Monday, July 28, 2014

No deal

We've just received this via e-mail:

Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key
Media Release
28 July 2014
National announces electorate intentions
Prime Minister John Key today made clear National’s position on accommodating support parties in electorate contests at this year’s General Election. 
The National Party and its partners have successfully provided stable MMP government over two terms of Parliament and through challenging times. 
“We will be seeking a further mandate on September 20,” says Mr Key.
“In an MMP environment, the public determines the make-up of Parliament by voting in a combination of parties, and every election is a tight contest.”
“After the election, political parties must work constructively to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”  
In January, the Prime Minister made it clear that if National were returned to Government this election, the preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future as this has been a successful combination.
He also made it clear it would be possible to add the Conservative Party and New Zealand First to this group.
Today he outlined National’s position on electorate contests for the 2014 election campaign. 
“We’re seeking to maximise the party vote for National across the country in all seats. It is only through delivering the strongest possible party vote that National voters will return National to Government.”
“For the electorate vote, we will encourage National party supporters to give their electorate vote to the ACT candidate in Epsom and the United Future candidate in Ohariu.”   
“We will continue to seek to maximise our party votes in those electorates and that’s what National party candidates will be working hard to do.”
“In East Coast Bays, where the Conservatives have a candidate, the only option to accommodate that party would be to remove a sitting MP from the ballot paper and that, as I have said, is a bridge too far. So there will be no electorate accommodation with the Conservatives.”
“However, we are happy to consider working with the Conservative party post-election should the public vote that party in to Parliament.”
“As I have said previously we are also prepared to discuss working with New Zealand First if that party is returned to Parliament.”
“In Epsom and Ōhariu, both ACT and United Future share a history of working with National and those are proven relationships that have stood the test of time.”
“National doesn’t always agree with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future on every issue, but together our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008.”
“Under the National-led Government, New Zealand is heading in the right direction and if re-elected, National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.”

It has been suggested that David Cunliffe could differentiate himself from National by categorically ruling out any deal with MegaMana. That's not going to happen; Barry Soper has just noted on Newstalk ZB that on current polling, Mr Cunliffe needs every possible option if he is to have any chance of forming a government.

So now we know where we stand. John Key will continue to be open to post-election deals with Act and United Future, if the voters of Epsom and Ohariu respectively give him that option. And he has categorically ruled out any deal with Colin Craig, either today, or nearer the election. He has told journalists at his post-Cabinet press conference a few minutes ago that he will not veer from this plan, even if the polls turn, and there is a risk of not being re-elected.

We are delighted that the Prime Minister has resisted the temptation to do a deal with the Conservatives. Mr Craig has shown himself to be - how can we say this politely? - temperamentally suited to politics. He has spent much of this year extracting his foot from his mouth. He may be a successful businessman, but he would add little to National's efforts to secure a third term in government.

The 2014 General Election is now only 54 days away. Let's get Parliament this week out of the way, then let the campaign begin!

Tweet of the Day - 28 July 2014

Oh dear; look who wasn't very happy at being criticised by Xero founder Rod Drury:

It seems the Large German Gentleman is good at dishing it out, but is not so good at taking criticism. He's certainly not going to win any PR awards for that effort.

Herr Dotcom may indeed have a bigger bandwidth utilisation, but we know which company we would rather do business with.

The "Write a Green Billboard" contest

We've just been sent this photograph by e-mail. It's from yesterday's Green Party protest at Piha, and someone has "adjusted" the billboards Gareth Hughes and the chap on Russel Norman's left are holding, so they're now blank canvasses.

So let's have a contest, like a Caption Contest only different. Your challenge today is to help Russel, Metiria, Gareth and the team out with some slogans for their lovely green blank billboards. After all, they can't use Love New Zealand any more, because LoveNZ already has.

The normal Caption Contest rules will apply; keep 'em short, witty and relevant, and don't get unnecessarily personal. Beyond that, you're limited only by your imagination!

And as an aside, what is it with politicians who rock up to the beach, in this case on a Sunday no less, in suits and and in Russel's case, a tie? Do you remember this bloke from the 2011 election campaign?

