Mad voters versus markets

Rod Emmerson on voters who are mad:

A mad mad world – the rise of the UP YOURS vote – my cover for today’s


Also at the Herald Liam Dann goes one mad more: It’s a mad, mad world

From Britain, to the US to Australia, voters are punishing politicians. Why the anger and what does it mean for markets?

Even after the shock result, financial markets could have shrugged off the Brexit vote, says Greg Peacock, chief investment officer for investment fund NZAM.

But despite what the stock exchange numbers might suggest, they haven’t. Instead, there is growing unease about what happens next as a new wave of political volatility spreads across the Western world.

The UK is in turmoil, Australia is in turmoil. Who is next? Donald Trump and the US elections are looming large. Then there is Italy, where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has offered angry voters the chance to chuck him out with a referendum on political reform in October. And what about New Zealand – could we follow the trend?

“What we are seeing is a push back against, some would say, the whole post-World War II movement – globalisation and free trade,” Peacock says.

What does this mean in New Zealand? The deepening discontent doesn’t seem to have reached us yet to any extent, apart from a lift in poll support for NZ First.

Mark Lister, head of research at Craigs Investment Partners, says “the Brexit was a wake-up call for politicians and investors and I think we’ll see plenty more of it.

“It’s simply a reflection of the fact so many people feel like they are missing out on their share of the boom.”

We’re used to hearing this kind of thing from left-wing commentators and politicians. But neither Peacock nor Lister has a political axe to grind. Their analysis is matter-of-fact and born of concerns for investors.

So how will investors react? The property bubble is likely to at least plateau and possibly burst in the not to distant future.

Auckland University professor of macroeconomics Prasanna Gai has worked for the Bank of England, Bank of Canada and advised our Reserve Bank. Nearly 10 years on from the global financial crisis we are still suffering the fallout, he says. And there are echoes of the 1930s.

We have allowed central banks to “shoulder all the burden” and politicians’ failure to confront the big structural issues may be coming back to bite them.

“You’ve got a confluence of three factors,” he says. “Firstly, productivity growth everywhere is unusually low. That’s a consequence of a misallocation of resources in the boom which preceded the global financial crisis.”

Then there is debt.

“Global debt levels are at historically high levels … because debt has served as a substitute for income growth pretty much everywhere.” Then you have the central banks with very little room left to move and “a substantial rise in economic uncertainty as well as policy uncertainty.”

What we are seeing is “protectionist discontent”, he says.

So where to from here.

…people are looking for political leaders who promise to put their local interests first even if that might not be in their greater long-term interests.

…economic concerns lurk. We have already seen global trade declining for about 18 months, Peacock says.

There is a risk of political uncertainty extending and exacerbating that trend.
“So you look round the world and say which economies are vulnerable to global trade,” Peacock says, “China is top of the list.”

That is ominous for New Zealand, which is increasingly reliant on China. It’s a connection that has in many ways buffered us from the worst of the post-GFC economic mess.

So far in New Zealand, political revolt hasn’t been big a factor, Peacock says. “But if you saw NZ First rising in the polls it wouldn’t be a great surprise.”

NZ First has already risen in the polls and is abnormally high for this time of the electoral cycle – recently their support has surged leading in to an election.

Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland associate professor in politics and international relations, points out that we have already seen one example of revolt with the Northland by-election – where voters handed the Government a resounding defeat.

“Peters is the perfect kind of centrist, protest party independent style candidate,” Curtin says. “He has the power of rhetoric and the charisma to draw people to him from both the Left and the Right.”

I doubt that there are many people who seriously think that Peters and NZ First can do anything significant about sorting out housing or the economy, Peters is simply adept at attracting protest votes – the ‘pox on all the parties’ vote.

But in the US, the UK and Australia people aren’t voting for who might be best able to manage things, as Emmerson shows it is the UP YOURS vote that is on the rise, even though people know it is promoting people who look like they are more likely to make things worse rather than better.

At the moment it is looking like Peters will be holding the balance of power after the next election.

But this is a relatively quickly evolving situation internationally, so how things look to voters now may be nothing like how they look to voters leading into the next election.

We will have seen perhaps a year of an Australian Government with teetering support.

And the US president will be the status quo establishment Clinton (that may want to rebel against) or the anything goes Donald Trump.

And the UK will have elected a new Government as well.

Lastly, will Peters last the distance? He is a shadow of his former self in Parliament. He may be waning, or he may be marking time saving himself for another big campaign next year.

