate for the heavily Polynesian South Auckland new electorate of Takanini is a Sydney-born Lebanese who migrated to New Zealand eight years ago, Rima Nakhle. Ms Nakhle beat Samoan sitting list MP, Agnes Loheni for the selection.

This is the second time this election cycle that National has passed over a sitting list MP of colour for selection.

Newman is a controversial figure within the National Party and was rejected at the pre-selection stage for his own bid to get the Hunua nomination in 2014. (The National Party conducts  pre-selection interviews  with candidates and checks their backgrounds before they send a shortlist of candidates to a selection meeting.) Newman enjoys the support of right-wing blogger Cameron (“Whaleoil”) Slater and since his own defeat in 2014 has become known within the party as an effective organiser capable of marshalling the number of delegates needed to gain a nomination.

Predictable Slater continues his anti-National campaign today: No Point in Voting National, They’re Just like Labour. He has an obvious agenda and a lot of spite.

Harman:

What makes the events at Takinino potentially worrying for the party is that they would seem to fly in the face of the image of National that Muller presented at Te Puna.

Helensville MP, Chris Penk, who is a social-conservative and Bridges supporter, has just published a 130-page book which is predominantly an attack on the way the Government managed the Covid-19 lockdown. But Penk also defends Bridges and the confrontational approach he adopted during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Muller’s decision to move the party to the left, closer to the centre, makes perfect strategic sense. It means he can now contest Labour from the centrist vote knowing that ACT can absorb some of the right-wing votes that might previously have gone to National.

But whether the party members at large or even some of the caucus understand this yet, is another matter.

Muller seems to have a long way to go to win over his own party let alone the political centre.

Those who are listening to him (or at least commenting on him) seem to be disgruntled people who will never be happy with National or any party that isn’t hard right, while big centre vote is unlikely to be very interested in what Muller says. It could be a tough campaign for him.