Banks resigning

08/06/2014

A media release from John Banks:

“Further to the of the decision of the High Court at Auckland last Thursday,  I will  resign the seat of Epsom effective from 5pm this Friday the 13th of  June 2014” Mr Banks said.

“I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation, said Mr Banks.

“This timeframe allows a number of constituency, administrative and staffing matters in Epsom and Wellington to be dealt with over the next few days.

“I have been privileged to serve the people of Epsom and New Zealand at both a local level and in Wellington. 

“I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a worthwhile contribution to this country.  I have always endeavoured to do the right thing.  Consequently I am deeply saddened at this turn of events.

“As the matter is still before the Court I will be making no further comment” said Mr Banks.

This is a sad end to decades of public service motivated by the desire to balance the family ledger.

It is however, the honourable thing to do.


It’s only one poll

06/06/2014

The latest Roy Morgan poll continues the positive trend for National:

. . . Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a strong gain in support for National (52.5%, up 7%) now at their highest since before the last New Zealand Election and well ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance (38%, down 6%) – almost matching their performance at the 2011 New Zealand Election at which the two parties polled a combined 38.5%.

Support for Key’s Coalition partners has also improved with the Maori Party 1.5% (up 0.5%), ACT NZ (1%, up 0.5%) and United Future 0% (unchanged).

Support has fallen significantly for all Opposition parties with the Labour Party down 1.5% to 29%, the Greens down 4.5% to 9% (the lowest support for the Greens since September 2011), New Zealand First 4.5% (down 1.5%) and Mana Party 0.5% (down 0.5%). Support for the Conservative Party of NZ is 1% (unchanged) and the Internet Party is 0.5% (unchanged).

If a National Election were held now the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows that the result would be a landslide victory for the National Party and a third term for Prime Minister John Key. . .

But wait, there’s more good news:

The latest NZ Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has also improved considerably – up 8.5pts to 140.5pts with 64.5% (up 4.5%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 24% (down 4%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

Gary Morgan says:

“Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a strong positive response to the predicted Budget Surplus of $372 million handed down by Finance Minister Bill English with National surging to 52.5% (up 7%) – it’s highest since the last New Zealand Election. National has surged to a huge lead over a potential Labour/ Greens alliance (38%, down 6%).

“The closer the election, it appears the less support there is for the main opposition parties with support for Labour (29%, down 1.5%) now stuck below the level that prompted the resignation of previous leader David Shearer for most of 2014. The initial surge provided by David Cunliffe has well and truly worn off. In addition the Greens (9%, down 4.5%) have slumped to their lowest level of support since before the last New Zealand election after announcing last weekend a proposal to introduce a Carbon Tax in New Zealand in place of the current Emissions Trading Scheme.

“Last week’s merger announcement of the Internet Party (0.5%) and Mana Party (0.5%) to contest this year’s election offers both parties a better chance of attaining the 5% threshold required to elect a slate of Party List MPs. However, the combined support for the two parties has never exceeded 2%, and it would appear unlikely the merged party can bridge this gap in the next few months.” . . .

Polls can be too good, of course.

This level of support for National could make supporters complacent.

Some might think they can afford to vote for another party, others might not bother to vote at all.

However, while it continues the positive trend for National of other recent polls, it is only one poll and the one which is usually regarded as the least reliable.

But is it?

Thomas Lumley at Stats Chat, says it’s not:

. . . In fact, there’s not much difference between the major polling companies in the variability of their estimates. . .

There really is not much to see here. So why do people feel that Roy Morgan comes out with strange results more often? Probably because Roy Morgan comes out with results more often.

For example, the proportion of poll-to-poll changes over 3 percentage points is 0.22 for One News/Colmar Brunton, 0.18 for Roy Morgan, and 0.23 for 3 News/Reid Research, all about the same, but the number of changes over 3 percentage points in this time frame is 5 for One News/Colmar Brunton, 14 for Roy Morgan, and 5 for 3 News/Reid Research. . .

What that shows is voter preference is volatile and that more frequent polls reflect that volatility.

That’s why it doesn’t pay to get too excited about a single poll, or even several with the same trend.

The volatility of support merely reinforces the oft repeated phrase, there’s only one poll that counts.

 

 


Can the polls be too good?

