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Simon Bridges: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT”

13 March 2019 1 comment

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A recent bold statement from current National Party leader, Simon Bridges, declared his intentions should a capital gains tax (CGT) be enacted;

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…No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand ” – a statement so categorical that it made John Key’s 2008 commitment never to raise GST, look timid;

“National is not going to be raising GST.

National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes.”

Except, he did.  In October 2010, Key’s National government increased GST from 12.5% to 15%.

Nine years later, Simon Bridges has made a similar, solemn, hand-on-heart, promise: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand“.

Except, he can’t.

On at least several levels, his commitment to repeal a capital gains tax will fail.

Labour’s  Grant Robertson, made it crystal clear that any proposed CGT will not be implemented until after the 2020 general election;

“We know it is important to get this right, so we will balance the need for certainty and urgency by ensuring that any potential changes will not come into effect until the 2021 tax year. This gives multiple opportunities for public input, and a general election before any new tax would come into effect.”

The process would be straight-forward: whatever the Coalition government decides would be put into legislation that would not ‘activate’ until after the next election. It would take a repeal of that legislation to stop CGT from ‘kicking in’.

The difficulty with this is two-fold.

Firstly, Simon Bridges and the National Party would have to achieve a simple little thing: win the next election.

The chances of that happening – with current polling – is marginal, to say the least.

For starters, National has been trailing Labour in the last two political polls.

Secondly, National has no ‘mates’. ACT is consistently in the zero-to-1% band and the faux-Bluegreen Party is nowhere to be seen.

That leaves two parties: the Greens and NZ First.

The Green Party membership would rather machine gun the last remaining Hector’s Dolphins than entertain a “teal” coalition with the Nats. Bridges’ promise to reinstate offshore exploratory drilling for oil and gas would make any potential National-Green coalition toxic and as likely as a flying saucer landing on the White House lawn.

Which leaves NZ First. It is unclear as to what benefit – if any – a coalition deal with the Nats would offer to NZ First. As well as having been the “kiss of death” to other small parties, National has tried to destroy Winston Peters in the past. Peters is unlikely to have forgotten the leaking of his superannuation over-payment and the strong probability that it was engineered by a senior National government minister who shall remain nameless.

Moreover, if this current Coalition Government passes legislation for a capital gains tax to take effect in 2021, that would mean all three parties – Labour, Greens, and NZ First – voting to pass said necessary legislation.

For a National-NZ First Coalition to repeal that legislation would mean NZ First voting against a law that they themselves helped enact.

The fallout with the public would be massive, echoing NZ First’s disastrous decision to form a coalition with National back in 1996. Public support for NZ First would rapidly evaporate.

There would be simply no possible political gain for NZ First to travel down that road.

So unless Simon Bridges can find a new political party to ally with; or, unless National can win 50% outright of the Party Vote in 2020 – both unlikely scenarios – his promise to “repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand” cannot be taken seriously.

Indeed, the comments following Bridges’ ‘tweet’ on 6 March reflected the disbelief of such an unlikely event happening.

And more than one social media commentor asked some pertinent questions;

“Does that include the Brightline Test your government introduced?”

And;

“Will you get rid of tax on wages and if not, why not?”

Considering that National introduced a limited capital gains tax – the  two year ‘brightline’ test – in 2015, Bridges would have to make some hard decisions and explanations to the public.

Would the ‘Brightline’ test remain in place if he had an opportunity the scrap the Coalition’s more comprehensive CGT?

Would he return the ‘Brightline’ test to two years or keep it  at five?

How would he justify retaining a ‘Brightline’ test – whether at two or five years – when scrapping a more comprehensive, and justifiably fairer, capital gains tax? Why is one form of CGT acceptable to National, but not the other?

And as more than one person demanded to know, why is National promising to get rid of one tax (Capital gains) which would benefit property speculators – but not income tax, which would benefit every wage and salary earner in the country  (and put a permanent smile on David Seymour’s face that would never be erased)?

Bridges would be facing these questions and more in 2020 if he decided to make capital gains taxation an election issue next year.

All of which is unsurprising: at around 5% in the polls, Bridges faced the ignominy of approaching the margin of error – depressing symbolism to be viewed as an ‘error’ – and over-taken by one of his National MPs, Judith Collins. This has made him that most desperate of beasts; a politician at risk of becoming irrelevant.

No party can hope to win the governing benches with a Leader who is seen as uninspiring and lacking support from even National Party voters.

If Bridges cannot succeed in campaigning to defeat capital gains, his tenure as National’s leader will come to an abrupt end. To be followed in rapid succession by his political career.

A further point has probably not escaped the attention of the National Party: if the Coalition government wins the next election and remains intact, that would signify not just the implementation of the capital gains tax – but it’s bedding-in for three years. That would make it much harder to repeal.

Especially if all the fear-mongering, gloomy predictions failed to materialise and the world (or at least the bit at the bottom where New Zealand sat) failed to end in Mayan Calendar 2012-style. Like GST, National would have to ‘bite the bullet’ and accept the new tax. They simply could not find any justification to repeal it without perpetuating their ‘other’ reputation as being a party of, and for, “rich pricks”.

If Labour, the Greens, and NZ First hold their nerve and don’t blink in the face of right-wing hysteria and bluster, the political gain from implementing CGT could be greater than they anticipate.

In fact, everything to gain, and National to lose.

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Postscript

Response to National MP, Scott Simpson, engaging in fear-mongering over CGT:

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References

Twitter: Simon Bridges – no ifs no buts no caveats – 6 March 2019

Otago Daily Times: Key ruled out GST increase in 2008

NZ Herald: GST rise – The hole in your pocket

Interest.co.nz: Labour releases document setting out tax plan, says no Working Group taxes would come into effect until after 2020 election

Mediaworks/Newshub: National plunges to worst result in over a decade – Newshub poll

NZ Herald: National will reverse Govt’s offshore oil exploration ban if in power in 2020 – Bridges

Radio NZ: Peters’ legal action against National party continuing – lawyer

Beehive: Bright-line test targets gains on property sales

Interest.co.nz: The Bill that will see the bright line test extended from two-years to five has passed its third reading and now awaits the Royal Assent to become law

Mediaworks/Newshub: NZ prefers Judith Collins to Simon Bridges as Prime Minister – Newshub poll

Twitter: Frank Macskasy – Scott Simpson – capital gains tax

Other Blogs

The Standard: Why New Zealand needs a capital gains tax

Previous related blogposts

A Capital Gains Tax?  (14 July 2011)

ACT intending a “serious assault”?  (17 July 2011)

National spins BS to undermine Labour’s Capital Gains Tax (31 May 2014)

A Claytons Capital Gains Tax? (13 September 2014)

Simon Bridges – out of touch with Kiwi Battlers (2 March 2019)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 March 2019.

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2017: Parting shots from the Right: tantrums, bloated entitlements, and low, low expectations for our Youth – rua

6 January 2018 3 comments

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Bill English has low hopes for young New Zealanders.

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Bill English – putting the peasantry in their place

When born-to-rule Tories – with a bloated sense of self-worth and entitlement – slip up and let us peasants know how they really view us – it is usually unsurprising to most on the Left.

Take, for example, Bill English’s candid admission that New Zealand’s lower wage rates were beneficial when it came to competing with Australia. On 10 April  2011, in an exchange with Guyon Espiner on TVNZ’s Q+A, English boasted of the benefits of low wages;

GUYON Can I talk about the real economy for people? They see the cost of living keep going up. They see wages really not- if not quite keeping pace with that, certainly not outstripping it much. I mean, you said at the weekend to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum that one of our advantages over Australia was that our wages were 30% cheaper. I mean, is that an advantage now?

BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it? I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.

GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia. So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia. We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact. We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing. This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia. That’s lifting the standard. They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia. So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand. If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

Perhaps realising he had dug a hole for himself, English added at the end; “…  and lift incomes“. Though of course, if “incomes lifted”, New Zealand workers would no longer be competitive with their  Australian cuzzies, according to his Bizarro-world “logic”.

In 2016,  at a Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding, English probably felt “at home” and sufficiently comfortable in his surroundings to let his guard down. English attacked workers again, trashing them as “hopeless“;

“A lot of the Kiwis that are meant to be available [for farm work] are pretty damned hopeless. They won’t show up. You can’t rely on them and that is one of the reasons why immigration’s a bit permissive, to fill that gap… a cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a license because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable, you know, basically young males.”

A year later, English took a further swipe at New Zealand workers, effectively labelling them en-masse as “druggies. On 27 February 2017, he told the Parliamentary press;

“One of the hurdles these days is just passing a drug test. Under workplace safety you can’t have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can’t pass that test.”

English’s startling (and offensive) generalisation came as a response to questions why National was allowing a flood of immigrant workers when 140,000 local workers remained unemployed.

Blaming others is de rigueur for National when facing one of their countless failures;

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Some more blame-gaming;

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And yet more…

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Not satisfied with those digs at workers and the unemployed, English made it clear only four days before Christmas precisely what he thought of young people bettering themselves through higher education. Responding to Labour’s enactment of their election promise for one year’s free tertiary education – English lamented that “Government’s fees-free policy will ‘soak up staff out of McDonald’s’...”;

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That’s right, folks. Bill English’s ambition for young New Zealanders is to get a job at McDonalds; work hard; and  – stay there. No higher education for you mini-peasants!

McDonalds New Zealand realised immediatley the implications of English’s derisory comment and quickly fired out a statement countering the former-Prime Minister;

“We don’t expect to see much impact as a result of the Government’s free fees policy.”

When a major business contradicts National – the political party ostensibly representing the interests of business – you know Bill English has screwed up. Essentially his brain was in ‘neutral’ when his mouth opened and words tumbled out.

It should come as absolutely no surprise that English is so harsh in his criticism. Labour’s one year free tertiary education is only the beginning. It heralds a gradual return to what  New Zealanders once enjoyed: near-free tertiary education.

It is another cog removed from the creaking neo-liberal system as it is dismantled, piece-by-rotten-piece.

Postscript

According to Wikipedia;

[Bill] English went on to study commerce at the University of Otago, where he was a resident at Selwyn College, and then completed an honours degree in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington.

After finishing his studies, English returned to Dipton and farmed for a few years. From 1987 to 1989, he worked in Wellington as a policy analyst for the New Zealand Treasury…

Bill English undertook his tertiary education prior to 1987. Student fees/loans did not start until 1992.

That means Bill English graduated with his Commerce and English Lit degrees without having to pay fees or take  out massive loans. His tertiary education was (near-)free.

A job at McDonalds awaits him.

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References

Scoop media:  Guyon Espiner interviews Finance Minister, Bill English

Fairfax media:  Bill English describes some Kiwis looking for work as ‘pretty damned hopeless’

NZ Herald:  Unions demand Bill English apologise for describing jobseekers as ‘pretty damned hopeless’

Fairfax media:  Bill English says employers are regularly telling him that Kiwis can’t pass drug tests

Twitter: Newshub – Bill English “soak up staff out of McDonalds”

Mediaworks:  Government’s fees-free policy will ‘soak up staff out of McDonald’s’ – Bill English

Wikipedia:  Bill English

Other Blogs

The Standard:  Kiwi workers are pretty damned hopeless – says Bill English

Previous related blogposts

John Key – Practicing Deflection 101

When National is under attack – Deflect, deflect, deflect!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #2

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 January 2018.

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2017: Parting shots from the Right: tantrums, bloated entitlements, and low, low expectations for our Youth – tahi

5 January 2018 2 comments

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Taking personal responsibility Mike Hosking-style

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Former ‘Seven Sharp‘ presenter and National Party stooge, Mike Hosking, recently gave us an illuminating insight into how seriously he takes personal responsibility.

On an episode of ‘Seven Sharp‘, on 23 August 2017, Hosking said to his co-presenter, Toni Street;

“…you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate.”
The statement was factually incorrect, and people rightly objected. The following day, Hosking made a half-hearted “clarification”;

The fact that anyone can vote for [the Māori Party] as a list party I automatically assumed we all knew given we have been doing this for 20 years… and it went without saying. So hopefully that clears all of that up.

It didn’t “clear all that up”. Not by a long-shot.

After a complaint was laid with the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), the finding was scathing of Hosking. On 19 December, the BSA found;

The Authority upheld a complaint that Mr Hosking’s comments were inaccurate and misleading, and that the alleged clarification broadcast on 24 August 2017 was flippant and too general to correct the inaccurate information for viewers. Voters not enrolled on the Māori electoral roll can cast a party vote for the Māori Party, or vote for one of the 18 Māori Party candidates representing general electorates in the 2017 General Election.

In reaching its decision, the Authority recognised the high value and public interest in political speech during the election period, but emphasised the importance of ensuring audiences were accurately informed about election matters. It said Mr Hosking’s inaccurate comments were presented at a critical time, when voters required accurate information to enable them to make informed voting decisions.

“This was an important issue, particularly during the election period, and had the potential to significantly affect voters’ understanding of the Māori roll and of New ealand’s electoral system”, it said.

In considering whether orders should be made, the Authority commented on the important and influential role held by programme hosts and presenters,particularly during the democratic election process.

Note that the BSA wasn’t commenting on an opinion held by Hosking. Hosking did not say,

“…you [shouldn’t] vote for the Māori Party because X-Y-Z.”

He stated an incorrect fact;

“…you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate.”

An example of “fake news” some might say.

Furthermore, the BSA found that Hosking’s “clarification” was;

…flippant and too general to correct the inaccurate information for viewers“.

Quite clearly, Hosking made a mistake.  Whether he genuinely believed that “you can’t vote for the Māori Party because you’re not enrolled in the Māori electorate”, or he mis-spoke, is almost irrelevant. The fact is that his statement – made on prime time television, with an audience of several hundred thousand people – was untrue. It couldn’t be any more untrue.

The BSA demanded;

… it would be appropriate for the broadcaster to publicly acknowledge the breach of the accuracy standard to its audience by way of a broadcast statement on air.The Authority directed that the statement be broadcast before the 2017 summer holiday break.

Which, by 19 December, was about four months too late. The election had been ‘done and dusted’ by the time the BSA made it’s ruling. Any damage to voters – who were unfamiliar with the intracacies of MMP – had been done.

Hosking could have “taken it on the chin”. But he didn’t, and he broke the cardinal rule for those in public life; ‘when in a hole, stop f—–g digging’!

Hosking kept digging, getting deeper and deeper in the cesspit hole he had dug for himself. Writing for the Herald on 20 December – the day following the BSA’s findings released to the public – Hosking reacted with the equanimity of a spoiled, pinot-sipping, Maserati-driving, rich brat;

My Christmas gift from the BSA, the Broadcasting Standards Authority, is I misled the nation. Sorry nation, I misled you.

I didn’t of course, but they don’t have a sense of humour, or indeed any understanding of the realities of broadcasting, like you shouldn’t take everything literally.

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But the BSA was having none of it. And so sadly, once again, we have paid for a bunch of humourless earnest clipboarders to sit around pontificating and writing reports.

The irony being they decided a statement had to be made rectifying my outlandish behaviour, and it had to be done before Seven Sharp took a summer break.

They released their report yesterday – five days after the show had gone off-air. And they might have known the show had gone off air, because the final show got quite a bit of coverage for other reasons.

Then he added, in a final shot of petulance that only a ten year old could appreciate;

So what has been achieved here? Nothing. The show is finished. The election is over. I’ve quit.

He left out this bit; “…so I’m taking my ball and going home.”

Hosking wondered “why we have a BSA that busies itself with such nonsense“.

