Election diary: PM John Key to have 'catch up' with ACT's John Banks in Epsom, signalling to Goldsmith voters to change to Banks. MMP in action? Your view?

Election diary: PM John Key to have 'catch up' with ACT's John Banks in Epsom, signalling to Goldsmith voters to change to Banks. MMP in action? Your view?

By Alex Tarrant

Prime Minister John Key has finally decided to have a 'catch up' with ACT's Epsom candidate John Banks to signal to voters there considering giving their electorate vote for National's Paul Goldsmith to switch their vote to Banks.

Whether or not Key would invite Banks for  a cuppa in Epsom has been widely discussed in the lead up, and through, the election campaign. They will meet at the Teed Street Larder in Newmarket.

On current polling, ACT's only chance of survival after the November 26 election is to win the Epsom seat, as it is far below the 5% general vote threshold required for a party to enter Parliament without an electorate seat. See the ACT Party's policies in our Election 2011 party policy section.

Winning Epsom means Banks may be able to bring more ACT MPs into Parliament on his coat-tails if ACT gets above about 1.3% of the general vote. See the ACT Party list in our Election 2011 section here.

ACT currently has five MPs in Parliament - with four coming in on the back of former leader and Epsom MP Rodney Hide. All five current ACT MPs are leaving Parliament this election. New party leader Don Brash would be the first into Parliament on Banks' coat-tails, followed by former party president Catherine Issac and former Federated Farmers head Don Nicholson.

For National, having given up one electorate seat, that turning into two or more ACT MPs would mean there was support for National if it did not get over 50% of the general vote, meaning it would have to form a coalition government. If ACT did not make it back into Parliament, and National received less than 50%, it may have to rely on the Maori Party, or even some kind of agreement with the Greens, for it to be able to govern.

The move also signals to right-leaning voters that they can safely give their party vote to ACT without it being a 'wasted vote' - ie if ACT did not win an electorate seat, and received less than 5% of the general vote, then those party votes would effectively be wasted as they would not be represented in Parliament. See Stephen Franks' opinion piece earlier this week on the wasted right vote.

This wasted vote scenario is one of the issues being debated in the lead up to this election's MMP referendum, where voters will be asked whether they want to keep MMP.

If voters choose to keep MMP, a review of that system will take place, with the 5% threshold one of the issues at the fore. If voters choose to swith election systems, they will be asked to vote in 2014 for the type they would prefer, such as Supplementary Member or back to First Past the Post.

Will they do it?

Labour's Epsom candidate David Parker said he was still unsure National's plan to get ACT back into Parliament would work.

“I think it’s by no means clear that it will work. Rodney Hide was popular, John Banks is substantially behind in the polls," Parker told interest.co.nz.

“There are a number of things that are different now compared to last time, including the fact that ACT’s own polling is so low that he doesn’t bring many passengers with him,” Parker said in relation to ACT's party vote, which this week's Herald digi-poll put at 1.5%.

Parker would not tell left-leaning voters to give their electorate vote to the National Party candidate Paul Goldsmith, to try and stop ACT from winning Epsom.

“I’m not going to do that because I’m there to try and convince the voters of Epsom that there are some structural changes that need to be made to the economy, and if they believe that, then they should be voting Labour," he said.

“The voters of Epsom increasingly know that when Banks was mayor, he tripled council debt. So if they’re worried about fiscal responsibility, which I think they are, then why would they be voting for John Banks?”

Are you an Epsom voter? What will you do with your vote now Key is signalling he wants National voters to give their electorate vote to Banks?

Would any Labour voters in Epsom consider voting for the National candidate to try and keep ACT out of Parliament?

If you are not an Epsom voter, how do you feel about the situation? Is this manipulation of the MMP system, or is it OK because it's technically within the rules?

(Updates with comment from Labour Epsom candidate David Parker)

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


If you are not an Epsom voter, how do you feel about the situation? Is this manipulation of the MMP system, or is it OK because it's technically within the rules?


this modern attitude of things being ok because they are technically within the rules is exactly whats wrong with our political classes. They don't bother with right or wrong, they delegate their moral compass to a system of rules that has been slowly and consistently corrupted to the pont where its worthless

How about this?


Not sure which would be worse, pulling the National candidate so that Banks gets a free run of it, or telling National voters to ignore their candicate and go for Banks.  Either way it's subverting the democratic process in order to deliver a payoff to a crony in a private deal.  Corruption pure and simple.  If this kind of underhand deal gets tacit approval and support it'll just spread to new electorates.  Manage it right, and they could bypass us pesky voters altogether.

Is Key so bereft of novelty, he also has to borrow a 'cup of tea'?

He is really underwhelming.




More reaction from Labour:

John Key is doing a deal with a party whose leader he has described as “very right wing”, “hard core” and “extreme”, Labour campaign spokesman Grant Robertson said today.

“Today’s cup of tea photo opportunity totally contradicts John Key’s earlier statements about ACT leader Don Brash, the man he rolled as National leader. He needs to explain how he can do a deal with ACT to bring such ‘extremists’ back into Parliament,” Grant Robertson said.

