Green flip-flop on waka jumping riles NZ First

There may be a bit of payback with the Green party support of a National MP bill repealing the waka jumping bill that they supported in 2018 due to ‘honouring the coalition agreement’.

NZ First aren’t happy, saying the Greens can’t be trusted, but there’s a large dollop of pot calling kettle black there.

NZ First and Labour made a commitment in their coalition agreement:

Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.

From the Labour-Green agreement:

Both parties to this agreement recognise that Labour will be working with other parties both in terms of coalitions and confidence and supply arrangements.

Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this agreement and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such agreements to be complied with.

Because of this Greens voted for the bill in 2018 despite opposing it. But they are now supporting a repeal of the members’ bill currently before Parliament – ELECTORAL (INTEGRITY REPEAL) AMENDMENT BILL

Rt Hon DAVID CARTER (National):

I haven’t canvassed other political parties, and I acknowledge that Labour advanced the legislation I’m attempting to repeal early in 2018, but I’m certainly hoping all members will give careful consideration to this bill, because this bill attempts to actually put integrity back into our electoral system. It’s about improving the integrity of our system.

To become a member of Parliament isn’t easy, and having got here, whether you come as an Independent—which is a very fraught way—or you come as a member of Parliament, you come with a conscience. You come with a responsibility to form an opinion on issues and to speak with your conscience, if you’re a list MP, or, if you’re an electorate MP, to speak with a conscience that represents the people that elected you to this House. Though this bill is about allowing MPs to exercise that conscience, it’s about not coming to this Parliament to simply be—as some members of Parliament have described in the past—cannon fodder, or a puppet to a political party.

Now, we all know the history of this legislation that I’m attempting to change today. It was the price of the current Government—the Labour – New Zealand First – Green Government—doing a deal with New Zealand First, and I know why he needs that sort of control. History tells us.

I want to just, in conclusion, in my last couple of minutes, note for the House the number of times dissension has actually been significant and relevant to the New Zealand parliamentary process. I can think myself, long before I was here, of Marilyn Waring, in 1984. She threatened to cross the floor, and caused the well-known snap election that caused the end of the Muldoon era. Jim Anderton, a loyal member of the Labour Party, until he argued that the Labour Party had left him and his principles, so he set up The Alliance party. Dame Tariana Turia, one of the most respected members of Parliament I’ve had the privilege of working with, didn’t agree with the Labour Party. She said so, walked out, and started her own party—the Māori Party—which made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s democracy.

And Mr Peters himself, a member of the National caucus, disagreed with National, walked out, formed his own party, and no one can argue that it hasn’t been a significant contributor to New Zealand politics over that time.

So there will be robust debate around this bill. I certainly hope the Green Party will be careful with its contribution and will deliberate carefully, because I note as I read their contributions last time that they were never comfortable with being forced into the position of supporting this legislation.

Greg O’Connor and Peeni Henare both spoke, saying the Labour would oppose the bill.

Then Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke:

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First): Kia ora, Madam Speaker. I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to oppose the bill. What we are seeing, and the New Zealand public needs to understand, is this is a personal vendetta by two members who feel that they have been personally slighted some 20-odd years ago. That is what this is about. And the member’s bill ballot has finally provided them with an opportunity to take a dig.

The New Zealand First Party does not believe that this is how this House should be used, for personal vendettas. The purpose of the original bill—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: And what you hear, ladies and gentlemen, is the sense of entitlement that wafts away from Mr Carter and Mr Smith. They believe that they are elected and once they are elected, even if they choose to deny the platform upon which they were elected, that you must suffer them.

And I say to the Green Party: there is a time and a place to stand up and keep one’s word. There is a time and a place to acknowledge commitments made and stick with them, and I’ll be interested to see later tonight whether the Green Party has the integrity to vote their word, as opposed to deciding in the final days of a Parliament that they don’t need a relationship any more, going forward, that they don’t need to keep an agreement or a word given, and we will see what the Green Party does with regard to their integrity. We do not support the bill.

Chloe Swarbrick spoke for the Greens:

Everybody has stood up tonight and given pretty high and mighty speeches. There’s been a lot of talk about principle, but the fact of the matter is, is not all too many people have actually acknowledged the machinations behind the scenes here tonight, and that is politics. The Parliament of Aotearoa New Zealand is, as I think most in this House would be aware, one of the most whipped in the world. What that means is that even though we have heard some speeches from members of the Opposition about the importance of things like freedom of speech, you’ve still had a speech from one of your departing members today who spoke to the fact that they had to vote against what they felt was their conscience in coming forward with a caucus position.

There’s also the case, as was noted by members on this side of the House, the fact of the matter that we have a very tribalist system. I think all of us have seen just how ugly that can get. That adversarial system has produced some of the worst behaviour in this place. But on top of that it has resulted in some very archaic first past the post thinking, particularly in what the major parties see and characterise as safe seats. I think that’s a great example, actually, of the flaws of our present adversarial system.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Greens from speeches of both the Opposition and governing parties tonight. I think that it’s really important that we are deeply clear…

And that the Opposition doesn’t heckle me right now, because the Greens will honour our 20 year position on voting on this legislation tonight in much the same way that we honoured the coalition agreements and voting for the legislation that originally put it into place…

So, maybe politics would be a whole lot better if politicians stop talking about themselves as we are tonight. If politicians want a code of conduct, as we’re talking about, and how we treat each other, particularly within our parties, then perhaps we could best start by all signing up to the recommendations of the Francis review. The Greens commend this bill to the House.

A party vote was called for on the question,That the Electoral (Integrity Repeal) Amendment Bill be read a first time.

Ayes 64

New Zealand National 54; Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 8; ACT New Zealand 1; Ross.

Noes 55

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9.

Bill read a first time.

Outside of Parliament it was leaders James Shaw and Winston Peters clashing.

Just over two years ago Parliament passed the controversial waka-jumping legislation after the Green Party voted in favour of something they’d spent decades opposing.

RNZ: James Shaw and Winston Peters go head to head over waka-jumping

The Electoral Integrity Amendment Bill was born out of the Labour-New Zealand First coalition deal.

It requires MPs who quit, or are expelled from a political party, to leave Parliament then and there.

The Greens hate the bill and think it is anti-democratic and draconian but co-leader James Shaw begrudgingly gave his party’s support to it in 2018.

