Alex's election diary: The final week live blog: Monday, November 21: The Winston Peters show, Key on the attack, Goff focuses on asset sales

National is "totally committed" to interest-free student loans, but will look to limit the amount of credits university students can enroll in each year in a bid to stop some students borrowing for very large course-loads each year, the party's tertiary education spokesman Stephen Joyce says.

"To ensure student loans are sustainable for generations to come, National will make further changes to ensure students don’t finish their study with masses of debt that they have little chance of repaying. Some students are borrowing for very large course loads in a single academic year. In many cases this is because they change their mind about what they want to study more than once in a year," Joyce said.

“National will consult on and limit the amount of credits students can enrol in, in any given year. This will prevent taxpayer money being wasted in this way, and help prevent borrowers building up big loans which bring no benefit in terms of qualifications gained," he said.

In National's tertiary education policy document it says National would: "Prevent students who borrow for tuition fees from signing up to a course of study that exceeds 2-2.5 equivalent full-time students (EFTS) in one year."

The Studylink website says a year of full-time study is usually between 0.8 EFTS and 1.2 EFTS.

National this afternoon released its education, skills training and tertiary education policies. See them below in the live blog at the 1:40 pm mark.

Meanwhile, Labour's campaign this week appears to focus on asset sales, with leader Phil Goff and campaign manager Grant Robertson both pumping out the 'five days to vote to keep the assets' line. See at the 7:40 am and 2:45 pm marks.

Live blog

It's the final week of the campaign for the November 26 election. will be live-blogging through the week with all the developments with a fresh start each day of the week.

See and compare policies offered by all parties in Parliament in our party policy section here.

See party lists here.

Winston Peters show

7:05 am: It's shaping up to be the Winston Peters show again this week, as the NZ First leader attempts to get to the 5% threshold. Prime Minister John Key has spent the weekend warning voters about Peters coming back into Parliament, saying the government could be brought down under any issue Peters doesn't agree with. See NZ Herald article here.

Peters himself has said the party with the largest vote should form the government. He says if elected, and he holds the "balance of responsibility", he will sit on the cross-benches and won't enter into a confidence and supply agreement, but will give support to budgets (ie supply) that he approves of.

7:30 am: Peters has just been on TVNZ's Breakfast programme, and was rather bemused about Key's comments - "That's just scare mongering," he said. New Zealand First would support "smart and wise" policies from the cross-benches.

He also raised the prospect of New Zealand First abstaining in Budget votes.

Asked whether he was a supporter of the notion of 'stable government', Peters replied: "I always have been, and sometimes it costs you plenty to have a stable government."

Asset sales

7:40 am: Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Phil Goff will be taking his 'stop asset sales' message around the country this week. At a campaign rally yesterday, Goff made big of the notion that there were only six days left to vote Labour in order to stop a future National from selling down four state-owned energy companies. See Fairfax article here.

"On Saturday, New Zealanders go to the polls with the clearest choice they've had in a generation – a choice between keeping our assets or selling them for a quick buck," Goff said.

National wants to sell up to 49% stakes in Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy. It also wants to sell down it 73% holding in Air New Zealand down to no lower than 51%.

See all parties' SOE policies here.

Child poverty

8:30 am: First press release of the week comes from Labour's health spokesman Grant Robertson. He says: "disturbing images of children with preventable skin infections in a documentary airing on television tomorrow night reflect the alarming rise in the diseases of poverty, something that must be addressed by the next government".

"In 2010 there were 5,000 more children admitted to hospital with preventable diseases– mainly skin infections and respiratory illnesses - than in 2007. Medical professionals describe these as diseases of poverty and rates are increasing," Robertson said.

"The documentary will undoubtedly shock many New Zealanders, but the reality is there is very real poverty in our country and it something that has be addressed urgently. Reducing these avoidable admissions used to be a health priority, yet National has dumped it as a target. Labour will reinstate it," he said.

See all parties' health policies in our party policy section here.

Windy Wellington

12:30 pm: Slight distraction: Just off plane from Auckland to Wellington. Hairiest landing I've ever had here. Not helped by news another flight from Auckland made two failed attempts to land then flew back north.


