Why is Winston Peters Foreign Minister?

  asks: Why is Winston Peters Foreign Minister?

I’m wondering this today because one of the books I read over the break talks about proportional representation in Germany, and how the system gave disproportional power to the third party (the FDP).

And the FDP exercised this by making their leader the Foreign Minister when they went into governing coalitions. And when the FDP declined and the German Greens became the kingmakers, their leader Joschka Fischer became the foreign Minister.

And this is Peters’ second round in the same position and he’s chosen the same portfolio. So that seems to be a thing. But Foreign Minister seems like a bad portfolio to have when you’re leader of a minority party in government!

You’re out of the country almost all of the time. It’s hard to stay in the loop, either with your own party or broader political developments. It’s the job Prime Ministers traditionally give to valuable but ambitious rivals or caucus trouble-makers to keep them out of mischief.

And its hard to deliver on retail politics or distribute pork from that position. Peters, like McCully before him will doubtless find a way, but certainly nothing as lavish as Shane Jones will deliver with his infrastructure fund.

It is a VERY prestigious post, though. You get to meet kings and queens and drive through Beijing in a motorcade! Do (some) third parties favour the Foreign Ministry because it’s the most prestigious position in government that a major party will concede?

Or is there some other political advantage to the position I don’t know about?

One possibility is that it is part of Winston’s succession plan.

He gets to hold the top position that NZ First has gets to hob nob with governments and royalty around the world, and gives the rest of the NZ First MPs some space to work out how to work together without him hovering over them all the time.

When he is out of the country media are forced to go to a different NZ First MP for comment on party related issues.

Shane Jones being given five ministerial positions including the regional pork distributor suggests he is Winston’s favoured successor. His portfolios:

  • Minister of Forestry
  • Minister for Infrastructure
  • Minister for Regional Economic Development
  • Associate Minister of Finance
  • Associate Minister of Transport

That covers key NZ First policies and gives him an influence in Finance. And is too much work for Peters, especially if he is considering retirement by the end of this term.

Deputy Ron Mark has been given relatively lightweight and inconsequential (for NZ First) portfolios:

  • Minister of Defence
  • Minister for Veterans

That doesn’t look like leader-in-waiting level responsibilities – but it gives Mark more opportunity to campaign and lobby to take over the party should Peters step down.

Another reason for Foreign Affairs for Peters could be Labour’s doing. He is (on paper at least) our #2 politician and deputy Prime Minister, so he will probably get to act as the big cheese occasionally and briefly, but most of the time he is out of the country and out of sight, so gives him little chance to grandstand over Jacinda Ardern.

Foreign Affairs is also a job Peters has done before so knows the ropes, so it will be easier for him than taking on a major domestic workload that he would first need to familiarise himself with.

And it could be that Peters just likes Foreign Affairs, and wanted a job he would enjoy.

Addressing unemployment stressed by factions

Shane Jones’ push for ‘work-for-the-dole’ schemes to get people off couches and into work has highlighted a number factions that put stress on any policy making and implementing.

The factions include:

  • NZ First Party
  • Labour Party
  • Maori MPs
  • Unions
  • Green Party

Jacinda Ardern has to somehow try to manage all of their interests and mould it into an effective policy to address generational unemployment, especially Maori unemployment.

Richard Harman at Politik: Willie Jackson: Working for dole won’t work

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says he shares Shane Jones’ passion to get Maori unemployment down and he has proposed a package of measures in a paper to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to address the issue.

He met Jones yesterday and agreed to incorporate some of Jones’ ideas in his paper.

But he says he stops short at Jones’ “work for the dole” proposals.

And he says that idea would never be accepted by Labour or “the boss” – Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

An idea that also wouldn’t be acceptable to unions, which Labour rely on for funding and support.

Jones’ language was probably provoked by a desire by NZ First to brand themselves as distinct to Labour.

But the imperative for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to maintain a seamless unity between Labour and NZ First.

And the Maori caucus and the unions.

So at her post-Cabinet press conference yesterday she said that what Jones was calling “work for the dole”, Labour was calling “ready for work.”

We are essentially talking about the same thing,” she said.

Asked about Jones’ proposal to end dole payments if unemployed didn’t take up jobs she said there already was a sanctions regime in the welfare system.

“That’s provided us with the tools to ensure that people do take up the job opportunities that are available to them.”

