Official Government website used for campaigning

There is supposed to be, or should be, a clear demarcation between Government operations and party promotions and campaigning. Ministers frequently push boundaries this with self promotion and party promotion littering official Ministerial releases.

But I think that including a Labour Partyongress speech launching their election campaign is an abuse of intent and purpose, given that the website is The Official website of the New Zealand Government.

Some of it is subtle, like this from last week:  PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $1.5 million to ensure QE Health in Rotorua can proceed with its world class health service and save 75 existing jobs, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

“This announcement today provides an additional much needed economic boost to the regional economy and complements all the positive investments this Coalition Government has made in this region of late, including last week’s announcements with the Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon Winston Peters,  and this week’s infrastructure announcements made by Ministers Grant Robertson and Shane Jones,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

That managed to name drop for four NZ First MPs. Another from the same day:PGF funds tourism boost in Northland

The Provincial Growth Fund is investing more than $7.5 million in Northland ventures to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced.

Why did Peters need to be mentioned in that other than for self promotion?

Similar in New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways:

A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today.

It’s common to take subtle swipes at opponents, as in Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022:

“The previous Government increased levies during the global financial crisis only to find they were too high in following years. We are taking a cautious approach and ensuring we do not add to pressure on businesses and New Zealanders where it’s not necessary.

It’s hard to see why three party leaders are used to promote except to promote the three parties in government: Jobs budget to get economy moving again

Investments to both save and create jobs in Budget 2020 mean unemployment can be back to pre COVID-19 levels within two years and could see the economy growing again as early as next year.

The centrepiece of Budget 2020, Rebuilding Together, is the establishment of a $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund which will target stimulus investment at protecting existing jobs, creating new ones and provide support for workers to retrain and for business to survive as well as targeting support to those sectors most affected by the virus.

“The Government’s decision to go hard and early to defeat the virus means we are now in a strong position to quickly get our economy moving again,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealanders have made incredible sacrifices and suffered incredible loss in our collective battle against COVID-19. It is vital that Budget 2020 builds on restoring independence in every sense, to every day New Zealanders by creating jobs for those who have had them stripped away by this viral invasion,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

The Coalition Government is using every tool it has to meet the immediate needs of New Zealanders post-lockdown, while balancing the long-term goal of a vibrant future economy.

“This Budget will support the people most affected by the global downturn,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

Labour have frequently promoted a sledge of National with the meme “nine years of neglect” – their are 266 Google hits of the phrase on the Beehive website. Some date back to 2002, showing that the Clark Government used the same term about the previous National Government, but ten hits are from the last 12 months and 27 since the current Government took over.

Over the last 12 months:

  • Labour Party mentioned 58 times
  • New Zealand First mentioned 48 times
  • Green party mentioned 43 times

The Government website includes speeches made by Ministers, which if relevant to their portfolios and responsibilities is fair enough.

But I think it’s taking things too far including Ardern’s speech to the Labour Party congress/conference in the weekend: Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020

This speech was made to Labour Party members at a Labour Party event, and launched the Labour Party election campaign. It closed with Labour’s election slogan “Let’s keep moving”.

This is not Government business and I think it is an abuse of the intent of an official Government website to be used to specifically promote one party that happens to be in power.

Party websites post-election

An odd thing about the Labour Party website. Under Team / Labour MPs  they only show 28 of their 46 MPs. It appears to be the MPs who have returned to Parliament, with none of their new MPs there.

Their ‘Latest’ news is Our first two weeks, posted over two weeks ago.

I guess they have been busy negotiating and then getting their Government on the road.

NZ First has nothing at the moment:

Website Down for Maintenance

Please follow us on Facebook or party leader Winston Peters on Twitter for updates.

– NZ First

Greens are up to date with their ‘Our People’ page.

An interesting thing with their home page photo:

James Shaw is currently sole leader of the Greens.The will decide on their new female co-leader in April, eight months after Metiria Turei stepped down.

Marama Davidson was placed second on the Green Party list for the election, but she wasn’t given ministerial responsibilities, with Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage and Jan Logie all preferred over her. She is relatively inexperienced, becoming an MP just under two years ago (filling Russel Norman’s place via the list).

The photo shows Shaw and Davidson together in the front and middle. The party PR department doesn’t get to decide leaders, the members do, but this is suggestive of someone’s leadership preferences.

In contrast to the three parties in Government the National party website has been churning out the ‘News’ with often a couple of posts a day. They have more time available to do this in Opposition. I’m not sure that a photo of English with Angela Merkel is a positive given her problems trying to form a government.

