English on Peters

 

Seems to be a thing in media today to check out Bill English’s views on how National might work with Winston Peters after the election.

In the latest Colmar Brunton poll National were on 46% and NZ First remain high for them this far out from the election on 11%.

That’s a pragmatic position to take at this stage of election year.

1 News: ‘No’ – Bill English stands firm on chances of a pre-election deal with Winston

Prime Minister Bill English says there is no chance of pre-election talks with Winston Peters, but if New Zealanders want Mr Peters in Parliament, National will work with him.

There’s very likely to be no chance Peters would have pre-election talks with any other party, at least not that the public would find out about.

New Zealanders get to say who they want in Parliament but they don’t get to say who they want in Government. That is left to party wheeling and dealing after the election.

Mr English, speaking this morning to TVNZ’s Breakfast programme, said there had been speculation around Mr Peters’ role at the last few elections, but National is not looking to make a deal if he becomes kingmaker.

“He’s signalled it’s unlikely with him either,” Mr English said.

That’s confusing (from 1 News).

However, should voters put him into Parliament, Mr English said National is quite capable of working with him.

“If you needed to, you can work with anyone if that’s what the voters tell you is needed for stable government, and the way the world is, I think that’s what is needed here,” Mr English said.

So English is leaving his options open, as he needs to do.

I think that English may be more likely to try to do a coalition deal with Peters if that is what is required to form the next government.

Key would have more easily walked away from an unpalatable arrangement – perhaps this is what he has done.

But English will presumably be keen to be Prime Minister with an election mandate. He is currently a party appointed mid term replacement.

NZ First response to PM’s statement

NZ First leader Winston Peters’ response to the Prime Minister’s statement.


Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): They say that body language is everything. I want to congratulate the gallery for staying awake and for their stamina. I want to say that the events thus far put me in mind of nothing so much as a guy stepping up to kick a ball 80 metres—80 metres—over the goal line to get a penalty to win the game. All his supporters and colleagues are sitting there breathless expecting that he might just get it over, except they know in their mind’s eye that he does not have a hope in Hades and nor have they. I have never seen so many nervous Nellies on the backbench. The only thing that the National Party backbench agree on is that despite its party’s blatant, awful economic and social mistakes, we are still somehow a country of opportunity. Do members know how it determines that? It determines that by looking at its front bench. Have a good look at this tired, old, uninspiring, visionless man in the main. Nick Smith makes me look young. It is unbelievable. They do not have any idea at all. They are just hanging on for dear life. Talk about unity! Eighteen members are going.

Ron Mark: How many?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Eighteen. That means that the Government must have chosen some bums the last time around—that is what that means.

Two things happened today: first, the Prime Minister put out a statement this morning; and, second, the Governor of the Reserve Bank said that he was going to join John Key and quit. That is what happened today. They know that the game is up for them.

It is time for some truth on our economy. This Government has a serious inability to address the problems that it and its policies have created. No amount of spin, hype, and grandiose talk will dispel the fact that as we go into the 2017 election, it is on a hiding to nothing. All Government members know it. They are trying every dirty little tactic behind closed doors. They are financing the Māori Party; they fund it. They are propping up the guy in Epsom. Now, I do not want to say these things, because they can be misconstrued. Have you ever seen cuckold politics? What is the other one? Ōhāriu. How can any self-respecting party—[Interruption] Oh, yes, the Maori Party—I know. Boy, is it big on tino rangatiratanga. Oh, is it big on that. Until it comes to standing on its own two feet and showing a bit of old-fashioned Māori tribal pride. [Interruption] Oh, no, no, no. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full! That is its policy. Talk about tino rangatiratanga. It would not understand the concept. To stand on one’s own feet, like this party is, the hope and salvation for this country is not easy. It’s not easy.

New Zealand is not an economic success story. Do members know what the old Māoris say about a hen making too much noise like a rooster? What do they say? What do the old Māoris say about a hen making the noise of a rooster? I cannot say that today. The fact of the matter is that this is not economic success. The rock star economy that Bill English constantly touts, as he did today, is a fiction. If we look at some of the facts, we will see how easily his plans are dispelled. If we strip out population growth, it is at a record high—almost four times that which saw Brexit in the United Kingdom, which saw Donald Trump win the election in the United States, and which saw a dramatic change in the Australian election last year as well. We are also seeing a dramatic change in Germany, France, and Italy. If we strip out this massive population growth, what do we have? We have a very boring economy performing below 1 percent growth. All the rest is immigration.

Therefore, New Zealand’s productivity performance is amongst the lowest in the OECD. How do I know that? Because in the old days a guy called John Key—no, not John; John would say anything. A guy called Bill English used to say things like that. If we strip out population growth, our GDP per capita is below the OECD average. With the export of goods and services and our total economic output around 30 percent by international standards, we are not an export-driven economy. This country is export-dependent for its survival and prosperity. It is amazing, you know; the Government used to have a target to increase the contribution of exports to the economy from 30 percent of GDP to 40 percent by 2025, and they have dropped it. They have dropped it. It has gone from their targeting. They know they cannot do that, and we have a staggering net liability internationally of $163 billion, and in the House today he releases a statement saying he is getting on top of debt. He is getting on top of debt, at $163 billion, and a chronic balance of payments deficit. There is no prospect of repaying our debt. What do you think a balance of payments deficit is? Well, for those untutored people over there, it is called debt. That is where we have got ourselves.