26/05/2014

Three polls in a week have shown an encouraging level of support for National.

First was Roy Morgan:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a gain in support for National (45.5%, up 3%) now back ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance (44%, down 1.5%).

Support for Key’s Coalition partners is little changed with the Maori Party 1% (unchanged), ACT NZ (0.5%, unchanged) and United Future 0% (down 0.5%).

Support has fallen for the Opposition with the Labour Party down 0.5% to 30.5%, the Greens down 1% to 13.5%, New Zealand First 6% (unchanged), Mana Party 1% (unchanged). Support for the Conservative Party of NZ is 1% (up 0.5%) and the Internet Party is now at 0.5% (down 1%). . . .

Last night another two polls confirmed the trend:

ONE News/Colmar Brunton:

 The latest ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll has National 10 points clear of the Labour and Greens block with less than four months to go to the election. . . .

ONE News political editor Corin Dann says Bill English’s sixth Budget has been well received and the poll shows National in a strong position, up four points to 51% while Labour has slipped one point to 30%, with the Greens steady on 11%.

New Zealand First is down two to 4.8% and the Conservatives are down one to 1%. But making its first appearance in the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll is Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party which debuts at 1% alongside the Maori Party and Act.

When it comes to seats in Parliament, National could govern alone with 65 seats while Labour and the Greens could muster just 52. The Maori Party would have three and Act, Mana and United Future one each.

However if NZ First makes the 5% threshold then National with 62 seats would need Act’s help to form a government.

Labour and the Greens would have 50 seats combined, but even with NZ First’s six MPs, the Maori Party’s three and Mana’s one, they would still fall short of the 63 seats needed for a majority. . .

3 News-Reid Research:

The Prime Minister and National are riding high on the post-Budget poll bump at 50.3 percent, up 4.4 percent from the last poll – a result Mr Key called “pleasing”.

It’s not so pleasing for Labour though, which dropped below the 30 percent mark, with 29.5 percent – a psychological blow for the party. . . .

Nearly three-quarters of voters – 73.2 percent – say they agree with National’s family package policy and most Labour voters – 67.3 percent – say they like it too. . .

Meanwhile, the Greens have dropped 1 percent to 10.2 percent and support for New Zealand First has grown by 0.7 percent to 5.6 percent. . .

Translating the poll results into seats in the House, National would get 61 – almost enough to govern alone, but with seven seats between its partners the Conservative Party, Maori Party, ACT and United Future it would give the right 68 seats.

Labour and the Greens would get 35 and 12 seats respectively, with Mana holding one seat and New Zealand First, seven.

But the poll results show the Labour-Green left-bloc is now on the back foot. . .

Other poll results:

  • Conservatives 2.3 percent, up 0.4 percent
  • Maori Party: 0.6 percent, down 0.9 percent
  • Internet Party: 0.6 percent, up 0.2 percent
  • ACT: 0.5 percent, down 0.6 percent
  • Mana 0.2 percent, down 0.9 percent
  • United Future: 0 percent, down 0.1 percent

These results are good, but there is a danger they are too good when there’s a tight and tough election ahead:

Prime Minister John Key is predicting a “tight and tough” election with the Government up against a “left wing block” of parties.

Mr Key told more than 250 party faithful at a conference in Hamilton today National could not be lulled into a false sense of security by high polling numbers ahead of the September 20 general election.

He said National was not just up against the lower polling Labour but its left counterparts including the Greens, New Zealand First, and Mana.

“The real risk for us is to underestimate just how close this election will be.

“None of us should be deluded into believing that a big poll lead by National against Labour means we have election 2014 in the bag.” . . .

 If this was a First Past the Post election National could be more confident.

But under MMP it’s not good enough for a party to have more support than its  biggest rival, it’s got to be able to muster at least 51% support in parliament.

And while National is tantalisingly close to that in polls, it is very unlikely to get that level of support at the election.

The danger is that some National supporters might see the polls, be complacent and think the party will get there without their votes.

Labour keeps saying the large number of people who didn’t vote last time were there supporters. Some might have been but some were supporters of National and its potential coalition partners.

Those supporters who don’t vote won’t just be not helping National.

They could be allowing a Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana and whichever other party they need to form a coalition to win.