Tim Watkin, writing for The Pundit, was unimpressed;

Suck it up, buttercup. Take your medicine. Don’t whinge and claim to be misunderstood, just take responsibility. That’s the sort of advice often offered on talkback radio, yet Mike Hosking seems to have missed that memo with his ill-advised Herald column this morning on a Broadcasting Standards Authority ruling against him.

Watkin added that Hosking’s whinge in his on-going NZ Herald column was, in itself, an abuse of power;

This is dangerous stuff and a rather worrying abuse of power. When someone is sentenced by the Court in New Zealand, they don’t get a newspaper column in which to vilify the judge. And for good reason. Hosking may disagree with the ruling, but you suck it up and take your dues. That is another of the realities of broadcasting, and Hosking should realise that.

Yes, standards bodies get to pontificate; it’s their job. I know, as the digital rep on the New Zealand Media Council (until recently, the Press Council). The bodies exist to protect free speech, balance the power between the media and the audiences it serves and ensure those people with the megaphone act according to agreed ethics. As with anything we do in society, there are rules. If Hosking doesn’t like the rules, he can argue to change them. He can cry into his pinot at home.

But he doesn’t get to whine about them in print when he gets pinged.

Watkins is on the nail on every point made.

But it is illuminating that the Right – which fetishises personal responsibility to the  nth degree – is the last to take personal responsibility seriously.  Hosking demands personal responsibility from just about everyone else;

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This is one the pitfalls of our hyper-commercialised mainstream media, when it sets up “media personalities” to pontificate to the nation on various issues. Such “media personalities” become an embarrassing liability when they get their feet firmly wedged in their oft-open mouths, having said something incredibly (a) stupid or (b) wrong or (c) both.

In this case, Hosking achieved (c): both. And worse still, his masters in the National Party must have been pulling their hair out in tufts. Hosking’s bullshit comment would have impacted badly on the Maori Party. How many votes did the Maori Party lose because of Hosking’s mis-information?

If they did lose a sizeable chunk of votes – was Hosking inadvertently responsible for the Maori Party losing their seats in Parliament? In which case, Hosking may have single-handedly denied National a fourth term in office by destroying one of their coalition partners.

“Own goal” doesn’t begin to cover Hosking’s incredible feat of self-destruction for his Party.

The role of  pundits  is to engage with the public and offer matters to think about and/or to inform us. On 23 August 2017, Hosking achieved neither of those admirable goals. Instead, he was sloppy. His “Maori electorate” comment was sloppy, and mis-informed viewers. His clarification was sloppy, treating viewers with thinly-disguised disdain.

And to make matters worse; it was abundantly obvious he couldn’t care less.

This should be an end to Mike Hosking’s career in broadcasting.

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References

Broadcasting Standards Authority: Seven Sharp presenter’s comments about voting for Māori Party inaccurate and misleading, BSA finds

NZ Herald:  Mike Hosking – ‘Pontificating’ Broadcasting Standards Authority humourless earnest clipboarders

Newstalk ZB:  Mike’s Minute – What about consumer responsibility?

Additional

Mediaworks:  BSA has no sense of humour – Mike Hosking

Mediaworks:  Mike Hosking officially broke broadcasting rules with false Māori Party comments

Other Blogs

The Pundit:  Mike Hosking – You do the crime, you do the time

Previous related blogposts

Mike Hosking as TVNZ’s moderator for political debates?! WTF?!

Mike Hosking – Minister for War Propaganda?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 December 2017.

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Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

12 October 2017 4 comments

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You can feel mainstream media’s frustration with the news-vacuum created by the two week period necessary to count the approximately 384,072 (15% of total votes) Special Votes that were cast this election.

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Winston Peters has announced on several occasions that he will wait until the Specials are counted and announced by the Electoral Commission on 7 October,  before making any announcements on coalition;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said…”

And you know what? He’s 100% right.

All the media pundit speculation; all the ambushing at airport terminals; all the annoyingly repetitive questions are utterly pointless. Peters simply cannot say anything meaningful until 7 October because the 2017 Election has not yet fully played out.

This is not a game of rugby where, after eighty minutes, a score determines a winner and loser (or draw).  In this game of “electoral rugby”, the score will not be delivered for two weeks.

The media – still feeling the adrenaline from Election Night “drama” – appears not to have realised this. The 24-Hour News Cycle is not geared toward a process lasting days or weeks.

One journalist writing for the NZ Herald, Audrey Young, even suggested that initiating coalition talks before the Specials were counted and announced was somehow a “good thing”;

It is surprising that NZ First has not begun talking to National yet, at a point when it has maximum leverage.

Not doing so before the special votes runs the risk having less leverage after the specials are counted should there be no change in the seats, or in the unlikely event of National gaining.

That bizarre suggestion could be taken further; why not announce a government before any votes are counted?

Pushed to maximum absurdity, why not announce a government before an election even takes place?  Banana republics fully recommend  this technique.

It says a lot about the impatience and immaturity of journalists that they are demanding decisions on coalition-building before all votes are counted. It is  doubtful if any journalist in Europe – which has had proportional representation far longer than we have – would even imagine  making such a nonsensical  suggestion.

Little wonder that Peters lost his cool on 27 September where he held a press conference and lambasted the mainstream media for their “drivel”;

“Now frankly if that’s the value you place on journalistic integrity you go right ahead, but the reality is you could point to the Electoral Commission and others and ask yourself why is it that 384,000 people will not have their vote counted until the 7th of October. 

Maybe then you could say to yourselves that may be the reason why New Zealand First has to withhold its view because we don’t know yet what the exact precise voice of the New Zealand people is.

All I’m asking for is a bit of understanding rather than the tripe that some people are putting out, malicious, malignant, and vicious in the extreme.”

The mainstream media did not take kindly to the critical analysis which they themselves usually mete out to public figures. They reported Peters’ press conference in unflattering terms and a vehemence usually reserved for social/political outcasts who have somehow dared challenge the established order of things;

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The Fourth Estate does not ‘do’ criticism well.

Even cartoonists have piled in on Peters, caricaturising him for daring to impede the [rapid] course of democracy;

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Or satirising Peters for being in a position to coalesce either with Labour or National. Despite this being a feature of all proportionally-elected Parliaments around the world, this has somehow taken the mainstream media by surprise;

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Perhaps Winston Peters was correct when he accused  New Zealand’s mainstream media of continuing to view the political landscape  through a First Past the Post prism;

“You ran a first past the post campaign in an MMP environment. And things suffer from that.”

Without a hint of self-awareness of irony, the usually insightful Bernard Hickey  offered this strangely familiar ‘advice’ to Peters;

It could have been so different. He could have simply said he couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose. Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance.

Really? “Everyone would have accepted that as a fair stance”?!

How many timers did Peters tell journalists  that he “couldn’t disclose his negotiating position until after the counting of the special votes and that he could not say who he would choose” and how many times did those same journalists (or their colleagues) persist?

I have considerable respect for Mr Hickey’s researching and reporting skills. He is one of New Zealand’s most talented journalists/commentators.

On this point, however, he has over-looked the stubborn persistence of his colleagues in their unrelenting demands on Peters.

That media drivel has extended to journalists reporting on a non-existent, fabricated “story” – a potential National-Green (or “Teal”) Coalition.

Nowhere was this suggestion made seriously – except by National-leaning right-wing commentators, National party supporters, and National politicians. It should be blatantly clear to the most apolitical person that,

(a) such a coalition has been dismissed by the Green Party on numerous occassions

(b) such a coalition would be impractical due to wide policy differences between National and the Greens

(c) such a coalition scenario was being made only as a negotiation tactic by National to leverage against NZ First, and

(d) such a coalition would offer very little benefit to the Greens.

Green party leader, James Shaw, had to repeat – on numerous occassions – that any notion of a National-Green deal was out of a question;

“Our job is to form a government with the Labour Party, that’s what I said on election night, that’s what I campaigned on for the last 18 months and that’s what we are busy working on.

I said on election night that I think the numbers are there for a new government and that’s what we are working on, so everything else frankly is noise and no signal.”

This did not stop the mainstream media from breathlessly (breathe, Patrick, breathe!) reporting repeating the “story” without analysing where it was emanating from: the Right. Or who it would benefit: National.

Writing a series of stories on an imaginary National-Green coalition scenario, Fairfax ‘s political reporter Tracy Watkins could almost be on the National Party’s communications-team payroll;

Metiria Turei’s departure from the Greens co-leadership seems to be what lies behind National’s belief that a deal may be possible – she was always cast as an implacable opponent to any deal with National. James Shaw is seen as being more of a pragmatist.

But National would only be prepared to make environmental concessions – the Greens’ social and economic policy platform would be seen as a step too far. Big concessions on climate change policy would also be a stumbling block.

On both those counts the Greens would likely rule themselves out of a deal – co-leader James Shaw has made it clear economic and social policy have the same priority as environmental policy.

There is a view within National, however, that a deal with the Greens would be more forward and future looking than any deal with NZ First.

One concern is what is seen as an erratic list of NZ First bottom lines, but there is also an acknowledgement that National was exposed on environmental issues like dirty water in the campaign.

That’s why National insiders say an approach to the Greens should not be ruled out.

But Watkins was not completely oblivious to the Kiwi-version of ‘Game of Thrones‘.  She briefly alluded to comprehending that National is pitting the Greens against NZ First;

Senior National MPs have made repeated overtures through the media that its door is open to the Greens, who would have more leverage in negotiations with the centre-right than the centre-left.

Watkins and her colleagues at Fairfax made no attempt to shed light on National’s “repeated overtures”. She and other journalists appeared content to be the ‘conduit’ of National’s machiavellian machinations as prelude to coalition talks.

Such was the vacuum caused by the interregnum between Election Day and Special  Votes day.  That vacuum – caused by the news blackout until coalition talks begin in earnest after 7 October – had obviously enabled sensationalism to guide editorial policy.

Writing for another Fairfax newspaper, the Sunday Star Times, so-called “journalist” Stacey Kirk cast aside any remaining mask of impartiality and came out guns blazing, demanding a National Green Coalition;

They should, and the reasons they won’t work with National are getting flimsier by the day. But they won’t – it’s a matter that strikes too close to the heart of too many of their base – and for that reason, they simply can’t.

[…]

For all their dancing around each other, National is serious when it says it would be happy to talk to the Greens. But it’s also serious when it says it knows it has to make big environmental moves regardless.

If the Greens are serious about putting the environment above politics – and the long-term rebuild of the party – they really should listen.

Kirk’s piece could easily have emanated from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive – not the Dominion Post Building in downtown Wellington.

The media pimping for a fourth National-led coalition, involving the Greens, would be comical if it weren’t potentially so damaging to our democracy. Media are meant to question political activity such as coalition-building  – not aggressively promote them in an openly partisan manner. Especially not for the benefit of one dominant party. And especially not to install that political party to government.

One person went so far as launching an on-line petition calling for just such a coalition;

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The organisor is one, Clive Antony, a Christchurch “organic fashion entrepreneur”. (That’s a ‘thing’? Who knew?)  Mr Anthony explained why he wanted a “Teal” coalition;

“I genuinely think there is common ground between the National Party and the Green Party, which could result in practical policy wins for New Zealand. Environmental issues such as carbon neutrality and social issues like child poverty come to mind.”

Mr Anthony happens to be a National Party supporter.

Mr Anthony failed to explain what National has been doing the last nine years to protect the environment; why rivers have continued to be degraded; why the agricultural sector has been left out of the emissions trading scheme; why National has squandered billions on new roading projects instead of public transport; etc, etc. Also, Mr Anthony has failed to ask why National has not willingly adopted Green Party policies in the last nine years.

What has stopped them?  Party policies are not copyright.  After all, you don’t have to be in coalition with a party to take on their policies.

Although it helps if National were honest enough to release official reports in a timely manner, instead of the public relying on them to be leaked;

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This is how National demonstrates transparency and integrity.  This is the party that attempts to suppress critical information on climate change.

This is the party that some media pundits are clamouring to enter into a meaningful working relationship with the Greens.

As former Green MP, Mojo Mathers pointed out on Twitter;

“Oh my, National love the Greens now do they? Pity they couldn’t show some love for the environment over the last 9 years. #NoGreenWash

Dirty coal. Polluted rivers. Industrial dairying. Rising emissions. Billion dollar motorways. Seabed mining in blue whale habitat and more.”

Another, former Green MP, Catherine Delahunty, voiced what probably 99.9% of Green Party members are thinking right now;

“I would rather drink hemlock than go with the National Party. The last thing I want to see is the Green Party or any other party propping them up to put them back into power. They’ve done enough damage.”

Green Party (co-)leader, James Shaw, was more diplomatic;

“A slim majority of voters did vote for change, and so that’s what I’m working on… We campaigned on a change of Government, and I said at the time it was only fair to let voters know what they were voting for – are you voting for the status quo, or are you voting for change?”

Other individuals pimping for a Nat-Green coalition are sundry National party MPs such as  Paula Bennett or former politicians such as Jim Bolger.

All of which was supported by far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s “intern staff”, on the “Whaleoil” blog;

Currently we are sitting in wait for old mate Winston Peters to choose who is going to run the country. After watching all the pundits in media talk about what the next government would look like, it started to annoy me that everyone has been ruling out a National/Green coalition and rightly so as both parties have basically written it off.

[…]

A quick Blue-Green arrangement with the appropriate Government Ministries assigned to Green Ministers would kill the NZ First posturing dead and would probably be the death knell for NZ First forever once Mr Peters resigns.”

National’s pollster and party apparatchik, David Farrar, was also actively pimping for a National-Green Coalition;

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When even the far-right are salivating at the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition, you know something is seriously askew.

However,  judging by comments posted by Kiwiblog’s readers, the prospect of a Blue-Green coalition does not sit well with his audience.

As an interesting side-note, both Whaleoil and Kiwiblog both published their first stories on a Blue-Green coalition around 27 and 28 September. The Tory communications-strategy memo talking up a Blue-Green scenario appears to have been sent to Slater and Farrar at the same time.

It beggars belief that very few media commentators have picked up on what is really the bleedin’ obvious: National’s strategy is obviously a ploy to leverage against NZ First.

Of all the pundits, only one person seems to have sussed what was really happening and why. Otago University law professor and political commentator,  Andrew Geddis,  put things very succinctly when he wrote for Radio NZ on 30 September;

Media coverage of the post-election period echoes this existential angst. With Winston Peters declaring that he – sorry, New Zealand First – won’t make any decisions on governing deals until after the final vote count is announced on October 7, we face something of a news vacuum.

Commentators valiantly have attempted to fill this void with fevered speculation about who Peters likes and hates, or fantastical notions that a National-Greens deal could be struck instead…

That is as close to sensible commentary as we’ve gotten the last two weeks.

The 2017 General Election may be remembered in future – not for Winston Peters holding the balance of power – but for the unedifying rubbish churned out by so-called professional, experienced journalists. In their thirst for something – anything!! – to report, the media commentariate have engaged in  onanistic political fantasies.

They have also wittingly allowed themselves to be National’s marionettes – with strings reaching up to the Ninth Floor.

The National-Green Coalition fairytale promulgated by some in the media was a glimpse into the weird world of journalistic daydreaming. In other words, New Zealanders just got a taste of some real fake news.

Like children in the back seat of a car on a two-week long drive, this is what it looks like when bored journalists and media commentators become anxious and frustrated. Their impatience gets the better of them.

And a politician called them on it;

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When the antiquated, binary system of First Past the Post  was replaced with a more sophisticated; more representative; more inclusive MMP in the 1990s, our political system matured. Our Parliament became more ethnically and gender diverse. We even elected the world’s first transgender MP.

MMP is complex and requires careful consideration and time.

