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Posts Tagged ‘by-election’

John Key’s government – death by two cuts

3 April 2015 4 comments

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With Winston Peters winning the Northland by-election, National’s grip on power has loosened, with one less seat in Parliament.

Before 28 March, National held 60 seats in the House, and with it’s neutered poodles, ACT/David Seymour, and Peter Dunne/United Future, had an overall majority of 62 out of 121.

With Peters’ victory, National’s majority now rests on Peter Dunne, who, on occassion has exhibited an ‘annoying’ streak of quasi-independence from the National Party Politburo.

What has not been examined by the MSM is that should National face another by-election, even Dunne’s support will not be sufficient for National to pass legislation, and reliance on the more independent minded Maori Party would put Key’s administration into an untenable situation.

For example, on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ on 29 March – the day after the by-election – the Maori Party’s co-leader Marama Fox outlined her party’s position on social welfare;

Fox: “We now have the opportunity to leverage of this platform; to negotiate every piece of legislation…

… One of the things that we need to ensure is that we can put money in the hands of the people who most need it. If you look at the poverty statistics in this country, the people who are most affected by poverty are families on benefits. And benefits have not risen with the rates of the cost of living in the last thiry years, really, in realistic terms and those people need some relief.”

When Corin Dann asked Ms Fox if she would demand more money from the Finance Minister to increase welfare payments, she replied;

Yes, absolutely.”

This is not something Bill English would want to hear. With National’s Budget surplus this year balanced on a knife’s edge, English has already squashed John Key’s suggestion of a $130 million tax-payer funded bail-out of SkyCity’s convention centre;

There’s no contingency for that. If the less preferred option ended up being the option then that money would be part of the Budget process.

It beggars belief that English would welcome an  increased welfare bill costing many hundreds of times greater than the subsidy proposed for a multi-national casino – though god knows it would go a long way toward alleviating increasing child poverty in this country.

Yet, that is precisely the situation that National now finds itself in. One more by-election loss, and National’s majority in the House would vanish, and Key’s administration would be at the pleasure of the Maori Party.

National’s choice? To abandon right-wing “reforms” and appease the Maori Party’s demands for  increase social spending – or call an early election.

As the General Election in 1984 showed, voters do not appreciate early elections and the governing Party is punished at the ballot box.

So where is National vulnerable to losing by-elections?

The following five National-held electorates have majorities of five thousand or less, and in a major swing away from the government, could potentially fall into the hands of an Opposition Party;

Auckland Central Nikki Kaye 600
Christchurch Central Nicky Wagner 2,420
Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga 2,348
Waimakariri Matthew Doocey 2,506
Whanganui Chester Borrows 4,505

In addition, there are ten electorate National/ACT MPs with majorities between 5,000 and 9,000 – the latter figure being Mike Sabin’s 2014 electoral majority;

East Coast Anne Tolley 7,934
Epsom* David Seymour* 4,250*
Hamilton West Tim Macindoe 5,784
Invercargill Sarah Dowie 7,482
Nelson Nick Smith 7,605
Ōtaki Nathan Guy 7,782
Papakura Judith Collins 5,119
Rotorua Todd McClay 7,418
Tukituki Craig Foss 6,490
Wairarapa Alastair Scott 6,771

National’s other coalition partner, Peter Dunne, has a slim majority of only 710.

At this point, the National Party politburo and their charismatic, blokey Dear Leader must be praying to every god in the heavens for the health and safety of those sixteen members of Parliament.

Key, English, Joyce, et al, must also wondering if any of their colleagues have any skeletons rattling noisily in their closet? And if so – does Labour or NZ First know about it?

 

* Unreliable majority because of deal-making between ACT and National.

 

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References

TVNZ Q+A: Maori Party Emboldened?

NZCity: English eyes a 2014/15 budget surplus

Interest.co.nz: Finance Minister prefers not to spend taxpayer cash to avoid Sky City ‘eyesore’; no money in Budget 2015 for it

Wikipedia: Northland (New Zealand electorate) – 2014 Election

Previous related blogposts

Northland by-election – a damning poll and a damnable lie?

Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned


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 The Nationalmobile

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 March 2015.

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A Message to Winston; A Message to John Key; and a Message to the Regions

2 April 2015 2 comments

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NZ First – National Coalition announcement, 11 December 1996

 

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Message to Winston Peters: don’t stuff this one up.