12:40 pm: @nzherald tweets: A street poll suggests Paul Goldsmith may win the race for Epsom: #VoteNZ


12:41 pm: Just going back over press releases from the morning. The Green Party says water is the key environmental issue this election. See all parties' environment policies on our site here.

Dr Norman said the Green Party had developed a three-part plan which, if implemented, would make our rivers and lakes clean enough to swim in again:

1) Set standards for clean water and intensive agriculture;

2) Introduce a fair charge for irrigation water and;

3) Support water clean-up initiatives.

“Our standards for clean water will require stock exclusion from rivers and lakes within five years. Planting riverbanks and excluding stock from waterways has been shown to significantly improve water quality within three years,” said Dr Norman.

“We will cut the over-use of water by introducing a charge on irrigation water that would raise $370 − $570 million per year. This will provide the funds to support river clean-up projects by farmers and councils.

“We will create jobs that help clean up our waterways by funding people to work alongside farmers to fence and plant streams. We will also provide financial assistance to councils to upgrade sewage treatment plants so that sewage will no longer pollute our rivers.”

Federated Farmers isn't very happy about the Greens' (and Labour's) plans to introduce a charge on irrigation water. Here they are grilling Labour Party leader Phil Goff on this last week.


12:50 pm: ACT leader Don Brash has just delivered a speech in Tauranga (with the help of former National MP Bob Clarkson - testicles weren't mentioned) on the Emissions Trading Scheme. Brash said he understood ACT was polling at 6% in Tauranga, and hopes they can achieve that over the rest of the country (do they have a hope of that?).

See parties' global warming policies here.

On the ETS:

But nobody seriously believes that there will be a binding international agreement after Kyoto expires at the end of next year.  No agreement, no liability.

Nick Smith is on record in Parliament saying he does not believe there will be one.  The British Government has said they don’t believe there will be such an agreement this side of 2020.  The Japanese, Canadians and Australians do not intend to join a new Kyoto agreement.  India and China are not required to make cuts under the current Kyoto Protocol. The United States is not in the current Protocol and certainly won’t be joining a new one as other countries leave the old one.  No agreement, no liability.

So if we do not need an Emissions Trading Scheme to fulfil our current liabilities, what other reasons might there be?

The most obvious is that we want to mitigate climate change.  I’m not going to get into an argument about climate science.  Let us proceed from here using the assumptions of the most shrill believers in anthropogenic climate change.  Let us assume that climate change is a real threat to our way of life, that it is primarily caused by us humans, and that we should be doing everything in our power to stop it.

Even on that assumption it is pointless for New Zealand to have an ETS.  New Zealand produces 0.2 per cent of global emissions.  There is no way that New Zealand could ever expect to have a measureable effect on climate change if we shut down the entire country tomorrow, let alone making the fractional changes that the ETS might achieve.

He continues:

The ETS is effectively a tax on energy, and our economy runs on energy. The tax is collected from electricity, oil and gas companies and therefore goes into their costs.    Those costs go into all transport, all raw materials production, wholesaling, retailing, logistics, financing, etc.  In Australia, they called it “a great big new tax on everything”.

Next year, ETS levies will be collected on about 23 million tonnes of CO2. At $25 per tonne, that’s nearly $600 million.  Politicians trying to sell the scheme will do what politicians trying to sell expensive policies always do.  They’ll claim that some of the cost will fall on business, some on foreign buyers of our exports, and some on the guy down the street.  Basically, on anybody but the voter they’re talking to at the time.

The truth is that all costs eventually fall on workers, consumers, and investors, there aren’t any other types of people in New Zealand who can pay the costs, and all of us are at least one of those, many of us are all three.  The cost, folks, will ultimately fall on your household.

For a household of four, we’d expect the cost to be around $600 per year.  Pensioners on fixed incomes will be particularly vulnerable.

But that’s the good news, by comparison.

The bad news is that the cost is set to double because over the next three years the carbon price will double.

Costs will increase by a third in 2013, another third in 2014 and a further third in 2015. At that point, a household of four will be paying $1200 per annum – $100 each month – for the privilege of having an ETS.


1:40 pm: National has released its education policies - including early childhood through to tertiary and skills training. Compare National's policies with those of other parties in our education policy section here.

Early childhood

Prime Minister John Key says if re-elected, National will set a target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having participated in early childhood education, to be met by 2015. See National's early childhood education policy here.