Three strikes and you’re in

23/04/2014

Act leader Jamie Whyte is proposing that three strikes for burglary will put offenders in jail.

Over two thousand families will come home after this Easter Weekend to discover that burglars have robbed their homes.

If they are lucky they will just have lost their TVs, computers, cell phones, jewelry and cash. If they are unlucky the burglars will have trashed the home.

If they have insurance then the victims can claim. But they will discover the insurance company requires new locks, security screens, burglar alarms and, for commercial clients, possibly even the hiring of security guards.

Because successive governments have failed to do their primary job of providing for the secure use of our property, we must pay private firms to protect us against thieves. First we pay with our taxes and then we pay again because our taxes have been poorly spent.

Half of those who are robbed this Easter Weekend have no insurance. There will be students, beneficiaries, pensioners and other families who will lose everything they own. It happens every day.

Many will be traumatized. I know of people who, having been burgled, never feel safe again. No dead locks, sensor lights or alarms let them sleep well. The emotional cost of burglary is incalculable, but it is real.

When I was elected Leader of the ACT Party I said at our conference that we were considering a three-strikes policy for burglary, similar to our three-strikes policy for violent crime. I was attacked by commentators who said the idea was half-baked.

ACT has carefully researched the policy.

Three strikes for burglary was introduced to England and Wales in 1999. As in New Zealand, burglary was out of control and given a low priority by the police and the courts. A Labour government passed a three strikes law whereby a third conviction for burglaries earned a mandatory three years in prison.

Burglary in England has fallen by 35 percent.

There are reasons to believe the law will work even better here. In England there are professional criminals who come across from Europe to conduct crimes and their previous convictions are often unknown to authorities. And the English law allows parole for third strike offences.

ACT has consulted with experts on the likely cost to the taxpayer. Our view is that any increase in prison population will be moderate. Indeed, if it has the deterrent effect we expect, it may ultimately decrease the prison population. Four years after becoming law, that seems to be the effect of our policy of three strikes for violent crime.

Unlike violent crimes, which are sometimes spontaneous, burglary is a calculated crime.

Burglaries happen when burglars figure the rewards outweigh the risk of detection or likely punishment. Three strikes for burglary will change the calculation.  . . .

Burglary is regarded as property crime but it is traumatic for the victims.

People who’ve been burgled say that even if nothing irreplaceable has been stolen, no mess was made and no damage done, the feeling that their home has been invaded is devastating.

It’s even worse if irreplaceable items of great personal value are taken, the burglars leave a mess and/or leave damage in their wake.

But will a three strikes and you’re in jail law act as a deterrent and help reduce burglaries?

Anyone who is charged with a crime after two previous convictions hasn’t learned, but will prison teach the lesson that’s needed?

It will keep the criminal off the streets, but it can be a nursery which teaches worse crimes.

Crime rates are dropping, but is the three strikes law for violent crimes one of the contributing factors or just a coincidence?

Even if it is a contributing factor to the drop in crime, would a similar three strikes and you’re in law work as well for burglary?


Prove it

07/04/2014

Act leader Jamie White is challenging David Cunliffe to prove he’d be better at investing money than the private sector.

The Labour Party has announced a return to “industrial policy”. If elected, they will decide which businesses and sectors of the economy will deliver the highest returns and promote them in various ways – most obviously, by subsidising them with taxpayers’ money.

This policy effectively replaces the decisions of private investors with the decisions of Labour Party politicians. It would be a foolish policy if Labour Party politicians were not better investors than the private investors they will replace.

So, before asking people to vote for the policy, shouldn’t David Cunliffe prove that he and his colleagues really are better investors than those who do it professionally?

He could do this easily. Mr Cunliffe could set up a small investment fund – $5,000 would suffice to get started – and trade it in the months before the election. Since he claims to know better than private investors which businesses will give the best returns, his fund should massively outperform the NZX 50 and other stock market indices. . .

Mr Cunliffe talks a good game when it comes to investing. And he plans to put your money where his mouth is. But before anyone goes along with him, they should insist that he puts his own money where his mouth is.

So I challenge Mr Cunliffe. Trade the stock market in the months before the election. Publish your trades as you make them and explain how you arrived at your supposed knowledge of which investments are best. By the election we will be able to see if you really do know what you claim to.