If you get too close to John Key’s government, voters will perceive you as another “satellite” party to National in the same vein as ACT, Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party. None of the three have done particularly well in  elections;

  • ACT won Epsom only at the pleasure of John Key
  • Peter Dunne remains a one-man band – essentially a National-lite clone
  • The Maori Party lost another MP last year, as voters deserted it in droves

Be wary of supporting National’s legislative programme (even with “major” changes).

Be wary of being perceived as being too close to National.

Be extremely wary about throwing National a Parliamentary “life-line” – voters will remember that in 2017 (if not earlier).

How many times can you repeat the same mistake?

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Peters 'sorry' about coalition - NZPA - 14 September 1998

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Message to John Key: a reminder of your warning on 21 September, 2014, about the perils of third-term arrogance creeping into government;

“I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.

In a way, having an absolute majority could exacerbate that situation, so I don’t intend to take the party veering off to the right.

One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.”

The arrogance from National was demonstrated when they  kept secret the Police investigation of Mike Sabin – prior to last year’s election. It was only four months later that some (but not all) revelations regarding a police investigation became public knowledge and Sabin was forced to resign.

Voters in Northland had good reason to consider they had been deceived – by their own Party-in-power!

National’s further arrogance was again demonstrated when Key flippantly dismissed Peters’ presence in the by-election with his “absolutely zero” chance remark. It is not for government MPs, Ministers, or the Prime Minister to tell voters who has or has no chance of winning an election. That privilege is reserved solely for voters, who make that decision on the ballot paper.

More arrogance when a brace of Ministers suddenly appeared throughout Northland, in taxpayer-funded Ministerial limousines, to prop up their lame-duck candidate. Not exactly a good look for a region racked with poverty, one would have thought?

As  Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman, said,

“It’s pretty extraordinary that National is not only pork barrelling the electorate, but accessing the pork themselves to get themselves around the electorate.”

More important still – why wasn’t this kind of attention bestowed on Northland over the last few decades whenever National was in power? Did they really think citizens would not notice? Really?!?!

The arrogance of National was even more jaw-droppingly breath-taking with it’s blatant electoral bribes of up-grading ten Northland bridges to two lanes; speeding up broadband introduction to the region, etc. Is that how National really perceives voters – that they think we are too thick to recognise the stench of electoral bribes when  shoved under our collective noses?

Then again, the tax cut bribes did work for Key in 2008. (Which, nearly seven years later, we are still paying for.)

And threatening to withdraw one of the bribes, if voters decided not to choose the National candidate – as Key clumsily announced on 13 March – was arrogance cloaked in paternalism. Paternalism is best left to parents with rebellious teenage children. It rarely works on voters.

Five days later there was more arrogance yet, when a National backbencher thought that threatening New Zealand citizens, was a really, really clever idea. It was not, as Shane Reti discovered to his cost. Real Stalinist-stuff. Doesn’t go down well with Kiwis.

Finally – John Key’s most brazen act of arrogance  illustrates how deeply “concerned” he felt  about Northland’s dire economic and social circumstances, and how “greatly”  he supported his own Party’s candidate to win the by-election;

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PM to attend the Cricket World Cup Final

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I’m sure Northlanders are equally delighted to have a new Member of Parliament to represent them.

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Message to the Regions: if New Zealanders living in parts of the country that have missed out on the country’s “rock star economy” feel sufficiently aggrieved, they should do something about it.

As always, the power is in their hands. They have the vote.

Use it.

Northlanders did, and they have just sent National a clear message they will not forget in a very long time.

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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References

NZ Herald:  Election 2014 – Triumphant PM’s strict line with MPs – Don’t get arrogant

Fairfax media: Government’s wall of silence over Mike Sabin

TV3 News: National MP Mike Sabin resigns

TV3 News: Peters launches Northland campaign with ‘The Force’

TV1 News: Taxpayers forking out for ministers limo rides in Northland

Fairfax media: Northland by-election – John Key admits National pulled back on promises

NZ Herald: Nats to borrow for other spending – but not tax cuts

Fairfax media: Nats – Roads in doubt if Winston wins

Radio NZ: Dusty road group claim bullying

Scoop media: PM to attend the Cricket World Cup Final

Previous related blogpost

Teflon Man No More

When the teflon is stripped away

Witnessing the slow decay of a government past it’s Use-By date

Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned


 

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planet key

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 March 2015.

