Colmar Brunton poll – little change

Polls have been scarce lately. 1 news have their second poll of the year. It doesn’t show anything drastic – a bit of movement from Labour to their Government partners.

  • National 44% (up 1)
  • Labour 43% (down 5)
  • Greens 6% (up 1)
  • NZ First 5% (up 2)
  • Maori Party 1%

So Labour have eased back a bit after a difficult period, and National have held up despite the exit of Bill English and Steven Joyce – it is the first poll since Simon Bridges took over leadership.

Greens and NZ First have both improved marginally (at Labour’s expense).

  • Refuse to answer 4%
  • Undecided 8% (down 1)

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 37% (down 4)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 9)
  • Winston Peters 5% (up 1)

The gloss seems to have worn off Ardern a bit. It’s early for Bridges, he will still hardly be known by most of the electorate.

Peters doesn’t seem to be liked outside NZ First support.

Poll conducted 7-11 April 2018.

What try hard bollocks.

National are likely to be pleased a change of leadership has barely changed their support.

 

Greens online on oil and gas announcement

It would help to have some plans in place for ‘NZ’s innovation’.  Ditching oil without having a viable replacement could be a disaster. Just stopping drilling won’t make ‘innovation’ magically happen.

The economy may well fall over if New Zealand followed the Green prescription on oil and gas.

That doesn’t make sense from bridges.

So what is the Green transition plan for weaning ourselves off oil and gas?  Like, a plan, not some policy ideals.

Greens do a good job at promoting alternative views, but they do a bad job of explaining what any viable alternatives would actually be.

I would really like to see a fossil fuel transition plan. Is there such a think in New Zealand?

Bridges gets a first month pass mark

I haven’t warmed to Simon Bridges yet. His speech isn’t exactly riveting – he often sounds quite boring. Maybe i should take notice to see if there is any substance.

He’s had a largely neutral debut with the media, they have neither dumped on him nor arderned him.

It is early days for his leadership. He needs to be making an impact in two years time in the lead up to the election that will presumably be late in 2020, so he has time to grow into the job.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff will have seen Bridges close up, and she has given him a pass mark for his first month.

Stuff: Govt needs to cross Simon’s well-built bridge

Simon Bridges passed his first month in the job last week. That’s a milestone worth celebrating in these fast-moving times. Another month or so and he’ll equal Jacinda Ardern’s time as Opposition leader.

Bridges has enjoyed nothing like the giddy surge of popularity that marked Ardern’s first days in the job. But he has made a better than decent fist of it so far.

He’s picked his battles. He’s taken his wins where he can get them. He’s worked hard to get up to speed across every portfolio. He’s even got shades of the everyman charisma that worked for Sir John Key.

I haven’t seen that in Bridges yet.

And he’s been luckier than most new Opposition leaders. Far from taking over a beaten and demoralised team, he’s inherited a formidable machine that’s carried on from government without breaking stride. This is the most determined opposition we’ve seen in a long while.

Added to that, it wouldn’t have been hard for any Opposition leader to look less bad than Labour, NZ First and Greens over the past month.

He’s got what it takes to lead National to an election victory, particularly against a government that is making such heavy weather of things at the moment.

I don’t know if he’s got what it takes, and it will be a while before we find out what voters generally think of him. Polls are rare at the moment.

Except the odds of Bridges winning are no better now than when he took over the leadership, even up against a government that seems to be making heavy weather of everything at the moment.

If the Government doesn’t sort there shit out this assessment may change.

It’s not just Ardern that Bridges has to beat. He has to beat MMP.

That means finding an ally in either NZ First or the Greens. The odds on that are steep to implausible.

Both certainly look very unlikely allies at this stage.

Alternatively, Bridges will have to lead National to an all-out majority so it can govern alone. Even Key and Helen Clark never managed that – and they were both hugely popular leaders.

But the situation now is different to any other time under MMP, with fewer small parties than ever, and all of them in precarious positions.

Greens in particular but also NZ First were at risk of missing the threshold last election, and NZ First is currently polling under the threshold. If they don’t show real gains during this term they will both be at risk of not surviving.

Given the hopelessness of new parties getting up to the ridiculously high threshold, there’s a real chance next election may come down to little more than National versus Labour.

