Polls and Peters

Media have been making a big thing about Winston Peters after poll results come out for years. A lot of nonsense has been spouted, and there’s been very poor analysis in the rush to promote the headline maker.

Peters seems to have had more proclamations of ‘king maker’ than Queen Elizabeth 2 has had curtseys.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff: Poll numbers and record immigration election-year music to Peters’ ears

The heavy breathing would have gone up the Richter scale with two figures out this week.

The first was a Roy Morgan poll putting Peters at 10.5 per cent support.

A caution here. Both Labour and National will tell you they don’t put too much stock in the Morgan poll, as its numbers can move around a lot. But over time it is a useful indicator of trends. And Peters is definitely trending.

Not really. NZ First has been fluctuating up and down in polls.

His numbers are particularly significant because Peters has a history of finishing strongly  As the Morgan poll notes, in 2011 NZ First averaged 3.5 per cent for much of the election year before winning 6.59 per cent of the vote.

In 2015 Peters averaged 5 per cent support and got 8.66 per cent on election night (the final round of polls had him at about 8 per cent).

She means 2014.

His rise appears to be starting early this year.

I think that’s nonsense on two counts.

The terms ending in 2011 and 2014 were quite different to this term. In those terms NZ First support dropped significantly between elections and rose significantly late in the election campaigns.

This term NZ First hasn’t dropped the same, in large part due to the publicity and success of Peters’ by-election win just a few months into the term.

And NZ First polled higher in Roy Morgan polls last year, eased back, and has bounced back. That is not a trend.

On top of that the political situation is quite different this term, with the National led government in it’s third term, and with John Key resigning. And Labour is onto their fourth leader post-Clark, and Labour and Greens are presenting as a combined option.

Here are NZ First poll results (Roy Morgan) for 2016 and to April in 2017:

RoyMorganNZFirst2017April

Since peaking at 12.5 a year ago the trend seems to be very flat with fluctuations barely outside the margin of error.

And Colmar Brunton is similar so far this year for NZ First:

  • February 2017 – 11%
  • March 2017 – 8%

Reid Research:

  • March 2017 – 7.6%

About al that can be taken from this is that:

  • NZ First support has stayed higher this term than in the previous two terms,
  • Their support is fluctuating up and down, not trending,
  • The political situation this election is quite different to the last two elections.

With about five months to go until the election it’s impossible to predict what NZ First support will do in the polls, and how it will end up in the election.

I think NZ First is unlikely to end up with less support than in the 2014 election (8.66%, up from 6.59% in 2011), unless something unexpected happens like Peters gets sick.

But it is pure speculation trying to predict how much higher they may go.

Shane Jones is expected to be announced as a candidate next month – that could help their chances, or it might not. Jones’ popularity, especially outside Labour, is untested. He lost to Pita Sharples in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate in 2011.

And Jones isn’t all that popular in NZ First: Never Shane: NZ First members oppose political return of Shane Jones

Shane Jones’ rumoured political comeback with NZ First has faced a setback, with party members setting up a “Never Shane” group to protest his potential candidacy.

Jones’ return to politics as an NZ First candidate has been tipped for some time, with suggestions he may announce his plans at his annual Waitangi barbecue on February 4.

However, a Facebook page described as “a network of NZ First members and supporters opposed to Shane Jones” has been set up ahead of a potential announcement.

Some NZ First MPS, deputy Ron Mark in particular, may be uneasy about Jones being promoted too.

A lot may depend on how well received this year’s budget is, and how well Bill English does in the election campaign, as that will determine whether National sheds votes or not (they are currently looking shakier than previously in polls).

But it’s not a given that National voters will switch to NZ First.

A lot could also depend on whether Andrew Little and Labour strike a chord with voters or not.

NZ First support could be anywhere between 10-15% (higher would be unusual but not impossible).

But it’s far too soon to get any good idea of where they might end up.

A key factor could be whether the voters are comfortable with NZ First holding the balance of power or not. They have avoided that in the last three elections.

