Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recognising Phil Goff

We've been critics of Phil Goff and his leadership of the Labour Party since he was annointed as leader by Helen Clark in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 election. With hindsight, Labour probably should not moved so quickly to replace Miss Clark, and there does again seem to be an element of haste in now replacing Goff and Annette King.

But with Goff's decision to stand down from the Labour leadership role, it's an appropriate time to reflect on some of the positive things he achieved in a parliamentary career dating back to the acrimonious 1981 General Election.

Goff served as a Minister in the Lange/Douglas/Moore era, and was reportedly a strong supporter of the policies of Sir Roger Douglas. Even after Douglas had been replaced as Finance Minister by David Caygill after falling out with David Lange (why does Labour have so many Davids?), Goff continued to support Douglas' direction. Ironically, more state assets were sold in the post-Douglas phase than beforehand.

Goff lost his Roskill seat in National's 1990 landslide, but returned in 1993. When Labour became the government in 1999, he was a natural for a senior Cabinet role, and was rewarded with the roles of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Minister of Justice. It was in the trade and foreign affairs arena which he made his greatest contribution, advancing New Zealand's case for a Free Trade Agreement with China. It is one of life's ironies that his successor as Foreign Minister in 2005, the Rt Hon Winston Peters strongly opposed the China FTA. But as European economies falter, our trade relationships with Asia and with China in particularly will provide us with a degree of insulation.

Phil Goff tried valiantly to bring voters back into the Labour fold during the election campaign just completed, but the suspicion that there were forces within the party who were undermining him did not help. To have been caught out on numbers three times was inexcusable for a politician with Goff's level of experience.

Ironically, one of Goff's final moments in the public spotlight will be remembered by us as one of his finest. His speech to the Labour Party faithful on Saturday night was an excellent one. He was gracious in defeat, but his passion for the party and for the causes that Labour supports shone through in a manner which was often missing during the campaign. Had the public seen more of Saturday night's Phil Goff, Labour's future may have been different.

Perhaps it was Phil Goff's destiny not to be a leader, but to be one of those essential people in any team who supports the leader unconditionally. Goff's legacy to New Zealand will be centred around the things that he did as a Minister, not as party leader, in particular the China FTA which we regard as critical to New Zealand's future prosperity. For that alone, Phil Goff deserves widespread recognition.

The Labour leadership poll

Given that we're helpful sorts by nature, we thought we'd help the Labour Party with its democratic process of revitalisation.

Accordingly, we've instituted a poll whereby readers can select their preference for the leadership of the Labour Party. We'll collate the results when the poll closes in a week's time, and we'll send them to the powers-that-be in Labour.

A good government needs a strong opposition; that's fundamental to the process of democracy. So there's a serious side to this poll. Labour will get one shot at re-branding, because if they don't make the right decision this time around, it's not going to help the party's credibility closer to the 2014 election if they have to admit that they got it wrong.

A huge weight of responsibility will fall upon the new leader and his deputy. They will immediately become the faces of the Labour Party. Will they be faces with which we are too familiar, or will Labour have the audacity to vote for the likes of David Shearer who is untainted by the baggage of a previous term in government?

An interesting fortnight awaits as the candidates put themselves forward. Take this opportunity to have your say.

Emmerson on NZ First and drainpipes

We get the impression that NZ Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson isn't overly disappointed (from a professional point of view at least) that NZ First and Winston Peters are back in Parliament.

Why would we think that? Check this out:

We wonder what Winston will think of his latest portrayal...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote of the Day - 29 November 2011

The Herald has been out and about on North Shore streets getting opinions on Andrew "the Leaky Mayor" Williams' election to Parliament, and there are some doozies amongst them. But none comes close to this one (with our emphasis added):

While Mr Williams' public urination was labeled "disgusting" by some, others saw it as nothing out of the ordinary.

"That's human isn't it? Men do it all the time," said one retail worker.

Stephanie Slyfield, 70, said she voted for Mr Williams because he was upfront and outgoing.

"He's definitely a party guy but I like party people, I'm one myself.

"Who cares if he pees under a tree? I peed under cars when I was younger, it doesn't make him a bad person."

Does anyone else think that the Press Gallery is about to become a whole lot busier?

He's Goff and he's off

In breaking news, the Labour caucus has just ended, and Phil Goff has addressed the waiting media.

Goff plans to resign as leader of the Labour Party on 13th December. He will not be seeking a front-bench place. And he will be joined by Annette King, who has also decided to stand down.

Barry Soper is reporting that there are five contenders for the two leadership positions; the three Davids (Cunliffe, Parker and Shearer), Grant Robertson and Nanaia Mahuta. The only real surprise there is the public declaration of interest from David Shearer, whose speech yesterday to the Tertiary Education Conference makes interesting reading, calling as he does for change within Labour.

So what do you reckon; is this a good thing for Labour? Or will a leadership battle now simply serve to divide Labour's many factions even more?

Labour leadership Caption Contest

Yeah; we know. We've had Caption Contests the last couple of days. But this photo is just too good to let go (although not quite as good as the one the David "Happy Feet" Farrar is currently displaying!

So what might Phil and Annette be discussing as they shuffle off into the metaphorical sunset? Might they be chuckling over Claire Trevett's description of David C as "vainglorious"? Might they be discussing whether or not David P is bland? Might they be ruing the wisdom of making Trevor the campaign manager? Or might they be working out which will be the better BBQ to go to this weekend?

The possibilities are limitless, so get stuck in. The usual rules apply; keep 'em short, on-topic, witty and pithy, and don't get nasty.

The floor is yours...

MV Rena: Before and after

We've stumbled across some incredible photos of the salvage operation on the MV Rena this morning. Here's how the stern of the Rena (the back-end, for all you landlubbers!) looked when the operation to remove containers began:

And here's how it looks now:

The salvors and container removal crew are doing an incredible job out there in pretty dreadful conditions. One false move could be tragic; check out the bloke standing on top of the load of containers in the first photograph! None of the containers from the stack that toppled over has been lost in the salvage/removal operation; all have been safely recovered.