At least we don’t have to worry about political upheaval here while the world goes mad around us.

Shadow of Peters in Parliament

Winston Peters is a shadow of his former self in Parliament these days. He seems to be marking time, perhaps saving himself for next years campaign.

But he is using up opportunities to get some of the other NZ First MPs up to speed in Parliament. He doesn’t want to put in the effort but he doesn’t seem to want anyone else to get a chance to overshadow him.

Today he wasted another slot in question time. John Key joined in the waste of time.

Prime Minister—Statements

7. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes. In particular, I stand by my statements that the National-led Government is doing a lot to assist senior citizens—in particular, when I said that there has been a 31 percent increase in the married rate of New Zealand Superannuation since 2008, that $41 million has now been allocated in Budget 2016 to support the SuperGold card scheme, providing more certainty for more than 670,000 card holders across New Zealand, that there have been 50,000 more—

Mr SPEAKER: Bring the answer to a conclusion.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —elective surgical operations taken.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: When Prime Minister Turnbull was comfortably ahead in the Australian election campaign, why did he go public in supporting Mr Turnbull and cause his support to nosedive?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think the furthest apart we ever saw it was 51:49, but I am thrilled that the member thinks that I can impact so many voters in Australia.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, with his record of endorsements in the Northland by-election, the flag referendum, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Brexit, the Panama Papers, the housing crisis, and now the Australian election, will he not stop being a scatological Midas?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I will—I will. But I just need to inform him that the last thing I said before I came into the House was: “Winston Peters is going to do well in 2017.” Ha, ha!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: To put my sense of panic at rest now, is it not a fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have called him, pleading that he not back their campaigns?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, neither of them has rung, but if they do, I will be more than happy to have a chat with them about international events, and when I am away next week, you never know whom you might run into.

Aus effect on NZ immigration numbers

In contrast to confused claims by Winston Peters that the movement of Kiwis back to New Zealand is due to being treated as second class citizens in Australia but that New Zealand is “a last resort”, Liam Dann supports his opinion with reason – it’s mostly about the economies.

Liam Dann: Oz fortunes a big factor in arrivals wave

…it isn’t hard to draw a link between Australia’s economy and our current immigration boom.

New Zealand’s net migration gain of 68,400 in the year to May 2016 was a nominal record dating back to at least 1860.

We’ve never, even in colonial times, gained so many new residents in a year. There have been much bigger percentage gains of course.

Even on that basis, the past year has been huge.

While there is a lot of focus on Chinese home buyers, it is New Zealanders coming home (and not leaving) that has made the difference.

Compared to the May 2012 year, departures to Australia have a fallen from 48,000 to 20,000. Arrivals have spiked from 8800 to 16,800.

So the biggest shift is in far fewer Kiwis heading to Australia in the first place, but more are returning than before as well.

We even had a net gain of 1700 Australian citizens.

They can’t be, as Peters puts it, “second class citizens” in Australia. There will be a variety of reasons for them coming here but “last resort” is unlikely to be one.

The open borders have always made the lure of Australia our biggest immigration variable. And it is one that can swing sharply.

And it’s something that the Government cannot and should not control.

The end of the mining boom, an economic slowdown and the inclusion of Kiwi residents in tough immigration laws that allow for detainment and deportation based on “bad character” tests have dramatically reversed the flow of transtasman migration.

The biggest factor is availability of jobs, or lack of availability.

How long will this trend last? Is our relative economic success a driver? Or is migration driving our economic success?

If Australia’s economy or political policies change radically then our migration story will too.

We need to ensure we have social policy to protect people from losing out and turning their anger towards migrants.

Anger towards migrants that is deliberately stoked by Peters for political purposes. That’s very poor for an MP.

We need to remember the current surge is not driven just by the more highly visible arrivals of different culture and ethnicity.

It is being driven by New Zealand passport holders.

History tells us this wave will not last. And that when it passes it will have left this country richer and stronger.

As long as politicians like Peters don’t drag us down.

New Zealand “the last resort” in a hell-hole of a world

Winston Peters appears to be making things up to try and score political hits, again. This time he is making unsubstantiated claims about the motives of New Zealanders returning from Australia.

peters also describes New Zealand as the last resort in a hell hole of a world.

Mr Grumpy has a dark view of things here and everywhere. It’s sad to see him running our country down so much in order to apparently pander to the ‘pox on them all’ pessimists.