National’s ‘Our Team’ page has been fully updated with their new MPs and their new responsibilities.

Remember ACT?

They have an odd home page – they get around the fact that they still only have one MP by showing David Seymour in duplicate.

Promoting his book. I guess they are a party of free enterprise.

The Maori Party website looks little changed from the election campaign. They have only three posts since the election, but have said they will try to come back in 2020. Much will depend on how well Labour do for Maori this term – if they don’t front up then the Maori Party could have a chance, but it will be difficult with no MPs.

The United Future website is still standing. The party isn’t. Their last post: UnitedFuture proud of it’s history, but all good things must end.


Does left-right matter?

Something that struck me when I first saw it, and has nagged at me since, is the imagery on the Labour website (and Facebook) of Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern.

This is what they use.


And here’s a different version.


Here’s their billboard images:




How do those variations come across?

Conservative Party active

The Conservative Party obviously has a big hill to climb (one that’s 5% high) after the debacle involving Colin Craig. But they are very active on their website at least, probably more active than any of the other parties.


Website: Conservative Party ‘Putting power back in the hands of the people’

Not so active on their Facebook page which seems to have just been revived after a few years in limbo.



Labour’s annual conference, offline

I think Labour is having their annual conference this weekend and will mark 100 years since the party was founded, but it’s hard to tell from their online presence.


Oddly I can see no sign of this on the home page on their website.


The ‘latest’ is last weekend’s news.

I got the 100 years graphic from their Facebook page, but remarkably there is no obvious sign of their conference there either.Under Events:


That August campaign launch is presumably for the local body elections. No mention of any event relating to the Mount Roskill by-election, and more remarkably, no sign of their centenary conference.

I also see that there’s a gap in the history montage, no Norm Kirk from the 1970s, nor David Lange from the 1980s.

“New Zealand Labour Party does not have any upcoming events.”

Remarkable. Is this a result of the exodus of communications staff from Andrew Little’s office? Or under the Memorandum of Understanding do they leave social media to their Green Party branch?

No sign of any posts  about the conference at The Standard yet either.

Someone must have thought to tell a journalist though, as 1 News have reported Labour to mark centenary, look to future at annual conference.

Do they see no future in online promotions?

Labour will celebrate their past and their future when as many as 600 delegates head to Auckland for their annual conference this weekend.

This year marks 100 years since the party was founded and while marking the milestone the event will focus on the campaign to win government in 2017, President Nigel Haworth says.

“We know it’s going to be difficult because we’ve got a well funded, well resourced government in power,” he told NZ Newswire.

“We’re feeling very comfortable we’ve got a strong campaign.”

“I think the way it’s come out over the last year we’ve dealt with most of the hard issues, this year is very much about campaigning,” Mr Haworth said.

Maybe that strong campaign will be launched at the conference.

“It will be an opportunity for us to reiterate our platform about New Zealand being a place of genuine opportunity for everyone regardless of the circumstances of their birth, and I’ll have a policy to announce relating to jobs,” Mr Little said.

The Party is expecting between 500 and 600 delegates to attend the three-day event which kicks off with a President’s welcome from Mr Haworth tonight.

It starts tonight. Maybe they notified some of their members by snail mail.

Mr Little will address delegates in the main event on Sunday afternoon.

Will Little’s policy on jobs include a new opportunity for someone to promote the Labour Party online?

Site rankings

In Blog Rankings yesterday a link was posted that shows the decline in Whale Oil in Alexa rankings.Whale’s New Zealand ranking is 243, compared to 141 in January 2015.

Website rankings can be contentious and fickle but they give an approximate idea of relative site traffic.

Current rankings for New Zealand media sites:

Facebook doesn’t have a New Zealand specific website.

Political blogs:

Although declining Whale Oil is still well ahead, that is likely to be due to the number of daily posts that part time bloggers can’t match. However commenting volumes at Whale Oil don’t seem much different to Kiwiblog and The Standard.

I’m surprised that Your NZ ranks ahead of The Daily Blog, but the TDB ranking along with Waatea news and Mana News suggests that far left media is not yet appealing to the ‘missing million’.

All the political blog rankings indicate that politics is a fairly niche interest.

There are other sites that include political discussions, like Trade Me Message Board and Reddit.

Note that Alexa is just one way of ranking websites. It isn’t necessarily a measure of popularity or effectiveness.

John Key’s new website

A new website (under the domain) has been launched focussing on John Key.