And it's reported on the website from which these pictures come that the balance of the Rena has been changed with the weight of the constainer stacks from the stern having been removed. With each additional container removed, that balance will continue to change and the load on the Rena will be lightened bit by bit. Perhaps there is still a chance that the ship might be able to be removed from the Astrolabe Reef intact.

Once again we salute the team that is working so hard on the salvage operation. We should all be grateful that the experts are sorting this issue out, and not the politicians.

Emmerson's onto it...

No words are needed to complement Rod Emmerson's excellent cartoon illustrating Labour's post-election dilemma:

Love your work Mr Emmerson!

The Contenders

In this morning's Herald, political reporter Claire Trev3tt assesses the merits of the two main contenders for the Labour Party leadership, assuming that Phil Goff announces this morning that he intends to stand down.

We'll skip Trevett's lengthy preamble, but here is the guts of her story; a pros and cons assessment of the two Davids; check this out:


They have the same first name, both entered Parliament in 2002 and have a background in business. But they have very different styles.

David Cunliffe: New Lynn MP since 2002. Former diplomat and Harvard scholar, worked as business economist at Boston Consulting Group before entering Parliament with health and communications and information technology portfolios. Labour's finance spokesman since 2008.
* Pros: High profile, strong Auckland support base. Strong, sometimes evangelical speaker, intelligent. Gets attention.
*Cons: Vainglorious tendencies may turn voters off, especially against the self-deprecating style of John Key. Could polarise the caucus, but could be countered with the right deputy.

David Parker: Won Otago electorate in 2002, list MP since 2005. Former lawyer and businessman. Was Attorney-General until 2006 and then Minister of Energy and Climate Change in previous Labour Government. Labour's shadow Attorney-General, and economic development and associate finance spokesman.
*Pros: Intelligent, good on detailed policy. Has attempted to put his bookish image away and come across as a stronger personality. Generally well regarded, not a polarising figure.
*Cons: Lacks the presence of Cunliffe and has a bland public persona. Can get flustered under pressure.

Clearly, there won't be a vote today. But what direction will Labour take, and as a counter-argument, what direction should they take? Will it be the vainglorious, evangelical David, or will it be the bland, non-polarising David? Or will someone else emerge from the pack who is neither bland nor vainglorious? And will his name also be David, or might it be something else?

Ah; so many questions...

Bitter and twisted

Who's bitter and twisted in the wake of Saturday's General Election result? Labour's campaign manager, Trevor Mallard; that's who. Check this out:

A clear victory for MMP means we can now focus on the tweaking necessary to improve the system. My view is that a threshold reduction to 4% and an abolition of coat tailing are good debates to have. Could be but not necessarily linked.

I turned down an approach from the team pushing for change to support their badly run campaign. They knew I had supported FPP in the past, but were not aware that I had grown to accept MMP as a fairer system.

I’ve got a bit of shit from the right for my role in the Labour campaign. Fair enough.

But they didn’t cover themselves in glory either in fact major campaign losers were the crack team of Simon Lusk and Jordan Williams ably assisted by Whaleoil.

If there was a three strikes rule for political campaigners they would be jailed for life. As it is their fee quote must now be in almost two figures rather than the $30k they were previously quoting.

The record in just one election:

1. Destroyed Act by implementing hopeless coup.
2. Lost the MMP referendum they were running.
3. Winston back in off the Losers for Change publicity.

Oh Trevor. Suck it up; the public has no appetitie whatsoever for a Labour-led government, and you have just proved why. It's little wonder that National won the party vote in the Hutt South electorate by almost 2000 votes.

Until Labour takes some responsibility for its performance over the last three election campaigns, the nastiness, the name-calling and the negative campaigning, Labour has no future, irrespective of who the party choses to lead it in the House.

The likes of Trevor Mallard are relics from a bygone era, and the sooner Labour leaves that era and its personalities behind, the sooner that the party might again become credible. But if Labour continues to allow the likes of the bitter, twisted Trevor Mallard to be its public face via Red Alert and other social media, it will remain mired in the Opposition benches.

Yoo bewdy!

Here's a heartwarming sporting story to start the day; Kevin Tutty from the Press reports:

When Jason Yoo learnt yesterday morning that a former training partner, Craig Choi, was returning to Christchurch for the New Zealand Open, he asked his coach, Peter Davis, if he could caddy for Choi.

Yoo made the request just before he started the 18-hole final qualifying tournament for the New Zealand Open at the Russley Golf Club.

When he finished four-and-a-half hours later, Yoo was in the open field himself.

In doing so, Yoo, at 15, became one of the youngest players to qualify for the New Zealand Open.

The youngest was Jae An, now playing on the Korean Tour. He was 13 years 332 days old when he qualified in 2002, the year Tiger Woods played Paraparaumu. Korean-born Yoo, a pupil at Christ's College, was worried that he might not perform in the qualifying tournament.

For the past few weeks, his NCEA examinations have taken precedence and golf practice has been on hold.

However, he need not have worried. Yoo shot 71 on the par-72 Russley layout yesterday to make the field with a shot to spare.

He was in the last group and wondered why there were about a dozen people standing in front of the scoreboard. He learnt when he returned his card that his 71 had put paid to the chances of 11 players on 73 who thought they would be playing off for the 19th – and last – spot in the field.

Young Asian golfers are an important part of the future development of New Zealand golf. Whilst players like Danny Lee, back on the PGA Tour next year and top amateur women Lydia Ko and Cecelia Cho hog the headlines, there are plenty of other young Asian players in our schools getting a Kiwi education, and learning their craft on some of the best facilities to be found anywhere. It's significant that Danny Lee plays his golf in the USA and Europe as a New Zealander, and with our professional golfing stocks a little light at the moment, his participation at the highest level as a Kiwi is great.

We hadn't heard of Jason Yoo previously, but we will be following his progress at Clearwater with much interest now that he will be caddied for rather than caddying. We wish him every success both this week and into the future.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tweet of the Day

The Tweet of the Day today comes from 3News' resident funny-man Ali Ikram; no further comment required from us:

Ali Ikram
The Labour dilemma- 3 Davids, no Goliath

Coalition Caption Contest

This one's a natural for a Caption Contest:

Just what the Rt Hon John Key and the Hon Pita Sharples be thinking as they hongi prior to this afternoon's meeting of minds at the Beehive? You know the rules; keep it brief, pithy, amusing and to the point, and don't get nasty.

