Maori Party and TOP considering working together

The Maori Party failed to hold any seats in the 2017 election, and The Opportunities Party (TOP) fell well short of the 5% MMP threshold. Both parties have had leadership changes since then.

And now they are talking to each other looking at whether they can succeed by joining forces.

1 News: …TOP-Māori Party alliances could shake up NZ politics

The Opportunities Party, founded by Gareth Morgan, and the Māori Party both failed to attract voters at the last election and are now hoping a combined effort could pay off.

Kaapua Smith of the Māori Party said being a small, minor party, “we can’t do these things alone in Parliament”.

“We need to start building our relationships.”

Geoff Simmons, leader of TOP, told TVNZ1’s Te Karere it could be an opportunity for both parties which he described as having “an awful lot in common”.

Though adamant talks are still fresh, the parties have met twice already, and will not rule out the idea of forming one party.

“One of the criticisms of the Māori Party has always been that we’re too close to National. This is about reaffirming that no we’re not particularly close to any particular party. We want to talk to all parties,” Ms Smith said.

So while Simmons appears to be looking to the Maori Party, Smith says that the Maori party is looking to all parties.

But Labour is unlikely to let go any of the seven Maori electorates they now hold. The Greens like their own slant on Maori engagement and activism.  And NZ First have campaigned on scrapping the Maori seats. So that leaves National or parties not in Parliament. Like TOP.

Party vote in the 2017 election:

  • TOP 2.4%
  • Māori Party 1.2%

Combined that’s still a long way off the threshold. Both parties have leaders with lower profiles. It will be a battle for them to succeed, even if they combine forces.

Political year review – the parties 2018

A lot of politics and politicians fly under the media radar. Some MPs make the headlines, because the have prominent jobs, because they seek publicity, or because publicity seeks them, or they cock up. Here’s a few of my thoughts and impressions on the 2018 political year.

Party-wise I don’t think there is much of note.

National and Labour have settled into competing for top party status through the year, with the poll lead fluctuating. It’s far too soon to call how this will impact on the 2020 election, with both parties having problems but still in the running.

Greens and NZ First have also settled in to competing for second level party honours. Nothing drastic has gone wrong for either, but they are both struggling to impress in the polls, and they keep flirting with the threshold. again too soon to call how this will impact on the next election.

ACT is virtually invisible, and unless something drastic changes will remain largely an MP rather than a party.

TOP is trying to reinvent itself without Gareth Morgan leading but Morgan is having trouble letting go of his influence. They have a lot of work to do to build a new profile with whoever they choose as new leader. As with any party without an MP they have an uphill battle with media and with the threshold.

The New Conservative Party is not getting any publicity, apart from their deputy leader posting at Whale Oil, which won’t do much for their credibility. The media seem disinterested, which is the kiss of political death.

No other party looks like making an impression.

With NZ First and Greens expected to struggle to maintain support while in Government (as have support parties in the past), one prospect is that the political landscape and the next election will be a two party race, with Labour and National competing to earn the votes to become a single party Government, which would be a first under MMP.

It’s too soon to call on this. A major factor could be whether voters are happy to see support parties fade away out of contention, or whether enough voters decide small party checks on power are important to maintain.

If the latter this may benefit the Greens IF voters aren’t too worried about a Labour+Green coalition who would have confidence in getting more revolutionary with a second term mandate.

For NZ First much may depend on how let down some of their support feels over a lack of living up to their promises on things like immigration and dumping the Maori seats. A lot may also depend on how Winston Peters weathers another term and whether he stands again.

Winners?

Labour have won back a position as a top dog party after struggling for nearly all of the nine years they were in Opposition.

National continue to win a surprising level of support as long as individual MPs aren’t trying to sabotage the party. The Ross rampage is unlikely to be repeated as other MPs will have seen it as little more than self destructive of an individual’s political future.

So joint winners, sort of but with no prize, and no party deserving of a runner-up place.

The Opportunities Party is still alive, Geoff Simmons answers questions

Gareth Morgan made it clear he wasn’t keen on becoming an MP, and he stepped down from leadership of The Opportunities Party after getting a creditable but unsuccessful 2.4% of the vote (beaten by the large party imposed threshold).