In a complete reversal, the Greens last night threw their support behind a bill to repeal it, enraging New Zealand First.

There may be some utu in this as well as the greens going back to their principles – NZ First have not honoured their coalition agreement in opposing Green policies.

New Zealand First has a track record of pulling support for Labour-Green policies at the eleventh hour.

There’s been the capital gains tax, cameras on fishing boats, and more recently light rail from Auckland city to the airport.

Peters said comparisons can’t be drawn between light rail and waka-jumping.

“We did the work on light rail, the costings and the analysis did not back it up.”

He said the Greens’ were breaking their end of the deal.

“They’re signed up to the coalition agreement on this matter for three years and that term does not end until the 19th of September.”

Peters said the Greens can’t be trusted and voters should remember that on election day.

Polls suggest voters trust NZ First (and Peters in particular) less than the Greens.

Shaw rejected that criticism.

“I think it’s a bit rich for Winston to suggest that we’re not trustworthy when in fact they’re the ones who have been entirely slippery with the interpretation of our confidence and supply agreement.”

Shaw said his party is fed up with New Zealand First not sticking to the spirit of an agreement.

“I would say that in recent times we have learned that it’s the letter of the agreement, rather than the spirit of the agreement, that’s what counts when it comes to New Zealand First.

“So when it comes to the repeal of the party-hopping bill I would say that we have observed exactly the letter of our agreement.”

So is he just playing the same political games as Peters?

“Well I learn from the master,” Shaw fired back.

Both parties are fighting for their political lives. Greens are polling just over the threshold, NZ First well under. Having spats like this may raise their profiles but it probably won’t raise their chances of surviving the election.

Greens and NZ First clash

NZ First and the Greens clashed yesterday, indicating the nearing of the election campaign and reflecting the precarious position of both parties in the polls. Both are fighting for survival in Parliament.

After spending two years trying to show they can work productively together in Government, they are now desperate to differentiate from each other and from Labour.

Winston Peters is in full on attack mode against all parties and the media and anyone he doesn’t think will vote NZ First. In a speech yesterday morning he launched into the Greens, and James Shaw responded.

RNZ: ‘Gloves are off’ for NZ First and Greens leaders in unofficial election campaign

The unofficial campaign has well and truly kicked off with the party leaders taking the gloves off and going at each other at Parliament today.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has described New Zealand First as a force of chaos, while Winston Peters has warned any future Labour-Greens government would be a nightmare.

It was Peters who started the war of words at a breakfast speech in Wellington this morning.

“If you want to take out some insurance in this campaign to ensure you don’t get the nightmare government I know you’re going to get, then I suggest you party vote New Zealand First,” he said.

Shaw was happy to respond.

“Well, I think that the nightmare that he’s got is that he’s not going to be back in Parliament.”

Shaw is known to be quite measured when New Zealand First pulls the pin on policies or puts a spanner in the works, but with the campaign unofficially under way he’s ramping up his own rhetoric.

“My experience of working with New Zealand First as a party in government is that rather than a force of moderation, they’re a force of chaos,” he said.

Tensions through the term are simply being allowed to come out publicly now they don’t have to worry about keeping the Government together.

In the last year or so alone, New Zealand First has put the brakes or the kaibosh on a number of Green Party policies.

New Zealand First has also been obstructive when it comes to cameras on fishing boats and outright blocked the capital gains tax.

Despite all that, Shaw said it was not New Zealand First’s leader he had an issue with, but its wider organisation.

He said things had “always been polite and it’s always been professional,” between the two, but not so much with the wider party and staff.

Asked if Peters’ staff deliberately interfered after a deal has been done between the leaders, Shaw was very clear.

“There’s definitely interference, yes that’s right, and it’s not always clear where it’s coming from.”

And it’s not just the Greens Peters is attacking. The current popularity of Labour is a problem for him.

Peters used his speech this morning to not only boast about the policies his party had stopped, but also to warn about the so-called “stupid ideas” the Greens and Labour still have.

“If you think a red-green government is safe for you then you’re in cloud cuckoo land. They know everything about how to spend your money, and not one idea about how to make some.

“They say they want to get close to you, they’re right, so they can put their hand down the side of your body and into your wallet.”

He said the last three years had been a headache due to the ministers sitting at the Cabinet table alongside him.

“I’ve never had three years so difficult, trying to manage circumstances when you’re surrounded by plain inexperience.”

Peters was happy to repeat the comments on his way into Question Time today, saying he stood by everything he said to the business audience.

Jacinda Ardern is trying to stay above the fray.

“Look, I put it down to an election period. You can also find many comments from the deputy prime minister talking about what we’ve managed to achieve as a government, which I’ve got the sense he’s been proud of,” she said.

All Ardern needs to do is as little as possible apart from stay out of trouble.

It could be an interesting campaign, especially if they have leaders’ debates with all party leaders.

NZ First campaign launch back to the past

Winston Peters was cheered and adored as he always is at the NZ First congress campaign launch yesterday, but the campaign slogan ‘Back the Future’  may be more appropriately called ‘back to the past’.

Not only has Peters relaunched old NZ First policy on immigration, pledging to clamp down on numbers like they did last election, it will be noticed that Peters didn’t do much about it during this term, with immigration levels not changing a lot until they were stopped altogether by the Covid pandemic.

This time Peters says a ‘bottom line’ is for a NZ First MP to be Minister of Immigration.

RNZ: NZ First’s campaign promises old and rehashed policies

New Zealand First is sticking to the tried and true as it fights for its survival at this year’s election.

The new campaign slogan is ‘Back Your Future’, which screamed more ‘Back to the Future’ when party leader Winston Peters took to the stage to the same theme songs and announced the same policies from years gone by.

More than 250 members and those interested in catching a glimpse of Peters in full campaign mode packed into the Highbrook Convention Centre in Auckland yesterday afternoon.

But there was nothing new about what Peters was promising – even his suit was from his younger days, after weight loss following recent surgery.

Immigration and frontline police were his two big policy announcements – one is a rehash from the last election and the other has been promised and delivered on twice before.

The immigration reset is that no more than 15,000 people come into New Zealand each year – and that they’re all highly-skilled workers.

Peters said one of his MPs must be immigration minister for that to happen.

It’s a bottom line.