On jobs, well, they fling open the door for immigrants at record levels—a net influx of 70,000 a year—and unemployment is going back up. Another 10,000 unemployed were added to the jobless in the latest quarterly household figures released last week. Let me tell you about the deceit of those figures—and New Zealanders need to know that. You go, under the National Government, from being unemployed to employed if you get one hour’s work a week. Just one hour, or two hours, or five hours—they say now you are employed, you are off the unemployed statistics. It blows away the phony optimists who have been predicting the unemployment would be falling throughout 2017. The insanity of having record immigration whilst they have got almost 140,000—mainly New Zealanders but many of them are new immigrants—officially unemployed is obvious to all Kiwis now. Of course, the headline figures, the tip of the much bigger iceberg, are those who are in part-time work and cannot get nearly enough work to keep their families and themselves going.

The latest unemployment data confirms what New Zealanders have long suspected, and that is why the National Government is in trouble in 2017. As for their puppets, well, they are all going to go out. Their puppets have not got a hope in Hades. When they realise that their so-called guardsman is not up to it, then the public will send them on their way.

The real aim of open-door immigration policy is to suppress the wages of ordinary New Zealanders. The real objective of mass immigration, at almost four times the level of the UK—far greater than Australia and far greater than the USA—is to drive down wages and drive up competition. Migrants are soaking up entry-level and basic jobs around the country. Having Kiwis fearful of their jobs from new migrants desperate for work is a disgraceful unemployment policy, and that is why we are going to cream the floor with you in this campaign. That is why we are going to go around the country, pack the halls, and take you guys to the cleaners, because you do not deserve to survive, and you have not got the brains or the skills anyway.

Talk about the Green leader: the Green leader forgot the fact they are so bad at business, they gave South Canterbury Finance $800 million and did not cap their guarantee, so it blew out $800 million further—a blowout of $800 million. They gave Rio Tinto hundreds of millions. They gave Skycity Casino $42 million extra a year. They dish money out like an eight-armed octopus and then go down to Rātana as the Prime Minister did and say: “We have got no more money we cannot help you.” And what did the two Māori Party members say?

Hon Member: Oh yeah, is that right.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Is that right?

Hon Member: Nothing. They said nothing.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, they said: “Amen, brother.” They said: “Amen, Brother.” They were quite religious. Unbelievable—no wonder they are so desperate. And if you have got Tuku at the head of your party, you have got trouble. Ha, ha! You have got serious trouble.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, last week Bill English went to Auckland to a rotary club. They must have been desperate, because they invited him. There he gave a speech about the “state of the nation”. And guess what? In the city with the fourth worst housing crisis in the whole, wide world, he never mentioned the house price debacle. How do you like that? He goes to Auckland and talks about the state of the nation, and the number one thing glaring in his face is the housing crisis of Auckland, where your people cannot buy a house, where generations are being shut out, where they cannot now rent, where teachers are saying “Well, I might be qualified, but I’m getting out of here because I can’t afford to stay here and practice my profession. I’ve got to go somewhere else.”—he did not even mention the house price debacle. That’s an utter mess.

Marama Fox: Is that like when you go to Rātana and don’t mention the Treaty?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I want to tell that Māori Party member, who makes far too much noise, that 75,000 Māori just want a house—75,000 Māori want a house. I want every Māori out there looking for a house, looking for a chance to do what great parties once delivered, to know that we have got in this Parliament two Māori members trying to over-talk another one who is far more experienced than them, and that as far as these two members go, they would rather keep their ministerial home than get the Māori people a home. Yes—unbelievable. They would rather keep their ministerial home than give the Māori people a home. Seventy-five thousand—and just to make sure that 75,000 Māori cannot get a home, they back mass immigration. To make sure that Māori cannot get a job, they back mass immigration. In fact, do you know what that party said? They said we should not be criticising this mass immigration; we should be going to the airport to give them a pōwhiri. Now, a pōwhiri is a welcoming message.

That is how dysfunctional these sociology-trained academics in the Māori Party are. They are totally devoid of the condition, economic and social, of the people in places like Moerewa, Kawarau—all around the country. No, no—when I go down there and I say to the Māori people “Have you got a snapper from this Māori Party? You got one inch of land from this Māori Party? You got anything from this Māori Party? Do you know what Whānau Ora is doing for you? Is it uplifting your life?”, they say to me: “Brother, we don’t know what you’re talking about, because we’re getting nothing.” The sooner we get some real representation that understands the condition of Māori the same as the condition of Europeans in this country—people in this country want four things. They want First World housing that they can afford; they want a health system they can access, be it for their child or their grandmother or grandfather; and they want an education system that keeps the escalators going so that they can progress regardless of their race.