The party is trying to continue on, and are currently running a party ballot to elect a Member Representative and a Parliamentary Leader. The results will be announced on 8th December – see https://www.top.org.nz/

Morgan’s deputy Geoff Simmons is putting himself forward there. He has just held a Q&A at Reddit:

As Me Anything with Geoff Simmons from The Opportunities Party

I’m happy to answer questions about policy or the future direction of The Opportunities Party.

The Opportunities Party is under a process of renewal following the 2017 election. Gareth Morgan has stepped down as leader, and the party is giving members a greater say in how it operates. As part of this, members are currently voting on a new leader. I am standing as a candidate in that election.

Learn more about the election here: https://www.top.org.nz/

Find out more about me here: http://top-candidates.webflow.io/leader/geoff-simmons

Some of the questions and responses:

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be?

Simmons: The tax system. Income tax payers pay way too much tax. Asset owners, especially housing and land owners, too little. Polluters should pay more too.

Do you agree with my premise attacking NZFirst was largely ineffective last election and how would TOP hold other parties to account under your leadership?

(Morgan presented very well in public meetings but got quite tetchy and adversarial on social media, probably damaging TOP’s chances).

Simmons: Our membership have given us the message loud and clear: we play the ball, not the person.

On the TOP website it says this: To this end TOP proposes to ban junk food advertising to kids and place a 20% tax on all junk food, based on an improved front of pack labeling system.

My question is how do you plan on defining junk food and would it be a flat 20% tax or higher for worse foods lower for mediocre, etc?

Simmons: The original proposal was a corrective tax based on the healthy star rating system, which would have meant higher taxes for worse foods.

My understanding is that the science around that star system has shifted since it was created. The consensus seems to be moving towards an excise tax purely on added sugar now (not just sugary drinks). This would also be easier to implement since most of our sugar is imported.

What’s your stance on a capital gains tax?

Capital Gains tax – especially with the owner occupied exemption – is a stupid move: https://www.top.org.nz/goodbye_capital_gains_tax

Our big problem is the favouring of housing investment over business investment. A CGT will not change that because it will hit business AND housing. In fact by exempting owner occupied housing it will make the favouring of housing worse. Plus CGT is complex and inefficient as all hell.

Our tax policy is that we pay too much income tax. If we tax housing the same as other investments (as per the risk free return method) then we could all take a 30% income tax cut.

How do we mitigate the impact on high wealth low income people?

– firstly, why do you think we have so many high wealth low income people? It is tax favoured.

– secondly, phase it in so people have time to change their portfolio, or farm in a different way (ie not for capital gain).

– thirdly, elderly can defer payment – effectively it becomes a death duty.

How does TOP plan to show that they are more than Gareth Morgan, that they can have a multifaceted identity in a time where possible MMP changes could allow the party to be a viable partner?

The Opportunities Party is becoming a movement. In line with that we currently operating on crowd funding.

Longer term we will need to raise more funding than this to be viable, but even if Gareth Morgan is one of those funders, he would be one amongst many.

A lot of money (Craig, Dotcom, Morgan) has not on it’s own been successful in getting a new party into Parliament. It goes help, but not when dominated by one personality/donor.

Being a ‘movement’ is a great term, but what does that translate to? To what degree will those that align with the ideas of TOP have their views reflected in policy planning?

We are already democratising the party – members are electing a Board rep and the Leader. We have also done a Listening Tour which will help the new Leader and Board develop some values for the Party:

https://www.top.org.nz/the_listening_tour_workshop_results

Longer term our position is that members should have input on questions of values and the experts should decide on matters of evidence. We are also planning to trial some deliberative democracy (e.g. citizen’s juries).

TOP has spoken about sitting on the cross benches if they were elected to parliament, and vote on each bill on its merits. This sounds great in theory but the reality is private member bills rarely make it past their first reading. TOP could further their agenda so much more if they were in government. If the opportunity (lol) arose to enter a confidence and supply agreement, would TOP take it seriously? What would be mandatory policy agreements in exchange for TOPs support? And what would be a deal breaker?

That was the previous leader’s position. My opinion is that some issues are better dealt with as part of a portfolio (e.g. Health), others not. So it would depend on the policies that we got across the line.

We don’t have mandatory policy agreements or deal breakers at this stage. Our top four priorities are:

1/ tax reform

2/ unconditional basic income

3/ polluter pays (environment)

4/ cannabis law reform

If TOP gets into parliament, are you going to go into coalition with Labour/Greens or sit on the sidelines? Also would you consider a coalition with National if it meant compromises on key policies?