 

Immigration and “using statistics much as a drunk uses a lamppost”

Vernon Small looks at the non-illuminating approach to The immigration debate: Please leave your logic at the border

Another month, another record immigration number.

Cue another round of political point-scoring.

It probably took Labour all the restraint it could muster to wait a full 90 minutes to react to the latest data, showing a net 71,900 had come into the country and a total of 129,500 “migrant arrivals” on these shores in the last 12 months.

Leader Andrew Little has reiterated Labour’s plan to cut migration numbers by “tens of thousands” but refused to name a figure.

Which makes his criticisms a waste of time.

Labour would, he said, “better match migrants with the skills our industries need, accelerate investment in vital infrastructure and build the houses that a growing population needs”.

The last two – infrastructure investment and house building – are necessary responses but not in themselves an immigration policy. Matching migrant skills to need is closer to the mark, but begs a number of questions. Which skills? How highly skilled? How many?

They are also the questions Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse partly tried to answer with his move to “remuneration levels” as a proxy for skills. But he too failed at the crucial hurdle, talking only airily about “control” of immigration without answering the key question: How many?

It’s impossible to answer ‘how many’ when a significant proportion of movements out of and into New Zealand are New Zealanders who are not controlled at all.

But both men are guilty of familiar political crimes – keeping it vague or, as the old saying goes, using statistics much as a drunk uses a lamppost; for support rather than illumination.

While Opposition politicians – yes, Winston, you too – toss around the big numbers on record migrant flows and the highly variable “net migration” numbers, they are not the figures that are easily in their power to affect (though they do signal the level of pressure on school, hospitals, housing and roads).

The ebb and flow of New Zealanders, and others with the right to come here, is out of politicians’ control.

So we are left with vague claims, policies, assertions and insinuations.

At the border they show up as dominant in the statistics: 43,700 work visas and 23,900 student visas in the latest data, with a total “non-New Zealand citizen” inflow of 73,200.

If politicians want to look somewhere for a solution, they should start there.

In 2005 some 9650 student visa holders came in. In 2008 that rose to 13,139 and it hit 23,861 in the latest March year – actually 3800 lower than the February figure.

In the work visas category the growth is equally stark. The number was 17,056 in 2005, 21,883 in 2008 and 43,725 this March.

Over the same period numbers of those coming in on a “residence” visa have barely moved; from 14,943 in 2005 and 17,772 in 2006 to just 16,763 in the latest 12-month period.

Unless there has been a sudden slump in the skill level of the Kiwi workforce, there is clearly something else going on here.

Yet according to the number crunchers, the vast majority of work visas is approved onshore, so they do not necessarily show up in the information collected at the border.

And once someone is here, there can also be changes in how long they stay and in the types of visas they move on to.

If the Government or Opposition want to “control” immigration they need to look at the number and skill levels of those granted a visa both inside the country and out, not waffle around or indulge in “dog-whistling” about the country being swamped by migrants.

But it’s election year, and winding up anti migrant rhetoric doesn’t matter to politicians wanting votes.

The whole debate crackles with emotion and is electric with false leads and half truths.

Take one example: that the boom in migrant numbers is being driven by returning New Zealanders.

In comparative terms – how many are coming back and leaving compared with the days of a “Westpac Stadium-sized” exodus – there has been a big shift.

However, as Statistics NZ itself pointed out, more New Zealand citizens are still leaving the country each year than return as migrants. There was a net loss of 1300 citizens in the year to the end of March 2017.

The net migration of non-New Zealand citizens was actually 73,200; higher than the total “net migration” figure of 71,900 because of the net outflow of Kiwis.

As Westpac economist Satish Ranchod has pointed out, arrivals only account for half of the strong pick-up in net migration since 2012.

But the changing flow of New Zealanders in and out of the country makes it difficult to plan ahead with the number of migrants allowed to come here.

Sadly it is too potent an election issue for the Opposition to grant the Government a free pass in return for a spot of “tinkering” around visa requirements.