They want First World jobs and First World wages. That is what Māori want. Come to think of it, that is what everybody in this country wants and one party understands that and you are talking to it—only one party. We are going to shock you guys in this campaign and we are going to shock you guys as well. We are going to turn your polls into confetti. I would have thought from the Brexit campaign and the campaign in Australia and the campaign in the United States that you in the gallery might have learnt that your polls are dribble.

I thought you might have learnt it from the Northland by-election. The man over there said I did not have a dog show and we won over 17,412 and busted them in 4 weeks flat. Got you worried? Yes, I know your knees are knocking; they should be. That is going to be a very short ministerial post. Do not get too used to the cars. Do not get used to the house. Do not get too used to all of those places, because I will tell you something: it ain’t going to last much longer. When we get down there in the South Island and start spreading the word, it will be all over for you—it will be all over for you.

Jacqui Dean: You don’t even know where it is.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh, yes. Unlike your former leader, I live in my electorate. [Interruption] And they hate it. I know what they are saying up there. They are going around and saying: “He doesn’t even live up here.” Everybody in my village knows they are lying. They have seen me travelling those dusty roads, going over those single-lane bridges, trying to go out on the water to get my phone going because the Government are not delivering the services, speaking to people in Kerikeri because they have not got ultra-fast broadband like they were promised—Paula fooled us. No, they know all about it, and also they decided they are going to put a cop up. That is three in a row. How do you like that? Bit stupid are they not? But anyway, back to my point.

You know it became very clear today what Bill English intends to do. Do you know what he is going to do? He is going to blame the public service. He is going to go to all those desperate provinces, like the North, like Gisborne, like Rotorua, because they have got such a terrible collapsing environment there. The three mayors of these three areas are all saying that they are pushing for anti-poverty tools. They are asking for a chance to take over the agencies and help their local people, but they do not realise that it is not the agencies fault when they are massively underfunded.

And the Government’s clear and transparent line is that it is going to blame the agencies: “I know what we will do, we will tell the people of Rotorua and Northland and down the East Coast and Gisborne that their condition is brought about by the public service!” How do you like that? Unbelievable. They, the provinces—and the North is a good example of it—are in the top half of the export-earning electorates, and down at the bottom of everything else. Our job is to expose people who would keep them there, like the Māori Party, like the ACT Party, and like the party that has been around for so long it calls itself the National Party. It should be up for false pretences.

There is nothing national about the National Party. It is a globalist party. It is the party that believed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It is the party that when we said a year ago: “It’s dead on the water.”, it ignored us, and yet they are the first over there to talk to Donald Trump. What a joke that is. And the media write that they are going to get a free-trade agreement with the UK, with the EU, and with Donald Trump. Meanwhile they collapsed our chance of getting a decent deal with the second-biggest dairy and beef importer in the world, namely Russia. What a bunch of clowns in a diplomatic China shop. One disaster after another. What is Tim Groser doing in Washington? Pray tell me what is he doing but having a few red wines all the time? He has got no purpose to be there. Nobody is going to talk to him over there?

Ron Mark: TPPA’s dead.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: TPPA is dead on the water—dead on the water.

Ron Mark: He’s unemployed.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: He may as well be unemployed. Why do you not bring him home? And they say, of course, now and again “We’ll make more progress.” At least we can talk to them. At least we can talk to them.

Can I just say one thing on the Police: the National Party claimed for 8 long years that crime was falling. Every criminal lawyer in this country was saying “Look, they have got a catch and release policy.” Why they can say that is that they are catching people, but they are not charging them, they are warning them. And they kept it up for 8 long years under successive Ministers. This is how deceitful they were. They capped the Police numbers so the Police per thousand dropped dramatically.

We had hundreds of stations in this country with nobody on at night and nobody on at the weekend. People rang up Dunedin, as I did one time in Dunedin. I rang up Dunedin and guess what I got? I got Auckland: the Auckland Police station. And I thought—excuse the language—but if I have been on there for an hour, guess what Joe Bloggs is going to be put up with? But no, no, the Government kept it up and then it thought: “Hang on. New Zealand’s not falling for this. We’ll go and get some extra police people over the next 4 years.”, but 800 front-line men and women does not even cut it. That is not even half the number that is required—1,800 places to get back to where we were going in 2008, and he had the temerity to get up in Auckland and say that the security of the citizens on the streets is his number one priority.

That is what Bill English said. Well I can say, Bill, I do not think you are going to last very long. I think your campaign in 2017 is going to be about as successful as it was in 2002—as successful as it was in 2002. The only common thing between those two campaigns is one party was as ready in 2002 as we are going to be in 2017. That campaign, we started it with the polls saying we were on 1 percent and after 4 weeks flat we almost made 11 percent. That is about to happen again 2017. Then look at the political scenery at that point in time and stop writing this dribble about who was going to be the next Government. You are looking at it. You are looking at it.