Peters does bottom lines like they’re going out of fashion during election campaigns, but the bottom falls out of them once elected.

“Because we were bringing (immigration) down – but not nearly fast enough – because we weren’t in charge. That’s why we want the immigration portfolio.”

Peters said the definition of highly-skilled will change, but he’s light on detail.

“We plan to create a much smarter one… one that doesn’t have the OECD saying that your policies are a failure, (and) you’re bringing in low-skilled workers.”

He warned increasing unemployment as a result of Covid-19 and the economic slump will bring higher crime rates, and so Peters also promised another 1000 frontline police officers in three years, if re-elected.

That’s one pledge from the last campaign that was actually done. I’m not sure why he sees the need for another big boost.

Senior MP Tracey Martin also announced a universal family benefit.

It would mean all families in New Zealand, with children under 16, would be provided a weekly allowance, no matter their income.

That policy is a return to the old too.

”Well the counter of that is you have to be patient and wait for the rest of the campaign,” Peters said.

”I didn’t come here to announce the whole policy in one day. Be patient and you’ll hear some explosive new ideas.”

On Q&A he was asked why there were no policies on the NZ First website. Peters said that he knew what they were and they would be announced.  It does say on the website:

At the core of New Zealand First’s policies are our “Fifteen Fundamental Principles”, which emphasise accountable and transparent government, common-sense social and economic policy, and the placing of the interests of New Zealand, and New Zealanders, at the forefront of Government decision-making.

But even they don’t seem to be available on their website.

The full Q+A interview here: Winston Peters denies Ihumātao deal in fiery exchange on Q+A

Mr Peters appeared on Q+A this morning in a heated interview with host Jack Tame, where he was asked about Ihumātao, a trans-Tasman bubble, coalition partners, cameras on fishing boats, his party’s policies, and stimulating the economy.

Mr Peters listed previous policies and accomplishments, such as the reinvigoration of KiwiRail and the billion trees promise, as well as the stopping of light rail to Auckland Airport.

NZ First also wants to remove an MP’s personal vote on conscience issues and replace it with a binding referendum.

“We are the only green party, in reality, in this Parliament because we put flesh around our dreams not just talk. That’s what we’ve done,” he said.

Yeah, right.

It was classic combative Peters but looking same old and backwards, with trademark indignation when asked things he didn’t want to answer.

It was similar on an interview on RNZ this morning, more Peters battling against the media and the world.

More from 1 News:  Winston Peters outlines NZ First achievements opposing ‘woke pixie dust’ in Government, announces election promises

“We have opposed woke pixie dust,” he said of his party holding its Coalition partners to account.

“Whilst the rest have been politically correct, we’ve set out to correct politics.”

Voters will judge that in a couple of months.

So far it’s just back to the past from Peters, and he hasn’t yet come up with anything that stands NZ First out from past campaigns.

What NZ First may have to rely on to survive is for Peters to jump on a campaign issue and hope the media gives him some saturation  coverage, as has happened in past campaigns.  But for NZ First supporters it could be like hoping for a lotto win.

Collins: no reason for National to change ‘no deal’ with NZ First

Some time ago the National caucus decided they would rule out doing a coalition deal with NZ First after the election.  Todd Muller had indicated that hadn’t changed under his leadership, and now Judith Collins has done the same.

NZ First are launching their election campaign this weekend, but this may dampen their enthusiasm as it reduces their leverage as they can’t play Labour versus National.

Stuff:  Judith Collins says post-election deal with NZ First ‘not likely’

Speaking to media after putting up the billboards, she said had seen Winston Peters on Saturday morning and had “wished him well – but actually I’d rather we just won”.

She said it was “not likely” they would be in government together: “I don’t know if his party’s going to be there after the election”.

“It’s really important to understand the caucus has said that they don’t want to do a deal with Winston Peters. There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that.

“My view is I’m just not worried about him, or his party vote. I’m focused on the National Party vote.”

As that is a politician speaking it doesn’t rule out a deal categorically, but if Collins reneges on this she should be hammered.

Talking of hammering, that’s what has been happening to NZ First in polls, with recent polls putting Peters’ party around 1%.

In a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this week David Seymour and Chloe Swarbrick polled higher than Peters. Winston is going to pull something out of the hat this campaign if he is going to save his party.

The poll was commissioned by The Project with Yabble, and the 500 respondents were asked: Thinking about all current MPs of any party, which one would you personally prefer to be Prime Minister?  The poll was conducted on July 15 and it has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. – Newshub

Shane Jones signals NZ First attack on immigration

It’s not a surprise to see NZ First target immigration coming in to an election campaign. NZ First had planned to launch their campaign this weekend, but that has been delayed a weekafter what seemed like urgent but minor surgery this week for Winston Peters – see Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters takes medical leave (Peters also had hospital treatment and a week off work last year).

Shane Jones was interviewed on The Nation, but ‘hinted’ at tough immigration policy, presumably leving the big announcements to Peters once he is back on deck.

Newshub: Shane Jones hints at controversial New Zealand First immigration policies despite COVID-19 border closure

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Jones said he believes employers have “a duty” to train New Zealand workers before immigrants.

He promised New Zealand First does not intend to make it easy for language schools while acknowledging the border closure will make their business difficult regardless.

“We’ve had the COVID experience – the borders have closed and it’s hard to see when and how they will open,” he said.

“I can say New Zealand First has no agenda of making it easy for language schools which have brought migrants into New Zealand with low skill, low values and had a very disruptive and negative impact on our labour market.”

Host Simon Shepard said the border closure has removed the immigration debate from the election conversation – a claim which Jones debated.

“I’ve every confidence our leader, our Caucus and our party will have very profound things to say about immigration,” he said.

“Just watch this space – we will have sensible things to say about immigration and it may come to pass that not everyone will enjoy what we have to say,” he continued.

“We’ve got to speak about the fact that in our population of five million we cannot rely on unfettered immigration at a time when our infrastructure is creaking.”

His comments follow a February interview with Newshub Nation where Jones blasted the Government’s immigration policy, saying too many people “from New Delhi” are being allowed to settle in New Zealand.

“I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he said about academic institutions.

Jones defended his comments despite the Prime Minister calling them “loose and wrong”.

NZ First are in for a tough battle this election, with recent poll results around 2%.

In their favour is the disproportionate amount of free publicity the media are likely to give them.

