How many electorates will Greens contest?

It has been suggested that a nuclear option for the Greens is to not support a Labour-NZ First coalition from the cross benches. But that won’t come up until after the election.

There’s another nuclear option – to go hard out competing with Labour for both votes and for electorates in the campaign.

This must be an option that the greens have considered. At what point in perceived hopelessness for Labour’s chances will they push this button?

If Greens see little chance of getting into power after September’s election without severely compromising their integrity and credibility they may bring into a longer term plan – to become the dominant left wing party, which would have to be at Labour’s expense.

The only chance of them growing into this position iks by winning electorates.

Green Party icon Jeanette Fitzsimons won the Coromandel electorate in 1999, losing it in 2002. Since then Greens haven’t contested electorates, putting all their efforts into getting the party vote, crucial under MMP.

Until this election.

They have already signalled that they are competing for the Nelson electorate – one that they seem to have little chance of winning off Nick Smith. But this may be just a preliminary manoeuvre.

Why just one? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Will the Greens try to win more electorates?

This election Turei has decided not to contest Dunedin North, where she has done very well in the past few elections. This time she is standing in the southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga.

The incumbent MP is Labour’s Rino Tirikatene, who is not exactly a top MP, currently ranked 26 out of 31 in Labour’s pecking order. Like all Labour’s other Maori MPs he didn’t go on the party list this year (unlike other Maori candidates he wasn’t on the list last election either).

Turei has also shown that she fancies the Greens going for more Maori votes. This is competing very much with Labour.

Will she go hard out for Te Tai Tonga?

What about James Shaw in Wellington Central? He has done ok there in the last two elections against Labour’s Grant Robertson, but the Greens in  particular have done very well, getting more party vote than Labour in the last three elections.

If Greens could pull off Wellington Central it would be a major blow to Labour.

It would position Greens well to target what must be their ultimate ambition, to become the dominant left wing party. This means competing head to head with Labour.

With a collapse in the Labour vote this election a distinct possibility – it is being openly talked about by media – the Green outlook come coalition negotiating time looks very limited.

Greens seem to have hit a ceiling of support going for party vote only.

Actively contesting electorates could lift their party vote.

The logical way to go to the next level is to start winning electorates. Winning electorates is probably their only way of competing with Labour for being the lead opposition party, and ultimately the party leading Government.

With their negotiating position and coalition options looking very weak this election, this presents both a dilemma and an opportunity for the Greens.

They are at risk of losing third party status to NZ First, and not just on party vote. Winston Peters won the Northland by-election early this term, and NZ First seem to fancy their chances in Whangarei where Shane Jones is contesting.

Will the Greens push the nuclear button and compete hard out against Labour both for party votes and electorates?

There’s no better time than now to go for it.

Interesting Wellington Central contest

Wellington Central was always going to be an interesting electorate to watch this election, with Grant Robertson going up against  James Shaw.

While the Green Party has historically sought party votes only and nodded and winked at the Labour candidates for the electorate votes now he is party co-leader Shaw will want to be seen as popular with voters.

Results from 2014:


While Robertson won the electorate vote easily Labour came third behind National and Greens in the party vote.

National’s candidate for the last two elections, Paul Foster-Bell, was challenged for candidacy and withdrew, announcing he would resign at the end of this term.

National’s canddiate has now been announced. Stuff: National chooses Nicola Willis for Wellington Central seat

Former John Key adviser and Fonterra executive Nicola Willis has been selected unopposed as National’s candidate for the Wellington central seat.

She replaces Paul Foster-Bell who pulled out once it became clear she had the numbers.

Robertson must still be clear favourite to win, but Willis will be wanting to give things a good nudge.

And much may depend on how Shaw approaches his campaign. How much help will he want to hand Robertson?

The electorate result won’t change the overall outcome of the election.

In association with Labour’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens Andrew Little has said that Robertson as Finance Minister is not negotiable.

