Chris Trotter assesses the mood of the electorate as the 2020 election year gets underway

Chris Trotter assesses the mood of the electorate as the 2020 election year gets underway

By Chris Trotter*

Is this election going to be nasty or nice? More and more pundits are coming down firmly on the side of nasty. They sees the Labour-NZ First-Green Government’s challengers, National and Act, drawing ever more heavily from the playbook of Messers Trump, Johnson and Morrison, or, more accurately, from their instructors in the Dark Arts of Politics, Steve Bannon and Dominic Cummings – as well, of course, from our very own Sean Topham and Ben Guerin.

Whether these rather depressing predictions turn out to be fact or fiction largely depends upon how angry New Zealanders are. Or, more precisely, whether the genuinely angry Kiwi voter is numerous enough to drive the incumbent government from office.

Determining the quantum of anger in New Zealand society has become an increasingly inexact science. Those who set out to discover the true disposition of the electoral marketplace generally have little interest in sharing the results of their research. Labour’s UMR Research and National’s Curia Research undoubtedly have a reasonably strong fix on voter sentiment as the year gets underway, but these co-ordinates are for their clients’ guidance – not the public's.

The traditional indicator of voter unease is, of course, the level of action in the streets. We know what to look for in this regard because the images and sounds of protest have become increasingly familiar to us over the past few months. From Santiago, Chile, to Beirut, Lebanon, and on the streets of Hong Kong, mass protests have indicated unusually high levels of anger and frustration with the status-quo.

In New Zealand, however, nothing has come close to the expressions of anger witnessed overseas. Yes, there was Ihumatao, but that continues to be a classic example of people “bearing political witness” – a far cry from expressing political rage. Nor was there much in the way of anger in the School Strikes Against Climate Change. Certainly, Greta Thunberg is an angry young person, but her children’s crusade strikes many older people as being more poignant than threatening. Meanwhile the angry hippies of “Extinction Rebellion” appear to have generated vastly more head-shaking than fist-punching.

The truly massive public demonstrations of 2019 were, of course, the ones where people expressed their solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch Shootings and confirmed their Prime Minister’s inspired declaration that “They Are Us”. The tens-of-thousands of Kiwis who participated in these events evinced their deep sorrow and displayed a grim determination not to let hate overwhelm love. The image presented to the world was of a strong, decent and caring nation – not an angry one.

This was also the time which gave us – and the world – the iconic photograph of Jacinda Ardern embracing a grieving Muslim woman. At an exceedingly dangerous moment in its history, that single image did more for New Zealand’s national security than a full armoured division. To see “Jacinda’s” hug projected a thousand feet high on Dubai’s towering Burj Khalifa produced a surge of deep pride in most New Zealanders. Those angered by the PM’s display of empathy constituted only a tiny fraction of the population.

Which is not to say that the land is bereft of anger. In rural and provincial New Zealand the level of hurt is easily measured in the numbers of farmers turning up to meetings organised by Federated Farmers on everything from climate change to water purity. For urban New Zealanders this hurt is hard to fathom. When your industry is responsible for a fairly large percentage of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the national dairy herd is wreaking havoc on New Zealand’s waterways, what the hell would you expect?! What the big cities fail to grasp, however, is the depth of rural New Zealand’s conviction that it is the products of its unceasing efforts on the land that constitute the foundations of the entire country’s well-being. Many farmers feel as though they have been unfairly judged by their ungrateful and ignorant fellow citizens. That, quite suddenly, they have gone from heroes to zeroes: and they are not happy about it. Not. At. All.

In strictly political terms, however, all this rural and provincial anger doesn’t amount to a hill of electoral beans. Those angry farmers are only ever going to vote for one party: the same party which, in one guise or another, their communities have supported for the past 110 years! The National Party leader, Simon Bridges, can rark-up his heartland rural base to unprecedented levels of rage, but it is unlikely to add more than the tiniest sliver to National’s overall Party Vote. Even less productively, all that rarking might end up alienating National’s supporters in the leafy suburbs of Auckland and Wellington. New Zealand is not America. Coming across as the Antipodean Trump may return slimmer dividends than Bridge’s social-media hot-shots anticipate.

