NZ First promise: a wooden Christchurch stadium

I think this was from Winston Peters: Transition to a better future – Multi-purpose stadium

Covered stadium – multi-purpose arena – NZ First proposal

New Zealand First asks also, why can’t Christchurch and Canterbury have a decent covered multi-use sports stadium to be used for top rugby and other events?

You missed out on having a Lions rugby test this winter for the first time ever.

You are being treated like a backwater and falling behind.

With the Crusaders you have the Super 15 champions.

But you’ve got a second rate temporary stadium not worthy of you or your  champions.

New Zealand First will back a covered multi-use stadium being built in Christchurch.

We realise the cost should not fall entirely on ratepayers and so we will look seriously at the government contributing.

But we make two provisos:

One, that you build a 24/7 revenue earning, multi purpose complex where sporting and entertainment events occasionally happen.

The emphasis is a 24/7 revenue stream where sport happens sometimes.

Two, that the stadium is built with wood – and wood grown in New Zealand – as a serious preference.

You have the technology and know-how here to make it happen, as shown with the Pres-Lam technology developed at the University of Canterbury.

A wooden covered sports stadium – it’s different I guess, it might attract attention, but, ah, are the nuts?

Reassessing NZ First

Most of the political attention yesterday was on the Green’s continued implosion, on the Green slide in two polls, and on the dramatic rise of Labour and Jacinda Ardern.

But also significant was the NZ First poll slide.

  • Newshub/Reid Research 9.2% (down 3.8)
  • UMR 8%

This is around the level of support NZ First got in the 2014 election (8.66%) but Winston Peters has recently been claiming would beat Labour and could contest the top spot with National.

These polls suggest that support of NZ First above a core is fickle. It seems that as soon as Labour looked good many deserted NZ First.

Peters has struggled to attract media attention, with Labour and Ardern, and the Greens and Turei sucking up all the available oxygen.

NZ First are still in a good balance of power position, with it looking unlikely National can keep defying the odds and getting enough to form a government again with a few minnow parties.

And while Labour are resurgent they are still well short of a majority. The Green crash means combined they are still short of not needing NZ First.

However the size of NZ First support could make a big difference in their bargaining power, as generally power in a coalition or governing arrangement is proportional.

If NZ First get under 10% it should also makes Winston’s ambition of Prime Minister or deputy PM much hard to attain.

A problem now for Peters is if the media focusses on a head to head contest between National and Labour, and between English and Ardern, the incumbent versus the fresh young challenger.

Peters will contrast in particular with Ardern. He is at risk of looking like an old has-been beside her.

He has been trying to poke a stick at a number of hot issues, or what he hopes can be heated up, but the media has had more exciting things to cover.

Peters is at risk of looking like a stirrer of cold porridge.

He will no doubt keep trying hard, but it could be hard yakker for him now.

Peters blusters through another QT

Winston Peters is determined to keep banging on about Bill English and texts, and the media keeps feeding his bitch, but so far it has been little more than bluster absent anything of substance.

In Question Time today he quoted one of the gazillions of texts English sent every day, but that happens to be one that has already been made public.

Peters has past for for saying, suggesting, insinuating and hinting that he has heaps of damaging communications, the media buy into it, and he doesn’t front up. He seems to expect the media, or Parliament, or the Police to come up with evidence to back his assertions.

So far though this has been a lame attempt at getting back attention sucked away from him by Labour and the Greens.

I’m not sure if he has a cunning plan or he is flailing in hope.