If you won’t accept the challenge, then withdraw your proposal to use taxpayers’ money to invest in the businesses that take your fancy.

A defining feature of the National-led government since 2008 is a respect for public money because they understand it’s other people’s.

That has yet to penetrate the we-know-better fog which envelopes the left, all of whom are concentrating on how they’ll divide the national pie rather than working on how to make it bigger.


Partners by choice better than necessity

22/01/2014

Prime Minister John Key has made his preferences for coalition partners clear.

He also stresses the importance of the party vote:

. . . “First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have. . .

National didn’t need to invite the Maori Party into coalition in 2008, it chose to do so.

A higher party vote gives more options for a major party because it would be able to approach potential coalition parties by choice rather than through necessity.

It was difficult to win an outright majority under first past the post, no party has managed it under MMP.

The PM’s first preference for coalition partners is those he has worked with successfully already – Act, the Maori Party and United Future.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future. . .

By making this clear voters have a better idea of what they might be getting.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

Voters also know what they won’t be getting if National is able to form a government:

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

Labour is a bit confused about how left it is, not helped by a leader who sways further left with some audiences than with others.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

This has excited the media but it is clear New Zealand First would be a last resort.

Whether or not National is in a position to form a government and which parties it will need, or be able to choose, to invite into coalition is up to voters who now know which parties are preferred, which could be considered and which would be ruled out.

The more votes National has, the more options it has and the the more stable the government will be.

On current polling it would certainly be a lot more stable than a Labour/Green government with other parties in tow through necessity and therefore able to exert a much stronger influence than if they were in government by the bigger party’s choice.


National will consider working with . . .

21/01/2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced which parties  National will consider working with following this year’s General Election.

His preferences are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future and is not discounting the Conservative Party.

He’s also left the door slightly ajar for New Zealand First.

 “MMP makes it likely that every election will be a tight contest,” Mr Key says.

“That means it’s also likely that following the election we will need to work collaboratively with other parties to form a stable Government.

“First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

 I sincerely hope that New Zealand’s First’s support won’t be needed, although David Farrar posts on the possibility of asking for it to support a minority government.

It’s more of a vanity vehicle than a party and its leader has shown he’s unreliable.

He’s also not prepared to show his hand before the election:

. . .  Winston Peters says the party is making its position clear from the outset that it will not be part of any pre-election discussions or arrangements aimed at subverting the democratic process.

“We thought MMP would stop the gerrymandering and ‘old boys’ arrangements of the past but some political parties keep manipulating the political process for their own ends instead of trusting the voters.”

Mr Peters says the time for talking about forming governments should be immediately after the election and not before. . .

What he means is he’s not prepared to put commit himself one way or the other for fear of losing votes.

Instead he’ll keep everyone in the dark until he can make a deal which best advantages him.


Boscawen seeks Epsom selection

16/01/2014

Act President John Boscawen is seeking the Act selection for Epsom and his party’s leadership.

In a media release he says:

I am today announcing my intention to seek the Epsom nomination and leadership of the ACT Party in the 2014 general election.

  • I have been a member of ACT for over 17 years. I first stood for ACT in Epsom in 1996 and been involved in each of the five general election campaigns since. In 1996, I stood on a platform of maximising the party vote and our team achieved over 22% of the party votes cast in Epsom – a record not broken since.
     
  • In the years since 1996 I have held a number of party positions including over eight years’ service on the ACT board and as Campaign Manager, Treasurer and fundraiser.
     
  • In 2008, I stood in the North Shore electorate to maximise party votes and was elected to Parliament at No. 4 on ACT’s party list.
     
  • In August 2010, I was elected Deputy Leader and appointed Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Commerce.
     
  • At the 2011 general election I decided not to seek re-election on the party list although I did stand in Tamaki in an effort to maximise the party vote.
     
  • Following the 2011 election I continued in my role as Deputy Leader until my election, unopposed, in February 2013 as ACT President.
     

The ACT Board has announced it intends to make a decision on the ACT leadership over the weekend of 1-2 February 2014. Until a decision has been made, I will immediately stand aside from the position of President in the interim and leave the Board to be chaired by Vice President Barbara Astill.

