Key leaves Craig to swing in the breeze under 5%; Key backs Smith, but says legal threat "silly"; Key says swimmable rivers would cost "billions"; Your view?

Key leaves Craig to swing in the breeze under 5%; Key backs Smith, but says legal threat "silly"; Key says swimmable rivers would cost "billions"; Your view?

By Bernard Hickey

With 53 days left until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news from in and around Wellington on Tuesday July 29, including the details from John Key's decision to hang Colin Craig's Conservatives out to dry and Key's comments on Nick Smith's threats of legal action over claims he bullied Fish and Game over its 'dirty dairying' campaign.

Prime Minister John Key essentially hung Colin Craig's Conservative Party out to dry yesterday, confirming National would not offer an 'accommodation' in East Coast Bays for the Conservative candidate.

Without a leg up from National into an electorate seat, votes forConservative look like being wasted, given the party is still polling well below the 5% threshold.

Key told his post-cabinet news conference late on Monday afternoon he thought a year ago there was more of a chance of National offering Craig a leg up, but that Conservative's poll rating had not improved enough since then.

'Crazy' Colin's Chemtrails

TV3 reporter Paddy Gower asked Key if he decided against Craig because people thought he was "crazy".  Key nodded and smiled, but would only say Craig's personality was not a dominant factor in the decision.

Craig's views on the moon landings and chemtrails have not helped his poll ratings and his electioneering style has appeared tone deaf on occasion. His latest wide-eyed billboards have already spawned cat lookalikes, including this one. 

It was a bad day for Craig all around. The Electoral Commission also blocked his party's 'vote' logo, which combined with the Conservative name on the ballot paper would have said 'Vote Conservative'.

Key's decision, which some see risking a significant 'wasted' vote on the right, demonstrates he is more confident about the Government's recent polling and the relatively low polling of Labour and David Cunliffe .

Key also confirmed National would recommend its supporters vote forPeter Dunne in Ohariu, ACT's David Seymour in Epsom and the Maori Party candidates in the seven Maori seats.

Ministers outside cabinet preferred

He also fleshed out his thinking around post-election arrangements. He said he was open to discussions with Winston Peters and Colin Craig if they made it over the threshold, but reiterated he saw any ministerial roles being granted outside cabinet.

"I personally don't think having those support partners inside cabinet works very well. It's too much of a straitjacket in an environment where MMP demands that those political parties have some flexibility," Key said.

"It's more likely to blow the Government up because once they're inside cabinet then they're fully bound by each and every decision by the Government and that's very difficult," he said.

In a sign of his attack lines in the campaign, he pointed to the different policy positions of Labour and Green on offshore drilling as an example of the difficulties.

"It's Mickey Mouse-ville. These people can't agree with each other on anything, so how on earth could they govern the country in a formal coalition," he said.

Partners above 50%

Asked if he would provide a "hard and fast" ruling about not having Winston Peters inside cabinet, Key said it was very unlikely and added: "Maybe it's not fast, but it's pretty hard."

Key said he would again look to form support arrangements with the likes of ACT, United Future and Maori even if National could govern alone, saying that was the case in 2008 and 2011 with the Maori Party.

"We didn't technically need them to command a majority in the house, but I always felt it gave the Government more balance and better perspective, but also fundamentally larger numbers if there was a change in personnel, and realistically that's always going to be a useful insurance policy to have."

Nick Smith's 'silly' legal threat

Meanwhile, Nick Smith threatened to take legal action against Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes over his claims in a Radio New Zealand interview that Smith threatened to 'tweak' Fish and Game's statutory obligations to stop its advocacy against dairying over water quality in a July 18 meeting. Other environmental advocates at the meeting also described Smith's behaviour as bullying.

Smith denied making the threats and released handwritten notes from a DOC official at the meeting, which showed Smith questioned Fish and Game's advocacy role, despite its status as a statutory monopoly, and showed Smith talked about amending the Fish and Game Act if National was re-elected to "tidy up a number of things around licenses etc."

Smith denied this was a threat and said he was only referring to the issue of internet payments for licenses.

Fish and Game called for Smith's resignation.

Key said he backed Smith, but that legal action would be a step too far and a "little bit silly."

"In the end, he obviously feels offended by the comments that have been made, but history tells you that it's not a very productive step to take. I'd be surprised if he took that step," Key said.

Smith told reporters in Parliament before National's caucus meeting that he would now not launch defamation action, but would send a letter of complaint to Haynes.

