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Alex's live election blog: Fairfax poll shows National at 54%, Labour 26%, NZ First at 4% after teapot saga; Big undecided vote
Here's a fresh election blog for Wednesday.
3:08 pm: John Key's office puts out comment on teapot tape decision:
"The Prime Minister notes the court's ruling and remains focused on the issues that are important to New Zealanders as they go to the polls on Saturday."
2:39 pm: After much confusion in the twittersphere, The Herald's @dchengnzh tweets: High court declines ambrose request for declaration. Teapot tape legality still up in the air #votenz #ambrose
The teapot tape is unlikely to be published before the election, after the High Court today declined a request to rule on whether it was a recording of a private conversation.
In her decision this afternoon, Justice Helen Winkelmann said granting a court declaration would prejudice the ongoing police investigation while the facts of the case were still contested.
She declined to rule whether the conversation was private or public...
...The decision also opens the door to police to execute search warrants on TV3, Television NZ, Radio NZ and the NZ Herald, including the Herald on Sunday; police had wanted to conduct the searches on Monday, but decided to wait until after the court's decision.
1:50 pm: ACT leader Don Brash is calling for a referendum to be held within a year on raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. Brash says ACT would raise the issue with National in any confidence and supply agreement talks, although he is not in a postion before the election to say whether the party would demand the referendum be held. Brash told interest.co.nz that would depend on factors such as how many MPs ACT got into Parliament on November 26, and the make-up of the government.
“The single biggest impediment to raising the age of eligibility – a measure that is widely-acknowledged as being necessary – is the Prime Minister’s promise that he would resign rather than raise the age, yet this promise is at odds with the demographic and fiscal reality,” Brash said in a press release..
“ACT believes we cannot afford to have a single politician influence such an important issue in this way. ACT will push hard for a referendum to be held on the retirement age in the coming year. We would negotiate for such a referendum to form part of our Confidence and Supply Agreement with National in the upcoming Government," Brash said.
“The referendum question could be very simple. For example: ‘Should New Zealand match Australia’s retirement age of 67 by 2023 by raising the age of eligibility six months every second year starting from 2017?’
“A referendum would take this issue, and its long term consequences, out of today’s politics and put New Zealand’s fiscal destiny in the hands of New Zealanders," he said.
11:30 am: Prime Minister John Key releases a 'post-election action plan' in Auckland. He says:
We will be firmly focused on getting New Zealand back into surplus quickly, paying off debt, and keeping costs down for businesses so they can get on with creating more jobs.
Overseas, we are seeing how political instability can threaten economic recovery.
Politicians in the US are struggling to agree on how to rein in America’s ballooning debt, and in Europe instability continues.
What is happening overseas is further proof that without a strong and stable Government, you can’t reduce debt or have a stable economy.
We don’t want that to happen in New Zealand – and it doesn’t need to happen here.
What the news from overseas does is bring into sharp focus what this election is actually all about - which is, who has the best plans for a strong economy in a turbulent world environment.
A number of opinion polls are saying National is in a strong position going into polling day on Saturday.
However, the reality is that Saturday is the only poll that counts, and the result will be much closer than some people think.
Under MMP, you can stack up the parties in all sorts of combinations and the potential for a Labour Party-led stack of minor parties is very real.
And the more complex the stack of parties, the more expensive it will be.
Two things are certain. Firstly, that a Labour-led stack will lead to more debt – around $21 billion over four years collectively so far.
11:30 am: iPredict releases its daily update. Main points are:
* New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira will square off in the second-to-last iPredict programme before the election, tomorrow (Thursday) at 7.00 pm on Stratos (Sky 89, Freeview 21).
* Three days out from the general election, John Key's National Party continues to be forecast to be able to govern with the support of one of the Green, Act, Maori Party or UnitedFuture parties.
* However, the market's forecast for Labour vote-share has recovered 0.5 points to 28.5%, while the market's forecasts for the Greens vote-share has also increased, up 0.4 points to 11.5%.
* Meanwhile, Act's support is down by 0.8 points, while the probability that they will win Epsom is only 55%.
* The heavily traded stock forecasting Winston Peters' chance of returning to Parliament is down to 37% probability, from 40% yesterday. New Zealand First's forecast party vote is 4.3%.
* Stocks on who the Green Party will support after the election have been launched at https://www.ipredict.co.nz/app.php?do=browse&cat=260
* The race for the Labour leadership post-election is starting to heat up with David Parker surging 10 points overnight to 37% probability, closing the gap with rival David Cunliffe with 42% probability.