We must rebuild our previous support and parliamentary representation and I believe that I am the best person to lead the party into the 2014 election. Just as importantly it is critical for New Zealand’s future that we do. We are the only party with a core philosophy of individual responsibility, prosperity and freedom. We have constantly pushed for social welfare and education reforms and for less government waste and lower taxes. We must get the incentives right if we are to encourage and reward hard work, savings and investment and that is why I have decided to offer myself for the position of candidate for Epsom and leader of the ACT Party.

Boscawen was an MP and replaced Heather Roy as Minister of Consumer Affairs.

He would bring experience to the role, he wouldn’t be regarded as the fresh blood the party needs.

It’s up to members to decide if he could resurrect it.


iPredict – narrow Nat win

15/01/2014

iPredict’s first update for the year is predicting a very narrow win for the incumbent government.

Key Points:

•       Election expected in Q4 2014, most probably in November
•       Growing economy expected, but with rising interest rates
•       Only National, Labour and Greens to reach 5% threshold
•       Maori, Conservative, Mana and UnitedFuture parties to win electorate seats but Act to miss out
•       Very slight advantage to John Key as head of a National/Conservative/UnitedFuture government

Commentary:

This is the first iPredict Update for the 2014 New Zealand General Election with forecasts based on trading by the more than 7000 registered iPredict traders.  As in 2011, the newsletter will be based on a market snapshot taken at a random time, initially weekly and then daily during the election campaign.

The first snapshot, which was taken at 9.32 am today, suggests a very slight advantage to incumbent prime minister John Key, most probably leading a National/Conservative/UnitedFuture government, with or without the Maori Party. . .

Of the major parties, National is expected to win 43.0% of the party vote, the Labour Party 34.5% and the Green Party 9.5%.  

No other parties are expected to reach the 5% threshold under the MMP electoral system.  The Conservative and NZ First parties are both expected to win 4.6% of the party vote, the Maori Party 1.5%, Act 1.3%, Mana 0.7%, UnitedFuture 0.6% and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 0.3%.  

Stocks for the proposed Civilian and Kim Dotcom parties will be launched in the near future.

Based on the party vote forecasts and the electorate results above, Parliament would be as follows: National 54 MPs, Labour 44 MPs, Greens 12 MPs, the Conservative Party 6 MPs, the Maori Party 2 MPs, UnitedFuture 1 MPs and Mana 1 MP, for a total of 120 MPs.  A government would be required to have the support of 61 MPs on confidence and supply.

Under this scenario, National, the Conservative Party and UnitedFuture could form a government with 61 MPs.  Were the Maori Party involved, such a government would be supported by 63 MPs.

Were the Conservative Party not to win an electorate seat, a Labour/Green/Maori Party/Mana government could be formed with 62 MPs.

Overall, the market indicates a very narrow advantage to National, with a 53.3% probability of a National prime minister after the next election and a 45.1% probability of a Labour prime minister. . .

I’d call that too close to call which is what most polls have been saying.

 


Banks calls media conference @ 11 UPDATED

04/12/2013

Act leader John Banks and party president John Boscawen have called a media conference at 11am.

It will be to announce:

a) Banks is going to resign from parliament.

b) He’ll stay in parliament but won’t stand again at the next election.

c) He’s going to undertake a citizen’s initiated referendum calling for Len Brown to resign as mayor of Auckland so he (Banks) can stand for that position.

d) There is more to Act than two Johns.

e) ?

UPDATE:

The answer was b:

Speaking to reporters at a press conference this morning, Mr Banks said: It’s time for me to move on from this place”.

He referred to the sentencing of his parents 50 years ago to long prison terms.

“I stood outside the High Court as a 17 year old absolutely committed to a liftetime of hard work honest endeavour and public service to try and balance the public ledger.”

“Anyone who knows me well knows I would not file a false return of anything.

He was now focused on the “long triangulated legal process to clear my name”.

“I will not be saying anything more about the particulars of the case now before the court except that I’m not fearful of the process or where it ends.”

There is a place on the political spectrum for a party to the right of National.

Can Act survive to do that or is the brand now so tarnished it would be better to start afresh?

 

 


The trend is tight

11/11/2013

Last night’s TV3 Reid Poll showed:

National is on 46.8 percent. It is still on top, but has taken a big drop of 3.5 percent.

