NZ First promise: a wooden Christchurch stadium

I think this was from Winston Peters: Transition to a better future – Multi-purpose stadium

Covered stadium – multi-purpose arena – NZ First proposal

New Zealand First asks also, why can’t Christchurch and Canterbury have a decent covered multi-use sports stadium to be used for top rugby and other events?

You missed out on having a Lions rugby test this winter for the first time ever.

You are being treated like a backwater and falling behind.

With the Crusaders you have the Super 15 champions.

But you’ve got a second rate temporary stadium not worthy of you or your  champions.

New Zealand First will back a covered multi-use stadium being built in Christchurch.

We realise the cost should not fall entirely on ratepayers and so we will look seriously at the government contributing.

But we make two provisos:

One, that you build a 24/7 revenue earning, multi purpose complex where sporting and entertainment events occasionally happen.

The emphasis is a 24/7 revenue stream where sport happens sometimes.

Two, that the stadium is built with wood – and wood grown in New Zealand – as a serious preference.

You have the technology and know-how here to make it happen, as shown with the Pres-Lam technology developed at the University of Canterbury.

A wooden covered sports stadium – it’s different I guess, it might attract attention, but, ah, are the nuts?

Recycled campaigning

Party campaign strategies seem to be trying to put as much out as often as possible. They risk driving people away from the election through overkill.

And to fill their sound bite targets parties are resorting to recycling old stuff.

Yesterday the Greens launched their new campaign without Metiria Turei – by ditching their new slogan and going back to their 2014 election slogan.

Today Labour announced a School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip young people for adult life – which was largely a rehash of policy announced in 2015 with a bit of detail added.

Also today National announced details of a $100m social investment mental health package – which had already been announced in the budget in May. They have just added some details.

David Seymour kept banging on about how different Act are to National – Forget boot camp, fix failing schools – and also attacked Labour – Labour’s civics classes: dodgy dodgy dodgy – and NZ First – Winston’s Racist Attack against Sikh’s Freedom of Religion.

The only original announcement was from peter Dunne, but this was not party news, it was as Minister of Internal Affairs –  NZ govt says Australia’s Joyce is NZ citizen.

So far this week the Aussies are beating us hands down for interesting political news.

Reassessing NZ First

Most of the political attention yesterday was on the Green’s continued implosion, on the Green slide in two polls, and on the dramatic rise of Labour and Jacinda Ardern.

But also significant was the NZ First poll slide.

  • Newshub/Reid Research 9.2% (down 3.8)
  • UMR 8%

This is around the level of support NZ First got in the 2014 election (8.66%) but Winston Peters has recently been claiming would beat Labour and could contest the top spot with National.

These polls suggest that support of NZ First above a core is fickle. It seems that as soon as Labour looked good many deserted NZ First.

Peters has struggled to attract media attention, with Labour and Ardern, and the Greens and Turei sucking up all the available oxygen.

NZ First are still in a good balance of power position, with it looking unlikely National can keep defying the odds and getting enough to form a government again with a few minnow parties.

And while Labour are resurgent they are still well short of a majority. The Green crash means combined they are still short of not needing NZ First.

However the size of NZ First support could make a big difference in their bargaining power, as generally power in a coalition or governing arrangement is proportional.

If NZ First get under 10% it should also makes Winston’s ambition of Prime Minister or deputy PM much hard to attain.

A problem now for Peters is if the media focusses on a head to head contest between National and Labour, and between English and Ardern, the incumbent versus the fresh young challenger.

Peters will contrast in particular with Ardern. He is at risk of looking like an old has-been beside her.

He has been trying to poke a stick at a number of hot issues, or what he hopes can be heated up, but the media has had more exciting things to cover.

Peters is at risk of looking like a stirrer of cold porridge.

He will no doubt keep trying hard, but it could be hard yakker for him now.

UMR poll

Labour’s private polling from UMR is being leaked, probably by a jubilant Labour party.

Apparently:

  • National 43% (up 1)
  • Labour 36% (up 13)
  • Greens 8% (down 7)
  • NZ First 8% (down 8)

UMR tend to be hard on National and good for Labour but taking that into account this this is quite close to tonight’s Newshub poll.