2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how does he actually do that?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes; because I said them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t aware of the employment settlement” relating to the Todd Barclay matter, when one of his texts says: “settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That was the text that came out with the police report. That was the discussion that was had with them at the time. There is absolutely nothing new in that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will have the supplementary question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, when his text message states that Glenys Dickson’s settlement was “part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action.”—his words?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I stand by what I said at the prime ministerial press conference.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Which of the following statements does he stand by: (a) “I wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, or (b) “The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”, and “Had to be part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action. Everybody unhappy.”? Which one of those two statements does he stand by?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just remind the Prime Minister that in rising to answer the question, he does not need to make any comments around the leader’s budget. He has no prime ministerial responsibility for that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, he put it at issue at his Prime Minister’s press conference yesterday, which makes it relevant, and that is why he should be answering the questions, not ducking behind—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I will resume my seat, but you answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: In the first two—I advise the member that when I ask him to resume his seat, he does so. In the first two questions, he certainly referred to statements made at the press conference. In the third supplementary question, which he has just asked, he did not, and that is why I gave that warning to the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That will not do. The Prime Minister at his press conference said he—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume seat immediately, and if he carries on behaving like that—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Don’t threaten me.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I will threaten the member. If he carries on behaving like that, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber. Does the Prime Minister wish to address the question that was asked?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that.

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Without questioning any of the previous rulings that you have made on this, with reference to Speaker’s ruling 170/2AA—which has not previously been canvassed—by Speaker Carter, it states: “Although considerable weight must be given to Minister’s claim that actions or statements were not made in a ministerial capacity, this can never be definitive. Where I judge a question to reveal a reasonable likelihood of a connection to ministerial responsibility, an informative answer must be given.” I would contend that given that it was the Prime Minister’s office that arranged that additional payment, I would say that there probably is a reasonable likelihood of a connection to the ministerial responsibility that is there for you to judge.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his scholarly study of Speakers’ Rulings. Can I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through Parliamentary Service to the party.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister tell us why he deleted hundreds of his text messages relating to the Barclay matter, according to the media, yet insisted upon Judith Collins producing her telephone records when she was a contestant against him for the job of leader of the National Party?

Mr SPEAKER: The right honourable Prime Minister, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no idea what the member is referring to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Of the times he has been down to the Clutha-Southland electorate since he retired as its MP, how often were those trips primarily to meet with Glenys Dickson?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that, that is for sure.

 

Poll: 13% want Maori seats scrapped ASAP

A 1 News Colmar Brunton poll asked what New Zealander’s views on the Maori seats were.

  • They should be kept: 55%
  • They should be abolished some time in the future: 23%
  • They should be abolished as soon as possible: 13%

So there is not much immediate pressure to abolish the Maori seats.

1 News: Majority of New Zealanders want to retain the Maori seats

The poll tested opinion after Winston Peters announced three weeks ago that a referendum on the Maori seats was a bottom line for New Zealand First support after the election.

Maori Party co leader Te Ururoa Flavell says…

…he’s “pretty buoyed” by those results.

“I think that endorses the notion that New Zealanders see some value in those seats, number one, and rejects the notion that has been promulgated by Mr Peters”.

Winston Peters:

“The MMP promise was that in time it would demonstrate there was no need for Maori seats. And today we’ve got 24 per cent.”

I think he’s referring to 24% of MPs who identify as Maori.

Prime Minister Bill English:

“We’ve always said our preference is current coalition partners. We don’t rule out New Zealand First.”

An odd comment on this but that has a clear implication National value the Maori Party as a coalition partner and have no immediate plans to address the Maori Seat question.

Ardern’s comment in the 1 News item doesn’t relate to the Maori seat question, but she was clear on The Nation in the weekend:

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

…Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that…

…Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Andrew Geddis at The Spinoff:  The trouble with Winston Peters’ referendums

…his call to allow voters to decide the future of the Māori seats is superficially attractive. However, it ignores the fact that the five-yearly Māori electoral option already provides a de-facto referendum on this question.

During this option period, every voter of Māori descent can choose whether to be on the Maori or General electoral roll. If enough Māori voters decide to switch from the Māori to the General roll, then the Māori seats automatically will cease to exist.

Instead, 55% of all Māori voters prefer to be on the Māori roll. That point really needs emphasising; a majority of those Māori enrolled to vote consciously have chosen that the Māori seats should continue.

So most Maori prefer to be on the Maori seats, and most New Zealanders (78%) support retaining the seats or see see it as something to look at some time in the future.

Peters now is proposing the non-Māori majority will get to decide the future of these seats for Māori. That is just a really, really bad idea. Putting aside the sheer injustice of the proposal, it is a recipe for divisive social conflict.