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Letter to the editor – This is how much John Key really, really cares for Northland

31 March 2015 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Sun, Mar 29, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor

NZ Herald

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During the Northland by-election, our esteemed Prime Minister was at great pains to show Northland voters how really, truly, deeply concerned he was for the regions.

So much so that he and other Ministers took their tax-payer funded ministerial limousines around Northland, campaigning for votes.

So much so, that lots of promises were made by Mr Key – promises that more cynically-minded critics cruelly  dismissed as election bribes.

So much so, that when it came to election night, Mr Key showed his earnest support for his candidate and for the Northland electorate… from the MCG where the Black Caps were playing against our Aussie brethren. Speaking from Melbourne, Key voiced his love for Northland and how much his thoughts were with the people of that region;

“I am delighted to be attending the final between New Zealand and Australia.”
With support like that, Northlanders, as well as other New Zealanders, can begin to understand how much this current government really, truly,  cares deeply about them.
-Frank Macskasy

 

 

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[Address and phone number supplied]

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References

Scoop media: PM to attend the Cricket World Cup Final

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Letter to the editor – Northland voters have been warned

24 March 2015 9 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Northern Advocate <editor@northernadvocate.co.nz>
date: Thu, Mar 19, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Northern Advocate

.As National’s candidate struggles to gain traction in the Northland by-election, various government ministers would have us believe that the promised up-grade to  ten single-lane bridges; a suggested roll-out of fast-broadband in the North; and bringing forward the  Puhoi to Wellsford motorway are not bribes. 

On 10 March, our esteemed Prime Minister said he “unashamedly” wanted to win the by-election.
Northland voters should be wary of whatever promises Key makes.
He has a steady track record of fudging, back-flipping, and out-right breaking promises when he suits him politically.
Many of National’s recent promises have hundred-million dollar price tags, and will impact negatively on the government’s books. Bill English will not be pleased as he tries to balance government accounts back to surplus as well as find hundreds of millions for election bribes.
Remember that it was Finance Minister Bill English who firmly squashed any suggestion of tax-payers footing a $130 million subsidy toward the Skycity convention centre on 11 February when he said,

“There’s no contingency for that. If the less preferred option ended up being the option then that money would be part of the Budget process.”

Northlanders should brace themselves that if the National candidate wins, many of the promises will most likely be delayed, wound back, or dumped altogether for fiscal reasons.
Key’s track record on keeping promises is not reassuring. Voters have been warned.
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-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: Government pulls out the stops for Northland

NZ Herald: John Key unapologetic about Northland byelection promises

Fairfax media: Government rolls out more ultrafast broadband

Interest.co.nz: Finance Minister prefers not to spend taxpayer cash to avoid Sky City ‘eyesore’; no money in Budget 2015 for it


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 March 2015.

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Have the media finally learned to ask the right questions?

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When right-wing, normally pro-National,  columnists like the NZ Herald’s John Armstrong question the veracity of this government’s assertions, then it is another indication that things are not going well for John Key’s six-year old administration.

Specifically, Armstrong’s questioning  Steven Joyce’s claim on 12 March that thousands of new jobs have been created in Northland;

When you add that to the 7,500 extra new jobs created in Northland in the last year, it is clear that the region is turning the corner and beginning to grow well.”

Armstrong replied two days later, lambasting the National Minister;

Deserving of special scrutiny is the repeated claim by Steven Joyce that 7500 new jobs were created in Northland last year. It certainly sounds impressive. The Economic Development Minister’s assertion is based on Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That indeed showed an increase of 7500 more people in employment in Northland at the end of last year as against the previous December.

The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment. When people talk about “new” jobs, they usually mean full-time or part-time with a reasonable number of hours. We simply do not know what types of jobs were actually created.

Note Armstrong’s comment; “The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment”.

He is indeed correct. Statistics NZ considers a person to be employed if they;

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

Note that a worker does not even have to be paid for Statistics NZ to consider you officially “employed”.

Which Armstrong duly noted;

The risk of making bald assertions without qualification is underlined by the survey’s other finding that despite the apparent strong lift in employment, the number of unemployed in Northland fell by only about 100 during the same 12 months.

It is refreshing that some in the media are finally starting to pick up the mendacities of this government. Key and his cronies are simply not be be trusted and every utterance they make should be fact-checked.

If an openly pro-National columnist understands that the governments claims are bogus, it should not be beyond the abilities of other journalists to undertake basic research as well. There is simply no excuse; the information is readily available through search engines.

Even Cameron Slater has picked up on National’s blatant  propagandising and seems less than impressed.