John Key on Don Brash:

  • When asked if the decision (to scrap the 2025 Taskforce) reflected on National's views of the ACT Party, Mr Key said he did think some ACT policies were extreme.

"They always have been, frankly they always will be. I want to lead a moderate centre-right Government that takes New Zealanders with us.”

“But ultimately very extreme policies leave a lot of New Zealanders marginalised. And I don't really want to lead a government that does that."

(John Key, 2011, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4956655/Government-drops-2025-Taskforce).

< >”Everyone needs to understand that what Don Brash is talking about is hard core,''(‘Brash letter not worth a Dear Don reply, Key says’ New Zealand Herald 17/05/2011).

< >Dr Brash's prescription would save the Government money ”and by the way a lot of New Zealanders would come out the back of that in a much worse financial position than they're in''.(‘Brash letter not worth a Dear Don reply, Key says.’ New Zealand Herald 17/05/2011).

< >“It’s quite a right-wing prescription, there’s nothing new, in fact it’s a very right-wing prescription.”(Breakfast TV, 29/10/2010).

“John Key should tell New Zealanders what views he really holds. If he is a ‘moderate’ why is he going out of his way to get this ‘extreme’ party back into power making decisions that he says himself will hurt New Zealanders,” Grant Robertson said.


Key in doing a deal with Banks is reverting (has he ever left?) to type. As a currency speculator was part of the gambling group that were happy to take the obscene profits but pass on the losses to the rest of us.

Now, again, he is very happy to bail out the banks.

Whilst I quite enjoy listening to Key on question time, Banks is a used up, not wanted, failed National cabinet minister, rejected mayoral candidate and puppet for an even worse right wing idealogue.


bring on Banks and Brash and Winipetizz  I say - NZ parliament is so stacked with lefties ,separatists and liberals we need a bit of balance back. Especially if the slippery Greenies try to lock Key into delaying drillin' and roadin' we need the other fellas to stiffen the Nats spine

Well, I'm in the Epsom electorate and I can say that there is no chance that I'll be voting for ACT.

They have never represented even a sizable minority of the voters of New Zealand nor of the Epsom electorate.

Their internal shenanigans and backstabbing only reinforces why I, as an Epsom voter, do not want to be associated with such a embarrassment any more.

If National wants a coalition whipping boy electorate then they can look elsewhere.

We've carried that burden long enough Thank You!

Good for you Ghost Dog....better sprint up to GeeGees tonight and clue some of those wannabees up.....all it takes is for people to discuss it with eachother and stop pretending they know what's goin on.

Epson, me too and never been so indicisive.. I printed the voting paper out since Wednesday - I might have to resort to meeni mi neemo strategy!

"One Tree Grill" that where I'd like to go...  with my wannabe Jap imported bimmer!

Well I used to give the good Doctor the benifit of the doubt....he truly is a nice fellow and well intended I might add......but...........and this is a big BUT.........I can now see why the Nats not only don't want him involved they don't need him involved.......because he's just plain gullible......trusting to the point of patsy.

 Key has just had a cuppa with a dyed in the wool Nat not a ACT member...the only ACT in Banks was the act of pretending to be Brash's man in  Epsom............uh duh..!

What could be better for the Nats than having two candidates in Epsom...?

Heaving one that's pretending he's not...and if installed will vote through every piece of legislation the Nats care to put in front of him.

Sucks...yes real bad..! but the sucker was Doctor Don....he just reached ghost status...Hollow..? no i don't think so, just  easily conned...never belonged in the game and better off as an advisor without a face.

Dumb Dumb Dumb.........!

I suppose all that's left to say is good luck with that goose stepping idiot you have just endorsed John Boy....he's ambitious you know...!      watch your back.


Wonder if Mr K will now have a joint with Dr Russell - being a trader he could hedge his risks by having a leg in each camp!

Instead of saying "nice cuppa, Banksie" he could say "what a good shxt you gave me Rus!"

Wasn't it Dr Brash that was keen for the weed?

Interesting cabinet meetings all round in either case... The 'giant ice cream mountain' project might be a real tourist attraction!

Crazy as...what a ridiculous spectacle, why the hell didn't Key take a trip to Southland and have a glass of milk with Don Nicholson instead. The current member for Clutha-Southland could quite easily justify being a list MP...crazy

If you are not an Epsom voter, how do you feel about the situation? Is this manipulation of the MMP system, or is it OK because it's technically within the rules?


All those who decry this - don't forget to shun Labour for their repeated similar shenanigans in Wigram with Jim Anderton and the Progrssive "party".

At least Key isn't door knocking with the opposition candidate

Its how MMP works....


I agree it is how MMP works - what I was (simultaneously) laughing / cringing at are the Labour supporting idiots decrying this as corruption of the system, while supporting the exact same tactics over the last 9 years.

Personally I don't see it as a negative thing for parties to announce to the public who they see as preferred coalition partners - I see Phil's posturing that he won't consider who or how until after the election as either disingenuous or idiotic.