I know, Gerry, being a patriot is sometimes—even he hopes it is going to happen. I know in his heart of hearts he wants to know that he can retire with somebody running the economy that can keep it going soundly. I know he knows what retirement looks like, but he wants to be able to know that we could even afford the parliamentary retirement fund. And the only chance of him getting that is if we make it. The only chance of him getting that is if we make it.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The member’s the only one left on it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, no, no.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: He’s got the gold-plated pocket. Oh yes, he has.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I walked out of Parliament on a matter of principle and sacrificed 35 percent of mine.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No one believes that.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I did.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No one believes that.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I did. These people do not remember that, but I do, because keeping our word and having integrity and principles is what one party is famous for. And again you are looking at it.

Can I just say in closing, we are looking forward to this campaign. When they announced that it was going to be on 23 September, it ticked every box of our planning, down to every branch of our candidates, the launch of our campaign—I cannot tell you where; but I know it is the most exciting news for you—and also our AGM and what city it is going to be in. So I can promise New Zealanders right now something very, very significant. I know things are difficult and troubled and I know it has been very hard for you, but hang on, because help is on its way.

The Alternative Maori Party?

The Green Party used to be known as an alternative party promoting environmental betterment and social goodness.

Under Metiria Turei’s leadership it is putting a lot more emphasis on Maori things.

Yesterday on Facebook:

Top of the billing is the Treaty of Waitangi, something not mentioned by Andrew Little at all in his ‘state of the nation’ speech last week.

In the past Turei and the Greens have only used electorate contests to push hard for the all important party vote, but their are signs of that changing, with Julie Anne Genter having a testing the waters in the Mt Albert by-election, and Chloe Swarbrick challenging to contest Auckland Central saying she wants to win an electorate.

Turei is switching from a quite un-Maori electorate, Dunedin North (where she has been very successful at growing Green support), to the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

I suspect that given her increasing emphasis on Maori she fancies winning a Maori seat.

Are the Greens morphing into an alternative Maori Party?

Labour seems to think it deserves Maori votes due to historical electoral habits, but the Maori vote looks like being hotly contested with five parties with the Maori Party, Mana, Greens and Labour all competing for traditional Maori votes, plus  Winston Peters and Shane Jones looking like going hard out in Northland as well.

Shane Jones and NZ First

Shane Jones has been close to Winston Peters at Waitangi today, raising speculation that he may be about to announce that he will join NZ First and stand for them in this year’s election. But there is opposition within the party.

Patrick Gower goes as far as saying Shane Jones launches political comeback:

Former Labour MP Shane Jones has appeared at a public speech by Winston Peters in what is a clear sign he is planning a return to politics at this election.

Mr Jones and Mr Peters shook hands before the speech at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Paihia, with Mr Jones then taking a front row seat as Mr Peters addressed New Zealand First supporters about race relations.

It is a sure sign Mr Jones, who is currently employed as an ambassador for fisheries in the Pacific, is going to stand for New Zealand First at this year’s election.

Asked earlier on Friday if he would be making a comeback, the answer was very political: “Shane Jones in May will have completed his [ambassador] contract … In May, I’ll make a choice as to what I’m going to do.”

Paddy may know more, or he may be jumping the gun.

However if Peters wants to fast track Jones into the party and up the ranks it won’t go down well with some in the party.

Stuff: Never Shane: NZ First members oppose political return of Shane Jones

Shane Jones’ rumoured political comeback with NZ First has faced a setback, with party members setting up a “Never Shane” group to protest his potential candidacy.

Jones’ return to politics as an NZ First candidate has been tipped for some time, with suggestions he may announce his plans at his annual Waitangi barbecue on February 4.

However, a Facebook page described as “a network of NZ First members and supporters opposed to Shane Jones” has been set up ahead of a potential announcement.

NZ First member Curwen Rolinson, the group’s founder, said many party members were concerned about the possibility of Jones standing at the September 23 election and ruining what could be “a watershed year”.

“His personal background as a politician is so diametrically opposed to our values in NZ First, we just don’t see how he could conceivably fit in.”

“To top it all off, he abandoned his own party in its hour of need…to basically feather his own nest as a South Pacific ambassador for the National Party.

“Really, we just can’t trust him, that’s our perspective on it.”

The group had started a letter-writing campaign to NZ First’s board of directors, which would need to approve Jones’ candidacy given he did not appear to be a party member.

So there’s dissent in the ranks before Jones announces his intentions.

There may also be some less than enthusiastic NZ First MPs, especially deputy leader Ron Mark, who appears to be positioning himself to be Winston’s successor as leader.

The Never Shane Facebook page (currently 184 likes).

And Rolinson, who has been an author at The Daily Blog for some time, has posted there on it: #NeverShane

This has not been an easy piece for me to write. Watching in mounting horror as somebody – or something – you love and care deeply about gears up to do something self-destructive is never easy. And yet, that’s the apparent position which quite a few of us dedicated New Zealand Firsters appear to be in right now.

Unless you’ve been living on the dark side of the Moon for the past few years, you’ll most likely be aware of the swirling rumours that Shane Jones intends to mount a Parliamentary comeback at this year’s Election with New Zealand First. The media have consistently been reporting this notion for much of the last two years, in line with tips disseminated by a certain figure in NZ First’s Leader’s Office. And, for that matter, supported by things seen with their own eyes – Jones appearing with Winston at the latter’s Northland victory party, for instance; or Jones’ now-wife acting as Winston’s campaign manager for the same race.

