Balanced politics, and unbalanced Stuff

On the eve of the election Stuff has a very unbalanced political page, favouring Winston Peters, Labour and Greens.


And that is negative for National and TOP.

The Herald is more general and more balanced:


Very balanced at RNZ:


Very good to see information for voters prominent at Newshub:


The two large parties dominate at 1 News:


The Spinoff features the last pre-election poll from Newshub (asimilar result to Colmar Brunton) plus general election information.


Newsroom focuses on Maori (not positively), Labour and the Greens.

Overall today’s election coverage looks very balanced, apart from Stuff in particular and also Newsroom.


Newshub/Reid Research – pre-election poll

The last Newshub/Reid Research poll before the election:

  • National 45.8% (last week 47.3)
  • Labour 37.3% (last week 37.8)
  • NZ First 7.1% (last week 6.0)
  • Greens 7.1% (last week 4.9)
  • TOP 0.9% (last week 1.6)
  • Maori Party 0.4% (last week 1.1)
  • ACT 0.6% (last week 0.6)

This is quite similar to last night’s Colmar Brunton poll as well as being similar to last week’s Reid Research poll, with the only slight but possibly significant difference is NZ First coming back up a bit out of the threshold zone.

As we’ve known for a long time the election looks like being close and could go either way with a number of coalition possibilities remaining in play.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 29.6% (last week 31.1)
  • Bill English  34.7% (last week 33.1)
  • Winston Peters 7.1% (last week 6.9)

The last poll was conducted 6-11 September. Margin of error of 3.1%.

Newshub election poll: Either National, Labour could take power

Stupid headline – no single party has been able to ‘take power’ under MMP.

Poll: ‘The Big Issues’

In their recent poll Newshub/Reid Research respondents “were asked to rank the issues most important to them in this election, from seven major subject areas” – New Zealand’s top election concerns

This is a simplistic result – “the issue ranked most important to voters”:

That is a limited list, and gives no indication how much people are concerned about the issues. For example many people could be nearly as concerned about housing, the environment and money as about health. So this is a fairly rough indication of what people see as the big issues.

Here are party comparisons:


For some reason they did not include a NZ First breakdown.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – huge reversal

The latest Newshub/Reid Research poll results show a huge reversal on the last Colmar Brunton polls.

Newshub: National could govern alone in latest Newshub poll

  • National 47.3% (last RR 43.3, last CB 39)
  • Labour 37.8% (last RR 39.4, last CB 43)
  • NZ First 6.0% (last RR 6.6, last CB 9)
  • Greens 4.9% (last RR 6.1, last CB 5)
  • TOP 1.6% (last RR 1.9, last CB 1.9)
  • Maori Party 1.1% (last RR 1.0, last CB 2.0)
  • ACT 0.6% (last RR 0.6, last CB )


All the pundits will be busy revising all their scenarios.

But Patrick Gower is right about a key thing – party support appears to be volatile. Things could easily change over the next 11 days, although advance voting started yesterday.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 31.7% (last RR 29.9, last CB 35)
  • Bill English  33.1% (last RR 30.1, last CB 31)
  • Winston Peters 6.9% (last RR 6.9, last CB 5)

The poll was conducted 6-11 September and has a margin of error of 3.1%.

The last Reid Research (RR) poll was conducted 22-30 August.
The last Colmar Brunton (CB) poll was conducted 2-6 September.


Reactions to leaders debate #2

It was a Newshub run debate so I’ll start with them – Newshub Leaders Debate: Who won?

Media seemed obsessed with who ‘won’. Each debate is just one part of a month-long campaign.

The leaders were quicker off the mark and shed some of the starchy politeness of the previous leaders debate.

While there was some dissent over who won the debate, the bulk of Newshub’s panel gave the night to Ms Ardern.

Morgan Godfrey said Ms Ardern felt like the Prime Minister in waiting, saying the reason was because “she got to speak about vision and values”.

Fairfax’s Tracy Watkins said Ms Ardern was “not as nervous” this time around, but said both Ms Ardern and Mr English “came out firing.”

In a column Watkins wrote “This time we have a genuine bare knuckle contest on our hands” – see Jacinda Ardern and Bill English both passionate and fired up

But commentator Matthew Hooton said Mr English won the debate with his commitment to reduce child poverty.  “Bill English’s historic announcement that he wants to reduce child poverty by 100,000 in about two and a half years was the most major and important aspect of the debate,” he said.

Hooton seemed uncomfortable in what otherwise looked like an Ardern fan club panel.

And he was wrong on this – it wasn’t an ‘historic announcement’. English made it clear that legislation was already in place that would enable 50,000 kids to be lifted out of poverty, all he did was commit to lifting another 50,000 in a few years if there was enough money.