It is fit-for-purpose for the complexities of 21st Century New Zealand.

The Fourth Estate is yet to catch up.

 

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References

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

NZ Herald:  Winston Peters – 7 per cent of the vote, 100 per cent of the power

Newsroom:  Winston’s awful start

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters launches tirade on media, stays mum on coalition talks

TVNZ:  ‘Next question!’ – belligerent Winston Peters has press pack in stitches after shutting down Aussie reporter

NZ Herald:   Attack on media, some insults and stonewalling – Winston Peters comes out firing in press conference

Newstalk ZB:  Winston Peters hits out at media in fiery press conference

Radio NZ:  Green Party dismisses National-Green speculation

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Fairfax media:  National says don’t rule out an approach to Greens on election night

Fairfax media:  Stacey Kirk – Honour above the environment? Greens hold a deck of aces they’re refusing to play

NZ Herald:  Grassroots petition calls for National-Green coalition

Fairfax media: Govt sits on climate warnings

Twitter: Mojo Mathers

Radio NZ:  ‘Snowball’s chance in hell’ of a Green-National deal

Mediaworks:  ‘I will hear the Prime Minister out’ – James Shaw

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters’ super leak ‘great gossip’ I couldn’t use against him – Paula Bennett

Fairfax media:  Greens have a responsibility to talk to National – Jim Bolger

Radio NZ:  Special votes – why the wait?

NZCity:  Have patience, says Winston Peters

E-Tangata: Georgina Beyer – How far can you fall?

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog:  What could the Greens get if they went with National not Winston?

Kiwiblog:  How a National-Green coalition could work

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – Let’s seriously consider David Farrar’s offer to the Greens and laugh and laugh and laugh

Liberation:  Cartoons and images about negotiating the new government

Previous related blogposts

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (whitu)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 October 2017.

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Letter to the Editor – Dom Post editorial off into LaLaLand…

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Today’s (9 June 2014)  editorial in the ‘Dominion Post was an interesting take on the John Banks Affair and National’s cynical exploitation of MMP’s “coat tailing” provision;

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Stuff.co.nz

Editorial: Discredited flaw still being exploited

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

Every electoral system has flaws which politicians exploit. The coat-tailing provision of MMP is now utterly discredited, but it survives because it serves powerful political interests – especially the National Party’s. The clause should be abolished, but no National-led government will do so.

Labour promises to quickly abolish the clause, which allows a party with just one electorate seat to avoid the 5 per cent parliamentary threshold, if it gains power. There is already a paradox here. Labour might have to rely on the votes of the Mana-Internet Party to do so. But Mana-Internet will get into Parliament only via the coat-tailing clause. Nobody believes it will get 5 per cent of the vote.

The case for abolishing coat-tailing is overwhelming, and was made by the Electoral Commission in 2012. That inquiry grew out of John Key’s promise to “kick the tyres” of MMP, but his government ignored the recommendations. The reason is quite simple: coat-tailing helps the National Party. The Government’s refusal to take any notice of the inquiry was naked realpolitik and a supremely cynical act.

National’s coat-tailing deals with ACT in Epsom have left an especially sour taste in voters’ mouths. Key’s “tea-party” with the-then ACT leader John Banks before the 2011 election was widely recognised as a stunt.

The politicians invited the media to their meeting and then shut them out of the coffee-house while they had their “secret” and entirely meaningless chat. It added insult to injury that Key complained to the police after a journalist taped their conversation.

National and ACT had done similar self-serving deals in Epsom before, and showed just how unfair coat-tailing can be. In the 2008 election ACT got 3.65 per cent of the vote but won five seats in the House thanks to coat-tailing. New Zealand First, by contrast, got slightly more than 4 per cent of the vote but no seats in the House, because it won no electorate. This was mad, but highly convenient to the two right-wing parties.

Coat-tailing, in fact, has kept the dying and discredited ACT party alive. It delivered John Banks a seat in the House, and this week Banks stood disgraced when found guilty in the High Court of knowingly filing a false electoral return. Key, whose self-serving deal with Banks has hurt his own credibility, has even persisted in defending Banks’ “honesty” since the verdict. Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere.

Hard-nosed strategists such as Internet Party leader Laila Harre argue that this is “taking back MMP”, as though this kind of thing was a blow for people power instead of the cynical politicking that it really is.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, no matter what power-hungry politicians might think. The Government should abolish the coat-tailing clause, along with its associated overhang provision, and drop the 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent. However, it won’t happen while National is in power.

– The Dominion Post

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Note the highlighted sentence; ” Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira’s electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere“.

That statement demanded a response…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
DATE:    Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:11:45 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

 

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The editor
Dominion Post

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Your editorial on National's exploitation of MMP's
'coat-tailing' provision was insightful until this jarring
statement ruined it;

"Now, of course, the Left is doing its own tawdry
coat-tailing deal in Te Tai Tokerau. Without Hone Harawira's
electorate seat, Internet-Mana would go nowhere." (9 June)

What "tawdry coat-tailing deal" might that be?

Because every indication is that not only will Labour refuse
to engage in any deal-making, but  MPs Chris Hipkins, Kelvin
Davis, Stuart Nash, et al, have been vociferously attacking
the Internet-Mana Party on social media. If any such "deal"
exists, someone forgot to tell those Labour MPs.

However, if even Labour and Mana-Internet came to an
Epsom-like arrangement - so what?

Those are the rules that this government has decreed and
must be played. Anyone playing by some other mythical
"principled" rules will sit saint-like on the Opposition
benches whilst National gerrymanders the system.

Suggesting otherwise creates an unlevel playing field that
benefits one, at the expense of others, and is untenable.

If it's good enough for National to arrange deals in Epsom,
Ohariu, and soon with the Conservative Party, then it should
be good enough for everyone.

No one takes a knife to a gunfight unless they are dead-set
on losing.


-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

 

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References

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Discredited flaw still being exploited

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Letter to the Editor: Mana, Internet Party, Judith Collins, and “coat-tailing”

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Oh, the height of irony as various National MPs bleat on about Mana-Internet Party “coat-tailing” on Hone Harawira’s electorate…

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FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Thu, 29 May 2014 12:51:49 +1200
TO: "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Gerry Brownlee, other National MPs, supporters, and assorted
hangers-on have accused the Mana and Internet Party Alliance
of "stitching" up a deal and "coat-tailing" on Hone
Harawira's electorate of Te Tai Tokerau.

I might remind Mr Brownlee and National's fellow-travellers
that, after taking hundreds of public submissions, the
Electoral Commission recommended in May last year to do away
with the "coat tailing" provision in MMP, as well as
reducing the Party threshold from 5% to 4%.

Justice Minister, Judith Collins - perhaps too busy with
trips to China and milk issues - refused to implement the
Electoral Commission's recommendations. She cited "lack of
consensus" from MPs.

Translated into plain english, Collins' reference to a "lack
of consensus" meant ACT and Peter Dunne opposed removing the
"coat tailing" provision because it would impact on a slim 
chance to bring additional MPs into Parliament on their
"coat tails".

John Key had the chance to remove this unpopular provision
from MMP and failed to do so for their own self interest.
Now the chooks have come home to roost for National.

-Frank Macskasy
[address and phone number supplied]

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References

NZ Herald: Govt rejects recommendations to change MMP system

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Latest TV1-Colmar Brunton Poll – Back To The Future IV?

28 February 2014 Leave a comment

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local-news-takes-stupid-poll

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It was a shocker of a poll on Sunday evening (23 February); the TV1-Colmar Brunton poll had National soaring to stratospheric heights. At 51%, the Nats would hold around 62 seats in the House – sufficient to govern alone in a 120 seat Parliament.

The numbers;

National: 51%

Labour: 34%

Greens: 8%

NZ First: 3%

There is no figure given for Undecideds/Refused to Say, which kind of makes the stats a bit dodgy.  The Colmar Brunton website, however, does have a download facility to download the full report;

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colmar brunton Feb 2014 - undecideds

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The “Don’t Know/Refused to say” was a whopping 13%!

That’s a sizeable chunk of voters who could yet decide the election outcome.

But how credible is a polling figure of 51% for any political party?

The answer? Not very.

The highest Party Vote for any political party since the introduction of MMP in 1996, was 47.31%, achieved by National in the 2011 election.

So is 51% a credible indicator for National’s re-election chances?

Again, not very.

In a February 2011 TV1-Colmar Brunton poll, National stood at… 51%. In fact, the 2011 Poll is a remarkable mirror of the current Colmar results;

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National's popularity falls, but no party near it - Colmar Poll - feb 2011

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It’s almost as if Colmar Brunton has simply ‘dusted off’ the 2011 poll results; given Labour an extra one percentage point; and slapped a February 2014 label on it.

It is further worth noting that the actual election night result on Saturday 26 November 2011 was as follows;

National:  47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

NZ First: 6.59%

No other Party breached the 5% threshold.

At 34% current polling (by Colmar Brunton), this is still 6.52 percentage points above the 2011 election night results. Not a bad starting point to go into an election.

But 51% for National? Not in the realm of possibility. That is the polling they started from in February 2011 – and still they finished at 47.31%.

Let the campaigning continue.

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References

TVNZ:  National’s popularity falls, but no party near it – Colmar Poll

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15-19 February 2014

Colmar Brunton: ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll 15 – 19 February 2014 Report (Pdf)

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

TVNZ: Surge in support for National – poll

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Labour Mana Green

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 10 February 2014

10 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 10 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (22′ 58″ )

  • John Key’s meeting with Tony Abbott
  • CER,  Aussie supermarkets boycotting NZ-made goods
  • migration to Australia
  • low wages, minimum wage
  • National Party, Keith Holyoake
  • paid parental leave, Working for Families, Colin Espiner
  • Waitangi Day, Foreshore & Seabed, deep sea oil drilling, Nga Puhi
  • MMP, “coat tailing”, Epsom, Conservative Party, ACT
  • Len Brown, Auckland rail link

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National Party spin on Aaron Gilmore and MMP

12 June 2013 1 comment

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Want a good reason for voting for MMP

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Something I’ve noticed in the last few days, as the Aaron Gilmore saga drags on, is the number of snide references being made to our electoral system, MMP (Mixed Member Proportional).

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"...what he's reflecting actually is the reality of MMP. Which whether we like it or not every party leader is powerless."

what he’s reflecting actually is the reality of MMP. Which whether we like it or not, every party leader is powerless.”John Key, 9 May 2013

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 As with the sacking from NZ First's caucus of list MP Brendan Horan, who continues to sit in the House and draw his generous salary and perks, that has underlined a key flaw in the rules for MMP. List MPs are in Parliament solely because of the positions allocated to them by their parties. If they are no longer acceptable to their parties at large, they should likewise be kicked out of Parliament.

As with the sacking from NZ First’s caucus of list MP Brendan Horan, who continues to sit in the House and draw his generous salary and perks, that has underlined a key flaw in the rules for MMP.
List MPs are in Parliament solely because of the positions allocated to them by their parties. If they are no longer acceptable to their parties at large, they should likewise be kicked out of Parliament.”Un-named author, 11 May 2013

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“It is absolutely the curse of MMP that you can’t get rid of an MP that doesn’t deserve to be there.”

“It is absolutely the curse of MMP that you can’t get rid of an MP that doesn’t deserve to be there.”Michelle Boag, May 2013

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The new meme is that the MMP system is somehow permitting Aaron Gilmore to remain in Parliament, and is vexing his Leader’s desire to remove him. The subtext is that MMP is severely ‘flawed’,  allowing errant members of Parliament to flout the ‘system’ and disregard the wishes of the public – and their Party leaders.

The corollary is that the previous system, First Past the Post (FPP) was somehow ‘superior’; tougher on wayward politicians, and allowed Party leaders to ditch them.

Both views are patently false.

As usual, watch out for politicians and their hangers-on – they speak with a forked tongue.

The reality is that pre-MMP, during our First Past the Post era, there were several members of Parliament who split away from their Parties (either National or Labour).

The Roll Call of Honour/Dis-Honour – depending on your point of view:

Matiu  Rata – resigned from Labour, 1979

Jim Anderton – resigned from Labour, April 1989

Gilbert Myles – resigned from National, late 1991

Hamish MacIntyre – resigned from National, late 1991

Cam Campion – resigned from National, March 1993

Winston Peters – resigned from National, early 1993*

Of the six MPs listed above, only Peters resigned from Parliament (as well as his Party), prompting a by-election on 17 April 1993. Rata prompted a by-election the following year, in June 1980.

Peters’ resignation was made of his own volition, as he sought a mandate from his Electorate after a public and very acrimonious split from the Bolger-led National Government of the day. (Indeed, Peters’ by-election was  dismissed  as a “stunt” by his opponants. I guess you can’t win either way.)

The remaining for MPs, Anderton; Myles; MacIntyre; and  Campion all remained as sitting Independent MPs until the following general election. Only Anderton and Peters were re-elected in subsequent elections.

All five MPs were electorate-based, and elected under FPP. In this respect, both MMP and FPP share a common feature; at no time could either Labour or National force their five ‘rogue’ MPs from Parliament.

This is a fact that Key, Boag, and the un-named author of the Dominion Post editorial should be fully aquainted with.

It appears to me is that by ‘dissing’ MMP, the conservative elements in politics (Key, Boag, and an obviously right-leaning anonymous  editorialist) are attempting to shift blame from their own short-comings  onto our electoral system. “Scape goating” is the appropriate term, I believe.

But worse than that – by smearing our electoral system, the Conservative Establishment is further undermining the public perception of democracy in New Zealand.  The apalling low voter turn-out in 2011 –  74.2% , the lowest turnout since 1887 – can only be exacerbated when those with a loud public voice ridicule and deride our electoral system.

The subtext here is; “our electoral system is crap; don’t bother using it; don’t vote; disengage”.

This, of course, suits the purposes of the Conservative Establishment. The less people who vote, the better for them. Their hope is that their own voter base will ignore the subliminal messaging and continue to cast their ballots on Election Day.

It is a sad day in our country when those with a strong public voice (political leaders, public figures, anonymous editorial writers, etc) use their positions to undermine democracy and further erode public participation, when instead they have a duty to promote a sense of  civic duty in our nation.

What’s the bet that come the next election, John Key, Michelle Boag, and the anonymous Dominion Post editorialist will all be voting?

Of course they will. They understand the power of the ballot.

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When you stop voting

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 May 2013.

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References

TVNZ:   Gilmore refuses to resign amid fresh allegations (9 May 2013)

Dominion Post: Editorial: Gilmore should accept it’s time to go  (11 May 2013)

National Business Review: Boag: how best to deal with Gilmore

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Citizen A – 14 February 2013

15 February 2013 Leave a comment

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– Citizen A –

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– 14 February 2013 –

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– Matthew Hooton & Keith Locke –

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Issue 1: Richard Prosser – is he racist? What are the ramifications for NZ First and does this reflect poorly on MMP?

Issue 2: Salvation Army gives the Government a D for child poverty, housing and employment – what is the Government doing?

and Issue 3 tonight: John Key’s decision to take Australia’s refugees – what do we get?

Citizen A broadcasts on Auckland UHF and will start transmitting on Sky TV on their new public service broadcasting channel ‘FACE Television’ February 7th February 2013.

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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John “I can’t recall” Banks, on MMP…

5 November 2012 10 comments

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The Electoral Commission’s final report on reviewing the MMP electoral system was tabled today in Parliament.

