Mad voters versus markets

Rod Emmerson on voters who are mad:

A mad mad world – the rise of the UP YOURS vote – my cover for today’s

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Also at the Herald Liam Dann goes one mad more: It’s a mad, mad world

From Britain, to the US to Australia, voters are punishing politicians. Why the anger and what does it mean for markets?

Even after the shock result, financial markets could have shrugged off the Brexit vote, says Greg Peacock, chief investment officer for investment fund NZAM.

But despite what the stock exchange numbers might suggest, they haven’t. Instead, there is growing unease about what happens next as a new wave of political volatility spreads across the Western world.

The UK is in turmoil, Australia is in turmoil. Who is next? Donald Trump and the US elections are looming large. Then there is Italy, where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has offered angry voters the chance to chuck him out with a referendum on political reform in October. And what about New Zealand – could we follow the trend?

“What we are seeing is a push back against, some would say, the whole post-World War II movement – globalisation and free trade,” Peacock says.

What does this mean in New Zealand? The deepening discontent doesn’t seem to have reached us yet to any extent, apart from a lift in poll support for NZ First.

Mark Lister, head of research at Craigs Investment Partners, says “the Brexit was a wake-up call for politicians and investors and I think we’ll see plenty more of it.

“It’s simply a reflection of the fact so many people feel like they are missing out on their share of the boom.”

We’re used to hearing this kind of thing from left-wing commentators and politicians. But neither Peacock nor Lister has a political axe to grind. Their analysis is matter-of-fact and born of concerns for investors.

So how will investors react? The property bubble is likely to at least plateau and possibly burst in the not to distant future.

Auckland University professor of macroeconomics Prasanna Gai has worked for the Bank of England, Bank of Canada and advised our Reserve Bank. Nearly 10 years on from the global financial crisis we are still suffering the fallout, he says. And there are echoes of the 1930s.

We have allowed central banks to “shoulder all the burden” and politicians’ failure to confront the big structural issues may be coming back to bite them.

“You’ve got a confluence of three factors,” he says. “Firstly, productivity growth everywhere is unusually low. That’s a consequence of a misallocation of resources in the boom which preceded the global financial crisis.”

Then there is debt.

“Global debt levels are at historically high levels … because debt has served as a substitute for income growth pretty much everywhere.” Then you have the central banks with very little room left to move and “a substantial rise in economic uncertainty as well as policy uncertainty.”

What we are seeing is “protectionist discontent”, he says.

So where to from here.

…people are looking for political leaders who promise to put their local interests first even if that might not be in their greater long-term interests.

…economic concerns lurk. We have already seen global trade declining for about 18 months, Peacock says.

There is a risk of political uncertainty extending and exacerbating that trend.
“So you look round the world and say which economies are vulnerable to global trade,” Peacock says, “China is top of the list.”

That is ominous for New Zealand, which is increasingly reliant on China. It’s a connection that has in many ways buffered us from the worst of the post-GFC economic mess.

So far in New Zealand, political revolt hasn’t been big a factor, Peacock says. “But if you saw NZ First rising in the polls it wouldn’t be a great surprise.”

NZ First has already risen in the polls and is abnormally high for this time of the electoral cycle – recently their support has surged leading in to an election.

Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland associate professor in politics and international relations, points out that we have already seen one example of revolt with the Northland by-election – where voters handed the Government a resounding defeat.

“Peters is the perfect kind of centrist, protest party independent style candidate,” Curtin says. “He has the power of rhetoric and the charisma to draw people to him from both the Left and the Right.”

I doubt that there are many people who seriously think that Peters and NZ First can do anything significant about sorting out housing or the economy, Peters is simply adept at attracting protest votes – the ‘pox on all the parties’ vote.

But in the US, the UK and Australia people aren’t voting for who might be best able to manage things, as Emmerson shows it is the UP YOURS vote that is on the rise, even though people know it is promoting people who look like they are more likely to make things worse rather than better.

At the moment it is looking like Peters will be holding the balance of power after the next election.

But this is a relatively quickly evolving situation internationally, so how things look to voters now may be nothing like how they look to voters leading into the next election.

We will have seen perhaps a year of an Australian Government with teetering support.

And the US president will be the status quo establishment Clinton (that may want to rebel against) or the anything goes Donald Trump.

And the UK will have elected a new Government as well.