On the other side of the ideological divide, the patience and good-will of those committed to the uplift of New Zealand’s growing underclass of beneficiaries and the working poor is wearing dangerously thin. For these folk, the pace of Jacinda’s much vaunted “transformation” has been so slow, and its execution so hopelessly inept, that all those old “reform versus revolution” arguments are being reheated and rehearsed, and all those dusty red flags reclaimed from the back of the garage.

Unfortunately for the traditional Left, “the angry poor/who are my nation” (to quote James K. Baxter) have proved to be singularly reluctant to issue the “shout/for bread and justice” out of which, historically, the mass movements of the Left are fashioned. Poor they may be; homeless they may be; increasingly unequal they may be; but ready to be organised into a viable political challenge to the status quo they are not. Most of the underclass is either too exhausted by, or too alienated from, the entire economic and political system to even bother casting a vote. And those who can be persuaded to make it down to the polling booth will insist on voting for the Labour Party – just as their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have done since 1916.

One of Aesop’s better political fables is the one concerning “The Frogs Desiring A King”.

Growing tired of their generally happy existence in the marshlands, some of the frogs petitioned Zeus for a king to watch over them and protect their morals. Amused, Zeus responded by tossing them a log. “King Log” arrived with a splash, but, perceiving him to be essentially harmless, the dissatisfied frogs were soon treating him with contempt. Once again, they petitioned Zeus: “We want a proper king, a king who will really rule over us!” Less amused, Zeus sent them King Stork – who proceeded to gobble up frogs left, right and centre.

Simon Bridges may be auditioning for the role of “King Stork” – a ruler to set the marshes in order and respond to the grievances of the angriest and most dissatisfied frogs. Jacinda Ardern, however, is having none of that. Unimpressed by the undemonstrative “King Logs” of the past, she has instead resolved to convince even her angry froggy subjects that, like all the other frog citizens living in the pond, they will be listened to and loved.

A “nice” 2020 General Election requires more than a do-nothing King Log. But it is most unlikely to be won by a “nasty” King Stork. A “Queen Hug”, however: the frogs’ best friend forever; might do very well indeed.


*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. His work may be found at http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com. He writes a fortnightly column for interest.co.nz.

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... oh Chris ... I am saddened by your cynicism , good sir . .. deeply saddened ... the 2020 election promises to be an exciting period in our democracy , the cut and thrust of good debate , the outlining of grand new visions for this green land , girt by azure seas . .

There'll be a reaching across the table ... a warmth .. a seeing eye to eye to narrow the political divide... much as there is here at interest.co.nz ....

.. and , launched over the weekend , a new group .. the Prosperity Party .. ... welcome , friends .... and good luck to all : Cheers !

So far I have seen absolutely nothing to suggest there will be good debating to be had. Clickbating, now that is another thing

Yes, here is a great example of a civil debate:

https://youtu.be/6wBDR-5ltVI

How much do you like the format?

You can be civil and still wrong

It's got great structure.
A proposition.
Case for
Case against
Rebuttal for
Rebuttal against
Questions from floor & replies
Audience vote.

Interesting audience voted before the event, then at conclusion.

If climate cult leaders in Wellington so convinced by the science, why don't we have debates and discussions here?

How's this for contrast:

https://youtu.be/a0a3E--mE84

There is no hidding within international business.
Being an islands nation means being on our own islands, bordered by sea.
Why do COL politicians act as though they are in a world of their own?

It seams that Winston has hand a firm hand on the rudder for the last term keeping Labour and the Greens in line. He is now 74 years old and it is rumored that he will step down after the after election king maker fracas most likely leaving Shane Jones running the ship.
Jacinda is 39 and if another child is to happen it will be in the next term, which will leave Shane Jones running the ship for a good portion of the next term if Labour, NZF and the Greens stay in power.
We need to re-run this through the King Log and King Stork calculator again.....
In my experiance with children (4 x's), one is difficult but despite the hype of two are as just as easy as one, when you have the second you realise that the work load is multiplied by at least 2.5. Number three and four don't add nearly as much work as the second, you are already broken by then and you just get on with it...

There is little doubt National cannot regain power on their own and they have no viable coalition partner in the offing. I f Key couldn’t at his popular peak, then Bridges certainly can’t. And they will not have learned either from their inane backfire of attacking WP in 2017. It is probable they will resort to more strong arm tactics but that won’t change the aforementioned circumstances one little bit. So unless there is a huge implosion in the Greens we will have the same basis of government returned. That is because Labour will stay about the same, the Greens without the shenanigans of 2017 might creep up bit and the electorate will return NZF because the prospect of a Labour/Greens alone government would greatly alarm the bulk of NZrs.

