Bribe-o-meter

August 16, 2017

The Taxpayers’ Union has updated its Bribe-O-Meter which costs party policies;

Opposition parties appear to be spending up to the rafters with sets of policies many times more expensive than the last election. New Zealand First is pushing the boundaries of fiscal free-spiritedness, so far promising $22.9 billion in new spending over the next electoral term. Labour is close behind with $18.9 billion, followed by TOP at $10.7 billion and the Green Party with $8.1 billion.
 
The incumbent governing parties have been much more controlled. Somewhat surprisingly, given the size of the party, United Future has promised the most with $4.7 billion in new spending. The National Party are still keeping the powder dry, promising just $2.5 billion of new spending over the next Parliamentary term.
 
The Maori Party are still yet to release their manifesto, so the costings to date only include IwiRail – estimated at $1.6 billion. ACT is the only party who have promised a net cut in government spending. Its manifesto would see a reduction in spending of $5.4 billion over the next three years.

KEY FINDINGS (AS OF 14 AUGUST):

  • National has promised $2.5 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $1,453 per household.
  • Labour has promised $18.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $10,952 per household.
  • The Greens has promised $8.1 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $4,692 per household.
  • New Zealand First has promised $22.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $13,291 per household.
  • ACT has promised $5.4 billion in taxpayer savings over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $3,103 in savings per household.
  • United Future has promised $4.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $2,737 per household.
  • The Maori Party has promised $1.6 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $899 per household. Although this only includes one policy (the Maori party manifesto is yet to be released).
  • The Opportunities Party has promised  $10.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $6,199 per household. . . .

New face solves only one of Labour’s problems

August 1, 2017

Andrew Little has resigned and been replaced by Jacinda Arden.

Labour also has a new deputy in Kelvin Davis.

I don’t think this was the fresh approach the party’s now obsolete billboards were promising and it will solve only one of its problems.

The new face will get more, and more positive, publicity than the old one did, at least for a while. But she’s still leading the same party and has inherited all its other problems.

One of those is a lack of money which will be exacerbated by the expense of new hoardings and any other publicity already produced.

Another is confusion about what it stands for and poor policies which result from that.

And the big one is the memorandum of understanding with the Green Party.

The Green’s have been the only ones to gain from that and have shown contempt for both Labour and the MOU.

If they can’t be trusted in opposition, how on earth could they be trusted in government, especially if New Zealand First was also in the mix?

P.S. Echoing Nick at No Minister, spare a thought for the volunteers. It’s no fun when your party is in disarray and it will be the volunteers who will be doing most of the work taking down and replacing the hoardings.


Once were friends

July 31, 2017

This could be from one of  Labour”s foes:

The people in charge of Labour have guided the party through a period of strategic ineptitude, policy torpor, financial ruin and organisational decay. They are just not very good at politics.

Until the party reckons with this, root and branch, their only other idea — changing leaders periodically in the hope that doing so will transform the party’s fortunes — is merely window dressing to distract from the shambles within.

Bur Phil Quin and Labour once were friends.

He like several other commentators are already calling the election for National.

But while it certainly looks like Labour is losing it doesn’t mean that National will win:

The latest poll results show voters recognise National offers a strong stable government, in contrast to the opposition, Prime Minister Bill English says.

But Mr English said party needed to lift its support further to ensure its re-election. . . 

. . . Labour’s poor poll showing would not ensure National’s re-election. “Despite Labour doing worse, the Greens are doing a bit better, and they could have a majority with New Zealand First so our view is that our support, while it’s good, isn’t enough.’

One of the determinants of who leads the next government will be what happens to the wasted votes.

If for example National got a similar level of support as it did in this poll and TOP got around 4.5%, the reallocation of those and other votes for parties that didn’t make the 5% might just be enough.

But National can’t rely on that outcome, it must earn the right to lead the government and in doing so get the votes to enable it to do so.

That won’t be easy because after nearly nine years in government it too has people who once were friends but for a variety of reasons are no longer.


Labour’s poll lower

July 15, 2017

The 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released this week was bad news for Labour.

Its own poll is even worse.

Newshub has been leaked poll results from the company that does Labour’s internal polling which show it is in big trouble, two-and-a-half months out from the election.

The results show Labour is on 26 percent support – crashing from 34 percent in May. . . 

National is chugging along as usual – currently on 42 percent – then Labour (26 percent), the Greens (13 percent) and New Zealand First (14 percent). . .

The Roy Morgan poll released last night held better news for Labour:

The overall support for the governing National-led coalition was down 3.5% to 45.5% with National support down 3.5% to 43% while support for their Coalition partners was unchanged with Maori Party on 1.5%, Act NZ on 1% and United Future on 0%.

