Free to air sports another policy no-go

A New Zealand First policy and claimed bottom line of showing major sports events including All Black test free to air looks to be a non starter with the incoming government.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell in January:  Billion Dollar Sport Spend Deserves Payback To Kiwis

Kiwis are forking out nearly a billion dollars annually to fund sport and recreation but can’t get any payback with free on-screen broadcasts of sport, says New Zealand First Sport and Recreation Spokesman Clayton Mitchell.

“In 2015 councils around the country spent $873 million on sport and recreation and taxpayers provided another $85 million to provide the best coaching and support our athletes required.

“But when our sports stars feature live on screen most Kiwis don’t see them because they do not subscribe to Sky.

“This is doubly unfair because Kiwi taxpayers support state television and then pay again to a private company for live sports broadcasts.

“To sort out this injustice, New Zealand First will ensure major domestic sporting fixtures, World Cup matches and Trans-Tasman grand finals with Kiwi teams and sports people, are back live on our screens in free-to-air broadcasts.

“All Kiwis should be able to see our sport stars when they compete,” Mr Mitchell says.

In March:  Free-to-air sport bill by Clayton Mitchell fails at first reading

Sports fans aren’t going to be able to watch major events live on free-to-air television, despite the best efforts of NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell drafted the member’s bill to amend the Broadcasting Act and on Wednesday night it came up for its first reading.

Parliament adjourned just before a vote was taken, but with National and Labour opposing it there’s no doubt about the outcome – it will be heavily defeated.

“This is important, it’s about treating all New Zealanders fairly and equally,” Mr Mitchell said when he kicked off the first reading debate.

Government MPs said the bill was “populist pandering”.

“Nothing is free, someone has to pay for it,” said Brett Hudson.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said there was no way the bill could pass.

“No government is going to take $125 million a year off sport, that comes from broadcasting rights. The member’s heart is in the right place, it’s a pity his brain wasn’t engaged.”

June (NBR): NZ First MP says free-to-air sport will be an election issue.

It wasn’t.

Early this month: Free-to-air sport may be another ‘bottom line’ for Winston Peters

Newshub tonight showed footage of an old, unpublished interview in which the NZ First leader promised he would make significant sporting events free-to-air.

Speaking at the Karaka race horse sales in January this year, Peters told Newshub that “I’m not going to say we’re going to try and implement it – we will implement it”.

“Everybody that’s dealing with Winston Peters and NZFirst knows we intend, as in the past, to keep our word. So they should stop humbugging around. We don’t go making promises we don’t keep. We will deliver.”

NZ First policy: Broadcasting and ICT

  • Amend the Broadcasting Act to recognise sport as part of the New Zealand identity and to broadcast Games of National Significance live and on free-to-air television.

Today:  NZ First policy for free-to-air All Blacks tests a no-go under coalition agreement

Labour has ruled no-deal on the possibility of free-to-air All Blacks’ tests, or other major national sporting events.

NZ First leader Winston Peters earlier in the year said a law-change to provide free-to-air rugby would be the price of NZ First’s support in forming a government, though it’s one National is believed to have also refused to bend on.

Labour has moved to scotch any anticipation the policy might be written into the final agreement, following comments from NZ First sports and recreation spokesperson Clayton Mitchell that it was “still on the table”.

Mitchell said in the interview on Saturday it was discussed in coalition talks, and the prospect of Kiwis getting free-to-air access to significant sporting games was still on the table.

A spokesman for Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern has confirmed it was not in the agreement.

I had serious doubts whether this policy would survive common sense negotiations. I’d love more free-to-air sport but I don’t think the Government should be financing it.

Mixed messages coming out of the parties going into Government together.

Ardern has also said that Labour policy on immigration remains intact, meaning drastic reductions promised by Peters also look like not happening.

It was inevitable that some NZ First (and Green policies wouldn’t make the cut).

Details of the governing agreements will be released on Tuesday, but some are being leaked.

Did the losers win the election?