'Swimmable too expensive'

Elsewhere, Key said making all of New Zealand's rivers safe to swim in would be too expensive.

"I think swimmable 365 days of the year is a very lofty goal that's unlikely to be achieved and probably hasn't been achieved since European settlement," he said.

Key said the Government's National Policy Statement on water quality was now operational and councils had a lot of authority to work within that framework.

"Swimmable is a very, very high and expensive goal. If we were to make that the national standard it would have an enormous impact on the cost for rate payers -- billions I think," Key said.

I'll keep updating this through the day.

(Updated with Smith dropping his threat of legal action)

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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?

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Smith needs to get rid of those Helen Clarke and green party  surrogates in the ministry who constantly undermine him , tell lies and cause endless trouble for all concerned .
Every KIWI is concenred about environmental degradation , all of us , but we need to balance this with development and sustainable growth

Interesting point.
You should tell us what percentage of cow faeces in your drinking water you find "balanced", and acceptable.

"sustainable growth"  I would love to hear you explain what you mean by this. Obviously you don't mean growth that can go on forever so what do you mean? 

Sustainable growth is exactly what it says , balanced and continuous  economic growth using the environment so that it is constantly sutainable for re-use .
China has ahd some unsustainable growth where agriculture has been destroyed by pollution by industry .
Not fishing to the point of depletion is an example , and using the land but not destroying it for future use

"Using the land but not destroying it for future use" is not actually growth. Growth would be when you force more and more animals onto said land and feed them via the destruction of environments in other countries, it might appear sort of sustainable here, but hey, check out the Indonesian rain forest will you.
Sustainable and growth do NOT belong in the same sentence, it is an illusory concept, and I just hope the human race comes to understand that before it is far too late.
Growing means you are catering for more and more people, can't mean anything else if you think about it, and we are well and truly at peak people, so new ideas and new ways of doing things must be come up with.
I will try to be positive and believe that people are thinking that sustainable growth is possible and desirable while their thinking slowly shifts towards realising there is only so much we should do and how to go about prosperng without it.

I have researched what Colin Craig actually said about the moon landings .......... and he never said they did not occur .
It was a WTF question by the interviewer , and Colin Craig seemed somewhat perpelexed by it
Craig said he did not really know , and given his age I am not surpirsed .
My kids know almost nothing about the moon landings .

True he technically did not say they did not occur, he said he had no idea if man landed on the Moon but serious people haddoubts and he wsn't going to judge without the facts and wasn't going to look into it. Here is the original audio
This is Buzz Aldrin's view
Back to Colin Craig:
"I don't know if I am a creationist or not," he said.
And from his official "Ask Colin" pamphlet: "Climate change happens for many reasons. Geological events (volcanoes) and astological events". Being not able to spell astrological OK, but even most climate change deniers don't think Astrology has much of a hand in it. But it seems Venus has been in retrograde for the conservative party. 

Swimmable rivers would cost ratepayers billions? I can only assume he is referring to possible costs in terms of upgrading wastewater treatment plants? I thought much of this upgrade work has already been done as the RMA legislative regime did manage to identify and correct point source pollution relatively well.
I do so wish when JK makes big billion dollars to the ratepayers type statements like these to deflect opposition that someone would ask him to qualify the numbers/meaning.

The billions figure is based around reports like this$1-billion-plus
Now, he never said most of the money wasn't going to be spent anyway (wastewater upgrades happening anyway) this is a conjured figure for costs vs now, rather than a figure vs costs where we will be anyway due to spending on upgrades.

Right on the money, Kate.  JK, .like all other MP's hasn't a clue what councils do or even what their own ministries are up to. MoH and MoE (via regional councils) have been forcing TLA's to upgrade both sewer and stormwater disposal for the last 20 years at least. It's one of the main reasons rates have gone up so much.
Has everybody forgotten Mangawhai Heads already? Why did Kaipara District feel the need to put a sewer there in the first place? Because they were told to.
While some councils still have work to do (PNCC?) I think we can look to other sources of freshwater pollution now.

I am often accused of being a National Party spindoctor , which if if my accusers had any idea of the truth they would be blown away , and I certainly dont support Colin Craig  but , the media has taken to dissing him on a scale we have never seen before , and to the point he is now the underdog in thisd election .
Not forgetting  Kiwi's penchant for supporting the underdog , dont be surprised if he gets the 5% .
There are a number of reasons for this
He upholds Christian values , and whle there are many agnostic New Zealanders , there are an overwhelming number of Christians out there .
He upholds traditional family values , ditto the above .