Lastly, will Peters last the distance? He is a shadow of his former self in Parliament. He may be waning, or he may be marking time saving himself for another big campaign next year.

At least we don’t have to worry about political upheaval here while the world goes mad around us.

Evidence of outcomes on Whānau Ora

Parliament can often be seen as a morass of mundicity punctuated by gross grandstanding and bursts of bull.

But occasionally it can be entertaining. Like question 11 on Thursday. It had some typical nit-picky points of order from Trevor Mallard and Winston Peters but the latter ended up being quietly outsmarted by Te Ururoa Flavell.

This interchange has an unexpected family twist in it’s tail. (Thanks for pointing this out Gezza).


Whānau Ora—Evidence of Outcomes

11. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: What evidence, if any, does he have that Whānau Ora is making any meaningful impact for Māori whatsoever other than anecdotal evidence and conversations he has had?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Whānau Ora): Actually, it is good to go and meet with the people who are actually benefiting from Whānau Ora, but I can advise the House that the evidence comes from at least 10 publicly available reports that all speak of the benefits and the outcomes achieved by the Whānau Ora approach. In phase one of Whānau Ora at least 9,400 whānau received whānau-centred services until June 2014. Since Whānau Ora commissioning agencies have been established, Whānau Ora commissioning agencies reporting on engagement and achievement as at March 2016 show that over 8,500 whānau have been supported through Whānau Ora in all sorts of ways, such as health outcomes, financial literacy, education, and economic security. There is plenty out there. I would table it, but I know that is against the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has become clear that there is a misunderstanding of the Standing Orders. The Minister can, of course, table any paper that he wants, at any stage—he is a Minister. Even if it is a public document, any Minister can table it. In fact, many of the documents Ministers do table are public. They do not require the consent of the House the way other members do.

Mr SPEAKER: And if the member seeks the leave, I have a discretion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have got a list of 12 of those reports. I am happy to read all of them out in order to achieve—

Mr SPEAKER: No. No, I want the point of order.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The point of order is: I wish to table these documents.

Mr SPEAKER: Are they publicly available?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: They are publicly available.

Mr SPEAKER: Then I am not going to put that leave.

Darroch Ball: Why has he not commissioned or released one single independent report or economic analysis on Whānau Ora since July 2014, instead of relying upon anecdotal evidence to measure progress and outputs?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will start by saying that a number of reports have been commissioned and are available publicly. Let us start with the Productivity Commission. I will quote the Productivity Commission, which said in its report: “The Commission finds that Whānau Ora shows much promise to tackle long-standing issues for improving Māori wellbeing. Its kaupapa Māori approach is especially important to Māori wellbeing. It has many of the characteristics required for a devolved model to promote integrated services for families with multiple, complex needs and aspirations.” I have got another one—Office of the Auditor-General. I have got Ministry of Health—I have got them all.

Joanne Hayes: What announcements has the Minister made recently to support the economic outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have more good news. Whānau Ora is committed to empowering whānau to achieve—one of its goals is better economic outcomes. Today, along with my colleague the Hon Peter Goldsmith, I was pleased to announce the allocation of $900,000—

Hon Members: Ha, ha! Paul!

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Sorry, Mr Speaker. Sorry, Paul.

Mr SPEAKER: Carry on, quickly.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I offer my apologies to my colleague Paul Goldsmith.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. [Interruption] That is not a point of order. Now quickly bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I am just pleased to announce $900,000 to improve the financial capability—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How much?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: —amongst Māori. It is more than you have got, Mr Peters, for Māori communities—$900,000 more.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Point of order on two grounds: first of all, he cannot bring you into the debate; the second thing is I got $239 million—not like he got.

Mr SPEAKER: I am not interested in the second part of the—[Interruption] Order! I am not interested in the second part of the point of order, and for the first part I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 31/3. If I am brought into the debate—and often it is accidental—I will intervene if I need to. It is my determination, not the Rt Hon Winston Peters’.

Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document that has been obtained through the Official Information Act and is dated 13 August 2015. The source is Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), and it states there are no independent reports or economic analysis commissioned by TPK.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Darroch Ball: What evidence has he presented to the Minister of Finance for Whānau Ora funding when the Government’s social investment approach demands measurable data and measurable outcomes before continuing to spend taxpayers’ money?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The Minister of Finance is available on the Whānau Ora Partnership Group and receives all of the reports from commissioning agencies on a quarterly basis. He receives those reports. Secondly, all of the reports from commissioning agencies are available online on the website and are public documents. Anyone can read them and there is plenty of evidence out there.