And so, the Constitutional Review Panel charged with examining New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements concluded in 2013:

Although the Panel received a large number of submissions supporting the removal of the Māori seats this option is not recommended. It is inappropriate for longstanding rights of a minority to be taken away simply because that minority is outnumbered. The existence of the Māori seats does not impede or limit the rights of other New Zealanders to exercise their vote.

For the same reason the Panel does not support the view it heard that a general referendum should be held on the retention or abolition of the Māori seats. The question about options for the Māori seats and Māori representation requires a more nuanced decision-making tool that takes account of minority views. The Panel agrees that the decision about the future of Māori seats should remain in the hands of Māori.

That conclusion was right then, and it remains right today. Peter’s attempt to stir up some Don-Brash-Orewa-speech-era poll magic is a mad, bad and dangerous one.

An important aspect of a representative democracy (and a key reason why we have such a system) is that it is a responsibility of elected representatives to protect the rights of minorities.

That’s why we don’t have binding referendums on reducing taxes for the majority and putting them up for a minority, or having state subsidies on fuel, or banning minority political parties, or banning Catholics, or scrapping the Maori seats.

NZ First ‘promises’ top $10b

I think that everyone knows that promises and bottom lines from Winston Peters should be taken with a grain of Epsom salts.

But Peters seems to believe that NZ First can lead the next government, he has suggested they could even top National which means they would get a lot of say in which policies are implemented.

Gareth Morgan has highlighted the spending promises of Peters and appears to be going head to head with Peters. The Opportunities Party and NZ First are competing for floating votes and are targeting those who may vote against the status quo.

Stuff: Gareth Morgan positions himself as alternative to Winston Peters

Gareth Morgan is keen to position himself as an anti-Winston Peters “peacemaker”, shoring up a Government on either side of the political divide without introducing the instability of NZ First.

The firebrand economist and newbie politician released a press release attacking Peters on Monday, along with a costing of his “pork barrel promises”.

Morgan contends Peters’ policies – including the writeoff of student debt, removal of GST from food, and free GP visits for pensioners – would cost $10b every year, with no indication of where that money would come from, other than a vague promise to reduce tax evasion.

Grandiose and expensive promises didn’t matter when NZ First were a 5-10% party. If they become, as looks likely, a 10-20% party then the cost of their policies becomes more pertinent. And if they get into the 20-40% zone then it becomes critical.

So it’s important that the possible cost of NZ First policy promises is examined. The media should be doing this but Morgan has done it for them.

TOP: The post-truth World of Winstonomics

It is not unusual for politicians to make promises they can’t keep. In an attempt to restore some integrity and transparency into politics, The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Not all parties are this robust however. One party in particular, is writing cheques they can’t cash and therefore making promises they can’t possibly deliver. That party is NZ First and their leader is Winston Peters.

We have filtered through the long list of ‘policy’ supplied by New Zealand First on their websiteand pulled out everything we could find that resembled a concrete and significant election commitment.

Winston’s supporters are rightly looking for a change from the ‘do nothing’ Establishment parties that have led us to a society with rising inequality, forgotten regions and unaffordable housing. However, Winston owes those supporters a set of promises he can actually deliver on –  that is not the case with his current offering.

While some of the policies from NZ First have costings, the majority do not.

We took it upon ourselves to do some analysis and so far the tab has run up to around $10 billion per yearwith the promise of more to come.

By far , the biggest cost on his campaign check book  is his promise to give a universal student allowance and write off student debt for those who stay in New Zealand for the same period of their study…And what about the $4.6 billion price tag? Where is that money going to come from?

Winston has also promised to ‘remove GST off food’ as well as rates. Let’s put aside the fact tinkering with our GST system is fraught with issues, and there are much more efficient ways to make housing and food more affordable. The real problem here is the estimated $3.6 billion price tag.

His plan to return GST from tourism to the regions hits the chord that he has been playing for years, sounding the death of our regions. With minimal detail given, it’s hard to know what this really means let alone estimate the cost; it isn’t clear what money he would give back, to whom, and what that money would be used for. However, if this included both international and domestic tourism, the bill could run up to around $3 billion.