The Green Party is strongly opposed to sanctions, another complicating factor.

Jackson though wants to see an employment strategy which strengthens communities and provides real jobs.

“You don’t fix unemployment by following Jonesy’s idea and chucking a few Maori out there cutting scrub for a few months,” he told POLITIK.

“You have to create a real job, jobs with dignity, by forming relationships with local Maori, with trade unions, with businesses.

But these are only minor differences between the two Maori MPs.

“I can work hand and hand with Jonesy,” said Jackson.

“The thing is we have seen inter generational unemployment; both of us.

“I’ve seen it in the urban sense, he’s seen it in the north.

“We are both of the same mind and the same sentiment. It’s just Jonesy has got his own way of expressing things.

“But his sentiment is right; his passion is right, but we have to be careful that we are not penalising our own.

“We came into this Government to offer hope to our people.”

‘Our people’ being Maori people, who have three times the unemployment rate of non-Maori. Jackson and Jones are capable of putting their interests ahead of their parties, but need the MPs of three parties to back their schemes to get people into work.

It will be a challenge, especially with the politics involved, but some sort of solutions need to be tried.


Bridges v Jones on work-for-the-dole

In Parliament yesterday Simon Bridges question Shane Jones on his proposal for a work-for-the-dole scheme (see Slouches off couches in ‘Work for the Dole’).  Jacinda Ardern joined in, as did Winston Peters whose petty personal attack on Bridges resulted in a reprimand.

“In respect of how many people the programme will deal with, I would point out that it takes 1,250 planters to plant a million trees a day”

“… the first thing that I’ve taken on board is some sage-like counsel: when one front-foots an issue, do not completely shoot one’s own foot.”

“I’m sure that you’ll find there’s a suitable blend of stick and carrot.

To Ardern: “…on matters of nomenclature, what is a name? A rose by any other name is just as sweet.”


10. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by his statement, “I am going to take proposals to Cabinet. I’m calling it Work for the Dole”; if so, how many jobs does he expect his programme to create?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes, in relation to taking proposals to Cabinet along with the Minister of Employment. In relation to what it will be called, no doubt Cabinet will suitably christen it. In respect of how many people the programme will deal with, I would point out that it takes 1,250 planters to plant a million trees a day. A hundred days’ work—a hundred million a year; times 10—a billion trees.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he agree with the New Zealand Herald‘s editorial this morning that said his “work scheme deserves a chance” and that “he has the energy and experience to make it work”; and if so, what arguments will he be making to convince his Cabinet colleagues that it’s a good idea?

Hon SHANE JONES: In relation to arguments that I might muster, the first thing that I’ve taken on board is some sage-like counsel: when one front-foots an issue, do not completely shoot one’s own foot.

Hon Simon Bridges: Well, does he agree with Barry Soper, who said, “It’s hard to see Jones winning, considering the trade unions are against it.”; and if not, what arguments will he be making to win the unions over?

Hon SHANE JONES: It’s a rather perverse outcome that I should be talking about the unions in my particular role; suffice to say I’m working with the Minister of Employment. Proposals will wend their way through Cabinet, and I’m sure that you’ll find there’s a suitable blend of stick and carrot.

Hon Simon Bridges: What consequences does he think there should be for young people who decline to participate in his programme?

Hon SHANE JONES: Once again, I’m sure that other Ministers belonging to the Cabinet will provide their perspectives and balance my views that I reflect as a Ngāpuhi chief.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern: Can the Minister confirm that we are in total agreement that placing young people in paid, decent employment is an aspiration this Government totally shares?

Hon SHANE JONES: Yes, and on matters of nomenclature, what is a name? A rose by any other name is just as sweet.

Hon Simon Bridges: Well, given the seeming consensus on the other side of the House, what is wrong with there being consequences for failing to work?

Hon SHANE JONES: What is wrong is that for nine years, former Ministers on the other side of the House talked a big book and did jack.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the Minister backing down on Work for the Dole, meaning many will be destined to meaningless lives on the couch, when he’s spent years on this, and many in the media as well as the general public absolutely agree with him?

Hon SHANE JONES: Once again, prior to Christmas, I’m confident—such a busy schedule in our Cabinet committees—that answers will reveal themselves for the other side of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Minister if one of the employment programmes he might contemplate would be training a number of diction trainers so that they could possibly help that member ask questions that are halfway understandable in this House?