Labour are up 1.2 percent on 32.2 percent. That gain comes from the Greens, who are down to 10.2 percent.

And Winston Peters is on 4.2 percent; not quite at the five percent needed to get back into parliament, but still extremely dangerous.

Among the minor parties, Colin Craig’s Conservatives are at 2.8 percent, well over double the last poll. It’s the highest ever result for the party, and crucially, it is taking votes off National.

Hone Harawira gets a decent bump too, scoring the numbers to bring a second MP to parliament.

But as for Act, it appears they won’t win Epsom and will be out of parliament altogether. . .

The significant movement is the rise of the Conservatives, seemingly taking support from National.
But there’s little comfort for Labour when its gain comes at the expense of the Green Party.
Most movement is within the right and left blocks rather than between them and confirms the trend of most polls which have been showing it’s a very tight race.
As Mike Hosking opined:

Any government with a mid-40s support base in a system with so many parties to split the vote really couldn’t ask for more. They’re as popular today as they were the day they won the house five years ago. That’s impressive. But in a game where you’re not the only team, the other teams have let them down so they have real trouble.

So in another time, in another system, a third term would be a given. But under MMP in 2014, I wouldn’t bet the bank.

However, there’s little comfort for the left either.
The results for preferred Prime Minister show John Key at 40.9%, compared with 10.8% for Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe.
Cunliffe is lower than David Shearer was when the last poll was carried out in July.
The increase in Labour’s vote is within the margin of error although the poll was taken while the party conference was on and it and it was getting lots of publicity.
That will be cause for concern for Labour and strengthen the resolve of the ABC – anyone but Cunliffe – block in caucus.

Act x NZ First

03/04/2013

The Focus NZ Party, which began life as the Rural Party, has more than 400 of the minimum of 500 members it needs to register as a political party.

The Focus NZ party, headed by Kerikeri farmer and businessman Ken Rintoul, was formed last year around a group of farmers opposed to big rate increases proposed by the Far North District Council. . .

The policies released so far are something of a grab-bag from across the political spectrum, incorporating some of the philosophy and business-friendly approach of Act with a dose of NZ First’s interventionist economic nationalism. . .

Like some other small parties which have started its policies appear contradictory – it wants to cut taxes, which is a business-friendly policy, but it also favours a new tax on international transactions which is business unfriendly.

It’s also opposed to asset sales which isn’t a pro-business stance either.

Fortunately, its chances of being in a position to translate its policies into practice are slight.

Kiwiblog tables the best election results under MMP for parties that didn’t already have an MP in parliament:

  • 99 MPs 0.03%
  • ACT 7.14%
  • Advance NZ 0.05%
  • Animals First 0.17%
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis 1.66%
  • Asia Pacific United 0.02%
  • Bill & Ben 0.56%
  • Christian Heritage 2.38%
  • Christian Coalition 4.33%
  • Conservative 2.65%
  • Democrats for Social Credit 0.08%
  • Destiny 0.62%
  • Direct Democracy 0.03%
  • Ethnic Minority 0.12%
  • Family Party 0.35%
  • Family Rights 0.05%
  • Freedom 0.02%
  • Future NZ 1.12%
  • Green Society 0.11%
  • Kiwi Party 0.54%
  • Libertarianz 0.29%
  • Mana Maori 0.25%
  • Mauri Pacific 0.19%
  • McGillycuddy Serious 0.29%
  • Natural Law 0.15%
  • NMP 0.05%
  • NZ Conservative 0.07%
  • NZ Super & Youth 0.06%
  • One NZ 0.09%
  • Outdoor Recreation 1.28%
  • Pacific Party 0.37%
  • People’s Choice 0.02%
  • Progressive Greens 0.26%
  • RAM 0.02%
  • Republic of NZ Party 0.02%
  • South Island 0.14%
  • Te Tawharau 0.02%
  • Workers Party 0.04%

So of those 38 parties, only ACT have made it in. 31 parties have failed to make even 1% and six parties made 1%. Of those six, four were effectively Christian parties, plus ALCP and Outdoor Recreation.

That list includes the Christian Coalition which was led by sitting, and former National, MP Graeme Lee.

To add evidence of just how difficult it is for a new party to gain traction you could add to that list parties formed by or with at least one sitting MP who failed to win a seat at the next election. Among them was ROC, formed by Ross Meurant who left National to form his own party and who is on the board of Focus NZ.

