TRP Adviser 21 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

The Greens are not 100% pure, the NZ Labour Party has woken from its slumbers and, sorry, Shane, NZ First is still a one-man band.

Metiria Turei’s announcement that she bent the benefit rules was not in itself a particularly shocking revelation. I mean, who hasn’t indulged in some creative accounting, some under the table tax avoidance or some pilfered office supplies?

Paula Bennett, that’s who!

Yes, it turns out that the Sainted Paula led a life of bleak austerity and blind obedience while a beneficiary and it never so much as crossed her mind to forget a flatty or two, get into a relationship without applying for permission from WINZ or start her fledgling property portfolio without fudging the figures.

So those of you thinking that Turei’s mea culpa was actually aimed at embarrassing the Deputy Prime Minister a mere week after a Facebook poster was threatened with legal action for allegedly defaming her should be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed I say!

The Labour Party has finally come up with a policy that genuinely challenges National. Pitching themselves as the party that will spend our tax dollars on health, education and families rather than tax cuts for the well-off is genius stuff.

Ok, it’s not Sanders or Corbyn level radicalism, but it makes it really simple for voters. If you care for your country, you’ll be voting Labour this election. If you are that self-centred that $20 off your top tier tax bill is more of a priority, then you’ll keep voting National as usual. You heartless bastard.

Well done Labour. More of this, please.

Welcome to NZ First, Shane Jones. Please take a seat at the back and stop talking. In fact, stop anything that resembles a sign of independent thought and just remember this is Winston’s Party and he’ll make up any damn policy he likes any time he likes.

Winston’s brain fart on holding a referendum on the maori seats has backfired beautifully. He’s had to back track on who might vote in the referendum, hinting that it might be just those on the maori roll who get to decide. Then flip flopping on that, because he belatedly realised that maori roll voters had already made up their mind.

Being on the maori roll is a conscious decision. Nobody already on that roll is going to vote to do away with the maori seats. Nobody.

Ok, Winston might gain a redneck vote or two by bashing maori, but he seems to have forgotten that he gets a fair few party votes from those seven seats. Maybe not so much now.

I guess he’ll still get the tick from Shane Jones, who is, ya know, actually on the maori roll. But the message to the newest Peters protégé is clear; you’re not even in my thoughts, big fulla.

Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

In his speech to the NZ First congress on Sunday Winston Peters said:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

RNZ pointed out: Peters, Jones differ on Māori seats

On the issue of Māori seats (Shane Jones) told The Hui programme he’d keep them but forgot to tell his boss Mr Peters who was put on the spot earlier today.

“That was a long time ago he wasn’t a candidate then.

Morning Report’s Kim Hill pressed Mr Peters again but he held the line and said “No, it wasn’t this month”.

But Mr Jones was officially a New Zealand First candidate when he made the comments just 15 days ago.

“The Māori seats will subsist for as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them or want them to continue, but it’s a kaupapa for the people to decide,” Mr Jones said.

Peters now seems to be rethinking the NZ First position on the referendum.

NZ Herald: NZ First leader Winston Peters hints at re-think on Maori seats referendum

NZ First leader Winston Peters has dismissed suggestions of a revolt in his ranks over the Maori seats, but said he will reveal soon whether his proposed referendum on the future of the seats would be for all voters or for Maori.

Peters announced plans to hold a binding referendum on the future of the seats at his party’s annual conference – a shift from the 2014 position which favoured abolishing the seats but leaving it to Maori themselves to decide when.

That was assumed to be a referendum of all voters – but Peters is now hinting that may not be the case.

Asked about recent comments by both candidate Shane Jones and NZ First MP Pita Paraone about leaving the fate of the seats to Maori voters, Peters said he believed it should be up to Maori.

“Of course it should be up to Maori to decide if the seats go, but I’m making a speech about it very shortly and I will tell you the full parameters of that.

“I’ve heard what has been said by people who have interviewed Pita and maybe others, and the question is whether it is full conscription and I’ll have that answer in a speech I’m giving shortly.”