Greens have taken a hit and Labour have picked up their discarded support

Surprising to some NZ First has also dropped back but I think they had been picking up disillusioned Labour leaning voters who have been attracted back by Jacinda Ardern.

This poll gives a good indication of the impact of Ardern becoming Labour’s leader, but won’t take into account the latest upheaval in the Green Party, especially Metiria Turei announcing she will step down as co-leader and will withdraw from the Green list. She still intends standing in the Te Tai Tonga electorate at this stage.

But this is just one of two snapshot polls in a very volatile campaign environment, with the second party leader standing down in just over a week.

Expect more changes that could go in any direction for any party.

Reassessing election prospects

Last week changed the political landscape significantly, with saturation coverage of one candidate, the political demise of one leader and the lame ducking of another.

Election prospects have changed, but at this stage it is difficult to predict by how much. I’l have a go at assessing how things look now.

National 38-48%

They were always going to struggle to maintain last elections 47% with John Key retiring last year and switching to a solid but uninspiring Bill English and a so far uninspiring campaign.

If Labour retains their resurgence the question shifts from where in the forties National will end up to whether they stay in the forties. They are still probably good for low to mid forties but if the stuff something up badly could easily slip.

Labour 29-40%

There is no doubt that Jacinda Ardern has made a big difference to Labour’s prospects. They looked like they were heading to 20 or less under Andrew Little, but now a return to the 30s looks likely.

Labour now look able to pull votes back from the Greens and NZ First, finally compete seriously with National for the floaters, and the effect of the lift in excitement on turning out younger voters shouldn’t be underestimated.

And don’t underestimate the Kelvin Davis effect – his elevation makes Labour more competitive against the Maori Party and NZ First.

I think the only question is how far into the thirties they can climb – as long as Ardern doesn’t trip up significantly. On the other hand, given the volatility of modern elections I wouldn’t rule out Labour sneaking into the forties.

Greens 8-12%

As dramatically as Labour’s fortunes have turned for the better, Green prospects have probably dived from record highs in the polls.

Metiria Turei’s beneficiary gamble looked like it was a winner but has turned to custard. James Shaw looks worn and weak. Turei and the Greens still have some staunch support, but the icing looks like it has disappeared of their cake.

Of course this could change if Turei bows to pressure and steps down as co-leader, but a lot would then depend on who replaced her. Marama Davidson would probably only appeal to the dedicated Greenies and lefties, but Julie Anne Genter would have wider appeal.

NZ First 6-16%

A week or two ago Winston Peters was confidently counting his electoral chickens. He disappeared last week, with the media preferring to pander to someone young enough to be his granddaughter.

Winston versus English and Little looked competitive, to media and to a growing number of voters.

Winston versus Ardern is a completely different look. The stuffing seems to be knocked out of the old codger. He’s a determined campaigner, but can he revitalise himself for another shot at glory?

Another factor is the Shane Jones card – he is now going to have to compete with Kelvin Davis for attention and may be exposed. The direct speaking Davis will give Jones some real competition up north.

Maori Party 1-3%

I think that Te Ururoa Flavell still has a good chance of retaining his electorate, Maori have been good tactical voters and returning Flavell and party voting Labour makes more sense than throwing the Maori Party out.

But winning more Maori seats, and getting enough party vote to retain Marama Fox, has probably got harder.

ACT Party 0.5-2%

David Seymour has been trying hard to attract attention and voters but doesn’t seem to be getting any traction. He should be good to retain his Epsom electorate, but ACT’s lack of known candidates other than Seymour doesn’t help their chances.

The media doesn’t usually care about new candidates, unless it’s plucking someone like Chlöe Swarbrick out of nowhere to try to inject some interest into a boring mayoral campaign. And the media seems to not fancy ACT unless it’s negative news. Seymour is likely to remain alone.

United Future 0.1-0.3%

It’s hard to see United Future attracting any more party votes. The media gave up on there being a party behind Peter Dunne terms ago, nothing there for headlines. The party has continued to wither.

Dunne already had a major challenge in trying to retain his Ohariu electorate. Labour have recruited a known candidate, Greg O’Connor. Greens are helping Labour by not standing a candidate.

National have made it clearer than ever that they want National voters to support Dunne.

But what looked like 50/50 prospects for Dunne may have turned against him with Labour’s resurgence. Ardern has not only revitalised Labour campaigners, she may encourage reluctant voters to turn out. This will work against Dunne.