Much may then depend on how well Bridges builds his profile and leadership potential,  and whether Jacinda Ardern can maintain her initially surge of popularity.

As already said, it’s early days, and two and a half years is a long time in politics.

But Bridges has made an ok start so far.

Jenny Marcroft tainted but protected (so far)

Serious allegations were made against rookie NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft. Claiming she was under the instruction of a Government Minister she threatened National MP Mark Mitchell.

After Mitchell went public her party leader Winston Peters remarkably instructed her to apologise, something he is unfamiliar with doing, and put it down to ‘a misunderstanding’.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she sought assurance from all NZ First ministers – Peters, Ron Mark, Shane Jones and Tracey Martin – that they were not involved and has accepted their denials.

RNZ: Nats out for blood over Marcroft-Mitchell dust-up

Mr Mitchell said NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft told him over the weekend to stop supporting a project in his Rodney electorate if he wanted it to get public funding.

He said he was also asked for an assurance National would not ask questions about the Mahurangi River Restoration Project in Parliament if it went ahead.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.”

Speaking to RNZ, Mr Mitchell said Ms Marcroft – who entered Parliament last year – had revealed she was acting on behalf of an unnamed minister.

Ms Marcroft declined to comment when contacted by RNZ, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said in a statement Mr Mitchell had “misunderstood her underlying point”.

“After the conversation had got out of hand [Ms Marcroft] consulted with me late on Saturday afternoon and was advised by me to issue an apology,” said Mr Peters.

“Ms Marcroft was not under instructions by any NZ First Ministers regarding funding … New Zealand First does not seek to constrain opposition MPs from criticism of the government.”

That is not a full denial that a Minister was involved – “not under instructions by any NZ First Ministers regarding funding”.

It is a very big stretch to think that Marcroft, the most junior NZ First MP, would do anything like this one her own. It is also a stretch to believe that Peters was not in the know to some extent, given his influence and control in NZ First.

Mr Mitchell rejected the response and said he had yet to receive an apology.

“There was certainly no misunderstanding at all … I was very, very clear on the message I’d been given and I was also very clear with Jenny with what I thought about that.”

He said the only response he’d had from NZ First was a text message from Ms Marcroft an hour after the meeting at Orewa Surf Club.

“Hi Mark, on reflection I have considered the substance of our conversation to be incorrect and would therefore ask that you kindly disregard it. Thank you for your generosity in this matter.”

That’s remarkable – not an apology, but also not a denial. It appears that, at best, Marcroft ‘misunderstood’ instructions from someone in NZ First and then retracted.

Stuff: Junior NZ First MP trying to use Govt fund to heavy Opposition ‘acting alone’ – PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had sought assurances from every NZ First Minister that they had not sent NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft to do their bidding, when she threatened Mitchell that funding for a local river restoration project would be in doubt if he did not cease his involvement.

Ardern said the matter had been resolved and she would not be looking into it further.

She has said that as she is satisfied that a Minister wasn’t involved it is not her problem, it’s a NZ First matter. It is still a serious matter.

Ardern was questioned about it in Parliament yesterday by Simon Bridges.

Hon Simon Bridges: Was the discussion where the Prime Minister “sought assurances” from Tracey Martin regarding Jenny Marcroft and the provincial growth fund carried out by her in person; if not, how was it carried out?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member will know from the sequence of events that I outlined that I intended to seek assurances from each member on the Tuesday morning.

Hon Simon Bridges: Intended?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes, at that point, I hadn’t done that. Immediately after, I phoned each of those Ministers and spoke with them directly. Of course, the phone was a quicker way for me to be able to do that.

Hon Simon Bridges: So how long was that phone call with Tracey Martin?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Seeking an assurance from a Minister that they were not involved in a situation doesn’t take that long.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has the Prime Minister or her office done any further checks to corroborate Tracey Martin’s version of events?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I take Ministers who work within Cabinet at their word, as, I’m sure, the leader takes his members at their word. That is how Cabinet operates.