Perhaps Peters has had a reality check with Maori candidate and Maori voter views.

He may be having a problem with trying to scratch the itch of different voter demographics. Both he and Jones are standing in Northland where there are a lot of Maori voters.

Peters was also incorrect in claiming most Maori weren’t on the Maori roll.

Peters said Maori voters were leaving the Maori seats in their droves and the majority of Maori were on the general roll rather than Maori roll.

However, Electoral Commission statistics show 55 per cent are on the Maori roll and 45 per cent on the general roll.

NZ Herald:

After the last electoral option in 2013, there were 228,718 Maori on the Maori roll and 184,630 on the general roll.

Jones and Paraone are both on the Maori roll.

Peters seems to have announced the referendum ‘bottom line’ without consulting with his Maori candidates.

Peters rejected any suggestion Jones had broken the party line by saying it should be left to Maori, saying Jones made his comments based on the party’s 2014 policy without knowing it was about to change.

“Nothing he said was in conflict with that and he made the point he was going with what he understood the manifesto position to be and he was 100 per cent right. He is not guilty of any sin at all on this score.”

Paraone said he had advocated for a referendum of Maori on the Maori roll only, but accepted the decision caucus made.

“I’d like to see that it’s left to the Maori voters to make that decision, but the announcement has been made.”

Jones said he would leave it to Paraone to comment on the issue as NZ First’s Maori Affairs spokesman. “I abide by the caucus policy.”

Before he abides by caucus policy it sounds like that will have to be determined, as opposed to what Peters said in his speech on Sunday.


With the higher than usual likelihood that NZ First will hold the balance of power with potentially a sizeable bloc of the vote more attention is being given to NZ First policy.

And attention is not just on Peters any more, media are also paying a lot of attention to Jones. It is an unfamiliar situation for Peters, sharing the limelight. Differences will attract attention.

Peters has got away with a lot of policy making on the hoof in the past. This campaign that will be more difficult for him.


Peters saying he’s considering just Maori voting on referendum to abolish seats proves my point about him making policy on the hoof.

On Sunday he was very specific it would be one referendum, two questions, one on Māori seats and one on reducing total MPs.

You can’t have one referendum if you’re having general roll answer one question and Māori roll another. Seems awfully messy!

Jones and Paraone have left him no choice but to throw this out there as an option but it was certainly never the plan. Completely reactive.

Peters has tried to push populist buttons on a new scale, but it may get harder for him to get away with saying contradictory things to different audiences now.

This wavering over the Maori seat referendum also highlights the flexibility of Winston’s implied bottom lines.

If Peters caves on this one it would suggest that any of his campaign demands are negotiable come coalition time.

Maori versus Peters on referendum bottom line

I think NZ First have always had a policy to have a referendum on whether to retain the Maori seats in Parliament or not.

The only different yesterday was Winston Peters saying it was a non-negotiable policy this election. He repeated his party’s referendum policy but made it clear which outcome he wanted – scrapping the seats. The other outcome he no doubt wants is picking up some anti-Maori votes, an easy target against a minority.

Parliament has to balance the need to represent majority wishes with the need to protect minorities. Referendums are useful for some things but are a democratic risk when they attack a minority representation in Parliament.

RNZ:  Peter’s referendum call would sideline Māori – Fox

At his party’s annual convention in Auckland, Mr Peters said the Māori seats should go and promised a mid-term binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven seats. Voters would also decide whether to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

“My strategy is to tell everyone out there that you will not be talking to New Zealand First unless you want a referendum on both those issues – mid-term after this election.”

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox (in Parliament through the overall party vote)…

…said the seats could go only when disparity was removed for Māori in this country.

“We have the highest … rates of youth suicide in the world. We have the highest rates of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for Māori women in the world.

“We have a shorter life expectancy – and so on and so on and so on, and Winston Peters is merely politicking for votes and trying to take us back to the good old days of colonisation where you stick Māori in the corner and don’t give them a voice.”