Over to you...

Goal of the season?

The Wellington Phoenix had a rare 2011 victory yesterday against Sydney FC; just their second win of the 2011-12 A-League season.

And on the way to their win, Tim Brown might just have scored the goal of the season; check this out:

It was a moment of brilliance from the 'Nix midfielder. He spotted that Sydney 'keeper Liam Reddy was off his line, and his placement of the shot was inch-perfect. What will take a lot of beating as goal of the season propelled the Phoenix to a well-deserved win.

With players returning from injury and the side looking a lot more settled, expect more good results from the Wellington Phoenix in the next few weeks.

Who has the numbers?

Labour's first post-election caucus meeting tomorrow will be an interesting one. Phil Goff has already decided on his future, and will make that announcement to his caucus. And we've just heard on Newstalk ZB's 9am news that Annette King will do likewise.

So if both, as expected, stand down from their leadership roles, who will take over? We've heard of a David Cunliffe/Liane Dalziel ticket for the leader/deputy leader roles, but we've also heard that Liane Dalziel isn't interested. That might have something to do with this blog-post, the link to which was sent to us yesterday; check this out:

From pretty good authority, here are the numbers in the coming contest between Davids Parker and Cunliffe.

FWIW, I lean Shearer but would support Parker over Cunliffe. Would prefer the caucus attendance book over Cunliffe.

    Parker/Robertson (22)
    G Robertson
    R Robertson

    Cunliffe/Dalziel (11)



On the basis of that set of numbers David Parker clearly has the numbers to assume Labour's leadership, with Grant Robertson as his deputy, by a ratio of 2:1 over Cunliffe. But the most interesting aspect is that both the gaggle and the self-servers referred to by Damien O'Connor are split between the two Camp Davids. That suggests that a new leadership team will not automatically produce unity within the Labour caucus.

Over at Homepaddock, Ele refers to Labour's leadership as a "poisoned chalice". It most certainly was prior to the election, when nobody was prepared to publicly challenge Phil Goff's leadership, despite widespread discontent. Whichever of the Davids succeeds Phil Goff (and we wouldn't rule David Shearer out yet) will face a major challenge unifying Labour's caucus, persuading longer-term MP's to reconsider their futures, and positioning the party so that it becomes a credible opposition party, and a candidate to once again govern at some future election.

Emmerson on the election

More brilliance from Rod Emmerson, although we don't know quite what Bronagh will make of it!


We can't help but wonder XV

The Herald has the interesting story of the candidate who got no votes at all; check this out:

The leader of the only party to get no votes in an electorate says she isn't surprised.

The Democrats for Social Credit Party, which totalled 1432 votes nationwide, could not attract a single voter in Mangere.

All other parties got at least one vote in each electorate.

Leader Stephnie de Ruyter said she was not happy with her party's overall share of the votes.

"When you're a party outside Parliament it's always pretty hard going and you always hope for a better result," she said.

The Mangere result, in particular, was "not surprising" or even disappointing.

"In an electorate like Mangere, we don't have any activists. Our membership tends to live slightly over the electoral borders, and therefore their votes go elsewhere," Ms de Ruyter said.

The party's main support base was in the southern regions and many supporters had chosen to vote strategically, she said.

So we can't help but wonder why Ms de Ruyter didn't stand in the electorate in which she was registered to vote. At least that way she would have been spared the ignomany of having no votes at all cast for her.

Or perhaps she did; and "had chosen to vote strategically"!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jesse's world record

Jesse Ryder is the butt of a few jokes. His reputation as a party animal precedes him, and to be fair, he's not what you'd call a finely-tuned athlete. But when he's not injured, he is a naturally gifted cricketer with brilliant eye-hand co-ordination, and when he hits the ball, it generally stays hit.

And today has been one of those days; he's equalled a world record; the Courier-Mail reports:

NEW Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder, once labelled too fat for Test cricket, has smashed a world record 16 sixes against Australia A in Brisbane today.

Ryder, 27, blasted 175 off 137 deliveries primarily against Australia A's spinners and part-time bowlers at Allan Border Field.

His 16 sixes equalled the record jointly held by former Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds and New Zealand's Graham Napier for the most sixes in a first-class innings.

Steve Smith (0-95 off 16 overs) and Michael Beer (1-117 off 23 overs) were belted everywhere and cars at the parking lot outside the pint-sized AB Field ground were in danger.

Ryder's knock this afternoon has been the icing on the cake for the Black Caps' preparation for the test match at the 'Gabba starting on Thursday. New Zealand will take an exceptionally in-form batting line-up into the test match, with the top six all in good nick. Kane Williamson, Dean Brownlie and Martin Guptill all scored big hundreds in the last round of Plunket Shield cricket at home, whilst Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum also scored centuries in the match against Australia A.

But it was Big Jesse who stole the show today with a ferocious display of hitting. Wouldn't it be great to see a strong batting performance from the Black Caps against Australia later in the week? They will face a weakened Aussie bowling attack, and if ever there was time to put the squeeze on our trans-Tasman neighbours, it's this week; bring it on!

Some things never change

There's an old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And it seems that our old mate Winston Peters hasn't changed one iota; Newstalk ZB reports:

Political comeback king Winston Peters is threatening to take legal action against a right wing blogger, just hours after finding out he's coming back to parliament.

In the final days of the election campaign blogger David Farrar alleged the New Zealand First leader's candidacy was illegal.

Mr Peters has vehemently denied that.

In the final days of the election campaign blogger David Farrar alleged the New Zealand First leader's candidacy was illegal because he hadn't gone through the correct registration process.

Speaking to podcast The Slightly Correct Political Show Mr Peters says he won't stand for such outrageous actions and hinted he'll take legal action against Mr Farrar.

Now legal matters are nothing new for the leader of NZ First, who is something of a serial litigant. He was of course a lawyer when he first entered Parliament; when our parents lived in the village of Howick back in the 1970's (and long before there were rows of ostentatious houses built out that way, his office was just down by the Howick picture theatre. And even his first entrance to Parliament in 1978 came after a legal challenge!