After all, the international debate about migration, and tensions in Europe and the US, did not get where it is today by a rational analysis of the options.

National are trying to patch over an imperfect immigration policy, while Little seems to be trying to compete with Peters for votes of those who have concerns about immigration numbers, as well as those who are just anti-immigration because they don’t like people coming here who ‘are different’.

It’s shaping up to be a nasty and un-Kiwi-like election.

Peters demands honesty of others

Winston Peters has played the media again, getting the attention he wanted when he launched a racial attack on two NZ Herald journalists – see Peters plays media with racist taunts.

And media have continued to give him a platform. Newshub ironically report on him asking for honesty in Winston Peters launches attack on immigrant reporters.

“They came out with the report saying the mass majority of immigration is not coming from Asia”

The Herald had reported:

Despite China and India being among the biggest source countries for permanent residents, they are not among the top five for direct migrant workers.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said migrant from Asian countries were less likely to get direct access to New Zealand on skilled work visa.

“They are more likely to transition to permanent residence through temporary work and study visa routes using options such as the transition to work provisions,” said Professor Spoonley, an expert on immigration.

Peters:

While it might sound like you to be Trumpesque, but when somebody like those two reporters doesn’t bother to call the one party that’s been strong on immigration…

Strongly against immigration.

…and for very sound reasons and which is being proven right every month now…

It’s not ‘very sound’ to insinuation against and directly attack Asian immigrants, which is what Peters has done for years.

…as we have for a long long time, if they don’t bother to give you a call to see whether or not you agree with what their analysis is,

They didn’t go to any politicians, they went to sociologist Spoonley and health worker Aeziel Niegos for comment. Why go to a cranky old broken record who has a history of misrepresenting immigration?

it somewhat suggests they’re biased before they start.

It suggests they were looking for a different angle on immigration rather than repeating the same old.

Now you can find that Trumpesque, or Brexitesque or any other esque you like, but this is an election period, and we expect some honesty with the New Zealand public.

Does anyone expect honesty from Peters?

Well they’re like the New Zealand Initiative, who are majorly immigrants themselves.

That’s a dirty claim, and possibly inaccurate. Here are the people from NZ Initiative, only one or two out of 14 look possibly like Asian immigrants or children of immigrants, some others will have been born in other countries, but that is irrelevant to what they do, unless Peters is trying to imply that immigrants shouldn’t try to contribute to research and discussions in New Zealand.

…and they are heavy into being pro mass immigration.

“Mass immigration” is one of the dirtiest claims that Peters keeps peddling. New Zealand has long grown through immigration, but we have nothing like unlimited “mass immigration”, that is nothing more than dishonest dog whistling.

And “heavy into being pro” is a dishonest swipe at the NZ Initiative.

And meanwhile, the Herald has in it’s other pages whole forests of information about what’s going wrong with infrastructure in Auckland. Can’t they make the connection between the two?

I don’t think anyone doesn’t see the connection between an increasing population and pressures on Auckland’s housing and infrastructure. If New Zealand wants to grow – and the population has grown for centuries – then we need immigration, and a corresponding increase in housing and infrastructure. Does Peters want stagnation?

And that’s why I make this allegation, and I’ve never had a call from those two gentleman as to what New Zealand First thinks.

So Peters appears peeved about not getting asked to comment. His views are well known and hardly news. And his crankiness and dishonesty and attention seeking are not good reasons to give him free publicity in election year.

More journalists should ignore him unless he can contribute intelligently and accurately.

No, they go to everyone else but New Zealand First, because they know we’re going to dissect their misinformation, and expose it for what it is.

They didn’t do anything close to”go to everyone else but New Zealand First” so that’s another false claim from Peters.

All Peters has done is expose himself for what he is, an attention seeking dishonest crank.

“You have two immigrants themselves as reporters for the Herald writing what is clearly misleading information [and] headlining it on the front page.

“It’s ridiculous [and] it’s misinformation.”

