Only one poll matters: 23 September 2017

Yesterday another poll came out. This one was a Colmar Brunton poll which put National 9 points clear of Labour on 46%. Labour slumped to 37%. The Greens climbed to 8%, whilst New Zealand First dropped further to 5%, whilst The Opportunities Party is on 2% and the Maori Party is on 1%.

I don’t believe this poll. Polls normally do not swing like this. Labour have gone from – if you believe the latest poll – dead in the water, to giving chase and then overtaking National, and back to giving chase. I think it, like National could still form a Government with help from New Zealand First.

New Zealand First is declining, which is another thing I find outwardly surprising. I thought it would be steady on 8-9% and gunning to be the King maker. Again, I do not believe this to be accurate.

So here we are. In my round up a few days ago I gave my assessment of how I thought the parties would go on election day. That still stands.

What happens now, is up to you. Good luck getting the Government you want. Remember that we are still New Zealanders at the end of this. We can still be mates. We will still have family and be family members to others. We will still have to go to work on Monday.


National and Labour economic with truth about fuel pipeline

But one thing has become clear in the course of this story. National and Labour are both being economic with the truth how a fuel line came to be leaking 80m³ of fuel. Perhaps it is fitting for the final week of a chaotic election campaign that has seen wild swings in the polls from Labour to National and back to Labour.

Trying to make sense of who is involved is another matter. National and Labour are blaming each other, though if one looks at who knows what, it has been known since 2005. This means that for the last three years of the previous Labour Government and the entire duration of this Government it has been known that there is a problem with the pipe. And a more recent report from 2012 suggesting that there should be a back up plan does not help the situation either.

Airlines flying in and out of Auckland International Airport are being constricted by the lack of fuel. And thousands of passengers have suffered delays. No doubt this has included politicians trying to get to meetings and last week campaign events.

To show how serious the issue is being taken, a Royal New Zealand Navy tanker has been drafted in to deliver fuel.

What I find perhaps surprising is the lack of alarm being shown by the Department of Conservation in having so much fuel leak into the environment.

For a Government that has spent billions on roads and talks about infrastructure being critical to New Zealand’s development, and also given its support for oil, the lack of emphasis on maintaining this infrastructure – or getting the parties responsible for it to do so – is perhaps the most surprising aspect.

But as we progress through the final days of the N.Z. election campaign, I doubt this is going to change voters minds. The ones that have already made their minds up will just be hardened further.

The only thing that can really be debated is how this will impact on New Zealand’s reputation. Some say we just need to stay came and let the authorities get on top of it. Others will be less impressed – especially if they find their flight taking a several thousand kilometre detour because there is not enough fuel to get out of Auckland. And the saying goes one disgruntled customer will tell for people – if they then tell four more each, it is easy to see how this could spiral out of control if not dealt with quickly.

N.Z. 2017 election in home straight: the final five days

So here we are. The final five days of campaigning are about to begin. The last rounds of flyers will be doing into letter boxes. The last radio chats will be held. The last public addresses will be before Friday. On Friday the election hoardings will be dismantled. The websites will be prepped for being taken offline by 0000 hours on Saturday. Final plans will be getting laid down for the election night celebrations/commisserations.

For A.C.T. the priorities will be rounding up enough voters to give David Seymour an A.C.T. Member of Parliament (Beth Houlbrooke)to share the workload with. Their messages will be familiar ones – simplifying and lowering the individual taxes; removing what they view as unnecessary red tape such as the Resource Management Act.

At this stage A.C.T. look like they might pick up a second M.P., which for them would be a major achievement.

For National, the priorities will be pushing the same messages about stable government; Jacinda does not know what she is doing and long term commitments. It will be trying to shore up votes on housing, economy, jobs and education. Mr English’s wife Mary, who works in the medical profession will be a useful asset winning over female voters.

At this stage I think National is trailing Labour. It will probably get 46 seats probably not be able to form a Government even with A.C.T. and New Zealand First on board.

For Labour, containing the ongoing attacks over their taxation policy, which is on their website will be the major focus. Labour will be continuing to focus on Ms Ardern’s positive message “Lets do this”, and continuing to keep up the pressure on housing, social welfare, health and jobs.

I think Labour is leading and will probably get 49 seats. It will need New Zealand First and possibly the Greens to get enough seats.

The Greens are still dealing with the fall out from Metiria Turei’s admission about her lying to Work and Income New Zealand regarding a benefit she was on. Their leader James Shaw has much work to do and is handicapped by the fact that normally Mrs Turei would pick up a substantial workload. Their messages will be about transport, clean water, housing and health. How much the public is willing to forgive them will become clear on 23 September 2017.

I expect the Greens will get 9 seats in Parliament. Unfortunately some talented M.P.’s are likely to pay a price for Mrs Turei not being honest and paying up at the same time, which would have limited the damage.