But Peters is also the master of threats which usually come to nowt, and we suspect that this will be the case with Peters vs Farrar. Of course, had NZ First not had to change its constitution because they couldn't find a seat for Winston, it wouldn't have been an issue.

Welcome to the next three years, and thanks MMP!

The Cup of Tea Caption Contest

How significant was a certain rendezvous at a certain cafe in the events which unfolded last night? For Winston Peters, a cup of tea was a lifeline; ditto John Banks. We can only speculate on what was discussed.

So let's speculate what John and Bronagh Key might have been discussing as they visited another cafe this morning after a stroll from their Parnell home.
You know the rules; keep it brief, on topic, pithy, humorous and non-personal.

The floor is yours...

We can't help but wonder IXV

Matthew Hooten will be a happy pollster this morning; iPredict has been shown to be the most accurate of the election forecasters.

We can't help but wonder though if the bean-counters from Fairfax will be asking some serious questions of the Sunday Star-Times editorial staff; those who tried to push the claims of the Horizon poll. All throught the campaign, Horizon polls were totally out of kilter with the rest of the public polls, and so it transpired on election day. As recently as the last few days, Horizon wsa forecasting a party vote of 33% for National.

The Left clung to Horizon as its last hope. Sadly, a margin of error of 15 percentage points was too much to overcome! Hopefully we have seen the last of the fatally-flawed Horizon poll.


Courtesy of our friends at Motella, we have obtained this exclusive picture of New Zealand First's victory celebration last night.

And there's absolutely no truth in the rumour that Andrew Williams was outside acquainting himself with the native flora when the photograph was taken!

UPDATED: The fallout

The Labour Party lost badly last night. From 43 MP's at the 2008 election, Labour's caucus has been cut by more than 20%, and only 34 MP's will turn up at the caucus meeting on Tuesday.

It seems almost set in stone that Phil Goff will stand aside as leader, so that begs the question; who will be putting their hand up to replace him? We've been watching The Nation on TV3, and already Shane Jones has ruled himself out (whilst referring to Labour's caucus as a "gaggle of egos"!), but Grant Robertson is at present being far more evasive.

The rumours are circulating this morning of two Camp Davids; David Cunliffe, with Liane Dalziel as deputy, and David Parker, with Robertson as his right-hand man. The third David, David Shearer has been quiet so far, but don't forget that it was Phil Goff who shoe-horned Shearer into the vacant Mt Albert seat in 2009, and Shearer represents a much more centrist group in the Labour caucus.

We're not exactly sure yet of where the cut-line falls on Labour's list, but Stuart Nash, Carmel Sepuloni, Kelvin Davis and Carol Beamont will all be looking for work on Monday morning. We feel for Nash and Davis in particular. Shane Jones has hinted that Davis will not be back in public life again, and that is a pity. We do know that Andrew Little will be the only new Labour list MP, and only three new electorate MP's; Rino Tirikatene, Megan Woods and David Clark. Labour had a golden opportunity after the 2008 defeat to rejuvenate, but they chose not to, and that has cost them dearly.

The next few days will be interesting as they competing forces within Labour gather and plot one another's downfall. Who will prevail in all the fallout?

UPDATE: We've had a quick look at Labour's list, and reckon the the last list MP to be elected is Raymond Huo, at #21 on the list. But he will have a very nervous wait; if Brendon Burns retains Christchurch Central, Huo will join the ranks of those looking for alternative employment.

And of the top 20 on Labour's list (those guaranteed a place in the 50th Parliament, 11 are there by the grace of MMP. Of that 11, David Parker, Maryan Street, Clayton Cosgrove, Sue Moroney, Charles Chauvel, Jacinda Ardern, Andrew Little and Moana Mackey were defeated in electorate contests yesterday; yet the public seems to have voted to retain MMP; go figure!

Winners and losers

Elections are all about winners and losers, and there are plenty of both in the wake of last night's historic election result. We say "historic", because last night's capturing of 60 seats by National in unprecedented in the MMP environment. There can be no doubt that John Key is the biggest winner.

On the other side of the ledger, Phil Goff is the biggest loser. To his credit, Goff made a magnificent, gracious and passionate concession speech to the party faithful. If only that passion had shone through during the election campaign.

He later told the assembled media pack that he had made a decision about his future, but will discuss it with his caucus first, possibly as early as Tuesday. There seemed to be precious few Labour MP's at the Mt Roskill HQ last night, but
the words of one who was there were telling; the Herald on Sunday reports:

As Cunliffe waited for Goff to arrive at the hall, he refused to say if his leader would have his support today.

"I think Phil is a very good guy and he's a really valued caucus colleague but I'm not going into any broader issues tonight."

Asked if he expected Goff to resign he said he did not know what was in his leader's mind.

"That's a matter for Phil and no doubt there will be some thinking he will do but I'm not going there tonight."

Cunliffe may not be "going there tonight", but it would seem that the fun is about to begin in a Labour caucus which has had almost a quarter of its number ripped away.

The other big winner is of course Winston Peters, and the other big loser is Don Brash, who has said that he will tender his resignation to Act's board today. Act now faces a huge fight for survival, but John Banks did what no-one believed he would do, and the party survives for now.

We'll look at things in a bit more detail as the day goes on. But it was John Key's night last night; to the victor the spoils!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Election Night Special; live blogging

11.30pm - John Key arrives at National Party HQ to address the crowd; the money line; "For another three years there will be a National-led government"! On that note we can happily sign off for the evening!!

11.15pm - Paula Bennett holds Waitakere, and Carmel Sepuloni joins Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash in looking for work. And Clayton Cosgrove is now a list MP; Kate Wilkinson wins Waimakariri.

11.05pm - Just a turnout of 65% today. For those of you who didn't vote; you get the government you deserve.

11.00pm - a TIE in Christchurch Central; has that EVER happened before?

10.55pm - Fighting talk from Phil Goff, even though he has rung John Key and conceded. He's now telling reporters he's made a decision, but will talk to his caucus about it first.