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I wouldn't be so sure of NZF fortunes this time around. Winston has made his voter base the anti immigration lot, and he hasn't delivered. It wouldn't take many of them to go elsewhere and he is under the 5% threshold.

NZF has lost the red necks, anti immigration, anyone who thought they would go with National over Labour just to start with. Then we have a very likely prospect of Shane Jones being the leader after the dust has settled.
I doubt NZF will get 5% and the majority of those votes will go to National I'm guessing.

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Why would the anti-immigration vote go to National? Wasn't immigration another of the "good problems to have" in their eyes?

So long as TOP stick to their immigration policy they will do well. Whatever improbable other stuff they propose doesn't matter (voters won't understand it anyway) just a clean realistic immigration policy that shows no signs of racism. However well they do it is still likely to be less than 5%.

Due to NZF promise not being kept.

well then what’s to stop Labour doing an Epsom or Ohariu for either NZF or the Greens or both?

I'm not sure their voters are really all that considered in their voting. They'd have to get serious feet on the beat to convince the voters that a tick for green/black is really a tick for red I suspect.

Whangarei 2015?

Doesn't ring a bell, enlighten me...

Winston is 82 I think?

The Nats need some proactive policy to win the critical low-middle / middle income NZ ground.
I would suggest that income tax cuts and/or threshold changes could be fertile ground.

Well conversely the prospect of any new sort of wealth tax being foreshadowed by Labour might have the same affect. Possibly though JA might step aside 2021/2 with a clear conscience and let waiting in the wings, GR unleash it all as a surprise package. They have form for this sort of tactic, GST for example.

Clearly National. Remember Key's pledge that as long as he was leader there'd be no changes to superannuation. Then Bill English becomes leader and one of the first policy suggestions is changes to superannuation.

He reckons both?....

Key kept his pledge with the Super, he told porkies however with the GST rate increase.

I was referring to the idea that Jacinda would resign 'early' so that a CGT/wealth tax could go ahead, in the same way that it appears Key resigned early so that English could make changes to superannuation.

Voila!

National didn't make any changes. The said they would change their policy and and leaves it to the voters to decide.

The reference to shady GST dealings must be a reference to National telling porkies going into the election when Key said no tax increases and then increased GST. Why say this was a Labour tactic when it was National that did it. The OP is either ignorant or a liar.

GST was introduced in the last quarter of 1986. There was no mention at all in the Labour manifesto for the preceding election in 1984.

So? Neither Lange nor Labour said that they would not introduce a new tax leading up to the snap election in 1984. They didn't do a leadership switheroo either as Lange remained the prime minister into the 1987 Labour win.

Key and National on the other hand specifically said no increase in GST leading up to the 2008 election, then got elected and increased GST.

Thought you were calling out shady behaviour rather than just hating on Labour.

The initial comment was simply that Labour had in the past introduced an unsignalled significant tax . That National has done something considered to be worse does not alter that fact .But OK , so you can stand at ease, have it your way, National are greater liars than Labour then.

I never claimed that National did make changes, only that with Key as leader they "couldn't" and that with English as leader they "could".

You have my sympathy. Partisan politics wherein it is viewed that one side can do no wrong and the other can do no right is undoubtedly a rather sad indictment on the proponents. Bit disturbing too.

Does it make any difference? Saying one apple is as rotten as, or less rotten than, the other don’t make it anymore palatable. Rather counterproductive too one might suggest.

Well if you're making it up I guess not.

Kind of hard to claim a moral high-ground when your argument is that promising not to do something and doing it is worse than promising an absolute swathe of things and attacking incumbents for inaction and then doing sod-all while all the things you flipped out about for nine years in opposition get worse under your watch.

A tax cut dangle. With Health, justice, education and infrastructure all under massive stress, and more heading to pension and age relate health issues, where is the tax going to come from?

Perhaps Nats could buddy up with TOP for a tax change. One notes a few MPs and Nat faithful will have to trim their debt portfolios.

TOP are insane and the idea of them being in power is laughable. Like most economists, they specialise in solutions looking for problems.