Hon SHANE JONES: Not wanting to trivialise—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Sit down! Sit down! You are going to withdraw and apologise, aren’t you?

Hon SHANE JONES: I certainly would never trivialise the House or the House’s man.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon SHANE JONES: I stand, withdraw, and apologise, sir.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member stands up, and he says, “I withdraw and apologise.”

Hon SHANE JONES: Sir, I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the member’s been absent for some time, but I don’t think his memory’s that bad.

Ardern and Jones differ on work-for-dole

On Q&A in the weekend Shane Jones promoted a work-for-dole scheme – see Slouches off couches in ‘Work for the Dole’.

Prime Minister Jacinda is not so keen and says any work initiatives for young people will have to be approved by Cabinet (a number of new Ministers have been promoting policy that hasn’t been ap;proved by Cabinet).

NZH:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pours cold water on work for the dole

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government’s work scheme to help young people into jobs will not be a work-for-the-dole scheme because they will be paid at least the minimum wage.

And she is not endorsing Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ wish to compel young beneficiaries into work and cutting their benefit if they refuse, saying Cabinet will work through those details.

Yesterday Jones said he would take four projects to Cabinet for his Working For Your Country scheme before Christmas, which will give beneficiaries a chance to stop “sitting on the couch” and work for minimum wage in industries such as tree planting, riparian planting or developing railway tourism.

“In order to plant one billion trees, in order to deliver on riparian planting, in order to prepare a workforce for recapitalising the railways, the ne’er-do-well nephs will be required to take those jobs,” Jones told the Herald.

“If they are unwilling, then I will spend every thinking and waking moment ensuring they do not fall back on the dole and be permitted to do jack, while the rest of us are out there working.”

But Ardern is not on board with this approach.

…but Ardern told Newstalk ZB this morning that the terminology was wrong because they would be paid a legal wage.

She likened it to Labour’s Ready For Work programme, which targeted 10,000 NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) for six months’ work in Government-supported environmental or community projects.

She did not endorse compelling NEETs to work and cutting their welfare if they refused, saying Labour had not supported compulsion in the past.

Cabinet will work through “the detail of how we encourage take-up”.

Work-for-the-dole had a number of problems, “not least that you’re undercutting people who are in paid employment”.

“If it’s a genuine job, you will be paid a genuine working wage.”

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern backs off work-for-dole scheme, but doesn’t rule out benefit sanctions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent her Monday morning managing expectations around Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ plans to get young unemployed people off the benefit.

While signalling that Jones was speaking about his own ideas rather than Government policy, Ardern wouldn’t rule out benefit sanctions for those who refuse work.

That could be contentious within the Labour caucus, and also with the Greens who promote sanctionless (no questions asked, not pressure) benefits.

1 News: ‘You’re asking me to jump the gun’ – Jacinda Ardern cagey on forcing those on benefits into work

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has backed away from revealing her view on whether beneficiaries should be forced to work for the dole, saying it needed to be decided by a team – not just her.

“I’m not going to pre-empt the decision that has to be made by a collective group of people with all the information in front of us,” she said.

“You’re asking me to jump the gun on a policy announcement.”

Ms Ardern did say that some of the current sanctions on beneficiaries requiring them to seek work are harmful to families.

“Some of them are problematic – some of them actually end up depriving kids of the support they need.”

She said the Ready For Work scheme is not about compelling people to work, but more about “the dignity of work”.

“In the past we’ve had work for the dole schemes where a person will only receive the amount they would on the dole to do a job that is actually a job that would usually attract at least minimum wage,” Ms Ardern said.

“What we are talking about is genuine work, which should lead on to other opportunities, where you would be paid a legal wage.”

Ardern is making a habit of vague statements.

She has a challenge working out a compromise between Jones and his aims, and her own Cabinet. While greens aren’t in Cabinet they may want a say as well.

Slouches off couches in ‘Work for the Dole’

In an interview on Q&A Shane Jones said that he wants to get young people off couches and into work, in what he describes as work-for-dole initiatives. He says that Labour supports the concept but not the name.

One of the key aims as Minister of Regional Economic Development is to get regional and rural unemployed into work, but this will presumably require coordination with the Minister of Employment and the Minister for Social Development.