Robertson is likely to get a high list placing, his current ranking of 3 seems likely. And if his re-election via the list is at risk (that’s possible if Labour support collapses further) then Labour are unlikely to form the next government.

But what if he loses his electorate seat? That would give Greens some justification for arguing for a more significant say in Finance.

Are Greens happy to be subservient to Labour this election? Or will they campaign more strongly in electorates?

It is likely to improve their party vote if the fight for electorate votes as well. When they imply ‘vote for my party but vote for them’ then there must be more chance of both votes going to ‘them’.

National MP stands down from challenge

In November it was announced that someone would challenge list MP Paul Foster-Bell to be the National candidate in the Wellington Central electorate – see National MP challenge in Wellington Central.

National list MP Paul Foster-Bell, who stood in Wellington Central last election against Grant Robertson and James Shaw, is being challenged by Nicola Willis, who appears to be backed by John Key.

Foster-Bell has just announced that he will stand down from selection and won’t contest the election.

It sounds like he may be jumping before he was shoved aside.

Foster-Bell was ranked 46th on the National party list in the 2014 election. He is currently ranked at that same 46 on National’s website.

Candidate votes in Wellington Central in 2014:

  • Grant Robertson 19,807 (Labour 9,306)
  • Paul Foster-Bell 11,540 (National 14,689)
  • James Shaw 5,077 (Greens 11,545)

Will a better National candidate convert more party support into electorate votes? With a higher profile Shaw may split  more votes with Robertson.


Shaw avoids electorate question

On The Nation this morning James Shaw was asked whether he had any ambition to win the Wellington Central electorate next election.

Shaw avoided answering this, diverting to the usual Green spiel about the party vote being all important – which it is.

But with Labour struggling so much the Greens must at least be considering going for some electorates.

Wellington Central would have to be on that list.

Metiria Turei’s desire to contest Te Tai Tonga is also an interesting change in focus for her.

Will Greens recommend voters give them the party vote but give Labour the electorate vote in these electorates?

Or will they at least quietly hope to pick up a seat or two beyond the list.

National MP challenge in Wellington Central

National list MP Paul Foster-Bell, who stood in Wellington Central last election against Grant Robertson and James Shaw, is being challenged by Nicola Willis, who appears to be backed by John Key.

Newshub: Prime Minister recruits corporate high flyer for 2017

If the headline is an accurate reflection then Foster-Bell’s chances don’t look great, if he doesn’t get the hint and pull out.

One of Prime Minister John Key’s confidants and former senior advisors is set to enter Parliament, with Newshub learning she is being lined up as National’s Wellington Central candidate.

Nicola Willis has launched a challenge against incumbent candidate and list MP Paul Foster-Bell for the party’s nomination, which opens in January.

When nominations do open, it is my intention to put forward my nomination and to stand for the candidacy,” she told Newshub.

“This is a decision I’ve come to after lots of conversation with my family. It’s up to the National Party members to decide who their candidate is, so it’s them I’ll be focused on,” says Ms Willis.

The Prime Minister says she’d be a welcome addition to Parliament if she successfully challenged Mr Foster-Bell.

“If Nicola decided to try and come into Parliament, and obviously that’s subject to her either having a seat or getting on the list or whatever that might be, but she’s extremely talented. She’d make a very fine MP,” he says.

Implying that he doesn’t see Foster-Bell as such a fine MP.



Wellington Central last election:


A strong National candidate could make that very interesting.

It could create a quandary for Labour and Greens – will Shaw push hard for the best Green party vote again and wink-wink the electorate vote in Robertson’s direction? Or will he go hard out for an electorate win?

Both Shaw and Robertson are probably assured of winnable list positions (unless Labour’s vote crashes further), but there could be some importance on Wellington Central.

James Shaw contesting Wellington Central again

Green co-leader James Shaw will contest the Wellington Central electorate next year, running against Grant Robertson again.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out now Labour and Greens have a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and Greens have already opted out of the Mt Roskill by-election to help Labour there.