Tertiary education Minister Stephen Joyce says National will link funding for tertiary institutions to performance, publish employment data for graduates of each qualification and simplify the number of qualifications on offer.

“From next year, five per cent of tertiary providers’ tuition funding will be at risk based on their performance against a clear set of achievement indicators. This will incentivise institutions to perform and will drive value for money," Joyce said. See National's tertiary education policy here.

“To ensure foundation education delivers results for those who most need it, we will embed fundamental literacy and numeracy skills into level 1 and 2 courses.  We’ll also restrict entry to these courses to those who haven’t previously achieved at that level, with the exception of ESOL and Maori language courses," Joyce said.

National remained "totally committed" to the interest-free student loan scheme.

“However, to ensure student loans are sustainable for generations to come, National will make further changes to ensure students don’t finish their study with masses of debt that they have little chance of repaying. Some students are borrowing for very large course loads in a single academic year. In many cases this is because they change their mind about what they want to study more than once in a year," Joyce said.

“National will consult on and limit the amount of credits students can enrol in, in any given year. This will prevent taxpayer money being wasted in this way, and help prevent borrowers building up big loans which bring no benefit in terms of qualifications gained," he said.


“National will encourage a complete rationalisation of the industry training sector, to simplify the system and ensure all ITOs across all industries can deliver a quality system of training for trainees and employers," Joyce said. See National's skills training policy here.

“We currently have 33 separate Industry Training Organisations in New Zealand, even after a first round of ITO mergers.  In Australia they have a total of 11 National Skills Councils. We will encourage further simplification of the system so it continues to improve on the results it delivers," he said.

National will also act to remove the structural conflicts in the current system between on-job and off-job training providers, and invest further in industry training as demand grows again, following the recession, Joyce said.


Education Minister Anne Tolley touted national standards. See National's education policy here.

Asset sales

2:45 pm: Amid all the excitement over National's tertiary education policy, Labour says a claim from Prime Minister John Key today that New Zealanders supported National's mixed-ownership model 'asset sales' policy is "laughable".

“Just last week the New Zealand Study of Values Survey 2011 showed 75.9 per cent of respondents were against the Government selling off major assets. All other polls have shown similar results. Kiwis know it makes no economic sense to sell your best assets, which leaves the country vulnerable to future economic shocks and will lead to power price hikes," Labour campaign manager Grant Robertson said.

“The only people who will be better off will be the overseas companies that snap them up and the Australian bankers who get to clip the sales process ticket to the tune of NZ$100 million. Once these assets are sold there is no getting them back.

“The four energy companies and Air New Zealand are just the beginning. It’s no secret that Kiwi Bank will be next on the block. There is just five days for Kiwis to say ‘no’ to asset sales,” Grant Robertson said.

ACT leadership

2:57 pm: @NZStuffPolitics tweets: Brash leaves leadership door ajar for Isaac

''I'm not going to make a decision at this point. Catherine Isaac is a first-class person in my judgment. The board put her at number two on our list, indicating clearly that she is a potential leader of the party, and I agree with that.''

Brash has said he is ''absolutely'' committed to serving the three-year term in full, but today appears to have backed down.

''It depends very much on what the configuration of Parliament is. The National Party will almost certainly not have enough MPs to govern in its own right,'' he said.

''I'm simply not going to speculate what's going to happen after the election.''

Labour's fiscals

They've also got: Goff defends his knowledge of policy costs

"I'm not going to set out to pretend I know that I know what's on page 52 of the budget and what the chart sets out there."

Asset sales (again)

And if you thought it was just Goff, Robertson and the finance team talking down asset sales, Labour's Nanaia Mahuta is now attacking the Maori Party (a potential coalition partner for Labour after the November 26 election) for its stance on asset sales. That is, don't sell the assets, but if you're going to go ahead and do it, then sell them to Iwi.

"On the one hand they are saying ‘no’, on the other hand they are saying 'yes' if iwi want it! They need to make their minds up what they stand for," said Nanaia Mahuta.

"Selling the country's SOEs when there is no guarantee that our major assets will remain in kiwi ownership is hugely unpopular amongst Maori and pakeha," said Nanaia Mahuta.

