Q+A: Ohariu electorate

Q+A: Is Ohariu a safe seat for Peter Dunne? We have the results our Q+A Colmar Brunton Snap Poll on the Ohariu electorate

NZ Herald pre-empt this:  Jacinda effect’ erodes Peter Dunne’s support in Ohariu but he hopes it will be temporary

United Future leader Peter Dunne believes his support in Ohariu has been eroded because of the Jacinda Ardern effect but he questions how long that will last.

The Q + A show has a snap poll tomorrow (TV1 – 9am, Sunday) which is expected to show Dunne trailing Labour candidate Greg O’Connor.

“The question is, and it is something everyone is trying to figure out at the moment, is how deep-seated that factor is,” Dunne told the Herald on Sunday.

“Is it a phenomenon that will pass by as quickly as it arose or is it something more substantial?

Dunne has held the west-Wellington seat since 1984, originally as a Labour MP, but held it in the 2014 election by only 710 votes. He has been a support partner of the National-led Government since 2008.

In the past National has campaigned for only the party vote but this time it is explicitly asking National supporters to give Dunne their electorate vote to keep him in Parliament.

Labour and the Greens have done an electorate deal in which the Greens are not standing in order to give O’Connor, the former police union boss, a stronger chance of rolling Dunne. The Greens had 2764 electorate votes last time.

It’s not surprising to see that Peter Dunne’s hold on the Ohariu electorate is at serious risk (it has been before but so far he has survived).

A resurgent Labour under Ardern’s leadership was always going to help O’Connor against Dunne, but that may or may not hold up as we get into the business end of the campaign.

If Dunne loses it will make National’s chances a little bit harder.


Poll:

  • Greg O’Connor (Labour) 48%
  • Peter Dunne (United Future) 34%
  • Brett Hudson (National) 14%
  • Jessica Hammond (TOP) 2%

Party support in Ohariu:

  • National 46% (50.23% in the 2014 election, 49.60 in 2011)
  • Labour 35% (23.42%, 26.53%)
  • Greens 12% (15.01%, 14,42%)
  • NZ First 4% (4.76%, 3.91%)

501 voters, +/- 4%

That’s a big lead to O’Connor and it looks very difficult for Dunne, but there have been big poll swings lately so it’s difficult to know how this will end up.

However I think this looks ominous for Dunne.

Another part of the poll:


  • Staying with Dunne 63%
  • Switching to O’Connor/Labour 27%
  • Switching to someone else 10%

 

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. It’ll be all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

Clear signal from National on support parties

It’s good to see the era of farcical nods, winks, cups of tea and media mania are over. Today National clearly signalled which parties and electorates they would help to try and maximise the chances of returning the current Government much as it is.

National signals election intentions

Prime Minister Bill English today signalled National’s intention to work with support partners – United Future and ACT – in this year’s General Election.

“Under MMP, voters determine the make-up of the Government by voting a combination of parties into Parliament, which means every election is close.

“After the election, parties must then work together to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In February, Mr English made it clear that if National is re-elected his preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“While we don’t always agree, our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008 and we would like to see that continue for the benefit of New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

“New Zealand’s political stability over the last several years has given this country a consistent economic advantage over many other countries we compare ourselves with.

“We are encouraging National supporters to give their electorate vote to ACT candidate, David Seymour, in Epsom, and United Future candidate, Peter Dunne, in Ohariu – and their party vote to National.

“To be clear, we want to increase our party votes in those electorates and that’s what our National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“Our MPs are working hard throughout New Zealand to increase our party vote, so we can earn the right to stay in Government, keep the economy growing and provide opportunities for all New Zealanders.”

Media seemed a bit taken aback by this forthright approach, perhaps because it has removed one of their traditional election games.

Some quibbled over whether there was less preference for the Maori Party or not, and predictably Patrick Gower glowered about ‘dirty deals’, but the reality under MMP is that most parties now get involved in boosting their own chances by helping others.

  • Labour and Greens helped Winston Peters in the Northland by-election.
  • Greens helped Labour in the Mt Roskill by-election.
  • Greens and Labour worked together in the Mt Albert by-election.
  • Greens are not standing a candidate in Ohariu to try to help Labour candidate Greg O’Connor against Peter Dunne, who is in turn being assisted by National.

So it makes sense to be up front and early on signalling intentions, before the media have a chance to make an issue about it, and so voters have a clear choice.