Paula Bennett also asked Winston Peters about the matter.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why did the Deputy Prime Minister put out a statement on Monday under the heading of “Deputy Prime Minister” when now we are informed that he has no responsibility for the content?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I think, with precision, I was seeking to help out my friend Mr Mitchell and make sure he was on the straight and narrow.

Hon Paula Bennett: So what does he mean, then, by saying that Mr Mitchell needs to be on the straight and narrow?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Ah yes, well, given how wide the parameters of behaviour are in that party, I know that’s a great stricture, but what I’m really trying to ensure is that he gets the correct story before he wantonly goes public with it.

Hon Paula Bennett: So the question is, then: what is the correct story when he was approached by a member of the Deputy Prime Minister’s party who informed him that he had been sent by a Minister; so is the correct story that he was sent by one of your Ministers?

Mr SPEAKER: No, I can deal with that very, very easily. The responsibility for the member of the party is not that of the Deputy Prime Minister, and responsibility for the Minister is not either. That is the responsibility of the Prime Minister, but there is no ministerial responsibility for the actions of backbench members of Parliament.

Hon Paula Bennett: What was the underlying point that he refers to frequently, and what is the message that Mr Mark needed to get on Saturday afternoon?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The underlying point would have been that this was about a conversation to do with the provincial growth fund; that because of the previous Government having thrown Warkworth and Wellsford against their wishes into the super-city, they could not qualify; but that because we are an open-minded party it would not pre-empt us trying to see our way through it in the future to help the people from Warkworth. [Interruption] But it’s what I’m saying and it’s a fact.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he still believe that “transparency and openness” is the middle name of this Government, as he’s said previously, when both Minister Tracey Martin and MP Jenny Marcroft avoid media questions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the member cannot answer it, because he—I don’t care if he wants to. The member cannot answer it because that is not an area that he has any ministerial responsibility for.

It is obvious where National are looking for responsibility for Marcroft’s approach to Mitchell.

If a National back bencher had done anything like what Marcroft had done while in government it is easy to imagine how Peters would have acted.  Typically he would have implied he had evidence, he would have demanded resignations, and he would have pursued the matter for some time.

National may be taking there time with this. Marcroft has not been held to account properly yet, and if someone did instruct her then there is more holding to account would be appropriate.

This is potentially a far more serious matter than the Curran meeting, but which took most of the media’s attention yesterday.

This may or may not be a Government problem, but regardless, it adds to an appearance of the coalition government being out of control. With the other problems Ardern is having to deal with, and some of them not very well, this could end up being a big deal early in their term of government.

I wouldn’t be surprised if National took this further in Question Time today. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Tracey Martin found she had more important ministerial business elsewhere.

Woodhouse appointed to Opposition health role

A National shuffle was required after Jonathan Coleman announced his resignation from Parliament. Simon Bridges has appointed Michael Woodhouse to replace him as Opposition spokesperson for Health.

Michael Woodhouse.jpg

After studying commerce and accounting Woodhouse worked for an accountant, at Dunedin Hospital and for ACC before becoming CEO of the private Mercy Hospital.

He was elected as a list MP in 2008, and became a minister in the National Government in 2013.

It’s interesting (for me anyway) that the current Minister for Health, David Clark, and the new Opposition spokesperson for health have both contested the Dunedin North electorate. Especially so with the ongoing delays in announcing plans for the replacement of the Dunedin Public Hospital.

Woodhouse was ranked 10 on the National list for the 2017 election, but is currently rank #13 after Bridges’ recent appointments. That may change slightly after Coleman leaves Parliament.

1 News: National Party appoints Michael Woodhouse as new Health spokesperson

In two other National Party changes Nikki Kaye has been appointed Sport and Recreation spokesperson and Scott Simpson has been appointed Workplace Relations spokesperson.

Political credibility – expertise plus trustworthiness

A US publication by two academics has said that political credibility comes down to two things – perceived expertise and trustworthiness. Gordon Campbell considers the two in respect of Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges.

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the Ardern/Bridges problems with credibility

Credibility is always such a fickle, unstable element in politics. You know it when you see it, though.

In January a US publication called The Journal of Political Marketing featured a (paywalled) article called “What Does Credibility Look Like?” in which two American academics grouped the attributes of political credibility into:
(a) “the performance-based traits of competence and strength” and
(b) the “interpersonal characteristics of warmth and trust.”