"At this election every Maori voter will get a chance to say what they want. If they want to keep Our state assets then party vote Labour!" said Nanaia Mahuta.

"Many Maori know that iwi don't have the capacity individually or as a collective to purchase a major shareholding of all the assets proposed for sale. In addition to that not one iwi has sought a mandate from their tribal members to commit their tribes resources for such a significant investment," said Nanaia Mahuta.

"The Maori party are saying its ok to sell the family house and rent it back to the kids - it doesn't make any sense and they need to stop doing the dirty work for National.


4:10 pm: National's Nick Smith has released his ACC policy.

On introducing choice to the work account it says:

Expand the Accredited Employers Programme (AEP) from 1 April 2012.

This will enable ACC to offer a greater range of risk-sharing products to more businesses. Allowing employers to share risk will help encourage safer workplaces, fewer accidents, and higher productivity.

Allow employers and the self-employed choice, either by letting private insurers provide re-insurance to AEP participants or by allowing private insurers to compete with ACC in the Work Account.

We will:

− Keep ACC in the market as an insurer.

− Ensure the criteria for cover and level of entitlements are maintained.

− Establish an independent clearing house to handle ACC-related claims and minimise compliance costs for the health sector.

− Introduce prudential requirements specific to the accident insurance industry under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act.

National believes in choice. We think employers and the self-employed should have the option of choosing which company provides workplace accident insurance.

4.  Explore choice in other ACC accounts

Look at the feasibility of introducing choice into the Motor Vehicle and Earners’ accounts. ACC must keep evolving to meet the needs of New Zealanders while maintaining equity in levy payments. As accounts become fully solvent there may be further opportunities to allow levy payers a choice of provider. National will explore these opportunities.More soon.

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I've always wondered about this threat of instability if Winston Peters gets the balance. He's been in government before and there hasn't been an early election.

The remarkable thing about MMP is how stable it has been. I can't recall the sort of multiple elections etc that people warned about.

They've been pretty regular every 3 years since 1996.



Heck, you'll be telling us Key isn't a financial wizard.

Bernard, have you ever had to "pick up the pieces" when elderly relatives ripped off & stolen from? Have you ever had to take a personal courtcase? This PC crap/climate a joke. Dishonesty we encountered was incredible. Thank goodness for the honest people who stood up, some taking "hard knocks" just for telling the truth. 

Thanks for brightening a dour Wellington day, J Martin...

Your non-sensical rant gave me a chuckle.

The_Duke: Appears set-up by Bernard!

If NZ Labour yanked one of their candidates out of a NZ First stronghold ( is there one ? ) , thereby assisting an electorate win for Winnie , they'd ease his passage back into parliament .

A Labour-Greens-NZ First-Maori Party coalition government remains a possibility .

..... but for NZ First to get over the 5 % party vote threshold , really is a hard ask . His support base  is gradually dying . ... .An electorate win is needed .

"...but for NZ First to get over the 5 % party vote threshold , really is a hard ask . His support base  is gradually dying . ... .An electorate win is needed ."

Au contraire!

The potential support base for NZ First is growing very rapidly indeed. It is said that Winnie and his gang appeal mostly to the elderly, and few countries in the world outside Japan have an elderly demographic that is increasing as rapidly as New Zealand's.*

The potential for an NZ First upset can only grow stronger, even at this late stage, particlularly if Peters' harps on about the hot button issues, such as asset thefts and "bluddy mowrees" and the like.

Poor ol' John Key must toss his glass of Dom at the screen every time Winnie is interviewed.

*aka "Un Zullun" and "Nzild" to you John Key sycophants.

Quite agree, from what I'm hearing there is a groundswell of support for NZ 1st from those who can't bring themselves to vote for either Nat or Lab. No asset sales, no race based policies and tear up the ETS have wide appeal. 

Having said that all parties are clueless when it comes to the country's near total dependence on imported fossil fuels. When the global supply crunch comes what will the true value of the NZ $ be - 30-40 cents US? Will the NZ diaspora  want to return under depression conditions to a bankrupt country?


Poor GBH and Wolly: after a couple of years of smugly assuming a Nat walkover in 2011, they are both beginning to fear it won't be anywhere near as easy as that, particularly since their most dreaded bogeyman - Winnie - is back on the scene, and unlikely to pick the Nats should he once again be in the Kingmaker role.

