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National announces deals with ACT's Seymour and United Future's Dunne as Labour's Robertson bids for leadership

National announces deals with ACT's Seymour and United Future's Dunne as Labour's Robertson bids for leadership

By Bernard Hickey

Prime Minister John Key has signed confidence and supply agreements with United Future and ACT that will see Peter Dunne stay on as Internal Affairs minister outside cabinet and new MP David Seymour become Parliamentary Under Secretary for Education and Regulatory Reform.

The agreement with United Future also provides for Dunne to also be Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Seymour's less-than-ministerial role does however give him three or four staffers to help him and the resources to act as the Parliamentary Leader of ACT.

Key described the arrangement for Seymour to be an under-secretary rather than an associate minister as an "elegant fit" because it allowed him to get some experience and still have the resources to represent the ACT party fully in Parliament. Key said it was likely Seymour would become a minister later in the term.

Seymour would focus on partnership schools and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses and consumers.

Key and Dunne signed the agreement in front of media in National's caucus room in Parliament late on Monday morning. Key and Seymour signed a similar agreement at an early afternoon news conference.

Key said National did not necessarily need the support of United Future, ACT or Maori to govern alone, but that he believed New Zealanders did not want National to swing to the hard right and believed it wanted it to work with other parties.

"I don't know, but nor do I care," Key said when asked if he thought Dunne had leaked the Kitteridge Report into the GCSB, which was the issue that saw Dunne resign as Inland Revenue Minister last year, before being reappointed this year as Internal Affairs Minister.

"In the end, we could either spend the next three years looking back, or the next three years looking forward. My sense of what happened on election night is New Zealanders said they wanted the return of a National-led Government. They wanted us ideally to work with other parties, which we're doing, " he said.

RMA reform?

Dunne, who opposed the Government's proposals last year for Resource Management Act reform, said he still opposed National's plan to prioritise economic development over environmental protection in the merger of sections 6 and 7 of the Act, but he would wait for its new legislative proposal.

"Let's see what the final iteration is. That's one of those areas where the positions are pretty clear and that may be one of those situations where the Government uses its majority," Dunne said.

Asked if he now supported reform, he said: "I opposed what was proposed. The question is -- and it's fair to say the Government hasn't had a chance yet to take it to the next step -- let's see what the legislation looks like at the time the government proposes it."

Key said he preferred to build a bigger majority for National's legislative agenda than the one seat majority, "and that's equally true for our RMA changes."

"In the end, we'll always reserve the right to pass 61-60. We've done that in the past by a bare majority, but my preference would be to build a bigger consensus with other political parties," Key said.

He said he would have to wait and see who the Environment Minister would be and "whether there are changes recommended or suggested and whether they find favour with other political parties."

Key and Dunne said the main sticking point was around the merger of sections 6 and 7 of the act.

"The vast majority of the changes, the process-driven changes, are ones that are unobjectionable as far as I'm concerned. The question does come down to the ordering of the priorities of the objectives under clauses 6 and 7, which is more at the principles level, but at the operational level, there's absolutely no opposition to those changes," Dunne said.

Asked if the Government would instead harden its RMA reforms to speed up land release and housing development in Auckland, Key pointed out the Special Housing Areas Act had a sunset clause. 

"Some people will want to have better flexibility and capacity for release of land, potentially for both industrial and urban. On the other side of the coin, we have to name a executive. If there is theoretically a new minister for the environment, which I can't rule out, the new minister might want to have a look and see whether he thinks, or she thinks, that legislation is set in exactly the right place and then work our way through that," Key said.

"As I said on election night, I don't see National veering off on some very hard right wing agenda. I don't think that would serve either the country's or National's interests in the best possible way," he said.

"Passing reformed RMA legislation is a top priority of the Government."

'We're not NIMBYs'

Seymour said he supported the Government's plans for RMA reform and rejected the proposition that RMA reform would encourage more dense development in his electorate of Epsom.