If we get into Parliament the plan is to negotiate to get the most of our policies across the line as possible. Serious tax reform has to be top of the list however.

What’s your plan for DoC and conservation as a whole?

DOC is one area that this Government is doing pretty well with three exceptions:

1/ Marine. The lack of ocean management policy is a joke – it is bad for business and bad for the environment.

2/ Revenue gathering. The Maaori concept of kaitiakitanga is not about locking places up, it is about sustainable use. The tourist levy is a good start but there is much more room for this sort of approach. DOC’s culture needs to change, and I think working with iwi can help.

3/ Balance between conservation/ recreation/ hunting. We are long overdue a conversation on this issue – it is one policy area we are looking at.

What kinds of things should you think about when considering negotiations with other parties when trying to get policy over the line?

Obviously some of our policies are going to be a better fit with some parties than others.

But the main thing is to get that King/Queen maker role. That is the way to have real leverage over policy. Just look at what Winston got from the deal compared to the Greens.

In fact it is hard to see what the Greens got that wasn’t already in the Labour Party manifesto!

What kinds of things would you refuse to do, even if it were the difference between getting into parliament or not?

That’s an incredibly broad question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X_ViIPA-Gc

Like I said we recently did a Listening Tour to help us determine our values: https://www.top.org.nz/the_listening_tour_workshop_results

These will be ironed out post the leadership election. I won’t compromise on the party values.


I like some of the concepts of what they are doing, and as with all parties i agree with some of their policies and am not so keen on others.

I would like to see a party like this that isn’t dominated by a single personality and financier do well. I think it would add something worthwhile to Parliament if they find a way of overcoming the prohibitive 5% threshold – that is being talked about looks unlikely to change for the 2020 election.

And another major hurdle is the media, who favour the large parties and personalities. Colin Craig got close because of his headline/clickbait whackiness more than his policies. Same for Morgan to a lesser extent. Dotcom got a disproportionate amount of media coverage but he and Mana’s manic marriage still failed badly.

The media also seems to favour traditional politics and parties.

TOP need to somehow find a way to make their democratic processes and their research backed policies attractive. Simmons talked about being ‘a movement’, but that may take a lot of work and luck to get traction in social media.

Whatever they do, it will be a hard job for whoever takes over the leadership of TOP, and for the party.

 

Can The Opportunities Party make a new impression?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) was generally seen as Gareth Morgan’s thing, and certainly it was his large dollops of money that gave the party prominence.

Morgan toured the country generally making a good impression to audiences that included me – he did well in front of a good sized crowd in Dunedin. However Morgan gave very mixed performances on social media, and mainstream media promoted the weirder side of him, which didn’t help his cause.

And Morgan always said he personally wasn’t really interested in being an MP, but put himself at the top of the party list. That was bizarre.

In one respect TOP was quite successful. Here’s some comparisons for recent first attempts:

  • TOP (2017): 2.4% (63,261 votes)
  • Internet MANA (2014): 1.42% (34,095 votes)
  • Conservative Party (2011): 2.65% (59,237

They were all headlined by rich people who piled cash into their campaigns, Morgan, Kim Dotcom and Colin Craig.

Of course the problem for TOP was our ridiculously high MMP threshold of 5%. They didn’t like getting close enough, so the media didn’t rate their chances, and the public voted accordingly.

This year Morgan announced that he was pulling the plug on TOP, but has since changed his mind. He will be on the new organisation board and will stay on as chair of the party’s policy formation committee

Geoff Simmons has taken over as leader – he looks like a sensible person promoting mostly sensible well researched policies, but that’s not likely to interest the media much, who seem to give precedence to rich and flawed leaders.


We are pleased to announce that The Opportunities Party will contest the 2020 election.

“The general thrust of the policy will be the same.”
“We want to make sure that future generations have as good a life as their parents.”

We want a prosperous, fair and equitable society, underpinned by a sustainable and dynamic economy that protects our natural environment. We want a New Zealand which maximises the opportunity of every New Zealander to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.

New leadership. New energy. Same radical policies like:

Fixing the housing market with a better tax system – Supporting individuals, families and communities to reach their potential – Repairing our broken environment

The financial reality of running a political party is an enormous challenge. And we can’t do it alone.

Help us create a better New Zealand. For all New Zealanders.