Joanne Hayes: How does the announcement support the Government’s national strategy on financial capability?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Last year the Government signalled that improving the financial well-being of all New Zealanders was a priority. The upscaling of these pioneering Māori pilot programmes reinforces our ongoing commitment to this goal. We know that the Government needs to provide three things in order to steer people away from getting trapped in the cycle of debt and poor financial decisions. The three things are effective legislation, proper enforcement, and improved education. This will certainly contribute to that.

Darroch Ball: When is going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent this year alone, more than half of all homeless—

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, next week is Māori Language Week. My ears are little bit sore with “Maari”—I would ask the member to pronounce it properly as Māori.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is starting to trifle with the Chamber. The question is a provocative question, it is likely to get a provocative answer, but it has been asked.

Darroch Ball: I have not finished my question.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member better hurry up and finish it. To be fair to the member, I invite him to start the question again as he has now lost his continuity.

Darroch Ball: When is he going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayer money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent in this year alone, more than half of all homeless in Wellington are Māori, and 40 percent of those of all those on social housing waiting lists are Māori—

Mr SPEAKER: The question is too long.

Darroch Ball: —and Māori youth—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will help the member. On reflection, I have a quote from a chief executive officer of at least one Whānau Ora provider from Northland who told the media in 2015: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services”—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister was asked “when is he”. It was not asked whether he could go somewhere else and seek refuge. It asked him for a personal answer, and he is not giving it.

Mr SPEAKER: The question, effectively, was “When is the Minister going to realise it is a complete waste of money?”. That gives a very wide ambit for the Minister to then answer the question. Members may not like the answer they are getting; I suggest they reconsider the type of questions they ask. The Hon Te Uruora Flavell—bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Firstly, I say again I reject that allegation in the first instance. Secondly, I say again—

Darroch Ball: Where’s the evidence?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will give you the evidence right now—from somebody involved in Whānau Ora. It is the chief executive officer of Whānau Ora, and they said: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services to meet the needs of the people,” That person was Lynette Stewart, the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am just waiting until I can hear it in silence because I am sure it is going to be interesting.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Every family has a member who loses their way.

Mr SPEAKER: And some families have more than others.

Joanne Hayes: What further reports has he had in relation to Whānau Ora’s success in Northland?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have pretty much given the evidence. As the honourable member just said, there is evidence around, and the evidence is the statement I just gave to the House—that the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister was a chief executive officer of a provider of Whānau Ora.

 

“Abuse the hell out of them!”

Clare Trevett suggests that Labour should Be careful what you wish for

After five years as the Invisible Man’s doppelganger, Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene has finally broken out.

The trigger was the Budget tax on smoking. His chosen dance floor was Twitter. In person, Tirikatene is a shambling, genial, diffident character. It was akin to watching the Incredible Hulk hulk out.

Tirikatene came to athe attention, including me – see Rino Tirikatene on Twitter

He started by saying the Maori Party “are slowly turning Aotearoa into a kuia state”. On and on he went, using the hashtag #kuiastate (Nanny State) for each tweet.

He was only goaded further when Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox pointed out that Labour was in fact voting for this “kuia state” measure.

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The reason for the flurry was a prod from his leader to lift his game. He did it so effectively he ended up being told to rein it in again.

Labour might want to be careful what it wishes for. At the moment, the Maori Party is the enemy because it is in Government. Even worse, it is in Government with the National Party.

Yet the Maori Party could end up being the solution to a tricky problem for Labour. There are scenarios in which the Maori Party could give Labour and the Greens the extra numbers they need to get into Government without having to go to Winston Peters. Andrew Little could well find himself bracing to knock on the Maori Party’s door, come 2017.

The Maori Party could end up ‘holding the balance of power’, in which case it’s probably likely they would choose to go left rather than right.

But it could get complicated for more than Labour.

If both the Maori Party and NZ First were needed together to form a majority coalition would NZ First accept an arrangement like that? Would National or Labour?

Would NZ First accept being in a coalition arrangement with either the Maori Party or the Greens?

Many convolutions are possible come the election next year.

However Labour must have a very complicated strategy.

They want to wipe out the Maori Party and take them out of the coalition equation. And pick up their votes.