I’m calling it Work for the Dole. It may be the Work Readiness Kaupapa. But I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne’er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs and they’re in Disneyland. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not happening any more.

There could be some delicate balancing between providing incentives and pushing unemployed people into Government work schemes, and what some have criticised as a punitive approach to people on benefits.

SHANE I don’t want people on the unemployment benefit. I don’t want to have to rely on Filipinos to plant my pine trees. These people will be made to go-

CORIN But you’re implying they’re going to be forced to work.

SHANE No, no, please. They’ll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them.

This could be challenging, given the resistance by some to move significant distances from their couches to work.

Q&A interview and 1 News report: ‘There will be no more sitting on the couch’ – Shane Jones goes full throttle on work-for-the-dole scheme

The Regional Economic Development Minister announced his proposal in October and says he has held a number of discussions with Labour who are “behind the concept” but admitted they didn’t like the term work-for-the-dole.

“They probably have a slightly different view of the incentives that should be used,” Mr Jones said on TVNZ’s Q+A programme this morning.

Relevant segment of the transcript:

CORIN Give me some examples of how it’s going to benefit a young Kiwi in the regions who’s struggling to get a job, who’s in a depressed area. Tell me how it’s going to help.

SHANE I think that’s a bloody good question, actually. If I take, for example, the $10 million that would be needed to really upgrade connectivity from where, say, the new Hawaiki cable’s going to arrive up to Kaitaia. Unless you have connectivity in the Kaitaias of the world, then the firms that are there aren’t going to flourish, and then that provides an incentive for employment to grow. But I will say something that really bothers me immensely. Throughout New Zealand, we’ve got this category of young men and women called NIETs – not in employment or training. It’s a category that data’s collected from the stats department. Nigh on $60,000 was allocated by Steven Joyce, and for reasons I’ve never fully worked out, not a cracker, a brass razoo, was actually spent. Unless we build programmes actually employing these young men, then the ne’er-do-well nephs are going to disappear consistently-

CORIN So this is the Work for the Dole idea which you raised.

SHANE I love the idea, and by Christmas, I am going to have announced at least four projects. I’ve been counselled by my friends in Labour. They don’t like the term Work for the Dole, and it’s probably going to be called Work Ready.

CORIN What is it? Is it actually work for the dole? Are they going to be working and getting an unemployment benefit?

SHANE Mm. I don’t want people on the unemployment benefit. I don’t want to have to rely on Filipinos to plant my pine trees. These people will be made to go-

CORIN But you’re implying they’re going to be forced to work.

SHANE No, no, please. They’ll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them. They’ll have to receive a minimum wage, but there will be no more sitting on the couch.

CORIN How do you force them to do it?

SHANE Just wait and see until my four announcements are out.

CORIN No. Without specifics, it’s a big issue to say you’re going to force those NIETs to actually work.

SHANE Well, I’m not the Minister of Social Welfare, but read my lips – I’m sick and tired of watching the ne’er-do-well nephs sitting on the couch doing nothing, and I, as a Maori politician and a Maori leader, I’m not going to tolerate it any longer. I’m one voice in amongst 20 Cabinet ministers, but read my lips – that is the advocacy I’m going to bring.

CORIN How are you going to get it through Cabinet?

SHANE Yes, it’s obviously a mixture of charm and knowledge, but I’m one of 20.

CORIN Have you talked to your Labour colleagues about this and about how you might be able to do it?

SHANE I’ve had a number of discussions, in fairness to my Labour colleagues, and they’re behind the kaupapa, they’re behind the concept. They probably have a slightly different view of the incentives that should be used, but I’d be nothing other than honest if I didn’t say to you that’s the quality of my advocacy.

CORIN Right, so let’s just be clear here. You are going to push a Work for the Dole scheme through Cabinet. You’re going to try.

SHANE I am going to take proposals to Cabinet. I’m calling it Work for the Dole. It may be the Work Readiness Kaupapa. But I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne’er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs and they’re in Disneyland. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not happening any more.

“Full employment”

Labour campaigned on “full employment”, but it was sometimes not quite full.

On 4 July this year Labour’;s then spokesperson for finance, Grant Robertson, said in a speech titled The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision:

Just to refresh. The Labour Party believes in full employment- anyone who can work should be able to work. As Minister of Finance I will re-assert Labour’s historic mission of full employment. In the first term of government we will lower unemployment to 4%.