The list of promises goes on with three free GP visits for pensioners a year (there are 600,000 pensioners and at $60 extra per visit, that is $108 million), 1,800 more police ($324 million based on Labour’s calculation of 1000 police), free health checks for year 9 students ($10 million, based on the cost of the B4 school check).

The total bill for these promises alone comes to a $10 billion bill per annum. 

That sort of money cannot just be pulled out of thin air as Winston would have us all believe, and certainly, can’t be paid for by nebulous promises to ‘reduce tax evasion.’

This bill does not even include several of his more nebulous or one-off promises such as:

  • Recarpeting government buildings with wool (costed by the Taxpayers Union at $60-90m)
  • To allocate adequate resources into alternatives to 1080 which he will ban (Dave Hansford on Newsroom put the cost of this at $150m just for half of one national park)
  • He also wants to buy back the shares in SOEs that have been sold, which he will somehow do at the same price they were sold for.
  • In fact, NZ First wants to bring our banks back into New Zealand ownership as well.
  • NZ First also plans to ban inshore fishing and compensate the fishers for their losses; a plan that if it includes paua, lobster and snapper, would cost at least $1.3b.

His commitment to railways of national importance, including a rail line to Marsden Point, will apparently be funded by “revenue generated by railway service charges” and a “combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.”

And of course Winston’s biggest bribe is a long-term one; his promise to keep the age of eligibility for Superannuation at 65. NZ super alone by 2060 will be soaking up 8c in every dollar we earn, and as a result of this and rising health spending, government debt will have ballooned to twice national income.

All in all, New Zealand First is much in the tradition of Muldoonism – it promises heaps but is more than a little short of funding detail.

Is Winston likely to explain how all his promises would be paid for?

What about TOP’s policy costs?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Seymour versus Peters hots up

David Seymour and Winston Peters have been clashing for a while. As we get towards the business end of the election campaign their feuding is hotting up.

Seymour in a speech in Parliament on Wednesday:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

But then you come round to New Zealand First. What a disaster. There is Winston Peters. He has been sacked from Cabinet three times by three different Prime Ministers. He has been voted out of two electorates, and the third electorate has not had an opportunity to vote him out yet, but help is on its way. It is going to vote him out on 23 September. This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to 9 bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility. He still has not paid back the $158,000—

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

DAVID SEYMOUR: —and frankly, the way he campaigns is racist.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order—the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tolerate a fair bit from that member, but I will not tolerate him getting up and making deceptive, deceitful statements like that. I know what we paid back—all $158,000, in circumstances—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. That is very much a debating matter. The member can continue his speech, and if the member feels he has been misrepresented throughout the speech there is another means. It is not raised on the floor of the House, and I refer the member to Standing Order 359.

DAVID SEYMOUR: If one ACT MP can get that far under Winston Peters’ thin skin, imagine how far five ACT MPs could get. He does not like it up him but the ACT Party has kept him out of power for the last three elections, and we are going to do it again. I understand his frustration, but he has got to stay there.

Peters responded in the same debate:

We have seen the last National Party polls—the most recent ones—and it is all bad news for them, for them, and a whole lot of parties here, but it is good news for one other party. Take a wild guess which party that is.

We do not care about Epsom’s three-quarters of a million dollars bludger and his cuckolded behaviour in this Parliament.

Seymour followed up: ACT to keep the cabal of crooks out of office

“Metiria Turei’s proud theft of taxpayer money qualifies her perfectly as a Green Party activist. However, it should exclude her from ever entering Government. The people who write our laws should not thieve from the taxpayers who already pay their salaries.

“That goes for Winston Peters too,” says Mr Seymour.

“Yesterday in the House he claimed to have ‘paid out’ the $158,000 in taxpayer money he illegally spent during the 2005 election. The truth is Parliamentary Services never got this money back, leaving taxpayers with the bill. I’ve laid a complaint with the Privileges Committee today over Mr Peters’ attempt to mislead the House. Just like Metiria Turei, Winston Peters is a fraud, and should never be let near the baubles of office again.