In Kiwis second-class in Australia – Peters at Newshub Peters attacks Australia for the way it treats New Zealanders living there.

“Over there, New Zealanders can’t access ACC, health, welfare and other benefits,” he said.

“They have less rights than immigrants to Australia from Iraq, the UK, Bangladesh, Europe or Indonesia and all other countries as a result of the 2001 arrangement when Australia put its foot down on immigrants using New Zealand as a back door to Australia.”

That’s valid criticism. But he cites this as the reason why “most Kiwis are coming home”:

The NZ First leader says most of the Kiwis coming home are returning because they’re being treated as second-class citizens in Australia.

That sounds like made up bull. I don’t expect that Peters can substantiate that – he probably won’t try. He has a long record of making up claims.

My guess is that most Kiwis who leave Australia do so because of the economic downturn in Australia and the lack of available jobs. In the main it was jobs that attracted them to Australia as a place to live in the first place.

Mr Peters thinks it’s more to do with the way they’re treated by Australian governments, and he doesn’t believe those who come here from other countries are expressing a vote of confidence in New Zealand, as Mr Key has said.

More bollocks. To many people New Zealand is a very attractive part of the world to live in. That’s one reason why we have strong immigration numbers, something Peters is critical of.

“Wrong. Much of the world is a hell hole from which many are trying to escape,” he said.

“We are the last choice for many after first being rejected by the UK, Canada and Australia, and the US – New Zealand is the last resort.”

It’s sad to see a prominent Member of the New Zealand Parliament describing New Zealand as the last resort in a hell-hole of a world.

See the real reasons for the movement of Kiwis to and from Australia: Aus effect on NZ immigration numbers

Evidence of outcomes on Whānau Ora

Parliament can often be seen as a morass of mundicity punctuated by gross grandstanding and bursts of bull.

But occasionally it can be entertaining. Like question 11 on Thursday. It had some typical nit-picky points of order from Trevor Mallard and Winston Peters but the latter ended up being quietly outsmarted by Te Ururoa Flavell.

This interchange has an unexpected family twist in it’s tail. (Thanks for pointing this out Gezza).

Whānau Ora—Evidence of Outcomes

11. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: What evidence, if any, does he have that Whānau Ora is making any meaningful impact for Māori whatsoever other than anecdotal evidence and conversations he has had?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Whānau Ora): Actually, it is good to go and meet with the people who are actually benefiting from Whānau Ora, but I can advise the House that the evidence comes from at least 10 publicly available reports that all speak of the benefits and the outcomes achieved by the Whānau Ora approach. In phase one of Whānau Ora at least 9,400 whānau received whānau-centred services until June 2014. Since Whānau Ora commissioning agencies have been established, Whānau Ora commissioning agencies reporting on engagement and achievement as at March 2016 show that over 8,500 whānau have been supported through Whānau Ora in all sorts of ways, such as health outcomes, financial literacy, education, and economic security. There is plenty out there. I would table it, but I know that is against the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has become clear that there is a misunderstanding of the Standing Orders. The Minister can, of course, table any paper that he wants, at any stage—he is a Minister. Even if it is a public document, any Minister can table it. In fact, many of the documents Ministers do table are public. They do not require the consent of the House the way other members do.

Mr SPEAKER: And if the member seeks the leave, I have a discretion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have got a list of 12 of those reports. I am happy to read all of them out in order to achieve—

Mr SPEAKER: No. No, I want the point of order.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The point of order is: I wish to table these documents.

Mr SPEAKER: Are they publicly available?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: They are publicly available.

Mr SPEAKER: Then I am not going to put that leave.

Darroch Ball: Why has he not commissioned or released one single independent report or economic analysis on Whānau Ora since July 2014, instead of relying upon anecdotal evidence to measure progress and outputs?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will start by saying that a number of reports have been commissioned and are available publicly. Let us start with the Productivity Commission. I will quote the Productivity Commission, which said in its report: “The Commission finds that Whānau Ora shows much promise to tackle long-standing issues for improving Māori wellbeing. Its kaupapa Māori approach is especially important to Māori wellbeing. It has many of the characteristics required for a devolved model to promote integrated services for families with multiple, complex needs and aspirations.” I have got another one—Office of the Auditor-General. I have got Ministry of Health—I have got them all.