10.45pm - Goff has arrived at Labour HQ; this will be interesting...

10.40pm - Don Brash will tender his resignation as Act Party leader tomorrow

10.35pm - Russel Norman is cock-a-hoop with the Greens now having 13 MP's; congratulations to the Greens; now the rubber will have to meet the road.

10.30pm - Paula Bennett has squeezed ahead of Carmel Sepuloni in Waitakere; that'll be the end for Sepuloni.

10.15pm - Peter Dunne seems to have retained Ohariu, which gives John Key another ally. National will have more MP's than ever before, and Labour has taken a pounding.

9.55pm - John Banks now has a 2000 margin in Epsom; the cuppa worked! And Nikki Kaye has a good margin in Akld Central over Jacinda Ardern.

9.45pm - Winston gives his victory speech; he's back!

9.35pm - John Banks has opened up quite a big lead in Epsom; likewise Peter Dunne in Ohariu.

9.30pm - Is Phil Goff heading into town. Labour seems poised to lose a quarter of its caucus. And who are #'s 7, 8 and 9 on Winston's List?

9.15pm - Having Internet issues; grrrr! But our issues are tiny compared to Labour's

8.35pm - 12% of the vote counted Nationwide, and National has surged to 50.6%; Labour is surging in the other direction; 25.5%.

8.25pm - National's party vote has just moved up to 50.1%; Labour is at 26% and dropping. Winston's coming back, and the Greens look once again to be falling short of some impressive poll results.

8.10pm - Peter Dunne has an early lead in Ohariu; good news for National's prospects. Kate Wilkinson leads Clayton Cosgrove in Waimakariri and Nicky Wagner leads Brendan Burns in Chch Central

8.00pm - Jonathan Young almost 1000 ahead of Andrew Little in New Plymouth; bewdy!

7.55pm - Switched to TV3 for a while; their coverage of electorate results is superior

7.45pm - John Banks leads Epsom by 401 with 6% counted

7.15pm - The first counts of the advance votes have been released. It looks as though MMP will be with us for some time to come; bugger!


It's 7pm, and the polls have just closed. Election Day staff will shut the doors, open the ballot boxes, and start counting very soon.

The Electoral Commission reports that over 300,000 advance votes have been cast; up around 20% on 2008. Those results are expected to be available by 8.30pm, which will probably give us our first real indication of how things are going to pan out tonight

Stand by; it's all about to unfold. Who will be winners, and who will be losers? We'll have the news as it comes to hand, live from the couch at the Keeping Stock whare!

What a shame

The Herald reports:

Australia have been rocked by the news five players will be unavailable for next week's first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane due to injury.

Shane Watson (hamstring), Shaun Marsh (back), Mitchell Johnson (foot), Pat Cummins (heel) and Ryan Harris (hip) were all confirmed as non-starters on Friday for next week's Test at the Gabba.

The news means Australia's five-man selection panel will have to look at several new faces before announcing their squad for the Test on Saturday.

On the other hand, the Black Caps are all (at this moment) fit and well, and in reasonable nick as they take on Australia A at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane.

Won't it be great to have cricket on the telly as from next Thursday afternoon? And might the Black Caps actually give the Ockers a good run for their money? We can't hardly wait!

Simply brilliant!

Given that he can't publish pictures of a certain topic today lest he falls foul of a certain piece of legislation, Rod Emmerson turns his pen and ink in a different direction:

We wonder if that "employment matter" has been sorted out yet...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just vote

In one minute's time, it's election day. It's the one day every three years when all of us who are eligible to vote can have our say without fear or favour, and with every vote counting the same.

The right to vote is pivotal to a democratic society. It's a right that our forefathers fought for, and it should be exercised. We don't care who you vote for; just vote.

And a final thought; our last before the election day embargo begins; in you don't vote; don't moan.

Vote for Change

Jim Hopkins writes with eloquence in today's Herald, and also nails his colours to the mast with regard to tomorrow's electoral referendum; he opines:

Our past has bequeathed us a franchise. Our future will be determined by it. And we have two choices tomorrow. We can choose who we vote for and also how we vote. There's a range of views on this matter. Mr Goff favours MMP, Mr Key prefers SM. Others want Preferential Voting. Some hanker for FPP. Putting aside the merits of each, there is another, even more important issue. Our control of the process.

Unless we vote for change, the politicians will decide how they are elected. They may tinker with MMP or change it radically. The choice will be theirs, not ours. A vote for change will ensure a second referendum, with MMP tested against one of the alternatives. It means we will control the evolution of our peaceful democracy. Let the politicians address the economy. But the elections belong to us!

Hopkins is quite right; only a vote against MMP will give us, the voters, the say as to how future elections are decided. Vote for Change.

Blog silence

Before we go to bed tonight, we'll be turning off the comments function on Keeping Stock. The rules as put out by the Electoral Commission specify that, and we'll be complying.

We're also not allowed any fresh political content on Election Day, but that doesn't mean to say that we might not have a post timed to appear at 23.59hrs tonight! In addition, we'll be keeping a low profile on Twitter and Facebook tomorrow.

It all seems a bit silly, but even when the law is an ass it's still the law, and we respect it. Comments will be turned on again at 7pm when we settle ourselves down in front of the telly to await the first results.

We'll try to post some non-political content tomorrow, just so that you (and we!) don't suffer from withdrawl symptoms. Tomorrow night should be all action though as we see what democracy has dished us up for the next three years.