In brief, they concluded that credibility came down to “expertise” on one hand, and “trustworthiness” on the other.

By the time the 2020 election rolls around, voters will have enjoyed a further two and a half years of exposure to the administrative expertise of Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges, and to their capacity to generate feelings of trust.

At this stage Ardern has had a lot of media exposure. When she first stepped up into the Labour leadership role she looked competent but the gloss has worn off, with some performances of the Labour Party rubbing off on her. Her competence has taken a hit, and this week in particular as Shane Jones and Winston Peters virtually ignored her telling off of Jones she looked impotent and weak. She has certainly worked hard on displaying warmth, but that too has looked strained recently.

Jacinda Ardern doesn’t do ruthless. Not yet, anyway. Last year, Jacinda-mania was incited almost entirely by her interpersonal skills and a general image of her being a straight shooter. Such qualities do not easily transfer to the daily grind of the bureaucratic processes of government.

Of late, Ardern’s sympathy for those seeking to end the planet’s dependence on fossil fuels has clashed with the necessity to allow the bids for oil exploration blocs to run their bureaucratic course.

At this relatively early stage of the term Labour and Ardern are suffering from having assigned or delayed many decisions, with many working groups and inquiries being one of their most biggest achievements – or non-achievements. It may be prudent, but it doesn’t look strong, yet at least.

…finding the right balance between competence and compassion in government is never all that easy. With John Key, his foibles on that front were balanced by the stolid figure of Bill English.

Ardern, unfortunately, has a far more mercurial deputy in Winston Peters and a Cabinet wild card (Shane Jones) not renowned for being a team player. Compared to what Ardern has to manage, the Key/English regime was an administrative cake-walk.

Government credibility is being stretched by attempts by NZ First and the Greens to set themselves apart, lately through publicity stunts of dubious merit.

Ardern has another perhaps larger problem – the credibility of her Labour Cabinet.

Much will depend on Grant Robertson and his first budget – spending priorities and perceptions of financial management skills will matter a lot in respect of competence.

Another critical portfolio housing. Last year Labour made a big deal of National’s incompetence in dealing with a growing housing problem, and promised a lot – in particular they promised a lot of houses, and an end to homelessness.

Phil Twyford seems to have had trouble leaving ‘opposition’ behaviour behind – like nearly all incoming Labour ministers he had only ever been in Opposition before.

It was always going to be difficult to crank up the Government house building programme, especially when starting with a shortage of labour and resources. They won’t get many built in their first year, but if by year three of the term 10,000 houses a year aren’t being built, and there are still obvious housing shortages, then Labour will have a real credibility problem. Trust they can deliver on strong words will figure in the next election campaign.,

Some other Labour ministers are noticeably struggling with their jobs, like Clare Curran.

And appointing Kelvin Davis as Ardern’s deputy may have seemed like a good idea going in to an election campaign, but even then Davis performed poorly and was quickly hidden from sight. That continues now they are in Government.

Helen Clark had a strong deputy, Michael Cullen. Key had English.

Ardern has no one in sight from her own team, and Jones and Peters are filling the vacuum, threatening even her own authority. This may get worse while Peters is Acting prime Minister while Ardern takes maternity leave.

To remain successful – and to avoid her baby-related temporary departure from the political scene looking like a retreat – she will need to lead decisively on her return.

It looks like managing and competing with Peters and Jones will be an ongoing challenge for Ardern. It will be a particular challenge when she comes back from her baby break.

One thing in Labour’s favour at the moment is the retirement of English and Steven Joyce. National need to rebuild, and they have a new leader that most voters barely know, if at all.

Bridges has only recently become National leader and has a lot of work to do to be noticed let alone be seen as competent, strong and warm. His most noticeable attribute so far is boring, in part due to media indifference, and in part (and related) due to his manner and speech, which struggles to grab attention.

Sadly, gender gives Simon Bridges a head start on the ‘expertise’ aspect of political credibility. Trust, on the other hand, could prove to be his Achilles heel.

I think the “head start on the ‘expertise’” is debatable. I haven’t seen much to give me confidence in his expertise yet. And Bridges needs to be noticed to be able to build trust.