1 News: Battle for Northland seat between Matt King and Shane Jones shaping up as a must win for NZ First

Its candidate Shane Jones is trying to snatch the seat off National MP Matt King in a bid to help keep the Winston Peters-led party in Parliament.

But National’s Matt King says it’ll take more than political stunts to win the seat.

“They won’t be fooled by the game these guys are playing,” he told 1 NEWS.

The MP alleges that the Provincial Growth Fund is being used to curry favour, with Northland securing nearly $600 million.

However, Mr Jones says it’s not Northland “feeling the love”.

“All the provinces have felt the provincial love and that’s because we were elected to drive provincial development.”

PGP handouts have been somewhat overshadowed by much bigger Covid subsidies and handouts, and some PGP funds have been shifted tor Covid recovery.

List MP Willow-Jean Prime is standing for Labour again.

Labour have so far given no indication they will help NZ First in Northland. If they stick to this approach it will be difficult for Jones, who has never won an electorate.

Like Peters, Jones is a boundary pushing attention seeker.

Newshub: Shane Jones stops putting up billboards in Kerikeri after council admits error in allowing it

National MP Matt King, the current MP for Northland, accused his New Zealand First opponent earlier this week of putting up “illegal” election advertising in Kerikeri.

King argued the ‘Jones for Jobs’ billboards broke the Electoral Commission’s rules that election hoardings cannot be put up until July 18.

The Electoral Commission had a different take, explaining how it’s fine for hoardings to be up before July 18 if the local council allows it.

“Election advertising may be published at any time, except on election day. This means election hoardings can be put up at any time, subject to the rules the local council has in place.”

Newshub went to the Far North District Council – the authority overseeing the town of Kerikeri – and CEO Shaun Clarke said there were no rules against it.

“There are no active bylaws or policies which would restrict early hoardings on private land in the Far North District.”

But Clarke has contacted Newshub to say he got it wrong and that there is a rule stating election signs can be erected “no sooner than 8 weeks prior to, and then removed no later than the close of day before polling day”.

Those rules are similar to most if not all local bodies for election hoardings. The CEO should have known that.

Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis confirmed there is no nationwide law to say you can only put up election billboards in a specified period before the election.

Outside of that period it’s up to local councils.

“If the CEO doesn’t know his own bylaws, that’s a worry,” Geddis said.

I hope it was only ignorance of his own bylaws.

Jones should have also been well aware of the by laws, he’s been a politician for a long time and has contested several electorates, including Northland in 2008. He unsuccessfully contested Whangerei in 2017, coming third, over ten thousand votes behind current MP Shane Reti.

Peters won Northland in a by-election in 2015 when Labour told their voters to support him (and most did), but lost to King inn the 2017 general election to King by 1,389 votes.

 

 

‘Bad boys of Brexit’ campaigners and NZ First

People involved in the Brexit campaign in the UK, and to Nigel Farage, have been linked to Winston peters and to the NZ First campaign this election. Peters has reacted oddly to this becoming public.

Last week from The Spinoff: The curious case of Winston Peters and ‘Brexit bad boy’ Arron Banks

One of the fathers of Brexit has spent much of the past five months in Auckland, where he enjoyed the sea breeze, watched the UK’s mishandling of Covid-19 from afar and became a vocal online supporter of Winston Peters.

Arron Banks, a brash British entrepreneur who amassed a fortune before throwing himself into the leave campaign, financed and directed one of the most aggressive groups pushing for Brexit. Unexpectedly, Banks and the Leave.EU campaign have over recent months become champions of a small political party more than 10,000 miles away: New Zealand First.

Despite New Zealand’s distance and near irrelevance to Brexit, a group that rose to prominence and power during the leave campaign has now chosen to promote the New Zealand deputy prime minister and his party.

Leave.EU has also created several posts about New Zealand’s wins against coronavirus and thanked Peters for his leadership in the crisis – no mention is made of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

On Tuesday morning, the Spinoff reached out to NZ First for comment on the connection with Banks and the group.

A party spokesperson directed The Spinoff to Darroch Ball, a list MP based in Palmerston North. The spokesperson said Ball was now responsible for the party’s communications and would field the questions for Peters. Ball did not respond to seven phone calls and text messages over the following six hours. The spokesperson did not respond to four additional phone calls, but in a text message directed the Spinoff to a second spokesperson. As of last night that second spokesperson had not responded to any of four phone calls and text messages.

Yesterday: Brexit campaigners pledge to bring ‘mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare’ to NZ election

New Zealand First has hired a crew of political operators from one of the most aggressive groups in the Brexit campaign to cause “mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare” before the September election, according to The Daily Telegraph, the Conservative-leaning British broadsheet newspaper.

According to The Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, Christopher Hope, a six-person team from Banks’ Leave.EU has been “dispatched to Auckland” to work on New Zealand First’s campaign. They’ve reportedly been instructed to double the party’s count of MPs to 20.

Andy Wigmore, one of Banks’ main lieutenants, told the newspaper: ”I’m going to be on ground in New Zealand causing trouble – mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare in the New Zealand election – the bad boys are back.”

It is uncertain on what basis Wigmore intends to be “on the ground” in New Zealand. There is no known exemption to the strict border controls for political strategists or self-styled “bad boys of Brexit”.

Following the publication of the Spinoff’s story, which followed 15 attempts to contact New Zealand First, Peters tweeted: “For the benefit of the woke leftist spinoff, had they asked me, which they didn’t, I came across Arron Banks in 2016 in the UK. We have been happily sharing thoughts and ideas on international matters ever since. He’s a top bloke and we both believe that freedom matters!”

Following the tweet, New Zealand First was again contacted for comment. They did not respond.

Banks and Peters appeal to a similar demographic, said University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis, but that doesn’t mean Banks should be invited into New Zealand’s political system.

“The form of politics that led to the Brexit vote, which Arron Banks was involved with, was typified by rampant misinformation and appealing to naked prejudice in the electorate. My view is that importing that type of politics into New Zealand would be detrimental to our democracy,” said Geddis.

The Spinoff is again seeking comment from the parties involved, and will update over the day should any response be forthcoming.