They want to take NZ First out of the coalition equation. And pick up some of their votes.

But they may end up having to go to either or both parties in order to put together the numbers that would enable them to form the next government.

Abusing the hell out of them now may make things quite complicated later.

False claims by Peters

In an interview with Katie Bradford on Q+A Winston Peters made claims that appear to be blatantly false.

This one may have been tongue in cheek but it is fairly obviously incorrect.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

The Speaker David Carter might well disagree with this. So might Peter Dunne, And David Seymour. Peters has had an acrimonious relationship with a number of journalists, unless it is all just an act. I doubt he has a good relationship with David Farrar or Cameron Slater.

The Maori Party has also been attacked by Peters. For example: Long, rambling and late: Winston attacks regular foes in speech

Peters said the Maori Party is “brown-mailing” National over the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.

“It is obvious that National have been brown-mailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party that doesn’t even get one percent of the vote.”

And his relationship with me is closer to very bad than very good. He’s one of a number of MPs who try to hide from me – “You are blocked from following @winstonpeters and viewing @winstonpeters’s Tweets” – and the only direct relationship I have had with Peters involved a threat of legal action.

Bradford asked Peters four times whether he had ‘a better relationship with the Greens, including:

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

That’s obvious nonsense. Peters shut the Greens out of a coalition with Labour in 2005

In August 2015: Peters: NZ First will decide 2017 election

Mr Peters’ first job of the day was to hurl criticisms at the media – “your polls are crap”, “stop this nonsense” and “you ask some stupid questions”. Mr Peters also launched an attack on the Greens, saying it cost the Left last year’s election by attacking Labour, adding the Greens will be irrelevant by 2017.

It goes back, this from October 2000: Winston Peters accused of Gay-bashing

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been accused of gay-bashing after attacking Green Party co-convenor Richard Davies’ naked appearance on a website advertising his gay homestay near Takaka.

June 2005: Peters says Green Party has ‘sold out’

Mr Peters yesterday described Mr Donald as “a man who’s obsessed with being in Cabinet and will sell any principle down the drain”.

Very ironic.

“They [the Greens] are going off to political oblivion. They don’t actually stand for anything and won’t stand up for anything,” he said on the Paul Holmes television show last night.

September 2014: Winnie on Waiheke: A Day Out with Winston Peters

He can also get pretty weird. To another man, he says: “You’re a Green supporter. That explains everything. You don’t care about the economy, you care about flies and bees. And trees. Let me tell you, man is more important, and womankind too. It’s in the book. Remember the book? God gave man dominion over them.”

Peters has attacked the greens directly (September 2014): Alternatives In Election 2014

“Of late the Greens have been talking about being co-deputy prime ministers and wanting the finance portfolio.

“Does that mean when the Prime Minister is abroad we are going to have two acting prime ministers instead.

“This situation would be farcical.

“If the Greens think they are going to take over the levers of economic management they are assuming other parties are not watching their record.

“Voters need to be disabused of the view promoted by the Greens that we in New Zealand First would stand by whilst they promote extremist policies in government.

“This is not indicating a choice but the media seem to have overlooked one option entirely, a Labour-New Zealand First combination in Coalition or Confidence and supply.

“This emerged in 2005, has precedent, and it was a stable, successful government that delivered the greatest surpluses in recent years.”

That’s an attack that the Greens will keep in mind, especially as their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour expires just prior to the business end of next year’s election, negotiating coalitions.

Pushing a perception – gutsy or stupid

Going by the lines Andrew Little and Metiria Turei have been pushing, and others like JulieAnne Genter – see No NZ First aim – and Martyn Bradbury bombs on basic facts where he says “that new perception changes everything” it has become apparent what the strategy is.

There’s been a number of claims about ‘perceptions’ being all important over the last few months.

Labour and Greens want to to create the  perception in polls that Labour+Greens can compete head to head with National, and hope that will then become a reality.

They are deliberately leaving Winston Peters out of their MoU lines.

Andrew Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw in weekend interviews tried to divert from any mention of Peters or NZ First, and also in their speeches at the Green conference they repeated ‘change the Government’ and Labour and Greens over and over with no mention of the elephant in their election room.

They are working on creating a Labour+Green versus National perception, hoping to turn that into a reality.

Turei called it a game changer.

