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Alex's live election blog: Goff's police recruitment claim rejected; Labour promises SCF investigation; Who won the final debate?
Here's a fresh post for Thursday's Election 2011 related news. Just two more sleeps to go.
3:20 pm: Ombudsman refuses to release mixed-ownership advice. The Green Party have issued a release saying the Ombudsman has upheld an earlier provisional decision to not release Treasury advice the government received regarding possible foreign ownership of shares sold in four energy SOEs: See all parties' SOE policies here.
John Key can release Treasury advice on the sale of state-owned assets demonstrating he has nothing to hide on this key election issue, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
The Ombudsmen’s office today released a final decision upholding an earlier provisional decision to refuse to release advice Treasury prepared for National regarding foreign ownership of New Zealand’s state owned power companies.
“The only explanation for National refusing to release advice on foreign ownership of foreign assets is that it contradicts what they have been saying in public. It proves they have something to hide,” said Dr Norman.
“The Ombudsmen’s failure to come down on the side of the public’s interest in this matter is disappointing and means New Zealanders are going into Saturday’s election not knowing the full picture of National’s key election policy for 2011.
“We can reasonably assume the information that is being suppressed shows that there are significant constraints on the Government in relation to limiting foreign ownership of our state-owned assets.
“Our international commitments in various trade agreements mean we can’t simply put limitations on foreign ownership like John Key says.
“Successive Labour and National Governments have compromised our economic sovereignty and signed up to trade and investment rules that disadvantage us.
“Restricting foreign ownership will put us at odds with many of the trade treaties we have signed up to.
“John Key is saying one thing to the public, but it is highly likely his officials have given him different advice that he refuses to share.
“The suppressed advice probably shows that National’s sale pitch of selling state-owned assets to ‘Mum and Dad’ investors and keeping foreign owners out is nothing more than spin.
“The only sure fire way to keep our energy companies in New Zealand ownership is to not privatise them.
The Green Party has made keeping our assets in public ownership a top priority in any post-election negotiations.
“John Key must give the New Zealand public the full picture of his asset sales programme and release this information today,” said Dr Norman.
Link to the Ombudsmen’s final decision:
1:38 pm: The only 'outdoors' party. He'll be out the door himself if he doesn't win Ohariu-Belmont, but Dunne has also talked up UnitedFuture's committment to outdoor recreation.
Whether it has been setting up the Game Animal Review Panel, forming the Game Animal Council, advocating for continued access rights to public resources, vocal opposing 1080 and heli-hunting, working with the recreational fishing sector to better manage our inshore fishery, rejecting efforts to increase the damming of wild rivers, and increasing the period of daylight saving by three weeks a year – UnitedFuture has always stood up for the interests of outdoor recreationists.”
“Other parties are quick to promise heaven and earth to the outdoor community but they have never delivered meaningful results.”
1:31 pm: UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne has put out a press release warning what could happen if people don't vote for UnitedFuture, and ACT fails to win Epsom. UnitedFuture needs about 1.2% of the party vote to get anyone else into Parliament on Dunne's coat-tails (given he wins Ohariu-Belmont), and 2.1% of the general vote would give them a third Parliamentarian on November 26.
Dunne has already ruled out working with his former party, Labour:
With Act struggling in Epsom and the Winston Peters cloud hanging over Parliament, New Zealanders wanting a John Key-led government have their best ally in UnitedFuture, the party’s leader Peter Dunne said today.
“The cards are falling in a way that every seat could well count in bringing back a John Key-led government and UnitedFuture is a proven ally, and crucially,
“I am ahead in the only poll conducted in Ohariu by the same margin I won by in 2008.
“If National dips a point or two and is without a support partner, New Zealanders could face a Labour-Winston-Greens-Maori Party-Hone Harawira-Annette Sykes-John Minto catastrophe.
“That’s a nightmare scenario and the centre and centre-right need to ensure that they get the government they want, and that John Key has the moderating support he needs for the next three years.
“National needs me to win Ohariu to ensure the continuation of a moderate government.
“Act is anywhere from 10 to 15 points behind in Epsom depending on the poll and in real trouble, and even if it returns, can only pull National to the far right which Kiwis do not want,” he said.
“UnitedFuture will help keep National to the centre, and promote policies such as Flexi-Super, Income Sharing and an annual State of the Family report to hold government to,” Mr Dunne said.
1:30 pm: The Greens also closed down their campaign this afternoon. See the Green Party's policies here.
“We’ve got costed plans to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014, clean up our rivers, and to create thousands of new green jobs.