The floor is yours!

Deal or no deal?

John Key is expected to announce his intentions today with regard to post-election deals. He had previously promised to do this before the 50th Parliament rises on Thursday ahead of the General Election, and he is keeping his word.

It seems highly likely that National will again want to partner with Act and United Future after the election; you'd hardly need to be a rocket scientist to recognise that. But it looks like it will be a completely different story when it comes to the Conservative Party; Stuff reports:

The Prime Minister has all but ruled out a deal with Colin Craig's Conservative Party in the electorate of East Coast Bays.
John Key will reveal this afternoon who National will do election deals with, while the party's newly-released list indicates they are likely in Epsom and Ohariu.
But he confirmed this morning the party would not be pulling Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully from standing in the electorate he's held since 1987. 

We certainly hope the Prime Minister does not give Colin Craig a free ride into Parliament. Mr Craig has yet to prove himself to have sufficient political nous or savvy to be an asset to National; in fact he would, at the moment, be a liability. 

If Colin Craig can secure 5% of the party vote and bring a number of MP's into Parliament, then there could be room for post-election talks. But right at the moment we see that as highly unlikely, given the Conservatives' recent polling.

The Left will complain about "dirty deals" and "coat-tailing" when John Key makes his announcement this afternoon, but they underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. If voters in Epsom don't want to vote for David Seymour, and if voters in Ohariu don't want to vote for Peter Dunne, no one is going to make them. The power is ultimately with the voters, which is exactly how it should be.

And we will wait with bated breath to see what deals are done, be they official or of the a-nod's-as-good-as-a-wink variety between the Labour Party and Internet Mana in Te Tai Tokerau and Waiariki. With the Mana Party recycling former Labour MP Georgina Beyer for the South Island seat of Te Tai Tonga, there may even be some sort of "accommodation" there as well.

Did the Greens do due diligence?

The Greens launched their "Love New Zealand" billboards for the 2014 General Election at the weekend, with much fanfare.

But are they aware that there is already an organisation called LoveNZ? Check out the LoveNZ website here. The Greens seem to have pinched someone else's brand.

But wait; there's more; check out this screen grab from the LoveNZ website, and see who some of their sponsors are:

Among the sponsors of LoveNZ are two oil companies (BP and Z), two international airports and rail/ferry operators Kiwirail and Bluebridge. There are also two breweries, Lion and DB, plus Coca Cola Amatil, makers of those dreadful sugar-filled drinks the Greens want to ban or tax! And don't forget The Warehouse, which sells that dreaded toy called Lego.

Someone at Green HQ didn't do due diligence when they brainstormed and came up with their campaign slogan. Not only is Love New Zealand not an original slogan, but many of LoveNZ's corporate supporters represent brands the Greens not only abhor, but actively campaign against.

Back to the drawing board Green Party!

Healing old wounds

Stuff published this rather remarkable photograph yesterday; veteran activist Tame Iti taking tean with Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Here's what happened:

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has visited some of the homes of those affected by the Urewera raids, including that of veteran activist Tame Iti.
Iti, who served 30 months on firearms offences following the 2007 raids, posted a picture on his Twitter profile today of him and Bush during the visit.
"Mike Bush listened to our hurt, looked us in the eye and apologised for how the police handled raids. We feel better," Iti said.
Fairfax revealed earlier this month that Bush would visit eight families over two days to apologise for mistakes made by police during the controversial raids. 

Whilst the Police remain unapologetic for making the raids on Ruatoki, there were aspects of the operation which were clearly illegal; read on:

The police were strongly criticised for the 2007 raids in the Urewera mountain range near Ruatoki which resulted in the arrest of 17 people for allegedly participating in military-style training camps.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority found the raid justified but police acted "unlawfully, unjustifiably and unreasonably" by setting up roadblocks and in detaining the occupants at five of the 41 properties. 

It is pleasing that this wound can now be left to heal. A sincere apology has been given to those worst affected by an over-zealous police operation, and it has been accepted with the same sincerity.