Joanne Hayes: What announcements has the Minister made recently to support the economic outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have more good news. Whānau Ora is committed to empowering whānau to achieve—one of its goals is better economic outcomes. Today, along with my colleague the Hon Peter Goldsmith, I was pleased to announce the allocation of $900,000—

Hon Members: Ha, ha! Paul!

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Sorry, Mr Speaker. Sorry, Paul.

Mr SPEAKER: Carry on, quickly.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I offer my apologies to my colleague Paul Goldsmith.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. [Interruption] That is not a point of order. Now quickly bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I am just pleased to announce $900,000 to improve the financial capability—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How much?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: —amongst Māori. It is more than you have got, Mr Peters, for Māori communities—$900,000 more.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Point of order on two grounds: first of all, he cannot bring you into the debate; the second thing is I got $239 million—not like he got.

Mr SPEAKER: I am not interested in the second part of the—[Interruption] Order! I am not interested in the second part of the point of order, and for the first part I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 31/3. If I am brought into the debate—and often it is accidental—I will intervene if I need to. It is my determination, not the Rt Hon Winston Peters’.

Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document that has been obtained through the Official Information Act and is dated 13 August 2015. The source is Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), and it states there are no independent reports or economic analysis commissioned by TPK.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Darroch Ball: What evidence has he presented to the Minister of Finance for Whānau Ora funding when the Government’s social investment approach demands measurable data and measurable outcomes before continuing to spend taxpayers’ money?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The Minister of Finance is available on the Whānau Ora Partnership Group and receives all of the reports from commissioning agencies on a quarterly basis. He receives those reports. Secondly, all of the reports from commissioning agencies are available online on the website and are public documents. Anyone can read them and there is plenty of evidence out there.

Joanne Hayes: How does the announcement support the Government’s national strategy on financial capability?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Last year the Government signalled that improving the financial well-being of all New Zealanders was a priority. The upscaling of these pioneering Māori pilot programmes reinforces our ongoing commitment to this goal. We know that the Government needs to provide three things in order to steer people away from getting trapped in the cycle of debt and poor financial decisions. The three things are effective legislation, proper enforcement, and improved education. This will certainly contribute to that.

Darroch Ball: When is going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent this year alone, more than half of all homeless—

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, next week is Māori Language Week. My ears are little bit sore with “Maari”—I would ask the member to pronounce it properly as Māori.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is starting to trifle with the Chamber. The question is a provocative question, it is likely to get a provocative answer, but it has been asked.

Darroch Ball: I have not finished my question.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member better hurry up and finish it. To be fair to the member, I invite him to start the question again as he has now lost his continuity.

Darroch Ball: When is he going to realise that Whānau Ora is a complete waste of taxpayer money while it is not working for ordinary Māori when, for example, the number of homeless Māori in Auckland has increased by 10 percent in this year alone, more than half of all homeless in Wellington are Māori, and 40 percent of those of all those on social housing waiting lists are Māori—

Mr SPEAKER: The question is too long.

Darroch Ball: —and Māori youth—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will help the member. On reflection, I have a quote from a chief executive officer of at least one Whānau Ora provider from Northland who told the media in 2015: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services”—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister was asked “when is he”. It was not asked whether he could go somewhere else and seek refuge. It asked him for a personal answer, and he is not giving it.

Mr SPEAKER: The question, effectively, was “When is the Minister going to realise it is a complete waste of money?”. That gives a very wide ambit for the Minister to then answer the question. Members may not like the answer they are getting; I suggest they reconsider the type of questions they ask. The Hon Te Uruora Flavell—bring the answer to a conclusion.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Firstly, I say again I reject that allegation in the first instance. Secondly, I say again—

Darroch Ball: Where’s the evidence?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I will give you the evidence right now—from somebody involved in Whānau Ora. It is the chief executive officer of Whānau Ora, and they said: “Whānau Ora has made a substantive and positive difference to the way we are able to work with and align services to meet the needs of the people,” That person was Lynette Stewart, the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am just waiting until I can hear it in silence because I am sure it is going to be interesting.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Every family has a member who loses their way.

Mr SPEAKER: And some families have more than others.

Joanne Hayes: What further reports has he had in relation to Whānau Ora’s success in Northland?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: I have pretty much given the evidence. As the honourable member just said, there is evidence around, and the evidence is the statement I just gave to the House—that the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ sister was a chief executive officer of a provider of Whānau Ora.


