Could be a silly precedent

September 13, 2016

Labour is clearly rattled by the latest One News Colmar Brunton political poll which put the party down three to 26% since June.

Leader Andrew Little called it a bogus poll and now the party has released its internal poll results.

 

The Roy Morgan poll a couple of months ago which showed National on 53% was off-trend but the latest One News poll is far closer to others than Labour’s.

Kiwiblog has the four most recent poll results for National and Labour:

Individual polls are probably only of interest to political tragics but others might take more interest in the trends which have National in the mid 40s and suggest the UMR poll is an outlier.

Labour could have set a silly precedent and dug a hole for itself by releasing its own poll.

The media will want to know what the party’s internal polling shows next time one of the public ones doesn’t fit the party’s narrative.

If Labour doesn’t release it the obvious conclusion will be that it isn’t favourable either.

Had it not lost its spin doctors, one of them might have warned the party of that.


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

August 31, 2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


MMP votes in middle

June 1, 2016

If getting attention was the goal of Labour and the Green Party with their memorandum of understanding they’ve succeeded.

However, attention doesn’t necessarily translate into votes and this strategy could well lose more votes than it gains.

All parties need to keep their core supporters happy, that’s the foundation on which they build electoral success .

All but the most deluded of Greens will understand that if they’re going to be in government it will be a Labour-led one so this arrangement is unlikely to worry them and may even please them.

But the Green Party is on Labour’s left flank and the harder left in Labour might welcome the MoU but the more moderate among its members might be less happy.

On current polling these two parties together still won’t gain enough votes to govern without at least one other party. The Maori Party could go left, but a Labour-Green government will almost certainly need more than the couple of of extra seats that would give them.

That plays into the hands of Winston Peters who is likely to hold the balance of power and who refused to go into coalition with Helen Clark’s Labour-led government if the Green Party was in the mix.

Peters’ past behaviour isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of what he’ll do in the future. Some of his socialist policies would be more at home in a Labour-Green government than a National-led one.

But he won’t commit himself until after the votes are in and he will seize on the opportunity this new relationship provides to gain votes from undecided voters and those luke-warm to Labour who would rather move towards the centre than the left.

Working together to oppose National makes sense for Labour and the Greens but these two together will still be hard-pressed to outdo Peters, the master of opposition politics.

More overt co-operation could make the two parties look more like potentially viable partners in a coalition.

But their pact only benefits them both and their ambition to be in government if the support they gain together is greater than that they are getting separately.

It is difficult to see that happening when the MoU moves Labour left and under MMP the votes which change governments are in the middle.

 


Basics beat side shows

April 11, 2016

National’s three-point rise to 50% in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll has come as a surprise to some commentators.

Labour’s four-point fall to 28% was probably not.

It is only one poll and anything could happen between now and the election but Kiwiblog shows where the two parties were at the same time in the last election cycle:

In April 2013 National was at 43% and Labour 36% – a 7% gap.

In April 2016 National is at 50% and Labour 28% – a 22% gap.

He points out that Labour leader Andrew Little is on only 7%, three points behind Winston Peters.

This isn’t a strong position from which to launch a winning election campaign.

In another post, Kiwiblog looks at party favourability:

. . . National is viewed favourably by 58% of NZers. That helps explain why 47% voted for them.

Labour is viewed favourably by just 35% of NZers. . . 

National has the least unfavourable – only 28% of NZers dislike National. This will come as a surprise to hard left activists who live in a bubble where 100% of their friends dislike National. . . 

Labour is on 41% for unfavourability.

National at +30% is the only party to have net favourability:

PartyNetFav

National’s continual popularity confounds its critics and many commentators.

There are several reasons for it and one of the biggest is that the government focuses on the basics while Labour gets distracted by sideshows.

That doesn’t mean everything the government does works well. I am tribal National and there are some things the government does I don’t like and some it doesn’t do I’d like it to, but those things don’t matter as much as the basics – the economy, education, health, welfare, and security.

And of course, one big reason National is doing so well is that Labour isn’t.

National can’t rely on that if it wants to win a fourth term, a viable government needs to be there for better reasons than a hopeless opponent but Labour’s continuing focus on side-shows and showing its incompetence in opposition keeps demonstrating it is not a viable government-in-waiting.

 

 

 

 


Labour doesn’t understand business

March 1, 2016

Labour said it’s worried about jobs which will disappear but is complaining the increase in the minimum wage isn’t high enough.

The minimum wage is just that, the minimum. It’s a floor not a ceiling.

Any business which can afford to pay its workers more than that can and many will.

But not all work is worth more than that and imposing higher costs on businesses without lowering other costs or increasing returns will put other jobs and whole businesses at risk.

It will also increase the move to replacing people with machines which is supposedly one of Labour’s big worries.

In another example of Labour’s lamentable lack of understanding of business principles, the party wants to force forests to sell logs to local mills.

Forest owners responded:

Forest owners say they are keen to sell their logs to local mills, so long as the terms of sale match those from export markets.

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes says there have been cases where local mills have been unwilling to do this.

“It’s not just about price. It’s also about the payment risk, the length of the contract and the quality of the logs on offer. Many modern mills have tight specifications for log supply. Logs that don’t meet those specifications are usually exported. This will always be the case,” he says.