Mana Party 0.1-0.5%

The Mana party is a one man band this election, without the money or distraction of Kim Dotcom. The party vote looks irrelevant.

Hone Harawira was always a chance of winning back Te Tai Tokerau, but with Davis’ elevation that probably got a lot harder.

There looks to be an outside chance only of Harawira getting back into Parliament, and even more of an outside chance that Harawira could make or break a Labour led coalition, but it shouldn’t be discounted entirely.

The Opportunities Party 1-4%

Gareth Morgan had a chance of picking up votes from those who wanted something different and not Winston, someone to ‘keep the big parties honest’. And picking up disheartened Labour voters. Until last week.

If Labour jumps back into contention then TOP will find it really difficult to attract enough media attention, and they will find it really difficult to get the polls up enough to encourage enough voters to get them over the 5% threshold.

The Rest

The nature of New Zealand politics and the reluctance of media to give any credibility to new parties and outsider candidates means that no other parties will have a chance of getting more than crumbs.

But…

There could be another shock wave.

It’s hard to see any other positive leadership change, unless Genter adds some solidity to the Greens.

Who knows what Winston will try to have probably his last shot at the big prize?

Ardern may keep Labour’s resurgence going, or she could trip up. Kelvin Davis could stuff things up, his agttack on English and other National ministers on Q+A yesterday looked ugly and counter productive to Ardern’s clain of positivity.

National still have the benefit of incumbency plus very good economic conditions, relatively low unemployment, and a record of steady management – but may have trouble attracting media attention.

National also have the advantage of being by far the biggest party, and they will probably only need one other party, or a repeat of the current handful of insignificant parties, to get over the line.

But housing. Auckland is shaping up as a big influence on the election.

And National has to find an effective way of countering ‘the Jacinda effect’ and the current media obsession with her.

The elephant in Labour’s room

Ardern has eliminated Labour’s biggest millstone, Andrew Little. Labour look to be on the rise.

But they have a major challenge too – Labour + Greens + NZ First

I think that many voters have real concerns about how this triumverate could possible work in a coalition.

Unless Labour can rise enough in polls to look like they might only need one of NZ First or the Greens then this remains an issue.

There could even be a voter resistance to Labour + Greens – many like a Green influence but have strong reservations about Greens calling the shots too much.

In any case for Labour to get close to 40% it’s hard to see Greens also keeping their current share.

The NZ First factor

Whether Winston finds a way to dig up something that gives him a last burst of hope or not, voters have to consider and compare National + NZ First versus Labour + NZ First as likely alternatives.

Both National and Labour can’t ignore this – the one of them that does best at convincing voters they can work with Winston but resist baubling him may succeed.

Here it is advantage to National.

National 45% + NZ First 6% looks quite different to Labour 35% + NZ First 15%.

But of course this balance of probabilities could change over the next few weeks.

Ardern on the Māori seats

Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis were questioned on The Nation about Labour’s position on the Māori seats.

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

Lisa Owen: I see a head shake. A referendum is asking the people. You know, you would find out whether you have to get rid of them or not from the people. Definite no? Even at the price of government?

Kelvin Davis: No, Hone Harawira tried to sell the Tai Tokerau for $3.5 million last election to Kim Dotcom, and here’s Winston trying to give away all seven for nothing.

Lisa Owen: OK. So, Ms Ardern, definite no on a referendum, even if it’s the price of a deal with Winston Peters?

Jacinda Ardern: What we said on Tuesday is that we don’t want to spend the entire election campaign talking about other parties’ policies. So I’m happy to share with you Labour’s policy in that area.

Lisa Owen: Well, this is about how you would form a government. This is about how you would form a government. And voters want to know that, and that’s why I’m asking you. And you were shaking your head, so no referendum on the Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that.

Lisa Owen: That sounds like you could have a referendum where only Maori on the electoral roll could vote.

Jacinda Ardern: I believe that’s what Shane Jones might have– See, there’s not even clarity within New Zealand First on this position.

Lisa Owen: That’s why I’m wanting clarity around your policy. You’re saying Maori should decide, so Maori on the electoral roll, they could be polled whether they think that the seats should stay.