Really? Have you actually read their polices. Lest take a snip from just a couple shall we -

Immigration -

"Immigration should not be driven by student visas, nor reciprocal visitor working visas it should only be about whether the immigrant benefits us."

How about water -

"We will protect people’s access to water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Beyond those requirements water can only be used for commercial purposes if they are environmentally and socially sustainable".

Tax

".... is more obvious than in the property sector, where speculators and home-owners benefit while those that are renting are punished. It is unfair, pushes up house prices and drives even greater inequality. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest that we address the loophole in the tax regime

You think that's a solution looking for a problem? Seems to me you are a tribe member.

TOP is a the only party a present who are challenging the rubbish policy of past. The mains stream have run out of ideas.

As an oldie I urge any younger voter I meet that they need to vote for their generation, TOP is the only party which is brave enough to make the change for our young people.

So again, how does Nat find a tax dangle?

From the massive surplus?

They may go the other way and offer more subsidies to old folks and property investors, off the back of the productive folk. Easier than cutting taxes. Or just do a Trump and borrow massively to give to one's mates, without actually investing in things that will produce growth. Continue the recent trend of living off preceding and succeeding generations' wealth.

Come on you Generation X Y Zs or whatever, stop blubbering and start maximizing your social platforms that the Babyboomers have invented for YOUR use. You should have a Facebook Party for First Home Buyers up and running by now. I have to make clear that I know for certain that us Boomers didn't invent the I-phone and internet just to distract Generations X Y and Z from thinking about elections; we invented them to assist you in organizing yourselves into an effective pressure group, not to dabble with the 2000 dinky Apps out there that tell you how to clean your teeth in the most efficient manner or to open the fridge when you walk into the kitchen.

social platforms that the Babyboomers have invented for YOUR use.

Facebook founder: Mark Zuckerberg, age 35
Twitter founders: Jack Dorsey, age 43; Evan Williams, age 47; Biz Stone, age 45; Noah Glass, age 50.
Instagram founder: Kevin Systrom, age 36.

That's a generational narcissism 'fail' there, streetwise.

That aside, agree younger people should take angry action instead of doing little.

Yeah that is an issue, unless the Nats are comfortable to take on more debt. Which seems unlikely.
And it seems hard to think of where they could make big cut backs to support the tax cuts.
Labour could snooker them on this one - first 20K tax free, then have a new higher tax rate (36%) kicking in at say 90 - 100K
Anyone earning up to 100K would be better off, so that's a good chunk of middle NZ.

And doesn't have the risk of a Wealth tax - which could hit the asset-rich amongst Labour's traditional voter base.

Tax-free brackets are *very* expensive, your proposal would not be revenue neutral, which I think is what you're suggesting.

That's why under Goff Labour only campaigned on a $3k tax-free bracket in 2011, rising to $5,000 by the end of that term of government. It was seen as miserly by the electorate, and it was, but that's because doing anything much larger is simply very expensive because it catches everyone who earns any wage at all, even someone doing one-off jobs or on a part time contract with 4 hours a week.

There's a little tax calculator excel sheet put out by treasury https://treasury.govt.nz/publications/model/aggregate-personal-income-ta.... Lets you play finance minister and tweak tax brackets and rates and see the total change in revenue.

Using that tool, your $20k tax free bracket with a new bracket starting at $90k would require that new top bracket to be taxed at 64% in order for the whole adjustment to lose $10M per year.

Obviously if you weren't planning to be revenue neutral you could bring that down - at 50% for that new top bracket this tax cut plan of yours would cost $3.2B per annum.

A more achievable change would be tax free up to $10,000, which means the current 17.5% rate would kick in at $10k instead of the current $14k. Then introduce a new bracket at $100,000+ at 40%. This would cost $1B per annum.

Nice analysis.
Yes, perhaps that last option could be realistic?

For PAYE it seems to me it would be far easier to go for a flat tax rate equal to the corporate/business tax rate - that being flat tax of 28%.

Thereafter provide targeted tax relief for those on low incomes. With GST as high as it is, some kind of GST return for certain qualifying purchases (on production of receipts) could be the way. Such a method of providing that kind of tax relief means there would be no relief, for example, for the money spent on illegal drug purchases, alcohol, tobacco, luxury goods and so on. But the basic necessities of food, petrol, electricity, etc. would all qualify. The excise taxes should be removed from tobacco and the purchase age should be raised by one year every year.