The four main changes to the system are,

  • Lowering the party threshold from 5% to 4%
  • Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold, which allows other MPs to enter Parliament on the “coat-tails” of a candidate who have won an Electorate Seat
  • Abolishing the provision for overhang seats
  • That Parliament consider fixing the percentage ratio of electorate to seats at 60:40

This blogger supported the first two options (neutral on the last two). Not because ACT could have gained extra MPs if Banks had won just a few thousand more Party List votes – but because the electorate seat threshold was being openly rorted by John Key and John Banks.

It is that rule which benefits small Parties – which while not crossing  the 5% (or 4%) threshold – can still gain extra MPs in Parliament. Because  an Electorate win gives that Party a “dispensation” from the 5%/4% Threshold.

The entire country witnessed the farce of the infamous  “cuppa tea” meeting, last year,  between Banks and Key at the Urban Cafe, in Epsom,

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It was an unedifying spectacle and public disquiet over the workings of MMP  threatened the very existence of proportional representation in New Zealand.

However, National-cum-ACT MP, John Banks, appears to have taken exception to the Electoral Commission’s  second option;  abolishing the one electorate seat threshold. Indeed, he was a very, very unhappy chappy.

Banks was reported today saying,

Voting systems benefit from infrequent change. Voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with.”

See: MMP review recommends lower party threshold

That’s interesting.

Banks is worried that making changes to an electoral system, despite over-whelming support through public submissions, somehow threatens public  “confidence in the electoral system “?!

That is a very noble sentiment.

In which case, one wonders how ACT could support the repeal of  “31 redundant acts of parliament and 206 unnecessary regulations“?!

See: ACT Policies – Economy

One would think that changing the law 31 times and removing 206 pieces of regulation might threaten public  “confidence in the Parliamentary law-making system “?!

Or, implement the following radical policies, from ACT’s on-line manifesto,

• Push the next government to reduce wasteful spending.  In 2005, Labour was spending 29 per cent of the national income.  Today, the same figure is 35 per cent.  ACT would push the next government to return spending to the level it was at in 2005 by repealing the “election bribe” spending of the past two elections with a view toward getting the top personal tax rate down to 25% and the company tax rate to 12.5%;

• Push the next government to lock in lower taxes by passing ACT’s Spending Cap Bill into law.  The Bill would require government spending to increase only by the level of inflation and population growth.  By reducing government spending and taxes, it would increase the rewards for wealth creation;
• Push the next government to pass ACT’s Regulatory Standards Bill.  The Bill would test all new regulations for unnecessary red tape, making it easier to do business;
• Sell state assets such as power generation companies; the overwhelming evidence is that such valuable assets produce more wealth when managed privately;
• Allow more mining when the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs.

See: Ibid

It’s paradoxical that ACT supports a complete radical make-over of our social, legal, and economic systems – and thinks nothing of it.

But when the  Electoral Commission wants to implement a few changes to MMP,  old Banksie is suddenly worried that “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with“??’

But even stranger is this report, from AUT University’s publication, “Te Waha Nui”, last year,

But Banks himself would rather the MMP meal ticket be scrapped completely.

I favour the STV system (Single Transferable Vote),” Banks says.

He declined to explain what elements of the MMP system he disliked, or why he felt STV was a more attractive option. “

See: John Banks backs STV over MMP

So John Banks thinks making four amendments to MMP will damage voter “confidence in the electoral system” . But changing from MMP to STV – two radically different electoral systems – is perfectly ok?

Cutting to the chase.

This has nothing to do with damaging voter “confidence in the electoral system“.

We all know this.

John Banks’ only concerns in this matter is John Banks. Or more to the point, getting John Banks back into Parliament in 2012, preferably with a couple of extra ACT cronies.

Banks knows that the “coat tailing” effect of the Electoral Threshold  is the reason for Epsom voters to support him. Vote for Banks and as long as ACT’s Party Vote is over 1.2%, you get two ACT MPs for the price of one.

But take away the Electorate threshold and the “coat tail” effect, and voting for Banks gets you – one ACT MP; John Banks. Unless ACT reaches the new 4% Party threashold (about as likely as me spontaneously combusting), ACT get’s no extra MPs.

In which case there is no point in any more cosy “arrangements”  between ACT and National, and Epsom voters will simply drop back to their default-setting to voting for their own National Party candidate.

Banks would have to win Epsom on his own ‘merits’. *cough, cough*

Fat chance.

Epsomites have had a gutsful of this mendacious, memory-challenged, clown, and want to see the back of him as much as the rest of the country.

We all know that Banks is utterly self-serving when it comes to politics.

Does he have to keep proving it to us with bare-faced lies about “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with “?”

We know he’s lying.

Stop reminding us.

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Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on MMP (13 December 2011)

John Banks: condition deteriorating (14 August 2012)

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John Banks: condition deteriorating

14 August 2012 12 comments

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

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1. Electoral Commission review completed

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Checklist for the week…

  • Electoral Commission recommendation: Reducing the Party threshold from  5% to 4%   
  • Electoral Commission recommendation: Eliminating the one electorate seat party threshold 
  • Consequence of Electoral Commission recommendations: Annoying the hell out of  John Banks 

Yes, it’s been a good week.

In short, the Electoral Commission has recommended the following

  • The one-electorate-seat threshold for allocating list seats should be abolished.
  • The party vote threshold for allocating list seats should be lowered from 5% to 4%
  • The provision for overhang seats should be abolished for parties that do not cross the party vote threshold.
  • Candidates should continue to be able to stand both in an electorate and on a party list at general elections.
  • List MPs should continue to be able to contest by-elections.
  • Political parties should continue to have responsibility for the composition and ranking of candidates on their party lists.
  • Parliament should review the gradual erosion of list seats relative to electorate seats as it risks undermining the diversity and proportionality of Parliament.

This blogger endorses  every recommendation made by the Electoral Commission.

The recommendations eliminate contradictions; remove areas vulnerable to rorting by politicians; and increase the democratic nature of MMP.

The only comment I would make is that the law should be tightened in the area of political Parties ranking their Party Lists. At present, the law states only that such Lists should be democratically ranked – but gives no formal expectations of how the process of ranking is carried out.

In fact, I would endorse Electoral Commission over-sight of all Party List rankings to ensure that there is no ‘giggery-pokery’ by Party apparatchiks. As they say, justice must not only be done – it must be seen to be done.

The same could be said of the political process. And after all, as politicians are fond of telling us when they increase police surveillance powers; if  Parties are honest in their list-ranking process – they have nothing to be afraid off. Right?

However, all up, I believe the Electoral Commission has done an outstanding job on the review.

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2. Party Responses

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ACT

ACT supported retaining both the 5% Party and one electorate seat party threshold.

The Electoral Commission rejected both propositions.

ACT’s sole MP, John Banks, called the review recommendations “woeful”, and then went on to state,

Those who want to gerrymander with the electoral system do so because they lost the last election.”

See: Pressure’s on to tweak MMP

Really, Mr Banks?

When it comes to “gerrymandering”, none is guiltier  than ACT and John Key, and their now infamous “cup of tea” incident during last year’s general election campaign. That event was an outrageous attempt to throw the  election by suggesting to Epsom voters that they should cast their electorate votes for John Banks.

For Banks to now try to climb the moral highground, and accuse those who want to reform MMP as “gerrymandering”, is breath-taking and nauseating hypocrisy on a grand scale.

Banks also issued this statement on the ACT website,

ACT will not support any changes to the MMP voting system. No electoral system is perfect, and the proposed changes do not offer any additional benefits to New Zealand. We do not support the abolishment of the one seat threshold.”

See: No Change Necessary to MMP

Aside from the inference that ACT is fast becoming a quasi-fascist party by ignoring the mass of public submissions that support reforms to MMP,  it is clear that John Banks’ Number One Priority is – John Banks. Ie;  getting himself re-elected to Parliament.

This man’s lack of personal insights into his behaviour, and how the public  view his self-serving and clownish actions,  is deeply troubling.

Greens

Of all the major Parties, only the Greens seem to have acted on principle on this issue.

As Green MP, Holly Walker said,

Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold and lowering the party vote threshold will help to reduce the number of ‘wasted’ votes, and ensure that everyone’s votes count.

Removing the one electorate seat threshold will make a big difference for fairness by making sure that the votes of people in some electorates are not given more weight than others.”

See: Electoral Commission recommendations strengthen MMP

It should be pointed out that whether the Party threshold is kept at 5% or 4%, or whether or not the one electorate seat party thresholdis retained or not, makes no difference to the Green Party.

With their electoral support now consistently over 10% (11.06% last year), and not being reliant on winning an electorate seat to gain Parliamentary representation, their submission to the Electoral Commission gives better representation to supporters of other small Parties, such as the Conservative Party.

Now that’s principled.

Labour

Labour’s submission to the Electoral Commission supported reducing the 5% threshold to 4% and doing away with the one electorate seat party threshold.

It’s fairly obvious why; National has been able to rort the one seat electorate seat threshold to allow potential coalition partners to win seats in Parliament.

By doing away with the one electorate seat party threshold, the demise of ACT is all but assured, and Peter Dunne’s party, United Future, becomes irrelevant.

Interestingly, Labour’s support for reducing the Party List threshold to 4%, gives the Conservative Party a greater chance to win seats in Parliament.

It also allows NZ First a better chance to win seats. (In 2008, NZ First missed out on seats by only .93 percentage-points of reaching the magic 5%.)

This blogger suspects that Labour strategists are thinking long-term on this issue. The Conservative Party may well win seats if the threshold is reduced to 4% – but this may be only a short-term victory for Colin Craig. One term in Parliament may alienate further electoral support, as happened to Peter Dunne’s United Future Party from 2002 to 2005 to 2008.)

See: Labour Welcomes MMP Proposals

Mana Party

Predictably,  the Mana Party is the Party that most loses out if the Electoral Commission’s recommendations are adopted.

Mana’s leader, Hone Harawira, won the Maori seat of  Te Tai Tokerau comfortably and also gained 1.08% of the Party Vote. Had Mana received an additional .12% votes, his Party would have gained an extra MP (the “coat tail” effect).

There is a good chance that if the one electorate seat threshold is retained that Mana could reasonably count on an extra one or two MPs. This is especially likely as the Maori Party bleeds electoral support because of it’s close association with the National Party, and increasingly divisive feelings over the sale of SOEs and water rights.

So it is little surprise that the Mana Party stated it’s opposition to abolition of the one electorate seat threshold.

It appears to be silent on the Party vote threshold.

See: Electoral Commission Report on MMP

This blogger believes that removing the one electorate seat threshold should only be a minor nuisance to the Mana Party. As the Maori Party disintergrates, Mana has a decent chance to pick up many of the Maori seats.

National

Like ACT, National supported retaining both the 5% Party andone electorate seat party threshold.

Deputy PM, Bill English has stated that National would consider the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

Interestingly, right wing commentator and National Party cadre, Matthew Hooton, stated on Radio New Zealand on 13 August,

The other good thing for National in this report is by getting rid of the tomfoolery around the one seat rule, National won’t be tempted to have cups of tea with the likes of John Banks and Peter Dunne and they will become less relevant to the political system…

…So now National, assuming it will accept these recommendations, even though they are against what National itself recommended to the review, but if the government does accept these, then National now knows very clearly it’s path to it’s third term is through that Winston Peters/Colin Craig deal.

… Well strangely enough National recommended that 5% threshold remain and Labour recommended to the review that a 4% threshold be introduced and the review team has gone with what is the Labour party and the public’s preference. And the irony there is I think is that the 5% threshold, maintaining it , would have served the Labour Party’s interest and the 4% threshhold favours National. So the two Parties both, two main parties both, made recommendations that were against their own interests.”

See: Radio NZ, Nine to Noon Show: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Josie Pagani

In this matter, I concur fully with Hooton. Whilst reducing the 5% threshold to 4% may  disadvantage the Left in the short-term – in the long-term it will remove anomalies in the electoral system that  provides fertile ground for  a  pervading  sense of political cynicism, thereby alienating people from  voting.

The worst thing to put people off voting is a perception that the system is “rigged” to produce pre-determined results.

That’s why we got rid of First Past the Post.

New Zealand First

Winston Peters has curiously split his Party’s response to the Electoral Commission’s recommendations;

  •  5% vs 4% Threshold

Peters states that NZ First wants the 5% threshold retained, even though it might disadvantage his Party.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, stated on Radio NZ’s 4pm Panel on 14 August, that he considered Peters’ preference for 5% as “principled”.

Nonsense.

Peters wants the 5% threshold retained because it suits his strategy. NZ First has a better than 50/50 chance of crossing the 5% threshold in upcoming elections – especially now that his Party has access to millions of dollars in Parliamentary funding and free TV advertising.

Conversely, by insisting that  the 5% threshold be retained denies the Conservative Party the chance to win seats in Parliament, as reaching 5% is considerably harder than 4%. The Christian Coalition  Party achieved 4.33% in the first MMP election in 1996.

See: New Zealand general election, 1996

This assessment of Peters’ rationale is confirmed when, in the next breath, he supports abandoning the one electorate seat party threshold,

  • One electorate seat party threshold

There have been numerous attempts to corrupt the integrity of MMP by the National, ACT and United Future parties by misusing the intent of the one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats.”

It’s interesting that Peters wants the 5% threshold retained, and insists,

Rt Hon Winston Peters says the 1993 referendum confirmed that the public wanted the threshold for a party to win list seats in a general election to be five per cent.

“It shouldn’t be tampered with now by Parliament”.”

See: MMP Recommendations Are Anti-Democratic – Peters

– but at the same time is comfortable with removing the one electorate seat party threshold despite it also being part and parcel of the 1993 Referendum?!

Contradictory, much?

The reason Peters wants the one electorate seat party threshold removed is that it prevents the Consertive Party from doing an Epsom or Ohariu-type deal with National, and thereby gaining Parliamentary seats by winning an electorate.

This is precisely how ACT gained five seats in the 2008 electorate;

  1. ACT failed to reach 5%, and gained only 3.65% of the Party Vote
  2. National did a deal with ACT, letting Rodney Hide win the Epsom electorate
  3. The one electorate seat threshold allowed four other MPs enter Parliament on Hide’s “coat tails”.

In simple words, Peters wants the Conservative Party from winning seats in Parliament in a similar manner.

In doing so, he retains his role as sole “king maker” between National and Labour/Greens.

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3. The Thresholds – Why Change was necessary

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5% Party Threshold

The Party vote threshold was probably originally set at 5% to allay fears that Parliament would be over-run by a plethora of small parties, as has happened in Israel.  The resulting instability would have destroyed MMPs reputation within a few years, and would not have survived the subsequent referendum.

A relatively ‘median’ 5% threshold could allow a measure of proportionality, whilst at the same time not resulting in the “Israeli Disease”. (Israeli politics has been dominated by numerous small, extremist, political parties, elected under proportional representation  with almost no Party threshold. In 2009 this resulted in a dozen parties being represented in The Knesset. See: Politics of Israel)

With MMP firmly bedded-in after 15 years, and the public comfortable with Parliamentary  proportional representation, it seems appropriate to reduce the Party threshold to 4%. This provides space and opportunity for a new political party to form; win representation in Parliament; and provide fresh ideas to be debated.

One electorate seat threshold

The one electorate seat threshold has always been an anomaly – but with justification. It was assumed that despite  MMP being favourable to small political Parties, it might still be difficult to win representation in Parliament. It was considered that if a small Party had the electoral support of voters to win one electorate (which was still fought under First Past the Post), then they deserved their full compliment of MPs, according to their Party vote, regardless of whether or not they reached 5%.

The one electorate seat threshold was a kind of “dispensation” from the 5% threshold, to ensure that a small Party could have an effective voice in Parliament.

Not only is it no longer needed – but the one electorate seat threshold dispensation has lately been exploited by larger parties such as National,  gerrymandering the system to gain  potential coalition partners  in Parliament.