There have been claims that the losers won the election and we now have a Government of losers. This is all nonsense of course, usually bleated by poor losers.

No won ‘won’ the election. No party has won an overall majority in an election ever under MMP (in New Zealand at least and I suspect everywhere in the world).

National formed a government in our first MMP election in 1996 after getting just 33.87% of the vote. They came closest to an overall majority in 2011 with 47.31%, and similarly in 2014 with 47.04.

The recently ousted National Government needed the support of other parties to get a majority – they successfully negotiated the numbers required to rule.

National were easily the most voted for party again this year but slipped back a bit. Here are the party results again:

  • National 1,152,075 votes, 44.45%, 56 seats
  • Labour 956,184 votes, 36.89%, 46 seats
  • NZ First 186,706 votes, 7.20%, 9 seats
  • Greens 162,443 votes, 6.27%, 8 seats
  • ACT 13,075 votes, 0.50%, 1 electorate seat

As we know Winston Peters led the post election negotiations and ended up allowing Labour to form a government with NZ First and Greens. This is completely acceptable under our rules.

MMP elections aren’t won, MMP governments are formed with a majority of willing parties.

A reasonable argument can be made that the party with the largest number of seats should have been the first to try and form a government. If we had a rule like this it would take away some of the uncertainty, game playing and dog wagging by small tails.

A reasonable question could also be asked as to why National didn’t take control of the negotiations straight after the election, and also why Labour didn’t also play a more prominent role. The two top dogs rolled over and let their tails be tweaked.

Whatever, we have what we have, a Labour-NZ-First-Green government who between them have 63 seats, a clear majority.

It could be said that Labour were awarded the winner’s prize by Winston Peters. This was a bizarre way of announcing the outcome of the negotiations, but Labour and the Greens allowed it to happen that way.

James Shaw sounded like he thought the Greens were the biggest winners, even though they were disrespected by Peters in negotiations and in his announcement, and not allowed any ministers in Cabinet.

However this will be the biggest role the Greens will play in a government ever in their existence, with three ministers outside cabinet. Any legislation Peters and Labour want to pass will need Green approval, unless National supports it.

In his speech after losing the Winston contest Bill English emphasised that National had clearly won the most support and seats, but he didn’t claim that National had won the election. He conceded governance with in a dignified manner, and won quite a bit of dignity and respect for what he had achieved, or how he hadn’t quite achieved it.

The country could well be a winner with this result. In many respects things are going well ion New Zealand, our economy is one of the healthiest in the the world. This provides a good platform for the incoming government.

National promised to address some of the pressing issues, in particular housing, inequality and crime. They had already worked to try to improve on the problems we face as a country.

Labour and NZ First and the Greens promise to do more, and if they do it well then the country will have won, or at least we will have improved our position, life and governance are ongoing challenges.

Sure there are some risks if the new government tries things that don’t work out – there is no difference to the risks for government than in the past.

No one wins from being pessimistic, that just drags you down. If there is too much pessimism and despondency it drags communities and countries down.

Prime Minister election Jacinda Ardern says she will lead a government for all New Zealanders. I think she and her fellow leaders will do what they think is best, for individual problems and for the country as a whole.

In any population there will always be some losers, that can’t be avoided. But a good government will minimise it, and it will do what it thinks is best to maximise opportunities and well being for the majority.

If we wish them well, and it they do well, then most of us will be winners, and we collectively will be winners.

There were no winners from the election. A government was formed from the election results according to our rules.

Losers whinge.

We will all win by doing things better, and that will be helped by hope, optimism and hard work.

It’s our government. It’s our country. We all play an important part. We should all play to succeed.

A generational change?

The new Government is being described as one of the biggest changes in New Zealand politics for decades, a generational change.

It’s true that the last few governments have largely followed similar directions, and have been similarly aged leaders largely of the baby boomer generation.

There’s no doubt that Jacinda Ardern is a significant shift. At 37 she will be the youngest Prime Minister since the early days of New Zealand government. The influential Grant Robertson is a bit older at 46 but is also of a different generation to past governments. He was a staff apprentice in the Clark government. Deputy Kelvin Davis is a shade older at 50.