Deal or no deal?

There has been argument over whether the Green Party decision not to stand a candidate in the Ohariu electorate constitutes a political deal or not.

Some are adamant it is not a deal because it is different to what National and Peter Dunne, and National and ACT (in Epsom) do.

Call it what you like, it is the pragmatic putting aside of party principles to maximise a party’s chances of winning what they want. It’s politics.

Weka at The Standard: What’s the deal? There isn’t one.

There is no deal. The Greens appear to have made a unilateral decision for the good of the party’s own goals and for NZ. What I like about the MoU between Labour and the Greens is that they kept their independence. Labour are still free to act in the ways they see fit and likewise the Greens. The Greens have acknowledged that they’re not that keen on one of Labour’s candidate choices, but they’re behaving as if it’s not really any of their business. Which it isn’t. This is how adults behave when engaged in respect.

They’re acting freely while engaged in respect? This sounds like trying to claim the political high ground while doing what parties have done for a long time, made campaign decisions that play around with our system of MMP.

The Greens have been standing candidates in electorates with no intention  of winning, and have often nodded and winked at Green voters to vote for Labour candidates. Greens stand aiming deliberately not to win the battle in order to win the war, the all important party vote.

Not standing a candidate at all in an electorate, as Greens have decided to do in Ohariu, is a risk, because it will be harder for them to convince voters to give them their party vote.

In 2014 in Ohariu The Green candidate Tane Woodley got 7.25% of the electorate votes (actually up 1.65 on the 2011 election) but the Greens got 15.01% of the party vote, significantly higher than their nationwide 10.7%. It will be interesting to see what party vote they get in Ohariu this year.

I think that the Greens are so determined to get into Government for the first time that they will be prepared to risk losing some votes in order to achieve their goal.

However if Labour fails to lift their vote significantly overall it may all be in vain.

In a neighbouring electorate: No Green deal for Labour Party in Hutt South battle

Labour will have to win Hutt South without help from the Green Party in the September election.

There has been speculation the Greens would do a similar deal to Ohariu, where they agreed to step aside to give Labour a clear run against United Future’s Peter Dunne.

Constitutional lawyer and Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven  said the situation in Hutt South was different.

Ruthven stood for Rimutaka in 2014, where she was fourth behind New Zealand First, but this time was standing in the electorate she lived in and was looking to do well.

It’s unclear whether that means to do well with the party vote or the electorate vote.

On her website she says:

It’s about our Community
Hutt South is where I belong. It’s where I was born. It’s where I grew up. It’s where my children are growing up.

It’s where the people are that I want to represent.

That sounds like she wants to represent the electorate. However it’s not unusual for Green candidates with electorate ambitions to be pulled into line by their party strategy and to effectively campaign on ‘vote for the Greens for party vote buit for the Labour candidate for the electorate vote’.

Stuff:

Dunne was likely to be needed to help National form a government and unseating him would help Labour.

That was not the case in Hutt South, which would see  a close battle between National list MP Chris Bishop and Labour’s Ginny Andersen.

In the last election Trevor Mallard defeated Bishop by 709 votes, with Green candidate Holly Walker third with 4966. National won the party vote by just under 7000 vote.

Andersen said there had never been an expectation that the Greens would not contest Hutt South.

If Green voters wanted Hutt South to remain Labour they had to vote strategically.

“I am saying to Green voters give me your candidate’s vote if you want to keep Hutt South Labour.”

She planned  to push the message that if Green voters wanted a change in government, then they needed to vote Labour.

That doesn’t make sense. It’s not clear whether she means vote Labour in the electorate – that will make no difference to whether the there’s a change of government or not.

So is she going to ask Green voters to party vote Labour? While the Greens ask voters to vote for Labour in the electorate but for Greens for party vote?

This confusion won’t help. Without a consistent approach in electorates voters are going to wonder what Labour and Greens want them to do.

Perhaps Labour and the Greens need to do some sort of deal about their approach here, otherwise the different nods and winks in different electorates will end up with voters blinking in confusion.

Wheeling and dealing is a normal part of politics. What Labour and Greens need to try and do is get all their wheels turning in the same direction.

Labour’s candidacy troubles

When someone like Gordon Campbell slams both Labour and the Greens on candidacy issues then one could suspect that the Labour-Green left may not be in great shape.