He also has a deputy problem. Paula Bennett has not lived up to her purported potential. She has a lot of work to do to be noticed, to appear competent, but as for every good deputy, not to overshadow her leader.

And in the modern era of media obsession with ‘celebrity’ getting positive publicity will be a battle.

Ardern is sure to get saturation coverage when she has her baby. Winning the warmth stakes shouldn’t be a problem. But whether she will come out of that looking competent and strong and trustworthy as a leader, alongside Winston Peters, is another matter altogether. We will see over the next few months.

Bridges will be overshadowed by all of this. There’s little he can do about it but build his leadership skills, take what few chances he can get to be seen and heard, and be ready to step up for the campaign in 2020.

Much may depend on whether voters are sold on the idea of having a celebrity style Prime Minister – Bridges will struggle to compete with Ardern (and Trump) on that, presuming Ardern stays in charge – or whether they are over the glossy magazine superficiality and want more substance.

Public perceptions of expertise and trustworthiness are important in politics, or at least they were. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a good view of our leaders beyond the media headlines and PR plastering.

Reactions to the National reshuffle

Reactions to the National reshuffle – certainly not timid, but with risks (every reshuffle of non-reshuffle has risks in politics):

Claire Trevett at Stuff: Simon Bridges’ reshuffle radical – by National Party standards

The show-stealers in National Party leader Simon Bridges’ reshuffle are obvious and Bridges took particular joy in setting the scene for a showdown between new Housing spokeswoman Judith Collins and Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

And Twyford has risen to the bait on Twitter and in media. He must have had a day off his housing ministerial duties yesterday.

But Bridges pointed out there is a lot of background work that must happen as well to set the party up for 2020.

In that respect, Bridges continued with the structure that worked well for National, grouping his MPs into teams such as finance, children and social welfare, law and order, health and economic development to work on policies together.

That’s what a party should be doing in Opposition.

Labour seemed remarkably unprepared for Government after nine years in Opposition. Much of their initial work seems to be to have reviews and inquiries and working groups before they decide on what policies to implement.

So Bridges was not exaggerating when he said his reshuffle came with some risks – although he was referring to the risks of some relative unknowns taking high-profile roles rather than the risk of a revolt.

Good leaders have to take risks – especially when faced with the knowledge that first term Government failures are rare in New Zealand.

However bad leaders take bad risks – time will tell how it works out for Bridges.

Stacey Kirk at Stuff:  Simon Bridges caucus holds logic and risk, but will it boast reward?

Leader Simon Bridges has unveiled his new look shadow-Cabinet and he’s made it abundantly clear the traditional power structures within the party are a thing of the past.

Bridges’ reshuffle doesn’t have the face of being haphazard or even based on previously-speculated notions of reward and punishment. It’s a lineup that has some obvious logic and planning behind it.

But change this big is both a gamble and a risk.

With an eye on 2020 and the improbable goal of containing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Government to a single term, Bridges will know historic feats are never typically achieved by playing it safe.

Brigitte Morten at RNZ: Bridges’ reshuffle reveals ‘insight and guts’

Simon Bridges’ Cabinet reshuffle was his first real test as National’s new leader and it revealed he has the guts to make the tough calls.

Predictable responses at The Standard –  National announces new line up – and Kiwblog – Bridges announces the new Opposition lineup.

Typically these days Whale Oil is slow to respond, with no post yet (the announcement was yesterday afternoon) part from a promo of Judith Collins, but expect Hail Oil regarding Collins’ promotion and spotlight, and Wail Oil about most of the rest – it could be a good pointer to who is in favour there, which on recent comments is not many.

Bridges shuffles National deck

With Bill English and Steven Joyce gone or going soon, and Simon Bridges now leading the national party, the Opposition  responsibilities and rankings have been announced.

New lineup (with movement from last ranking in brackets).