Labour Maori electorate MP Kelvin Davis…

…said it was probably smart politics on Mr Peters’ part to attack Māori and politicians in the two-pronged referendum.

“The majority love hearing that sort of stuff: ‘we’re all New Zealanders, we should all be the same’.

“Well, the reality is, tangata whenua have different views, different values and we should be the ones that decide whether those seats stay or go.”

Shane Jones agreed with this earlier this month:

That was also the view of new New Zealand First candidate for Whangārei, Shane Jones, when asked earlier this month on TV3’s The Hui whether Māori seats should stay or go.

He said Māori seats should continue to exist “as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them and want them to continue”.

I think that’s a fair position. As long as every vote is equal as it is under MMP then I don’t have a problem with whether we have Maori electorates or not – in fact if it gives Maori better representation that’s a good thing.

The rest of us should look at how to improve our own representation. Our best way of doing that is by tactical voting in general elections, not in voting away a minority’s preference for their own representation.

Jones put in his place – Whangarei

One of the biggest talking points after Shane Jones joined NZ First officially was whether there would be a clash of egos between Jones and Winston Peters.

NZ First has long been seen as Winston First, and any attention seeking competitors a distant second if they are able to survive a Peters excommunication.

Tracey Watkins asks: Does NZ First need Shane Jones? Can he and Winston Peters get along?

Jones is back from the political dead after what must be one of the longest political courtships ever. When Jones quit Labour in 2014 he was seething with unfulfilled political ambition and he only left because he knew he had hit the ceiling. Even before he left there was talk of him hooking up with Peters.

Jones is back with NZ First for the same reason he left Labour – unfulfilled ambition. Like Peters, Jones has long harboured a dream to be the first Maori Prime Minister. Both of them can’t make it.

They both can’t be first but it’s possible both of them could make it to Prime Minister, Peters next term and after he retires Jones could get there a term or two later if he successfully takes over the leadership of NZ First.

It’s also the first serious move by Peters to give NZ First a future beyond his own political lifespan. It’s always been assumed that NZ First would die with Peters. That never looked to worry the NZ First leader. Tapping Jones, with his obvious ambition, is a shot at keeping the legacy alive.

But it’s risky because Peters is not used to sharing a stage. He’s never had to. Peters’ personality has always been big enough to carry the party on its own. He’s shed more MPs than some people have lost socks – some of them big personalities like Tau Henare – and never missed a beat because NZ First has always been Winston First.

If Peters retires but stays involved he may anoint Jones as successor, but his power in the party will diminish over time.

And Jones has been given the hard word by Peters that he’s not living the diplomatic high life any more. Don’t wait for people to knock on your door, get out and knock on their door, is the message that’s been delivered to Jones. Time for some hard graft, in other words.

Peters also did some legwork himself before naming Jones. There is understood to have been a dinner with local business people and Whangarei leaders to sound them out before he made up his mind to stand Jones in the seat. Those business leaders made it clear Jones would have to pull out all the stops to be taken seriously.

That message has been delivered down the line to Jones. The clear inference is that Jones should stay in his neck of the woods, in Whangarei, and leave the national stage to Peters.

Peters has made sure, in other words, that Jones has got something to prove in Whangarei, where there is a clear expectation he do well.

So it looks like Peters is trying to ring fence Jones in Whangarei.

Hard slog in an electorate and succeeding in an electorate campaign are not things Jones has managed in his political life with Labour.

Peters is giving Jones an opportunity to take over NZ First, but it seems that Jones first has to prove his mettle, confined within one electorate.

How Jones will cope with curbing his ambitions, both behind the scenes and publicly, will be an interesting aspect of the campaign.

‘This country needs new leadership and a vision’

Winston Peters, Shane Jones or Ron Mark?

It was Winston Peters that said it…

This country needs new leadership and a vision. New Zealand First has it. Working together we can make New Zealand the country it could be – the country it should be.

… but who is new leadership and what vision apart from rear vision looking into the past.