But if reality remains as it is, or if Labour or Greens or both take a hit in the next few polls, the opposite perception could become apparent – that there is no way they can make Government without Peters and NZ First.

Peters will be doing everything he can to promote the latter perception, and to pick up as many disillusioned Labour voters as he can to make his perception the reality.

Labour and Greens have effectively changed the battle they had and will now be fighting on two fronts, against Key and National, and against Peters and NZ First.

That’s either very gutsy or quite stupid.

Peters on Labour-Green MoU

Winston Peters was asked about the Labour Green memorandum of Understanding by Katie Bradford on Q+A yesterday.

First, does he now have a better relationship with the Greens?

Winston Peters: Well, look, first of all, this memorandum of understanding the Greens have had one with the National Party. And this one, I understand, expires on election night. So, frankly, I don’t know how it works. We’ve not been a part of any discussion. And so, I suppose you’re being presented with this option: ‘Us two have got married over here, and we want New Zealand First to join us even though they’ve not been part of any discussion whatsoever.’

Peters didn’t answer the question.

It’s hard to believe that there has not been any discussion whatsoever between anyone in Labour and anyone in NZ First about the Memorandum. I’ve seen claims that there has been.

Katie Bradford:  But did you really think they would come to you and talk to you? You wouldn’t have had a bar of it.

Winston Peters: The reality is that on some things we’ve cooperated with all sorts of parties. You know, on the Reserve Bank Act getting amended, we got within one vote of getting that done – twice. But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works. And if it’s going to end on election night, then what is it about?

He didn’t answer that question either.

Katie Bradford: You haven’t answered my original question, which was, ‘Do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you have in the past?’ James Shaw said you and Metiria are good friends. Deborah Morris-Travers is obviously now the chief of staff for the Greens. She was a former MP of you. I mean, is this a good sign?

Winston Peters: It seemed he came to that interview to talk about New Zealand First, and I’ve just seen the interview. One party doesn’t go into those sorts of arrangements, because we don’t know how the cards will fall.

He didn’t answer those questions.

Katie Bradford: But I’m asking you about your relationship with the Greens.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

He didn’t answer the question again, and his response must be a joke. He smirked as he said it.

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

Another question avoided and another laughable response.

Now, there’s no doubt about the Greens, if you look at their manifesto, for a parallel state. Now, we are not going to compromise our policies on critical things to do with this country’s social and economic advancement.

That looks like an attack on the Greens, in almost the same breath he says he has never attacked the Greens.

Katie Bradford: But you are saying, then, that perhaps on areas like immigration you would be able to work better than in the past. Who’s your favourite Green? If you had to name one, who would you prefer to go…?

Winston Peters: Now, what I’m saying to you is that I can’t understand why Labour did this, because it’s from a position of weakness, and the only beneficiary will be the Greens. And their supporters will find that out very quickly. That’s been my experience in politics.

He doesn’t answer the questions again.

Otherwise it’s hard to argue with his comment.

Katie Bradford: So you think Labour will suffer as a result of this?

Winston Peters: New Zealand First is not coming in from a position of weakness. We will grow this party seriously, and all the signs are saying that, all the polls say that.

He doesn’t answer the question. Otherwise his response seems reasonable, NZ First looks to be in a position of strength, particularly compared to Labour and the Greens.

Katie Bradford: The numbers show that. The numbers show Labour and the Greens would need New Zealand First if they were to govern. Therefore, would you not say to the voters, ‘Well, this is a viable option’?

Winston Peters: No, what’s viable is what is sound for the country economically and socially. If, for example — two things go with this — mass immigration continued and, for example, a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws, then we will not go down that path, and I’m saying it right now.

He answered a question!

He appears to state unequivocally two bottom lines but they are not clearly defined.

It’s highly questionable that ‘mass immigration’ applies to New Zealand.

And ‘a parallel state’ and ‘separatist racist laws’ are emotive but very non-specific, so there’s plenty of wiggle room there.

Katie Bradford: So voters next year, it’ll continue to be the line from you – wait and see.

Winston Peters: No, voters will have a choice. They’ll have a real choice with New Zealand First, because on some of these issues, the only party making a stand is us, and we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now.

 

He answered another question, incorrectly and misleadingly.

Voters will have a number of choices of course, but Winston’s line has been ‘wait and see’ for many years, he refuses to state any possible coalition arrangements he would consider and discuss prior to an election.