$191,315.00 raised

GOAL: $550,000.00


Bryce Edwards: TOP set to pull youth voters, says political commentator

Despite an unexpected leadership change and surprise plans to contend the 2020 election, the Opportunities Party (TOP) is likely to capture the youth vote, according to a political commentator.

Bryce Edwards, politics lecturer at Victoria University, says the minor party is likely to continue to have major appeal to younger voters, due to TOP’s policy narrative that youth are being overlooked by other political parties.

“One of [TOP’s] key campaigning areas is . . . running this line that there’s been some sort of generation theft or generational bias to the [Government’s] current policy settings.”

Mr Edwards told Te Waha Nui that the presence of smaller parties in the political sphere offered voters more options. He says this can reinvigorate political participation and interest across the board, including within the youth demographic.

I’m not sure whether TOP will appeal to younger voters as opposed to more astute older voters looking for a decent alternative.

Comments on Edwards’ article at Reddit – Bryce Edwards: Why TOP will struggle by Bryce Edwards

TOP may get a percent or two of support again but unless the threshold is lowered they are unlikely to look like a realistic prospect of getting over the line in 2020, unless media pick up on something they think is good click bait and give them good coverage.

They will probably compete with the Greens more than any party for votes, would make the Green recovery a bit harder.

They need more than Morgan staying out of the spotlight and Simmons leading the party – I think they would benefit from having a number of electable looking people promoted. They need to be seen as something unique in the political mix.

TOP for 2020, Morgan stepping down as leader

The Opportunities Party has announced a commitment to contest the 2020 election, and have said that Gareth Morgan will step down as leader – this is a wise move, Morgan did very well at public meetings but his media performance was very mixed and won’t have helped his party’s chances in this year’s election.

Announcement:

  • Our day-to-day activity will be centered around our policy development and comms unit at HQ. We will continue to engage with the public and champion the importance of best practice policy.
  • As well, of course, we’ll be providing a TOP perspective on policy developments from the new government – Benchmarking them against TOP best practice policy.
  • We will be looking to grow ‘areas of influence’; regional groups of members and candidates working mostly autonomously to help build our follower base.

On leadership:

  • While Gareth intends to remain as Party Chairperson he will not be the political leader for the party in 2020. It has always been with great reluctance that he has put his name forward in that capacity and so has decided to remove the ambiguity and let others compete for the political leadership role. He will remain as political leader until we determine a new political leadership, most probably well before the end of 2018.

TOP’s commitment for 2020

At TOP HQ our post-election “breather” is now over and it’s time to gear up for the next election. You may have heard the announcement this morning, shedding some light on TOP’s future. We are going through some pretty significant changes, however rest assured that these are all in the interests of giving us the best chance to be successful going forward.

One of the big shifts is our intention to pass some of the responsibility on to you. We’re looking forward to developing a couple more policy areas in 2018/19 in conjunction with submissions and discussion with our party members. We had some great success with this process during the election when we developed our cannabis and alcohol policies through member submission, and we plan to continue this relationship. We also want to turn TOP into a movement, starting from the grassroots, after all, having a strong membership is the cornerstone of any organisation. So, if you feel passionate about what we are trying to achieve, feel like you can help, or want to get involved in our next batch of policy, make sure you sign up here.

TOP got 2.4% of the vote this year, 63,261. They need to get 5% to get into Parliament, unless they can get a current electorate MP to defect to them – no party has yet made it into Parliament under MMP without having a current or past MP.

Evidence against TOP

The Opportunities Party have promoted their policies as evidence based. From About on their website: TOP takes a long term, evidence based view.

However now we are down to the business end of the campaign evidence seems to have flown out the TOP window.

A few days ago on Newshub: Gareth Morgan blames landlines for poor polling, claims he’ll win 5-10 percent

“When I ask the question in the town hall shows I do every night, ‘ Hands up those who’ve got a landline, it’s 10 or 15 percent,” the Opportunities Party (TOP) leader told The AM Show on Thursday.

“What’s wrong with these polling companies? I think we’ll be somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. I’ve said it from day one.”

Where’s the evidence? TOP has a big budget, if they wanted evidence they would have done their own polling. I think it’s quite likely they have done their own polling, if so it is not evidence they want publicised.