Dont be shy with us, come on out, I'd enjoy the laugh.
Well frankly he has the name "crazy colin" it appears to be for a good reason. 
So lets look at him and his party / politics.,
a) Seems to be at the fundimentalist end of the religious spectrum. Nothing wrong with that as such but, its a tiny extremist christian view point.
b) He seems to be trying to avoid that (or any) label, ie he doesnt come across as being honest and forthright with the voter. Be careful what you vote for, the cute puppy looks more like a rabid mongrel IMHO.
c) 5%, extremely unlikely frankly.  Now if they were polling in the 4%s, even 3%s yes sure, <1% nope.
d) Overwelming number of christians, no I'd say not.  The "christian" parties have got no where by themselves, a few thousand votes...these are the fundies. Dunne wooed them and that didnt get far.
e) We have enacted marriage equality, I find it unreconcilable that we have a significant % number of christian voters for that to happen. 
f) No, he upholds his fundie version of christian and family values, women better know their place, Science, no forget that.  etc....etc. I'd suggest his values would be and are abhorred by many with education including mainstream christians.
g) Underdog? and Labour isn the under-dog?
h) Libertarians polled so well in the last 2 elections, so well they have disbanded, that is some under-dog....

What really grates with me, is all the old, well past their child rearing days, mainly men railing against the "smacking" law. 

Speaking of the truth, telling lies etc.. how come nobody jumps the queue and accusing David Cunliffe of telling porkies?  He said Labour will win the election and he'll be PM..!!! 

Agreed, I will probably now be tempted to vote for Colin Craig - not so much because he is an "underdog" but because I ask myself - what are the media so afraid of? Let's remind ourselves of how NZ politics works. The intelligent types in the Labour Party do the "Marxist Heavy Lifting" on behalf of their ideological masters in London, Washington, and elsewhere. Then the more "interlectually challenged types" in the National Party consolidate the gains. Both believe in the same fundamental political approach - the total disregard of popular opinion and the surrender of national sovereignty to alien contructs such as the U.N. and the "exorbitant privillege" of the U.S. dollar standard. Herein lays the problem for Colin Craig. As far as I can see he is proposing to challenge the establishment by insisting on binding referenda and by refusing to further surrender national sovereignty to the nightmare vision of a one world order - as outlined incidentally by Clement Atlee in the early 1930s (Hansard, 13th December 1933).
The intuative position is that the National Party and the Conservative Party should find common ground because they seem similar. This is to disregard the wisdom of Cicero who warned us: "beware the traitor for he cometh with accents familiar". Enoch Powell once made the point that a "Conservative" or "National" Party must be reposed on the business of sovereign nation or it has no rationale to exist. The establishement is clearly fearful of Colin Craig because he threatens the cultural Marxist consensus that effectively rules this country without regard to popular opinion or sovereignty. 

Binding reforendum is one reason I will not vote for him.   The expectation that Jo Bloggs will spend the time studying an issue at depth, get to grips with available science, psychology, foreign affiars or whatever before casting will not happen - any decison would be based on what they are led to by the likes of campbell live or leighton Smith...  Far better we elect (or try to) intelligent leaders that will take advice from the experts and act accordingly (sometimes a vain hope I lnow, but better than the alternative).

I think you will find the collective consciousness is much smarter than you give it credit

Just looked at some relative wealth figures for Switzerland - where there are binding referendums - and New Zealand where our politicians do as they please. Oh dear!

Switzerland isn't actually any anything goes though. They got a little embarassed about how women didn't get the vote until 1971 (because the people who got to vote in the referendums had other opinions, though the Swiss parliament had being trying to make it happen since 1953) so all proposed legislation must conform to equal rights requirements before it can go to referendum.
I'd be more comfortable with the pro-binding-referendum people if they had researched it enough to acknowledge issues like this and explain how things like conforming to equal rights requirements might work in a NZ context.

Strange how such a system of binding referendums works so well in Switzerland! Strange how they have managed to avoid so many of the disasterous outcomes that your learned politicians have visited on the rest of Europe. 

Of course, most politicians don't research issues. They are compliant lobby fodder told how to vote by the Whips.