Seymour said the current RMA forced 90% of land development within Auckland to be within the Metropolitan Urban Limit, which forced up land prices and forced more dense development in Epsom.

He rejected the proposition that he supported sprawling developments elsewhere, but would not support more dense development in Epsom.

"That's your language. The truth is people accuse us in Epsom of being NIMBYs -- Not In My Back Yard. The truth is we've been filling in our back yards since the 1960s. It's already the densest and most intensified electorate in the entire country," he said.

Flex-Super and water quality

Dunne said the prospect of United Future's Flexi-Super proposal remained a live one, despite there being no mention of it in the supply and confidence agreement. He said the Government had received submissions and he had had discussions with Bill English earlier on Monday.

"I don't think the issue is dead and buried. This is an issue we will continue to discuss," Dunne said, adding he expected the issues raised during consultation to be addressed by the Government.

Dunne went on to point to the agreement's comments on improving water quality in lakes and streams. He pointed to clause 17 of the Overseas Investment Act, which relates to protection of fresh water and fisheries being taken into account when approval for foreign purchases is made.

"My advice is that there has been very little in the way of consultation to date by the OIO with groups like Fish and Game on the implications of those provisions when considering such applications, and I suspect a more rigorous enforcement of that provision might actually deal with a lot of the public concern about access and those sorts of issues that arises whenever a foreign land sale is being considerated," he said, adding rigorous enforcement of the existing act was needed.

Dunne said he would wait and see whether his income splitting bill was put before Parliament in the current term.

Key denied that United Future had not gained much from the deal.

"On the one hand, while there are no direct policy wins for the political parties, we are also not getting anything in return. Essentially, what we're doing is saying, we want to have a relationship where we work together with these political parties. Yes we get confidence and supply, and that builds a bit of a buffer for us in the house, we've never been one for stuffing lots of things into confidence and supply motions that we couldn't get past, beyond that we'll have to work with United Future on every piece of legislation we've got. That's a much stronger position for United Future and puts more onus on the Government to do that," Key said.

"Yes of course the Government could take the lazy option and just pass everything through with its absolute majority, but I don't think that's the approach that we want to take. I wouldn't see it so much as here's the policy win vs here's something that the Government's giving up. It's about building on six years of hard work and a good relationship and that means for three years we're going to be working very closely with Peter, as we have for the last six," he said.

Here is the key section in the agreement referring to policy:

In this parliamentary term, United Future has a number of priorities to progress with the government – the next iteration of the National Medicines Strategy – Medicines New Zealand - including the enhanced role of Pharmacists in patient medicines management and primary care; improving water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams; giving recreational fishers more opportunities as acknowledged in National’s recently announced recreational fishing reserves policy; and re-affirming the use of public private partnerships for major roading projects where appropriate; among the key ones. National's moves to form a Government and build a new cabinet came as Labour began what is expected to be months of internal ructions to find a new leader and review its disastrous election result.

Labour fight rolls on

David Cunliffe triggered an already fractious fight for the Labour leadership on Saturday, announcing he would resign at Tuesday's caucus meeting and vowing to contest a vote by the wider party and union affiliates.

Grant Robertson almost immediately put his hand up for the job, giving interviews on Q+A and The Nation on Sunday morning. He argued he could unite the party and that Labour needed to re-connect with New Zealanders.

He declined to identify Jacinda Ardern as his running mate, saying the deputy was a decision for caucus. Asked about the perception that he and Ardern were inner-city 'Beltway Babes', he pointed out Ardern was from Morrinsville and he was from Dunedin.

Robertson told TV3 Labour had lost half a million voters in the last couple of elections and repeatedly used Labour's 24% vote in his argument for a change of leadership.

"We have to face the fact that we got 24% and that means change," he said.