Peters accusing someone else of misinformation oodles irony.

His reaction to not being asked for comment, just as no other politician was asked for comment , is what is ridiculous.

As is the amount of publicity that the media inevitably give Peters when he winds up his  racist attacks.

It’s still five months until the election. It looks like it could be a long and dirty campaign.

Peters demanding honesty of others is unhinged hypocrisy.

Peters plays media with racist taunts

Winston Peters may have had a reasonable point to make about a Herald item today on immigration, but his attack on two journalists with Asian sounding names was widely criticised and deplored.

The Herald has responded with a statement from the editor.

The original Herald article: Top source countries for migrant workers are not Asian

A rise in work visas has been the driving force behind record immigration numbers but the main source countries are not from Asia.

A Herald analysis into immigration data found work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year.

The top five source countries for work last year are the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America.

The United Kingdom, which made up 16.6 per cent of work visas issued, has twice as many as those of Germany on 8.8 per cent.

Australians do not require visas to work in New Zealand – the Statistics New Zealand
figures however shows people coming from Australia as their last country of residence.

A response from the journalists: Why Winston Peters got it wrong: The Herald responds to his attack on our journalists

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters today released a media statement about the Herald’s coverage of work visas and the top five source countries for work visas last year. The statement’s opening paragraph read: “New Zealand Herald propaganda written by two Asian immigrant reporters stating the top five source nations for work visas are not Asian is completely wrong and based on flawed analysis, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.” Here is the response from those reporters, Harkanwal Singh and Lincoln Tan.

A decent way to address a contentious issue by Michael Reddell: Which countries did Essential Skills visa grantees come from in the last year?

News on another immigration record: Record migration puts squeeze on housing, roads and the Government

Related video: Watch NZH Focus: Net migration to New Zealand has hit another record

 

Little & Peters should see SAS video

Vernon Small points out that basically Prime Minister Bill English has said ‘trust me because I trust Tim Keating’ as his reasoning for not having an inquiry into the SAS attack in Afghanistan that was publicised by Nicky Hager’s and Jon Stephenson’s book Hit & Run.

Stuff: English’s Monday performance shows just how much National lost when Key quit

In the Hit and Run case, in contrast, English has been over-cautious in keeping the military sweet, leaving too many questions unanswered.

Add to that his extraordinary claim that Keating was “independent” and was not part of the operation.

He was in essence saying “trust me, because I trust Keating”.

I don’t think that’s good enough, and neither does Small.

So where to now on this?

If Labour leader Andrew Little wanted to put English’s assurances to the test, he should ask to see the classified video.

As the leader of her majesty’s loyal opposition there could surely be no objection to a similar briefing to that given to English and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee, especially if other non-elected Government officials have been privy to the footage. If English wanted to buttress his position, he should invite Little to view it.

As a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Little – and presumably Winston Peters – ought to have the appropriate clearances.

It might help achieve the kind of “reconciliation” between the conflicting accounts that former defence minister Wayne Mapp said were possible.

That is a very good suggestion. Our Defence Force should be trusted not just by the Government but by the whole Intelligence and Security Committee, and to do that they need to see the same evidence that English has seen.

The Defence Force line is that they they use coordinates not village names, but it should not be beyond their ability to establish that the villages named in the book are in the area they identified.

You can see why they might be reluctant. Having achieved headlines saying Hager and Stephenson had the wrong location for the villages, they will fight to the last spin doctor standing to avoid a headline that reads: “Defence Force confirms its attack was on the villages of Khak Khuday Dad and Naik identified in Hit and Run“.

In the larger scheme of things it may seem a minor point.

But it is that default to “spin” and a reliance on cute semantics that undermines English’s case – and his reliance on the Defence Force.

English hasn’t handled this decisively or convincingly. Everything can’t be revealed about our SAS and Defence Force as Hager and Stephenson want, but the public should have confidence in our military, and that requires more than the perception of one-sided spin.