A recess challenge for Labour

MPs of all parties have given themselves a longer than usual mid-winter recess of four weeks. Lucky them (but MPs make their own luck when they can).

Tracey Watkins makes a challenge to Labour for the recess period – get tough, or it will look like they have given up on next year’s election already.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Here’s a challenge to Labour. If it wants to show it’s serious about winning the next election, its MPs should use the upcoming four week recess to catch their opponents napping.

If Labour MPs disappear over that period instead we’ll know they’ve already given up on a win in 2017.

There’s already signs that Labour MPs are going through the motions most of the time, with Phil Twyford a rare exception. Even Andrew Little’s barking at passing cars seems to be losing it’s bite.

Next month’s lengthy recess is the talk of Parliament. No one can remember a mid-year break quite this long before. It starts July 8 and carries right through to August 9, when MPs return to Parliament.

The word is that members of Parliament’s business committee – which comprises every party – all agreed on the lengthy break because it would help MPs recharge their batteries.

Some of them would need a wind farm much larger than Parliament to recharge their batteries.

But did the Opposition get the wool pulled over its eyes?

Because Oppositions tend to lose momentum when Parliament goes into recess. And mid-year through a Government’s third term is often when that momentum starts to build.

In fact Ministers and especially the Prime Minister will have to keep working to an extent at least. I month is too long to be opff the job mid-year. The recess will be more for back benchers and Opposition MPs, which will allow Ministers to chug away without being hassled.

As the normally affable minister looks increasingly strained and tight-lipped you can already see the drawbridge going up.

That’s a classic sign of third term-itis but National has dug itself out of these holes before by methods which are now well practiced. It burns the midnight oil, it wheels out policies and speeches, it reheats old news, anything to seize back the initiative. It’s the rugby team that runs on to the field determined to dominate on offence.

But there is a four week recess coming up. Beehive staff will have planned a break. Some of the key ministers will likely be overseas.

Potentially, it’s a political vacuum. A hungry Opposition would try to fill it.

So will it?

Twyford may keep banging away on phantom house doors and Little may do a little barking, and the Greens may take turns at churning out their PR, but will any MPs do some hard yards to put pressure on the Government?

Or better, show some leadership potential and come up with some positive actions or policies. Drive and initiative may get some media attention in a vacuum.

It’s about time that James Shaw stepped up and started living up to the hype that preceded him becoming Greens new co-leader last year.

It will be particularly interesting to see how Winston Peters treats the recess. It’s been a big term for him so far and he has looked jaded in Parliament.

Will he disappear for some rest, or will he do a tour of the country’s rest homes charming some ‘mature’ votes.

Most voters will probably be happy to see and hear less of politics and politicians anyway.

An MP that works out how to use the recess to interest the masses could do well for themselves and their party. But banging on the bashwagon turns voters off big time.

Will anyone step up and look like a positive prospective leader? That’s something that is sadly lacking across our modern politics.

UPDATE: I’ve just realised I drifted off the topic – a recess challenge for Labour. Perhaps I’ve given up on them as well as them having given up unless a resurrection lands in their laps.

False claims by Peters

In an interview with Katie Bradford on Q+A Winston Peters made claims that appear to be blatantly false.

This one may have been tongue in cheek but it is fairly obviously incorrect.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

The Speaker David Carter might well disagree with this. So might Peter Dunne, And David Seymour. Peters has had an acrimonious relationship with a number of journalists, unless it is all just an act. I doubt he has a good relationship with David Farrar or Cameron Slater.

The Maori Party has also been attacked by Peters. For example: Long, rambling and late: Winston attacks regular foes in speech

Peters said the Maori Party is “brown-mailing” National over the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.

“It is obvious that National have been brown-mailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party that doesn’t even get one percent of the vote.”

And his relationship with me is closer to very bad than very good. He’s one of a number of MPs who try to hide from me – “You are blocked from following @winstonpeters and viewing @winstonpeters’s Tweets” – and the only direct relationship I have had with Peters involved a threat of legal action.

Bradford asked Peters four times whether he had ‘a better relationship with the Greens, including:

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

That’s obvious nonsense. Peters shut the Greens out of a coalition with Labour in 2005

In August 2015: Peters: NZ First will decide 2017 election

Mr Peters’ first job of the day was to hurl criticisms at the media – “your polls are crap”, “stop this nonsense” and “you ask some stupid questions”. Mr Peters also launched an attack on the Greens, saying it cost the Left last year’s election by attacking Labour, adding the Greens will be irrelevant by 2017.