But up until relatively recently, I was mostly content to dismiss speculation of Jones’ political necromancy as being empty media stirmongering. A sensationalist impulse looking for a story’s spine to shiver up. And not least because it appeared so self-evidently stupid for NZ First to even think about running Jones as a candidate.

That all changed late last month when I received independent confirmation from a number of different directions of Jones gearing up to announce his (NZF) candidacy.

I don’t know how Winston will take dissent in the ranks.

TOP heading for the bottom?

Is Gareth Morgan’s taking his TOP party campaign to the bottom of the political muck heap?

This morning I thought i would ignore his taunts directed at Winston Peters at Ratana and look at what new policy had been announced. But going to the TOP website I found that Morgan has chosen to highlight his attention seeking spat with Peters.

This is disappointing, I thought policy was the TOP party’s strength, not shit fighting.

In ‘Latest news and updates’ Morgan’s Ratana speech is featured…

The Opportunities Party Ratana Speech

Last time I was at Ratana I accepted the challenge to honour the Treaty of Waitangi. I now challenge Maori to help me deliver on this promise by voting for The Opportunities Party

…but he has followed up with a detailed attack of Peters and New Zealand First.

Uncle Tom? – Your Call

Here’s the definition of an “Uncle Tom” – one who works against the interests of his own people, sometimes pretending that he is not. Used particularly in the context of a people who are enslaved or do not enjoy the full rights they should.

So no policy from TOP at this stage.

Giving Peters an opportunity to get in the spotlight in a spat is more likely to benefit NZ First rather than TOP.

The MoU paradox

Vernon Small brings up a reminder of the paradox of the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding in the aptly headlined Ready or not, it’s election year and the annual theatrics have started – a key aim of the MoU is to present Labour and Greens as a joint ‘government-in-waiting’, but it terminates on election day, before the haggling over coalition arrangements begins.

But the two parties are sailing into a paradox that will only be made more stark by their closer co-operation.

If they are a presenting themselves as a “government in waiting” why does their memorandum of understanding (MOU) formally expire on election day?

We all know why, of course. Because as much as the Greens would like a more enduring pact, Labour does not want to indelibly ink a deal ahead of polling day for fear that will ostracise Winston Peters and NZ First – and give him reason to opt for National if he holds the balance of power.

It makes the sales pitch of a two-party government in waiting too cute by three quarters.

It is a contradiction the parties ought to resolve before election year gets very much older.

Perhaps Labour have indicated a resolution may be coming – Andrew Little attacked Winston Peters over his theatrics over Pike River.

Labour has to compete with NZ First for votes, especially any that National might shed, but Labour will also be keen to get back support that NZ First has been picking up.

The union of Labour and Greens will be emphasised in a week with their joint ‘state of the nation’ act.

While Greens will be pleased with this arrangement, according to Small some in Labour are not so sure.

But the most significant move yet has been that decision by Labour and the Greens to step up the momentum of their agreement to cooperate, with a joint “State of the Nation” event in Auckland next week.

There were misgivings in Labour over the move, with some questioning the wisdom of doubling down on their memorandum of understanding, which had already seen leader’s speeches at their respective annual conferences.

The concern is that greater and greater efforts to present as “one Opposition, two parties” will alienate centrist Labour-leaning voters who are spooked by the Greens – and to be frank there are those inside the Labour caucus who would rather not tie the party to the Greens, full stop.

Labour’s problem is that their support has slipped so much they have a couple of choices:

  1. Concede major party status, accept that they can’t compete with National on their own any more, so semi-join with another party.
  2. Revitalise, rebuild and make a determined effort to be the best supported party again.

They have tried the latter a number of times – including trying four leaders – without any  success.

So last year Labour chose the former, hence the MoU. It is too late to change before this year’s election.

The MoU paradox is still there, despite the Peters attack and the planned joint ‘state of the country’ speeches.

The latter could give us a better indication about the state of the parties, the state of the MoU, and whether Labour is prepared to stop trying a bob each way on NZ First versus Greens.

It would be a nonsense if Labour and Greens campaign together as they are, with the degree of togetherness that next week’s speech emphasises, but to leave prospects of a Labour-Green coalition  up in the air as a maybe, if it suits Labour at the time.

It hasn’t been the game changer some predicted, but Labour is harming their prospects if they buy into Winston’s ridiculous persistence in refusing to let voters know in advance what coalition arrangements they rule in and rule out.

We know that the Greens have to go with Labour if they want to be a part of Government unless Green Party members have a major change of heart about dealing with National.

Perhaps we will get clarity on Labour’s post-election aims from Little’s speech next week, alongside Metiria Turei.

If not the paradox will keep highlighting Labour’s duplicity.

Considering a minority government

A minority government hasn’t been tried under MMP, but perhaps it is time to seriously consider the option.

If the other parties call Winston Peters bluff, take him at his words on his bottom lines, it is unlikely either National or Labour+Greens will be able to form a majority coalition Government.