It has also been demonstrated to be highly unfair.

In the 2008 General Election neither ACT nor NZ First reached the 5% Party threshold.  But because National assisted Rodney Hide to win the electorate seat of Epsom, ACT was given the  one electorate seat threshold dispensation, and won five seats in Parliament.

The irony was that ACT won fewer Party Votes (85,496 or, 3.65%) than NZ First (95,356 or, 4.07%) – but ACT still got into Parliament.

That result was not the fair system of proportional representation that was ‘sold’ to the public in 1993.

That situation was untenable, and the public stated as such in their submissions to the Electoral Commission. It was an affront to the Kiwi sense of fairness.

Accordingly, the public demand an end to it.

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4. National’s dilemma

 

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National now has a clear choice – and it is in a bind.

If it decides to accept the recommendations of the Electoral Commission to lower the Party threshold to 4% and abandon the one electorate seat threshold – then it risks alienating support from it’s two, one-man band, coalition partners, Peter Dunne and John “I-can’t-remember” Banks.

Dunne and Banks may push their coalition deal with National to the brink – and over the edge – if National accepts the Commission’s reforms.

If the reforms are implemented, it will make Dunne irrelevant, and John Banks and his Party, dog-tucker.

Dunne may win Ohariu – but he would never again have the chance to bring one or two extra MPs into Parliament on his “coat tails”.

And Epsom voters would dump Banks in favour of their own true-blue National candidate.

This would make life unpleasant for both Dunne and Banks. They might decide to issue an ultimatum (see below, “John Banks – mental confusion worsening?”) to abandon the reforms – or else they would walk from the Coalition. What would they have to lose?

But if National decides not to enact the Commission’s reforms, it risks losing a potential  coalition partner – the Conservative Party – in 2014. A Party threshold of 4% would mean 5 Conservative Party MPs.

That is simply too good an offer to pass up. Especially if National drops to 43% or 45% in the polls, as this blogger predicts will happen in the next twelve to 18  months.

Tough times ahead for the Nats…

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5. John Banks – mental confusion worsening?

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John Banks’ mental condition is deteriorating.

Today, the Member for Epsom forgot which political Party he is a member of, when he said on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report“,

The National Party are not going to support this proposal.”

Hear: Listen to John Banks on Morning Report

And again, on MSN News, Banks made it clear that he believed himself to be a National Party spokesperson when he said,

This is not going to happen.  The National Party is not going to support this proposal.”

John Banks is an ACT member of parliament – not National. He can no more speak for National than Hone Harawira  could speak on behalf of Labour.

It is becoming more apparent each day that the fellow is losing his tenuous grip on reality. This blogger hopes that he will receive the treatment he requires and makes a speedy recovery from his delusions and shocking memory loss.

Tomorrow, Banks may attempt to walk on water. Or invade Poland.

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Previous blogposts

Supplementary Member system – it’s a bloody rort!

Some thoughts on MMP

John Banks – escaping justice

Additional

Radio NZ: Drop threshold from 5% to 4% – MMP review

Radio NZ: National won’t back MMP change, says Banks

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Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

29 July 2012 4 comments

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A previous moral hysteria surrounding welfare beneficiaries and especially solo mums (but never solo dads) took place back in August 2009, when Paula Bennett released the files of two solo-mothers who had dared to criticise the Minister for closing down the Training Incentive Allowance.

Despite having no  authorisation or right to do so, Bennett  released details of the  women’s  WINZ files to the media and three years later there is still an outstanding complaint against her. It was a nasty, vindictive abuse of Ministerial power not seen since the autocratic rule of  Robert Muldoon.

Attacks on solo mums reached a hysterical crescendo that could only be described as naked misogyny – especially from a sector of the male population that has never had much success in relating to women. There were vile comments on many internet fora that cannot be repeated in polite company.

Fast forward to April 2012, and National is facing so much bad news that the media and bloggers are finding it difficult to choose what to hone in on.  Just to remind us about some of the problems confronting National,

  • Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year
  • Total unemployment up to 160,000 – 6.7% of the workforce
  • The government tax-take is down by $1.57 billion  in the first nine months of the fiscal year
  • Government deficit increases to $6.13 billion, or $800 million more than forecast
  • Migration to Australia is increasing, with a net loss of 39,100 to the year ending February 2012
  • Wages continue to lag behind Australia
  • New Zealand’s sovereign debt is at a massive  $13.5 billion dollars
  • Student debt is at a record $13 billion – and rising
  • Widening wealth/income gap
  • Increasing child poverty and poverty-related disease on a massive scale
  • Increased repayments demanded from tertiary students – effectively a tax increase
  • Ongoing public resistance to state asset sales
  • Ongoing public resistance to selling productive farmland to overseas investors
  • Ongoing public resistance to mining in conservation lands
  • A growing public disquiet over a hydrocarbon-extraction process known as “fracking”
  • Selling legislation for a convention centre and 500 extra pokies
  • Ministers involved in scandal after scandal
  • Key’s ‘teflon coating’ now practically non-existent, and developing a reputation for not being upfront with the public
  • A coalition partner whose brand is now so toxic  that even right wingers are singing it’s funeral dirges
  • and numerous other negative indicators

Time for the government  Spin Doctors to swing into action, and deflect attention from National’s apalling track record thus far.

Time to dust of the Manual for Deflection, and flick through to the chapter on blaming solo mums (but never solo dads) for the ills of the country; the Black Plague in the Middle Ages; both World Wars; and most likely the sinking of the Titanic.

Time for John Key to point at some young woman pushing a pram,  and shout – “Hey! Look over there!”

It worked in 2009.

See: Benefits of 50 to be scrutinised

Why not try it again, wonder National’s faceless, taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and strategists,  to deflect  public attention from  scandals and poor management of the economy?

See: Bennett increases pursuit of welfare ‘rorts’

See: Drug tests for more beneficiaries mooted

See: New welfare law a ‘war on poor’

See: Big families mean big welfare dollars

New Zealanders (in general) are suckers for this kind of Deflect & Demonise Strategy.

It’s what National  does, when their economic policies fail; they blame it on the poor; the unemployed; widows; solo-mums (but never solo-dads), etc. It’s what the right wing do, blaming their failed policies on others. Because as we all know, right wingers are Big on Personal Responsibility… (Except for themselves.)

It happened in the 1990s. It’s repeating again.

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It’s pretty much a given that the ACT is now living on borrowed time, and will end up in the political  rubbish bin of history. It was never popular with mainstream New Zealand in the first place – New Zealanders having had a bitter  taste of it’s ideology in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

Events over the last couple of years; last twelve months; and last few weeks, a cascade of scandals and dirty dealings have left the public wondering if lunatics had, indeed, taken over the asylum called ACT. For a Party that advocated the purity of market-driven efficiency, it was prone to one bizarre gaffe after another. They couldn’t even update their own website several months after last year’s elections.

So ACT will be gone after the next election.

The result has been media, pundit, and public  speculation of  a new potential Coalition partner for National. There has been recent speculation in the last week or so that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party might make a suitable candidate to shore up National’s numbers in the House.

I doubt that.

For one thing, does National really want a new coalition partner that appears to be every bit as flaky as ACT?

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Full Story

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We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Riiiiight.

Obviously Mr Craig has, um, “researched” this issue in some depth?! Did he go “undercover“, I wonder? And did he go “one-on-one”  with his “subjects“?

On this rare occassion, I find myself in sympathy with the Smiling One,

“… Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.

Key resisted taking the Lord’s name in van and rolling his eyes.

But he did say “it’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

See:  John Key’s problem with partners

Indeed.  If   the government lasts full term. Which I doubt.

National has a problem in this area. It has no viable coalition partner, and is unlikely to find one in the foreseeable future.

Part of that reality is based on MMP and how it has affected Labour and National.

After MMP was introduced in 1996, Labour splintered into it’s constituent factions; the centrist ‘rump’ Labour Party; the environmentalist/social justice Green Party;  the overtly left-wing, worker’s,  Newlabour Party ; and the nationalist Maori party, Mana Motuhake. (The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP briefly coalesced into the Alliance Party, along with the Social Credit/Democrat Party and short-lived Liberal Party.)

The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP, had been part of the factional make-up of Labour. MMP simply separated out  it’s componants like a laboratory centrifuge. So when coalition talks took place, to form a Labour-led  Coalition Government, those same factions simply re-morphed.

Before anyone complains that MMP has created a “mess” – not true. These factions had always existed in Labour, and had constantly ‘jockeyed’ for influence within the greater ‘umbrella’ Labour banner.

Under MMP, these factions and negotiations were simply forced out into the open, for everyone to see. The same had been   happening under First Past the Post, but behind closed doors. This was internal party politics exposed to the glare of sunlight and public scrutiny.

National, on the other hand, did not fractionate  in such a similar, dramatic, manner. It lost two MPs to the New Zealand Liberal Party (in 1992), Conservative Party (formerly Right-Of-Centre Party), and one to the Christian Democrats. None of those fledgling parties  survived the grueling electoral process and quickly vanished into political history.

A third party, New Zealand First, had splintered from National earlier, and like Mana Motuhake became a nationalist party, but mainly from a pakeha perspective.

ACT was another party on the right, and appeared to draw support from both National and, to a lesser degree, Labour. It remained a small grouping, peaking in 1999 with nine MPs – largely at the expense of it’s larger right wing cousin, National.

It’s not that National doesn’t have potential coalition partners.  On the whole, National remains intact; a solid bloc of the centre-right. It’s potential coalition partners are already a part of National.

National’s only hope of picking up an extra seat or two is to rort the MMP one-seat threshold system, as it did by supporting John Banks in Epsom (with  success now mixed with regret, no doubt).  It could give a ‘nod and wink‘ to Colin Craig in the Rodney seat, and if he won that electorate, and if Craig’s Conservative Party polled the same as it did last year (2.65%), then it would gain four seats in total.

That might give National a chance at winning the next election.

But at what cost?

  • It would be seen to be once again manipulating the electoral system. The Epsom deal did not end well for National – do they really want to go down that road again?
  • The Conservatives are opposed to asset sales – so that policy would be off the agenda.
  • How would urban liberal voters view a coalition with a party such as the Conservatives? New Zealanders have always been averse to electing  overtly religious parties to Parliament (eg; Christian Heritage, Christian Coalition, Destiny New Zealand) and when some of United Future’s MPs were revealed as having a strong religious bent, they were pretty smartly voted out.
  • And would National want a flaky coalition partner with quasi-‘Christian’ overtones, and who seemed to view New Zealand women  in a casual Talibanesque-sort of way? How would National’s women MPs feel sitting alongside Colin Craig, knowing that he viewed them as the ” most promiscuous…  women in the world  “?

Craig’s Conservative Party may have a better chance to win seats in Parliament if the Electoral Commission’s review on MMP decides to recommend to Parliament that the Party Vote threshold be reduced from %5 to 4%.  Of course, the Commission can only recommend to Parliament, and any decision to reduce the Party Vote threshold will ultimately be up to the National-ACT-Dunne Coalition.

I suspect the Nats will adopt the 4% recommendation. Not because it’s fair (get a grip!), but because anything that assists ACT or the Conservative Party gain seats in Parliament will be welcomed with open arms by the Nats. Self interest rules.

The Greens’ submission to the Electoral Commission supported abolishing the Electoral Seat threshold as inherently unfair, and promote  reducing the Party Vote threshold from 5% to 4% to compensate for smaller Parties  such as NZ First, ACT, etc.

See: Green Party submission on the MMP Review

Likewise, this blogger suspects that National will probably reject any recommendation to abandon the Electoral-Seat threshold.  (The Electoral Seat threshold is where Party X does not cross the current 5% Party Vote threshold, but if one of their candidates wins an electoral seat, they get an exemption from the 5% threshold, and gain as many MPs as their Party Vote allows.)

This may be National’s one and only  “electoral lifeline”, as ACT heads for the political guillotine – especially after John Banks’ incredible performance over his fraudulent 2010 Electoral Donations fiasco.

See: John Banks – escaping justice

However, since Craig’s comment nearly three months ago, he has moved on from denigrating women, to gays and lesbians. His latest comment is indicative of a man who has little tolerance for matters outside his narrow worldview, when on 27 July he ‘tweeted’,

It’s just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal.”

See: Conservative leader says gay marriage ‘not right’

It take a spectacular degree of arrogance to decide that another consenting adult’s relationship is “not normal”.

This blogger feels it only appropriate that Mr Craig’s marriage to his wife should be put under the microscope.

It has been said often enough that those who vociferously oppose homosexuality (especially in males) often have a measure of sexual insecurity themselves. For many men, condemning and reviling  homosexuality has been an attempt to reaffirm their own heterosexuality by “proving their straightness” to themselves.

Perhaps, in this instance, Mr Craig may have something he wishes to get of his manly chest,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied.

See:  Colin Craig: ‘Gay parents not good role models’

Anything you want to share with us, Mr Craig? Don’t worry, we’re all consenting adults here…

Why are all small right wing parties loony-tunes?

Is this the sort of political party that National wants to cosy up to?

And more important – would a possible coalition with a bunch of religious homophobes and misogynists really endear  National’s voting-base to keep supporting the Nats?

Happy times for Dear Leader, John Key.

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National does have another potential coalition partner – the New Zealand First Party. Though their first attempt at coalition (in 1996) ended very badly for Winston Peters, that could be explained as “growing pains” after our very first MMP election. I doubt if any small Party would ever repeat such horrendous mistakes again.

But in coalescing with NZ First, National would have to abandon much of it’s right wing, neo-liberal agenda.  State asset sales would be gone by lunchtime. The sale of farmland to overseas investors would be restricted (if Peters is to be taken at his word). And the edge might be taken of other policies favoured by National.

On the other hand, NZ First had been punished previously for coalescing with National. As well, NZ First  has an active youth-wing that might not appreciate ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Working with Winston Peters would be one very big rat for John Key to swallow. Considering how adamant he was back in 2008,

Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation.

See: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

And just last year,

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”

See:  PM rules out any NZ First deal

If Winston Peters holds the balance of power, it will be a Phil Goff-led government.”

See:  Key names election date, rules out Winston Peters

Sealing a coalition deal with someone he has categorically ruled out in the past would damage Key’s credibility even further. Our Dear Leader is already developing something of a reputation for being “untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, smarmy and out of touch”.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Does he want to compound that perception by backtracking on his declaration that he cannot/will not work with the NZ First leader?

So Colin Craig it is.

And yes,

“It’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

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Some thoughts on the anti-MMP campaign

15 December 2011 1 comment

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With the referendum come and gone, it’s worthwhile looking back at the anti-MMP clique,  the so-called “Vote for Change“.

As far as campaigns go, “Vote for Change” had to be one of the most amateurish in living memory.

First, it was uncovered that “Vote for Change” was to be organised by National and ACT apparatchiks. People like Simon Lusk, David Farrar, Cameron Slater, and Jordan Williams – all deeply connected or associated,  in one way or another, with right wing politics,

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Full Story

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If those revelations were deliberately “leaked” to the media for free publicity – it was not a “good look” to let the public know that “Vote for Change” was a front-organisation for National and ACT.

If that leak was not authorised, then someone in the “Vote for Change” camp was not happy. An unhappy camper was not a very auspicious start.

Then, it was discovered by another blogger, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, of “Tumeke”, that one of “Vote for Change’s” supporters was a white-supremacist who advocated nazi-style racial separation,

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Full Story

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Vote for Change” was quickly developing an image as an elitist club for assorted right wingers.

The only exception to “Vote for Change’s” roll call of conservative businesspeople; right wing politicians; and National/ACT activists was former Labour Party president and Waitakere mayor, Bob Harvey.