We are strong believers in restorative practice, and it is great to see restorative principles at play in Ruatoki. Lingering bitterness poisons communities;restored relationships allow them to move forward, whilst acknowledging that wrongs were committed.

Drawing attention to the divided Left

Steven Joyce lobbed a political hand grenade in a leftwards direction yesterday. He clearly couldn't resist pointing out a major disconnect between Labour and the Greens on the issue of deep sea drilling.

Mr Joyce put out a presser via the Beehive website; check this out:

Steven Joyce

27 July, 2014

Left in disarray over economy

There is more evidence today that the Labour-Greens coalition are in complete disarray over economic policy, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.
“The Greens strident policy against oil exploration released today is the exact opposite to where David Shearer is trying to take the Labour Party in his attempt to show Labour isn’t completely anti-growth,” Mr Joyce says.
“As late as last Thursday, Mr Shearer said that Labour supported deep sea oil drilling, while today the Greens are saying they are dead against it. Once again the public will be asking ‘well which is it?’.
“Surely the least this supposed potential coalition could do is come up with some joint policy positions.”
Mr Joyce says the Greens’ cartoon-like approach to economic policy is that everything that uses anything in the resource-based sectors is bad. 
“They are anti-oil, anti-dairy and anti-irrigation. On top of that they are also against free trade and against the Government’s roading programme which is crucial to connecting regional New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.

Steven Joyce is right. The Greens are the consummate opposition party because they stand against everything that will make New Zealand prosperous. For an anti-oil party, they was certainly a good turnout of Green activists at Piha yesterday, and we're sure they didn't all arrive by bike or on foot!

Joyce then turns his attention on Labour, and its policy of ever-changing policy positions:

“Meanwhile the Labour Party approach could most generously be described as ambiguous. Whether it’s roading, oil and gas, irrigation, or trade, one minute they are in favour and next minute they are against.
“What we know is that a weak Labour Party wouldn’t be standing up to the Greens and Hone Harawira on any of this.
“The combination would be very negative for New Zealand and especially negative for regional economies.”
Mr Joyce says the Government has a clear and balanced approach that favours jobs and growth while enhancing environmental protection.
“Today has shown once again that with the Left you really don’t know what you would get. It would be a recipe for total confusion and economic stagnation,” Mr Joyce says.

Ambiguity has most certainly been a hallmark of Labour Party policy this year. Just because a policy has been announced today, it does not follow that there won't be some kind of back-down or u-turn the next day. And let's not forget the Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance where in three days a couple of weeks ago Labour went from opposing the road, to supporting it, then back to opposing it; backing down on the party's u-turn!

The New Zealand economy is slowly but steadily recovering from the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression. The last thing New Zealand needs now is a change of government to a party at war with itself, supported by a party which opposes everything the Government has done to shepherd New Zealand out of recession.

We will definitely Vote Positive on 20 September; we're positive we WON'T vote for Labour or the Greens!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

UPDATED: Colmar Brunton throws out a teaser.

We understand there's a One News/Colmar Brunton poll due out tonight which will complete the July polling cycle. And Colmar Brunton is doing something of a stage-managed reveal; check this out:

Here's the Preferred Prime Minister graphic from the last Colmar Brunton poll from the end of June:

That poll had David Cunliffe at 10% support as Preferred Prime Minister. Today's two point drop (effectively a 20% drop in support) returns him to the lowest level he has recorded during his tenure to date; 8% in March this year.

When Labour axed David Shearer as leader David Shearer stood down as leader he was polling at 12% on the Colmar Brunton poll. At 8% this week, David Cunliffe's rating as Preferred Prime Minister is 33% lower than that of his predecessor. That must be an enormous source of worry to Labour Party strategists and insiders; the Cunliffe Experiment has not worked.

The full One News/Colmar Brunton poll will be released at 6pm tonight. Will Labour escape from the 20's, or will every poll in July have them polling at less than 30% support?