Greens may have decided that the focus for them close to parliament in an electorate where they got more party votes (11,545 at 29.50%) than Labour (9,306 at 23.78%) was too important to not stand in.

Generally  Greens stand candidates in electorates to get exposure and to solicit party votes. They will be wary of losing party votes if they opt out of electorates to help Labour candidates.

There may be a lot of wink wink campaigning, sort of like what happens in Epsom and Ohariu.

NZ Herald said yesterday that Shaw was set to be confirmed in Shaw to contest Wellington Central, scotching rumours of a deal with Labour in Ohariu

Green Party co-leader James Shaw is set to be confirmed as his party’s candidate for the Wellington Central seat.

The Greens’ Wellington Central branch will select its candidate at a meeting tonight, and Shaw is the only nominee.

Shaw confirmed his confirmation in advance via Twitter after Robertson responded to this article:

Looking forward to another Wgtn Central contest with Can’t believe media bought into ACT spin re Ohariu

Thanks, . It’s been a pleasure to run alongside you in Wellington Central in 2011 and 2014. Looking forward to 2017!

The 2014 results in Wellington Central:


I don’t know if Robertson has been officially confirmed as Labour’s candidate for 2017 but if not I expect it will be a formality.

Foster-Bell’s staff problems

Paul Foster-Bell is has been a National MP since 2013 when he came in via the party list to replace Jackie Blue when she resigned from Parliament.

He seems to have a problem with his staff. According to Newshub he has had 12 employees leave his office in his three years as an MP.

According to one ex-staff member he is good at going to events but not good at managing his office.


As well as working as a diplomat Foster-Bell has been around the political traps a bit:

  • 2002 stood in Dunedin South (National did very poorly that year)
  • 2011 stood in Wellington Central and got 32.51%, less than National’s 38.42%
    (Grant Robertson won with 49.15%, Labour got 26.56%).
  • 2011 placed at 56 on National’s list and missed the cut, with several lower placed candidates winning electorates.
  • 2014 stood in Wellington Central and got less, 30.09% (National 37.54%)
    (Grant Robertson won with 51.64%, Labour got 23.78%)

Foster-Bell has had an unremarkable 3 years in Parliament. He is one of the lowest placed MPs in National’s pecking order apart from MPs who got in at the 2014 election.

His website shows that he is the Deputy Chair of Government Administration Select Committee and a member of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

His website indicates he churns out media releases and is active on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: Newshub now has the story up: National MP Paul Foster-Bell accused of bullying

National List MP Paul Foster-Bell is refusing to explain the high turnover of staff in his office.

He’s had 12 employees leave over the past three years, in what’s understood to be one of the highest employee turnover rates of any current, non-ministerial MP.

Newshub has been told by a handful of former staff members the reasons for the turnover include relationship breakdowns, an untenable work environment and jumping ship to other offices because of better offers.

Some of the woes have included internal mediation sessions, employment lawyers and interventions from Parliament’s human resources staff.

Two of the cases involve staff members who, on separate occasions, complained to Parliamentary Service about Mr Foster-Bell’s conduct, claiming he tried forcing each of them to resign.

In one of those cases, it’s understood Mr Foster-Bell called the worker into his office, told them they were resigning, and emailed news of the “resignation” to National’s whips’ office and to Parliamentary Service.

Lawyers were involved in an out-of-court mediation process, which saw the employee leave with a compensatory pay-out. A source close to the situation told Newshub: “The fact is, he’s a bully.”

The other case saw a loyal and long-serving staff member told to resign by Mr Foster-Bell, and even given a resignation date because they had been upfront about wanting a career change.

Another source told Newshub: “They gave Paul the courtesy of telling him they wanted a new challenge, and a career change. But then without even getting, or even looking for, a new job, or even thinking about resigning, Paul gave them a specific end date.”

That case also ended up in a dispute with Parliamentary Service, which sided with the staff member, claiming Mr Foster-Bell’s conduct wasn’t consistent with employment law.