As I blogged in early February;

If the last six years have shown us one thing, it is that the next scandal and revelations of dodgy ministerial practices and inept Prime Ministerial behaviour is not too far away.

The media are alerted. The public now have some awareness of dirty politics behind the scenes. And journalists are starting to exercise a form of collective memory.

It is said that the public no longer care about politics, and that Key has “de-politicised” it. But, like the continuing bad stories that finally destroyed Jenny Shipley’s government, continuing negatives stories can have a corrosive effect on this government.

The more times Key is caught out lying or being tricky with the truth or breaking promises – the more that the public will slowly but surely distrust his “brand”.

The loss of Northland will not only be damaging to the National government, it will be the clearest indication yet that the value of “Brand Key” has been  irrevocably tarnished and diminished.

This will be Key’s final term in office.

Hat-tip: Maria Sherwood – ‎John Key has Let Down New Zealand

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References

National Party: Strong economic performance in Northland

NZ Herald: John Armstrong – Questionable tactics in race for Northland votes

Statistics NZ: […] Definitions

Whaleoil: Wheels come off Steve Joyce’s Northland campaign

Previous related blogposts

Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth

Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth*** UP DATE ***

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

Witnessing the slow decay of a government past it’s Use-By date

When the teflon is stripped away


 

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3000 more jobs - fantasy by J Key

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2015.

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Northland by-election – a damning poll and a damnable lie?

12 March 2015 5 comments

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A recent TV3 poll and associated story yielded two interesting observations. Firstly, that Winston Peters has a better chance of winning the Northland by-election than Labour.

Secondly, that the National candidate, Mark Osborne, is quite likely a liar.

The Poll

Despite TV3’s Patrick Gower thoroughly unprofessional interview with Winston Peters on The Nation, on 28 February, where he condescendingly referred to the NZ First leader’s candidacy in the Northland by-election as “a stunt” with “very little chance of winning here” – a TV3-Reid Research poll has put Peters firmly in the lead.

Peters’ lead is a commanding five percentage points over his nearest rival, National’s Mark Osborne;

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tv3 poll- northland by-election - 5 march 2015

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The poll results are a stunning up-set for National and creates serious doubt whether the Key government can survive a full three-year term.

The poll also revealed that Northland voters are far from “relaxed” about the police investigation  surrounding former Northland MP, Mike Sabin, which evidently began in August last year;

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tv3 poll- should voters have been told sabin was under police invstigation - by-election poll - 5 march 2015

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Even a clear majority of National voters agreed with the question whether “voters should have been told Mike Sabin was under investigation”;

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tv3 poll- should voters have been told sabin was under police invstigation - national voters - by-election poll - 5 march 2015

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The TV3 poll is evidently backed up by a  “secret poll” recently referenced by the National Business Review.

From a majority of 9,300 in the 2014 election, National is now set for a crushing, humiliating defeat. Worse still, it will take their numbers in the House from 60 to 59 with reliance on ACT, Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

Any further by-elections between now and 2017, and even support from ACT and Peter Dunne may not be sufficient to save this government. For the first time since the first MMP government was formed in 1996, New Zealand could see an early election, and the subsequent demise of John Key’s political career.

On 35%, Peters has a fairly good chance of taking Northland. But with 19% Undecideds – the outcome is by no means “done and dusted”.

This is still a First Past the Post election, and Osborne could still win the electorate with one single vote, even with a majority voting against him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little should re-visit his comments on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 3 March, where he stated that the Labour candidate, Willow-Jean Prime “was in with a chance“.

Little also said that he did not know “where Peters stands in terms of peoples’ affections for him” in the electorate.

I suggest that the TV3 poll is a fairly clear indication.

Little added, “I’m just not convinced that the level of support is there for Winston that some people claim“.

Perhaps the poll may begin to convince Little that  “the level of support is there for Winston“.

Guyon Espiner pointedly  asked Little “are you  open to being convinced if a poll were to come out“?

Little replied that it thought it was “unlikely“.

It is no longer unlikely, and indeed, it is likely that Labour’s Ms Prime will come a distant third in what has quickly become a two-horse race.

The question for Labour, now, is what is more important?

  1. Contesting a by-election on a point of principle even at the cost of  potentially helping National retain the seat?
  2. Swallowing pride; adopting a truckload of pragmatism;  giving Peters a free run; and perhaps hastening the demise of this increasingly self-serving government?

