Small party leaders’ debate

Five smaller party leaders had a debate on TV1 last night. It was for just an hour (the multiple Ardern v Collins debates are for one and a half hours) and with numerous advertising breaks there was probably just forty minutes for the five to try to swing some votes their way.

David Seymour – ACT Party (2017 election 0.5%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 7, 6.3, 8, 8)

Seymour is now a practiced campaigner and usually spoke well. A funny moment was when he exclaimed that Peters )”said I am out of date”. While some of his policies probably be widely supported they will resonate with enough to have get votes. He has done well to lift ACT to current levels.

James Shaw – Green Party (2017 6.3%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 6, 6.5, 7, 6)

This debate was Shaw’s turn (Marama Davidson did the Nation debate) and he should have pleased Green supporters. He spoke clearly and sensibly to more than the Green constituency), and even pulled the debate back on topic. A good performance that should help Green chances.

Winston Peters – NZ First (2017 7.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 2.4, 1.9, 1.4, 2)

Peters looked out of sorts and out of place – not so much fish out of water but more like a crocodile in a pond of the past. He mentioned last century much more than what he do if re-elected. He tried to play as an underdog, perhaps hoping people will forget his top dog performance in installing the Labour-led government along with pork barrel policy funds that seem to have fizzled. He again claimed nonsensically that everyone in the party had been completely exonerated by the SFO prosecution of NZ First Foundation.

Peters has swung back to campaigning as ‘we the government have done well” rather than attacking Labour and saying he would restrict them (again), but didn’t look really that energised or optimistic, more aged, jaded and fading.

John Tamihere – Maori Party (2017 1.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.9, 1.5, 0.8, <1)

Made some good points about education for Maori but waffled fairly aimlessly too much, or maybe i am just not his target market. Seems resigned to not getting into Parliament via the list, with all his party hopes on winning one or two electorates (reports are they are close in polls in at least one).

Jamie-Lee Ross – Advance NZ (2017 didn’t stand, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.8 NR, 0.6, 1)

Interesting that he fronted up, presumably due to his political experience, but he is tainted goods and is absence the charisma of Billy Te Kahika. Tried when he was given the opportunity to speak but won’t have impressed many, probably not even supporters of his composite party. Claimed that Covid was similar to the flu, that line has been discredited many times. Looks like a futile exercise with Advance NZ not rising above one in polls despite significant social media support.

So with just Shaw and Seymour looking good this fits with the likely outcome of a Labour, Green, Act and National parliament, with the Maori Party a long shot for an electorate seat or two.

Up until the debate last night over half a million people will have already voted. It’s hard to understand why this debate was held so late in the campaign. It looks like most people who might vote are already decided.

Small party priorities post election

Small party (and Green) leaders were asked in a The Nation debate what their priority policy would be in post election negotiations.

Summary:

  • United Future: Flexi-Super
  • Maori Party: Whanau Ora
  • Mana Party: the elimination of child poverty within the first five years
  • Act Party: economic growth
  • Conservative Party: binding referenda
  • NZ First: non-committal
  • Green Party: expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives

    Details:

United Future

Right, I wanna talk about relationships in MMP, and I’m coming to Mr Dunne. I want to know that if you get into a confidence-in-supply agreement with the next government, what would be the one thing you would be pushing for in return?

Dunne: I think probably top of our list would be to make progress on our flexi-super proposal, which would see people being able to take a reduced rate of super from the earlier age of 60 or an enhanced rate if they deferred to 70, and with the standard age remaining 65. I think that would be the one thing we’d wanna push most strongly.

That’s a repeat of last election.Dunne negotiated a discussion paper on Flexi-Super with National after the 2011 election and that which was released last year but National are luke-warm on doing anything on it

UnitedFuture’s plan which would allow people to take a reduced rate of New Zealand superannuation from the age of 60, or an enhanced rate if they deferred uptake until 70. The rationale was to give people more choice over retirement income and to recognise that for some people 60 was the age to leave the paid workforce, but that they were currently unable to do so for financial reasons.

Māori Party

Te Ururoa, you say that you could go with either Labour or National, so what would be your top priority as a policy to get?

Flavell: …the major platform that the Maori party has always been on about is final order. We say that if we’re able to consolidate, not only just social—the MSD-

So you would be pushing that if you were with the next government, you’d be pushing to keep–?