I also agree with Small on the Key difference, our last PM is likely to have come up a better and more convincing way of dealing with and to the allegations.

I think the whole Intelligence and Security Committee, including Little and Peters, should see the evidence that English has based his decision on.

But English looks too dithery to deal decisively with this.

Winston Peters ‘a dangerous old man’

On Friday in a speech at a business breakfast in Waipu – transcript here – Winston Peters said under WHAT NZ FIRST WILL DO:

  • To battle this problem New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility.
  • We will change social welfare to demand parental accountability.
  • We are not going to spend taxpayers’ money on parents who won’t keep their side of the deal.
  • We will make sure there are far more police – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
    After all, the last time we had a chance we trained 1000 front line police in three years flat.
  • We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay.
  • We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

Anti crime, which presumably means anti-violent crime, but pro smacking.

Peters/NZ First also put out a media release titled ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’

To battle widespread criminal behaviour by young people socially DNA-ed for destruction as seen in Kaikohe last weekend, New Zealand First will, among other measures, repeal the anti-smacking law.

“We live in a ‘PC age’ where there are more rules on the teachers and the police than young offenders and their parents,” said Mr Peters in a speech at Waipu this morning.

“We no longer hold these little ‘tow-rag’ offenders responsible for their actions.

“Instead we hear 100 different reasons why it’s not their fault.

“That’s rubbish.

“They’re old enough to know exactly what they’re doing.

“They know they will get away with it and that there will be no repercussions.

”Meanwhile, the old parties in parliament want the age of criminal responsibility raised.

“Many of these politicians have no idea how the other half live and don’t venture into the real world.

“Besides repealing the anti-smacking law, which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children, New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility; change social welfare to demand parental accountability and will make sure there are far more police on the frontline – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.

“We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Peters.

Calling young people toe-rags and encouraging the bash may appeal to populist votes but it is unlikely to solve youth crime.

Does Peters have any evidence to support his claim the the anti-smacking law “doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children”? He has habit of making unsubstantiated claims.

Sue Bradford has called Peters a ‘dangerous old man’:

Winston Peters has been labelled a “dangerous old man” who’s “really past his prime”, after vowing to repeal the so-called anti-smacking law.

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

Ms Bradford said: “He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

Conservative lobby group Family First says there have been massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began, but Ms Bradford says repealing the anti-smacking law won’t fix that.

“As the truly dreadful levels of family violence in this country continue, they cannot be laid to this law. No law can stop that.”

Massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began? That seems like a massive exaggeration, and I’d be surprised if they have evidence of a direct connection between the law change and levels of violence against children.

Family First have always strongly opposed the law change. They have put out a media release in support of Peters: NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

This makes some claims about violence levels.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

But that does nothing to prove cause and effect. There are alternative claims that a greater awareness of violence against children has led to greater levels of reporting of abuse, which may be a positive effect rather than a negative effect.

In the past excessive smacking (more than a tap on the bum) and bashing tended to get swept under legal and social carpets.

I think that it’s very difficult to prove the effects of the law change on offending rates.

I believe that any moves to encourage less violence, and less smacking while encouraging effective alternatives, has to end up being better for children in general in the long run.

Peters may get some votes from his support of smacking law repeal, but I think it will come to nothing more than that.

I think it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Parliament to just repeal the smacking law. The old version was seriously flawed.

The only chance of change is if someone comes up with an improvement to the also flawed current law – but at least it signals that violence against children should be reduced.

No indication from Peters whether he would add smacking law repeal to his list of coalition bottom lines.

Corporal punishment proposed after Kaikohe rampage

More police and corporal punishment are suggested solutions after a rampage in Kaikohe.

NZ Herald: Police nab one teen after rampage in Kaikohe

The weekend’s trouble started on Friday when about half a dozen youths walked into The Shed liquor store on Marino Court and walked out with about 10 boxes of beer.

Police tracked them to a party on Shaw St but with just two officers, and the adults at the party defending the youths, there was little they could do, Taylor said.