But he quickly realised the political bed-fellows he was associating with, and made his own call to quit,

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Full Story

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These were fatal blows to the anti-MMP lobby group. They never really recovered from these gaffes and the public perception was of a conservative organisation that was wanting to take New Zealand backward, to the days of single-party Parliamentary rule.

Even “Vote for Change’s” announcement on 29 October that their group had chosen SM (Supplementary Member) to promote as an alternative to MMP was seen by many as a return to FPP-by-the-back-door. It was another blow to their credibility; “Vote for Change” was not advocating change at all.

It was a strategic mistake for “Vote for Change” to promote SM. SM was the least known of all electoral systems, and in the 1992 referendum had polled the lowest at just over 5%.

If  “Vote for Change” had really wanted change – they should have chosen STV. But they did not – STV is also a proportional system and that is the last thing Williams, Lusk, Farrar, et al wanted for New Zealand.

It was blindingly obvious that their  agenda was to destroy any semblance of multi-party government and replace proportional representation with a system that would allow for single-party rule.

They were seeking absolute power for National.

Most people, I believe got this. Older, Baby Boomers, of a liberal persuasion, had unpleasant memories of the outrageous  abuses of power by Muldoon, Douglas, Bolger,  Richardson, et al.

Younger people who had no experience of FPP regimes most likely had no interest in a system that favoured only two parties and reduced their choices. (Neo-liberals, in this respect, had successfully socially re-engineered NZ society to prefer choice over a two-party, take-it-or-leave-it, offering.)

Aside from National Party supporters, New Zealanders did not want to take A Giant Leap Backwards.  “Vote for Change” offered nothing except an old, discredited electoral system, and fear-mongering,

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Source

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Using Winston Peters as a scare-mongering tactic was not just clumsy – but evidence that “Vote for Change” had no real intellectual rigour in promoting their cause. Demonising one man – as disliked as he might be by some voters – is not really a sensible reason to throw out MMP and turn our entire electoral system upside down, on it’s head.

This was the tactics of spoilt children who could give no other reason to cater to their whims except, “do it –  or else!”.

Not exactly a  convincing  argument.

But perhaps the best example of a *facepalm* situation was having National Party candidate, Simon Bridges (now MP),  on their website,

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Source

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Bridges was positively fuming when he complained,

It gets under my goat that list MPs are not subject to direct democracy.  They’re chosen by a small power elite in each party, so MMP has taken power off the voter.”

FYI: Simon Bridges was #30 on National’s  Party List. Had he not won the electorate of  Tauranga, he would have returned to Parliament as a Party List MP.

That would’ve been interesting.

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Additional

Pundit: I’ve just been internalising a really complicated situation in my head

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Some thoughts on MMP…

13 December 2011 20 comments

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Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, helps to put up one of the first MMP billboards for the Keep MMP Campaign.

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With the referendum over, and the New Right assault on MMP defeated, it’s time to have a look at proposals  for changes to MMP…

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Waka-jumping Law

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It’s been suggested that we need a new “waka jumping” Law to prevent MPs from leaving their political party, once elected into Parliament.

This was a considerable problem in the 1996-99 Parliament, where MPs were deserting their home-Parties at a dizzying speed; Alemain Kopu from The Alliance; and eight MPs from NZ First.

However, since then, it has not been a problem and we’ve not seen such defections for over a decade. Two notable exceptions,

Turia, a junior minister, once informed that voting against the government would appear “incompatible” with holding ministerial rank, announced on April 30, 2004 her intention to resign from the Labour Party. Her resignation took effect on May 17, and she left parliament until she won a by-election in her Te Tai Hauauru seat two months later.” – Wikipedia

Hone Harawira’s  resignation from the Maori Party caused the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, held on 25 June 2011, which he won with a majority of 1117.”

My view is that a Waka Jumping Law is not required as  both Turia and Harawira resigned from Parliament, forcing by-elections which they both won.

Furthermore, there may come a time when an MP leaves his/her Party because a policy change is so radical and inimical to their Party’s original manifesto, that they cannot in good conscience continue to be a member.  Jim Anderton’s resignation from the Rogernomics-dominated Labour Government of the 1980s is a clear example.

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5% threshold

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There has been suggestion that the 5% threshold for Parties to gain seats in Parliament is too high.

In some countries that use various system of proportional representation, the thresholds are set low or are non-existant.  In Israel, the threshold is 2% (previously 1%). In Italy, the threshold is 4%.

If we lower the threshold, expect one or two additional smaller parties to win seats in Parliament. For example  (if my math is correct),

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Actual and Potential Seats Allocation in Parliament under Actual 5% Threshold and Possible 4% Threshold:

2008 General Election – Actual Results – 5% Threshold

Seats

2008 General Election – Theoretical Results – 4% Threshold

Seats

National

58

55

Labour

43

42

Green Party

9

9

ACT

5

5

Maori Party

5

5

Jim Anderton

1

1

Peter Dunne

1

1

NZ First

0

5

Total Seats in Parliament

122

123

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Under a 4% threshold, the addition of five seats for NZ First changes the seat allocations for National and Labour, and alters the dynamics of possible Coalition arrangements,

National + ACT + Dunne = 61

Labour + Greens + NZF = 57

The five Maori Party’s  seats becomes critical and effectively a “king maker” in this scenario,

National + ACT + Dunne + 5 MP = 66

Labour + Greens + NZF = 57

or

Labour + Greens + NZF + 5 MP = 62

National + ACT + Dunne = 61

Personally, I’m neutral when it comes to a 5% or 4% threshold, as both allow for representation for reasonable number of voters.

However, I would not favour a lower threshold, as that becomes overly complicated with numerous smaller parties gaining seats.

Voters are concerned enough with the mythical “tail-wagging-the-dog” bogeyman, without adding just cause to their misinformed belief. I would want to see MMP embedded more solidly in our collective consciousness before going below a 4% threshold.

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Electorate Seat Threshold/Dispensation

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As well as the 5%  Party threshold, there is a secondary “threshold” – the Electorate Seat Win.

As the law currently stands, a Party must win 5% of the Party Vote to gain seats in the House. But, if a small Party wins an Electorate Seat, the 5% threshold is dispensed with. Extra MPs, from the small party’s Party List can enter Parliament, on the “coat tails” of the Electorate MP’s success.

(Hence why National supported John Banks’ efforts to win Epsom. )

This curious situation can result in the contradictory result where, in 2008, NZ First won 4.07% of the Party Votes – but gained no seats in Parliament because they did not cross the 5% threshold. At the same time, ACT won 3.65% of the Party Vote (less than NZ First) – but gained five seats in Parliament; one electorate and four Party List seats.

Because ACT’s Rodney Hide  had won an Electorate Seat, they gained a dispensation for the 5% threshold, and Hide brought four extra MPS into Parliament as a result.  (3.65% Party votes = 5 seats in Parliament)

It seems  manifestly unfair that ACT’s 85,496 Party Votes translated into 5 seats in Parliament – but NZ First’s 95,356 Party Votes got them no seats at all (because they didn’t cross the 5% threshold or win an Elecorate Seat).

It is my belief that the Electorate Seat Threshold/Dispensation be done away with. There seems no practical rationale for it’s existance and merely serves to throw up contradictory inconsistancies such the the example above.

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Electorate Candidates vs Party List Candidates

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This may well be the major debating issue for any reform of MMP; whether or not candidates should be able to stand for both an Electorate Seat and on the Party List as well.

Currently, a candidate for Party X can stand as an Electorate Candidate as well as have their name on his/her party’s Party List. Or, the same same may stand only as an Electorate Candidate – but not appear on the Party List. Or vice versa.

Some people have suggested that having a candidate stand in both an Electorate and on the Party List is somehow “undemocratic”. The most common disparagement is that “losing candidates sneak back in on the Party List“.

I disagree.

Not only is that criticism indicative of a lack of understanding of how MMP works – I suggest it is, in itself, a “sneaky” harking back to the days of FPP (First Past the Post), where the “winner takes all”.

Judging by electorate-by-electorate results, those who oppose MMP tend to be National Party supporters,

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Electorates that voted to Change from MMP

Electorate Vote to Keep MMP Vote to Change from MMP Preferred Alternative Winning Candidate
Bay Of Plenty

49.50%

50.50%

FPP – 48.4%

Tony Ryall (Nat)
Clutha-Southland

44.60%

55.40%

FPP – 58.1%

Bill English (Nat)
Helensville

46.60%

53.40%

FPP – 44.4%

John Key (Nat)
Hunua

46.40%

53.60%

FPP – 49.4%

Paul Hutchinson (Nat)
Kaikoura

49.60%

50.40%

FPP – 52.5%

Colin King (Nat)
North Shore

49.40%

50.60%

FPP – 37.9%

Maggie Barry (Nat)
Rangitata

48.30%

51.70%

FPP – 57.9%

Jo Goodhew (Nat)
Rodney

46.40%

53.60%

FPP – 44.9%

Mark Mitchell (Nat)
Selwyn

49.40%

50.60%

FPP – 50.8

Amy Adams (Nat)
Tamaki

47.30%

52.70%

FPP – 38.1

Simon O’Connor (Nat)
Taranaki-King Country

46.70%

53.30%

FPP – 53.3%

Shane Ardern (Nat)
Tukituki

49.80%

50.20%

FPP – 49.3%

Craig Foss (Nat)
Waikato

47.60%

52.40%

FPP – 52.1%

Lindsay Tisch (Nat)
Waitaki

47.60%

52.40%

FPP – 55.3%

Jacqui Dean (Nat

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Electorates that voted to Keep MMP – By Narrow 1%-4% Margin

Electorate Vote to Keep MMP Vote to Change from MMP Preferred Alternative Winning Candidate
Coromandel

50.30%

49.70%

FPP – 52.3% Scott Simpson (Nat)
East Coast Bays

51.30%

48.70%

FPP – 42.2% Murray McCully (Nat)
Epsom

50.10%

49.90%

SM – 35.9% John Banks (ACT)
Invercargill

50.80%

49.20%

FPP – 58.1% Eric Roy (Nat)
Napier

51.40%

48.60%

FPP – 49.3% Chris Tremain (Nat)
Northland

52.00%

48.00%

FPP – 50.8% Mike Sabin (Nat)
Pakuranga

51.10%

48.90%

FPP – 42.9% Maurice Williamson (Nat)
Rangitikei

50.70%

49.30%

FPP – 51.1% Ian McKelvie (Nat)
Taupo

50.50%

49.50%

FPP – 52.0% Louise Upston(Nat)
Tauranga

51.50%

48.50%

FPP – 45.9% Simon Bridges (Nat)
Waimakariri

51.10%

48.90%

FPP – 53.3% Kate Wilkinson (Nat)
Wairarapa

50.50%

49.50%

FPP – 51.9% John Hayes (Nat)

Sources for Data

Electorate Status

Referendum Data

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Not one single electorate that returned a Labour candidate voted to change from MMP.

Which is ironic, considering that the candidates who “sneak back in on the Party List” often tend to be National candidates – and often quite high ranking ministerial ones, at that.

Two cases-in-point; Paula Bennet (Nat) and Hekia Parata (Nat),

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Waitakere: Electorate & Party Vote Results

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Candidate Electorate Votes Party Votes Result
Carmel Sepuloni (Lab)

13,468

11,577

Electorate win to Lab
Paula Bennett (Nat

13,457

12,534

Party Vote win to Nat
Difference

Sepuloni +11

Bennett +957

Source for data

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Mana: Electorate & Party Vote Results

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Candidate Electorate Votes Party Votes Result
Kris Faafoi (Lab)

16,323

12,999

Electorate win to Lab
Hekia Parata (Nat)

14,093

13,754

Party Vote win to Nat
Difference

Faafoi +2,230

Parata +755

Source for data

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In both cases, each candidate did well, winning in separate categories of either Electorate Votes or Party Votes.

If  candidates were prevented  from standing in both Electorate and on Party Lists, then had Parata and Bennett stood only in their respective Electorates, both would be out of Parliament.

There appears to be no rational reason to ban candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms – except that it appears to be a reactionary resentment from some partisan voters against unsuccessful Electorate candidates from making it into Parliament – even though those same candidates appear to win more Party Votes than their opponants.

Claiming that Bennett and Parata have  “sneaked back in on the Party List” ignores the fact that both women won more Party Votes than their opponants. In effect, Bennett and Parata  earned their right to be returned to Parliament.

We should also consider that banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms could have unintended consequences;

  • Creating an unnecessary division between List and Electorate candidates that would serve no useful purpose, except to satisfy heavily partisan voters.
  • A return to the concept of “safe seats”, where prominent/popular candidates would stand in such “safe seats”, and less popular/prominent candidates would be nominated for more marginal seats, making  strategic placings of candidates  more likely.
  • More highly valued candidates would be List only candidates, as Parties would not want to risk losing certain talents on risky Electorate contests.
  • A marginalisation of List candidates at Electorate candidates-meetings. One might envisage community meetings where Electorate candidates are invited to address the public – but List Candidates are not, as they are not seen to “represent” any particular geographic area.

It appears to me that banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms actually creates unnecessary separation and  reduces our choice of candidates.

People who promote banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms may actually be shooting themselves in the foot. They may find that far from making MMP fairer, such an arbitrary separation of Electorate and List candidacies may have unintended consequences that they may regret.

Judging by comments on various internet Forums, it appears that most proponants of banning candidates from standing on both Electorate and Party List platforms are partisan National voters. They should take a moment to consider that at least two  high ranking Ministers (as well as others such as Chris Finlayson and Kate Wilkinson, in 2008) would no longer be in Parliament if  List and Electorate candidacies were separated.

As usual, the  Law of Unintended Consequences applies.

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Related stories

Public’s views on MMP must be heard

How to fix MMP

Electoral Commission: Results by Electorate for the 2011 Referendum on the Voting System

Electoral Commission: Official Count Results – Electorate Status


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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

Learn to count, Mr Prime Minister.

30 November 2011 5 comments

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Full Story

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John Key bemoans the fact that, in winning 47.99% of the Party Vote, that his government will have “only”  60 seats in Parliament. This, despite the fact, that 60 seats is approximately 48% of the total seats in Parliament (plus over-hangs).

In fact, Key makes this bizarre statement,

But it’s a funny system when you can poll this massive number and still theoretically be wondering whether you’ve got a government.

”If this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour, so it would be this massive majority.

”Yet under MMP you sit there and go, ‘you’ve got this hugh result and yet it still feels tight’.”  Source

Mr Key needs to understand that  proportional representation gives a Party the number of seats that they are entitled to – no more, no less, generally speaking.

For him to say that  ”if this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour” is nonsensical. If the Tooth Fairy existed, I’d have fifty cents for a tooth I lost some years ago.

For one thing, under First Past the Post, there is no guarantee that a Party will recieve seats in Parliament according to how the punters vote. Two (in)famous examples are the general elections of 1978 and 1981, where Labour won more votes than National (under FPP) – and yet National gained the majority of seats. Muldoon’s government was elected with a minority of votes.

There is no internal logic to FPP. It is a purely random system that does not deliver rational results, set on any sound principle.

There is no sound reason why Key’s belief that –  ”if this was First Past the Post and there were 100 MPs, there would be roughly 65 National seats and 35 Labour” – would come true. It could equally be true that under FPP, Labour would have won more seats.

Let me explain it to Mr Key in terms that he should be able to comprehend;

Mr Key is selling shares in Company X. Each share is $1. If I am buying $400 worth of shares,  and another guy is buying $600 worth of shares, how many shares do we each get?

Test on Monday.