James Shaw is a fresh political face and at 44 also relatively young for a party leader. At 43 Marama Davidson is a similar age, and Julie Anne Genter is 37. All born in the seventies.

So that does look like a generational shift based on age.

Of course there’s a contrast in NZ First. Winston Peters is 72 and first stood for Parliament before some of the above were born. He’s an old school politician and a fan of Robert Muldoon. Ron Mark is 63, Shane Jones is 58, all baby boomers.

Of the top ranked NZ First MPs only Tracey Martin at 41 represents a generational shift. She may be an important link between NZ First and the new generation represented by Labour and the Greens.

Any new government means change. Peters should ensure older people are looked after, they are his generation and his core constituency, but the incoming government led by Jacinda Ardern does seem to indicate a probable generational change in New Zealand politics.

It could be a very interesting term, especially for older generation observers.

Congratulations to the incoming government

I had ambivalent feelings about who would get to form a government, it didn’t concern me one way or the other. There were reasonable arguments for both a Labour led and a National led government.

There is no doubt that it was a rapid rise and major success for the incoming Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. She successfully turned around what looked like a looming unprecedented disaster in July to a creditable election result in September and to forming the new Government now.

Ardern was a big contrast to the string of unsuccessful Labour leaders, and she quickly demonstrated impressive capabilities that have turned out to be good enough to now lead the country.

It is a huge challenge for Ardern, as it is for every new Prime Minister. Time will tell how well she manages her own party as well as working with two other parties, but she deserves a fair go from Parliament and from the media and the public.

This is also a success for Winston Peters and for NZ First, albeit with a significantly smaller mandate they were hoping for a few months ago.

No one in Parliament is more experienced than Peters, and his deputy Ron Mark and new recruit Shane Jones also have significant parliamentary experience, Jones in Cabinet in the Clark government.  Another likely minister, Tracey martin, has been in the NZ First party since it was formed in 1993 and has been an MP for 6 years.

So NZ First should be capable of doing the business in Government.

The Greens are much less experienced. James Shaw has been an MP just three years and co-leader for two. Losing Metiria Turei was a major blow, as well as losing two experienced MPs in the fallout in August. This possibly cut their support in half or worse, but regardless they are now in government.

Shaw looks capable of being a competent minister. So does party #3 Julie Anne Genter.

However their #2, Marama Davidson, is a relative rookie, having entered Parliament less than two years ago. She may find it challenging switching from her social activist role to being part of the political establishment with the responsibilities that go with that.

Any new Government, especially one that has been out of power for nine years (or never been in power as per the Greens), will have challenges adjusting to their new roles and significantly increased workloads.

It’s a completely different ball game than being in opposition. As all those before them they are untested at this level, but in the main at least are likely to step up and do at least a reasonable job.

Some of them have high ambitions, to transform the country, especially to deal with inequality. That won’t be easy in practice.

They start with an open slate. As with any government I will give them a fair go. There will no doubt be criticisms, but they deserve the country’s support.

I wish the incoming government well, and I hope they succeed in making New Zealand a better and more successful country for all of us.


“…view capitalism not as their friend but as their foe”

One quote from Winston Peters today has already gone around the world.

“Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism, not as their friend, but as their foe. And they are not all wrong.”

That is carefully phrased, but is likely to concern quite a few people. And some markets.

Peters added:

“That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible, its human face.”

I think that’s an important addition. It’s easy to be alarmed at the first quote at a glance, but many will agree with the second.

Winston Peters’ announcement – Labour


Going with Labour (presumably if Greens support the arrangement).

Peters says that the Greens aren’t his problem and he can’t give an an answer regarding them. He says that’s up to Labour.

So a lot now depends on what the Greens decide, unless it is a pre-arranged rubber stamp.

He says he has been offered the deputy prime ministership and other portfolios but not finance.

He says that the Prime Minister will announce polices and portfolios.