Support for a potential Labour/Greens alliance was up 4.5% to 44% driven by the 5% rise in support for Labour, now on 30.5%, while support for the Greens was down 0.5% to 13.5%. Support for New Zealand First was down 1% to 8%.

But that poll usually has bigger changes than the others and it’s the trend which matters.

The UMR polls shows a downward trend for both National and Labour.

That’s similar to what happened in 2002 when many voters didn’t think National, the bigger Opposition party, had a chance, but Labour, the main governing party,  didn’t benefit.

Act, NZ First and whichever iteration of what is now United Future was then, mopped up support instead.

This time neither Act nor United Future are gaining but NZ First is.

People tend to bank the good things a government does and the longer a party is in power the more people will take issue with what it does, or doesn’t do.

Even though polls continue to show a reasonable majority think the country is on the wrong right track, that might not be enough to return a stable, National-led government.

 


Woolly thinking isn’t answer to wool woes

July 11, 2017

New Zealand First is trying to court farmers and has come up with a policy that takes us back to the 1970s:

Clearly Winston Peters has had a flashback to the 1970s when he was MP for Hunua under Rob Muldoon with this ‘Fortress New Zealand’ proclamation that under his watch no civil servant would walk synthetic again.

Earlier today, Peters issued a press release setting out NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’which favours wool and fibre over everything else.

Taxpayers’ Union, Executive Director, Jordan Williams says “While some will be scratching their heads that 76 days out from the election Winston Peters’ priority is the carpets, the issue is actually an important reminder of why taxpayers must be ever-vigilant”.

“Carpets, as well as all other government supplies, should be selected on value for money alone. This sort of crony favouritism by politicians is exactly the sort of thing which sent New Zealand bust in the early days of Peters’ career”.

“Here’s hoping Peters’ release is merely an ill-timed joke and that he hasn’t come full circle”.

It isn’t a joke. It’s a policy and one farmers don’t want.

Wool is in the doldrums but a return to the woolly thinking of the past when political interference and subsidies were the norm is not the answer, especially when the $120 million it would cost would be better spent elsewhere:

NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’ announcement this morning, to line all Government offices with woollen carpets, would cost approximately $120 million, based on the Government Property Group’s estimate of Government floor space.

Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “While smarter carpets for government bureaucrats may be appealing to some, in comparison to what $120 million will buy you in nurses, policeman or teachers, we’re not so sure.”

“In another context, $120 million is the income tax take of over 6,000 average New Zealand households. The Taxpayers’ Union questions whether taxpayers would really get $120 million of value for bureaucrats having woollen carpet and a more comfortable walk around their office.”

“In the lead-up to the election, we would encourage all political parties to provide costings with their policy announcements. If not, the Taxpayers’ Union will be here to help.”

Notes:
• Using a standard price of a woollen carpet of $79 per square metre, and a floor space of 1,524,524 metres squared, the total cost is $120,437,396.
• If new carpets were only installed as part of usual replacements, the marginal cost of wool is $60 million to $93 million (in today’s dollars) more than usual synthetic commercial carpets.

We have only wool carpet in our home but that’s our choice and paid for with our own money.

The decision on what carpet to use in Government offices is one for the chief executive, not politicians.

It should be based on the best value for the taxpayers’ money, not political direction from an opportunist trying to court voters.

Political interference and subsidies got farming and farmers into a mess. Getting out of it through the reforms of the 1980s and 90s came at considerable financial and emotional cost.

We don’t want policy based on woolly thinking that will take us back to the bad old days when political whim rather than commercial reality drove business decisions.


Election Sept 23

February 1, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has announced that the general election will be held on September 23rd.

He’s following the example of his predecessor John Key who announced the date early.

This gives certainty for everyone about when the regulated period before election day starts, makes it easier for the people who administer the process and takes the politics out of setting the date.

September 23rd is the first day of school holidays but with the freedom for anyone to vote early that shouldn’t be a problem.

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He also spoke of which parties National could work with in the next term should it be in a position to lead a fourth government:

“Under MMP elections are always close so we will be taking nothing for granted as we campaign for the right to lead New Zealand for another term,” says Mr English.

“We will be fighting hard to win every party vote to ensure we are in the best possible position to form a strong and stable Government that continues to deliver for all New Zealanders.

“However, MMP means we will almost certainly have to work with other parties.  This will likely be in the form of confidence and supply agreements, which have worked well for us in the last three terms.”

Mr English said his preference is to continue working with current partners –  ACT, United Future and the Māori Party.

“Together our parties have provided a stable and successful government at a time of great uncertainty in many parts of the world,” says Mr English.

Mr English ruled out working with the Labour-Greens grouping. 

“They are an increasingly far left, inward looking grouping, with no new ideas who don’t back New Zealanders to succeed.

“New Zealand First is an unlikely partner, however I am prepared to have discussions with them post-election depending on the makeup of Parliament,” says Mr English. 

 


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.

 


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