Accommodation supplement might need to be boosted (the flat tax rate brings in more revenue) but it would be paid directly to the landlord, provided the landlord's premises had pre-qualified as suitable for rental accommodation. A/S could also be applied to body corporate fees as a means to encourage multi-dwelling attractiveness. And the government should build, build, build state housing - moving folks from private to state where A/S is highest (i.e., where the home is large and/or where the market rents are high).

The problem with progressive and/or tax free thresholds is that everyone pays less tax in the lower brackets - many of whom don't need that type of tax relief.

Something in that Kate, incentivise the purchase of good stuff rather then penalise the opposite. A more overt, positive and solicitous approach to be sure. But it couldn’t possibly be a paper trail, it would have to be handled somehow electronically at point of sale one would think. Perhaps a card variation/extension on the gold card where it tots up thru the year, IRD rewards - yea, but the admin of that in itself, even in a small country, would be exorbitant to say the least. Don’t suppose you remember Kirk’s Labour government ill fated MRP scheme. Fast became a bureaucratic nightmare and quagmire even in those much simpler days.

GST returns presently require a paper trail per se although, of course that is not submitted in full with the return. As long as there is a appropriate additional resource put into auditing, the same system of administration could be used. I recall a relative of mine some years ago keeping all her sales receipts in Florida as there was some scheme regarding a rebate on sales tax for pensioners there.

IRD would easily be able to know those that qualified as it has all of the income records. And libraries and other community service providers could help folks with filing where it was needed.

talking of all the receipts. In Sth Jersey we had the old INS looking for illegals being paid. Went through the office petty cash drawings and virtual interrogation as to where are all the pencils then etc. Quite amusing in fact but time consuming.

Tax cuts and a tough stance on immigration should get them across the line. The question is, does Simon know which way the wind is blowing and is he bold enough to do both?

He can't do both though, National are fully complicit with mass low-skill immigration.

Indeed. National just looks like a finger puppet for the CCP.

Chris -- The greens went from 14 seats to 8 after the Tania Turia debacle, most of those voters went across to Labour. People return to there roots, climate change is more in our face this year. So we can assume with the help of the Refferendum the greens could well come back stronger then before and possibly ever stronger then NZF who only got 9 seats in 2017. Only a fool would let the tail wag the dog... NZF is in trouble, they lost 3 seats to 9 in 2017, now a vote for winnie is a vote for Labour, they will be the smaller party in any negotiations, we could even have a majority with Greens plus National, so the greens will demand Deputy PM. my prediction is NZF loose another 3 seats to 6 and the greens pick up 8 to 16.

National need to understand that you need to be popular to win the popular vote....

It's really impossible to know why they lost so many seats, because Jacindamania happened at the same time. It had been clear for a while that Labour were losing votes to the Greens because no one had confidence in Shearer or Cunliffe and Little while competent was not filling anyone with enthusiasm for his leadership.

"we could even have a majority with Greens plus National, so the greens will demand Deputy PM."

Clearly you don't understand how the Greens run their party. They are very democratic when it comes to party membership controlling how the party works. The party membership have forbidden them from working with National. The MPs have no say in this matter, they must do what the party says. Almost any outcome where a Greens + National government were possible would also suggest a Greens + Labour + NZFirst government were possible, which is what the party membership would choose.

"and the greens pick up 8 to 16."

Highly unlikely given current polling.

Tania Turia? Who is that?

Probably The material girl, Metiria Turei, only been gone a short while and already forgotten.

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The message from Chris seems to be you don't need competence when you can have hugs (and hugs won't be extended to ungrateful rural people).

You don't need competence when you have an incompetent opposition.

national need a partner, they have not got once since they gobbled up ACT's votes.
and they have gone about destroying all that come along that could help them as they are still in FPP mindset.
until they change that they have a problem.
I must have been the only person that did not think there was a snowballs chance in hell of WP going with national last election after all the history between the two
first he gets kicked out of national and who was one of the people in that saga BE
they sack him from government, set up his MP's in a new party
then they try a dirty on him about his pension for the election.
I could not believe the BS spoken at the time and the smiles on national faces that turned to custard,
WP does not forget and can be quite vengeful when it comes to revenge.
so the chances of him getting in with SB and PB are non existence

Yes he quit National over the BNZ cover up, which he was right about, as too the Wine Box. That and the ensuing fall out with National in the coalition has not been forgotten. In the world of politics, would you ever expect it to be. The coalition with Clark’s government went along OK until WP foot tripped himself. NZF has played the handbrake role with the current government and that has been necessary whether you like it or not. Best that continue then I would suggest.