Actually 33 years. Peters was first ‘elected’ in 1978 – he actually went to court to get a legal win in Hunua. He lost in 1981 and won again in 1984 in Tauranga. He lost Tauranga in 2005 but got in on the list. He had another 3 years out of Parliament when NZ First failed in 2008, but has been back since 2011.

He has been NZ First leader since he formed the party in 1993, so he has been at the helm for 24 years unchallenged.

He was deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer from 1996-1999.

Shane Jones has been an MP for 9 years from 2005-2014, and was a Minister in Helen Clark’s last term.

Ron Mark was a NZ First MP for 15 years, from 1996 to 2008, and back in in 2014.

What is their vision?

The Nation – Shane Jones

The Nation will give NZ First’s campaign another boost with an interview with Shane Jones. Not many new candidates get this much media attention.

See also Audrey Young: Shane Jones is an important part of Winston Peters’ plan to regain power

It is one of several factors likely to keep the party on its upward trajectory, mainly at the expense of Labour.

The former Labour MP will help Peters peel off Labour leaners for whom personality is more important in leadership than anything else and who just can’t adjust to Andrew Little.

Jones will also help peel off Labour-leaning blokes who think the party is too “politically correct” – which is really code for too much control by feminists and gays.

And Jones will help to boost support for New Zealand First in the regions and among Maori. He is widely admired in Maoridom for his command of te reo and is considered one of its best orators. He has a microscopic knowledge of Northland tribal history and families. Unlike Peters he was raised in Northland on a dairy farm.

Jones says he knows how to resonate with people. I’m not sure how many. He comes across as pompous and arrogant to me.

A derogatory reference to Dotcom is undignified.

In it for the long haul? He says he had a good break for three years in the Pacific, now has a passion and has learned from his past mistakes as an MP.

Asked about leadership ambitions he avoids that, saying he is looking long term for Whangarei.

He has said it will be “a long day in hell” he would work with the Greens but he says that historic statements shouldn’t be seen as static.

Another derogatory reference, to Russel Norman.

He won’t commit on how well he might get on with Labour and the Greens.

On Bill Liu – ten years old and no more comment on it from Jones.

Immigration – defers to policy yet to be announced.

TPP – another non-static historic position perhaps, saying he won’t walk away from trade. He won’t commit on the TPP. He tries to divert to Winston supporting trade and avoids the TPP as dead.

Maori electorates will stay as long as the people on the rolls want them.

“Arithmetical exactitude”? Trying to be too clever with words. This is just one example.

Asked about more NZ First recruits with some suggested names and he says he won’t divulge anything at this stage.

I don’t know how well he will attract votes for NZ First. He has a very different style to Peters.

On the panel they agree that Whangarei isn’t that important, the party vote is.

Guyon Espiner makes a good point – it’s a major departure for Peters to invite another high profile person to stand in NZ First beside him.

Hooton says that their objective is to take Labour votes and to have Winston as Prime Minister by Christmas.

Espiner thinks that scenario, a NZ First surge and a strong bargaining position for Peters, is unlikely but should be seen as a serious possibility.

NZ First rules for candidates

A tweet on the expected announcement that Shane Jones will be standing for NZ First in Whangarei:

It actually doesn’t matter how long Jones has been in the party.

From the NZ First constitution:

44. Nomination of Candidates
(a) A member nominated as an Electorate candidate must have been a full and financial member for at least six months as at the date of nomination; and a member shall not be eligible for selection as a List candidate unless the member has been a full and financial member for at least six months.


(b) The Board may in its discretion waive any of the requirements in the
preceding article 44(a)

So 44(a) is a pointless rule.

And it has been waived apparently:


Promotion of Jones a pox on democracy

Shane Jones is expected to announce he will stand for NZ First in the Whangarei electorate today. Media have been predicting and promoting this month, but they seem to have gone into a frenzy.

If Jones fails to win the electorate it won’t be for lack of a huge amount of free publicity.

This picking and promoting of preferred candidates by media is a pox on democracy.

Top pox at the moment is Patrick Gower: 12 reasons why Shane Jones can win Whangarei

He left of reason 13: Paddy power. Or that should be Paddy’s abuse of the power of the media.