MMP was designed to provide a more representative Parliament, which it has. But this could be taken further and give us a more representative governing arrangement. This could be done with a minority government.

Here is a feasible outcome of seats from this year’s election:

  • National 56
  • Labour 28
  • Greens 16
  • NZ First 16
  • Maori Party 2
  • ACT 1
  • UF 1

This puts Labour+Greens+NZ First > National, and Greens+NZ First > Labour, and NZ First=Greens so there is no clear majority in any situation. If the result is approximately along these lines similar uncertainties will exist.

National with twice the MPs of Labour could form the Government, perhaps with the small parties in formal confidence and supply arrangements, but they would still have to rely on either of Labour, Greens or NZ First to pass any legislation. This means successful bills would have a clear majority rather than a bare majority as happens often now.

For Government to be truly representative ministerial positions could be given to opposition party MPs. The best of each party could then participate in running the country.

Some suggestions for portfolios:

  • Andrew Little: Minister of Labour – he has a good background for this and it would allow him to focus on his party’s roots.
  • Grant Robertson: Minister of Foreign Affairs -David Farrar has recommended him for this role, perhaps he has done polls on it.
  • David Parker: Minister of Economic Development, Associate Minister of Finance
  • Jacinda Ardern: Minister of Women’s Affairs, Minister of Communications – she has an affinity with women’s magazines and I couldn’t think of what else she could do.
  • Metiria Turei:  Minister of Social Welfare – giving her experience with the reality of fixing all of our social problems within a budget.
  • James Shaw: Minister of the Environment – something most people expect the Greens to be experts in.
  • Winston Peters – Minister of Workplace Safety, Minister of Mines.
  • Ron Mark: Minister of Defence – it would be good for him to work on the opposite of attack).
  • Te Ururoa Flavell: Minister of Māori Development, Minister of Whanau Ora – makes since for the Māori Party.
  • David Seymour: Minister of Education – time he stepped up to a real challenge beyond his Partnership Schools agenda.
  • Peter Dunne: Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister of Corrections -it would be interesting to see what changes he could make in drug law reform without being hobbled by National.

Being the largest by far National would be the dominant party but would have to work with the whole of Parliament to get things done.

On confidence and supply, with all parties contributing to Government they should be responsible for ensuring it doesn’t fall over.

Those on the right and the left who want radical reforms may complain about a representative arrangement like this, but if they want ideological lurches they need to build sufficient support in Parliament to achieve this.

They won’t do this by sitting on the sidelines complaining, they need to do what everyone else does, build a big enough party with enough MPs to achieve what they want.

A minority government as suggested is unlikely to be a radical reform government, but that’s not out of the ordinary under two decades of MMP anyway.

Incremental change with clear majority support in Parliament is the most sensible way of operating a government – and I believe it is what most voters prefer and want.

Minority government may seem in itself a bit radical but I think it is something well worth trying. It’s really just a step further than what we have now, and a logical step under MMP.

Little versus Peters on Pike River

Winston Peters has kicked off his political year by picking up on his Pike River posturing, but criticism of Labour has prompted a retort from Andrew Little.

NZ Herald: Little: Peters’ Pike River re-entry comments ‘cheap’

Peters said his party believed in a report that said there is no technical mining reason that re-entry could not be achieved safely.

“We believe your report and believe that a party should be allowed to enter the drift to look for your men,” Peters told the meeting.

“And to all those who say we’re not serious on this promise we say, our party will make re-entry into Pike River a bottom line at the next election.”

That’s a repeat of what he said late last year.

The Paroa Hotel is owned by Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine. Monk said a crowd of more than 100 gathered to hear from the NZ First leader.

“He was overwhelmingly applauded by the people here today … he is the first politician that has really stood beside us and made his feelings known.”

This comment grated with Labour supporter Anne at The Standard:

Well, that’s a bit rich coming from Bernie Monk. Either he’s showing a political bias or he has a poor memory. Andrew Little (starting before he became leader) spent many hours/days/weeks over time talking with… comforting… trying to do everything he could to get the men back into the mine. I recall question after question after question in the debating chamber. He has never given up.

But of course Andrew doesn’t use his personal support for political gain. He just gets on with what he knows should be done. How many hours/days/weeks has Winston spent on the West Coast trying to help the victims of the tragedy?

Peters had a specific dig at Labour:

Little has promised that a Labour Government would get an independent assessment of the mine and re-enter it if it was declared safe.

Peters told the meeting that promise was “weak and disingenuous”.

“It means, ‘sometime never’. You already have a thoroughly professional report from world leading experts in this field. How many more reports do the authorities need before they can say ‘Go in’? What more proof could they possibly want?”

Andrew Little took issue with Peters’ comments.

“One thing I am never going to be challenged by Winston on is my commitment to Pike River. And the difference between me and Winston Peters is I wasn’t sitting in a Cabinet in the 1990s that undermined our health and safety regulations in mine regulations, specifically,” Little told the Herald.

“This is a serious issue. Put aside the, I thought, cheap call about Winston leading a team in there – that is disrespectful to the mines rescue folks and others who are experts – you do want the best possible decision to be made.”