Winston is adept at sounding like he is ‘making a stand’ but he never defines exactly what stands he is making. He is practised at sounding like he is making strong stands but when you look at what he actually says it vague and waffly and avoids answering simple questions.

And “we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now” is highly questionable – Peters claims, insinuates and accuses but most of the time he avoids substantiating or backing up his assertions.

I think what we can most assume from this interview and his other responses to the Labour-Green MoU is that Peters will strongly oppose the Greens and this agreement and a number of vague aspects of immigration and the Treaty of Waitangi – unless it suits his interests to do otherwise.

Interview: Winston Peters dismisses Labour Green alliance

 

No NZ First aim

While Andrew Little appears to leave the door wide open for Winston peters and NZ First the Greens seem to have different ideas – make it so Greens+Labour can do without NZ First.

Martyn Bradbury was initially very critical of the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding but after attending the Green AGM/conference it appears he has taken on board the Kool Aid.

This has been a victory for the Left within the Greens and Labour and shows the behind the scenes muscle and co-operation that now exists between the two. It’s a win for those who want a clear cut anti-National vote and it’s a win for the joint tactics that will be needed for Labour and the Greens to be successful in 2017.

The biggest gain of this Memorandum of Understanding is that it forces the media to start reporting polls from an MMP viewpoint. Currently Paddy Gower gets to claim National are 47% and Labour are at 30%, the perception being to the ordinary voter that Key’s fourth term is guaranteed. The reality is that when you combine Labour and Greens, the National Party’s lead is really only 5%.

The media have talked about left versus right totals for yonks but never mind.

This perception change will do more to impact the way voters perceive the next election than any other single thing.

If a shared policy platform and agreed electorate strategy emerge, expect 2017 to be a very close battle. We may yet get a change of Government and it may not need NZ First.

From Why Labour-Green could be the next Government – 2016 Green AGM

There are similar sentiments from within the Green Party.

On they keep saying Lab/Greens need NZF. The point of this MOU is to work towards a point where that is no longer true.

While they haven’t said it openly it appears that their aim (the Greens at least) is to not only defeat National but also to outmanoeuvre Winston Peters.

No NZ First is a very ambitious aim.

Would Labour+NZ First have made more sense?

Labour have joined the Greens in trying to oust Key and National from Government. This has major risks for Labour, a major one being the obvious move to the left apparent on Labour+Greens.

Are they again hoping to awake the ‘missing million’? Do Greens think that if only non-voters saw left wing unity they would come aout in force to vote.

The ‘missing million’ strategy, which included at least two get-out-the-vote campaigns from left wing proxy organisations, failed in 2014, in part due to the more left wing Internet/Mana movement.

If Labour wanted to contest the centre votes that tend to decide elections a Labour-NZ First alliance would have made more sense, for Labour at least. That would have looked far more centre-left/centre (although NZ First are more all over the place rather than centre).

Labour have kept a post-election Labour+NZ First option open by ensuring the Memorandum with the Greens terminates by election day.

Andrew Little has even made it clear a NZ First alliance with Labour pre-election is not ruled out.

So why hasn’t Little looked to the centre and instead created a left-left bloc?

Winston Peters.

Labour helped hand the Northland by-election to Winston on a plate.

Peters will be intent on maximising the poll trend towards NZ First at the expense of a Labour recovery.

Peters wants to be the top dog in the opposition and that means poaching as much Labour support as possible.

And even if he doesn’t get NZ First up past Labour this term he is likely to be in a position of strength post-election. Even on 5-10% Winston is likely to be able to play National against Labour+Greens in coalition dealings. National has squeaked by in the last two elections without needing NZ First but that looks less likely to repeat next year.

Winston looks like sitting pretty right now between National and Labour-Greens.

The MoU may have played right into Winston’s hand. If not he will do al he can to maximise any benefits he can get from it – and that will be at Labour’s expense.

Labour+NZ First will have made no sense to Winston, even though it seems that Andrew Little would have liked it and appears to still hanker for it.

NZ First is not known as Winston First for nothing (even though the party is strengthening).

Winston+NZ First is the only coalition Peters is interested in.

 

Labour decline to disintregration?

Claire Trevett discusses a number of aspects of the Little Green Memorandum of Understanding, including pointing out that it shows Little’s grip on the Labour caucus.