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Ah yes, election year. The huggies v the heavies. The academics v the professionals. The losers v the choosers. It doesn't matter which way you brand it, whoever wins power will struggle to implement any decent legislation, the poor will continue to breed & feed for free & the rest of us will be shaking our heads & bitching on websites such as this one, while the state bureaucracy will quietly carry on doing what they want to do (read immigration) no matter who is in charge.

Sending you a hug - sounds like you need one.

What a revolting specimen you are. I resent paying tax dollars to support your dotage.

The truth hurts...

I had initially wanted labour in so that we could then have another 9 years of prosperity as a nation under national after the country witnessed Labour’s incompetence. Now I am actually leaning towards a labour government. If look at their achievements objectively:
Announcing light rail: allowed investors to sell property along the proposed rail corridor to those who believed that it would happen (Naive, first home buyers) for more than they otherwise could have.
Kiwibuild: diverted the nation’s house building capacity to areas of lower demand, delaying/preventing housing supply in areas of higher demand catching up.
Pay parity for social services: drove charitable providers out of business because they could not provide equivalent salaries. Reducing total national spend (across charitable and public sectors) on social services, freeing up more money for the productive economy.
Increasing the minimum wage to the highest relative to the average wage in the OECD: devalued the dole (by inflating everything else) to reduce benefit dependency without huge outcry.
Amending RBNZ mandate to include employment: facilitated the drop in interest rates to current levels, which in turn facilitates a growth in asset values.
Ring fencing of rental losses (with option to do so on a per property basis): facilitates the carrying of losses between years to enable those losses to be more effectively utilised (reducing investor tax burden- albeit only for those with multiple rental properties).

Labour seem exceptionally adept at achieving sound economic outcomes without ruling up those in the hard left.

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Labour aren't riling up the hard left because they're too busy rocking back and forward while they try to reconcile their own Jacindamania with a near total lack of achievement.

You could already carry tax losses through to future years if you chose to. Now they're making that your only option. So they haven't 'improved' anything here.

Also you're a twisted piece of work if you think those are all laudable achievements.

I think you can take the /sarc tag as read.

I don't think they were being sarcastic at all. That's my point.

Give a man a break. It is difficult to find positive outcomes from the current government’s policies at the minute. I basically just made a few, so that labour voters have more of a leg to stand on. As a fellow fan of the government you should be getting behind any positives we can come up with.

You would have to be selectively blind to see zero achievements:
- Zero carbon legislation
- Drinking water quality regulator
- Gun control legislation
- Looming reform of DHBs
- Looming reform of Tomorrow’s Schools
- Effluent management regulations
- Rental WOF
- Fuel efficient vehicle feebate scheme.

Housing was always a no-win and Twyford was a clown. Immigration and tax reform are two big fails.

Unlike the previous “nothing to see here, we are rockstar” crowd this government understands that you have to...you know - govern, instead of just pandering to the dairy lobby and the landlord class.

Truly transformational /sarc

Good point, I did miss a few items:

- Zero carbon legislation: Raised fuel prices, which I suppose is a good way of driving inflation up from the previously consistently low levels.
- Gun control legislation: very enterprising of her to buy the guns back at a discount then arrange for them to end up in the hands of the meth community. Kindness at its peak to provide meth heads firearms to sell when they are feeling a bit strapped for cash! I feel safer already! https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/118902752/palmerston-north-police-s...
https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/118902752/palmerston-north-police-s...
- Looming reform of Tomorrow’s Schools: Reducing the academic achievement of Joe average so that privately educated youth of tomorrow have less competition is a bit controversial, but let’s count it as a good thing anyway seeing as we have a barrel we can scrape.
- Rental WOF: this is probably her crowning achievement. She saw that rental yields were poor, so she acted to drive rental prices up!
- Fuel efficient vehicle feebate scheme: this reduced the growth rate of EV uptake as far as I am aware (was a very strange implementation that looked like it was trying to shift potential second hand ev buyers into the new efficient combustion engine market?). Not sure how I feel about it but let’s call it a plus as well!