Banks and Wigmore promoted the Spinoff article:

Later yesterday Peters decided to go straight to the public via a media release – The Spinoff posted on this:  Winston Peters takes exception to UK media report by issuing an angry diatribe – against The Spinoff

The Daily Telegraph, newspaper of choice for the British Conservative establishment, reported overnight that the New Zealand First Party had hired a crew of political operators from one of the most aggressive and controversial groups in the Brexit campaign to create “mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare” in the leadup to the September election.

The Spinoff in turn reported the developments from the UK this morning. Both Banks and Wigmore retweeted The Spinoff’s story.

Peters, who is New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, then chose to respond. In a statement he snubbed the venerable British broadsheet the Daily Telegraph (established 1855), however, choosing instead to focus on the New Zealand site The Spinoff (established 2014) in a statement issued this afternoon.

In his idiosyncratic statement today, Peters said that the original story from The Spinoff had left “a very disappointed NZF staffer” who felt that their statement had been attributed to Banks’ influence when they “wrote that press release, all on their own”.

It was never The Spinoff’s intention to attribute that writer’s work to Banks, not least because the now disappointed writer manifestly wanted their work attributed to Peters.

Peters sounds a tad agitated by all of this exposure.

NZ First and fishing boat camera delays

Newshub has agitated Winston Peters with their reporting of ongoing delays at fitting cameras on fishing boats to monitor catches and protection of protected bird and sea mammal species.

Peters has been connected with fishing company interests for years, Shane Jones is former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, and fishing companies have donated to NZ First and to the NZ First trust (and also to national and Labour candidates).

The installation of cameras on fishing boats seems to have been contentious. National planned to require it when they were in Government, and the Green Party, Greenpeace and NZ Forest and Bird strongly supports it.

RNZ (February 2018): Govt considering ditching fishing boat camera plans

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said many in the fishing industry were unhappy with the camera proposal and all options were on the table – including dumping it entirely.

One of Mr Nash’s first moves when he became the Fisheries Minister was to put the brakes on the rollout of electronic monitoring of the commercial fishing fleet.

The former National government came up with the plan last year, saying it would protect the sustainability of fish stocks and act as a deterrent against illegal activity, like fish dumping.

But Mr Nash said National forced it upon the sector, and he was getting advice from officials on what should be done.

“There are certainly concerns in the industry that there hasn’t been a proper process followed and a complete and utter lack of consultation.

“That does seem to be the prevailing attitude but we haven’t made any final decision on that,” he said.

Mr Nash said ditching the programme entirely was one of the options being considered.

“We could continue the project as it is, we could delay it – at the extreme we could dump it.”

National Party fisheries spokesman Gerry Brownlee said the rollout of cameras was needed to deal with well-publicised problems in the sector.

“Our step to put cameras on board was not rejected by the industry, it was the speed with which they were required to comply and they felt they needed more time,” he said.

Mr Brownlee said to move away from cameras would be ignoring problems, such as commercial fisheries catching non-quota species, as well as seabirds and sea mammals.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the fishing industry could not be trusted and cameras on boats was the only way to keep it honest.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said Forest and Bird had an anti-commercial fishing agenda, and that the camera proposal was simplistic, unreasonably costly and inadequate.

Stuff (January 2019): Cameras on fishing boats delayed, angering Greens and Greenpeace

The Government has again delayed the rollout of mandatory cameras on fishing boats.

The change to the regulation was “gazetted” on Wednesday and gives companies until August 2019 to get their boats ready.

This follows another delay caused as the policy, supported by the previous Government, made its way through Cabinet.

Both the Green Party and Greenpeace have expressed disappointment at the delay.

“We don’t agree with this delay which is putting our fisheries and natural environment at risk”, Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

Despite being a part of the Government, the Greens are free to disagree with it on issues its MPs have no ministerial discretion over.

Former Green Party co-leader and Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman was also angered by the delay.

“There was a disturbing level of malpractice exposed by the original trials of the cameras back in 2012,” Norman said.

Norman alleged NZ First MP and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones was behind the move. NZ First have interfered in several other fishing policy decisions in recent months, and Jones received thousands of dollars in donations from fishing companies.

“If Shane Jones is now the de facto Minister of Fishing and has a policy agenda to help fishing companies destroy the environment, then the Government should just come clean about it rather than quietly delaying any action to protect our oceans,” Norman said.

Jones vigorously defended himself against Norman, saying the Greenpeace leader had left politics so should stay out of it.

Newsroom last month (June 2020): Why the delay to get cameras on boats?

The deadline for having cameras installed on commercial fishing boats was pushed back again last week with technology being pegged as one reason for the delay.

Newsroom’s enquiries have not been able to establish the nature of those technology issues, finding only that a step to define which technology solutions are required hasn’t yet happened.

Since cameras on boats were first proposed by the National-led government following concern over illegal fish-dumping, the rollout date has shifted several times from the original date of October 2018.

A new date of October 2021 added to legislation last week is not a firm line in the sand. Nash said it’s a holding date, “not a planned date for either beginning or completing any implementation”.

Stuff reported Nash raised cost as an issue last week as well as technical complications saying: “The technology at this point is just not available to allow us to equip the whole fleet with cameras.”

However, enquiries to Fisheries NZ reveal there’s a process step required before technical decisions are made and costs are known.

Asked what the technical issues causing the delay were, Fisheries NZ’s deputy director-general Dan Bolger said a public consultation would be needed.

Public consultation will take time, but it’s not clear why it is needed at this stage.

The delays have frustrated conservationists. Greenpeace’s ocean campaigner Jessica Desmond said the ongoing stalling wasn’t good enough.

“There’s been a long pattern of delaying this legislation implementation. There’s been OIAs showing the industry oppose this legislation, there’s been all kinds of excuses about money and technicalities.”

Fishing industry opposition was made clear in a letter sent in 2018 to Nash signed by Sealord, Talley’s, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen and Te Ohu Kai Moana:

“The purpose of this letter is to dismiss any suggestion that the New Zealand seafood industry supports the current proposal, is in any way split in its opposition to it or that our industry has anything less than overwhelming opposition to your Ministry’s current proposal for cameras.”

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones denied being involved with the delay despite his past ties to the fishing industry as a former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, pro-industry stance, and history of receiving donations from Talley’s.

The NZ First Foundation received $26,950 from Talley’s and managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, Talley’s donated $10,000 to Jones.