“The safest way to keep the cabal of crooks out of Parliament is with a stronger ACT. With more MPs we’ll ensure stable National-led Government, while also forcing National to address issues they’ve ignored, like New Zealand’s chronic housing and infrastructure deficit.”

Yesterday to media Peters referred to Seymour as “a cuckolded political prostitute”.

This is a part of the competition for attention that has ramped up significantly.

Seymour is trying to claw ACT support up so he has at least one MP working alongside him.

Peters would seem to wish that ACT disappears from Parliament.

ACT’s one vote has been enough to keep NZ First out of a balance of power position after Peters won the Whangerei by-election. It is possible that this could be repeated after September’s election, depending on how close National get to a majority.

With Labour languishing and Greens taking what looks like a desperate gamble the best chance of Peters getting power is with National, and he won’t want to be competing for that with Seymour.

But feuding with Seymour is a side show for Peters. It’s hard to see him improving the NZ First vote much by having an ongoing spat with Seymour.

Seymour is fighting to remain relevant. It looks likely he will keep his Epsom seat, but is struggling to lift ACT’s support enough to get a second MP in on the list.

But Seymour probably has more to gain by attracting attention from Peters, because the media tend to go where Peters goes.

Seymour’s position in a Government alliance does look a bit precarious, and NZ First strength could sideline him. But he is young and potentially has many years ahead of him for a political career.

Peters must be getting near the end of his long career. This election may be his last shot at the Government limelight, so it could be boom or bust for him. So he has more to lose if he gets dragged down by feuding Seymour.

Another Winston conspiracy accusation

Winston Peters seems to be trying to wrest attention off Metiria Turei. Today in Parliament he accused the Government of working on secret plans to sell Transpower, much to the mirth of the Government bench. Minister of Finance Steven Joyce did not appear to be greatly concerned about this revelation.

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, how?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): Yes; by standing and speaking into this microphone.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, right now, standing and speaking into the microphone, can he confirm that he said on 18 November, 2013, regarding asset sales: “We will be transparent.”; so why has he not told New Zealanders that the Government is moving to sell Transpower?

Mr SPEAKER: There are two supplementary questions there. The Hon Steven Joyce can address one or either.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, by speaking into the microphone and stating to the member: it isn’t.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order!

Hon Member: Sounds like Cook Strait ferries again!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That will not scrape the bottom.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I have less interjection from my immediate right.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I know whose bottom could be struck shortly; about three axe handles wide.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will just have the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can he confirm the contents of a requested presentation by UBS AG, a Swiss investment bank giant, which details options to sell our national grid, worth billions of dollars—this document, marked confidential.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, maybe the member has requested it but, certainly, I have not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How has this Government been transparent, when there is clearly a detailed business case requested from UBS AG outlining options on the potential sale of Transpower’s national grid, with no advice to the New Zealand taxpayer owners whatsoever?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I invite the member to table his document. All I can say is that it has not been requested by, or provided to, me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that former National Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall was appointed to Transpower’s board in May 2016, and then rapidly elevated within 4 months to the board’s chairmanship, in September, against Treasury’s advice, all to expedite this sale?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Do the Ministers, who are in the ownership role for the New Zealand taxpayer, not acknowledge that his colleagues have been planning the sale of further State assets, which is why the Government, ignoring Treasury’s advice, appointed their old mate Tony Ryall to the board so that he can facilitate the entire sale operation outlined in this document?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, but I do note that the member, once upon a time, used to be the MP for the seat next to Tony Ryall, so possibly he is on this conspiracy. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I need to be able to hear the supplementary question. Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: They won’t be laughing out there, mate. When, in late 2013, there was a referendum held by the New Zealand people on power company sales showing a massive opposition to it, why is he again in this document going behind the people’s backs before the election?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Sadly for the member, we are not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table this confidential document that I have referred to in my questions, which some enlightened New Zealander made sure I got. Thank you very much.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table this particular confidential document. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not.

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

 

NZ First, Labour fizzle in Parliament

Parliament returned from a recess yesterday. Metiria Turei kept herself in the headlines – see Turei versus Tolley on benefit fraud – but Labour and NZ First failed to fire in Question Time.