Scoop: Gordon Campbell on Labour’s candidacy troubles

So its official. Greg O’Connor will indeed be Labour’s candidate in Ohariu and – as also signaled well in advance – the Greens will not be standing a candidate in the electorate. At this point, you have to question the validity of the Greens’ excuse – “we need to change the government” – for tagging along.

Arguably, by bringing the likes of Greg O’Connor and Willie Jackson on board, Labour is choosing to “broaden its electoral chances” by pandering to the oldest, whitest and angriest part of the electorate.

Ouch.

Meaning: if they roll over this readily now, what treatment can the Greens expect to receive from Labour if and when Labour finally gets its hands on the levers of power? Is it possible now to conceive of anyone that Labour could put up as a candidate in a marginal electorate that the Greens could reject, on principle? Evidently not.

It is obvious that the Greens are so focussed on getting into government that holding their nose on a few things is a necessary compromise. It was always obvious that they would be comprosed by their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour.

Yes, Labour certainly does need to improve its party list vote. Willie Jackson wants a high position on the party list. At this point, its hard to see how his candidacy is going to motivate many of Labour’s activists to go out and work their butts off door to door, in order to bring the likes of Jackson onto Labour’s front bench.

Campbell is also scathing on Labour in Ohariu:

At this point, any social liberals left in Ohariu face something of a dilemma. Do they vote against Dunne in order to change this government’s dismal policies on health, education, the environment, welfare and the economy – or do they vote tactically for Dunne, to try and prevent O’Connor from becoming this country’s next Minister of Police?

Ultimately, they’ll probably vote for O’Connor, but with gritted teeth.

Somehow, Labour’s head office has managed to make Peter Dunne look like a principled underdog. That’s quite some feat.

But Anthony Robins applauds Greens rolling over for Labour in Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu:

Bravo to The Greens.

Putting aside misgivings for the sake of the greater good is a mark of political maturity which many politicians and commentators could learn from.

Of course Robins is all for the greater good of Labour. They will learn in due course what lessons can be learned from this ‘political maturity’.

And in the interests of reciprocity, hey Labour – ball’s in your court.

Bounce, bounce, bounce.

There’s a variety of comments on this at The Standard.

Infused:

Dirty deals are ok when the left do it then? That’s pretty funny.

 Anthony:

And once again Infused pretends not to understand the difference between gifting a seat to a loser to create a pretend support party, and standing aside in a seat you can’t win to strengthen a formal coalition. That’s pretty funny.

It would be funny if Labour started standing aside in seats they can’t win to strengthen a formal MoU (it’s not a coalition as it ends on election day, before coalitions are haggled over).

Greens not standing candidate in Ohariu

There have been reports and claims for months that the Greens would do a deal with Labour in the Ohariu electorate to improve Labour’s chances of winning the electorate.

A few days ago Labour confirmed that Greg O’Connor would stand for them – something also predicted months ago. Now the Greens say they won’t stand a candidate in Ohariu to try to increase the chances of changing the government, but they say they will still campaign for their party vote in Ohariu without a candidate.

One News from 29 November 2016

Good morning, @avancenz joins us soon with exclusive details of backroom deals between Labour and the Greens ahead of next year’s election

‘In Nelson the Greens feel like they can pick up a lot of votes’ @avancenz on backroom deals between Labour and Greens.

Green’s won’t stand a candidate in Ohariu, paving the way for a Labour candidate to battle with United Future’s Peter Dunne.

Green’s co-leader Metiria Turei will run in Te Tai Tonga, Labour candidate Rino Tirikatene told by party not to run.

See also: Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election

This has now been confirmed as an election strategy by the Greens.

Stuff: Greens step aside in Ohariu to help Labour’s O’Connor – despite misgivings

The Greens have dropped any plans to run a candidate in the Ohariu seat in a move aimed at giving Labour’s Greg O’Connor a better chance of winning the marginal seat – despite Green misgivings about his past views.

Green co-leader James Shaw said the decision was taken in the interests of changing the Government, which was the party’s  priority.

“We have been very clear with our supporters and the public about that since we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Labour last year,” he said.

“Not standing in Ohariu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the Government in September – it’s as simple as that.’

But in a statement released to Stuff confirming the decision Shaw made no comment about O’Connor himself.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has said in the past she does not agree with many of his stances.