The Maori Party M.P.’s Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell have been fairly quiet in the campaign. That might be a result of having only two M.P.’s to work with rather than any slackness on their part. Their priorities will probably pushing on with the Treaty of Waitangi settlements and – I hope – some progress on addressing the dismally high participation of Maori in youth crime, unemployment and truancy.

I expect that the Maori Party will get 3 M.P.’s. In other words Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell will be returned to Parliament, but with a new face.

Last but not least, New Zealand First occupy a role they are familiar with, and I suspect they will gain more familiarity with in the next couple of weeks. Labour’s surge in the polls as a result of the Jacindanami, means it is now a serious alternative provided the remaining week in the election campaign goes okay. New Zealand First‘s familiar messages about house ownership, immigration and jobs are coming out once again, albeit probably more strongly than in the past, spurred on by a dissatisfied public wanting change.

Winston Peters is a wily old fox and has been around the halls of power for long enough now to know how M.M.P. works. He knows, provided his party does not make any election killing gaffes, it is set to be king maker again. The question is how big will the king maker be? My guess is 12 M.P.’s.

Jian Yang: Chinese spook trainer in the National Party

Over the years, I have seen various allegations levelled at the National Party. Some have been accurate, but not enough to tarnish the party. Others have been a productive of excessively active minds.

But the latest one might be different. And if so, it could not have arrived at a worse time. It alleges that Jian Yang, who moved to New Zealand from the Peoples Republic of China trained Chinese spies at an establishment in Luoyang. Past allegations about the extent to which China is embedded in New Zealand have been dismissed in part because they are paranoia, but also in part because the opposition parties who made the allegations were not in a position to back them up.

I would have had more respect for Mr Jian Yang if he had just said so from Day 1 that he has trained Chinese spies. I was always taught to be 100% honest on applications for anything with potential legal consequences. It did not matter whether we were talking about job applications, passports or an E.S.T.A. to the United States. If he had said on his citizenship application – which apparently he did not – that he trained spies when still living in China, I would have respected him because to to go after him for that, when there are others who have murky pasts would have been to justify them being chased up as well.

The message is simple. Be honest and I will have respect. Lie, and you can forget about it. A shame, since his C.V. is truly impressive.

National’s scaremongering smacks of desperation

For nearly 3 weeks, there was an astonishing calm on the battle front. Politicians went about their campaigning. Policies were released and countered. Debates were held and the respect seemed mutual. But then came a political poll: Labour had leap frogged over National and suddenly the incumbents were in grave danger of losing. Time to mobilize the foot soldiers, unlock the munition dumps with their array of mud.

Over the last few days, the barometer has really dropped on National’s election campaigning. As it has progressed the campaign started cleanly with National and Labour trading blows over policy. But in the last few days it has been steadily falling with a barrage of increasingly desperate, outdated and sometimes blatantly ridiculous attack adverts.

National’s campaign smacks of the desperation of a party that knows it is in trouble with voters. When the campaign harks back to desperate tactics used in the 2002 General Election – which makes it all the more surprising given 27 July 2002 was National’s darkest day, with a paltry 27 seats left to them in the new Parliament – what is it telling you about their general strategy?

Among the gimmicks have been the revival of the fart tax attack ads, suggesting that Labour is going to tax cows farting. Aside from forgetting some basic biology that most people who paid attention at high school would have learnt that cows also belch, National have had nine (9) years to introduce measures to deal with the methane discharge. They have had this time in which they could have worked with farmers to get them on grass that was promised would reduce emissions. National have had time to get farmers onto more sustainable modes of farming than dairying, which has peaked, contrary to what they or Federated Farmers will tell you.

Another attack is more recent, but just misguided and perhaps even more discredited. A week ago National attacked Labour over an alleged N.Z.$11.7 billion hole in their financial plan for New Zealand. Not only was it totally discredited by numerous accountants, and by BERL, who costed the plan, even National Party members began criticizing Treasurer Steven Joyce for continuing to harp on about it.

I suppose at some point the campaign was going to get dirty. The 2014, 2011, 2008 and 2005 campaigns were all shades of poo rather than the colours of any of New Zealand’s political parties. The 2002 campaign had the Painter-Gate incident. 2005 was rocked by the Exclusive Brethren claims and eventually the funding scandal that saw various political parties use funding that they were not entitled to – and be made to pay it back.

The 2008 one saw A.C.T. and New Zealand First engaged in mortal combat, which stemmed from allegations surrounding donations made to the party – which was cleared of any wrong doing, but not before exiting Parliament in the election that year. In 2014 the journalist Nicky Hager released a book called Dirty Politics, regarding the . It was also the election where Kim Dotcom and his Internet Party aligned themselves in an ill-fated alliance with Hone Harawira’s Mana Party that split the left vote when it was most needed.

The mud slinging is in its early days yet, but both sides have a stockpile of it that they had been – correctly – hoping to avoid having to use. Unfortunately the Young Nats fired the first shots and so now they and their heroes can reap what they sowed.