Winston Peters began by trying to rake over the Barclay issue.

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why did he feel the need to interfere in an employment dispute between another MP and a staffer?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no responsibility for that matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, on the Barclay issue, was he in constant communication with Glenys Dickson over a long period of time?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there may be prime ministerial responsibility, the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no comment to make on that, but I am surprised that after the member’s tour of the regions 8 weeks out from an election, this is the biggest issue that he has found.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Talking of the most important issues, why does he keep changing his story on the Barclay matter?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have not.

That was a waste of time and opportunity.

Next up was Andrew Little, targeting one of National’s biggest vulnerabilities, housing.

2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence that his housing and social Ministers have homelessness under control, given the number of grants for emergency housing has almost hit 30,000 in nine months, when only 1,400 were expected for the whole year?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes, Ministers are doing a good job. The 30,000 grants apply to around 8,000 actual people, because a number of them get successive grants. Over the past year the Ministers have overseen the first ever direct Government investment in emergency housing, amounting to more than $300 million and supplying up to 8,000 places for transitional housing.

The member cannot have it both ways—on the one hand, criticising the Government for not doing enough and, on the other hand, criticising the Government for spending too much money.

Andrew Little: Does he stand by his statement yesterday that “I don’t know why people are complaining” about him spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels. Does he not understand that he caused this crisis by selling and knocking down thousands of State houses and not replacing them?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is simply wrong in his assertion about State housing. There are more State houses than ever, and I am pleased to say that the Government has taken a large number of initiatives, including the Housing Infrastructure Fund designed to ensure that tens of thousands more houses are built.

Andrew Little: When a study from Yale says New Zealand has the worst homelessness problem in the developed world, is he going to admit—without ducking and diving all over the show—that after 9 years his Government has failed in its basic duty to put a roof over people’s heads?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: If there is any failure in basic duty, it is the basic duty of the Opposition to be a good critic of the Government, which it has certainly failed in. Even Yale University itself says that the absence of an internationally agreed definition of homelessness hampers meaningful comparisons. In other words, the comparison is meaningless.

Andrew Little: Does he feel any responsibility for the children doing their homework by torchlight in cars, for the families sleeping in freezing garages, or for the homeless people dying on park benches?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is why the Government has gone to all the trouble of investing $300 million in emergency housing for the first time ever and setting out on a number of major initiatives to ensure that tens of thousands of new houses are built both by the Government and by the private market.

Andrew Little: Given that overseas speculators are driving up housing costs, will he ban those speculators from buying our homes; if not, why is he protecting overseas speculators rather than the homeless in New Zealand?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is time that the Opposition stopped blaming New Zealanders with Chinese-sounding names for what goes on in the housing market. In case the member has not noticed, house prices in Auckland are flat to falling.

Andrew Little: Can he explain why, when we have the worst homelessness problem in the developed world, his latest move as Prime Minister is a $400 million tax cut to the richest 10 percent? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think we do have the worst Labour Party in the developed world—I do not think there is any doubt about that.

It went on a bit but Little achieved little to nothing.

Grant Robertson had a go at Steven Joyce.

5. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Why is it a higher priority for him to cut taxes for members of Parliament than it is to invest more money than is in Budget 2017 into health, housing, or education, or to immediately restart contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): It is not. Budget 2017 invests $7 billion over 4 years into sustaining and expanding public services for a growing country. At the same time, it invests massively in new infrastructure. It also, at the same time, brings debt down as a percentage of GDP and, at the same time, presents a Family Incomes Package that particularly targets low and middle income earners. That is the benefit of having a strong and growing economy as a result of this Government’s strong economic plan.

Grant Robertson: Why is it his priority that the top 10 percent of earners get $400 million a year in tax cuts when our health system, housing system, and education system are so overstretched?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member is literally wrong, and he can keep running the same talking points but it is interesting that obviously the public of New Zealand is not believing them, and that is because the Government is putting an extra $3.9 billion in the health sector this year, taking the budget to something like $16.8 billion a year in health. Interestingly, I have seen reports of other parties’ proposals for health expenditure, and the Labour Party is proposing to spend less—less—next year, in its campaign, than the Government is actually spending in additional health expenditure this year.