Principles can become flexible when politicians and parties seek power.

The call was made “after many discussions” in the party, which would still campaign strongly for the party vote in Ohariu.

Greens have operated on the basis of using electorate candidates to campaign for their party vote. Without a candidate they will still be able to advertise for their party and put up party billboards, but they won’t have a candidate at campaign meetings or feature in candidate based media coverage.

The 2014 Green candidate Tane Woodley won 2764 votes compared to 13,569 for Dunne and 12,859 for Labour’s Virginia Andersen. National’s Brett Hudson won 6120 votes, with many National supporters swinging in behind Dunne.

National won 50.4 per cent of the party vote in Ohariu against 23.5 per cent for Labour, 15.07 per cent for the Greens and just 0.73 per cent for Dunne’s United Future.

It will be interesting to see how National deals with Ohariu now.

O’Connor for Labour for Ohariu

 

Greg O’Connor has been confirmed as Labour candidate for Ohariu.

He could start by getting a better photo.

He will stand against Peter Dunne, who won the seat by a meagre 800 votes in 2014 from ‘the very impressive Ginny Andersen’ who was regarded as ‘a rising star’ by ex party secretary Mike Smith. Andersen has switched to Hutt South, hoping to replace Trevor Mallard who won by a close margin last election.

The outcome may depend a lot on what National and Greens do, but will also be an interesting contest between O’Connor and Dunne, who may appeal to similar demographics.

O’Connor confirms Ohariu bid

This has been well signalled but now Greg O’Connor has confirmed he is seeking the nomination to stand for Labour in Ohariu.

NZ Herald: Former police association boss Greg O’Connor seeks Labour Party nomination

The former head of the police association is seeking the Labour Party nomination for Ohariu, a seat held by Peter Dunne for more than 30 years.

Greg O’Connor today confirmed he wanted to be the Labour candidate for the Wellington electorate in this year’s general election.

He said as a long-time resident and active community member standing as a political representative was a natural fit.

“I have a strong sense of social responsibility, and the ideals and ethos of the Labour Party, which demand a fair go and opportunities for all New Zealanders, made the decision to join them a natural one.”

O’Connor has said that he was approached by Labour to stand, and Andrew Little has indicated he supports O’Connor’s bid.

Something being arranged in Ohariu was hinted at when Labour’s candidate in 2014 switched to the Hutt South electorate where she was selected.

Greens have tried to help Labour beat Dunne (who has been helped by National) in past elections but if O’Connor is selected that could get interesting. Metiria Turei is not a fan and may have trouble giving him too much help.

Labour and Greens have also announced they won’t make electorate arrangements to help each other this year. Greens use electorate campaigns to get party votes so will presumably stand a candidate in Ohariu again. It will be interesting to see what sort of candidate that is.

Going by reactions to O’Connor at The Standard he may not be widely supported within Labour either.

Dunne to stand again

Peter Dunne has confirmed his intention to stand in Ohariu again this year.

NZ Herald: Peter Dunne will contest 2017 election

Dunne today confirmed his intention to stand again in the Ohariu electorate in Wellington in this year’s general election.

“It is certainly my intention to stand again based on the many strong messages of encouragement and support I have been receiving from my constituents over recent months,” he told the Herald.

It will be interesting to see how this is dealt with by other parties:

  • Will National contest the seat or effectively support Dunne’s re-election? This term (since National lost the Northland by-election) Dunne’s support has maintained a government majority along with ACT as an alternative to the Maori Party.
  • Will Greens stand aside in a deal to help Labour try to win the seat?
  • Who will stand for Labour?

Labour’s Ohariu candidate at the 2014 election, Virginia Andersen, lost to Dunne by 710 votes and has since been confirmed as the party’s Hutt South candidate for 2017.

After coming close in 2014 this was a curious shift for Anderson to what may be a more winnable seat, but she is by no means assured of success against Chris Bishop.

Former Police Association president Greg O’Connor is rumoured to be interested in becoming Labour’s Ohariu candidate. Nominations close on February 3.

O’Connor did not respond to a request for comment today.

O’Connor has a public profile so would have to stand a reasonable chance against Dunne, especially if Greens don’t stand a candidate.

However they are both older white dudes – O’Connor is 58, Dunne is 62 – so lack in contrast in some respects.