It goes back, this from October 2000: Winston Peters accused of Gay-bashing

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been accused of gay-bashing after attacking Green Party co-convenor Richard Davies’ naked appearance on a website advertising his gay homestay near Takaka.

June 2005: Peters says Green Party has ‘sold out’

Mr Peters yesterday described Mr Donald as “a man who’s obsessed with being in Cabinet and will sell any principle down the drain”.

Very ironic.

“They [the Greens] are going off to political oblivion. They don’t actually stand for anything and won’t stand up for anything,” he said on the Paul Holmes television show last night.

September 2014: Winnie on Waiheke: A Day Out with Winston Peters

He can also get pretty weird. To another man, he says: “You’re a Green supporter. That explains everything. You don’t care about the economy, you care about flies and bees. And trees. Let me tell you, man is more important, and womankind too. It’s in the book. Remember the book? God gave man dominion over them.”

Peters has attacked the greens directly (September 2014): Alternatives In Election 2014

“Of late the Greens have been talking about being co-deputy prime ministers and wanting the finance portfolio.

“Does that mean when the Prime Minister is abroad we are going to have two acting prime ministers instead.

“This situation would be farcical.

“If the Greens think they are going to take over the levers of economic management they are assuming other parties are not watching their record.

“Voters need to be disabused of the view promoted by the Greens that we in New Zealand First would stand by whilst they promote extremist policies in government.

“This is not indicating a choice but the media seem to have overlooked one option entirely, a Labour-New Zealand First combination in Coalition or Confidence and supply.

“This emerged in 2005, has precedent, and it was a stable, successful government that delivered the greatest surpluses in recent years.”

That’s an attack that the Greens will keep in mind, especially as their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour expires just prior to the business end of next year’s election, negotiating coalitions.

Peters on Labour-Green MoU

Winston Peters was asked about the Labour Green memorandum of Understanding by Katie Bradford on Q+A yesterday.

First, does he now have a better relationship with the Greens?

Winston Peters: Well, look, first of all, this memorandum of understanding the Greens have had one with the National Party. And this one, I understand, expires on election night. So, frankly, I don’t know how it works. We’ve not been a part of any discussion. And so, I suppose you’re being presented with this option: ‘Us two have got married over here, and we want New Zealand First to join us even though they’ve not been part of any discussion whatsoever.’

Peters didn’t answer the question.

It’s hard to believe that there has not been any discussion whatsoever between anyone in Labour and anyone in NZ First about the Memorandum. I’ve seen claims that there has been.

Katie Bradford:  But did you really think they would come to you and talk to you? You wouldn’t have had a bar of it.

Winston Peters: The reality is that on some things we’ve cooperated with all sorts of parties. You know, on the Reserve Bank Act getting amended, we got within one vote of getting that done – twice. But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works. And if it’s going to end on election night, then what is it about?

He didn’t answer that question either.

Katie Bradford: You haven’t answered my original question, which was, ‘Do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you have in the past?’ James Shaw said you and Metiria are good friends. Deborah Morris-Travers is obviously now the chief of staff for the Greens. She was a former MP of you. I mean, is this a good sign?

Winston Peters: It seemed he came to that interview to talk about New Zealand First, and I’ve just seen the interview. One party doesn’t go into those sorts of arrangements, because we don’t know how the cards will fall.

He didn’t answer those questions.

Katie Bradford: But I’m asking you about your relationship with the Greens.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

He didn’t answer the question again, and his response must be a joke. He smirked as he said it.

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

Another question avoided and another laughable response.

Now, there’s no doubt about the Greens, if you look at their manifesto, for a parallel state. Now, we are not going to compromise our policies on critical things to do with this country’s social and economic advancement.

That looks like an attack on the Greens, in almost the same breath he says he has never attacked the Greens.

Katie Bradford: But you are saying, then, that perhaps on areas like immigration you would be able to work better than in the past. Who’s your favourite Green? If you had to name one, who would you prefer to go…?

Winston Peters: Now, what I’m saying to you is that I can’t understand why Labour did this, because it’s from a position of weakness, and the only beneficiary will be the Greens. And their supporters will find that out very quickly. That’s been my experience in politics.

He doesn’t answer the questions again.

Otherwise it’s hard to argue with his comment.

Katie Bradford: So you think Labour will suffer as a result of this?