Then Chris Hipkins tried attacking on Barclay.

10. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of the statements that he has made, or have been made on his behalf, in this House regarding the Todd Barclay case?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes.

Chris Hipkins: When he stated in his answer to oral question No. 2 in the House on 20 June that “I would expect any Minister who became aware of possible breaches of the law to bring it to the attention of the authorities.”, was he aware of any allegations regarding breaches of the law by Todd Barclay that he had not brought to the attention of the police?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have made extensive comment on those matters already.

Chris Hipkins: Does he agree that it is “slippery deceit” and a “disgrace” for a Prime Minister not to tell the police everything they know about a matter under investigation, and that to avoid and refuse to tell the truth is a lie; if so, given those are his words, has he told the police everything he knows about the Todd Barclay matter?

Mr SPEAKER: In so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility—the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have commented extensively on that.

Chris Hipkins: Did he use a Ministerial Services – funded phone when he discussed Todd Barclay with Glenys Dickson, and was that conversation recorded by Todd Barclay?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility—the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no responsibility for that matter.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is responsible for whether he used a Ministerial Services – funded phone for that conversation.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has given his answer to the question that was raised; the question has been addressed.

Chris Hipkins: Does he agree with the statement “This behaviour from someone in such high office is unacceptable … No wonder they are denying health cuts, pretending there is no crisis in education, and acting like we have no law and order problem. It is not leadership to cover up and hope it all goes away.”; if so, given he was the one who made that statement, why will he not live up to his own words and fully and honestly answer questions about his role in the Todd Barclay saga?

Mr SPEAKER: There are two supplementary questions there; the Prime Minister can address one or the other.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The matter has been covered extensively by a 10-month police investigation.

Why NZ First tried to take over the Barclay embers when it was predictable that English would avoid giving any more on it is hard to understand, it was a futile use of Question Time.

And Little and Robertson did virtually nothing to hold the Government to account, instead giving the Ministers opportunities for free shots at Labour.

Turei ruled the return to Parliament, with the rest also rans.

Peters confirms he will keep voters guessing

Winston Peters has said something definite about whether NZ First will side with National or Labour – he definitely won’t let voters know until three weeks after the election.

Newsroom: Winston reveals deadline day for coalition announcement

NZ First leader Winston Peters has revealed to Newsroom that October 12 is when NZ First will announce whether it intends to go with National or Labour in forming the next government – provided his party is in the kingmaker position after Kiwis go to the polls.

The date corresponds with the return of writs for the election, when the final election results are officially returned to the Governor General.

That seems to be an excuse to not make any public commitments until weeks after the election.

There’s a possibility the election result will be close and could hang in the balance if there are recounts.

The crucial vote is the party vote and there can be uncertainty over the final outcome – last election Andrew little didn’t know if he would make it back until the final results.

But parties should have a good idea of what the possibilities are straight after the election. I would hope they start to sound each other out and look at coalition possibilities fairly quickly.

In a 2005 speech to Grey Power in Whangarei, Peters said NZ First had “learned the hard lessons of 1996” and would not repeat the lengthy negotiations.

“I make this guarantee that whatever decision New Zealand First arrives at post-election, it will be made public by the day the writs are returned, which is within three weeks from polling day.”

While the final result in 2005 reduced NZ First’s leverage, Peters confirmed to Newsroom he would take the same approach to this year’s election.

“There’s no reason for it not to be similar thinking at this point – we are dealing with known quantities which we weren’t aware of in 1996…

“These things will take care of themselves in the fullness of time in the next eight weeks, but seeing as you’re ahead of the eight-ball, I can tell you that looks exactly sort of the position we’ll be in.”

That means that if NZ First does hold the balance of power after election day, we should be spared a drawn out negotiation process – although with Winston, nothing can ever be taken for granted.

At this stage Winston seems intent on leaving things hanging for 3 weeks after the election, and then the negotiations will begin?