UPDATED (7:00pm): The gap between National and Labour has widened. Tonight's One News/Colmar Brunton poll has National up two points to 52%, and Labour down one percentage point to 28%. The accompanying story reports:

Less than two months from polling day National has stretched its lead over the centre left parties of Labour and the Greens.
National has climbed to 52% in the latest ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll while Labour is down one point to 28%.
Negative headlines over David Cunliffe's apology for being a man and his ski holiday has left the Labour leader forced to admit he could have done better.
Meanwhile, John Key returned from his Hawaii holiday with his own mess to deal with - mis-spending List MP Claudette Hauiti - but National seems immune to controversy, gaining another two points in the latest poll.
Labour on 28% is just above its 2011 election result and the Greens have also slipped, dropping two points to 10%.

55 days out from the 2014 General Election, this is bad news for Labour. It's not exactly good news for the Greens either, or for pretty much any party except National.

And we doubt that tomorrow is going to bring good news for Colin Craig and his Conservative Party. For that we are grateful.

Facebook Status of the Day - 27 July 2014

We had a chuckle when we saw this status posted on Facebook earlier today:

Like Peter, we weren't not quite sure who the Positive Party was, and they don't appear on the Electoral Commission's website. We've also seen a few of their banners around, and there are no recognisable photos on the to give a hint as to who they belong to.

And as for the Greens, we note today they have protested again about deep sea oil drilling, even though they are now out of step with Labour. Given the Green MPs' penchant for taxpayer-funded air travel up and down the country, there does seem to be a fundamental disconnect going on there. How many fossil fuels were consumed getting out-of-Auckland based MP's to Piha this morning?

We'll Vote Positive on 20th September. But we're positive that we won't be voting for the Greens or for Labour!

The National Party list

National has announced its 2014 Party List today. Here's the media release, from the party's website:

The National Party list for the 2014 election brings together a strong mix of both experienced political leaders and fresh new talent, says National Party President Peter Goodfellow. "Our 2014 list shows the benefit of our ongoing rejuvenation programme. If National was able to match its election result from 2011, we would bring in as many as 13 new MPs, alongside 46 returning MPs. "With the depth of talent we have to choose from, settling on a list that balances new blood alongside valuable experience was not an easy task. However, we believe we've struck the right mix that will allow for renewal and continued stability in a third term." A list ranking committee made up of about 30 delegates from around New Zealand gathered in Wellington yesterday to settle on the List rankings for the September 20 election. Mr Goodfellow believes the list underlines National's credentials as a strong economic manager which is working hard for all New Zealanders to deliver more jobs, better public services, and higher wages. "Our list draws on people from all walks of life, from the social sector, to medicine, business, and agriculture. We have a good blend of candidates from a variety of diverse backgrounds." Mr Goodfellow says that sitting MPs and Ministers have been broadly ranked in their current order, but also notes there are a number of electorates with new candidates who are likely to join #TeamKey in September. "The Party is in great heart, and I want to thank all those MPs who are retiring at this election for their contribution to their country. I also want to thank their families for the sacrifices so many of them have made to support a busy MP. "Despite positive polling the National Party has a huge task ahead to ensure our supporters get out and vote at this election. An unstable far left coalition remains a very real risk to New Zealand's positive outlook. We'll be working very hard until polling day to sell our positive cohesive plan for New Zealand that builds strongly in what the country has achieved over the last six years."

You can see the full list here, but the top 25 are as follows:

Over at Kiwiblog, DPF has prepared a useful chart outlining the list, those candidates who are list-only, and the percentage of the party vote National will need to achieve to get each List MP elected. 