The Greens wanted a campaign agreement with Labour before the last election, so this is a belated rectification of that, or a premature 2017 campaign move.

It’s a lot more complicated for Labour but Trevett touches on the crux of the agreement.

For Labour, it is an attempt to portray itself as a viable government-in-waiting.

Except that it specifically avoids trying to portray what a Labour-Green coalition government might look like, it ends on election day.

All it is doing is portraying Labour and Greens as a joint ‘dump Key’ campaign.

At the moment, Labour and the Greens are four to five points adrift of National.

That gap has been constant for quite some time. Where Labour runs into problems is in making up those final few points and then getting the extra needed to actually form a government.

The reality is the two parties are still vying for the same votes. The agreement simply means they have to be more polite about it.

Or appear in public to be more polite about it.

That is where things could get tricky. Labour still needs to grow its vote well above the mid-30s to give voters assurance it will not be a weak leader in any coalition Government. The Greens also want to grow their vote to ensure they outweigh NZ First and are Labour’s first choice.

But if the agreement simply means the existing votes move around between the Greens and Labour, it will be useless.

It would be useless for Labour.

If Greens grow their share of the vote at the expense of Labour they will strengthen their position in opposition, and may lead to them eventually taking over as the primary left wing party from Labour, so longer term it wouldn’t be useless for them.

It could be worse than useless for Labour.

By more closely aligning with the Greens, and conceding that without the Greens they have little chance of succeeding in next year’s election, Labour is at serious risk of not only failing to pick up centre votes from National, but also of shedding centre left votes to NZ First, and shedding left of left votes the the Greens.

No wonder there’s suggestions that Labour MPs may be considering jumping into the NZ First camp. That’s the best bet for being a part of the next Government.

And it could explain why some members of the Labour caucus have quietly allowed Little to commit political harikari (except that rather than ritual suicide by disembowelment it is more inadvertent disembowelment).

But it makes it more likely that the decline of Labour will turn into disintegration.

Tax revenue $1.1b under forecast

Stuff reports that Government’s surplus nearly $1b less than forecast at Budget 2016 due to core Crown tax revenue being $1.1 billion lower than forecast in the 10 months to April.

The Government’s financial statements, released on Friday, showed the operating balance before gains and losses (Obegal) was $297 million in the black for the 10 months to April. 

Finance Minister Bill English said it highlighted the monthly volatility in the Crown accounts. 

The surplus was $941m smaller than forecast in Budget 2016, largely as a result of core Crown tax revenue coming in $1.1 billion lower than forecast.

English said the lower-than-expected tax revenue was mostly driven by corporate tax being $1.4 billion below forecast.

“Treasury consider that most – if not all – of this variance will reverse out by June 30.

This shows that balancing the Government books (and forecasting accurately) is an ongoing challenge.

Further forecasts are for growth but a flattening out of the economy must cause some concern.

At the same time in possibly related news the ODT reports Economic activity static in quarter.

The national economy stood still in the three months ended March, the ANZ Regional Trends index failing to lift for the first time in five years.

ANZ economic statistician Kylie Uerata said the pause needed to be put into context.

Regional-based growth estimates were “incredibly strong” late last year.

“Pausing for breath after strength is not unusual.”

This chart of budget surpluses and deficits over the past 10 years from Trading Economics shows that New Zealand has barely recovered from the Global Financial Crisis that hit hard after New Zealand was already moving into recession in 2008 plus the substantial cost of the Christchurch earthquakes.

TradingEconomicsNZBudgetSurpluses

Stuff charts a longer period of 20 years of surpluses and deficits plus 5 years of forecasts.

BudgetSurplusdDeficitStuff

So after only just getting back to a meagre surplus it has flattened out, the forecast for next year is flat, and then someone hopes that the economy will recover and grow from there.

However what has to be considered is the possible effect of an election year budget where a thirds term Government may be tempted to splurge a bit on spending (vote buying).

Also what should be considered is the possibility and the possible effects of a change to a Labour-Green government next year, or to a Labour-Green-NZ First government, or to a National-NZ First government.

It is normal for larger minor parties to push for spending on their pet policies in reward for enabling a large party to form a coalition.

This could be exacerbated if a weakening Labour is joined by Greens and/or NZ First who are growing in relative strength.

Perhaps it’s time to seriously consider what influence NZ First would have on Government spending.

Would they assist with economic prudence or would they demand increased spending?

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