Annabelle Lee from Three’s The Hui said Ms Ardern was the winner. “It’s one thing to be relentlessly positive. It’s another to debate with compassion and conviction as she did tonight,” Ms Lee said.

Lee is obviously a fan of Ardern, as many are, but I saw more repeat rhetoric than passion.

As Mike Yardley says at Stuff: Labour and Ardern big on rhetoric, short on substance

Labour’s campaign tactics bare an uncanny resemblance to the dumbed-down simplicity that swept Donald Trump to an improbable victory. Not that they’d ever admit it. It’s all about sloganeering and threadbare policies. “Better healthcare, better schools, better jobs . . .”

But beyond the aspirational rhetoric, the sizzle and soundbites, the substance is glaringly lacking – just as it was for Trump. Labour has opted to paper over its policy detail dearth, by simply fire-hosing its election platform with $19 billion in new spending.

Ardern talks a big game on being “clear and transparent”. Show us your hand then. It’s time to walk it with courage, conviction and clarity.

But one could say that Ardern is ‘lying by omission’ about her refusal to commit on Labour’s tax plans other than saying she will take advice from an undefined expert group.

Stacey Kirk:  In a numbers game Bill English has the edge, but Ardern no pushover

Explaining is losing, but not by much. And Jacinda Ardern spent part of the second leaders debate on the back foot, largely unable to dig deep into her party’s numbers to explain their spending plan – effectively only able to “stand by it”.

Knowledge of fiscal and economic matters is one thing, but an innate sense of how it all intertwines only comes with time and experience.

English was banking on it and capitalised when he tore apart Labour’s Kiwibuild policy based on their immigration plan. Ardern claimed 5000 Kiwibuild visas would be enough to fill the 56,000 builders apparently short to build the number of homes needed.

She had no response to how the other 51,000 construction jobs would be filled.

He also perhaps can be awarded the line of the night, after being asked how he was different now to when he lead National to a record defeat in 2002.

“I got back up.” It was aspirational – much more so than the much-used “I don’t accept” prefix, Ardern has taken to beginning her sentences with.

Ardern had her own one-two punch though, straight to the heart of English’s hallowed Social Investment policy: “It’s called early intervention and Labour was built on it”.

If there was a deadlock to be broken it wasn’t in the Newshub leaders debate, but voters did get a sense of how the two leaders handled themselves under pressure.

Stuff: Who won the second leaders debate?

Associate Professor Grant Duncan, who teaches political theory and New Zealand politics at Massey University’s Albany campus, called a win for Ardern.

“Indeed, she was more confident and more visionary on most questions, for instance abortion and home affordability. Bill struggled too often. Jacinda won.”

A policy analyst at the New Zealand Initiative, Janesa Jeram said English won this one — just.

“Ardern held English to account on the housing crisis and homelessness under his watch, while English managed to land some blows on Labour’s tax and immigration policies.

“Crucially, and what swung it for me, was Ardern backing herself in the same corner as John Key when it comes to superannuation, and struggling to assure New Zealanders of how Labour’s tax policy will affect them.”

Political commentator Liam Hehir said: “Bill English won the debate through greater mastery and communication of details.

“[Ardern] was good at stating her values, but too often it looked like she was returning to this as a crutch. Ardern was rattled at times and this one goes to the Prime Minister.”

Stuffs non-scientific online survey “Who won the debate?”:

  • Bill English 54%
  • Jacinda Ardern 40%
  • It was a draw 6%

NZH: The verdicts on Bill English vs Jacinda Ardern second leaders’ debate

Audrey Young: Bill English

English showed some determination to take the fight to Ardern – and even the unflappable Ardern was flapped under some pressure over her answers on housing.

Liam Dann: Jacinda Ardern

Ardern was stronger this time. She still struggles with two big holes in Labour policy – ill-defined tax plans and a belief that you can slash immigration and build more houses.

English was forced to interrupt, at risk of appearing overly aggressive. He had his moments and made a big bold call on child poverty. But he was on the back foot.

Toby Manhire: Bill English

English and Ardern comfortably beat their Thursday selves. It was a bigger risk for English, and if at worst he was interrupty and condescending, at best it looked passionate.

Ardern was better, too, but if anything there was too much values and vision and “how people feel” – she’s so far ahead of her opponent on this stuff that laying it on so thick starts getting mawkish.

English edged it tonight, but it could come back to bite.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Split decision

English’s winning moment came when he got angry. He argued for solid projects over Ardern’s “vision”.

Ardern’s moment came when she sounded less like a politician and more like a human.