Jacinda Ardern: Well, that’s a question for Winston because he’s the one coming up with–

Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Kelvin Davis: Those seats were foisted upon Maori back in the 1860s just to really control our voting power, and we’ve become quite fond of them, to be honest, so we really don’t want them to go.

Jacinda Ardern: It’s not on the agenda.

I think there would be hell to pay in Labour and amongst Maori if Labour agreed to an all-voter referendum on the Māori seats. It has to be a non-negotiable for in any coalition wrangling with NZ First.

Māori get to choose every five years whether they want Maori seats or not.

ABOUT THE MĀORI ELECTORAL OPTION

The Option only happens once every five years or so, just after the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.

What you decide during the Māori Electoral Option is an important choice, as it determines who will represent you in Parliament.

If you’re on the General Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a General Electorate at the next General Election. If you’re on the Māori Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a Māori Electorate at the next General Election. Every voter, regardless of which electoral roll they are on or where they live in the country, has the same list of political parties to choose from when using their Party Vote.

The results of the Māori Electoral Option together with the Census data are used to determine the number of Māori and General Electorates in Parliament and to revise the electorate boundaries.

How does the Māori Electoral Option affect the number of Māori electorates?

There are currently seven Māori electorates. If more Māori enrol on the Māori roll, it could mean more Māori electorate seats in parliament. The number of General Electorate seats could also change.

Visit Calculating Future Māori and General Electorates for more detail.

 

 

The Jacinda effect on other parties

The change of Labour leadership to Jacinda Ardern could have quite an effect on how the other parties campaign, and how the fare in the election.

National already had a battle to avoid needing NZ First, that doesn’t change but how they campaign will need a major rethink.

The Greens seem generally happy. It means a rethink of their ‘go for broke’ approach, because a recovering Labour improves their chances of getting into government. albeit with a smaller share of the vote than they were hoping for last week.

The biggest impact may be on NZ First, which could be why Winston’s response to the leadership change yesterday was gruff dismissal. If Labour come back into the reckoning that could significantly reduce NZ First’s opportunities and influence. Peters could easily attarct media attention from Little, but that will be much harder with Ardern.

Peters versus Ardern is a very different contest to Peters versus Little, and swings the pendulum significantly.

The smaller parties are at risk of being ignored even more.

It reduces TOP’s chances of picking up disgruntled voters.

Kelvin Davis’ elevation to deputy makes the Maori party’s battle with Labour quite a bit harder.

Davis must be a hot favourite now to beat Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau and keep Mana out.

ACT have struggled for relevancy and support and that won’t get any easier.

Peter Dunne already had a major challenge in Ohariu and this probably makes things harder for him.

One thing is certain – the whole complexion of this campaign has dramatically changed, and it affects all parties in major ways.

And one aspect of change is probably bigger than Jacinda herself – the media. They had given up on Little long ago and dreaded a boring election campaign. They have promoted Ardern all year, helping get her promoted to deputy, and now to leader.

The media have played a major part in changes to date, and may be the deciding factor inb this election.

NZ First ‘promises’ top $10b

I think that everyone knows that promises and bottom lines from Winston Peters should be taken with a grain of Epsom salts.

But Peters seems to believe that NZ First can lead the next government, he has suggested they could even top National which means they would get a lot of say in which policies are implemented.

Gareth Morgan has highlighted the spending promises of Peters and appears to be going head to head with Peters. The Opportunities Party and NZ First are competing for floating votes and are targeting those who may vote against the status quo.

Stuff: Gareth Morgan positions himself as alternative to Winston Peters

Gareth Morgan is keen to position himself as an anti-Winston Peters “peacemaker”, shoring up a Government on either side of the political divide without introducing the instability of NZ First.

The firebrand economist and newbie politician released a press release attacking Peters on Monday, along with a costing of his “pork barrel promises”.

Morgan contends Peters’ policies – including the writeoff of student debt, removal of GST from food, and free GP visits for pensioners – would cost $10b every year, with no indication of where that money would come from, other than a vague promise to reduce tax evasion.

Grandiose and expensive promises didn’t matter when NZ First were a 5-10% party. If they become, as looks likely, a 10-20% party then the cost of their policies becomes more pertinent. And if they get into the 20-40% zone then it becomes critical.

So it’s important that the possible cost of NZ First policy promises is examined. The media should be doing this but Morgan has done it for them.