Cut Your Hair: The evidence says TOP have no hope

TOP pride themselves on being an evidence-based party. So it behooves us to examine the evidence behind Gareth Morgan’s suggestion that TOP have a real chance of winning representation in Saturday’s election.

Question: Has any party ever achieved what TOP is trying to achieve?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Only one party has ever won representation under MMP in New Zealand without a sitting electorate MP from a sitting party. That sole exception is ACT, who had several prominent former Labour and National cabinet ministers. That happened in the first MMP election, when everyone and their mum voted minor party.

Not many parties have won representation under MMP in New Zealand, whether through the 5% threshold or local seats. Only one MP has ever won representation for a party that didn’t have an MP elected in 1996 for one party or another: Hone Harawira, for Mana.

Most of the small parties that have won representation have done so via a local seat (Māori, Mana, Progressive, United, ACT, and NZ First have all coat-tailed in). Only 7 parties have ever reached 5%: National, Labour, the Greens, NZ First, ACT, the Alliance, and United Future. The last three have all failed more times than they’ve succeeded and have basically shriveled away to nothing (or, worse, to David Seymour). Scores of parties have failed to reach 5% OR a local seat: the Conservatives, Christian Heritage/Coalition, Legalise Cannabis, Destiny, Outdoor Recreation, Future, etc.

The latest public polls (that use a variety of polling methods):

  • Listener Bauer Media Insights 1-5 Sept: 2.2%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton 2-6 Sept: 1.9%
  • Newsroom-SSI 4-6 Sept: 2%
  • Roy Morgan 28 Aug-10 Sept: 2%
  • Newshub Reid Research 6-11 Sept: 1.6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton 9-13 Sept: 1.6%
  • Horizon Research 9-14 Sept: 2.3%

Evidently TOP look like getting nowhere near the 5% threshold.

So they have done their own polling. It shows them very likely to come up short.

Morgan will know that if they don’t look like getting close to 5% many voters will prefer to vote elsewhere rather than risk ‘wasting their vote’.  Hence the bullshit about the polls being wrong.

Question: Might the polling be wrong?

Short answer: Anything is possible, but TOP reaching 5% would require polling error on an unprecedented scale.

Morgan and Sean Plunket ranting and abusing on Twitter won’t change things.

It’s not just history and the polls that are against TOP. Others have tried Donald Trump’s tactic of being bellicose and abusive and complaining about the polls – in particular Winston Peters, and NZ First has slumped over the last two months in the polls.

Question: Is this a good year for a minor party to achieve the never-before-achieved?

Short Answer: No—on current polling this will be the worst MMP election ever for minor parties.

It looks like it will take a major game changer for TOP to get close to or beat the threshold, and they are running out of time.

Question: Could TOP win a local seat?

Short answer: There is no evidence to suggest they will come close to winning any local seat. Morgan might have had a chance, but he isn’t standing in a local seat.

That Morgan is targeting the polls and the threshold (without any evidence) supports this. TOP dabbled with targeting the Ohariu electorate a couple of weeks ago but that effort seems to have fizzled.

In some ways TOP have been impressive. Their evidence based approach to developing solid policies has been very good. Morgan has impressed sizeable crowds at campaign meetings.

But TOP has been shut out of small party debates. And they have failed to attract enough positive media attention. Morgan and Plunket have also been too cranky on Twitter and possibly elsewhere in social media.

Yesterday Plunket tweeted a challenge:

A bizarre approach.

It must be frustrating to have put so much time and money into their campaign, but making up shit about polls looks desperate and not based on any evidence.

Moaning about polls is almost certainly not going to change the game and suddenly boost support for TOP. Morgan might be better trying a different last gasp approach.

It’s sad to see another new party beaten by the ridiculously high threshold. Parliament could benefit from a different approach and some fresh ideas and MPs. But facts are facts, and TOP look like failing.

TOP turn to Ohariu

With The Opportunities looking a long way off making the 5% threshold they are turning to the Ohariu electorate as another way of making it into Parliament.

Newshub: Gareth Morgan and TOP want a dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Is it dirty media attacking valid political strategies as ‘dirty’?

Newshub understands The Opportunities Party (TOP) will be asking voters in the electorate to ditch the two main parties’ candidates in favour of their candidate, Jessica Hammond-Doube, in order for Ōhāriu to get a three-for-one deal.