The company also made a donation of $2000 to one other NZ First candidate, and donations of $5000 to seven National candidates and one Labour candidate in 2017.

Timeline:

2012 to 2013 – Video-monitoring pilot programme shows some monitored boats illegally discarding unwanted fish.

May 2016 – A report by an MPI investigator is leaked which called for prosecutions to be pursued. MPI announces an inquiry by former Solicitor General into the lack of prosecutions.

May 2017 – $30.5 million boost to fisheries management announced by then-Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy. It includes funding for GPS monitoring, electronic logbooks and was to be “followed by cameras on every vessel phased in from 1 October next year”.

November 2017 – Minister Stuart Nash postpones cameras on fishing boats saying: “I am working with MPI officials on options for timing and these will be communicated once a decision has been made.”

July 2018 – Letter from fishing companies sent to Nash saying the companies do not support cameras on boats.

January 2019 – Rollout of cameras delayed until August.

June 2019 – $17.1 million announced in Budget for cameras on boats fishing in Māui dolphin habitat by November 2019.

June 2020 – Rollout delayed to a “holding date” of October 2021.

On Tuesday: Winston Peters launches attack on Newshub journalist Michael Morrah ahead of fishing boat camera investigative report

On Tuesday’s Newshub Live at 6pm, Newshub Investigations Reporter Michael Morrah will reveal the politics behind delays in introducing cameras on fishing boats – and who’s responsible.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has released a statement before it goes it air, defending his party’s actions.

Peters is calling it “the worst form of unethical tabloid journalism”.

“What is appalling is how clickbait journalism is affecting the public’s right to be informed accurately about government policy,” he said.

“Newshub’s ‘shock horror’ special investigation will be as shallow as the motives behind its creation, and highlight once again some in the New Zealand’s media’s inability to understand how coalitions work.”

Morrah has covered the fishing industry for a decade and stands by his reporting.

“The public can make their own mind up tonight on Newshub Live at 6pm about whether this is clickbait journalism as Peters has claimed,” he says.

“I strongly reject any such suggestion, and I believe this story is in the public interest.”

The news item on Tuesday evening: Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash blames pressure from NZ First for delay in fishing boat cameras in recording

Newshub has obtained an explosive audio recording of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash talking about NZ First MPs Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

The recording was from February 2018, around the time the Government first delayed the rollout of cameras on nearly 1000 fishing boats – since then it’s been delayed again until at least October next year.

In it, Nash points the finger of blame squarely at them for delaying plans to put cameras on commercial fishing boats to make sure they don’t break the law.

“New Zealand First has not been the cause of delays on cameras,” Nash has claimed on Tuesday.

But in February 2018, a few months after he took office, the explanation was remarkably different according to this secret recording obtained by Newshub.

“I’ve got to play the political game in a way that allows me to make these changes. Now, Winston Peters and Shane Jones have made it very clear they do not want cameras on boats,” Nash can be heard saying in a recording.

Nash then went on to say a public review of the fisheries management is needed to get the cameras rolled out.

“If Winston wants to have that discussion with Jacinda, it is had in the public arena and it is almost impossible for him to win it,” he said.

“But if he has it behind closed doors on the 9th floor now, then the public will never know about it. So what I am trying to do is put Winston and Shane into a position where they cannot back down.”

“By revoking these regulations, first of all people like Winston and the industry will go, ‘oh there, there you go. That’s fantastic, that’s been done. We don’t have to worry about this’,” he said in the recording.

“Little do they know behind the scenes the tidal wave on this is coming and they won’t be able to avoid it.”

But that tidal wave never came, nor did the planned fisheries review nor cameras on all boats.

On Tuesday, Nash said his comments were a mistake and that he ‘misread’ NZ First’s position.

“I just got it wrong. I was a new Minister. I was coming to grips with the portfolio. I got it wrong,” he told Newshub.

NZ First MPs are adamant they haven’t delayed things, with Jones blaming the pandemic.

“I’m not the Fisheries Minister, but I suspect that COVID has got a lot to do with it,” Regional Development Minister Shane Jones told Newshub.

“Cameras on fishing boats is really interesting. We haven’t blocked cameras on fishing boats,” NZ First MP Tracey Martin told Newshub Nation.

Although in an interview with Newshub less than two weeks ago, party leader Winston Peters eventually acknowledged NZ First was involved in the delay.

“Do we listen to industry representation, yes. Are we concerned about families and their economic representation? Yes. Are we the cause of that delay? Well, we are part of the representation that has ended up with a more rational and sane policy, yes” he said. Asked whether that was a yes to the original question, Peters responded: “yes”.

Talley’s Andrew Talley told Newshub “within the right framework cameras have a place in modern fisheries management”.

He says there’s “no connection” with donations and the camera delays.

When questioned if NZ First had delayed the cameras because he got financial backing from the fishing industry, Peters called it an “insulting question”.

“Stop making your vile, defamatory allegations by way of an accusatory question,” he told Newshub. “This conversation is over.”

Peters can get tetchy when under pressure.

Newshub followed up yesterday:  Talleys hosted fundraiser dinners for NZ First, but denies that’s behind delay in fishing boat cameras

Members of fishing family Talleys organised two fundraising dinners at hotels for New Zealand First, Newshub can reveal – another link between the party and the fishing industry.

Newshub can reveal Talleys Fishing directors hosted two fundraising dinners for NZ First – one last year at a Christchurch hotel.

There’s nothing illegal or wrong about hosting fundraisers. The MC was former RNZ board chair Richard Griffin. He confirmed to Newshub that he’d MCed two fundraiser meetings for NZ First, and that Winston Peters, Shane Jones and Clayton Mitchell were there.

Asked about the fundraisers, Peters said “I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.”

Even after Newshub briefed his office, he still refused to talk about it, saying “I don’t know what on earth you’re asking these questions for”.

After contentious donation issues in 2008 Peters lost his Tauranga seat and NZ First failed to make the 5% threshold, dumping them out of Parliament.

Stuff: Stuart Nash apologises to Winston Peters and Shane Jones over fisheries comments

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash made a “heartfelt” apology to Winston Peters and Shane Jones for remarks made in a private phone call, which aired on television last night.

Nash said today that the conversation was had two and a half years ago, and he couldn’t remember who was on the other end of the call.

He said he’d apologised to Peters and Jones about the call.