“I want to leave New Zealand in better shape than I found it. I know the job of Prime Minister is not forever and I’m going to do the best I can every day to make that difference.”

I would expect every Prime Minister to have had that sort of ambition.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not given Labour’s new policy announcement but education is a feature.

Views on Education

Education is a big focus for John. He shares his personal thoughts about why it’s so important for every New Zealand child to get the best education possible.

It lists policies that Key claims to have “personally pushed through” but it is generally very palavery.

I believe ensuring every child in New Zealand gets a great education is one of the most important things we can do as a government. That’s why we’ll continue to work hard to make that happen.

Bland spin. Ok, he might mean it but it’s hardly a vote winner.

It also features a Q&A:

To kick off 2016, we sat down with John Key and put some questions to him about the year ahead, why he wanted to become Prime Minister, and what he enjoys most about the job.

Again most are fairly bland, like “How was your summer break?” and “What’s your favourite meal or some of your favourite foods to eat?”.

Even priorities for this year fails to reveal anything much of real interest.

Q. What are your priorities for 2016?

The economy is going to be an important part of what we’re trying to continue to work on this year.

We have, I think in fairness, every year we’ve been in government tried to lift living standards and opportunities for New Zealanders and make the economy more both robust and competitive but it’s quite clear that we can already see the challenges in somewhere like China at the moment, the volatility that’s likely to be there in the international markets, but also the opportunity for New Zealand.

Our economy is diversifying, it’s doing well, wages are growing, job opportunities are rising but it’s something you’ve got to constantly work at, and this year will be no exception so that will be important.

I think security issues will continue to be an issue, we’ve already seen these terrible terrorist attacks around the world, most recently in Indonesia, but of course in Paris, prior to Christmas, so that’ll be an important issue.

We’ve also got quite a lot of work we’re doing on what I’d define as social agenda issues, and working on how we help the most vulnerable in our society.

The News page just repeats what is already on the main National party website.

Unless there are things of real interest added this site is likely to be largely ignored or skim read at best, if anyone finds it.



Craig still appears as Conservative leader online

There is little change online to Colin Craig’s appearance as Conservative Party leader, despite him standing down as leader on Friday.

The website displays Craig and Chairman Brian Dobbs media statements from Friday…


…but you have to drill down to see any sign of what happened, and even that is a bit vague. Well onto his statement Craig states that he has offered to stand down only:

1.    I have offered to stand down as leader to enable the board to consider the leadership role

Also well into his statement Dobbs says that Craig has actually stood down:

I am grateful to Colin that he stood down to allow the board to explore all possible leadership options going forward.

Despite this the website otherwise still shows Craig as leader. On the Key People page:

Colin Craig

Colin Craig 
Party Leader 

Colin Craig is a respected businessman who has founded and run five successful businesses. 
The largest of these is Centurion Management Services, which has grown from being a “one man band” to a large employer.

With a strong sense of justice, and a desire to see his country succeed, it was no surprise that Colin became involved in Politics; firstly with local business issues, then with Leaky Homes.

In 2009, shocked at the Government”s refusal to be directed by the Citizens Initiated Referenda supported by over 87% of voters, Colin organised and funded the March for Democracy, seeking to require that our democratically elected Government act democratically. In 2010, Colin became involved with looking into the proposed Auckland Super City merger: running polls, making public comment, and subsequently running for Mayor and achieving third place in the election.

At the end of last year Colin launched The Conservative Party of New Zealand. Never being one to wait for someone else to do something worth doing, Colin subscribes to the philosophy that leadership is action, not position. “If someone is a leader, they are out there serving other people” he says.

According to Colin, true leaders are not the people sitting around talking about it, or the people waving around a badge: “Leaders are the people doing the hard yards, putting other people”s needs above their own.”

The accusations against Craig of sexual harassment make the last statement a bit hollow.

The Contact page still lists Craig as leader.

Party Leader

Name: Colin Craig

Email: Via Press secretary

Cell phone: Via Press secretary

The Vote Conservative Party Facebook timeline has links to Craig’s and Hobb’s statement plus photos of Craig and Hobbs but with no obvious indication what has happened.

They don’t have a generic Conservative Party Twitter account, their website links to Craig’s account.


Again no sign of Craig stepping down as leader. There’s the same links to the media statements from Friday but nothing since and nothing making it clear what the current leadership situation is.

Some things could take time to change, for example the fixed pages on the website. They have promoted the media conference statements, but have changed nothing as a result of the leadership change.

There is no clear sign that Craig is no longer party leader.