National 47.5% n/c 60 MPs
Labour 28.5% +0.5% 36 MPs
Greens 11.5% +0.4% 15 MPs
New Zealand First 4.3% -0.2% 0 MPs
Act 2.3% -0.8% 3 MPs
Mana Party 2.2% -0.4% 3 MPs
Conservative 1.7% n/c 0 MPs
Maori Party 1.2% n/c 3 MPs
UnitedFuture 1.1% +0.7% 1 MP
10:00 am: Why no Crafar Farms decision? Labour asks. Labour's economic development spokesman David Parker has issued a release questioning why there has been no decision on Shanghai Pengxin's bid for the 16 Crafar Farms which has been in front of the Overseas Investment Office most of the year.
David Parker says he questions the ‘political motivations’ behind no decision having been taken in the past six months on the latest foreign application to buy the Crafar farms.
“On the face of it, there’s no reason the Overseas Investment Office could not have made a decision. So why hasn’t it?
“The only conclusion I can come to is that National doesn’t want a decision to be made until after the election, because the Government is already copping so much flak for its intention to sell our power companies,” David Parker said.
“Finance Minister Bill English has set out the rules for the OIO. Provided the applicant is not corrupt --- and there has been no suggestion of corruption in this case, as far as I am aware --- the OIO normally eventually approves the sale.
“A letter from Bill English to the OIO says the National Government is happy to allow farmland up to 10 times the size of the average farm to be sold to the same buyer,” David Parker said. “For practical purposes that means the first 10 farms applied for can be sold provided the potential buyer isn’t corrupt, but the 11th application must be turned down.
“The rule puts no real obstacle in the way of foreign ownership of large chunks of our land, but it seems very clear National doesn’t want this reality to be borne out before the election. That’s the only reason the OIO has been sitting on its hands.”
9:50 am: Prime Minister John Key has just been on National Radio. When asked whether National's asset sales policy could be up for negotiation after the election, given two-thirds of Kiwis say they are not in favour of it, he replies, "I don't think so".
What's the chance of National having to rely on some kind of arrangement with the Green Party after November 26 if ACT disappears, NZ First gets in, and the Maori Party loses seats?
Key reiterated he would not be forming a government if he had to rely on NZ First abstaining on Budget votes.
9:10 am: He's making it up as he goes along. No Treasury advice over 10% SOE share ownership cap. TVNZ reported last night night they had been fighting Treasury for the advice it had given to Ministers over the 10% ownership cap the government would impose on shares sold in the four energy companies it will sell up to 49% of.
Remember back in August government Ministers made a big deal that they expected 85-90% of the SOEs would be 'New Zealand owned' (including the government's 51% share-holding), in reaction to public anxiety about foreign ownership of the shares during the sell-off.
SOE Minister Tony Ryall at the time also said "it’s the Government’s intention to impose a maximum shareholding cap on the mixed ownership companies. That cap is most likely to be 10 per cent.”
The Government refused to release the information about the asset sales so ONE News called in the Ombudsmen to investigate.
The response to the ONE News complaint reveals the Government has received very little official advice to back up some of its major claims about the asset sales programme.
In fact Treasury admits it has not provided the Minister of Finance with any advice about a possible 10% cap on shares held by any single company or individual.
Labour came out firing:
Labour is calling on John Key to immediately release all information the Government has received supporting his claims that majority ownership of public assets will remain in New Zealand hands after National has sold them.
“John Key, Bill English and Tony Ryall have repeatedly told New Zealanders that 85-90 per cent of the four energy companies and Air New Zealand that National wants to sell will remain in Kiwi hands,” Labour’s campaign spokesman Grant Robertson said.
“They have also said that any one stakeholder would be limited to a 10 per cent cap of shares to give ‘mum and dad’ shareholders a stake.
“Under pressure from the Ombudsman, the Government has been forced to reveal these claims are worthless.
“National has received no official advice, and instead is relying on National Party staffers and ‘market contacts’.
And Russel Norman from the Greens joined in this morning:
Treasury documents relating to the sale of state owned assets must be released prior to the election, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
The Green Party this morning wrote to the Ombudsmen’s office requesting they rethink their decision to withhold information relating to National’s plan to privatise state owned assets post-election. This followed on from a complaint from Dr Norman regarding Treasury withholding documents relating to National’s state owned assets policy.
8:45 am: Nats still governing alone after teapot saga. This morning's Fairfax Media-Research International poll shows National still sitting pretty at 54%, up 1.5% from a week ago, and well above a struggling Labour at 26% (up 0.1%). The Greens are at 12% (down 0.6%) and New Zealand First is at 4% (up 1.2%).
ACT, at 0.7% (down 0.3%), would only get Epsom candidate John Banks into Parliament (given he wins the seat) on its current polling. The Maori Party was at 1.1% (down 0.4%), as was Mana (up 0.4%)
The undecided vote rose 1.3% to 15.6%. The poll of 1,000 voters was held between November 17 and 21, and had a margin of error of 3.1%.