“I’ve apologised to Winston and to Shane and said I got it wrong,” Nash said. “I think they took it well because it was heartfelt,” he said.

Nash said at the time that while the technology had been rolled on 20 boats on the West Coast, it was not yet ready for wider distribution.

If it works on some boats why shouldn’t it be able to work on others?

Cameras are already used successfully on some fishing boats, so the technology seems fine. Fisheries New Zealand:  On-board cameras for commercial fishing vessels

On-board cameras give us independent information about what goes on at sea. They help verify catch reporting, and monitor fishing activity by commercial fishers, to encourage compliance with the rules.

Overseas experience shows that placing cameras on commercial fishing vessels greatly improves the quality of fisher-reported data.

For example, reports of interactions with seabirds and mammals increased 7 times when electronic monitoring was introduced to Australia’s longline fisheries in 2015. Overall reported catch remained the same.

Camera technologies have been used around the world on commercial fishing vessels for decades, and we have learnt a lot from fisheries overseas which are already using these systems.

New Zealand regulations for on-board cameras on commercial fishing vessels came into effect in 2018.

Since then, we’ve been developing the systems and processes to support this, and have now put cameras on some fishing vessels. The regulations applied to these vessels from 1 November 2019 in a defined fishing area on the west coast of the North Island.

Currently, a holding date of 1 October 2021 has been set before the on-board camera regulations apply to other commercial fishing vessels.

So technology does not appear to be an issue.  It looks more like a political problem. Putting things on hold until next year sounds like waiting and hoping for a different mix of parties in Government.

 

 

Newshub Nation – Clark, polls, NZ First-Green relationship

Winston ‘spray and walk away’ Peters and NZ First failings

NZ First looks to be in big trouble. It is still twelve weeks until the election, and Winston has been good at pulling campaign rabbits out of the hat, but prospects currently look a bit grim for NZ First.

This far out from the 2017 election Peters was confident of getting 20+% in the election, beating Labour and being top dog in coalition negotiations.  In June-July 2017 NZ First were getting 8-11% in polls and Peters always claimed polls were wrong (unless he liked the results).

Jacinda Ardern took over leadership and Labour bounced back in the polls, and NZ First dropped, getting 5-8% results towards the election. Still Peters claimed ‘Crap’ polls don’t reflect NZ First’s position:

RNZ’s latest poll of polls – which is the average of the major polls – has New Zealand First at 7.5 percent and falling.

Mr Peters today said despite the party’s slump in the polls, New Zealand First was actually going “very well” and the large variation between the recent polls showed they could not be relied upon and should not be taken seriously.

He said political polls were akin to voodoo.

“I think your polls are crap and I’ve always thought that,” Mr Peters said in Whangamata today.

“What you should say is ‘Mr Peters – my crap polls should be listened to’, and my answer’s ‘no your crap polls should be totally ignored by the public because they’re rubbish’.”

Eleven days later NZ First got 7.2% in the election, so the polls weren’t that far off.

Peters still acted like he had won the election and dictated the terms of coalition negotiations. He dominated proceedings, played the media, Labour and Greens, and came out with a disproportionate deal – the Winston tail wagged the Labour puppy which was desperate to get back into Government after nine years in opposition.

NZ First scored  the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund prize and they have been dishing out dosh as if it was election bribes all over the country. Donors from the racing and fishing industries were also rewarded with favourable policy changes.

Peters started the term as Deputy Prime Minister but acting as if he was the virtual leader with Ardern his rookie subordinate.

But Ardern’s leadership overshadowed Peters, especially in difficult times such as the Christchurch mosque murders, the Whakaari/White Island eruption and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peters lost a court battle against National MPs and public officials over his super overpayments being made public.

And this year NZ First was exposed with the use of a trust to hide and effectively fiddle party donations. Whatever the Serious Fraud Office decide to do damage has already been done. One NZ First MP, Clayton Mitchell, won’t be standing this election and that looks a bit like it could be connected to his involvement in party donations.

Peters is starting to look old and stale alongside Ardern and in Parliament.

NZ First have been polling around the all important threshold and have recently slipped well below it. At the start of the year poll results were 3-5%, but last month (May) they got a consistent 2.7%, 2.9% and 2.5% across three polls, and yesterday they dropped to 1.8% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, their lowest result since 2014.

Winston’s reaction was predictable. 1 News headlined NZ First sees disastrous poll result but Peters responded

Asked about the party’s poor showing in the poll, party leader Winston Peters told 1 NEWS – “your polls are crap…your polls are rubbish…your problem is you don’t have the intellectual capacity to absorb the mistakes of your polling industry.”

Mr Peters denied that the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the secretive foundation bankrolling his party was contributing to its poor results.

“Once again that’s a jack-up as well, and we’ll prove that….this is the point here New Zealand First is so effective, that we’re impervious to attack on any reasonable grounds so common dirt is what they try against us – it’s not going to work,” Mr Peters said.

But Peters is looking like a repetitive, faded jaded mandarin.

On Thursdays in Parliament Peters gets to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. I wonder what he thinks of being referred to as ‘she’ and repeat lame Government lines, like (from Hansard):

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will she absolutely guarantee there will not be an inquiry or investigation into the failures that have occurred?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it would be wrong to actually guarantee against a future inquiry. We cannot see the purpose of making such a commitment when, in fact, transparency and openness is our middle name.

Lack of openness and transparency have dogged the government, and have never been attributes associated with Peters.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Would the officials working at the front line have more time to do the jobs that we desperately need them to do if they weren’t having to investigate spurious and baseless claims being made by members of the Opposition?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. To have an official having to behave like Sherlock Holmes to find a guilty party that doesn’t exist is preposterous behaviour, and Mr Woodhouse should be apologising to the country.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Will she commit to telling the New Zealand public if and when the investigations being led by Dr Megan Woods reveals the veracity of the claim?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. But this is how the real world works—this is how the real world works. When an allegation is made, especially from someone who’s educated and a member of Parliament and a former Minister, you expect that member to back it up. We do not the old fungus or moss ad that used to go like this, “I just spray and walk away.” Spray and walk away won’t do, Mr Woodhouse.

That’s a laugh coming from him. Peters has been the spray and walk away champion of Parliament for decades. One of his trademarks is to make outrageous allegations in Parliament, insists he has evidence, but fails to front up with it.