He says that NZ First has a coalition agreement with Labour, and Labour have a confidence and supply agreement with Greens. The latter hasn’t been officially confirmed yet.

He says that the majority of voters wanted the change that he intends to deliver – but that’s obviously unsubstantiated.

Peters said the decision was taken 15 minutes before he came over to make the announcement – it’s hard to believe that, but if it’s true it’s nuts that he didn’t know which way he would go until then, and makes a nonsense of his claims it was a consensus in the party. They can’t all have made the decision 15 minutes ago.

He says he didn’t advise Jacinda Ardern before making the announcement. Also hard to believe.

Bizarre comments when the Green decision was put to him. He says that Labour already have an agreement with the Greens.

Peters hasn’t told Ardern yet, and neither has he said anything to Bill English about his decision. They found out watching his media conference.


It has sounded chaotic over the last hour or so at Parliament as an apparent leak or two and some scant evidence got journalists excited, and speculation spiked again.

It sounds like National wouldn’t give in to last minute demands and Labour has got the nod, with Greens ready to go to teleconference at 7 pm.

From Stuff Live:

Winston Peters is about to talk to his caucus – we are expecting a short meeting then he will come down from his office to talk to reporters.

Speculation is mounting that Winston Peters will time his announcement to coincide with the 6pm TV news bulletins.

Newshub are live streaming here.

Jacinda Ardern will be holding a press conference right after Peters’ announcement “either way,” in the words of her press sec.

FULL SPEECH: The moment Winston Peters reveals why he’s chosen Labour – and what he thinks of Jacinda Ardern

Winston Peters speech in the Beehive, where he announces the new NZ Government.


The Winston Show today

The Winston Show continues today. We don’t know whether the big announcement this afternoon, announced by Winston Peters yesterday, will be the final act or not. The Greens at least seem to want an epilogue for themselves.

Peters is producing, directing and starring in his show. The NZ First appeared in one act but they have since dispersed, leaving their star in the limelight.

National and Labour are bit players. They don’t know what the announcement is going to reveal, they don’t know what part if any either of them may play. Bill English and Jacinda Ardern have allowed themselves to be sidelined after offering the baubles they think will buy them power.

I voted so I can moan when I find out what is revealed today. Or I can groan and wait another day or two.

Beware of assumptions. Yesterday:

Today this dawned on them:

I’m not sure that everyone is hoping for that, many are probably past caring. Or preparing themselves for three years of the Winston Show.

An announcement about an announcement…

A short time ago Winston peters made an announcement that he will make an announcement about the NZ First decision on government tomorrow afternoon, Some time. Maybe.

But there will be more to do from there, the Greens won’t make their decision and announcement until they now what the NZ First decision is.

Winston’s full press release:

New Zealand First will be in a position tomorrow afternoon to make an announcement on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters said he had spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today and, amongst other matters, advised them of that.

That announces very little.

Reports from Stuff  Live: Choosing a new government on what the greens will do from there:

From what I understand speaking to Green Party people off the record, that standing conference call with their members to ratify any deal won’t be tonight. In fact it can only happen after Peters makes his decision public tomorrow (and of course only if he decides to go with the left). Which means if he does go that way we could have an announcement from Peters in the afternoon but no confirmed government until the evening.

It’s also possible that Peters could send Labour a final agreement document before actually making a decision, and the Greens could get their Labour/Greens package ratified – all before Peters makes anything public. There are going to be a lot of moving parts tomorrow morning.

Green leader James Shaw says the party will not be holding its conference call, with its up to 155 delegates, tonight.

He said the decision not to go ahead with the call tonight was made mid-afternoon.

So it predated Winston Peters’ public statement that he would make an announcement on Thursday on the result of negotiations following the 2017 General Election.

I won’t be planning my Labour weekend around this, but a few MPs and Parliamentary workers may be busy.

UPDATE: another announcement, this one from Bill English:

National is holding a caucus meeting tomorrow at 11 am in Wellington to provide MPs with an update on coalition talks. A separate teleconference will then take place with the National party board.