I have always found it an extraordinary arrogance of the Left (like we need any more examples of that!) who complain that because the people of Epsom exercise their democratic right to vote for the govt of their choice in a manner that they, the Left, don’t like, this is now called a manipulation of MMP, even though this is what a mixed member proportional representation system which they the Left champion, is all about. To me that is just disgusting.

David - just started a new cooking lesson “Hot Saffron Curry” !

Wait, so National and Act collude to manipulate the conservative vote in Epsom, to the extent of discussing withdrawal of the national candidate, so as to remove any element of free choice for conservative voters, and that's somehow a problem of leftist arrogance??

You appear to have your partisan blinkers on too tightly.  Might want to adjust the straps.

These antidemocratic shenanigans cross party lines, and trying to make it into a left-right thing is just idiotic.

I'm not aware of the National candidate for Epsom not standing in the seat for this election.  In fact I'm not aware of a National candidate ever not standing in Epsom for any election.

Wishful thinking on your part I think.............

Oh, you and your selective vision.


Discussed, not necessarily carried out.  Be interesting to know the details of the so-called 'deal' Hey is complaining about.  Is there a deal that was welshed on?  Was Act scammed by the wily Nats?  Both Act and National voters potentially have grounds to be angry over the way they're being manipulated.

Kakapo - Absolutely agree that this is a pure political thing, not restricted to left or right.

However I'm not sure that I agree that a party being overt about who its preferred coalition partners are is a bad thing?  Surely it is worse for these things to occur out of the public eye?

Absolutely preferred coalition partners should be out in the open.  But I would see a huge difference between transparency/disclosure, and active manipulation of the vote.

Like In 1999, for instance, when Labour leader Helen Clark tossed her Coromandel candidate Margaret Hawkesworth overboard in the dying stages of the campaign, telling Labour supporters to vote for Green Party leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, instead?

This was to ensure she defeated the sitting National MP, and brought several Green list MPs into Parliament in her slipstream as potential allies for Clark.

Or is it OK for one side and not the other?  

No, just as it also wasn't OK when National withdrew their Wellington Central candidate in order to hand the electorate to Richard Prebble back in the 90s.  It's a subversion of the process, whoever does it, and voters shouldn't let it slide just because it happens to be their party.  It's not OK for either side.  That's what I've been saying. 

Is everyone in here ultra-biased or just very, very stupid?

Is everyone in here ultra-biased or just very, very stupid?

Just vehemently agreeing with each other I think :D  

Probably would have helped prevent this type of thing if the politico's hadn't ignored the initial MMP recommendations and gone with the lower threshold.  

Just vehemently agreeing with each other I think :D

Ahh, I thought you'd taken a bit of a weird turn into childish, one-eyed 'but they did it too' territory, rather than looking at the big picture where there are inherent weaknesses in the system to be exploited by the unscrupulous.  Sorry! 

same same from the right.....then the right in particualr want MMP dumped and to go back to FPP which advantages the right wingers....it will pervert and dilute democracy thats way worse than than disgusting.


Not sure I agree that the "right wingers" (VRWC or VRWNLLC) want to go back to FPP - nor that FPP naturally advantages right wing parties so much as large party politics.

However you are probably right that there is more pressure from the Union left that MMP should be kept without a proper look at all the alternatives.


Not sure what sources you are tapping into because although I know alot of people interested in dumping MMP, none of them support a move back to FPP...

I do think MMP needs some tweaking, I dont like the 5% threshold for instance, I think its too high.....I think 2 or 3% is easily doable.....that would allow NZF back in.....

Brash certainly want's MMP gone.....but wants a SM system...so that advantages ACT with 2 or 3 % of the vote and a seat but dis-advanatges the Green's with 7%+ but no sitting MP....sorry but I cant see that as fair.

Union's actually are not to keen on MMP.....but less rabidly against it that the ACT equiv....

My sources tend to be the ppl I talk to.....MMP is quite liked....something better, sure....FPP seems to be liked by the right in National from the ppl in "my circle'  quite polarised....



Agree with the lower threshold on MMP - which would remove the need for this type of gerrymandering either way.  

However interesting that Goff has said the opposite - going to entrench the 5% regardless of referendum result...


On Unions - you do realise that the Unions are behind the keep MMP propaganda campaign? http://union.org.nz/vote-fairness/mmp-works-better

If spending thousands of dollars of members dues is what they do when they don't actually support something I'd hate to see how much they'd p*ss away on something they actually believed in :-p

I said "not that keen"....not "don't actually support" but an interesting piece....maybe the union ppl I used see occasionally are really rabid left....but they were/are into supporting Labour and not green's for instance as that could damage jobs and incomes for their members.....maybe some morfing is coming along.....

I certainly think MMP works better then FPP...is it the best....Im hard spsuhed to see anything better and simple....

Goff on 5%...not impressed.....certainly other countries seem to have 4% or less 2or 3% would sem some sort of sensible minimum.


Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are under pressure so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.