"At 24% in the polls, we need generational change for the Labour Party. We simply can't go on doing the things we've done and expect to get a different result. A lot of New Zealanders did see us as not being relevant to their lives," he said.

However, Labour's policies were not at the top of the list for those changes.

"I think there's no shortage of policy in the Labour Party. What I think we've got to do is focus on New Zealanders and their lives and a little bit less on us and ourselves," he said, later adding he supported Labour's Capital Gains Tax policy.

Hipkins blocks comment

Pressed repeatedly on Cunliffe's failings, Robertson pointed to the apology for being a man and his failure to remember Capital Gains Tax detail in the Press leaders' debate.

He also deftly answered the question about whether New Zealanders were ready for the first openly gay Prime Minister, saying he enjoyed a game of rugby and a beer and not everyone liked those things.

David Shearer also spoke on both Q+A and The Nation from New York, but stopped short of formally bidding for the leadership. He said he would have preferred the review of the defeat be held before the leadership vote.

However, in an attempt to staunch at least some of the blood letting, Labour caucus whip Chris Hipkins said he had blocked supporters of the candidates from talking to the media. He confirmed he had blocked Sue Moroney, Andrew Little and Stuart Nash from talking on The Nation and that caucus members, apart from the candidates, would not be talking in future.

"It's not going to be useful for us to be having huge debates about this amongst ourselves in public," he said.

Labour review launched

Labour's Council announced the terms of reference for its post-election defeat review on Sunday, including a review of its political positioning in the last three elections, a review of the 2014 campaign and a recommendations for rebuilding and modernising Labour.

Moira Coatsworth, who has herself said she would stand down, said the names of the reviewers would be announced within the next week and most of the work would be completed by December. She acknowledged, however, that it was possible the leadership vote could be held before the review was completed. She told Guyon Espiner on Morning Report a decision on the timing of the leadership vote would be held on Thursday.

Debate also simmered over exactly how small Labour's membership was.Jim Anderton pointed out on Saturday's version of The Nation that Labour's membership base had fallen to below 10,000 from over 100,000 when he was party President in the early 1980s.

Only 5,392 voted in Labour's leadership election last year. Robertson said the membership was higher than 5,000, while former Labour PresidentMike Williams said membership had never been over 100,000 in the early 1980s.

New role for Paula Bennett?

Meanwhile, John Key got on with the business of building his new cabinet. Key told Morning Report Paula Bennett was likely to be move from Social Development into another ministry, possibly one with a financial role.

He also said there were opportunities to merge some portfolios, using ICT and broadcasting as an example.

Key told the afternoon news conference he expected to name his cabinet early next week, before they were sworn in later in the week.

(Updated with confidence and supply agreement with Peter Dunne, comments from news conference with Key and Dunne, news conference with Seymour and Key, more details on RMA, water reforms)

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Updated with confidence and supply agreement with Peter Dunne

... quietly in the background , ever so softly softly that the children and the wee kiwis aren't aware , little Johnny and the Gnats are putting their government together , and getting on with new policy and ideas ....
But at the forefront of our TV screens and radio news bulletins and talkbacks , the Labour Party continue to roar with bile and vitriole at one another ... tearing themselves into ever sharpened fragments and factions ....
... sigh ! .... Business as usual , in Godzone ...

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Josie Pagani - Media commentator, former Labour candidate
What went wrong?
Labour focused on leading a left bloc instead of maximising its own support, and believed it could mobilise 800,000 people who didn't vote in 2011.
It didn't try hard enough to appeal to National Party supporters, while people grew wary that it would rely on parties they really didn't like.
It seemed at times out of touch with the hopes and lives of working people, distracted by issues like gender-quotas, fast trucks and dead trees, which reflected a lack of confidence that its core values are popular enough to win.
Voters began to think Labour was trying to make you a better person rather than better off.