And we want all parts of the economic apparatus working towards that goal. That is why we will expand the objectives of the Reserve Bank to include not just controlling inflation, but also maximising employment.

Interviewed on The Nation on 22 July (before she took over the leadership) Jacinda Ardern said that while 4% unemployment was their target she wanted to aim for “full employment”.

Owen: You raised jobs, so let’s go there. Labour’s aiming to get unemployment down from 5% to 4%. In real terms, how many jobs is that and how are you going to do it?

Ardern: Yeah, we are, and we’ve talked about some of the specific ideas that we’ve had. For instance—

Owen: Sorry, how many jobs will that be in real terms?

Ardern: Well, we’ve said we want to drop it down to 4% as a target. I can’t give you the specific number that that generates.

Owen: So about 25,000.

Ardern: We’ve set 4% as a target, but we are a party that believes in full employment. I want to make that point.

Owen: …we’re circling back round to the fact that your critics would say you’re not being that ambitious. We’re getting there anyway — 4.3%. You’re offering us 0.3%. Is that enough to motivate people to change, which is what you want them to do.

Ardern: And as I say, we’ve set some targets, but, actually, we are a party, as I say, is ambitious enough to say that, actually, what we want is full employment. We will never be satisfied as long we have anyone—

Owen: But that’s not the target you’ve set in the short term. The target you’ve set is this, which is so close to National’s, it could be National’s.

Ardern: We’ve set a target that allows us to make some projections around the kind of spending in investment in other areas. But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied. Yeah, we put a number on it. We believe in full employment. That’s bold.

A few days ago as Ardern was set to become Prime Minister, NBR:  Ardern says unemployment should be below 4%

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand’s unemployment rate should be below 4%.

She says GDP is “barely growing” and unemployment is stuck at 5% but she says it should be below 4%.

Our unemployment actually dropped to 4.8% in the three months to June, the lowest it has been since the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008.

Lowering unemployment down further, especially below 4%, will be challenging, although it got as low as 3.7% in 2007.

‘Full employment’ implies virtually zero unemployment, something that is unlikely to be attained. All governments aim for as low unemployment as possible. Sometimes outside influences, like the GFC, work against that.

Pushing up minimum wages significantly may or may nor impact negatively on employment. Same for changes to the 90 day trial period legislation.

Shane Jones, incoming Minister for Regional Development, says he will push for more employment in the regions and has said that both a carrot and stick approaches will be needed. This has already met with union resistance.

NZH:  Unions slam ‘work-for-dole’ proposal

The newly-appointed Minister for Regional Economic Development said today he had been encouraged to look into the idea as part of the $1 billion extra funding to go to regional New Zealand.

Jones said it was not just about regional GDP or giving people who weren’t working the opportunity to find employment,

The Government was also promising to plant 100 million trees a year.

“As we plant indigenous trees I’m going to get my indigenous nephews off their nono and they’re going to go to work”.

First Union general secretary Robert Reid said the entire union movement was implacably opposed to the idea.

“It’s long-standing policy for the union movement right from when it was tried by the National Government in the 1990s.

“What we are in favour of is work-for-wages schemes for unemployed people, even on a temporary basis like the 1970s and ’80s schemes.”

Reid said this would give workers the dignity of working for a proper pay packet as opposed to the indignity of working for the dole.

Greens may resist the stick side of that, having “remove excessive sanctions” from the welfare system written in their agreement with Labour and having campaigned on effectively ‘no questions asked’ benefits that may make it difficult to push those people with entrenched habits of unemployment into work.

Everyone benefits from better wages and more employment, and less unemployment, but the last 4-5% may be difficult to deal with.


Big wins, big ambitions, big challenges

NZ First have had some big wins in their negotiations with Labour, winning support for major policies and winning some big portfolios. With a lot to do for a small party they will have big challenges living up to their ambitions.

Ministerial responsibilities for the NZ First MPs:

Winston Peters

  • Deputy Prime Minister
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister for State Owned Enterprises
  • Minister for Racing

Foreign Affairs usually involves a lot of international travel and long absences from the country, which will have to somehow be managed alongside Deputy responsibilities, which include stepping in for the PM when she is unavailable (out of the country).

State Owned Enterprises could be interesting, given NZ First aims to but back partially sold assets.