If John Key thinks he should get 65 seats out of 100 (65%), then let him campaign for that result.

Otherwise, as the immortal Bard put it, “Suck it up, dude, and deal with it!”

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Latest Horizon Poll – released today!

24 November 2011 5 comments

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The latest Horizon Poll has been released today, with results on,

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  • the electoral system referendum
  • political party ratings
  • Maori voting intentions

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Electoral system referendum

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MMP is still the preferred option, with FPP coming in second place. This will no doubt annoy the heck out of the “Vote for Change” lobby group, who chose the FPP-variant, Supplementary Member (SM) as their preferred option.

Big mistake, boys. I know why you did it – you believed that FPP was tainted by past political abuses of power (which is correct) and that Supplementary  Member would be a welcome alternative. “Vote for Change” even touted SM as a “compromise between FPP and MMP – which it isn’t, of course. But you relied on low-information voters not knowing this and following your lead.

Unfortunately for “Vote for Change”, their non-existant campaign achieved very little. In fact, it was distinctly amateurish, to put it mildly.

The results,

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Full Results

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Political party ratings

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As usual, Horizon Polling results differ markedly from Roy Morgan, Herald-Digipoll, et al, because Horizon prompts Undecided respondants to state a preference. Other pollsters also often do not include Undecideds when calculating their percentages.

The poll results,

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Full Results

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It’s interesting to note that the poll results for ACT, Labour, and the Greens match very closely other political opinion polls – only the result for National is markedly different.

For example, a Fairfax Media-Research International poll released yesterday had the following results;

  • Labour – 26%
  • Greens – 12%
  • ACT – 0.7%

Very similar results to the Horizon Poll, with two important exceptions – Fairfax had the following results for National and NZ First;

  • National – 54%
  • NZ First – 4%

Significantly different to the Horizon Poll.

As the poll above stands, a Labour-led government is possible, with NZ First support. (And woe betide Winston Peters if he plays silly-buggers with Supply & Confidence.)

The election results will point to which company has gauged voter preferences the most accurately.

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Maori voting intentions

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As Maori politics follows Pakeha political movement and fragmentation along classic Left/Right lines, Mana and Maori Parties are becoming critical potentional partners for National and Labour. (Phil Goff may say he won’t go into Coalition with the Mana Party – but I believe he will need Hone Harawira’s Supply & Confidence to govern. He is hardly likely to turn down Mana Party support – critical if the left are to win on Saturday.)

Party Vote Results:

  • Labour is attracting 27.6% of Maori nationwide
  • Mana 14.9%
  • Maori Party 14.9%
  • NZ First 11.3%
  • Green 11% and
  • National 9.5%.

Full Results

It is interesting to note that, generally speaking, Maori still favour Labour-led government;

  • 20% of Maori want the Maori Party to enter a post-election coalition agreement with National.
  • 53.5% would prefer it enter a Labour coalition.
  • 45.8% of Maori would prefer Mana to enter a coalition agreement with Labour, 9.2% National.

If Horizon Polling is accurate – and I believe that their results are more realistic than the 50%, 53%, 56%, results that other polling companies have been coming up with  – then National is on-course to being a one-term government.

And if John Key follows comments he made earlier this year, he will resign from Parliament.

Interesting times, indeed…

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Supplementary Member system – it’s a bloody rort!

30 October 2011 2 comments

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“Supplementary Member” – It’s a rort!

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Full Story

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When “Vote for Change” spokesperson, Jordan Williams makes the claim that, “there is growing consensus that Supplementary Member is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post” – he is, of course creating a new “reality” to suit his group’s political agenda.

For one thing, “there is growing consensus that Supplementary Member is a good compromise” – is not true. There is no such “consensus”, growing or otherwise.

In fact, a poll conducted by UMR Research Ltd in May showed only 3% of voters supported that system,

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Full Story

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Williams’ claim that “Supplementary Member is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post” is also nonsensical wishful thinking.

MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) is a proportional system.  The number of MPs is determined (generally) by the percentage of Party Votes that a political party wins.

For example, if the Greens get 10% of the Party Vote, they get 10% of the seats in Parliament: 12 (10% of 120 = 12)

FPP (First Past the Post) is not proportional. The results of how many seats a political  party wins is purely random. In fact, in 1978 and 1981, Labour won more seats than National – but because of the vaguaries of FPP, National was given more seats in Parliament. (FPP is quite  arbitrary in the results it throws up.)

SM (Supplementary Member) is simply another version of FPP – but with “add-ons”.  It is not proportional.

To quote the Electoral Commission’s own website,

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SM – Supplementary Member

There are 120 Members of Parliament. There are 90 electorates, including the Maori electorates. Each elects one MP, called an Electorate MP.  The other 30 seats are called supplementary seats. MPs are elected to these seats from political party lists and are likely to be called List MPs.
Each voter gets two votes.
The first vote is to choose the MP the voter wants to represent the electorate they live in. This is called the electorate vote. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. They do not have to get more than half the votes.
The second vote is for the political party the voter chooses. This is called the party vote. The share of the 30 supplementary seats each party gets reflects its share of the party vote.
For example, if a party gets 30% of the party vote, it will get about 9 List MPs in Parliament (being 30% of the 30 supplementary seats) no matter how many electorate seats it wins.
This makes SM different from MMP where a party’s share of all 120 seats mirrors its share of the party vote.
One or other of the major parties would usually have enough seats to govern alone, but coalitions or agreements between parties may sometimes be needed.

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To paint a picture of the difference between MMP and SM;

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MMP

Proportional?

– Yes

Does the percentage of voter support equate to seats in Parliament?

– Yes. With some rare exceptions,  parties gain only as much seats as the percentage of Party Votes they win.

Eg; 25% of Party votes = 25% of Parliamentary seats (30)

50% of Party votes = 50% of Parliamentary seats (60)

Etc.

Can one of the Big Two parties win more seats than their Party Vote entitles them?

– Generally, no.

Is MMP fairer to voters who vote for small parties such as the Greens, ACT, etc?

– Yes. Supporters of smaller parties stand a better chance of representation than under FPP or SM.

Do unelected Party List MPs get into Parliament under MMP?

– No. This is a myth. Party List MPs are firstly selected by their own Party members. Then, to win a seat in Parliament,  that Party must win over 5% of the Party List votes (or an electorate). So the Green’s 9 MPs were elected into Parliament by 157,613  New Zealanders voting for them. Likewise, ACT’s 4 MPs were elected by 85,496 New Zealanders voting for ACT.

How many seats will there be in a MMP Parliament?

– 120

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SM

Proportional?

– No

Does the percentage of voter support equate to seats in Parliament?

– No. A Party can win more seats than voter support. That is, because as with FPP, a candidate can win a seat with as little as 30% of the electorate vote. There is little correlation between percentages of voter support to final seat numbers.

Can one of the Big Two parties win more seats than their Party Vote entitles them?

– Yes. As with FPP, this will be quite likely.

Is SM fairer to voters who vote for small parties such as the Greens, ACT, etc?

– No. Smaller parties who can’t win electorate seats, and rely instead on the Party Vote, will win only a few seats.

Do unelected Party List MPs get into Parliament under SM?

– No. Again, Party List MPs will be voted in by ticking the appropriate Party Vote. The big difference is that there will be a under-representationfor those New Zealanders who happen to support parties other than National or Labour.

How many seats will there be in a SM Parliament?

– 120

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An example of what a SM-style election result might  look like would be  the 1984 General Election, which was held under FPP,

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Final results for NZ General Election (1984)

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Under MMP, the final shape of Parliament might have looked like this, given the same percentages translated to Party Votes,

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Final results for NZ General Election (1984) - Projected, under MMP System

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Anti-MMP proponent, Jordan Williams, claims that SM “ is a good compromise between MMP and First Past the Post“. It clearly is nothing of the sort.

MMP is already a compromise between FPP and proportional representation because  70 of the seats in Parliament are still elected under FPP. The rest, 50,  are proportionally allocated according to each party’s Party Vote.

SM is simply FPP, with add-ons. The small number of proportionally-allocated seats under SM (thirty out of 120), do not result in a proportional Parliament. It does not give fair representation for smaller Parties. And more importantly; it returns dominance to the Big Two: Labour and National.

And by sheer “coincidence”, the majority  of “Vote for Change” supporters are also National supporters. This is because under FPP or SM, National (or Labour) could govern on their own, without any real break on their executive power.

Past history has shown us – whether under Muldoon’s strictly regimented, centralised economy  – or under Labour’s Rogernomics – than both National and Labour will ram through policies without smaller parties exercising a “braking” effect on their political power. In effect, they have “unbridled power”, as Sir Geoffrey Palmer once said.

Personally, I do not trust politicians with such unbridled power (even ones I vote for). Not because politicians are inherently “evil” – they are not “evil” – but being human, are liable to make mistakes like the rest of us.

MMP at least gives us an opportunity to put the brakes on politicians.

SM is taking the brakes off – and putting your foot on the accelerator for three years.

No thanks. That is why, on 26 November, I will tick the MMP box, to Make Mine Proportional.

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“Vote for Change” and a Big Leap Backwards…

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Having looked at the “Vote for Change” website, their statements are highly subjective and some are downright misleading. For example,

MMP allows List MPs who have been voted out by their local electorates to sneak back into Parliament on party lists.”

This is only half the truth. What V.f.C has “forgotten” to tell the reader is that any candidate  who enters Parliament on the Party List is there because New Zealand voters ticked the Party List vote for that particular party.

Eg; The Attorney General, Christopher Finlayson, stood as National’s candidate in the Rongotai Electorate in the 2008 election. Finlayson failed to win in Rongotai, and was beaten by Labour’s candidate, Annette King.

However, Chris Finlayson won 10,594 Electorate Votes (as opposed to Ms King’s 19,614 electorate votes) and also won 11,950 Party List votes. In total, Finlayson won 22,544 votes.

So Chris Finlayson did not “sneak” back into Parliament: he was elected with 22,544 Electorate and Party votes.

Opponents to MMP, generally, will often skew situations to suit their own p.o.v.

There is more on V.f.C’s website that is a blatant misrepresentation of  the truth… but I’ll leave that for another day.

Instead, I can reaffirm that this blog author supports retaining MMP, and will vote accordingly on 26 November.

I encourage you to do likewise.

Thank you.

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Additional

Electoral Commission: Referendum 2011

Campaign for MMP | Facebook

Campaign for MMP

“Vote For Change”

MMP Or SM? A Big Decision Looms For New Zealand Voters

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Of Polls, Politics, & Pollution

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“Do as I say, Not as I Do”, is not a particularly savvy way to relate to an important electorate such as Epsom,

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Full Story

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It beggars belief that a Party leader could ask voters in a given electorate to vote for the candidate of another Party – whilst he himself supports his own Party’s candidate.  John Key has stated categorically,

“‘I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.Source

One wonders how National supporters in Epsom must be feeling.

The leader of their Party hints that they should vote for ACT’s John Banks, whilst Key himself votes for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith?

And if Paul Goldsmith is the “sacificial lamb” – why is he standing as an electorate candidate anyway?  National could just as easily – and more honestly – simply not stand a candidate and mount a publicity campaign for the Party Vote only,

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In effect, National’s  electorate candidate is not really campaigning to win. And if he doesn’t want to win, why is he standing? To give  Epsom National supporters a “wink and a nod” to Electorate Vote ACT and Party Vote National?

And if such is the case – what possible legitimacy does that give ACT when they can’t attract electorate support on their own merits?

So much for ACT being a Party that encourages success through merit. Especially when they apply the merit-based principle to Maori:  Maori Must Earn Auckland Seats On Merit .

As the ACT statement sez;  “Let our bright boys and girls EARN their seats.

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ACT and National’s  machinations in Epsom are, of course, due to ACT’s low poll ratings. Practically every single poll has them around the 1.5-3.5% mark. Under MMPs rules, if they cannot cross the magical 5% Party Vote threshold – or – win an Electorate Seat, they will end up like  The Alliance and NZ First: out of Parliament.

(Despite what critics of proportional representation would have us believe, MMP is not a very ‘forgiving’ system to small Parties.)

The latest Horizon Poll makes for very interesting reading. Horizon is the only polling company that prompts Undecideds to state a preference. Under this system, the results appear to give a far more realistic result of Voter’s intentions, rather than the ‘fantasmagorical‘ results that have National at 53-55%-plus,

Horizon is the only polling company publishing results for don’t know voters.

Horizon’s results are for

  • Decided voters
  • Undecided voters with a preference

who are

  • Registered to vote and who
  • Intend to vote.

The poll finds

  • National has 36.8% of registered voters (down 2.7% since September 22)
  • Labour 25.7% (-1.1%)
  • Green Party 11.6% (up 0.9%)
  • New Zealand First 6.2% (- 1.1%)
  • Mana Party 2.3% (+ 0.3%)
  • Act 3.4%  (down 1.4% from September and down from a high of 5.3% in May shortly after Don Brash became leader)
  • Maori Party 1.7% (+0.7%)
  • United Future 0.4% ( 0% in September)
  • Conservative Party of New Zealand 2.2% (new party, first time measured)
  • New Citizens 0%
  • Other parties 1.2%

National has highest voter loyalty:  76.2% of its 2008 voters still support it. It has picked up 19.9% of Act voters and 9.1% of Labour voters (while Labour has picked up 7.6% of National’s).

The Greens have 68.7% voter loyalty and are gaining 2008 voters from the Maori Party (23.1%) and Labour (14.6%).

Labour has 63% voter loyalty, losing 14.3% to the Greens, 9.1% to National and 3.7% to New Zealand First.

The Maori Party has 30.8% voter loyalty, losing 23.1% of its 2008 voters to the Greens and 19.1% to Mana.

Assuming John Banks wins the Epsom electorate seat for Act, Peter Dunne retains Ohariu-Belmont, the Maori Party retains its four electorate seats and Hone Harawira retains Te Tai Tokerau, a 122 seat Parliament  would result, with a two Maori Party seat overhang, comprising:

National 50

Act 5

Maori party 4

United Future 1

Current governing coalition: 60 seats

Labour 35

Green 16

NZ First 8

Total: 59 seats

Mana 3

Horizon Research says a great deal depends on the support New Zealand First attracts at November 26.

Horizon polls have had the party at 6% or higher since November 2010. (Note the poll’s margin of error is +/- 2.2%).

Source

If correct, National is in trouble.  Their chances of a second term are not guaranteed, and judging by the public’s low opinion of National’s performance of the grounding of the m.v. Rena; the double credit-rating downgrades; the questionable veracity of the so-called Standard & Poors  “email”; and various promises made that have not been kept, John Key’s “teflon” image is definitely beginning to show signs of wear and tear.

And with the RWC behind us, and the public “partyed-out”, a return to politicking may be a welcomed diversion for many. Especially as people begin to focus on issues such as asset sales and the sales of farmland – both contentious and highly unpopular with the public.  In a way, the RWC may even strengthen opposition to asset/farm sales to foreigners.

After all, if we’re good enough to beat the world in rugby, then  why the dickens aren’t we good enough to hold on to our taongas?! Explain that, Dear Leader!!

On the other hand, though Labour leader Phil Goff has consistently polled lower than Key, his dogged determination to persevere and not fold under media scrutiny may actually earn him “brownie points” with the public.

Goff can wear the label of  “underdog” with real credibility. If Labour can play on this in a subtle manner, and show that Goff does not cave under pressure; that he keeps on like the proverbial ‘Energizer Bunny’ when all seems lost; and that he doesn’t rely on shallow charisma and meaningless smiles and utterances – he is in with a fighting chance.