Winston Peters: New Zealand First is not coming in from a position of weakness. We will grow this party seriously, and all the signs are saying that, all the polls say that.

He doesn’t answer the question. Otherwise his response seems reasonable, NZ First looks to be in a position of strength, particularly compared to Labour and the Greens.

Katie Bradford: The numbers show that. The numbers show Labour and the Greens would need New Zealand First if they were to govern. Therefore, would you not say to the voters, ‘Well, this is a viable option’?

Winston Peters: No, what’s viable is what is sound for the country economically and socially. If, for example — two things go with this — mass immigration continued and, for example, a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws, then we will not go down that path, and I’m saying it right now.

He answered a question!

He appears to state unequivocally two bottom lines but they are not clearly defined.

It’s highly questionable that ‘mass immigration’ applies to New Zealand.

And ‘a parallel state’ and ‘separatist racist laws’ are emotive but very non-specific, so there’s plenty of wiggle room there.

Katie Bradford: So voters next year, it’ll continue to be the line from you – wait and see.

Winston Peters: No, voters will have a choice. They’ll have a real choice with New Zealand First, because on some of these issues, the only party making a stand is us, and we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now.


He answered another question, incorrectly and misleadingly.

Voters will have a number of choices of course, but Winston’s line has been ‘wait and see’ for many years, he refuses to state any possible coalition arrangements he would consider and discuss prior to an election.

Winston is adept at sounding like he is ‘making a stand’ but he never defines exactly what stands he is making. He is practised at sounding like he is making strong stands but when you look at what he actually says it vague and waffly and avoids answering simple questions.

And “we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now” is highly questionable – Peters claims, insinuates and accuses but most of the time he avoids substantiating or backing up his assertions.

I think what we can most assume from this interview and his other responses to the Labour-Green MoU is that Peters will strongly oppose the Greens and this agreement and a number of vague aspects of immigration and the Treaty of Waitangi – unless it suits his interests to do otherwise.

Interview: Winston Peters dismisses Labour Green alliance


The only way that Peters gets to be PM…

Could Winston Peters – or Metiria Turei or Te Ururoa Flavell or David Seymour or Peter Dunne or Trevor Mallard or Catherine Delahunty – be Prime Minister?

Theoretically yes. In practice it’s hard to see any party with the most votes in a coalition letting it happen.

Weka at The Standard:

The only way that Peters gets to be PM* is by old school, macho, domination system politics. L/G are offering an alternative to that, where we have honesty, integrity, co-operation, and working together for the good of all NZers rather than the ego-driven ambitions of one powermonger or a bunch of neoliberal robber barons.

*assuming that is even possible constitutionally and politically.

If the CT machine, Farrar etc are now going to push hard on this line about Peters, we should see it for what it is: yet another manipulation of the electorate and political process in NZ. I think we have to be very careful on the left to not give this too much energy. By all means critique the proposal, but coming out of the GP conference, the big sea change happening on the left, Little and Shaw’s good strong speeches and rallying cries, is this what we really want to focus on?

*assuming that is even possible constitutionally and politically.

Constitutionally yes. Any MP can theoretically be Prime Minister. Politically probably no.

Andrew Geddis at The Spinoff: What Winston Peters could learn from binge-watching Danish drama

Constitutional law expert Andrew Geddis examines whether the NZ First leader could really become prime minister, with the help of political nerds’ favourite TV show.

Well, Watkins is right that MMP makes this outcome possible, just as Denmark’s proportional representation system allowed Nyborg to fictionally lead that nation. Because there’s nothing in our legal or formal constitutional arrangements to absolutely rule it out.

Our statutes only say that the prime minister first must be an elected member of parliament. And then our underlying constitutional principles require that the prime minister enjoy the “confidence of the House”, meaning that they obtain a majority (but not necessarily an absolute majority) on every “question of confidence or supply”. So if the parties in a governing arrangement — that is, any group of parties with a majority of the seats in the House — collectively agree to put their MPs’ votes behind the leader of a smaller party, then that leader automatically is recognised as PM.

Accordingly, there’s nothing to formally stop Winston Peters becoming prime minister following the 2017 election, even if New Zealand First was the third largest party in parliament – or even the third largest party on the government side, for that matter. Just as there’s nothing to formally stop Peter Dunne or David Seymour becoming prime minister in a governing arrangement with National.

Or Te Ururoa Flavell. Or Trevor Mallard. Or Catherine Delahunty.