Racing is a bauble.

Ron Mark

  • Minister of Defence
  • Minister for Veterans

Defence could be a challenge, given Green opposition to military spending and engagement. National may need to back up NZ First and Labour on Defence.

Tracey Martin

  • Minister for Children
  • Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Minister for Seniors
  • Associate Minister of Education

With Jacinda Ardern’s stated interest in children issues (she is Minister for Child Poverty Reduction) she will need to work with Martin.

Martin will also have to work closely with incoming Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

Shane Jones

  • Minister of Forestry
  • Minister for Infrastructure
  • Minister for Regional Economic Development
  • Associate Minister of Finance
  • Associate Minister of Transport

This is a huge workload for someone regarded as not being particularly industrious. He will need a lot of help.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the
– Minister of Foreign Affairs
– Minister for Regional Economic Development

It looks like he will either be an apprentice to Peters on Foreign Affairs, or he may have to cover for a heavy workload if Peters wants to share the load. There could also be a big workload assisting Jones in Regional Economic Development.

Five of the nine NZ First MPs have jobs in Government, so they don’t have a big back-up crew, just four other MPs, two of them new to Parliament.

Big jobs, big challenges.

Shane Jones to lead regional development and tree planting

A claim that (as already predicted) Shane Jones will be the new Minister of Regional Economic Development and also Minister of Forestry.

Newshub: Shane Jones Minister for 100 million trees, $1 billion regional fund

Shane Jones will be the Minister responsible for spending $1 billion a year on New Zealand’s regions.

Newshub has also learned that Jones will also be in charge of the new Forestry Service, which will plant 100 million trees a year – with the goal of planting a billion over 10 years.

The goal is to take jobs to the regions with roles in planting and nurseries.

It is understood that about 50 million trees are already planted in New Zealand each year, meaning the new Government’s planting will double that.

The plan will require 1000 stems per hectare, over 100,000 hectares.

There is an environmental element to the plan, as forests planted on Department of Conservation land will be native trees acting as permanent “carbon sinks” to counter climate change.

Trees will also be planted on Maori-owned land and there will be a big emphasis on getting Maori into jobs.

The new Government department’s headquarters will be based in Rotorua.

Sounds potentially very good for regional development, employment and also addressing climate and conservation issues.

Of course it depends on how well done it is and how effectively the money will be spent. It’s a big challenge for Jones, and he will probably be more visible than Winston peters who is expected to be Minister of Foreign Affairs so should be out of the country frequently.

NZ First’s slide

It looked like NZ First were in for a good election through the middle of the year, polling 9-10% in April , May and June, over their 8.66% of the 2014 election.

In July they peaked at 13.5% (Reid Research), 11% (Colmar Brunton) and 11.5% (Roy Morgan). They were benefiting from the slide in support of Andrew little and Labour.

Then in early August Jacinda Ardern took over Labour and started a rise in the polls, while NZ First has been sliding.

They are still trending down and are getting dangerously close to the threshold. There has also been (unsubstantiated) reports that Winston Peters is at risk in the Northland electorate.

The latest polls for NZ First have been:

  • Roy Morgan (28 Aug – 10 Sep) 6%
  • Newshub Reid Research (6-11 Sep) 6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton (9-13 Sep) 6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton (15-19 Sep) 5%

If NZ First only just make it in above the threshold Shane Jones may miss the cut. He is 8 on the list.

Jones joining NZ First was milked for months before being announced, he joined with a lot of publicity, and has been virtually invisible since then.

All other NZ first candidates apart from Peters have been out of sight as well apart from attracting a bit of attention here: NZ First candidate vows to remove Treaty of Waitangi from law

A New Zealand First candidate has announced a radical bid to scrap the Treaty of Waitangi from New Zealand law.

But the party’s leader Winston Peters has laughed off the comments and told media “that’s why she’s ranked 38 (on the list)”.

So NZ First’s campaign has been all up to Winston. He is having to campaign in Northland to try to retain his seat – it would be a major blow to his ego if he loses his electorate seat – and also travel around the country campaigning for the party.

And Peters appears to be struggling with the workload as well as struggling to get traction in the media

Ardern has picked up a lot of media attention seemingly at Winston’s expense, but James Shaw has been able to quietly claw back support for the Greens with even less publicity.