God knows that lesser mortals would’ve probably chucked it in long before now, and call for a replacement from the “benches”.

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Another Horizon Poll has shown what many suspected would be the reaction from New Zealanders over the grounding of the m.v. Rena: that the government was slow of the mark and wasted precious time in delaying action,

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Source: Horizon Polls

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Taken in isolation, the grounding and response from government and statutory bodies would probably have raised no more than slight annoyance from the public.

But the grounding of the Rena is now the third major disaster this country has experienced; on top of the Pike River Mine explosions and the Christchurch earthquakes.

In both instances, central government made promises to locals that – in hindsight – may have been unrealistic at best, and irresponsible at worst. Public patience with the ever-smiling, waving, John Key may be wearing just a bit thin.

Then on top of all that, was the near-disaster of the Rugby World Cup’s opening night. The government had well and truly taken their collective eyes of the ball that night, and it is pure good luck that no one was seriously injured or killed in the mayhem.

Unrealistic promises and slow responses were only the beginning.

We also have the government intending to bring deep-sea oil drilling to our coastal waters. More than half the country by now must be asking themselves,

Just hang on a mo’, Mr Prime Minister! If we can barely cope with a single stranded freighter, sitting on the surface of the sea – how the heck are we going to cope with a major oil disaster that might be two or three times the depth of the Gulf of Mexico disaster?! Aside from hoping for good luck that nothing goes wrong, we’re not really prepared are we, Mr Key?

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To make things worse, is the disquieting suspicion that our de-regulated safety regime; lax building codes; and continual cutbacks to government workers are  contributing to a systematic running-down of essential services. Especially when even  emergency services are now starting to feel the blades of National’s  savage cuts,

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Full Story

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When the aspirational middle class Baby Boomers start to feel that their comfort zones are threatened, government politicians should take heed. That’s when we throw out governments. We don’t like our “comfort zones” upset. (It upsets our delicate tummies.)

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Now let’s really stir the political pot of discontent;   our youth seem to have re-discovered their own political power and realised that leaving matters to the Older Generation (us) may not achieve the outcomes they desire. God knows our generation has succeeded in wrecking the global economy; threatening the stability of the Eurozone; and bringing the once great super power that is the United States, to it’s knees.

Young folk have woken up to the world around them – and they are not very happy at what they find,

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Full Story

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The recent government interference in Student Union affairs (forcing voluntary unionism upon people who may not necessarily wish for it) should be a stark wake-up call to young people that National governments – far from being “hands off” and opposed to “nanny statish” behaviour – can be just as controlling as their counterparts allegedly were.

In fact, more so. After all, this “hands off” government did force almalgation on Aucklanders without any democratic referendum being conducted. National had no hesitation in passing legislation to ban cellphone usage whilst driving (but not banning  applying makeup or eating whilst driving). Then they lifted the driving age. And have begun liquor law reforms. And John Key is even now contemplating the ungodly “Nanny Statish” policy of making Kiwisaver compulsory!! Oh dear gods – whatever next?!

Oh, that’s right – National wanted to  extend Police powers to allow greater video surveillance in the community. (Which even ACT decided was a step too far.)

All in all, the gloss has worn away from this government, and it’s track record of the last three years cannot be dismissed with a smile and a wave, with a hollow promise chucked in for good measure.

And young New Zealanders are starting to flex their political muscle.

Not too bad, on top of winning the rugby world cup, eh?

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Plucking figures from outer space vacuum?

9 October 2011 2 comments

This is Q+A,

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Q+A is TVNZ’s “flagship” weekly, current affairs programme, usually hosted by well-known broadcaster, radio host, and author, Paul Holmes.

This is Guyon Espiner,

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Guyon Espiner

G.

Espiner is TVNZ’s interviewer on their current affairs programme, Q+A.

On the weekend of 8/9 October, Espiner led a debate on MPP with Lianne Dalziel (L) and Simon Bridges (N). Dalziel was supporting the pro-MMP debate; Bridges was promoting the anti-MMP/pro-SM debate.

During the debate, Espiner raised the issue of the ratio of MPs-per-population, in several countries. He said,

One of the questions that people have about MMP – and, in fact, it would be the same with Supplementary Member because theres 120 MPs under both systems. In Australia, theres one MP to every 97,000 people. England – one MP to every 95,000 people. New Zealand – one MP to every 36,000 people. Simon Bridges, isnt the problem-?Source

Espiner compared Australia’s one MP to every 97,000 to New Zealand’s one MP to every 36,000 people.

According to Espiner, we have just over two and a half times more MPs-per-head-of-population than Australia.

Can this be true?

No, it’s not true.

Whoever researched those figures stuffed up.

The actual figures are;

  • Australia:  one MP per 28,000 (approx)
  • New Zealand: one MP per 36,000 (approx)

In fact, we have less MPs per-head-of-population than Australia.

How did Espiner (or Q+A’s researchers) make such a blunder? The answer is simple arithmetic-gone-wrong;

New Zealand’s population is (approximately) 4.4 million people.

We have, at present, 122 MPs.

4.4 million divided by 122 = 36,000 (approx)

Q+A estimated their incorrect figure in the following manner,

22 million divided by 226 MPs = 97,000 (approx)

But there are two errors in that calculation.

1. The population of Australia is (approximately) 22 million – not 20 million.

2. There are indeed 226 Federal MPs in Australia. But there are also an additional 583 State MPs in Australia, making 809 Members of Parliament in total.

Federal and State MPs are broken down thusly,

226 in the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 150 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 76 elected senators.

17 in the single house of the Australian Capital Territory Parliament:

– The Assembly with 17 elected representatives.

135 in the two houses of the New South Wales State Parliament:

– The Assembly with 93 elected representatives.
– The Legislative Council (the upper house) has 42 elected senators.

25 in the single house of the Northern Territory Parliament:

– The Assembly with 25 elected representatives.

85 in the single house of the Queensland State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 85 elected representatives.

58 in the two houses of the South Australian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 47 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 11 elected senators.

40 in the two houses of the Tasmanian State Parliament:

– The House of Assembly with 25 elected representatives.
– The Legislative Council (the upper house) has 15 elected members.

128 in the two houses of the Victorian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 88 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 40 elected senators.

95 in the two houses of the West Australian State Parliament:

– The House of Representatives with 59 elected representatives.
– The Senate (the upper house) has 36 elected senators. Source

In the interests of fairness and accuracy, it is vital that our media present information that we can rely on. This is not some academic matter of debate – we are considering whether or not to change or retain our electoral system.

Sloppy presentation of incorrect information will not be helpful.

One hopes that TVNZ will lift it’s game in the coming weeks as the General Election and Referendum approaches.

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I emailed Q+A on the same day (Sunday, 9 October 2011 5:55 p.m.) that this episode appeared. My email consisted of my blog entry, as given above.

Tim Watkin, Q+A’s producer responded, two days later (Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM) with this email,

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from:    Q+A Q+A@tvnz.co.nz
to:    [email]
date:    Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM
subject:    RE: Comment – A Programme – Q+A

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comments, but rather than being sloppy etc, we’ve just
taken a different measure than you. The comparisons we made with other
countries included federal parliamentary MPs only, not State MPs. I
imagine you’ve figured this out yourself.

We don’t have State MPs in NZ, so it would be comparing apples with
oranges to include them. Sure, Australia and other countries have that
extra layer of democracy – but they are not MPs as we know them in this
country and do not have the same power and responsibility, so it seemed
to us the more accurate (or at least less inaccurate) comparison was to
limit our comparisons to national MPs. That way we’re comparing like
with like.

We decided that to most of our viewers “MP’ would mean members of a
national parliament, not a state one. Obviously you are one who defines
MP differently, but I suspect you’d be in the minority of viewers.

Regards,

Tim Watkin
Producer, Q+A

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To which I replied, on the same day,

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from    [email]
to    Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>
date    Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 4:15 PM
subject    Re: Comment – A Programme – Q+A

Tim,

Thankyou for your response.

With regards to your explanation, I would submit the following;

“The comparisons we made with other
countries included federal parliamentary MPs only, not State MPs. I
imagine you’ve figured this out yourself.”

Indeed, I realised that immediately. This is an error made recently by another media outlet and I recognised the basis for the figures almost immediatly, as I had seen them before.

However, as you pointed out, it is worth noting that I’d be perhaps one of a handful of people who would realise this. The rest of the country watching that segment would take the figures  mentioned at face value.

“We decided that to most of our viewers “MP’ would mean members of a
national parliament, not a state one. Obviously you are one who defines
MP differently, but I suspect you’d be in the minority of viewers.”

I disagree and that explanation seems somewhat artificial. No mention was made of your definition between Federal and State MPs. State governments in Australia are just that; state governments with their own MPs, Parliaments, and Governor Generals. They pass their own laws; have their own Police; have a (somewhat loose) border-controls;  and even  extradition treaties with other (Australian) states.

Perhaps it would have been appropriate to point this out to viewers so that they could come to their own conclusions? As it is, only one interpretation has been presented, and that interpretation is, well, open to interpretation.

You’re correct; we don’t have State MPs. In which case comparing Australia with New Zealand was not comparing apples-with-apples. (Australia would probably prefer that we don’t mention our apples to them, at any rate.) So it wasn’t an accurate comparison even by your definitions.

All the best,
-Frank

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Categories: Media Tags: , , , , ,

MMP – the “Marketplace” of Politics…

… and offering the voters real choices, other than the gerrymandered riggings and back-room deals of First Past the Post and Supplementary Member.

The good folk of Epsom now have a wide range of candidates to choose from, this coming November.  Labour MP, David Parker, is experienced, articulate, and with a good common-sense attitude.

Spoilt for choice, Epsom folk?

Can David Parker win Epsom? Should he even try? What is the point of offering oneself in a safe National-seat that is as “blue ribbon” as one can find in this country?

I’m thinking that David Parker has a very simple plan: to Give It A Go.

New Zealanders love that  “give it a go” attitude. The same attitude that has seen various individuals achieve stuff that – on the face of it – was practically unheard off. Whether climbing a bloody big mountain and “knocking the bastard off”, or producing a few ‘splatter’ movies and eventually becoming one of the biggest Names in Hollywood (Miramar Branch) – these individuals just gave it a go.

Now it may be a long-shot that David Parker wins Epsom. That’s a bloody high mountain to climb in anyone’s books.

But Kiwis love the “battler”; the Little Guy Up Against It. Hence why “Goodbye Pork Pie” is one of our most endearing movies?

I think that’s the rationale for David P to try it on in Epsom. He may not get anywhere – but by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I think he’ll earn bucketloads of respect from the local Epsomites. ‘Cos he Gave It A Go.

Who knows – he may even…

As for the Parker Game Plan – I’m picking he’ll opt for Deputy Leadership if/when the Labour leadership issue ever arises.

ACT – a step too far?

From David Farrar, of Kiwiblog

“…I tend to think it would be good to hear more from ACT on social liberalism, because their brand there has been unclear. No one doubts ACT’s commitment to economic liberalism, but they do wonder about the commitment to social liberalism.

Wouldn’t it be great I thought to hear Don Brash say something along the lines of “Yes we are going to get rid of the Maori seats, because race based seats are wrong – but we are also going to decriminalise personal use of cannabis, as our current drug laws unfairly penalise young Maori”. “

I would guess that business and other neo-liberals are now shying away from supporting ACT, lest they be associated with that party’s ‘brand’ which has evolved into something overtly racist and  anti-maori.

For many on the neo-liberal right, racist extremism is simply a step too far.

I am reminded of the Alliance in the mid-1990s, when it expelled the “Permanent Revolution” faction. Evidently this minority were creating a considerable nuisance with their hardline marxist-leninist agitation and the Alliance leadership did not want to be distracted with an extremist  canker within it’s ranks.

Unfortunately, in ACT’s case (or fortunately, depending on one’s p.o.v.), the lunatics have well and truly taken control of the asylum.

No wonder Heather Roy jumped waka. She knew what was coming.

As for ACT’s declared position of abolishing Maori seats – let’s be under no illusion, here.

The right want to get rid of Maori seats because they can’t win them. If they were safe-National or safe-ACT seats, then Farrar and his right-wing colleagues would be lining up to defend Maori seats.

Much like MMP, really. The right don’t like MMP because it doesn’t give them unbridled power.

The right simply don’t like to share.

It really is that simple.

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More on ACT’s racist culture;

Brash backed canned Act ad

Manipulations & Machinations…

27 July 2011 2 comments

OPINION: MMP was supposed to give power to the people, and it has delivered parliaments that are truly representative of New Zealand society. 

But even its most ardent fans must despair at the way politicians manipulate the system through backroom deals over electorate seats, such as those between National and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne in Ohariu, and National and ACT in Epsom. Though such agreements may be within the rules of MMP, the cynicism that lies behind them is certainly not within the spirit. 

In Ohariu, National is encouraging its supporters to give their electorate votes to Mr Dunne, and it is poised to send a similar message in Epsom, where ACT’s survival depends on John Banks winning. 

National is motivated by a desire to ensure partners to balance the influence of the Maori Party, its only other coalition option should it be unable to govern alone. In the case of ACT, it is also eyeing the potential for Mr Banks to bring in up to two more MPs, based on the party’s 2 per cent support in today’s Fairfax Research International poll. National will be reluctant to see that centre-Right support wasted if ACT loses Epsom and falls short of the 5 per cent threshold for list-only seats. 

Deal-making over electorates is nothing new under MMP, but it has gone from being an occasional accommodation in one or two seats to a regular feature. Suggestions that ACT stand aside in several marginal seats to maximise National’s electorate vote and stop Labour winning them back take the manoeuvring to a whole new level, and few parties are immune. 

Despite Labour leader Phil Goff’s criticism of the National deals in Ohariu and Epsom, his party has been happy to give allies an easy ride when it suits. His insistence that Labour has always gone all-out to wrest Wigram from Progressives leader Jim Anderton is contradicted by the campaigns it has run there. It spent just $5425.19 in the electorate at the last election, hardly a war chest primed for victory. 

Nor are the Greens above the deal-making. Ohariu candidate Gareth Hughes offered to campaign for the party vote only and encourage his supporters to give their electorate vote to Labour’s Charles Chauvel to oust Mr Dunne. That offer has allowed Mr Dunne to defend his deal with National on the ground that he is only engaging in the same tactics as his opponents  though those with longer memories will recall this is not the first time National has given him an easy ride. 

Of course, it is up to voters to decide who they back, but they must consider that they might not get what they bargained for. National supporters who took the hint and voted for Mr Dunne in Ohariu in 2005 may have been unhappy to find him taking a ministerial warrant in a Labour government a few weeks later.

With MMP’s future on the line in a referendum in this year’s election, how the people feel about such machinations will be put to the test. It would be deeply ironic if a system that was supposed to end the cynicism of politicians met its own end because of it.

Attempts to manipulate MMP can only succeed if we, the People, play the politicians’ games.

At least these machinations are out in the open, for all to see, judge, and vote accordingly.  Under FPP, everything was hidden behind closed doors and no one had a clue what the main parties were getting up to.

It may be distasteful, but I prefer the open transparency of MMP rather than the closed-shop of FPP (or it’s bastardised cousin, Supplementary Member).

I also totally dismiss the editorial comment; “Nor are the Greens above the deal-making. Ohariu candidate Gareth Hughes offered to campaign for the party vote only and encourage his supporters to give their electorate vote to Labour’s Charles Chauvel to oust Mr Dunne…”

The Greens have always been a Party List vote only. Not since Ms Fitzsimmons lost Coromandel in 2002 have they gone for the Electorate vote, anywhere in NZ. So claims that the Greens are “dealing” is not accurate: they have always gone for the Party Vote only.

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