Decision Time II (or Help me out here: update)

(I am not Inv2)

As I blogged previously, I'd been in somewhat of a quandry over where to direct my vote and was asked in comments to update when I made my decision. It seemed appropriate, as Keeping Stocks junior contributor, to copy-cat Inventory2's post by way of responding to that request.
  • I'm voting for Sam Lotu-Iiga in the Maungakiekie electorate. I haven't had anything to do with Sam, beyond bumping into him around Onehunga a couple of times, although I expect to be visiting his office in the not-to-distant, to get him to sign my Citizenship application. As Blair Mulholland and Liberty Scott note in their recommendations, this really is a complete no-brainer. Sam is ahead of the field like Usain Bolt when he's actually trying.
  • Party vote-wise, principle wins out and it's a positive tick for Libertarianz. I should credit PC and Liberty Scott for their thoughful writing over the last cycle (and Old Holborn's rather more forthright brand of Libertarian thinking) that has lead me to my current place on the political spectrum - thanks. I know that I'll get flak from plenty of fellow Righties for a "wasted" vote, but I just can't give my approval to something that is merely a slower slide in the wrong direction.
  • I will also be voting for change in the referendum. I wasn't in the country at the time MMP was adopted, but I can't say how much I loath the whole concept of the list MP. I utterly reject the notion pushed by the political left, that proportionality is everything and accountability to an electorate doesn't matter.
  • So, what to change to? It's an imperfect set of options, but FPP is out and SM still has list MPs, so it comes down to STV versus PV. I'm going with STV because despite what I said above, proportionality is important, it should just be second to accountability. I don't buy the "too complex" argument or the idea that it will be difficult to have enough information about all the candidates to cast an informed vote.

Be careful what you wish for

New Zealand First has reached the 5% MMP threshhold in the two polls released this morning. We wanted to take a look at who the five MP's who will accompany Winston Peters into Parliament are, but strangely, the NZ First website does not include the party's list.

We do know however that former North Shore mayor and defeated Auckland mayoral and council candidate Andrew Williams is at #3 on the NZ First list. Williams' term as mayor was marked by a series of odd incidents, several of which are alleged to have involved the consumption of large quantities of the demon drink. This incident was probably the lowlight of his brief political career.

That candidates such as Andrew Williams can enter Parliament by way of the party list is a major failing of MMP, and that is why we are voting for change. If you are considering a party vote for New Zealand First, even as a protest, we merely ask you to be careful what you wish for.

The NZ First list can be viewed here.

Decision time

We've all but decided how we're going to vote tomorrow, although we're still tossing one option around. But in no particular order:

  • We're voting for Chester Borrows in the Whanganui electorate. We've had a bit to do with Chester over the last few years, and he's been very supportive of our business endeavours. Labour candidate Hamish McDouall has run a good campaign, and might have got our vote but for his opponent. But Chester epitomises what a good electorate MP does; his collaboration with Michael Laws over the Gang Insignia legislation showed that a local MP can make a difference.
  • It'll come as no surprise that National gets our party vote. That's not to say that we agree with everything that National has done or is proposing, but on balance, we believe that stability is vital in what is going to be a tumultous few years.
  • We're voting for change in the electoral referendum. We've never favoured MMP, for reasons which we advanced the other day.
  • STV or SM? We'd almost decided on Supplementary Member, but then we read a post by DPF pushing the claims of STV. Now we're not so sure, so we'll reserach that further today.

There you have it; that's our intention when we go into the polling booth tomorrow. Will we be backing winners? Only time will tell!

The end is in sight

Of course, the "end" we're referring to it the end of political polls for this electoral cycle. One News and 3News released their respective versions last night, and the Herald Digipoll is out this morning. All of these polls, like the Fairfax poll released earlier in the week show National polling at 50% or above, and Labour languishing in the 20's.

But the Herald Digipoll has a side poll which really illustrates the mountain that Labour has to climb; check this out:

An overwhelming majority of voters believe National will be the winner after tomorrow's election, the final pre-election Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

This is despite the same poll showing the majority of people did not think National leader John Key should have gone to police over the teapot tape.

Voters were asked who they thought would win, regardless of how they voted; 81.3 per cent said National, 11.2 per cent backed Labour.

Even a majority of Labour supporters, 61 per cent, believed National would win.

Most National supporters, 94.6 per cent, believed that National would win with a few undecided or refusing to say.

Among Green Party voters, 82.4 per cent believed National would win compared with 12.1 per cent who thought Labour would.

Of New Zealand First supporters, 75.8 per cent believed National would win against 6.1 per cent who thought Labour would.

Twice as many voters, 60.3 per cent, believe National would be best at running the economy compared with 30.4 per cent for Labour.

When 61% of its own supporters do not believe that Labour can or will win tomorrow's election, Labour is in huge trouble. Its prescription for the economy is rejected by a ratio of 2:!, and the Herald poll suggests that Labour will lose around nine MP's.

There's a real danger for Labour tomorrow that its remaining supporters won't vote. If that happens, it could be an absolute rout for the once-proud party, similar to that suffered by National in 2002.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Labour Party as we knew it, or is it the end of a process which began when Labour forgot about the working man?

The Friday Forum; Election Eve special

It's Friday 25 November; the last day that we can publicly talk about politics before New Zealand heads to the polls tomorrow to elect a government for the next three years.

Truth to tell, we ALMOST all politiced out, but we guess that we can drag ourselves up for another day. So we'll get this edition of the Friday Forum up and running nice and early, and you can get stuck in.

What we'd like today, if you'd be so kind, is to get an indication of who you'll be voting for, and why. We're going to cover our intentions off in a post shortly, and others around the blogosphere have done likewise.

If you want to talk about things other than politics, that's fine. But the General Election is the big story today. The Friday Forum is open for business and the floor is, as ever, yours...

We can't help but wonder XIII

Labour has spent the last three years trying to win friends and influence people, but if the poll results released so far this week (all of which have National at 50% or above, and Labour sub-30%) are to be believed, they've failed dismally.

We can't help but wonder what part the blogosphere has played in all of this. We've often blogged about gaffes at Red Alert, we are were banned a couple of months back for a throwaway line about Phil Goff's past record on asset sales. But it's the other "Labour" blog, The Standard which has drawn our attention this morning.

The Standard purports to represent the labour movement (small l), but it has a clear Labour Party bias. So we wonder how Labour's campaign manager Trevor Mallard and the party's strategic genius Grant Robertson feel about Zetetic's latest effort, where he calls more than half of the voting public "chumps":

Only chumps tick Tory

Written By: - Date published: 11:43 am, November 24th, 2011 - 103 comments
Categories: election 2011 - Tags: , ,

The old timers say never trust a Tory. Can see why. Exclusive Brethren. Hollow Men. Tranzrail shares. Secret agenda tapes. Teapot tapes. Suppressed asset sales advice. Climate change ‘hocus pocus’. Police hiring freeze. We keep on discovering their secret agendas. If you care about integrity, if you’ve got enough pride not to put up with being lied to, you won’t be voting National. Only chumps tick Tory.