Tweet of the Day - 27 July 2014

Didn't the BBC used to be the standard by which other broadcasters were judged and judged themselves? Oh, how the mighty have fallen; check this out:

Yes; Tom Scully did indeed win a gold medal in the Men's 40km points race. But an Australian? We don't think so:

Tom Scully's commanding win at Sir Chris Hoy Veldodrome was a terrific performance as Stuff reports:

Tom Scully's ride to the Commonwealth Games points race gold medal this morning looked so well worked that it could have almost been preordained.
The Southland cyclist took three laps on the field and won six of the 16 sprints - including a massive coup de grace in the final lap - to finish comfortably ahead on points from Isle of Man rider Peter Kennaugh and his New Zealand teammate Aaron Gate.
Together with Shane Archbold, the three riders in black skinsuits took an early stranglehold on the 160 lap race and then refused to relax their grip until it had coughed up the endurance squad's first gold medal in Glasgow.
''It feels pretty bloody good. It was awesome out there, we had three guys that could have won the race tonight and those other two are good mates off the bike, as well as on the bike,'' Scully said.
''To have them racing along beside me is pretty special because we just know what each other is going to do, know how each other is going to react. I think it showed out there tonight and the support I had from them was awesome.''
The gold medal continues a miraculous comeback for Scully, a teenage prodigy on the boards before suffering what was initially feared could be a career-ending leg injury during a race crash in Ireland three years ago.
Since then Scully's cycling career has focussed largely on the road, but encouraged by those close to him in the sport he decided to have another whack on the track.
That decision to hit the boards again saw him ride to a silver medal in the points race at the world championships in Cali in February.
''I had some good friends down home in Invercargill talk me into it again this summer, just to give it a crack off the back of the Southland tour. I had some good form and buildup for the World Cup season, got a few opportunities and rode the worlds this year and I'm pretty thankful for my team in the UK, Madison Genesis, for releasing me to come and race the Commonwealth Games.
"Not all the road teams in Europe would understand what the Commonwealth Games are. I can't thank them enough for the support and I'll be back to them in 10 days' time.'' 

The track cyclists have raked in a large haul of medals for New Zealand, including three golds, plus another silver and two bronze medals overnight to Simon van Velthooven, Aaron Gate and Mathew Archibald respectively. But to have the Beeb claiming Tom Scully as an Australian is poor form indeed!

Photo of the Day - 27 July 2014

David Cunliffe told 3News on Tuesday that he wouldn't be wearing his red scarf any more, although " I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,". But yesterday, he showed that the wardrobe in his mid-range do-up in leafy Herne Bay contains more than one scarf:

But the black on yesterday's scarf is interesting. Black is the clour of NZ First, so could that be a nod to Winston Peters; a "we need to talk"? Then again, his blue shirt and red tie, mixed together, would create purple; the colour of choice of Kim Dotcom's "party".

Is there a room in New Zealand large enough for the respective egos of Messrs Cunliffe, Peters and Dotcom?

The spirit of sport

There's not likely to be a greater story of bravery at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games than that of Kiwi judoka Adrian Leat. Leat won a silver medal yesterday to end a turbulent five months; the Herald explains:

A silver medal is scant consolation for the loss he suffered but Adrian Leat just hopes he made his brother happy.
The Kiwi judoka began his Commonwealth Games campaign with his older brother but, after Alister took his life earlier this year, Leat was left chasing his dream in honour of his sibling.
A silver in Glasgow yesterday saw that dream partly realised and, more importantly, saw Leat dedicate the medal to a brother he described as his inspiration.
"We both started this campaign together, two years ago, and we both started judo early, at six and eight," he said. "So to lose him just a few months ago was more than I could handle and I was very close to giving up this sport, giving up this dream.
"But with a few strong people around me, and with my parents and my family, I got back on track. I'm here today and I've got a great result, so I've got to be happy with that.
I hope he's up there smiling as well."
Leat lost his brother in February while the pair, along with fellow Kiwi Ryan Dill-Russell, competed for Commonwealth Games qualification in Sofia, Bulgaria. The 26-year-old said there had been some difficult moments in the months since but, conversely, the memory of Alister kept him striving towards his goal in Glasgow.
"I've had some really, really tough times, especially having to be overseas by myself, or just with a teammate or two, being away from home and friends and, especially, my parents.
"But when the going gets tough, all I have to do is think about him, and I've got that extra one per cent where I can push through. That's easy motivation for me."
As well as keeping him in his thoughts throughout the event, Leat competed with a more material memory of his brother - a tattoo that, when translated from latin, read, 'This is one of only two brothers'.
"This was definitely dedicated to him and I definitely had it in mind the whole day," he said. "I had a few emotional moments, especially during warm-up, when I thought about him, but you've got to try block that out and really focus on what you're doing up there.
"At my last competition, I thought about him a bit too much and I think that really ruined my performance on the day. It's just about controlling those emotions so you can perform to the best of your abilities."