Negative gearing is a huge change (losses against income)..No doubt a few investors will start screaming when they do their tax return this year .."what do you mean I can't reduce my taxable income against my negative rental properties" .

So you think negative gearing is good - who for? Well done I day and bring in a land tax to boot.

You could only carry the losses to future years after first applying as much as you could to the current year. Losses used against the first 14k of income for the year only gave you back 10.5 cents in the dollar. The new rules allow you to “trap” losses before they have to be used against income in the lower tax brackets ( by shifting debt burden / interest burden between properties within your portfolio). Those losses can then be used in a future tax year (by mixing the rest of your portfolio back into the entity with the trapped losses) when your income is in a higher tax bracket potentially getting you 33 cents back per dollar instead of the 10.5 you had to take under the old rules.

Ok thanks for the details, although I suspect there are not many people whose property losses would be enough to take their taxable income below 14K in any given year.

Left or Right, that's a pretty fair commentary.
At this stage of the game I'd say it's Labours to loose. The Nats need something to upset the ship and I can't see anything - yet.

DP

Soyman needs thoughts and prayers please - Jesus Christ only please

Yeah law and order won't cut the mustard.
Neither will 'Reform the RMA'

Well in my view I will vote for the parties that would put my tax dollars into running the country equitably and sustainably for all. I might even be happy to pay a little more tax if I can see some positive outcomes on poverty avenue. One thing is for sure, no more neoliberalism....it just wrecks everything.

It is what it is

The PM is trying her best.
This is her best, she is holding nothing back.
If she could do better she would
She doesn't do any better than this.

It's a system thing too. People vote, then parties with no further reference to voters decide a government.

Look at the comments around Winston.
People say the COL functions as well as it does because Winston stops it doing what it really wants to do.

This all is nothing to do with the voters, however a real reason why the election will be a cracker.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/31/new-zealands-year-of-style...

Funny how there was none of this moderation when it came to campaign promises, even though there was never going to be a Labour Govt without NZ First and the Greens. It was a total free for all. To cop out now and say "oops, reality of coalition government, sorry everyone!" is nothing more than a bait and switch. You can't do it in business and I'll be damned if I can understand why it should be acceptable in politics.

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There are plenty of people from impatient to angry who know that re-electing a National Govt will in no way, shape or form provide any solutions to the pressing issues they see ahead.

I wish I could read people's minds too.
How do you do it?

It's intriguing to speculate on National's election strategy.
They can't go hard out right with anti climate change and anti immigration rhetoric.
They will struggle to promote popularist policies.
No doubt they can and will prosecute the govt on its lack of delivery but I think that can only take them so far.
The economy is going quite OK so they will find it hard to prosecute on economic mismanagement.

What would Trump do?

Use the same tactics he does against dems from California. Make it real.

Take all the problems of Auckland, all the problems of Wellington and blame PM. Take town v rural, Turn it town v PM.

Eg. Wellington can't get its s☆☆t together....
https://i.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/118890119/sewage-in-wellington-...

Eg. Auckland is a car park!

Aucklanders and Wellington folk will know what is driving them nuts. Find it, use it.

Yes let’s follow Trump cos he has really raised the bar.

Imagine a billionaire from the 1% actually giving a f*ck about real issues facing ordinary people. I suspect he’d rather just have them fight each other as a distraction.

They're obviously going back to being the lawnorder party, regardless of how ineffectual the policies they promote actually are.

Clearly we are drowning in progress under the current regime, so effectiveness is a moot point at this stage. You have a hard sell arguing that we would have made less progress with Bill English's social investment policies than we have with the world-changing let's-do-this-but-not-really-actually-do-it approach that seems to generated headlines for Ardern in the Guardian and other international outlets, but not a hell of a lot else.

"Social Investment" was an aspirational soundbite, though. It's spoken of reverently but it's little defined and actual results little held up. Similar to KiwiBuild, in fairness.

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This election will see Act emerge as king maker. David Seymour has done an excellent job.

If they go with the MAGA “Make Aotearoa Great Again“ (or Make Ardern Go Away) tag line they’ll romp in.

why would anyone vote for ACT unless they are already rich, most of their policies will create slums and more crime
flat tax of 17.5 %
cut all benefits after 5 years
no regulation on min wage
put prisoners away longer (private prisons)
open unlimited immigration
if they every got in I know where I would invest, Serco

We already have unlimited immigration, record homelessness, record gang numbers and a broken health system now under Labour.