  1. Hon Simon Bridges (+4), Leader, National Security and Intelligence
  2. Hon Paula Bennett (-), Deputy Leader, Social Investment and Social Services,Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Women
  3. Hon Amy Adams (+3), Finance
  4. Hon Judith Collins (+5), Housing and Urban Development, Planning (RMA Reform)
  5. Hon Todd McClay (+8), Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism
  6. Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman (+1), Health, Sport and Recreation
  7. Hon Mark Mitchell (+14), Justice, Defence, Disarmament
  8. Jami-Lee Ross (+19),  Infrastructure, Transport
  9. Hon Paul Goldsmith (+5), Economic and Regional Development, Revenue,Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage
  10. Hon Nikki Kaye (+2), Education
  11. Hon Gerry Brownlee (-7), Shadow Leader of the House, GCSB, NZSIS,America’s Cup
  12. Hon Nathan Guy (-1),  Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety
  13. Hon Michael Woodhouse (-3),  Immigration, Workplace Relations and Safety, Deputy Shadow Leader of the House
  14. Hon Louise Upston (+1),  Social Development
  15. Hon Alfred Ngaro (+5), Children,Community and Voluntary Sector, Pacific Peoples
  16. Hon Christopher Finlayson QC (-8),  Shadow Attorney-General, Crown-Māori Relations, Pike River Re-entry
  17. Hon Scott Simpson (+9), Environment
  18. Hon Jacqui Dean (+5), Local Government, Small Business
  19. Melissa Lee (+12), Broadcasting, Communications and Digital, Media, Ethnic Communities
  20. Sarah Dowie (+19), Conservation
  21. Hon Anne Tolley (-5), Deputy Speaker
  22. Rt Hon David Carter (-5), State Owned Enterprises
  23. Hon David Bennett (+1), Corrections, Land Information, Associate Infrastructure
  24. Jonathan Young (+8),  Energy and Resources, Regional Development (North Island)
  25. Hon Maggie Barry ONZM (-6), Seniors, Veterans,  Associate Health
  26. Hon Dr Nick Smith (-8),  State Services (including Open Government), Electoral Law Reform
  27. Barbara Kuriger (+1), Nominee for Senior Whip
  28. Matt Doocey (+1), Mental Health, Nominee for Junior Whip
  29. Simon O’Connor (+5),  Customs, Associate Housing (Social), Associate Social Development
  30. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (-), Internal Affairs, Associate Justice
  31. Hon Tim Macindoe (-6), ACC, Associate Foreign Affairs and Trade
  32. Brett Hudson (+8),  Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Government Digital Services, Associate Transport
  33. Stuart Smith (+13), Earthquake Commission, Civil Defence, Viticulture
  34. Todd Muller (+8), Climate Change
  35. Dr Jian Yang (+1), Statistics, Associate Ethnic Communities
  36. Dr Parmjeet Parmar (+7),  Research, Science and Innovation, Associate Economic Development
  37. Nuk Korako (+4),  Māori Development, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  38. Chris Bishop (-), Police, Youth
  39. Ian McKelvie (-5), Fisheries, Racing
  40. Hon Nicky Wagner (-18), Arts, Culture and Heritage, Greater Christchurch Regeneration
  41. Andrew Bayly (+4), Building and Construction, Associate Finance
  42. Dr Shane Reti (+2), Data and Cybersecurity, Disability Issues, Associate Health
  43. Alastair Scott (+2), Forestry, Associate Finance
  44. Jo Hayes (-11),  Whānau Ora, Māori Education
  45. Simeon Brown, Associate Education
  46. Andrew Falloon, Regional Development (South Island)
  47. Harete Hipango, Māori Tourism
  48. Matt King, Rural Communities
  49. Denise Lee, Local Government (Auckland)
  50. Chris Penk, Courts
  51. Erica Stanford, Associate Environment
  52. Tim Van de Molen, Nominee for Third Whip
  53. Hamish Walker, Associate Agriculture
  54. Lawrence Yule, Horticulture
  55. Maureen Pugh, Associate Children
  56. Nicola Willis, Early Childhood Education

Judith Collins has been promoted to #4, meaning 3 of the top four MPs are female.

Alphabetical (apart from the two leaders):

Amy Adams to take Finance role

Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as National’s Finance Spokesperson. This isn’t a surprise. Adams has been very accomplished in previous roles as a Minister, which included Associate Minister of Finance.

Bridges appoints Adams Finance Spokesperson

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as Opposition Finance Spokesperson, saying she is the best person to ensure the Government builds on the National Party’s world-class economic record and does not squander New Zealand’s hard-won success.