Peters and Labour seem to be intractably at odds over Pike River re-entry.

Peters wants to go with the report obtained by (some of the) Pike River victims’ families and says NZ First “will make re-entry into Pike River a bottom line at the next election”.

Little wants an independent assessment, which seems sensible. But presuming such an assessment isn’t done before the election that would appear to make a coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First impossible – unless either Little or Peters change their stance.

While Monk and some of the Pike River families are trying to talk re-entry of the mine up into an election issue I’m not sure that the wider public vote will define the election by it.

But the political posturing could define the next government, which based on the stated positions of National and Labour versus NZ First that would leave NZ First out of any coalition.

Trotter predicts

Chris Trotter makes a number of debatable predictions for the year in 2017 in the shadow of Trump (Stuff).

The political consensus at the beginning of 2017 – election year – is that the National-led Government will hold on to power.

Who is in general agreement that National will hold on to power? I think there’s too many unknowns and uncertainties to claim this with any confidence.

National are very likely to comfortably get the most votes and seats in this year’s election, but it’s far from certain whether they will be able to form a similar coalition to this term (with ACT, UF and the Maori Party), or if the need more whether NZ First will join a coalition or let National run a minority government from the cross benches. It’s also possible (but unlikely with Turei as leader) Greens  could enable a National led Government either in coalition or from the cross benches.

Not in its own right, as might have happened had John Key led them into battle, but with sufficient parliamentary support to govern comfortably.

They don’t govern comfortably this term, requiring two of the three minor support parties to back any legislation, and they have been limited because of this.

The most significant political event of 2017, however, could well be the collapse of the Labour Party and the emergence of the Greens as New Zealand’s leading party of the centre-left.

Labour collapsing is a real possibility, and any further decline in their share of the vote could be seen as a collapse. But they could just as likely stay at a similar level of support, or increase their vote a bit (to the high twenties), or recover into the thirties. At this stage i think which of these will happen is impossible to predict with any certainty.

In a way Greens can already be seen by their actions as the leading party of the centre left going by performances inside and outside Parliament. Their party vote seems to have hit a ceiling at about 11%, but even if they increase to say 15% (their target last election) they are likely to remain smaller than Labour.

A number of people have predicted that NZ First grow bigger, causing a drop for Greens to fourth in the party pecking order. I think this is quite possible – NZ First are likely to pick up more ex-National vote than the Greens if the National support declines.

A key factor driving the New Zealand electorate’s flight to the right will be the profound and ideologically toxic influence of Donald Trump’s presidency.

There has been no sign of New Zealand moving much to the right this century.  Both Helen Clark and John Key aimed at the centre and apart from a few policies mostly stayed moderate. Even National’s asset sales were watered down to being only half sales.

If anyone has learned anything yet about the effect of Trump they should know that it’s difficult making predictions about his influence. It’s quite possible Trump as US president will have a negligible effect on New Zealand overall. Or not.

Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman predicts a global trade war, and the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is filled with disquieting articles foreshadowing an ominous deterioration in the relationship between the USA and China.

The future for US trade relationships and US foreign relations are uncertain. Trump will definitely do things differently – but it depends on how China learns and adapts as to whether problems will escalate or not. Predictions of Trump trashing the economy have already proven to be premature at least.

If the US and China clash New Zealand may manage to stay out of the melée. That could be complicated by Winston Peters – but if there’s trouble abroad and Peters is seen to try and stir that up here it could easily backlash against him in the election.

In a neat division of political labour, NZ First will lead the attack on China while, publicly, National condemns (but not too loudly) Peters’ racially-charged rhetoric. Meanwhile, privately, the conservative supporters of both parties will be encouraged to recognise the inherent electoral synergies of the unfolding crisis. As the countdown to the election shortens, the prospect of a National-NZ First coalition government will begin to acquire the aura of inevitability.

Some voters here like maverickism, but most prefer stable status quo government when it comes to economic matters.

Especially if there is an ‘unfolding crisis’ a National-NZ First coalition government will become more uncertain rather than certain. If Peters ramps up his attacks on China it is more likely to create further division between NZ First and National, and voters tend to avoid this sort of uncertainty.

Amplifying the conservative message among the Maori electorate, the Maori Party will cast the Chinese as a second-wave of colonisers threatening not only tino rangatiratanga but also Pakeha sovereignty. Iwi corporations will be portrayed as the foundation stones of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s economic independence. The incipient government of the centre-right will thus be presented as a National-NZ First-Maori Party alliance.

Is Trotter serious? Or is he taking the piss? Or is he trying to stir something up?

An alliance involving NZ First and the Maori Party seems unlikely given Winston’s previous antagonistic attitude towards a ‘race based’ party.

I think it’s highly unlikely that Winston will present an alliance including NZ First and National prior to the election – he has been staunch in not indicating which way he may go – and even less likely of any NZ First-Maori Party presentations.