We stress that we have had no indication of what decision New Zealand First will make.

We have no further comment at this stage.

Some of the silliest speculation

The secrecy in government forming talks seems to have been very effective – political journalists seem to have had few if any leaks to work with. This seems to have frustrated them big time, they don’t like being excluded from the gaming.

So all they have had to write about who is arriving at and leaving meetings, the lack of progress, and speculation.

The speculation covers things like possible governing arrangements – Winston Peters has claimed their are nine possibilities, with no indication which may be preferred or more likely – and also possible policy agreements and ministerial positions.

Trying to second guess Peters is a mugs game. There are indications he doesn’t know things himself, given his time line assurances that have proven quite inaccurate.

After yesterday’s NZ First board meetings and then ‘secret’ meetings between Peters and Bill English, and separately with Jacinda Ardern, gave up nothing of substance some the speculation seemed to get sillier.

Audrey Young: Winston’s two offers: Why it could get personal

Which ever party leads the Government, New Zealand First could expect an unsolicited electoral arrangement in 2020 to assist the party’s survival in Northland or Whangarei – which would never be spoken of.

It would simply be in both parties’ interests.

Tracy Watkins: Coalition talks gather pace with secret meetings

With the policy discussions out of the way, those talks are likely to centre on ministerial portfolios, the structure of the next government – are the Greens in or out for instance – and assurances about 2020.

In National’s case that would likely require cast iron assurances that it will not try to kill NZ First off again – as it very nearly did this time round, when it ran its “cut out the middle man” campaign.

Future assurances might include an acknowledgement that NZ First is first cab off the rank in any future coalition deals – maybe even back channel commitments about an Epsom-style deal in Northland.

I think it would be utterly ridiculous to try to get commitments on the next election campaign, let alone coalition negotiation terms in future terms.

Many things could happen in the next two and a half years that could change things. One likely possibility is that Peters won’t stand again, so any assurances to him would be worthless.

Promising not to compete in a future election would be preposterous and an insult to democracy.

If either National or Labour formed a government now based in part in promises about not competing or assisting in the next campaign, and this government fell apart (and Peters has history on not lasting out a term in coalition) any governing party that was then seen to do a deal with NZ First in advance of the next election would be at high risk of being punished severely by voters.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and Greens turned out to be ill advised and fell to pieces after competing power plays leadership changes. And it doesn’t seem to have done the Greens much good, appearing to have been shunted to the sidelines by Peters, aided and abetted by Labour.

Assurances by Peters have proven to be unreliable – except that one thing he has staunchly stuck to is not indicating any preference for any other party in election campaigns.

For him to make an agreement to cosy up to one or the other of Labour or National in the next election seems as likely as him campaigning in shorts and t-shirt.

In the absence of actual news speculation is bound to fill the vacuum, but it seems to be getting sillier as the limbo period continues.

Sssshhh, don’t tell anyone

NZH: Winston Peters in secret one-on-one meetings with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern tonight

NZ First leader Winston Peters is holding secret one on one meetings with National leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern tonight, straight after the NZ First board meeting packed up with no decision made.

The Herald saw Peters meet with English almost immediately after the NZ First board left.

English was on his own without staff or any of his negotiating team. Peters was also believed to be alone – his chief of staff was not in the room.

The Herald saw English leave soon after 6pm, after about half an hour in the room.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has also just left the room after meeting Peters.

The secrecy was such that Ardern took a different route than usual to get to the room which bypassed any media.

Clarifying a few matters? Or playing one off against the other? Secret meetings invite speculation.

Newshub:  Winston Peters holds secret meetings

National leader Bill English confirmed to Newshub he met with Mr Peters. Ms Ardern was seen rushing away from Parliament.

“I can confirm I met with Mr Peters, but I won’t be commenting on the contents of that meeting,” he said.

Asked what he could tell New Zealanders about the next steps to a government, Mr English replied: “We’ll let you know”.