If it was a boxing match, Ardern won the first half, English took out the second.

The NZH unscientific online survey: Who do you think won tonight’s second leaders’ debate?

  • Bill English 51%
  • Jacinda Ardern 39%
  • Don’t know – too close to call 39%

RNZ:  Leaders debate: The greatest hits

Leaders debate #2

Tonight Jacinda Ardern and Bill English have their second leaders debate of the campaign.

This one is being run by Patrick Gower and Newshub, and is being broadcast at 8:30 pm, and will also be live streamed:

Livestream: Newshub Leaders Debate

The first debate last Thursday seemed like a feeler for both of them. There could be more tactics used tonight.

First segment done – a lot feistier this time, more challenging of each other’s policies. Also too much rehearsed recital from both but it’s hard to limit that.

Most talked about line – when English was asked what his best attribute was for being Prime Minister, excluding experience, given he lost badly in 2002.  “I got back up again.”

The clapping and cheering interruptions are annoying, stopping the flow.

Certainly more combative this time.

The main difference overall is ploddy old actuals versus vague aspiration and vision.

Newshub/Reid Research poll

The latest Newshub/Reid Research poll:

  • National 43.3% (-1.1)
  • Labour 39.4% (+6.3)
  • NZ First 6.6% (-2.6)
  • Greens 6.1% (-2.2)
  • TOP 1.9%
  • Maori Party 1.0%
  • ACT Party 0.6%

National are either still ahead or have nudged ahead again, but Labour are close (within margin or error territory).

Greens aren’t down as far as they have been in other polls recently.

NZ First are still slipping, as is Peters.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 30.1% (+2.4)
  • Jacinda Ardern 29.9% (+3.6)
  • Winston Peters 6.9% (-3.1)

Both English and Ardern have risen a bit since the last Reid research poll, but English has maintained a lead, just.

The poll was conducted from August 22-30, 2017 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.


The Peters denial (before his admission)

In Saturday Lloyd Burr from Newshub asked Winston Peters about whether he had more superannuation than he was entitled to.

The audio is here: Winston Peters’ shifting story over pension overpayment


Winston Peters: “I know the circumstances, I know who the hell, who filled the form out I know all that stuff, but I don’t know why on Earth you’re making this enquiry.”

Lloyd Burr: “Well, it’s just that you’re not giving me a straight-up answer, that’s why I’m keeping on asking about it.”

Winston Peters: “I’m giving you a straight-up answer. I don’t know who the hell your informant is but he doesn’t know what day it is.”

Lloyd Burr: “So it’s a no from you. That you haven’t claimed more pension.”

Winston Peters: “No, no, no, no. Nobody is going to call me up on this one of these sort of classic questions which is ‘have you stopped beating your wife’ type stuff. No one responds to that sort of stuff.”

Lloyd Burr: “I’m not ask… I mean this is a bit different.”

Winston Peters: “In this campaign I’ve been called this that everything else and I decided I am not going to answer respond to any of this sort of crap at all.”

Lloyd Burr: “With respect Mr Peters, why are you getting so defensive about this?”

Winston Peters: “I’ve got nothing to say at all.”

Lloyd Burr: “So you’re not even going to deny it, you’re not going to rule it out.”

Winston Peters:”I’m not going to have any comment to make about people running around making malicious statements about Winston Peters.”

Lloyd Burr: “It would be wrong of me if I didn’t go to…”

Winston Peters:”I’m keeping straight on my job. I am not going to give you any answers at all.”

Lloyd Burr: “Why not? If it didn’t happen, why can’t you just rule it out?”

Winston Peters:”Simply because I’m not going to respond to malicious statements which are not true. I’ll say to you one more time real slow Lloyd, you’re not going to get any response from me at all.”

That’s classic Peters indignation and denial. However last night he changed his stance somewhat when he put out a media statement.

A Mistake That Was Fixed

Some media contacts have called to alert me about a possible story about superannuation.

“From what I can glean it is about the following:

• In early 2010 I applied for superannuation, in the company of my partner, and in the presence of a senior official at the Ministry of Social Development.

“In July of this year, I was astonished to receive a letter from the Ministry to advise there was an error in my superannuation allowance and a request that I meet with them.

“I immediately contacted and met the area manager of MSD.

“It was unclear on both sides how the error had occurred leading to a small fortnightly overpayment.

“Suffice to say, we agreed there had been an error.

• Within 24 hours the error and overpayment had been corrected by me.

• I subsequently received a letter from the area manager thanking me for my prompt attention and confirming that the matter was concluded to the Ministry’s satisfaction.

So Peters has now admitted a mistake had been made.

What he hasn’t admitted is what mistake had been made, and who made the mistake.