“By making Working for Families work, providing better study support for sole parents and beneficiaries, raising the minimum wage to $15, and making sure rental properties are warm and healthy we can reduce inequality and make sure our kids get the best start in life possible,” Mrs Turei said.
Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said creating new green jobs was vital to New Zealand’s economy.
“We need to keep state assets in Kiwi hands,” Dr Norman said, “and use them to transform our economy.
“We will create green jobs by ensuring our state-owned energy companies capture the massive export opportunities in renewable energy. We’ll also shift the drivers in the private sector towards sustainability and increased productivity.
1:20 pm: ACT's Brash closes campaign by promising to push for '2025 Taskforce' re-establishment. See the ACT Party's policies here:
Whatever the reason, the most important result is that this election year, the income gap between New Zealand and Australia has not been measured by the Taskforce.
Without repeating the measure made in 2008, it’s possible for politicians of all stripes to use a variety of figures to muddy the waters on where we’re really headed.
‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there’
For this reason, I’m announcing today that one of ACT’s top priorities in any Confidence and Supply Agreement with the National Party will be the reestablishment of an arms’ length taskforce with the mandate of measuring the gap between Australia and New Zealand and reporting on it on a regular basis.
Whether or not government statisticians know there’s a gap, New Zealanders do.
Grandparents who must visit their grandchildren overseas know it.
Young tertiary graduates who are considering joining the 24 per cent of their friends who currently live overseas know it.
10:14 am: iPredict has released its daily election round-up. 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, tonight at 7.00 pm on Stratos (Sky 89, Freeview 21).
* John Key appears overwhelmingly favoured to remain Prime Minister, but seat-by-seat analysis presents a different picture with both Epsom and Ohariu highly marginal.
* The market continues to lose confidence in Labour's provincial candidates, with National now having a 52% probability of winning Palmerston North, compared with Labour's 48%.
* The voter turnout on Saturday for general electorates is forecast to be 78%, while the voter turnout in Maori electorates is forecast to be 63%.
* If National is elected there is a 16% probability that the Greens will support it or abstain on confidence and supply. If Labour is elected there is a 77% probability that the Greens will support it or abstain on confidence and supply.
* Labour's vote-share is down 0.4 points to 28.1%, while National and Greens' vote-shares are up to 48.0% and 12.1% respectively.
* The heavily traded stock forecasting Winston Peters' chance of returning to Parliament is up to 39% probability, from 37% yesterday. New Zealand First's forecast party vote is 4.2%.
National 48.0% +0.5% 61 MPs
Labour 28.1% -0.4% 35 MPs
Greens 12.1% +0.6% 15 MPs
New Zealand First 4.2% -0.1% 0 MPs
Act 2.1% -0.1% 3 MPs
Mana Party 2.0% -0.2% 3 MPs
Conservative 1.7% n/c 0 MPs
Maori Party 1.2% n/c 3 MPs
UnitedFuture 1.1% n/c 1 MP
8:22 am: Who won the final TVNZ leaders' debate? Labour's Phil Goff tried to land a final hit on National's John Key last night during the TVNZ debate by claiming police had decided to defer recruiting next year, and had been told to keep the decision secret until after the election.
However, Police Minister Judith Collins said this morning that the January recruitment drive had been delayed until March due to fewer police leaving the force.
"What has happened is because their attrition rate is so low now, so few people are leaving police. Morale is so high that in the last four months of this year, 300 extra recruits have gone through the college and graduated, so that January intake is now going to be a March intake," she said.
"By the end of this year we will have 600 extra frontline police and we expect to maintain those levels. Phil Goff is very desperate and he is just making this up."
Did you watch the debate? Who do you think performed better?
8:22 am: Meanwhile, Labour's finance spokesman David Cunliffe and Commerce spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel say a Labour government would launch an investigaton into the collapse of South Canterbury Finance.
Lianne Dalziel said the inquiry needs to cover:
· the causes of the failure;
· the role of the Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme and whether there were depositors who made deposits to fall within the scheme knowing that SCF was due to collapse;
· why the roll-over of the RDGS was approved by the Government;
· whether the timing of the receivership was appropriate;
· whether there was a recapitalisation alternative to receivership that would have limited taxpayer exposure to around $500M;
· all aspects of the receivership; and
· whether there has been a proper process of realising SCF’s assets to ensure that taxpayer exposure has been minimised.
“In addition the inquiry would need to consider the decision to place Allan and Jean Hubbard and their related companies and trusts into statutory management,” Lianne Dalziel said.
“At the time the Government stepped in with $1.7B, John Key and Bill English made it clear that the expected eventual loss would be reduced to about $600 million once the company's assets were realised over three or four years for around $1.17B. Latest figures indicate the cost is more than $1 billion and still rising.