We hadn't heard of the death by suicide of Alister Leat until yesterday. We can't even begin to imagine what Adrian Leat has been through since the moment he found his brother's body in February. That he has been able to recover from that to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games shows tremendous courage.

This will have been a bitter-sweet moment for the Leat family; Adrian's success will be tempered by wondering about what might have been. But we salute Adrian for honouring his late brother's memory. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fishy advice

As a lawyer, Scott from Imperator Fish is used to handing out advice, although his meter is usually ticking during work hours.

But this afternoon, he's offered free advice to his fellow Labour Party activists; under the heading A plea to all Labour Party activists he blogs:

Do you remember when elections were fought over important issues, like which party was better placed to grow the economy or reduce unemployment?
Those were crazy days.
Nowadays, we on the left would much rather talk about how mean the world is to our leaders, and how awful the media are. If we are focused on an issue, chances are it’s one that appears trivial, like resurrecting a dead bird species.
I imagine John Key is pretty happy with the way things are going for Labour. The right want us to be focusing on petty distractions during this election campaign, like Mike Hosking, media bias and moas. They’d rather we weren’t talking about things like jobs, growth, the economy, housing and inequality.
They think that if we spend all our time complaining about the media and how mean everyone is being to David Cunliffe, we will throw away what little chance we have to win this thing.
But what if they’re wrong? What if going on and on about how rotten the media are, rather than focusing on the things that matter to most people like jobs and housing, is in fact the winning strategy? What if the general public really do want the moas back? Has anyone done any polling on this issue?
Our strategy of talking about everything but the important issues may well pay off in the end, which is why we mustn’t abandon our focus on being unfocused just yet. There’s still plenty of time to turn this thing around before September 20, so if by say mid-September the polls still show us doing terribly, there will still be a few days left to mention the economy. Or housing. Or jobs. Or inequality. Or the environment.
But that stuff is so fucking boring to talk about, so let’s not go there just yet.
Now, Trevor, tell us more about these extinct bird plans.

This is great satire from Imperator Fish. At least we think he's being satirical; if he's being serious, then it's even better satire! 

A backdown from Mr Cunliffe

David Cunliffe has backed away from his threat to boycott TVNZ's televised leaders debates during the upcoming election campaign. Radio New Zealand reports:

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says Television New Zealand has given its assurance that its political debate will be conducted with absolute political neutrality.
Mr Cunliffe is due to go head to head with Prime Minister John Key in a pre-election debate chaired by broadcaster and TVNZ presenter Mike Hosking.
Labour has been worried about Mr Hosking's political neutrality after he urged a business meeting last year to vote National.
Mr Cunliffe said on Friday that he is prepared to continue with the debate, but TVNZ has not outlined how it will guarantee the debate is neutral.
He said that would be up for further discussion and that Labour and the public will hold TVNZ to it, because he said it's clear that Mr Hosking does have well-recorded political views.

Mr Cunliffe's greatest skill since becoming the leader of the Labour Party seems to be the ability to attract unwanted attention. Just off the top of our heads we can think of his anonymous donations to a secret trust, his apology for being a man, and then this bungle. That's on top of botched policy releases, and other gaffes.

This was a battle he could never win. TVNZ's debates will go ahead chaired by Hosking, and TV3's debate will be chaired by John Campbell. Both have enough professionalism as broadcasters to leave any political bias in their respective dressing rooms. 

Someone needs to take David Cunliffe aside and tell him to think before he speaks, or before he threatens boycotts, or before he apologises for being what God created him, or before he tells his staff to start compiling dossiers on broadcasters. With the election just 56 days away today, he cannot afford any more gaffes if Labour is not going to have its worst election result ever.