John Tamihere - Former Labour Cabinet minister
What went wrong?
Under Helen Clark the party was captured by academics and tertiary-educated leaders of a union movement that never worked a shop floor. They concentrated on identity politics and controlled the party not on the great economic issues, but on whether you were gay, Maori, feminist, bisexual, etc.
The party machinery then populated the Parliament with a narrow compass of appeal.
They lost because they no longer reflect their voter demographic either in values or in priorities. They have driven people like myself out of the conversation and out of contributing to the party. They have lost connection with middle New Zealand and, particularly, men.
Wayne Brittendon who does an opinion piece on Raido NZ (Counterpoint). Blamed Labour for being too close to National and the stations whole post election analysis  ignores this PC aspect.

What went wrong??? Kim Dotcom, that's what went wrong. Without him we would not have a National Govt with an outright majority right now, able to shove through any old thing it likes. 

Don't agree about Kim, Raegun.  Labour lost all by itself.  It seems the politics of envy don't appeal to the electorate.  And that seems to be setting in as a permanent thing.

... yes , the more the public saw of the gargantuum Dotcom , the greater their disregard of him as a nothing more than a rich buffoon ...
I have this niggly-naggly feeling in me Gummy bones that my old mocker David Cunliffe himself may have had a large part to play in National's complete victory ...
... just a feeling , mind ... no statistics or URLs to back up my radical theory ...
Having said that ... I'd be more than well pleased if NZ Labour choose Cunny to lead them onto the 2017 election .... oh , very happy Gummily pleased at that prospect ...

There you go speaking for others yet again.  Im in the "public" and I dont agree with you. If nothing else his size as nothing to do with the issue, shows how shallow you are.
Personally seeing people armed with assult weapons landing on the lawn in the early hours of the morning speaks more of arogent orwellian attitudes than I wish to dwell on.
Im sure you wold like Cunliffe to remain, in effect he's made Labour un-electible.

... yes , brother , I would like Cunliffe to remain ...
Be fair to the lad , he only had 12 months at the helm ...
... and look how much he achieved in so little time ...he  took the once proud NZ Labour Party to the brink of oblivion ...
Another 3 years should be enough for him to complete his work ...

GBH, this story has Hollywood treatment written all over it...
lights, iphone camera, action
It is revealed that the Col. Gummy has been using Cunny as a sleeper agent, a guiltless electoral assassin subconsciously activated by seeing the “Queen of Diamonds” playing card while playing solitaire. Provoked by the appearance of the card, he obeys snapchat orders which he then forgets...... 

Agree, Labour seems determined to stay off in the left.  Neil Kinock tooks many years to get UK Labour back to electable....rinse and repeat here.

No I dont think it was dotcom, not by himself.  Look at the candidates the "internet" party put up, pretty much hard core left people who wouldnt get elected if they stood up honestly IMHO.
I also dont think it was a major impact. By far I think the impact impact was Labour's lerch to the left instead of holding the centre-left ground as HC had learned. The interesting thing is of course the Labour MPs held their own but lost party vote, hence as the leader and root cause Cunliffe has to go.

Robertson told TV3 Labour had lost half a million voters in the last couple of elections and repeatedly used Labour's 24% vote in his argument for a change of leadership.
"We have to face the fact that we got 24% and that means change," he said.
Cameron's Tory party feels the same pressure, hence the at the margin lolly scramble;
Up to 100,000 new homes are to be offered to first-time-buyers under the age of 40 at a discount of 20% if the Tories win the next election, David Cameron has pledged.
In an attempt to revive the Tories’ Thatcherite reputation as the party of the “property owning democracy”, the prime minister said that 100,000 “starter homes” would be built in England in the next parliament for young people. read more
What can Robertson offer, if anything, to sooth the grasping middle ground voter?

"What can Robertson offer, if anything, to sooth the grasping middle ground voter?"
A brighter future?