The turmoil created by the Trump administration will similarly throw into sharp relief the serious disjunction between the beliefs of the Labour Party and its electoral base. Even if Andrew Little and his advisors were of a mind to join with Peters in attacking China, the reflexive anti-Americanism of his caucus and Labour’s wider membership would drive the party inexorably towards their enemy’s enemy. Immediately, what was left of Labour’s support among “Waitakere Men” would decamp for the Sinophobic right.

That’s more likely to be to  NZ First rather than to National.

The reverse manoeuvre – in which Little prevails upon caucus and party to follow National, NZ First and the Maori Party into Trumpism and Sinophobia – would only drive Labour’s younger, more progressive, voters toward the Greens.

I think Trotter is in fantasy land here trying to connect National and the Maori Party with ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’.

And to claim ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’ would split Labour is even more bizarre.

The classic Labour solution – trying to have a bob each way – risks losing both the conservative and the progressive components of its electoral base.

Labour already seem to be trying the bob each way approach, and have already lost both conservative and progressive parts of it’s electoral base to an extent. An international crisis, should it happen, is more likely to force Labour into being seen as responsible rather than divisive.

The extreme-nationalist complexion of the Trump administration and its geopolitical focus on the burgeoning power of China can only hasten the disintegration of Labour’s electoral position.

I think this is far from certain, and even if it becomes a contributory factor  in further Labour decline it would be impossible to quantify.

It is, however, highly doubtful that sufficient young people will participate in the 2017 general election to significantly offset the emotionally powerful appeal of an unabashedly nationalistic, Sinophobic and pro-American coalition of National, NZ First and the Maori Party.

I think Trotter is trying to create an absurd political meme here, either ignorantly or disingenuously. Fantasy or deliberate fiction.

Neither conservative fish nor progressive fowl, Labour is likely to see its party vote plummet into the teens – and with it any hope of reclaiming major party status.

That’s already possible without any Trump crisis involved.

The baton of progressive politics will pass to the Greens. Real political power, however, will remain with the National Party and its allies.

It may be that Trotter has genuinely given up on the Labour Party. Labour could collapse further.

But NZ First becoming allies with the Maori party seems preposterous. And National joining Winston’s Asia bashing and siding with Trump is more so.

Trying to promote Greens as the progressive baton carrier and the dominant opposition party seems to be wishful thinking, at best.

Trotter’s political propositions were all over the place last year, and they seem even more confused now.

Winston’s bottom lines

There’s a lot of unknowns about how next year’s election will go. One of the biggest questions will be how National goes under Bill English’s leadership – will their support drop now John Key has stepped down? Will it stay dropped?

Labour are still struggling to be a major party. They seem to have given up competing head to head with National, and are now relying on Labour+Greens, but their Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t seem to have enthused voters.

There is one certainty – the media will continue to promote Winston Peters as ‘kingmaker’. There’s a good chance (but no guarantee) NZ First will end up in a position where they can play National off against Labour+Greens. Winston remains adamant he won’t do that until after the election.

But there have already a few bottom lines mentioned.

1. Superannuation

New Zealand First’s objective is to preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) as it now is with eligibility at 65 years and as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme with no means-testing.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/superannuation

It’s very unlikely Winston would relent on this one.

2. No Maori Party

Ensure the future of the Maori seats is a decision for the people to make having examined the significant increase in representation numbers of Maori MPs under MMP.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/maori_affairs

And (in June 2016):

Stopping separatism …is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…and for example a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/winston-peters-separatism-and-mass-immigration-bottom-lines-nz-first

Peters has ruled out a coalition that included the Maori Party in the past. This doesn’t look like changing.

3. Immigration

New Zealand First is committed to a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s interests. Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/immigration

The rest of their Immigration policy sounds strong but is actually vague.

…stopping mass immigration is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…if mass immigration continued…then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/winston-peters-separatism-and-mass-immigration-bottom-lines-nz-first

It’s difficult to know what Winston would insist on for immigration, but he plays the immigration card often to supporters so would have to make some demands.

4. Pike River Re-entry

Winston Peters says Pike River re-entry is bottom line to election deals

Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.

“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be,” he said on TV’s Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning.

Any political party seeking New Zealand First’s support to form a government in the 2017 election will have to commit to re-entering the mine.

National want to leave any re-entry decision up to Solid Energy. Andrew Little has supported re-entry but has not absolutely committed Labour to it.

5. Police numbers

Winston Peters demands 1800 extra police

The New Zealand First leader and Northland MP wants the number of police officers increased by 27 percent, in line with Australia’s per capita ratio.

“We’re looking at something like 1800-1900 officers just as a start now to get to a level where we once were, and then build upon that,” he says.

He says it’s a bottom line in any negotiations regarding the formation of the next Government.

So that is five bottom lines that I’m aware of.

? Prime Minister

Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

…here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

And:

Forget ‘kingmaker’, Winston Peters wants to be the next Prime Minister

That seems to be a claim only on the Paul Henry Show, Peters doesn’t say that. But is that one of his goals?

I don’t think National would agree to a Winston as PM deal, but would Labour and Greens, where none of none of Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw have any government experience? Peters has already been deputy Prime Minister, from 16 December 1996 to 14 August 1998 (under Jim Bolger).

Are there other Winston/NZ First bottom lines so far?