The 500 members required to form a party is a very low hurdle and Focus NZ will probably find enough people to jump that. Succeeding from there is much harder.

Persuading people to vote for a new party which doesn’t have an MP and is contesting the list vote only takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of good publicity and a lot of money.

Focus NZ  could be seen as a threat to National but there are already plenty of options for people who don’t want to vote for it.

The new party is much more likely to take the disgruntled vote from smaller parties which could hurt them but it would be a safe bet that Focus NZ won’t attract enough support to win even one seat in parliament.


Sell Landcorp – Act

03/04/2013

Act wants the government to include Landcorp in its asset sales programme.

Associate Primary Industry Spokesman Robin Grieve says:

“ACT believes the Government should not be involved in the business of farm ownership and that 100 per cent of Landcorp should be sold,” Mr Grieve said.

I agree that the government shouldn’t be in the business of farming but National campaigned on selling a minority share in a few state assets and Landcorp wasn’t among them.

For that reason the sale of the company shouldn’t happen this term. The sale could be part of a future campaign but Landcorp shouldn’t be sold as a whole.

Putting the whole company up for sale in its entirety would limit the number of potential buyers to a very few. Most if not all who could afford to pay the more than a billion and a half dollars its worth would be from overseas.

While I’m not opposed to overseas ownership in general it wouldn’t be sensible to structure a sale so that all the farms were almost certain to go to foreign interests.

The only reason for the government to own the farms is to maintain a land bank for treaty settlements.

Once that is no longer needed any farms left in state ownership should be put on the market one by one until they’re all sold.

The company has a good reputation for farm management and its possible that a company making use of that could also be floated.

Act is right that the state shouldn’t be farming but its policy for Landcorp to be sold as a whole would be neither politically nor financially sensible.

It would be easier to sell the policy and ensure a better return for the land by selling the farms individually and over time.


Putting a brake on SKIing

27/04/2012

SKIing – spending the kids’ inheiretance might be acceptable for parents but it’s not for a government, and borrowing so that future generations are left with debt is even worse.

Changes to the Fiscal Responsibility Act announced by Finance Minister Bill English yesterday will make it harder for governments to do that:

“In times of surplus, governments come under pressure to increase spending, which can put extra pressure on the economy, leading to higher  inflation, higher interest rates and a higher exchange rate. This is bad for exports and jobs.

“The Government is proposing introducing  some additional principles into Part 2 of the Public Finance Act that  ministers would have to take into account when setting fiscal policy.

“The proposed changes are designed to ensure greater transparency around how government decisions affect the wider economy and future generations.”

The proposed changes would require governments to: • Consider the impact of their fiscal strategy on the broader economy, in particular interest rates and exchange rates. • Set out their priorities for revenue, spending and the balance sheet, rather than focus narrowly on debt as is currently the case. • Take into account the impact of fiscal policy decisions on future generations • Report on the successes and failures of past fiscal policy.

“We are also proposing to add a spending limit based on the rate of growth  in inflation and population as a new principle of responsible fiscal  management, as set out in the National-ACT Confidence and Supply  Agreement.”

It would exclude spending on natural disasters,  finance charges, the unemployment benefit and asset impairments, as they are either outside the Government’s control or they help stabilise the  economy in a downturn.

“Under the proposal, if a government  decided to temporarily exceed the limit they would need to clearly  explain the reasons and outline how they intended to ensure future  expenses remained within the limit.”

This won’t stop future governments spending more than they ought if they’re determined to be irresponsible. But it should put a brake on SKIing and enable the public to know how well, or badly, past fiscal policy went and not just what the government plans to do but the implications of it.

 

 


And Act’s new leader is . . .

16/02/2012

. . .  absolutely no surprise:

John Banks has been confirmed as ACT’s new leader.

As the party’s sole MP, he is already parliamentary leader.

A caucus of one was hardly going to vote for anyone else and it would have been yet another dagger in the party’s heart had the board given the role to anyone else.


Weak membership endangers parties

17/01/2012

Quote of the day:

If you are unkind, you will say, “How did you fail to predict that Don Brash would make a hostile takeover of the Act Party, replacing Hide with non-Act member John Banks and advocating legalising cannabis, that all five Act MPs would retire and that the conversation between Banks and John Key over a cup of tea would dominate the election campaign?”