At about 1am on Saturday, a group of about 20 youngsters tried to break into the Mobil service station.

Taylor said the group was like “a pack of deranged animals” trying to kick in the doors and throwing rocks at the glass.

They did not get in but caused about $1000 of damage to the iwi-owned service station.

Taylor said there weren’t enough police in the district to handle such situations.

People are understandably concerned and frustrated but it is simply not feasible to have enough police numbers available in small towns around the clock to deal with occasional incidents like this.

At the time of the attempted break-in at Mobil, police were attending incidents in Waipapa, Kerikeri and Kawakawa, as well as a crash at Oromahoe.

A sergeant and one other officer were in Kaikohe and police reached the service station three minutes after the first 111 call, Symonds said.

There will always be times that the police struggle to cope, especially with major incidents in relatively remote areas.

On Friday night most staff were deployed to Paihia and Kerikeri because that was where problems were expected.

And they can’t accurately guess where the problems will occur.

A 13-year-old has been apprehended by police after a group of youths – some thought to be as young as 11 – went on a rampage; helping themselves to boxes of beer from a liquor store and trying to smash their way into a service station.

The ages of those involved must be a real worry.

Radio NZ: Bring back corporal punishment in schools – National rep

The chair of the National Party’s Kaikohe branch, Alan Price, said systems were not in place to deal with growing drug use and young people running riot in his town and others.

“Whilst we need more police, there’s a bigger underlying problem here,” he said.

Mr Price told Morning Report the solution was to put corporal punishment back into schools.

Though the do-gooders would not like it, something needed to be done, he said.

“You can’t raise children without discipline and we’re getting into the situation where we’ve got an uncontrollable rat race that you can’t do anything with in this country.

“Until we stand up to it and do something about it and change the law that means you can discipline somebody for something they do wrong – to me it is a form of child abuse not to raise a child with discipline.”

Discipline – yes, but the country has moved on from using physical violence to try and teach children not to be violent.

I don’t know what Price’s party connections were highlighted, this is presumably his person reaction, not party policy.

The MP for Northland, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, said the catch-and-release principle for young offenders had to change if youth crime in the area was to be curbed.

He said the number of charges had fallen despite a rise in criminal offences. “If you’re going to have discipline, then you’ve going to have to ensure that rather than have a catch and release policy, like some game fishing outfit, we actually charge these people with crimes, and we’re not doing it.”

Is Peters suggesting catch and imprison?

Once again people are rushing to offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.

The Kaikohe community needs to work together on how to address this problem. Their youths were vandalising their own community’s property.

 

Labour v Maori Party continued

The election campaign gloves are off between Labour and the Maori Party, and another round was fought in Parliament today. Kelvin Davis tried to score a hit on Te Ururoa Flavell, but Marama Fox joined the fray to hit back with a Willie Jackson jab.

Jackson had heaped praise on the Maori Party’s success in Government in June last year = see Opinion: Willie Jackson at Stuff.

I have to take my hat off to Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Maori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.

Jackson is now putting himself forward for the Labour list.

Winston Peters tried to score with a jab too, but it was a swing and a miss. At least he didn’t end up with egg on his face like Davis and Labour.

Māori Development, Minister—Confidence

8. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he have confidence that his leadership of Te Puni Kōkiri and its programmes are resulting in the best outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Tēnā koe tēnā pātai. I believe that thousands of whānau up and down the country are being well supported by Te Puni Kōkiri to achieve better outcomes. Our whānau deserve the best possible support they can get, which is why I have high expectations of all Government agencies and their leadership, including myself, to deliver to our people—to Māori people.