Are you comparing apples with apples?
The Swiss experience shows that smaller parties, outside the governing coalition, use the tools of direct democracy more often. The referendum device has also been used as an effective weapon by the opposition. Smaller parties lack any real veto power in the normal parliamentary process, so they use direct democracy to challenge bills favoured by the governing coalition. The popular initiative provides an alternative means by which minor parties can rally public support for their position and force the government to address an issue.
Depends how you look at it i guess....but it could give an unintended outcome when operated in our 'deal or no deal' MMP system

Intelligent leaders, that is an oxymoron. If they were intelligent they would stay well away from the game (the term game is used deliberately).

I encourage anyone who wants to vote for the Conservatives to do so. Go for it. Had they been given a seat I would have thought their presence in government was an affront to democracy, and I might not personally want them elected, but if 5% of the population votes for them then I acknowledge they deserve to be in parliament. And then I congratulate the people who voted for them on having their voice heard. I just expect to heartily disagree with a lot of their actions.

oh and,
or even better,
"Colin Craig continues to delight. Explaining away his nutty image, he instead cemented it by saying: “It was logical to platform off the rhetoric already being discussed.” Psychiatrists are banned from entering, but there’s a trip to Upper Volta for anyone making sense of that.
Having lost female voters after declaring New Zealand women promiscuous, Colin is now targeting homosexuals by an advertising campaign showing him lying in long grass with a come-hither look. Missing is a rose stem between his teeth.'

This Nick Smith vs Fish and Game is such a good example of how National Ministers twist issues in a very disingenuous way.  I just heard a news report in which Nick Smith referred to having no intention to change the "taxpayer-funded" mandate of Fish and Game. HOWEVER, Fish and Game is NOT taxpayer-funded .. not at all!!!!!  It is funded solely from the proceeds of fishing and hunting licences;
Fish & Game NZ is everyone who buys a fishing or hunting licence – we are a ‘user pays, user says’ non-profit organisation that receives no government or taxpayer money. An important difference between Fish & Game New Zealand and other public organisations is that Fish & Game is run by councils elected by the people who buy licences.
For Nick to represent the organisation as taxpayer-funded - is just a blatent and deliberate  misrepresentation. 

That seems to be standard-operating-procedure for the Nats
Glib statements that seem never to be tested by anyone in the media
Trouble is John Key seems to get away with it all the time
Winston Peters is ridiculed all the time with his past gaffes and misdemeanours thrown in his face constantly
Colin Craig is constantly ridiculed by the media and commentators
Yet Key gets away with it
Remember the John Key interview on Hard Talk with David Sakur who challenged Key about NZ's claim to be 100% pure, and John Key's dismissive response
Today John Key dismisses claims of "swimming rivers" is not going to happen because it would cost $ billions to achieve the clean up
Say What???
If that happened in oz, it would be the top segment on the television news every second night with his face rubbed in it forever, never to live it down

To consder Nick Smith as someone who cares about ecology and the environemnt is like suggesting Mugabi  is for free and open elections.

Shades of doublethink?
The novelist George Orwell coined the term doublethink in his classic dystopian novel 1984. He defined doublethink as “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them...To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.”  Attribution - Eric Draitser

In a nutshell.
Chris Trotter's take on it is also interesting - he points out that National has not always been this way;

Yes, they won't be satisfied until one of their own feels liberated enough to engage in river colour transformations for personal reward no matter what the costs, including diminishing numbers of Chinese tourists seeking escape from domestic atrocities. Read more

A development that needs to carry a sentence more demanding than a slapped wrist, or it's all over for 'clean green' NZ.

I also think though that it's a bit disingenuous for them to represent themselves as "user pays, user says".  People who don't agree with what they say, don't have any option not to pay.  
We're each free to decide whether to make donations to Forest and Bird, or Oxfam, or the Salvation Army, depending on whether we agree with their policies and activities.    And we are free to decide whether to use the services of this or that market provider, depending on whether we like what they're offering.
But Fish & Game aren't voluntarily funded like that.  They are reliant on the coercive power of Government, which forces people who want to fish or hunt, to buy a licence.  That gives them an obligation to take all points of view into account.

I assume they take into account the "points of view" of the species that depend on their habitats to survive. In other words, if the fishing isn't good - no one is going to buy a licence, are they? Lots of urabn dwellers and farmers like to hunt and fish - and I haven't yet read about a single licence holder arguing that they're unhappy with Fish and Game's advocacy work - quite the opposite - they seem to have the unreserved support of their fisher and hunter customer base.

Oh well, if you haven't read anything about a licence holder expressing concern about F&G's advocacy work, then clearly all the advocacy work they do has the unreserved support of their fisher and hunter customer base.   In fact, here's a great way to build on that very promising basis:  let them set up an independent, voluntarily-funded advocacy organisation and so escape from the tedium of having to account to politicians as to what they're doing with the resources that the Government's backing provides for them.