If this was another MP (that wasn’t from NZ First) Peters would be likely to have a quite different view of the importance of a mistake in the amount of superannuation made for (apparently) seven years, since Peters reached the age of eligibility.

It seems that the most likely reason for an incorrect payment relates to having a spouse or partner.


The current online application information is clear:


The current form is also clear:


Household information:


And obligations are made clear regarding partners:


There is also a Partner’s residence Form that needs to be filled out of the partner is not receiving superannuation.

Obligations are also clear regarding partners.


If a genuine mistake had been made by MSD then it would have been politically smart for peters to have been up front and open about the mistake being identified and rectified.

It justifiably would have raised questions about why Peters wasn’t aware he was being paid at the same rate. Super levels is the issue that Peters has championed more than anything else so one could assume he should know what the categories and levels of payment were.

We will see what else comes out about this.

UPDATE – from Newsroom: Co-habiting Peters billed $18,000

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters took higher superannuation payments than he was entitled to for seven years – while living with his de facto partner – and has been required to pay back $18,000 to the state.

Peters filled out forms when he turned 65 that qualified him for the single person’s superannuation rate, which is about $60 a week higher in this case than a person would receive if declared to be living with a partner, which he was.

The Labour Party made clear it could not have Turei, who took benefits greater than she was entitled to, serve in a future coalition cabinet. Peters and New Zealand First are potential Labour allies.

I’m sure Labour would like NZ First taken out of the coalition equation.

Peters and partner Jan Trotman live together in a dress circle, $2.65 million St Mary’s Bay home. Her application, on turning 65, for superannuation is said to have brought the discrepancy to the Ministry of Social Development’s attention. Newsroom understands Trotman had to say if she was single, married or in a de facto relationship. The information was cross-referenced and Peters’ lack of entitlement to the sum he was receiving was discovered.

It is not clear why that higher figure was not noticed – by Peters – over all seven years, given his deep knowledge of and commitment to superannuation.

Peters disputed claims in this article but wouldn’t offer any alternative facts.


Who has the better skill set to run the country?

More from the Newshub/Reid Research polling:

Who has the better skill set to run the country?

English: “My skills have been tried and tested – that’s for sure. But the big opportunity ahead is to build on what we’ve achieved”.

Ardern:: “I would expect the Prime Minister to have some home ground advantage.”

Obviously English is a lot more experienced at running the country, all incumbents are, but sooner or later voters prefer a change.

Is Jacinda Ardern old enough to be Prime Minister?

  • Yes 79%
  • No 17%
  • Don’t know 4%

Silly question. Of the 17% who voted ‘No’ many of them may just not like Ardern. Ardern has been an MP for 9 years and has prior political experience to that.

Is Bill English too old to be Prime Minister? Is Winston Peters too old to try to be Prime Minister? Just as irrelevant.

Of the 44.4% who supported National:

  • Female 46%
  • Male 54%

That’s a fairly even split, leaning slightly toward male support.

Ardern has strong support from women. Of the 33.1% who supported Labour:

  • Female 63%
  • Male 37%

Labour support ‘when Andrew little was leader’:

  • Female 55%
  • Male 45%

This suggests that the initial surge of support for Labour is from female voters. This isn’t really surprising.

What Newshub don’t reveal is the gender split for other parties. The total remaining:

  • Total 22.5%
  • Female 13.8%
  • Male 8.7%

NZ First + Greens totalled 17.5% with 5% supporting other parties.

I thought that women tended to favour the Greens, if so this suggests that either NZ First support heavily leans male, or the other party support is almost all male.

From: Newshub poll: Women key driver behind Jacinda Ardern’s surge


From: Newshub’s poll data bank

Newshub/Reid Research poll

The latest (July 2017) Newshub/Reid Research poll:

  • National 44.4% (-0.8)
  • Labour 33.1% (+9.0)
  • NZ First 9.2%  (-3.8)
  • Greens 8.3% (-4.7)
  • TOP 2.0
  • Maori Party 1.5%
  • ACT Party 0.6%
  • United Future 0.1%

A big move up for Labour. Game on.

National are hanging in there.

A big drop for Greens, and this won’t fully take into account what has happened over the past few days, Especially Turei’s resignation as co-leader.

And quite a bit down for NZ First too.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 27.7% (up 1.9)
  • Jacinda Ardern 26.3% (up 17.6)
  • Winston Peters 10.0 (down 1.9)

A huge jump up for Ardern.

Labour will be rapt. National will be more concerned. Greens will be dreading the next poll.

Talking of which, UMR reportedly has Greens down from 15 to 8, and Labour up from 23 to 36%.