Former Labour president, Mike William said on 4 March, on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme, that he would have counselled against Labour contesting the by-election. Williams cited cost and Peters working alongside Labour to assist Kelvin Davis to win the Te Tai Tokerau electorate last year.

If Peters wins Northland, it would be a win/win for the Opposition;

  1. The government’s majority would fall by one,
  2. The government would become more vulnerable to future by-elections,
  3. Peters would have to vote with the Opposition on every important issue that mattered. Peters simply could not afford to vote with National and risk being seen as another coalition partner alongside Dune, ACT, and the Maori Party.

The question that Andrew Little should ask himself every day and night from now on is; do I really want to risk splitting the opposition vote in Northland and thereby help John Key preserve his government?

Because in the final analysis, that is what it boils down to.

The Lie?

In the TV3 video with Gower’s voice-over, note Osborne’s response (at 2:16) to an off-video question regarding the curious circumstances surrounding Mike Sabin’s sudden resignation from Parliament on 30 January;

“Ah, I’m not aware of the situation or the circumstances behind it.”

Then note Peters’ response (at 2:20) to Osborne’s comment;

“They all knew. And at the top. Including my opponent, who was a Treasurer of the organisation.”

If Peters is correct and Osborne was (is?) the Treasurer of the Northland Branch of the National Party – then it is inconceivable that he was unaware of Sabin’s situation and the police investigation.

Enquiries made to the National Party, by phoning the Electorate Office, and on Twitter,  on the morning of 6 March have not resulted in any responses to questions on this issue.

Electorate committee executives are almost always the first to find out what is happening on their own patch.  For Osborne to deny any knowledge of Sabin’s situation is simply not credible.

Osborne was either kept out of the loop by other electorate executives; never attended committee meetings; and never spoke to other committee members – or he is lying.

Which is more likely?

Not exactly an auspicious start to his nascent political career?

Perhaps he is following in his Dear Leader’s footsteps.

 

 

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References

TV3 The Nation: Transcript – NZ First leader Winston Peters

TV3 News:  Peters on track to win Northland seat

TVNZ News: Police asked questions about Mike Sabin six months ago

NBR: UPDATED: The fix isn’t in – Labour to contest Northland

Wikipedia: 2014 General Election results

Radio NZ: Labour won’t rule out deal in Northland byelection (audio)

Radio NZ: Labour urged to make way for Peters in Northland

National Party: Northland electorate

National Party: Twitter

Other blogs

Bowalley Road: Sorry Winston – Why Labour Needs To Stand In Northland

Polity: Herald on Northland

Polity: Game on

Public Address: The Northland by-election; or The so-called Tizard Effect

The Daily Blog: Why National might lose Northland and why Labour can’t win

The Daily Blog: Poll shows Winston winning Northland

The Dim Post: Northland

The Standard: On Northland

The Standard: Northland Polls; Horrorshow for National

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Northland by-election - the public going to sleep

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 March 2015.

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Letter to the editor – Getting the government we deserve

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Northern Advocate <editor@northernadvocate.co.nz>
date: Wed, Mar 11, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Northern Advocate

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On Radio NZ’s Morning Report, on 10 March, our esteemed Prime Minister openly admitted that his government was engaged in naked bribing of the Northland electorate. He vainly attempted to justify  the policy announcements-cum-bribes with this noble-sounding explanation;

“We’re in an election and in election campaigns you announce your policies what you’re going to do. There’s no point in us, you know, waiting two months and saying to the people of Northland ‘Oh by the way, this is what we’re intending to do’. I mean they’re entitled to know upfront, before they vote, what our intentions are and we intend to make a number of policy announcements.”

It’s a shame that Key does not hold the same view that Northlanders are “entitled to know upfront, before they vote” why the former National MP, Mike Sabin, was forced to suddenly step down as Northland’s MP.

Are Northland voters not “entitled to know upfront, before they vote” what prompted Sabin’s resignation?

And why did the National Party keep the circumstances a secret prior to the general election last year?

Whatever potential scandal surrounds Mr Sabin, with National Party connivance to keep it secret; it seems that Northlanders are now being offered ‘lollies’ to keep them happy.

If the new National candidate is elected to Parliament, then never before has the old adage – that we deserve the government we get – been ever truer.

-Frank Macskasy

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[address & phone number supplied]

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Reference

Radio NZ: Government pulling out all the stops for Northland (audio)

 

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Northland by-election - the public going to sleep

 

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