Flavell: It’s an absolute must from our perspective that final order will be at the centre of our platform, our policy. It is right now, and it will be.

‘Final order’ is a mistake in the transcript, it should read ‘Whānau Ora’ which is the Māori Party’s flagship policy.

Whānau-ora: restoring the essence of who we are; putting the vibrant traditions from our people at the heart of our whānau

Whānau Ora begins with you. Whānau is the heart of our people, it is the foundation on which our country thrives. It is about reaffirming a sense of self-belief.

Mana Party

All right. Mr Harawira, Mr Cunliffe says that you’re not gonna be part of his government. But you say he’ll pick up the phone if he needs you. So if he rings and says, ‘Hone, I’m offering you confidence in supply, that’s it, no ministers’, what do you want from him?

Do you think he has the vision to lead this country?

Harawira: What I know is this – if the polls keep trending the way that John Armstrong of the NZ Herald says and hit 5% even before the campaign starts for Internet Mana, I’m guaranteed to get a call on the night of September the 20th. And if he asks us, is there one policy, if there’s one thing that we would want to see changed, it would be this – the elimination of child poverty within the first five years.

The ‘elimination of child poverty’ seems idealistic, especially when it is usually a statistical figure based on families below the median income and on that basis there will always be some ‘in poverty’ – below the arbitrary line.

I can’t find a reference to the five year target on the Mana website but they have a range of policy points addressing “economic justice’, for example:

Work towards implementing a Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in. This would eliminate the huge costs involved in administering the current shame and blame WINZ system, and do much to end poverty and address growing inequality.

Act Party

Jamie Whyte, if you had a confidence and supply agreement, what would you be after as your top priority policy?

Whyte: Well, almost all problems, practical problems, are remedied by becoming wealthier. And so economic growth is by far our priority. And so the policies that we’ve been promoting on – cutting taxes and reducing the regulatory burden, which would promote economic growth, those would be our priorities in a negotiation with the National party.

That’s straightforward.

Short to medium term goals should include reducing the level of government expenditure below 28 per cent of GDP and lowering the top tax rate to 24 cents.  ACT’s Regulatory Responsibility Bill should be passed.

Conservative Party

Mr Craig, your policies are almost the same as NZ First. You’re the doppelganger in this room, so why would people vote for you when we’ve got the real thing right here.

What would be your top policy that you’d be after?

Craig: We’ve said publicly that we think governments should not be able to ignore overwhelming vote in referenda. The anti-smacking law, tough on law and order, reducing the MPs, all right quite rightly should have been implemented by government, because there is a point at which people need to know they control this nation. It’s their country.

Craig has already stated a bottom line on binding referenda.

ON OUR WATCH REFERENDUMS WILL BE BINDING

At the heart of the democratic system is the principle of the citizens initiated referendum. It’s when a single issue is thought to be so important, all voters are asked to make their opinion heard.

No specifics are given on exactly what this would entail, Conservative ‘Issues’ or policies are brief and vague.

New Zealand First

Mr Peters, your bottom lines or things that you really don’t wanna budge on are no foreign land sales, no race-based parties, buy-back assets and keep the super age at 65. You’re gonna be on the cross-benches, aren’t you, with that list?

Peters talked about a range of policies but was typically evasive and vague.

Peters: Your assumption is that at six weeks out from the election, we’re gonna make decisions now and tell the public, ‘Forget about you, doesn’t matter what happens in six weeks’. Behind close room deals. Now, I’m gonna leave it to the public to decide who’s gonna be standing there at the election, and it won’t include some parties standing here right now.

Many alluded to but no bottom lines revealed before the election.

Green Party

All right, let’s go to Metiria Turei there. (asked about working with NZ First)

Turei: The Green party in government will be a very large part of that government, and we will have significant influence. We will expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives – a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy. And we will have—we won’t settle like other parties might for a single achievement. We want to see our whole plan, our whole agenda being rolled out.

Turei wasn’t asked specifically about a priority but her answer was more befitting of a medium sized party with potentially a significant influence in a coalition.

Greens are excluded from major party debates despite the chances of them getting half the votes of Labour, and they could be a quarter to a third of a left wing coalition so could reasonably expect to include a number of their key policies in negotiations.

Source: TV3 The Nation – Debate: Multi-party election campaign debate