“I am today announcing Amy Adams as our Finance Spokesperson and the third-ranked MP in our Caucus, ahead of the caucus reshuffle to show the economy remains the National Party’s number one priority.

“Having a strong economy allows us to invest in public services and create opportunities for New Zealanders – something the National Party has demonstrated over the past decade.

“And, as a result of our strong economic plan this Government has inherited one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world, one which is seeing 10,000 jobs created a month on average, rising household incomes, budget surpluses, and falling government debt. All this is helping ensure New Zealanders get ahead.

“However, the Labour-NZ First-Green coalition Government seems intent on squandering that through plans to impose more taxes on hard-working New Zealanders and through rolling out negative and backward looking policies which will slow down our growth and see New Zealanders miss out.

“The National Party will fight these changes and Amy is the best person to lead that effort.

“Amy is an incredibly experienced former Minister, serving as Associate Minister of Finance as well as holding a range of important and challenging portfolios, from Social Housing to Justice and Environment, which she handled with real diligence and focus.

“She has chaired Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, has a background in commercial law and is a talented and hard-working member of the National Party caucus.

“Amy follows in the footsteps of the National Party’s hugely successful finance ministers, Bill English and Steven Joyce, and I have no doubt she’ll do a great job on behalf of all New Zealanders. I look forward having her on my team.”

That makes National’s #2 (Paula Bennett) and #3 female (Adams), which strengthens an appearance of diversity. The full shadow line-up may not be known for another week, but Judith Collins is also likely to be prominent.

Adams to take fight to the Government

New National Party Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams has signalled a strong focus on ensuring the continued success of the New Zealand economy and says she will fight hard against Government policies that will slow New Zealand down.

“New Zealand currently has one of the strongest economies in the western world. That’s not an accident. That’s a result of the hard work of New Zealanders backed by the strong economic plan of the previous National-led Government,” Ms Adams says.

“New Zealand succeeds best when we are open and connected with the world. I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting with and listening to successful exporters and employers in the weeks ahead.

“National will be advancing new economic and social policies ahead of the next election, but first we have to stop the threat posed by Labour’s economic mismanagement.

“Many of the Labour-led Government’s planned policy changes will sacrifice our economic success and make it harder for New Zealand businesses to compete and succeed.

“These changes are bad for all of us. Slower business growth means less investment, fewer job opportunities, and lower wages generally than would otherwise be the case.

“Already businesses are less confident now than they were six months ago, despite the world economy steadily strengthening over this time.

Ms Adams singled out Labour’s overseas investment changes, employment law changes, and proposed new taxes as things that would ankle-tap the country’s medium-term economic performance.

“In Select Committee National MPs are constantly hearing how the Overseas Investment Bill will chill foreign investment. That’s bad for housing construction, bad for the regions, and bad for our economy overall.

“And now the Government’s Tax Working Group is clearly looking to design a more redistributive tax system that removes any incentives for New Zealanders to work hard and get ahead.

“The Government needs to focus on the quality and quantity of their new spending. They are continuously ramping up expectations. I’ll be keeping a close eye on their approach to spending taxpayers’ money.

“This Government needs to heed the lessons of success and stop trying to introduce policies that will only take us backwards and damage the economic security of all New Zealanders.”

Adams may be limited in what she can do until the Government’s and Grant Robertson’s first budget in May.

Q&A – Peters, Bridges, Fletchers

Interviews on NZ Q&A today:

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters

As China increases its influence in the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston has announced a “reset” in our Pacific policy, saying New Zealand must do more to maintain its leadership in the region.

He’ll explain why to Corin Dann in his first major TV interview since the election.

The panel also discuss what Peters wouldn’t – the future of NZ First.

New National leader Simon Bridges…

…talks about his new job on Q+A on Sunday morning – how will he change the National Party?

Is Bridges wearing a green tie significant?

He’s coming across ok in his answers, thoughtful and giving some insight into how he ticks politicvaally. He could grow into the job.

And Fletcher Building:

Fletcher Building is pulling back on new projects after major losses. Whena Owen talks to industry insiders who are concerned about the future.