I suppose each party has to maximise it’s bargaining power, but the voters get left hanging.

Whale against the tide

Whale has appeared to have become a convert to Winston Peters and NZ First over the last few months. If things as they appear that would make Cameron Slater a bigger political somer saulter than Martyn Bradbury.

Such is the profound change from sustained attack to frequent promoter it has raised questions about whether money was involved. Whale Oil have some history of being a campaigner for hire.

But such is the lack of reaction or negative reaction to Winston Peters puff pieces, and such is the strength of reaction to attacks on National, on John Key and on Bill English once could be a bit suspicious of whether a reverse psychology game is being played.

Today in Matthew Hooton on John Key’s legacy whoever complied the article quoted Matthew Hooton’s latest NBR column:

But, in the end, Mr Key just couldn’t be bothered. Instead he wasted his eight years as prime minister on a personal project of self-aggrandisement that has ceded all ideological territory to the left. It means Mr English and Mr Joyce will almost certainly respond to Labour’s latest spending promises with new claims on the taxpayers’ wallet of their own – and they will probably be making the right political judgment in doing so.

The one hope to avoid an entirely braindead campaign is that while Mr Key turned out to be as shallow as an empty birdbath, Mr English is clearly capable of considerable ideological depth.

Whoever wrote the article then said:

John Key squandered his personal political capital. Not on useful things, but on stupid, idiotic things that were never going to make a difference to anyone, like the flag referendum. That was the beginning of the end for John Key. He realised that he could no longer sway people his way. They flipped the bird at him and killed off his personal project. I imagine his decision to jack it all in came shortly after the referendum results.

It’s sad really, no one will remember John Key in 3 years time. His high popularity was for naught.

Key was knighted last month and a few days ago Sir John Key receives Australia’s highest honour so he doesn’t seem to have been forgotten yet. Slater may not have forgotten being dropped off Key’s phone list three years ago after Dirty Politics came out in the open, but the Whale Oil troops don’t seem to hold the same grudge.

Sounds a little bitter if you ask me. Yes he could’ve done more to further a centre right philosophy instead of pinching votes with centre left antics but some might say this was required to stay on the treasury benches.

– Steve Kay, currently 11 upticks

No one will remember John Key in three years? Rubbish!
He is and will remain one of our most internationally respected politicians and New Zealand Prime Ministers.

– Jude, currently 29 upticks

John Key was the best politician of my lifetime. Did he go to the left? Yes, under MMP it is political suicide to ignore what middle voting families want.
I have never blamed Key, and the fact that the left vilified him for being Mr nice-guy says more about them than him.

– KGB, currently 20 upticks

He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister leading us through a global financial crisis and coming out at the top of the world. He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister coping with two catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch and a catastrophic earthquake in Kaikoura, and yet somehow the country is still not bankrupt. If anyone else was Prime Minister during that period we would probably now have the economy of Venezuela.

– Uncle Bob, currently 30 upticks

John Key did nothing? Apart from getting rid of Helen Clark, steering the country almost effortlessly through the worst recession in our lifetime and coping with not one, but three major earthquakes. Apart from that, you mean?

– MacDoctor, currently 30 upticks

I read Hootens article yesterday. It just reminded me how petty irrelevant people become when their jealously takes hold.

Key was one of our most outstanding PMs

We’re not a country of revolutionaries. We don’t need massive ideological swings. We like stability. Key gave us this in spades.

– Valid Point, currently 22 upticks

If the post was aimed at slagging off Key then it failed badly. But was it designed to rally the troops to show how well Key is liked amongst the Whale commenters?

I doubt it by the look of posts promoting Peters, where Slater has taken to getting directly involved on comments threads, trying to talk against the tide of criticism of Peters. Without much success by the look of the tick balance.

From Vox populi, Vox Dei: On Winston being Prime Minister:

WOSlaterVTroops

This has become quite common, with anti-National posts getting strong opposition from commenters, and pro-Peters posts getting slammed. And Slater seems to have no potency in his attempts to stem the counter-damage to his agenda.