Kelvin Davis: How does he reconcile that view that he is doing his best for Māori when the gap in median weekly earnings between Māori and Pākehā has risen 47 percent since his party shacked up with this Government?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The member asked about better outcomes, and to take an example—let me highlight just one or two. I will start with Māori housing, for example: 344 whānau communities like in Kaeō in the member’s electorate are now in safer, warmer, and heathier—

Kelvin Davis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was around median weekly earnings.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member then added something that almost caused me to rule the question out of order, and he referred to a coalition arrangement in some rather political terms, so that gives a very wide ambit to the Minister in answering the question.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: If I can continue with this fine record, 344 whānau and communities, like Kaeō, are now in safer, warmer, and healthier homes. Sixty whānau and communities, like Ōmāpere, are now in new affordable rental homes. Homeless whānau are now getting better support in communities like Kaeō and Kaitāia through emergency housing projects. I was pleased to see, for example, the member in Kaitāia—the member and me; both of us together—launching and supporting Ricky Houghton in his housing project. Those sorts of projects are producing good outcomes for our people and I am pleased to be supporting them.

Kelvin Davis: Does he believe, as Minister for Māori Development, that the selling off of State houses is rangatiratanga, as his colleague stated, when Māori are four times more likely to be waiting for a State house despite all of those things he has just gone through?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Speaking about housing, we disagree with the submission put through by that member at the moment. But I can say, on the opposite side, for example, that in the community of Ngāruawāhia, where I had the privilege to be probably just about a week ago, there was the opening of te Turner papakāinga housing. It is a nine bedroom home that will house four generations—10 adults and nine tamariki. Those are the sorts of projects that are really benefiting Māori and getting better outcomes for our people. Those are the sorts of projects that Te Puni Kōkiri are supporting, and those are the projects that I am proud to be Minister to advocate for.

Kelvin Davis: Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Talking about life expectancy, one of the great things that I have to be proud about is a funding allocation of $2 million this year to support initiatives aimed at reducing rangatahi suicide, including video resources and hui. Those are the sorts of things that are positive.

Hon Members: Answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going invite the member to ask that question again.

Kelvin Davis: My point of order is that I asked whether it is fair—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I have asked will the member please ask the question again.

Kelvin Davis: OK. Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: That is a Government policy. In terms of the Māori Party view of that—as one part of the coalition arrangement with the Government—we believe that our policy is clear: to maintain the age as it is at present. That is our view.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is answering as a Minister on behalf of the Government. It is not his job as a Minister to give a party perspective; it is his job to answer on behalf of the Government as a Minister in the Government.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is much to talk about, but I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It was established in this House by Helen Clark and, in fact, Jim Anderton and the new hope for the Labour Party, Laila Harré, that a person who is a Minister inside a coalition Government, when asked a question about their party’s policy, could answer so.

Mr SPEAKER: I need no further help, but I thank both members for their assistance. In this case a very clear question was asked, and I think that the Minister answered it very satisfactorily.

Kelvin Davis: When Māori unemployment is rising, the wage gap is growing, health outcomes are getting worse, and homeownership is a fantasy, how can he, with a straight face, say that Māori are getting positive outcomes under his watch?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The gist of the questions asked by the member is about responsibility, and I take those responsibilities really seriously. Can we do better? Of course we can do better, and my hope is to do that by way of advocating through my role as the Minister for Māori Development. For example, in Whānau Ora $40 million over 4 years is about addressing those issues that the member has put in front of the Parliament today. In terms of business and innovation, it is about moving families to get into positions of self-sustaining businesses, and so on—again, $4 million over 4 years. Those are the gains that we have been able to achieve to address best outcomes for our people. I think they need to be applauded.

Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 9—[Interruption] The member has used her supplementary question.

Marama Fox: Sorry, we had an agreement to have another supplementary question allocated. That is my understanding.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can see that the chief Government whip is saying that is true, but it is helpful for me, in running question time, if I am made aware of such arrangements.

Marama Fox: Apologies, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your indulgence. Has the Minister read any reports about the very good work that he and Te Puni Kōkiri are doing?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: As it happens, I do. If I can quote from that report: “I have to take my hat off to the Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Māori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.” The quote goes on: “in the past two years, he has done a good job for Māori and can feel satisfied with a new Whanau Ora injection of another $40 million over the next four years—a total of $72 million a year in welfare, education and health spending to go through Whanau Ora providers.” That quote came from the newest member of the Labour Party, Willie Jackson. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

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

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and I expect to hear it in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell said it was a report. That being the case, can I ask him to table it.