Things are looking grim for Peters and the future of his party. Sure, he may pick up on a scandal and milk it for all it’s worth between now and the election, and pull off another miracle recovery, but he may struggle with that.

NZ First has never survived in Government for more than a term, and didn’t survive in Parliament after the 2005-2008 stint.

This campaign Peters is not just having to do a ‘me against them’ battle while claiming he would do a deal with anyone.  He is having to deal with pushback from Labour for doing the dirty on some of their policies, and Greens are also targeting NZ First for dumping on some of their aspirations. Plus of course National currently have a position of not dealing with NZ First after the election.

The threshold is looking like a difficult target for NZ First.

Their other way back is for Shane Jones to win the Northland electorate that Peters lost in 2017. Jones has never managed to win an electorate yet. Voters don’t seem to like his over-hyped oratory anywhere near as much as he does.

With or without an SFO decision before the election it’s going to be a big battle for Peters this time, and after a busy term he may struggle to raise the energy needed to pull it off. Most people are wise to his hype, hypocrisy and forked tongue.

Winston will spray, but we will have to wait until September to see whether he has to walk away from a long career in politics or not.

Government crumbling?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have been keeping a deliberate distance from the handling of Covid isolation and quarantining, and from most other things that are currently besetting her Government. But questions are being asked.

NZ Herald:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responds to claims Government ‘tearing itself apart’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is shrugging off criticism that her Government is “tearing itself apart,” after New Zealand First killed any hope that light rail in Auckland would get underway this term.

“This is an MMP Government,” Ardern said this afternoon.

“This just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus.”

Greens co-leader James Shaw said NZ First’s light rail moves were a “slap in the face of Aucklanders”.

But he insisted the policy was not dead.

Ardern admitted she was frustrated that the project won’t get underway before the election.

“That was a policy that we campaigned on that we have worked really hard on because we believe it will make a difference to congestion issues in Auckland.”

Light Rail was the first big policy announced by Ardern when she took over leadership of Labour leading into the 2017 election.

Labour made a commitment to the Greens in their governing agreement:

Work will begin on light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland.

But Ardern has not been able to prevent NZ First from delaying and then cancelling the project.

Stuff: James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement by axing light rail plan

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says NZ First are breaching their coalition agreement with Labour by axing Auckland light rail this term.

In some of his harshest ever words against the party, Shaw said NZ First’s killing off of Auckland light rail this term was a “slap in the face of Aucklanders” and breached the coaliton agreement between Labour and NZ First.

He also refused to say whether he would go into Government with NZ First again.

This is unusually strong words from Shaw, but the survival of his party is at real risk.

NZ First leader Winston Peterssaid it was his reading of the clause that his party would act in good faith with the Greens, but did not actually bind his agreement to theirs.

“It asks us to act in good faith using our best information to make judgements on matters,” Peters said.

Pushed on this point Peters asked that the reporter go to the Human Rights Commission to get an interpretation of the clause.

Good faith and Winston Peters? he is also fighting for political survival and is well known to put his interests first, his party isn’t referred to as Winston First for nothing.

He said NZ First had killed off the plans as it was worried about cost blowouts.

That’s from someone who, along with Shane Jones, are doling out billions to regions whiling claiming as much credit for themselves.

1 News Morning Briefing June 25: Ardern denies coalition is crumbling

Ms Ardern says hers is an MMP Government and “this just happens to be one [area] where we were unable to form a consensus”.

One of a growing number of ‘areas’.

Meanwhile, NZ First has also left business owners frustrated after putting the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, forcing Labour to turn to National for support for the bill.

NZ First leader Winston Peters denies he’s blocking the changes, saying, “We’re just making sure the policy is a sound, commercial proposition in fairness to the contractual laws in New Zealand.”

Peters is blocking changes on a number of things at least until the election.

The Spinoff  The Bulletin: Will the three-party government survive the term?

After several days of frantically knifing each other at parliament, you’d be forgiven for thinking the coalition government is on the verge of collapse. The highest profile incident was the news that the process on deciding how to get light rail in Auckland is now off the table…

As if to underline their independence from the wider coalition, NZ First have inflicted several more quick defeats on their frenemies this week. They’ve refused to support the proposal for hate speech laws. They put the brakes on proposed changes to commercial leases, in the wake of Covid-19. They stalled changes to how rape trials operate, based on concerns raised by defence lawyers. In each case, the party put up reasons for their opposition. But the cumulative effect of a barrage of similar stories creates the impression that they’re no longer interested in allowing anything else through before the election.

What’s driving all of this? Politik’s Richard Harman is particularly well informed on these matters, and has speculated that what we’re seeing right now is revenge from NZ First around one of their key projects – the movement of Auckland port operations to Whangārei – not making the speedy progress that they would have liked to see. Among the snubs in this area, the report noted that a proposal to build a floating dry dock in the north was not part of the recently announced list of 11 shovel-ready projects.

Peters reacting out of spite? Surely not.

Could all of this actually bring the government down? It’s not impossible that we’ll see an early election, even if it is deeply unlikely.

I think it is unlikely. Even if the Government collapsed now it would seem pointless bringing the election forward by a few weeks – it is currently three months away.

Peters should be very wary of bringing down another Government, he has a reputation for not going the distance and another failure would not be helpful for his re-election chances.

But an ongoing train wreck won’t help either.


RNZ: Casualties of the coalition government continue to grow

Labour and Green MPs have given up hiding their growing frustrations with New Zealand First vetoing their flagship policies.

Once again the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens has taken a hit.

Justice Minister Andrew Little hasn’t had a good run negotiating with New Zealand First in the past.

While he’d work with them again, he also said “I might change the ground rules”.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is less forgiving that yet another policy in the Greens’ confidence and supply agreement with Labour has been placed on the backburner.

“I have faith in the Green Party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour, yes. I don’t have faith that New Zealand First are able to uphold their own coalition agreement.

“Their coalition agreement says that they will act in good faith to ensure all other agreements can be complied with,” he said.

But NZ First Leader Winston Peters brushed off the accusation.

“We’ve acted in good faith but the Greens’ three hours ago were telling you they’re responsible, and then two hours later they had an epiphany and now they’re saying we’re breaching some kind of agreement to which we were never a part.”

Sounds like a dysfunctional government.