On current polling Labour’s Greg O’Connor and National’s Brett Hudson both make it into Parliament as list MPs, so TOP will be asking them to vote for Ms Hammond-Doube in order to get maximum representation for the electorate in Parliament.

If TOP was to gain an electorate seat, and managed to get 2 percent of the vote as current polling suggests, Dr Morgan and deputy leader Geoff Simmons would be brought into Parliament as list MPs.

It is a strategic move to dethrone NZ First leader Winston Peters as king-maker, and it’s understood TOP will even go as far as asking National and Labour to stand their candidates aside in Ōhāriu to make the move more likely to pay off.

Candidates are committed, the ballot papers must already be printed as advance voting starts tomorrow.

National or Labour could seek party votes only and tell supporters to support the TOP candidate, but I don’t see National changing their approach again starting to contest the electorate after Peter Dunne announced he wasn’t standing.

And I doubt Labour will give TOP any help either.

If TOP put up a strong big for Ohariu that will impact on support for the other candidates, probably more for Labour’s O’Connor than National’s Hudson.

It’s understood a letter will be sent to the voters of Ōhāriu on Monday outlining TOP’s plan, which will sell the idea as the best way to stop Mr Peters choosing the next government.

Ohariu voters are well versed in tactical split voting. It will be interesting to see if they are attracted by TOP’s bid.

TOP’s Ohariu candidate Jessica Hammond Doube is ranked way down at 24 on their party list.

Jessica Hammond Doube

All  candidates in Ohariu:

CLOSE, Lisa Susan New Zealand First Party
HAMMOND DOUBE, Jessica The Opportunities Party (TOP)
HUDSON, Brett National Party
MOORE, Andie ACT New Zealand
NADAKUITAVUKI, Bale United Future
O’CONNOR, Greg Labour Party
WOODLEY, Tane Green Party

 

TOP lose legal bid to debate

The Opportunities Party went to court to try to get included in tonight’s minor party leaders debate and lost. This isn’t surprising, it’s hard for a court to force a media organisation, but it’s very disappointing to see our state owned television broadcaster using ‘rules’ to be undemocratic.

The MMP system – in particular to ridiculously high 5% threshold – is stacked against new parties making it into Parliament.

TVNZ’s ‘rule of not allowing parties who haven’t got at least 3% in their last two polls to take part in the biggest debate of the campaign for minor parties is a disgrace to democratic principles.

RNZ: TOP loses legal bid to appear in multi-party debate

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has lost its legal fight to appear on TVNZ’s multi-party debate tomorrow evening.

TVNZ lawyer Stacey Shortall said it had robust criteria for parties to be involved, including either already being in parliament or polling at at least three percent in one of the two Colmar Brunton polls before the debate.

It is not ‘robust criteria’. State owned broadcasters in particular should have a responsibility to be fair to serious contenders, but TVNZ is denying TOP a prime  chance of being seen and heard.

TOP polled at 1 percent in its poll at the end of August and at 1.9 percent today.

TOP’s lawyer Francis Cooke QC argued the party’s inclusion in the debates was critical to the election process and TVNZ’s criteria should be more robust.

But the political-media system remains stacked against them.

Key points from Edwards’ affidavit:

24 Fourth, in my view the use of such criteria is self-perpetuating and antidemocratic. A party that is excluded from the debates has little chance of making headway in the polls. What is more, I think that excluding them from the debates sends the message to viewers that their views and policies are not worthy of consideration. I think this is dangerously undemocratic.

25 Fifth, this year’s election campaign is proving extremely volatile. Political scientists and commentators appear to be in consensus that we are witnessing the greatest polling volatility yet recorded in an election campaign in New Zealand. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to take two Colmar Brunton polls as a snapshot of likely outcomes in the election – the flux is just too great at the moment in politics to regard such polling to be definitive.

27 Finally, the minor parties seem set to play a pivotal role in this year’s election as they are likely to hold the balance of power after the election. In my view, this makes it particularly important that the public is given sufficient exposure to their leaders and policies.

30 In my view TVNZ’s exclusion of TOP would do a disservice to democracy.

31 If TVNZ proceeds with minor party leaders’ and young voters’ debates without The Opportunities Party (TOP), this will have a significantly negative impact on TOP’s chances to be taken seriously by those members of the public looking to vote for a party other than Labour and National. It will send a strong signal to voters that it is not a viable candidate for voting consideration. It may seriously affect TOP’s electoral chances. And given the inclusion of less popular parties, it would be arbitrary and irrational.