Responding to a call from Labour Party MP Stuart Nash that “foreign forest owners” should be forced to sell logs to local mills, Mr Rhodes says owners of forests – foreign, corporate, private companies, iwi, partnerships or individuals — look for terms and conditions that give them the best overall returns.

“In many cases they get only one chance to do this, having spent 27 years growing their trees. This is crucial – forestry is not a one-way bet. Just ask those forest owners, particularly in Northland, who are not replanting after harvest, because log prices are not high enough to justify re-investment.”

Mr Rhodes says it is unfair to single out overseas owners of large plantations as the reason for mill failures.

“It may appeal to the emotions, but does not advance public understanding one iota. Overseas owned forestry companies are among the leaders of the industry. They make significant investments in jobs, worker safety and the environment.”

 

He says forest owners understand the importance of New Zealand having a viable wood processing industry and are partners in the Wood Council which is committed to having more value added to logs in NZ.

“We are talk regularly with politicians from the various political parties about policies that will assist the forest and wood processing industries remain vibrant, viable industries providing employment in the regions. Mr Nash’s proposed policy is not one of them.”

Forestry is a risky business with a long time between planting and payment.

Forest owners aren’t charities. They’re businesses and need good returns to if they’re going to continue in business and employing their own staff.


“Free” for whom?

February 1, 2016

Labour has unveiled what’s being called a ‘free” tertiary education plan.

“Free” for whom?

I was one of those who supposedly had a “free” tertiary education. There were far fewer students per taxpayer then but people on modest incomes were paying 60% (or was it 66%?) in tax.

The taxpayer already covers 70% of the cost of study. Labour’s policy would save those students who benefit in the short term but they and all other taxpayers would pay more in the long term.

Labour’s supposed constituency of lower skilled workers won’t be enthusiastic about paying more so the children of better-off families can save a bit on their education whether or not what they study is what the country needs.

New Zealand does have a skills shortage in some areas but this policy doesn’t target those shortages, it’s across the board.

Everyone, including those working hard to pay off loans already incurred will be paying more tax to further subsidise the education of people who won’t necessarily be trained in skills we need and some of those who are won’t necessarily stay in New Zealand once qualified.

There are national-good benefits for a better educated population which is why the taxpayer is already very generous in its support of tertiary education.

And the national-good is not an argument for being even more generous, especially when this policy would increase the quantity of students while doing nothing to improve the quality of the education they get.

If there is money to spare  it would be better to be targeted where it will do most good, for example an extension of the existing funding for writing-off student loans for vets, doctors, nurses and others who work in hard-to-staff regions.

But the greatest need in New Zealand is the long-tail of underachievers who fail long before they get near any higher education.

P.S.

Labour hasn’t put much effort in to winning the Invercargill seat in recent years. This policy will help the incumbent MP, National’s Sarah Dowie, retain her seat by doing away with the advantage the Southland Institute of technology has in attracting students with its zero-fees policy.


Three Labour leaders for TPP

January 28, 2016

Two of Labour’s former leaders, Phil Goff and David Shearer, who are still senior members of its caucus are quite clear that they support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A third former leader, Helen Clark, also supports the agreement.

Mr Goff, a former leader and former Trade Minister and now an Auckland mayoral candidate, and David Shearer, also a former Labour leader, last night told the Herald they both still supported the TPP.

Mr Goff said the deal should be signed.

Former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark also backed the TPP among 12 countries and it was begun under her leadership. Mr Goff was Trade Minister.

Labour has decided to oppose the TPP on the grounds that it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty.

Mr Goff did not blatantly criticise Labour’s position. But he effectively dismissed that view and the suggestion that Labour would not be able to prevent foreign investors buying New Zealand residential property.

“Every time you sign any international agreement you give away a degree of your sovereignty.” He cited the China free trade deal negotiated when he was Trade Minister.

“We gave up the sovereign right to impose tariffs against China when we signed up to the China free trade agreement. But it came with quid pro quos. China gave up its right to impose huge tariffs on us.

“That’s what an international agreement is; it’s an agreement to follow a particular course of action and a limitation on your ability to take action against the other country.

“You have the ultimate right of sovereignty that you can back out of an agreement – with all the cost that that incurs.”

The costs of not being part of such a wide trade agreement would be significant.

The TPP obliges member Governments to treat investors from member countries as though they were domestic unless exceptions are written into the agreement. Labour wanted an exception written in for investors in residential housing but National did not seek it.

Mr Goff is critical of National for choosing not to do that.

“But there is more than one way to skin that particular cat,” he said. “We retained the right to make it financially undesirable or unattractive to buy up residential property in New Zealand.

“You can still impose, as Singapore and Hong Kong do, stamp duty on foreign investors.” . . 

Labour’s biggest achievement last year was the appearance of caucus unity.

This breaking of ranks shows that the veneer of unity was thin.

That some in Labour disagree with the caucus position might entertain political tragics.

But the bigger significance is that for the first time in decades it’s walking away from the consensus it’s had with National on free trade.

Caucus disunity might hamper its chances of returning to government. But it will get there sooner or later and any failure to foster free trade progress as successive governments have, won’t be in the country’s best interests.


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