O’Connor stood down as head of the Police Association last year and a year ago said he had ‘no plan’ for politics: Outgoing Police Association president Greg O’Connor has ‘no plan’ for politics:

Perfect grooming, one might speculate, for a 57-year-old former cop to embark upon a political career – given all that time spent making contacts and grabbing headlines in the shadow of the Beehive.

“It is a reasonably political job that I’m in, but I can give an absolute guarantee that there is no plan.”

O’Connor bats away the very thought of it: “A lot of people don’t believe me – they think there’s a masterplan. But there’s not.”

So if politics isn’t a goer, might his next move be to lend his voice to another section of society?

“Never say never. There is a workforce out there that work with disabled people who work for very little remuneration [out of] absolute devotion. That is just humbling. That is a group of people that are very special.”

But that was a year ago. O’Connor stepped down from the Police Association in October.

Whether O’Connor stands for Labour or not the outcome in Ohariu is likely to depend a lot on what other parties do. The Labour party vote was poor there in 2014, below their low total vote.

ohariu2014

National got better than their country-wide party vote and Labour got less than their’s, but Greens were well above theirs. Many of those who party voted Green tactically voted for the Labour candidate.

If Greens don’t stand a candidate at all they risk  losing party vote. Same for National.

Dunne is the longest serving MP in Parliament. He first became a Labour MP in 1984 so this is his 33rd year as an MP, his eleventh term. He helped set up the United New Zealand Party in 1995 and has retained his seat for what became United Future since then, although the party is now very poorly supported.

He has been a Minister since 2005, first for a Labour led government and since 2008 with a National government.

Dunne’s last term was difficult for him. After some controversy when he refused to hand over emails with a journalist in relation to allegations he had leaked a GCSB report he stood down as a Minister, but was later reinstated. His party was de-registered until it could prove it had sufficient members. This will have impacted on his reduced majority in the election.

This term has been fairly uneventful for Dunne. He is strongly criticised by pro-cannabis activists but has no chance of changing drug laws under a National government. He has been criticised for not allowing easier access to medicinal cannabinoids but he has encouraged applications for use under existing laws and procedures.

He is also strongly criticised by left wingers who don’t like his electorate arrangements with National because it helps keep Labour out of government (and because he deserted Labour).

He is also not liked by some on the right who want one party rule.

As the incumbent MP who does a lot of work in his electorate another Dunne win can’t be ruled out, but it is also far from assured.  Much may depend on what other parties do as much as who ends up standing for Labour.

Dunne on cannabis products

Peter Dunne has given a summary of the slow progress on medicinal cannabis, saying that there has been a lack of proven products available but hopes that will change next year as New Zealand benefits from what is happening in Australia.

Stuff’s Prime Minister Bill English needs a ‘clear stamp’ on his leadership.

With his health hat on Dunne says not a lot of medicinal cannabis products have come onto the market this year, which makes progress more difficult.

“I think the reality is between the wishful thinking and the actuality there is quite a gap. The fundamental problem remains a lack of reputable product.”

“The problem with trials in New Zealand is the perception from the pharmaceutical companies that the market isn’t big enough.”

New Zealand would be a good trial market for new products but the lack of Government will to lead on this probably rules us out as much as market size.

Dunne is working closely with the Australian Health Minister and hopes they’ll approve a couple of new products next year that Kiwis can piggy-back off.

That sounds like slow progress at best.

So far it’s been done on a case-by-case basis, which will continue, and while the “numbers are not large, everyone that has come through has been approved,” he said.

You still have to find a medical specialist who will make your case to the Ministry or Health.

While recreational cannabis remains a “political no-no”, he says, the “willingness to keep looking at medicinal cannabis” won’t stop under English.

“Political no-no” means that National won’t consider going there, and Dunne can’t do anything about that except cop the flak. A convenient cop out for National.

I haven’t seen Peter Dunne state whether he will stand again or not but he implies that he will contest Ohariu again next year:

…he’s well aware that he’s got to win his Ohariu seat to survive next year’s election.

If he survives, and if National stays in government, and if he is appointed Associate Minister of Health (with responsibility for diverting attention from National’s intransigence on cannabis law reform, then progress on medicinal cannabis is likely to remain slow.

If Labour lead the next Government then Dunne is unlikely to be in the mix, so it will be up to Labour and Greens and possibly NZ First to push things along, but cannabis is unlikely to be a priority.