The full affidavit: http://liberation.typepad.com/files/affidavitdraft.pdf

The judge probably had no legal basis to rule in favour of TOP, but TVNZ are doing a disservice to taxpayers and to democracy.

Large and incumbent parties (and their supporters) and large media do what the can to deny newcomers a fair chance. Incumbent also have other substantial financial advantages.

TOP announce co-deputy and party list

The Opportunities Party has announced a co-deputy leader and also their party list.

Opportunities Party Announces Teresa Moore Co Deputy Leader

The Opportunities Party East Coast Bays candidate Teresa Moore will join Wellington Central candidate Geoff Simmons as Co Deputy Leader of the Party.

“Teresa is a welcome addition to TOP’s leadership team and will play a vital role on the campaign trail and in Parliament,” says TOP Founder and Leader Gareth Morgan, “With strong credentials in environmental matters and a proven track record in business Teresa is a fantastic addition to our leadership team.”.

“I’m proud to be part of TOP’s leadership team”, says Teresa, “It was already a privilege to be standing alongside a highly skilled group of candidates who believe in the need for real change in New Zealand, to be asked to help lead such a great team of people is an added honour”.

TOP Announces Party List for 2017 General Election

The Opportunities Party is pleased to release its party list for this year’s general election.

TOP will field 26 candidates, 5 are list only, the remaining 21 will be contesting electorates across the country.

TOP founder and leader Gareth Morgan is first on the list followed by deputy leader Geoff Simmons.

Next is East Coast Bays candidate Teresa Moore, list candidate Buddy Mikaere, Rangitata list candidate Olly Wilson, and Hamilton West candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips.

At 7 is Christchurch Central candidate Douglas Hill, and at 8 is sitting Horowhenua District Councillor Piri-Hira Tukapua who at 26, is TOPs youngest female candidate.

“Ranking our outstanding candidates was bloody hard,” Dr Morgan says, “Every one of them is in politics for the right reason, to make real change in people’s lives through promoting innovative policies.”

“They are a group that represents nearly all parts of the New Zealand community in terms of age, ethnicity, gender and profession”.

“What they all have in common is a desire to shake up our political system and make it more than the same old same old being offered by the old establishment parties”.

RANK

1 Gareth Morgan
2 Geoff Simmons : Wellington Central
3 Teresa Moore : East Coast Bays
4 Buddy Mikaere
5 Olly Wilson : Rangitata
6 Donna Pokere-Phillips : Hamilton West
7 Douglas Hill : Christchurch Central
8 Piri-Hira Tukapua : Otaki
9 Nicola Glenjarman : Waimakariri
10 Mika Haka : Auckland Central
11 Nicky Snoyink : Selwyn
12 Richard Warwick : Hutt South
13 Ted Faleauto : Manukau East
14 Abe Gray : Dunedin North
15 Clint Ulyatt : Mt Roskill
16 Dan Thurston : Mt Albert
17 Lesley Immink : East Coast
18 Vanessa Lee
19 Paddy Plunket : Rongotai
20 Brittany Owens : Rodney
21 Matt Isbister : North Shore
22 David Hay
23 Jenny Condie
24 Jessica Hammond Doube : Ohariu
25 Kevin Neill : Waitaki
26 Lindsay Smith : Dunedin South

The full list and biographies are available here.

TOPling?

In some ways Gareth Morgan and his TOP party were a refreshingly different addition to the election mix.

They had well researched and specific policies, they weren’t after power, they wanted to influence policies. And Morgan connected well with audiences.

But the last few days in social media they look like toppling over. Perhaps it’s due to the pressure of what has already been a long campaign for Morgan.  Or perhaps it’s the pressure of not getting enough progress in the polls.

Whatever the driver, both Morgan’s PR sidekick Sean Plunket as well as Morgan have been acting like arses in social media, especially on Twitter.

This has involved petulance and abuse, and has gone as far as a sustained period of harassment of Lizzie Marvelly by Plunket.

I think it is destroying any credibility and goodwill they may have had with the media, and that won’t help their chances of getting traction.

I thought that TOP on the cross benches could have added a useful new dimension to Parliament.

But if they keep acting like arrogant ignorant arses they won’t get close (they may already have destroyed any chance they had).