Not so much grasping as tired of being over-taxed maybe?  Look at who pays the rump of tax, the PAYE. Look at how many dont pay much tax or, want to pay none, are they the middle ground? no I dont think so. meanwhile the middle ground wee's the left wanting to spend yet more and just know whos going to be doing the paying.
Labour has drifted from the centre HC owned and with JK determined to hold it now has an uphill struggle to get back to relevence. 
We wont bother with the preception, no actually we will that Labour is controlled by a in-fighting bunch of minorities that hold limited relevence to the majority who now wont vote for it.
Meanwhile Laila Harre thinks the "left block" can win next time by staying where it is, oh dear.

Q: who pays the rump of tax. A: the PAYE fraternity

Look at how many dont pay much tax
Look at who doesn't pay much tax
Look at who seek to avoid paying tax

Have a look at Michael West in the SMH having a crack at the evil-doers
A worthwile study as most of the listed evil-doers are players in the New Zealand economy
But you wont see this type of article published in the local NZ press
The BVI British Virgin Islands get a solid mention

Listen to Bernard Hickey's conversation with Marcus Lush this morning stating, in restrospect, National made a BIG mistake increasing the GST from 10% to 15% encouraging the hoi-poloi to increasingly buy online and overseas to avoid the GST. It's becoming a huge cost to local bricks-and-mortar retailers who are in turn large (and becoming smaller as a result) employers of the PAYE fraternity.

A double whammy, showing up in lower GST, lower employment, shrinking PAYE collections. Genius

Actually Im all for reducing GST, to say 5%.

I'm all for dumping it altogether and introduce a financial transactions tax, no more worry about online purchasing from overseas and dodging GST, no need for a capital gains tax that NO-ONE can understand.
Make it low but applying to every financial transaction via a bank and Bob's your uncle, I reckon. Yes you would still have an underground economy, not much you can do about that, but if it never purcahses anything then it is worth as much as the paper you light your fire with

funny ..I thought the labour Govt increased GST from 10 to 12.5%? 1989?
anyway I can see how less retailers /redeployed into the export sector is such a bad thing..
Steven reducing GST is a tax cut for the "rich"   surely you dont want that?

No, GST is a regressive tax, surely you know that?

cut gst from 15 to 10%
who saves more gst in $$$   someone on $150 k   or someone on $38k?

OMG, are you for real?
Look up regressive taxation, oh here,
"The regressivity of a particular tax can also factor the propensity of the taxpayers to engage in the taxed activity relative to their resources (the demographics of the tax base). In other words, if the activity being taxed is more likely to be carried out by the poor and less likely to be carried out by the rich, the tax may be considered regressive"

cant give a simple answer huh?.
I know what a so called regressive tax is..
just wanted you to tell me that the high income earner keeps more money than the low income earner in an average case.Some one buying an expensive BMW probably pays more gst on that item than many low income earners pay in total gst..

So you tried loading a question, in order to try and score a cheap point. Come back when you want an honest debate.

show us the numbers - eg over a month, since both parites have the same month.

For  evidence I point you at academic work where this has been done already.
Hence I dont have to prove it, it has already been proved.

I find academic work is generally wrong and completely out of touch with the real world.
I point you at an academic (Prof Kemp, of Massey University) as proof. he don't.  His business buys the BMW and claims all the gst back.  Then they arrange a 9 to 5 lease, or simialiar variant, and manage to write off just about all running as business related.  The big boys game the tax sytem at will.  Tax is for those on paye - one of the few outs being the PI loss investor.

In 1989 it was hard to import things yourself, now its pretty easy with big savings let alone the GST.

"the evil-doers" indeed, parastic even, yet we the voter seem to accept this.

It will be a long uphill battle for Grant to win the support of conservative Pacific Islanders  and traditional unions votes. Not sure if they are ready to accept a gay leader.. Grant should consult the last successful Labour leader on how to play it out.

Even "mainstream" voters let alone yet more minorities.
but thats Ok another few terms in the Wilderness might [re-]enlighten them.