It is not the Government (i.e., the Executive) that provides them with funding/resources - instead it is legislation or statute (i.e., Parliament) that does so. If the Executive believes they are failing in their statutory duty - or if the Executive wishes to amend what their statutory duties are - then they need to take such proposals to Parliament and through the Select Committee and public participation process to do so.
You seem to have the same problem that the National Government has - it tends to overstep the mark where executive power is concerned. Parliament, not Ministers, determine our laws. If Nick Smith wants to change that law - then he needs to put the proposal for an amendment on the table and see what support the public and Parliament has for it, rather that attempt to 'bully' around with his Ministerial warrant. 

Just to be clear, F&G has inherited the mantle of the old acclimatisation societies. The species they issue licences for were deliberately introduced to NZ for the sole purpose of providing for recreational hunting & fishing. There's plenty of huntin' 'n' fishin' done in NZ that has nothing to do with F&G.
So, they are not a statutory monopoly and especially not a monopoly over a natural resource.

Very true - just like the RMA protects the habitats of trout and salmon by name.

When those species stop eating each other, pay rates and taxes, then they get to be "taken into account".  While they eat others, then they get to just be part of the food chain.   Raise your fish and game however you want.

How many hunting/fishing magazines do you read Kate?  Not very many if you say 'I haven't yet read about a single licence holder arguing that they're unhappy with Fish and Game's advocacy work''.  
An interesting scrap going on down this way, between F & G and DoC over whether or not trout should be introduced in to a river that currently only has native fish.  What do we really value our native fish or tourist fishos?

The blog on is good and I never miss the ITM Fishing show.
If you tell me the river you refer to, I'd be keen to look up the issue/discussion.

Letters to the editor Kate.  They appear from time to time.  Usually no specific river. :-)

I was asking what river you referred to that F&G are arguing with DoC about regards the introduction of game species. Do you have a name for that river? I'd like to research that issue.

It's an Otago river Kate, and the spat isn't in the public arena - yet. Given the numbersof didymo polluted Otago and Southland rivers/streams, it would be nice to think that trout and fishos were banned from the remaining didymo free rivers/streams.

If the spat isn't in the public arena yet - how do you know about it? Point is, I can make inquiries directly with the parties concerned if I knew the name of the river and would indeed like to. So surely you can name the river, regardless of whether the matter has been reported in the papers yet - it's not as if the information is in any way commercially sensitive or would be withheld under OIA request for any other reason that I can think of.

Networks Kate.  I have no intention of naming the river on this website.
Otago native fish are under pressure. You may find this of interest:

Yes I was aware - all the more reason I found your statement worthy of further investigation. I still can't understand why you don't want to name the river but as you say, if DoC are aware - I'm sure they won't be shy about discussing the matter.

Absolutely no way should trout be introduced to any rivers where they are not already, in fact, there should be some that we should be looking at eradicating them from. 

It doesn't matter whether or not Fish & Gane are funded by the taxpayer (they're not), it would be very easy for Smith & Co to pass a law cancelling the requirement for a fishing or hunting licence. That would finish Fsh & Game as an organisation. No more annoying advocacy against dirty dairying.
Look at the precedent. When the Problem Gambling Foundation dared to criticise Key's love affair with Sky City, surprise, surprise, PGF lost their contract, apparently "through a fair and transparent process".
Yeah, right.

There's a "what-if" to conjure with. The only reason we have trout and quinnat salmon and partridge and so on in NZ is because the acclimatisation societies raised money through their membership to bring those animals to this country.
Some of the species are still being restocked to maintain numbers (paid for through the licence fee) and in the breeding season the game is protected by prohibitions on capture enforced by F&G rangers (paid for through the licence fee).
Given the amount of tourist dollar we earn from fishing in the wild (a pastime virtually unknown in Europe) that could be a teensy-weensy own goal.
Of course they could simply remove their statutory right to advocate on behalf of freshwater resources (bit obvious that!) or starting charging F&G rent for the freshwater resources the fish use.

Kate: "if the Executive wishes to amend what their statutory duties are - then they need to take such proposals to Parliament and through the Select Committee and public participation process to do so."
Or just ram it through "under urgency?"

Well yes, given National's record they might just try .. and indeed give 'em a third term - all caution will be thrown to the wind and all of English's dead rats will be spit out and dealt to!!!

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