TOP: The post-truth World of Winstonomics

It is not unusual for politicians to make promises they can’t keep. In an attempt to restore some integrity and transparency into politics, The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Not all parties are this robust however. One party in particular, is writing cheques they can’t cash and therefore making promises they can’t possibly deliver. That party is NZ First and their leader is Winston Peters.

We have filtered through the long list of ‘policy’ supplied by New Zealand First on their websiteand pulled out everything we could find that resembled a concrete and significant election commitment.

Winston’s supporters are rightly looking for a change from the ‘do nothing’ Establishment parties that have led us to a society with rising inequality, forgotten regions and unaffordable housing. However, Winston owes those supporters a set of promises he can actually deliver on –  that is not the case with his current offering.

While some of the policies from NZ First have costings, the majority do not.

We took it upon ourselves to do some analysis and so far the tab has run up to around $10 billion per yearwith the promise of more to come.

By far , the biggest cost on his campaign check book  is his promise to give a universal student allowance and write off student debt for those who stay in New Zealand for the same period of their study…And what about the $4.6 billion price tag? Where is that money going to come from?

Winston has also promised to ‘remove GST off food’ as well as rates. Let’s put aside the fact tinkering with our GST system is fraught with issues, and there are much more efficient ways to make housing and food more affordable. The real problem here is the estimated $3.6 billion price tag.

His plan to return GST from tourism to the regions hits the chord that he has been playing for years, sounding the death of our regions. With minimal detail given, it’s hard to know what this really means let alone estimate the cost; it isn’t clear what money he would give back, to whom, and what that money would be used for. However, if this included both international and domestic tourism, the bill could run up to around $3 billion.

The list of promises goes on with three free GP visits for pensioners a year (there are 600,000 pensioners and at $60 extra per visit, that is $108 million), 1,800 more police ($324 million based on Labour’s calculation of 1000 police), free health checks for year 9 students ($10 million, based on the cost of the B4 school check).

The total bill for these promises alone comes to a $10 billion bill per annum. 

That sort of money cannot just be pulled out of thin air as Winston would have us all believe, and certainly, can’t be paid for by nebulous promises to ‘reduce tax evasion.’

This bill does not even include several of his more nebulous or one-off promises such as:

  • Recarpeting government buildings with wool (costed by the Taxpayers Union at $60-90m)
  • To allocate adequate resources into alternatives to 1080 which he will ban (Dave Hansford on Newsroom put the cost of this at $150m just for half of one national park)
  • He also wants to buy back the shares in SOEs that have been sold, which he will somehow do at the same price they were sold for.
  • In fact, NZ First wants to bring our banks back into New Zealand ownership as well.
  • NZ First also plans to ban inshore fishing and compensate the fishers for their losses; a plan that if it includes paua, lobster and snapper, would cost at least $1.3b.

His commitment to railways of national importance, including a rail line to Marsden Point, will apparently be funded by “revenue generated by railway service charges” and a “combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.”

And of course Winston’s biggest bribe is a long-term one; his promise to keep the age of eligibility for Superannuation at 65. NZ super alone by 2060 will be soaking up 8c in every dollar we earn, and as a result of this and rising health spending, government debt will have ballooned to twice national income.

All in all, New Zealand First is much in the tradition of Muldoonism – it promises heaps but is more than a little short of funding detail.

Is Winston likely to explain how all his promises would be paid for?

What about TOP’s policy costs?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Greens and NZ First up and hunting

Both support for Greens and NZ First rising, and the resulting turmoil in Labour, are likely to see them hunting hard for votes seeking a credible alternative.

The three recent polls for the Greens:

  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll): 15%
  • Colmar Brunton: 15%
  • Newshub/Reid Research: 13%

If voters flee Labour even more the Greens could do even better than this, although in the past they have tended to get less votes in elections to what they get in polls.

In the 2014 election they got 10.7% so there’s a very good chance they will improve on that.

The three recent polls for the NZ First:

  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll): 16%
  • Colmar Brunton: 11%
  • Newshub/Reid Research: 13%

This is quite a spread which may indicate a lot of non-committed voters floating around, but the prospects are still good for NZ First.

In the 2014 election they got 8.66% and look certain to do better than that.

