Political blood thicker than water


The reason New Zealand First has been polling below its election night support is obvious:

NZ First voters would have preferred National to be in Government than Labour by a large margin, newly released survey results say.

The new public survey data shows 44.5 per cent of NZ First voters answered “National” when asked to pick between Labour and National leading the Government, with Labour 10 points behind at 34.1 per cent. . .

I suspect if the choice had been National or Labour and the Green Party, the number preferring National would have been even higher.

But it’s not just Peters opting for Labour with Greens in support, that’s upset members.

A raft of internal NZ First documents have been leaked to the media and the National Party, revealing internal discontent about the way the party ran the last election campaign and Coalition negotiations. . . 

The papers show some were critical of leader Winston Peters for planning to take legal action against National Party figures before Coalition negotiation began and questioned what impact that had on those talks.

It is a very rare breach of the internal secrecy of the party and will be a blow to Peters. . . 

He has had absolute sway over the party for years, but these leaks show that, as many dictators before him have found, the grip eventually loosens.

Documented minutes of a party meeting in November 2017 show members levelling criticism at Peters.

One member said New Zealand First needed to “come up with solutions and start a succession plan post Winston Peters”.

Another said: “Resources for the campaign were not provided, no cogent policies, signs unreadable, distribution of sign issues, listing was confidential, no plan B (or even A) for Jacinder [sic]”.

After the 2017 election, Helen Peterson – a long-time party member, who has stood for election three times – wrote a report titled “NZ First Concerns and issues regarding Election 2017”. She has been approached for comment.

“A number of members nationwide have been extremely disappointed in the way in which the 2017 election campaign was handled,” it said.

The documents reveal members felt the party’s list showed disrespect for hardworking, loyal, hardworking and long-serving members, and favoured candidates who had personal relationships with those who select the list placement.

Members also complained the list process was sexist, as only three of the candidates in the top 18 were female.

It also shows members thought the campaign was unorganised, lacked leadership and had no strategy.

New Zealand First candidates were “for the most part unsupported” and given minimal mentoring or support by the board.

“The extent and magnitude of the issues demonstrate how the party will remain a third party for the foreseeable future unless there is an enormous shift towards accountability, adherence to the constitution and respect for its members.” . . 

These criticisms won’t be any surprise to the many who have long questioned Peters and the apparent disregard for democracy in his party.

But political blood is thicker than water and staunch members will put up with policies and behaviors from and within their party that they will condemn in others. But only for a time.

Peters’ power over his party and its members has been almost absolute.

The resignation of the president, and his explanation of why, and the leaks showing internal dissatisfaction indicate that for at least some members, the time for unwavering support is past.

What about the workers?


The xenophobia being demonstrated by NZ First and Labour in their anti-immigration campaign ignores the fact that we need the skills many bring.


Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): Talofa lava, Mr Speaker. The Government is ensuring that our demand-driven policies deliver the right skills in the right places, when they are needed, as well as meeting family and humanitarian obligations. I note that this has resulted in a reduction in the number of immigrants gaining residence from more than 51,000, when David Cunliffe was immigration Minister, to less than 39,000 last year. I would also be interested in whether that member believes, as is implied in the question, that the inflow should be reduced further, and whether that reduction should come from engineers, medical specialists, IT experts, or the construction workers whom we need to assist with the Canterbury rebuild, because that is the practical implication of reducing the inflow further. . .

Many of the unskilled people who gain visas are connected to the skilled ones:

Tracey Martin: As the Government claims that New Zealand needs more skilled migrants to sustain economic growth, why were close to 50 percent of the migrants granted residency last year not identified in the skilled worker category?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: It is important to understand the context of those figures. The Government has, as there was under the previous Government, a loose target of up to about 150,000 over a 3-year period. I think the last 3 years have seen about 123,000 residence visas granted, so it is below the lower limit of the 3-year target. The balance of those includes the spouses, partners, and children of skilled migrants, the partners of people who are Kiwis coming home, having done overseas visits, and our humanitarian Pacific and Samoan quota obligations. So it is absolutely appropriate that between 50 and 60 percent of those people gaining residence are skilled and the balance are connected.  . . .

Contrary to the opposition rhetoric, immigrants aren’t to blame for the housing shortage – which is largely confined to Auckland and Christchurch anyway.

Tracey Martin: Why is the Government ignoring Treasury’s warnings around the impact on housing of 41,500 extra people entering New Zealand in the 2014 year?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I preface the answer to this question by pointing out that in 1999 to 2001, when there was large negative net migration, house prices still went up materially, particularly in Auckland. The report that the member refers to is a report on the question of the positive impact that immigration has on macroeconomic policy. In respect of housing, it said that there was a tension there, but that the dominant tension is in supply-side inelasticity—a pointyheaded way of saying that we are not building enough houses. We are fixing that by increasing land supply, reducing the consenting barriers, and reducing the cost of materials.

And contrary to the rhetoric, even when it’s difficult to find New Zealanders to fill job vacancies, it’s not easy to employ immigrants:

Tracey Martin: How would the Minister explain to an unemployed worker in Porirua, Ōpōtiki, or South Auckland why his Government is allowing record numbers of migrant workers into New Zealand?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: If there is a record, it is the record low in the residence programme, particularly in recent years. As I said in an answer to an earlier question, there are far fewer numbers being given residence than there were under the previous Government, and that is because we have demand-driven policies. Ask any employer in this country about how hard it is to employ a migrant and to ensure that they pass the labour-market test, and I think they would say that there are plenty of opportunities for those New Zealanders to get work. . .

There are opportunities but, in dairying for example, New Zealanders don’t always want to take them up.

Cropping farms and orchards also depend on immigrants.

The hospitality industry in the provinces has problems attracting locals and depend on overseas workers, many of whom are on working-holiday visas and won’t try to become residents.


Maiden speeches


New Zealand First MPs Richard Prosser, Andrew Williams,  Tracey Martin, Asenati Lole-Taylor and Denis O’Rourke made their maiden speeches today.

Prosser’s is here, Williams’ here, Martin’s here Taylor’s here and O’Rourke’s here.

I don’t share their philosophy but I was interested in their stories.

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