As an aside, it's often been wondered if "Zetetic" is indeed a Labour MP who blogs a lot at another site. We reckon that the short sentences in the early part of the offering above are a giveaway. So we can't help but wonder if Trevor Mallard has been two-timing his own party's blog!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We can't help but wonder XII

Labour told us at the start of the campaign that this election was about policies, not personalities.

So we can't help but wonder whether the e-mail about that to David Cunliffe went astray somewhere in cyberspace, or whether he just didn't read it. Within less than a minute of the start of this video, John Key is, among other things "some money-trader" and "the greasy little fella in the blue suit" as David Cunliffe delivers an anti-John Key rant

That's right; policies, not personalities...

Dirty deals

Expect to see Patrick Gower up in arms this evening on 3News at another dirty deal going on in a marginal electorate. Check this out:

Kevin Hague
I did Party Vote Green last Friday (and electorate vote O'Connor). Is it forbidden for me to mention that?

That's right dear readers. Kevin Hague, the Green Party candidate in West Coast-Tasman hasn't even voted for himself, instead giving his vote to Labour's Damien O'Connor (he of the "gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists" quip), in what will be a very close contest with National's Chris Auchivole, the sitting MP for the electorate. He's even boasting about it via social media!

Having led a campaign against dirty deals under MMP (even though they are completely legal), will Gower show his outrage tonight? Or is it only a dirty deal when the Right is involved?

Collins; "I will resign if..."

We've just heard a very interesting interview on Newstalk ZB Wellington. Sean Plunket was interviewing Judith Collins over Phil Goff's allegations that ALL police recruiting in 2012 will be cancelled. The audio of the interview is on this page, along with an earlier interview with Phil Goff, and Mike Hosking's chat with Police Association boss Greg O'Connor earlier this morning.

Judith Collins will have left listeners in no doubt whatsoever. In fact she's so adamant that Goff is wrong that she told Plunket that she would resign if Goff's allegation was proven to be true. And not only would Judith Collins resign; she would expect Police Commissioner Peter Marshall to fall on his sword if there was a plan which he had not briefed her on.

Sean Plunket took it a step further. He suggested that perhaps Phil Goff should be the one resigning if his allegations are unable to be sustantiated. We're not sure that's necessary; after all, the voting public will make a judgment on Labour and Phil Goff's credibility in just two days' time. Depending on the result of the election and the fall-out, Goff may well be reassessing his future in any event.

In any event, Phil Goff seems to have made a huge error of judgment here, and is compounding it every time he tries to defend his position. Stuff is currently reporting thus:

Labour leader Phil Goff says National has been "forced to confirm" a freeze on police recruitment he raised in last night's televised leaders' debate with Prime Minister John Key.

Goff this morning dismissed as "political spin" claims that the deferral was down to high retention rates in the police force.

"This is about cost savings," Goff said,

National has denied the claims and said Goff was "desperate" and "making stuff up".

Key was unable to say during the debate whether Goff's comments were true, but said any such decision would be "operational" and police were having to live within their budgets, like all government departments.

National's law and order spokeswoman Judith Collins this morning said Goff was wrong, though she admitted that the January intake had been delayed until March because fewer people were quitting the force.

"Police will recruit and train new officers next year, as normal. However, low numbers of police leaving the force means there will be a delay in the call-up of the first wing of 2012 only.

"It has been full house at the police college in recent months as the last of the 600 extra frontline police promised by National complete their training."

Compounding the original mis-truth will do Goff no good in the end run. Plunket sees right through him; he said after the interview with Collins that Goff's allegation "looks to be in the realm of fantasy". Goff is effectively accusing both the Minsiter of Police and the Police Commissioner of lying. He needs to put up or shut up, and he needs to do it before the campaign closes at midnight tomorrow night, when election issues can now longer be reported.

Pagani on asset sales

John Pagani (former advisor to Phil Goff and hisband of Labour's Rangitikei candidate Josie Pagani) argues the case against asset sales in the morning's Herald; he writes:

If selling assets worked, we would be rich by now. We've sold enough already.

Asset sales are such a central election issue because they represent profound differences in the way government solves problems.

In the eighties and nineties Labour and then National governments cut the top tax rate, creating huge debt holes that they tried to fill with the proceeds of asset sales.

We ended up with more debt than we started with and the deficits drove inflation so high that interest rates soared over 20 per cent. Entire provincial townships never came out of the longest recession in our post-war history that resulted.

Labour learned from the episode about the time they had to start buying back the airline and railway, and open Kiwibank.

This, of course, is the line that Labour has been running for some time now, and in true party fashion, Pagani parrots it perfectly.

Well, almost perfectly, because his next line stuffs his whole argument; read on:

But now National wants to repeat the failed policies of the past.

National, of course, is NOT proposing a return to the "failed policies of the past". The John Key-led government has learned from the slash-and-burn approach of the Lange/Palmer/Moore years when Phil Goff sat at the Cabinet table, and seventeen state assets were hocked off to the first person who turned up with a chequebook.

What National is proposing is to retain control over a small number of state assets ($5-7b out of a total asset pool of $230b). The Crown will retain a majority shareholding, and will continue to receive income from dividend, albeit at a lesser rate. And the revenue from the partial sale will be put to good use; building new assets.

National has indeed learned from the "failed policies of the past", and is trying a new approach. And we thank John Pagani for giving us the opportunity to make that point!

Is this Goff's final gaffe?

We awoke this morning to saturation coverage on television and the newpapers online of Phil Goff having sprung a trap on John Key last night. Goff accused National of a secret plan to cap police recruitment for the whole of 2012, and that details were embargoed until after the election.

If that was true, it would be big news. But now, the big news is the fact that Phil Goff got it wrong, and wouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good smear; Radio NZ reports:

The National Party says the deferral of next year's January intake of new police recruits is not a freeze on recruitment.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says senior police have been told recruitment for next year has been deferred and the January intake of recruits has been cancelled.