Peters appears to be crankier than usual, and his stunts have not paid off – he tried to gatecrash the Morrinsville farmers’ rally and was booed there.

He is looking tired, aged and out of touch.

Last election he was up against John Key and David Cunliffe, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, and Peter Dunne, Kim Dotcom, Kim Dotcom and Colin Craig, none of whom are leading parties this election.

Only David Seymour is still in the mix (Hone Harawira is really only campaigning in Te Tai Tokerau).

Bill English is keeping his distance from Peters as much as possible.

Winston is showing his vintage against Jacinda Ardern and Shaw, and Seymour, and Damien Light, and he also contrasts with the energy of Marama Fox.

Not only is Peters showing the pressure his campaign has lacked focus and has been vague and confusing.

The NZ First billboard can be easily misinterpreted:

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Had enough of Winston? Apparently many voters have.

This seems quite at odds with Winson’s image:

Image may contain: 1 person, close-up and text

The policy to move the Port of Auckland is not being taken seriously.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Peters has alleged a National Party secret agenda on water tax:

He implied he has evidence but as is his habit has not produced any.

NZ First seems to be trying to have a policy for everyone, but seem to be missing the mark.

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Repeating false claims don’t help – there is nothing like ‘mass immigration’ in New Zealand.

I think a major problem with the NZ First campaign is the change from the past approach of maverick chasing the disgruntled vote to trying to present a wide range of serious policies – that are hardly being taken seriously.

Refusing to give any indication of possible coalition preferences is also probably not helping.

And a plethora of ‘bottom lines’ with no certainty over whether any or all are deal breakers or not just adds to the confused position of Peters and the party.

At the moment the trend looks to be all going downwards, and NZ First look to be at real risk of missing the cut.

Peters may conjure up a late revival but time is running out.

Changing accusations on who leaked Peters Super overpayment

There has been a slew of accusations about who leaked information about the superannuation overpayment of Winston Peters.

Peters initially blamed the IRD. Then he moved to MSD, Bill English, Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett and public servants. By yesterday he was calling for mass resignations.

Stuff: Winston Peters calls for heads to roll over superannuation overpayment leak

Winston Peters wants heads to roll over his superannuation overpayment being leaked, including Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and State Services Minister Paula Bennett.

The NZ First leader told media following a finance debate in Queenstown on Wednesday night that those who have said they knew about his overpayment have “breached the privacy laws”.

When asked if Tolley, Bennett, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes and Prime Minister Bill English’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, should all lose their jobs, Peters said “of course they should”.

“They’re all in breach of the privacy laws of this country and there has to be consequences – they have just been so badly caught out,” he said.

Peters has never resigned over breaches of privacy but he has different rules for himself.

Also yesterday: Shane Jones takes aim at social development boss: ‘Writing’s on the wall’

NZ First candidate Shane Jones has launched a scathing attack on a senior civil servant, who he has accused of being at the centre of politically-motivated leaks in two separate elections.

Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle has confirmed he briefed his minister Anne Tolley that the department had settled a matter with NZ First leader Winston Peters’ on the overpayment of his pension.

“The man is no stranger to breaches of privacy. He was in charge of the internal affairs department when in the midst of the 2008 election there was a massive dump of documents.

“It was a file of a matter I dealt with, pertaining to Bill Liu – right in the middle of an election.

“Now the man is in the middle of a major privacy breach in this election,” Jones said.

Risky for Jones to bring up Bill Liu.

It emerged just before the 2008 election, then Labour Immigration Minister Jones granted the controversial Chinese businessman New Zealand citizenship despite an Interpol warning.

And it seems that after being distanced from National Cameron Slater has shifted his dirty politics to trying to help Peters and NZ First.

Like Peters his accusations have evolved, suggesting they are dirty speculations.

He originally thought the big revelation was something else.

Then when the Super  story broke he accused Anne Tolley. He has since piled into Bill English and his staff, also Steven Joyce.

And apparently he has now blamed someone ‘very close to Paula Bennett’.

If the leaker is revealed both he and peters will probably claim to have been right – if they accuse enough people their odds must be good.

It has long been a tactic of both Peters and Slater of making public accusations without any evidence, it seems to be aimed at trying to flush out a culprit.

Dirty politics from both of them. It was dirty to leak the information but whoever leaked is just wrestling in mud with political pigs.