Mr SPEAKER: This is easily arranged if the Minister was quoting from an official document. Was the Minister quoting from an official document?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: No, Mr Speaker, from a radio broadcast.

Mr SPEAKER: Then the matter is resolved.

 

 

Super age change unlikely

It looks unlikely there will be any change to the age of eligibility for national superannuation despite Bill English saying he wouldn’t continue John Key’s commitment to not change it – see English open about superannuation.

English said there could be small changes to National’s Super policy but nothing drastic.

David Seymour has taken the opportunity to push for raising the age, but ACT are unlikely to be in a position to demand it in any coalition negotiations.

Winston Peters has confirmed that no age change is a bottom line for NZ First – Winston Peters’ coalition hinges on retirement age.

Mr Peters has promised the age would stay the same, at 65, and has made it one of his top bottom-lines going into any post-election deals.

“Not reneging on promises made to the retired and soon-to-retire people of this country is very important,” he told Newshub.

While “one of his top bottom-lines” doesn’t sound definite it would be a big shock if Peters agreed to an age increase. This is one policy he has remained consistent on.

The Maori Party is also unlikely to support any increase.

With Māori life expectancy rate lower than that of the general population, the Māori Party wants Māori and Pasifika to be exempt from any increase.

One of its policies is to reduce the superannuation age to 60 for Māori and Pasifika people.

So it is unlikely that National will push for an increase in election policy unless it looked like they could get a majority on their own, and it would be a huge surprise if they did have a majority on their own.

And Andrew Little has scrapped Labour’s Super age increase policy so if they form the next government it is unlikely to be considered.

This makes all the conjecture and political posturing a bit pointless.

UPDATE: English has just said on RNZ that there will be “no change to the entitlement” but it wasn’t clarified exactly what that refers to eg age or amount or universality.

On RNZ  Peters has just said that it’s not a bottom line for NZ First but that people could trust their consistency on the Super age for the past 25 years. “We’re not going to compromise”.

English open about superannuation

In an interview on The Nation this morning Bill English said that he won’t make the same undertaking that John Key did not change national superannuation.

However Newshub has taken it further, suggesting that a non-commitment at this stage meant that things could change.

All it means is that English isn’t ready to reveal his and National’s preference on super but he said he would be clear about it before the election.

Newshub: Bill English won’t make same superannuation promise as John Key

His predecessor John Key famously said he’d resign if he tightened eligibility for the benefit, which every Kiwi over the age of 65 can receive, regardless of their income or wealth.

Mr English told The Nation it was the right call to make at the time.

“People didn’t have to worry through tough times about what was going to happen.”

But with Mr Key’s departure, the fiscally conservative new Prime Minister says it’s a chance to “reset” expectations, with an aging population and more people working into their late 60s.

“I haven’t made the same undertaking as John, so we have the opportunity for a bit of a reset there.”

That could mean English won’t make any hard and fast commitment, or he could. Newshub chose to promote one option.

Changes to superannuation could be on the cards.

Talking to Three’s The Nation, Prime Minister Bill English said people need to know what’s happening before the election, hinting there could be tweaks made.

But whether that means a change to the age of eligibility or its annual indexing to wages, he won’t say.

“You’ll just have to wait and see. We would not anticipate any drastic changes.”

So this is pretty much non-news at this stage.

“People deserve to know what the Government’s view is when they go to the polls.”

So we should find out by then. Newshub speculation is meaningless.

And any views expressed by National or Labour before the election may be meaningless on superannuation anyway.

If either party requires NZ First to form a ruling coalition then any changes to super entitlements are likely to be off the negotiating table as a bottom line. It would be heresy if Winston Peters gave ground on pensions.

So regardless of what National or Labour say about super before the election voters won’t know if anything could change or not until after the election.