But the sheer absurdity of those last two examples indicates the political and practical constraints on Winston becoming PM. Politically, the idea of a PM from a party that is not the largest on the government side runs counter to public expectations. We just assume that the leader of the party that “won” the election will be the country’s leader.

The practical reality:

What, then, if Winston were PM? Even on its best day, it’s hard to see NZ First getting more than around 15% of the party vote. Which would mean NZ First realistically could claim only a minority of the seats around the cabinet table, requiring Winston to preside over a collective decision-making body where his people can be outvoted constantly.

You may very well ask whether Winston has the sort of personality that would deal well with being overruled by his cabinet colleagues on a frequent basis. Equally, you may very well ask if anyone could serve as PM, having to front repeatedly for collective government decisions that she or he disagrees with.

That is why, enjoyable script-writing scenarios notwithstanding, I don’t think we’re likely to see Winston Peters in the PM’s office post 2017. We expect our PMs not only to be figureheads for the government, but actual leaders of it. And a PM who can’t get his or her way in cabinet most of the time simply can’t be a leader, no matter how good he might think he looks in pin stripes.

It’s unlikely that Peters could have the confidence of about 60 Members of Parliament.

UPDATE: Andrew Geddis has another go at it at Pundit: In which universe will Winston Peters become PM?

In its pure form, the Farten Hypothesis goes something like this:

(1) The 2017 election delivers a result with National still in the mid-40s, Labour in the mid-low 20s, NZ First in the teens and beating the Greens back into fourth place (but still providing a potential Labour-NZ First-Greens majority); and,

(2) Winston Peters is ahead of Andrew Little in the preferred PM stakes; and,

(3) Winston Peters demands that the price for NZ First’s support is that he be made Prime Minister; and,

(4) National is so resolute in its principles that it says “no” to the demand; and,

(5) Labour is so desperate for a share of governmental power that it says “yes”; and,

(6) The Greens leadership agrees to positively support the idea (in terms of voting confidence and supply for the ruling amalgam, which it may or may not be a part of); and,

(7) The Greens membership then agrees to ratify the leadership’s decision (as party rules require).

That’s a awful lot of “ands” that have to all fall into place for the Farten Hypothesis to be actualised.

Farten from Farrar and Hooten “the only ones who seem to at least pretend to think there’s a real possibility of Peters becoming PM in some Labour/NZ First/Greens amalgam”.

An exchange between Hooton and Geddis in comments:

Winston for PM – Kiwiblog v The Standard

Tracey Watkins at Stuff: Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

If you think that’s a stretch (and Peters has run with conspiracy theories on less), here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

Election night 2017 might be now or never for Peters, given he will be 72 by the time the next election rolls around.

Which is why the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement announced this week might be the game changer everyone is talking about, but not in the way they think.

Because it may bring Peters’ dream within his grasp.

David Farrar quoted that and posited at Kiwiblog: Will Labour agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. National says no. A party on 45% is not going to give up the top job. Labour however has just 23%. They are desperate to be in Government.

Bang you have Winston as PM.

Anthony Robins has quoted the same from Stuff and countered Farrar: Will National agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. The Greens say no, so Labour couldn’t do it even if they wanted to (which they wouldn’t). But National are desperate to cling to power.

Key gets shipped out to Hawaii and bang you have Winston as PM.

The suggested results…

  • National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%
  • National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%

…are both quite feasible, but which is more likely given current polling?

National are likely to fall from their 47.04% from 2014 (they were 44.93% in 2008 and 47.31% in 2011).

Labour could be anywhere between 20% and 40% (interesting that Robins suggested 33%) but have dropped in every election this century from 41.26% (2002) to 41.10% (2005) to 33.99% (2008) to 27.28% (2011) to 25.13% in 2014.

Greens peaked at 11.06% in 2011 dropping slightly to 10.70% in 2014.

NZ First: 10.38% in 2002, 5.72% in 2005, 4.07% in 2008, 6.59% in 2011 and 8.66% in 2014.

Regardless of the actual numbers it looks likely National would require NZ First to form a government next year, and so would Labour along with the Greens.

So who’s suggested outcome is more likely, Farrar’s or Robins’?

Stable Government seems to benefit substantially from both a strong leader (Clark, Key) with a dependable same party co-leader (Cullen, English).

Anyone wanting a stable Government with medium term prospects should rule out Peters because Peters.



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