Mr Goff made the claim in TVNZ's leaders' debate on Wednesday night and told Morning Report on Thursday that the reason given for the deferral was the need to make savings in the police budget.

He says his source is reliable and well informed.

However, National's law and order spokesperson Judith Collins told Morning Report there are so few people leaving the police at the moment that the January intake of recruits is not needed.

"Because the attrition rate is so low now, so few people are leaving police, morale is so high and the fact that in the last four months of this year 300 extra recruits have gone through the college and graduated," she says.

Ms Collins says the first intake next year will be in March instead.

She says there will be no reduction in frontline police numbers under a National Government.

And when she was interviewed by phone on Breakfast this morning, Mrs Collins said she immediately rang Police Commissioner Peter Marshall when she heard Goff's allegation during last night's debate. Mr Marshall confirmed the postponement of the January intake, and confirmed that there are no plans for a wider freeze on recruitment. Obviously, there are plenty of Better Work Stories in the Police!

It's hard not to feel sorry for Phil Goff at times. We wonder which of the Davids passed this tasty morsel of misinformation on to him.

This is a major embarrasment for Labour and its leader. Just 48 hours before the polls open, his last hit on John Key has been a knock-out blow; to his own credibility. Will Phil Goff's latest gaffe be his last?

With friends like these part deux...

You couldn't make stuff like this up. We blogged yesterday about the revelation that Kyle Chapman's Right Wing Resistance crowd supports New Zealand First and Winston Peters.

Now we've just seen this comment over at Kiwiblog:

  1. Pete George (11,807) Says:
    November 24th, 2011 at 6:31 am

    They have edited their site.

    “In this country we must vote for the smaller parties…” replaces “If you want traditional Kiwi life vote NZ First.”

Oh dear; even the Right Wing Resistance movement is ashamed to have its rather unique brand associated with New Zealand First!

Emmerson on Tea-gate

Has Rod Emmerson provided the final and defining word on the Storm in a Teacup?

Enjoy; it's time for our early morning English Breakfast!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's going on at TV3?

Further to our post this morning about Karl de Fresne's savaging of the media, we've just been sent the link to du Fresne's latest blog-post where he takes things a little bit further. Here's a sample:

In a post on this blog site yesterday I mentioned my reluctance to accuse media organisations of political bias. I have seen those allegations hurled about far too often and far too loosely, invariably by politically aligned people frustrated that their side wasn’t the only one getting newspaper space or air time. But in the past couple of weeks I have begun to wonder seriously whether TV3 is running some sort of political agenda.

My suspicions were aroused by political coverage that in recent weeks has too often seemed slanted to discredit National. An example was Patrick Gower’s report last week about a supposedly hush-hush meeting between John Key and the head of the international oil exploration firm Anadarko. As only he can, Gower reported this in such a way as to suggest that there was something underhand going on. (“TV3 can reveal that Prime Minister John Key made time in his diary this week for a secretive meeting with the boss of an oil company that wants to undertake deep sea drilling off New Zealand’s coast.”) Never mind that prime ministers probably have meetings with international businessmen all the time without necessarily alerting the media. If there was something dodgy going on, it certainly wasn’t substantiated by the TV3 report. But never mind: Gower nonetheless raised dark connections with the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010 (Anadarko had a 25 percent share in the Deepwater Horizon rig) and generously gave Greens co-leader Metiria Turei an opportunity to link Key with “catastrophic oil spills”. In other words, the story was spun to put the worst possible complexion on what may have been an entirely innocent and legitimate meeting.

This technique appears to be something of a Gower specialty. On October 26 he reported: “3 News has learned that John Key has had a private meeting with a controversial right-wing British billionaire, Lord Michael Ashcroft.” Recognise the style? The loaded phrases “3 News has learned” and “TV3 can reveal” immediately create the impression that something sneaky is being covered up.

du Fresne then turns his attention to last night's TV3 "doco" on child poverty, which we didn't see. He says far too much to be able to copy and paste it here, but we would recommend that you set aside a few minutes to read du Fresne's excellent post; he's right on the money as far as we are concerned.

UPDATED: We can't help but wonder XI

UPDATED: Justice Helen Winkelman has declined to give a judgment in the Storm in a Teacup case. Stuff reports:

The High Court at Auckland has refused to rule on the privacy of Prime Minister John Key and ACT's John Banks' tea conversation, as police prepare to search news outlets over the recording.

Freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose, who recorded the meeting at a media opportunity in an Epsom cafe two weeks ago, yesterday sought a court declaration that the conversation was not private.

Chief High Court judge Justice Helen Winkelmann delivered her decision today saying she declined to make the declaration as it would amount to a "mini-trial" in advance of a police investigation into the matter.

"It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the police would be deterred from pursuing not only the investigation but also any potential prosecution by the existence of such a declaration."

She said she did not feel she had enough factual evidence to decide whether the conversation was private or not.

She had not heard from either Banks or Key on their expectations of whether the conversation was private and there had been no evidence from others there on the day as to what they thought of the privacy issue.

Bush lawyers that we are, we reckon that this was the only decision which the Chief High Court Judge could have reached, and her reasons for declining to make a judgment on Bradley Ambrose's application seem to be very well reasoned.

We guess that now we'll be watching 3News this evening, if for no other reason as to see what Messrs Garner and Gower have to say.

UPDATE II - Here's a link to Justice Winkelman's full decision.


Justice Helen Winkelman will hand down a decision this afternoon as to whether the conversation between John Key and John Banks could indeed be considered "private". At yesterday's hearing in the High Court, Solicitor-General David Collins made a very strong argument that the Court should not interfere with an active police investigation, and that Bradley Ambrose and his lawyers could have their day in Court if a presecution ensues. It's hard to argue against that.

So we can't help but wonder which way Justice Winkelman will rule, although she had some searching questions for the plaintiff's lawyers along the lines of the argument raised by David Collins. And we can't help but wonder what effect the Storm in a Teacup will have on the election outcome.

You see, there's a Fairfax poll out this morning. And if the results of that are to be believed, a concerted media attack has backfired in spectacular fashion; watch this space!