The media have a dirty habit of picking winners in elections based on who they think will make good stories. Jones had a lacklustre reputation as an MP when he was in the Labour party, but media seem to think he makes good headlines, and that seems to be their priority.

This selective promotion is a pox on a fair democratic system.

There are actually other candidates who have been announced to contest Whangarei, not that most people would know based on media coverage (next to none).

  • Shane Reti (National) – current MP
  • Tony Savage (Labour)
  • Ash Howell (Greens)
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats)

In 2014 Reti had a majority of 13,169 votes, getting 20,111 votes.

The NZ First candidate Pita Paraone got 2,944 votes. Did anyone know he is a current MP? He is actually in his 9th year as a NZ First MP, getting in on the list from 2002-2008 and returning in 2014.

Paraone seems to attract about zero media interest. Try doing a Google news search on him. The ring in Jones looks like bumping him further to the sideline, if that’s possible.

The media will give Jones every chance of getting elected in Whangarei, far more than most candidates. And if he loses he is likely to get in easily on the NZ First list anyway.

He will have successfully attracted a disproportionate amount of media attention. He already has. Such is the lack of balance in election coverage.

It’s an abuse of media power and a pox on our democracy.

Shaw could work with Peters with gritted teeth

James Shaw has said he would prefer not to have to work with Winston Peters, but would if it meant changing the Government (getting National out of power).

This suggests he sees a NZ First dictated coalition as better for the country than the current Government.

It also implies that he thinks a Labour+Green+NZ First collation would do better for Green policy preferences than National+Green

Newshub: ‘If I have to’ – Greens co-leader James Shaw on working with Winston Peters

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he’ll work with Winston Peters if that’s what it takes to change the Government.

“If you look at the trends in the polls… it’s about level pegging,” says Mr Shaw. “This is a very close election.”

“I can [work with Mr Peters] if I have to. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

It may be the Greens only choice if they refuse to work with National.

Last year Mr Shaw and his co-leader Metiria Turei were split on whether working with the National Party was a possibility – Mr Shaw open to it, and Ms Turei “100 percent” against it.

It is claimed that Green Party members, who theoretically at least would make any decision on who they would and wouldn’t go into coalition with, are strongly against working with National.

On current polling Labour+Greens are nowhere near getting a majority, and Labour has gone backwards in the latest Newshub poll to 26%. Greens didn’t pick up all Labour’s shed support, they were on 12.5% but combined that is less than 40%.

NZ First rose more to 9.4% and may challenge Greens for the third party spot. They may have no choice than to go with NZ First and Labour.

If that happens it won’t only be Shaw with gritted teeth.

In an interview with The Spinoff in March, Ms Turei said despite Mr Peters being “annoying as hell” and holding “racist views”, she admired him for his tenacity and the advice he’s given her over the years.

Shane Jones looks set to join NZ First and seems to have more rancid racist views – see Jones signals a rancid approach.

Greens claim to be much better than this, but Shaw suggests they would join with it anyway, ironically to oust National who have more open immigration policies than Labour and especially NZ First.

Who needs principles when you want power?

Jones signals a rancid approach

Shane Jones joining Winston Peters and NZ First has been signalled for months. One report suggested an announcement was imminent.

Jones has signalled his approach to campaigning with comments on immigration.

Newshub:  Shane Jones’ anti-immigration slur

Former Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development Shane Jones has let loose on the Government’s immigration policy, slamming it as “conceited”.

In response, Mr Jones slammed the current Government’s immigration policy.

“The Government’s become conceited, it’s got an unhinged immigration policy, international education is now synonymous with butter chicken – rancid,” he said.

Peters has long played a careful anti-immigrant game.

Jones has signalled a more openlv rancid approach.

He will no doubt be attract media attention, but time will tell whether he can attract votes for NZ First. He could amplify Winston’s dog whistling, but this risks overstepping and dragging NZ First down.

If his comments here are an indication his gungho approach may end up in the gutter – there are some votes there bu it could also turn others off.