It can break their back spending time in the mountain..

... ummm ... isn't it a tadge ironic , that they're the ones who gave fafafines to the world ?
C'mon Moa , take a walk on the wild side !

I am still on Epsom electoral roll, that's wild enough..(more than a sweaty fafafines)

No great loss IMHO.

Updated with Seymour's comments on RMA reform and more intense development in Epsom
'We're not NIMBYs'
Seymour said he supported the Government's plans for RMA reform and rejected the proposition that RMA reform would encourage more dense development in his electorate of Epsom.
Seymour said the current RMA forced 90% of land development within Auckland to be within the Metropolitan Urban Limit, which forced up land prices and forced more dense development in Epsom.
He rejected the proposition that he supported sprawling developments elsewhere, but would not support more dense development in Epsom.
"That's your language. The truth is people accuse us in Epsom of being NIMBYs -- Not In My Back Yard. The truth is we've been filling in our back yards since the 1960s. It's already the densest and most intensified electorate in the entire country," he said.

I know a woman who lived in Epsom she owned a unit  in a row of flats. When she was overseas they flooded ("this place is low lying").
last I heard form her she had been looking over some new apartments. I wonder if she bought a leaky apartment?
She was ripe for that situation (a foreigner and not enough support). I sent her a photo we took on the road above Akaroa (a volcanic outcrop). From Tokyo she repied "it's hard to imagine such places exist".
These are the people I care about.

Listen to Key on Campbell Live
"What do you want to be remembered for?”
“Going back to that main point I think it was Muldoon who famously said  "I want to leave the country in no worse condition than I found it".

"Isn't that a low ambition?"

"Yes I want to leave the country in better condition than I found it and if theres something (I genuinely beleive) It would be lifting our confidence to a certain degree about how we see our selves in the world and what we think we are capable of achieving. Now I think individually there is masses of ambition that sits out there there but can we actually take that and convert that to take the oppurtunity .
And I always thought what was happening in the opposition of politics (of course they would oppose National, that's their job actually apart from everything else) but it was a bit negative about out place in the world. So we played a bit about whether people coming here was a good or bad thing whether people should invest here was a good or bad thing, or wether we have a trade agreement with parts of Asia was a good or bad thing, but actaully in my mind, the reason that I want to say yes to those things is because they are the oppurtunities that reflect our oppurtunities to both get wealthier (which is all about what you can do with that money) and then ultimately the oppurtunities for Kiwis. I'd like New Zealanders to feel (after my time as Prime Minister) they have become more confident outward looking nation more multicultural."
So what was this negative opposition?
A Ried Reserearch TV3 poll showed 62% want greater restriction on immigration (68% L 58% Green voters).
A TV3 text Poll (18000) repondents

At the end of the program 94% said No and 6% yes.
And Key shamelessly raided Labours territory before the election with (free doctors vists?). On Kiwiblog someone commented that National had to do things like that because "the alternative would be disastrous"
So this looks like a case of good cop (Key), bad cop (Act - blame MMP).
The Greens thought they would get 15% where did that go? The RMA isn't just about mining in National Parks, it is about every urban area in the country. Yet in the Green mind immigration is de-linked from population pressure.  Population issues are interpreted as social justice issues.
There seems to be a concensus amongst Radio NZ staff along the same line?
On a recent tour for property investors they looked at a property and asked what could be done. There was some confusion. From the back of the bus: "I thought you were going to be able to do whatever you like!"

Spin and gobbledegook!  
There is a very good letter in a recent North & South outlining Muldoons legacy having far more weight and accomplishment than JKs Obama golf games and helicopter rides etc.... Despite Muldoons faults.  

Whatever Muldoon's faults he was one of us.
One reason Key gets a free ride is the useful fools ("progessives of the internationalist tradition on the left") and they are allied with the journalists for the construction sector (Mike Hosking types).

Days to the General Election: 25
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.