There’s a real chance that Greens, NZ First and Labour will all end up with similar levels of support, all in the 15-20% range.

Three equal-ish parties would make putting together a coalition quite challenging, especially if the previously senior party has a new leader – and if Little doesn’t go now he is likely to go soon after the election, which would put Labour in a difficult and weak position.

Both NZ First and the Greens are surging and sense big things are possible. But with a wingless lame duck Labour then they would have to look to National to form a credible coalition.

Seymour versus Peters hots up

David Seymour and Winston Peters have been clashing for a while. As we get towards the business end of the election campaign their feuding is hotting up.

Seymour in a speech in Parliament on Wednesday:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

But then you come round to New Zealand First. What a disaster. There is Winston Peters. He has been sacked from Cabinet three times by three different Prime Ministers. He has been voted out of two electorates, and the third electorate has not had an opportunity to vote him out yet, but help is on its way. It is going to vote him out on 23 September. This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to 9 bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility. He still has not paid back the $158,000—

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

DAVID SEYMOUR: —and frankly, the way he campaigns is racist.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order—the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tolerate a fair bit from that member, but I will not tolerate him getting up and making deceptive, deceitful statements like that. I know what we paid back—all $158,000, in circumstances—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. That is very much a debating matter. The member can continue his speech, and if the member feels he has been misrepresented throughout the speech there is another means. It is not raised on the floor of the House, and I refer the member to Standing Order 359.

DAVID SEYMOUR: If one ACT MP can get that far under Winston Peters’ thin skin, imagine how far five ACT MPs could get. He does not like it up him but the ACT Party has kept him out of power for the last three elections, and we are going to do it again. I understand his frustration, but he has got to stay there.

Peters responded in the same debate:

We have seen the last National Party polls—the most recent ones—and it is all bad news for them, for them, and a whole lot of parties here, but it is good news for one other party. Take a wild guess which party that is.

We do not care about Epsom’s three-quarters of a million dollars bludger and his cuckolded behaviour in this Parliament.

Seymour followed up: ACT to keep the cabal of crooks out of office

“Metiria Turei’s proud theft of taxpayer money qualifies her perfectly as a Green Party activist. However, it should exclude her from ever entering Government. The people who write our laws should not thieve from the taxpayers who already pay their salaries.

“That goes for Winston Peters too,” says Mr Seymour.

“Yesterday in the House he claimed to have ‘paid out’ the $158,000 in taxpayer money he illegally spent during the 2005 election. The truth is Parliamentary Services never got this money back, leaving taxpayers with the bill. I’ve laid a complaint with the Privileges Committee today over Mr Peters’ attempt to mislead the House. Just like Metiria Turei, Winston Peters is a fraud, and should never be let near the baubles of office again.

“The safest way to keep the cabal of crooks out of Parliament is with a stronger ACT. With more MPs we’ll ensure stable National-led Government, while also forcing National to address issues they’ve ignored, like New Zealand’s chronic housing and infrastructure deficit.”

Yesterday to media Peters referred to Seymour as “a cuckolded political prostitute”.

This is a part of the competition for attention that has ramped up significantly.

Seymour is trying to claw ACT support up so he has at least one MP working alongside him.

Peters would seem to wish that ACT disappears from Parliament.

ACT’s one vote has been enough to keep NZ First out of a balance of power position after Peters won the Whangerei by-election. It is possible that this could be repeated after September’s election, depending on how close National get to a majority.

With Labour languishing and Greens taking what looks like a desperate gamble the best chance of Peters getting power is with National, and he won’t want to be competing for that with Seymour.

But feuding with Seymour is a side show for Peters. It’s hard to see him improving the NZ First vote much by having an ongoing spat with Seymour.

Seymour is fighting to remain relevant. It looks likely he will keep his Epsom seat, but is struggling to lift ACT’s support enough to get a second MP in on the list.

But Seymour probably has more to gain by attracting attention from Peters, because the media tend to go where Peters goes.

Seymour’s position in a Government alliance does look a bit precarious, and NZ First strength could sideline him. But he is young and potentially has many years ahead of him for a political career.

Peters must be getting near the end of his long career. This election may be his last shot at the Government limelight, so it could be boom or bust for him. So he has more to lose if he gets dragged down by feuding Seymour.