It would be fantastic to see a Labour-Greens-Maori-NZ First coalition take the prize, just so's we can imagine the shattered teeth of GBH and Wolly as they grind them in apopleptic frustration and fury.

Sad that it's not too likely to happen...But then, ya never know with these things...

Key is not a wizard but obviously a banker - the representative of the 1% that screwing the world....

Just your dream world, not mine, and i think its more than 1%.  Also, Key wan't a banker.  Anyway, don't you have some occupying to do instead of posting comments here?  Maybe you have those flashy iphones ipads thingy?

Whats the difference between a banker and a money trader?


Whats the difference between a money trader and a gambler?


Do any of these ways to earn money provide us with the right person to be PM?

Updated with Greens announcement on water, NZherald tweet that Goldsmith looks like winning Epsom

ACT will implode under it's own gravity....the kind of pulling power that sucks , leaving a vacuous hole at which to gape.

Dear Doctor have erred and strayed like a lost sheep, you silly man will pay handsomely for your lack of ...foresight....through inexperience....and Poof! ....your gone.

 What on earth were you thinking to engage the services of a snake oil salesman like overtly ambitious power hungy deviant.......who would toss you to the wolves for a sniff of  the glory....

Did it not occur to you that when the people of Auckland chose a person not dissimilar to Phill Goff  as in Mr. Brown that it was a startling indictment on the character of Banks.....he (Banks) wasn't going to lose that one either ........remember.........?

 You have one option left only before the sword ceremony...get up there to Manakau Rd. with your  Come Back Rodney All is Forgiven sign and beg for mercy from the constituants you have let down so disastrously.

Have to say the Greens have run a solid, positive campaign-  whether or not you like them, they've actually managed to clearly communicate their policies. 

Plus the Greens get a free run from the MSM  - eg the vandalism of Nats billboards organised  in the next door office from their leader . Russell Normans best Tui ad of the year  -   " I didnt know anything about it "   meekly accepted by journos

If it had been Brash the media would have been all over him like a rash

Remember all. Return of the worm tonight on TV3 leaders debate at 7pm

I watched it and thought the "worm" responded to talk that sounded of enthusiasm and committment - an "alive" tone.

Key spent much of the discussion in a sort of apologist-like tone whereas Goff usually sounded like a battler.  As soon as Goff sounded hesistant and uncertain it turned on him too. 

What an interesting election.

What amazes me is that both leaders seem to think that a new govt depends on which, if any, of the old political cronies (John Banks, Winston Peters or Peter Dunne) manage to hang in there!!!!








Interesting? Mmmm maybe. Inspiring? Absolutely not. Both major parties are mediocre

Both major parties are mediocre

I think you are giving both parties the benefit of the doubt.

Goff clearly started well and when he spoke it went up and when JK got in it dropped which was interesting.....the worm seemed to stop working about 1/2 way.....which is a pity.....JK came across poorly IMHO (he has charisma? bloody hell....)....

Points I noted,

1) asset sales are cearly getting National hammered.....Goff should have a go at PPPs as well they are showing to be a disaster abroad.

2) Doing a deal with WP was clearly not in Goff's favour.

3) WP getting back in must clearly be a bit of a nightmare for both parties.....

4) ACT/Banks, well I think Brash will be gone by lunchtime.....if Banks gets the seat he will roll Brash out I think...I know I would.

5) Dunne.....he might yet survive which is annoying......he's a dork....

6) I think Goff preformed well.....JK's charisma was no where in sight.....yet he's popular....wierd....

On the day I expect National will drop closer to the JK is hedging his bets if only for 2014.....look at the maori party...they may not be there after this election.....lose Dunne and ACT this election and National's future looks bleak....

How the Green's and Conservative party do will be interesting...12% for the green's seems possible, 2% for the Conservatives seems possible, United future re-bron in blue drag.....

Yes its going to be very watchable....

The three on the panel were useless IMHO.....especially the woman....."political scientist" is laughable....surely there is better.

Key looked tired and worn out tonight.

Why did he have his hand in his pocket half the time?  He looked disinterested and was definitely beaten by Goff in the first half.

It's a shame that they avoided debating issues.  No mention at all of how to fix the problems in ChCh.