In my defence if I had predicted that, I think the editor would have thought I had taken leave of my senses. Richard Prebble looks back at his 2011 predictions in The Listener (not yet on-line).

Anyone who’d predicted that would not have been taken seriously but the party’s low membership did put it at risk of a hostile takeover.

This is something of which all parties need to beware.

The requirement to have only 500 members to become, or remain, a registered party is a pitifully low hurdle.

It is especially dangerous under MMP when these wee parties with few members can not only get into parliament but into government.

 

 


Blame the rules not the players

06/12/2011

When those of us who wanted a change from MMP mentioned the problem of wee parties gaining concessions out of proportion to their support, we were told that the tail didn’t really wag the dog.

Funny how some of those people who were such strong defenders of MMP are now complaining that John Banks has got too much in the deal between Act and National.

Neither he nor the National Party strategists who negotiated the deal made the rules and they can’t be blamed for playing the game.

Blame the system and its rules not the players.

We’ve had a chance to change it but it’s unlikely the final count on the referendum will show a majority in favour of doing so.

If we have to stick with it we’ll get a review – but the negotiating power of coalition partners is very unlikely to be changed by it.

A system which almost always requires coalition governments constrains the bigger parties and gives more power to the wee ones. No matter what the review does, it can’t change that.


Not if but how for Maori Party

06/12/2011

The choice for the Maori Party isn’t if they will reach an agreement with National but how.

In or attached to the government the party will be able to get real policy gains.

The alternative of three years in the wilderness of opposition in competition with Labour, the Green part, NZ First and Mana will do nothing for the party or its supporters.

It could also mean the end of the Maori seats.

National campaigned in 2008 on getting rid of the seats but dropped that policy as a concession to the Maori Party during coalition negotiations.

Act still wants the seats dropped. If the Maori Party chooses opposition rather than supporting the government in some fashion, National will be under no obligation to keep them.


Act agreement aims to constrain spending

05/12/2011

Act’s confidence and supply agreement with National appears to be aimed at less spending rather than more.

Both parties recognise that irresponsible increases in spending between 2005 and 2008 caused our current fiscal problems and agree that could happen again.

To that end they’ve agreed to legislate in the next two years to ensure that increases in core Crown operating spending, excluding finance charges, unemployment benefit, asset impairments and natural disasters, will be subject to a limit no greater than the population increase multiplied by the inflation rate.

Act’s sole MP John Banks will be a minister outside cabinet holding the portfolios of Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Education, and Associate Minister of Commerce.  He will also be a member of the Expenditure Control, Economic Growth and Infrastructure, and Appointments and Honours committees.

 

 


Acting conservative

29/11/2011

When John Banks was promoted as the answer for Act, I wondered what the question had been.

Act is supposed to be liberal, economically and socially. John Banks is conservative and now it looks like he might want to be Conservative too.

 

ACT’s lone MP John Banks says he is in favour of talks with Conservative Party leader Colin Craig – as speculation mounts behind the scenes about a merger . . .

I don’t think he will get much enthusiasm for that idea from Act.

Craig isn’t enthusiastic either.

 

“I think the issue here is the ACT party are slightly schizophrenic at the moment. You’ve got John Banks who is at heart a conservative, then you’ve got a party who is at heart libertarian.” . . . 

But he was more optimistic about a relationship with Mr Banks. “I acknowledge Banks as a conservative. I wouldn’t rule out a cup of tea with John Banks … [but] I can’t see us in a merger with ACT – I just think there would be too diametrically opposed issues.”

Maybe Banks is the answer not for Act but for the Conservative.

The voters who backed Banks probably knew what they were getting. But those who voted Act in the belief in what it stood for would be less than impressed to find that its lone MP is already talking of merger with a party whose principles are very different from theirs.

 

 

 

Craig said before the election the Conservative Party could go with National or Labour. Whether Labour or its allies, in particular the Green Party, would want to go with it is a moot point but there is no way Act would go left.

However, if Banks jumped waka it would leave Act free to get back to its liberal roots, although it would be doing so without a presence in parliament, even though the party was the vehicle that got its lone MP there.


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