So apart from no regulation on min wage, the other policies you point out are not bad suggestions.

Tax rate of 17.5% could be fine if they look into all the wasted spending.
Cut benefits after 5 years - why not - at what point is the backstop a way of life?
Put prisoners away longer, pretty popular based on the 1999 referendum that was completely ignored.

Min wage, IMO is getting too high. But no regulation is idiotic.
open immigration is also idiotic, but to be fair - where was that "pause" we were all promised. So would it really be any different.

Over 50% of the benefit budget is the Pension.

It would be interesting to have clear data on how many others are on permanent benefits and why.

Extreme voters and party loyalists will always vote along those lines. In terms of the middle voter, I see a few trends.

1. They have better memories than the media.
- They know Winston is all talk.
- They know Judith is corrupt.
- They know Shane is a dodgy Labour MP at heart.
In fact they know that most of the MPs are worthless, and reflect this in the reduction in voting numbers.

2. In terms of parties. The "Middle";
- View Labour as incompetent but ultimately harmless.
- See National as adrift. Stable but no real direction.
- See ACT as less extreme and more pragmatic than expected.
- No longer see the greens as a viable environmental party, rather a radical arm of the Labour party.
- NZF as a handbrake to Labour.

Likely vote change in 2020.
Labour will lose quite a lot of votes.
Green will drop slightly as they lose the rational environmental voters, and gain the extremists and Labour radicals.
National will stay the same. They wont make wholesale gains out of Labours woes, however are also likely to see quite a few leaving to go to ACT and NZF
ACT will gain quite a bit as their old supporters slowly drift back into the fold.
NZF will take most of the Labour loss. Shane is ex Labour and they have shown they are still not friendly with National.

Prediction
Hung election. My initial 2020 predictions had COL ahead by a nose. But I think Labour will continue to lose popularity as the year progresses.

unless they do something BIG, and they have the money at budget to do that
but what BIG thing could they do that would carry them through another election
they could try a JK and promise future tax cut but for the lower thresholds

I believe the COL will sneak in but only if Jones wins Whangarei. The promise of moving the port there will swing the vote.

Great analysis. Interesting.
Yes I think it will be tight but I still think Jacinda win. I don't think the Gnats will have enough in the way of 'positive' policies or bribes. This might be Ok if they had a charismatic leader to go toe to toe with Jacinda but they don't.
I think the key things for Labour are
- no economic deterioration
- no significant Twyford-like embarrassment
- doing something politically 'smart' with their infrastructure spend up

I agree that memories are longer in swing voters. However, anyone with a long memory should know that Winston and National are cut from the exact same cloth. Only difference is Winston is a smarter rat. He jumped when the ship first started to turn.

Because of the NZF/National history, attacks on Winston from National are like the right attacking the right. It's the kind of self-immolation socialists can light their smokes on and watch with enjoyment; NZF certainly are an unwelcome handbrake on Labour's intentions. If National push the belligerence between them and NZF further, they risk ruining coalition chances, risk voter disenfranchisement, and risk a lower turnout. Also, you forgot TOP.

Last election TOP got more votes than ACT and Seymour combined, I think the fallout from the ACT/National stitch-up in Epsom is yet to be seen and could become a campaign issue. If the best revenge is success, then TOP will meet their target of 5% and be in, which could be a welcome surprise.

If people see Labour as incompetent, that speaks more to the success of modern propaganda, and less to any sentiment resulting from implementation of policy. Maybe we should remember, that just because 100 burner accounts said it in the comments section, that doesn't make it true.

My quick prediction: Labour, Green and NZF and/or TOP coalition. NZF improve their vote. National continue being embroiled in scandals and fall to the low 40's or high 30's (remember that National possess the largest PR budget of any NZ political party, and it is likely larger than Labour's by orders of magnitude). ACT win Epsom again. Despite scandals National see an exceptional result due to focusing on electorates, again winning them and ACT the 'most-disproportionate influence in NZ politics' prize as measured using the Gallagher index (ie; their PR money turns out to be 'well spent'). I would even predict Social Credit improving their vote but remaining well-outside of 5%, as disenfranchisement with National continues to spread into farming communities, and people 'give up' and throw their vote down solely on principle.

I didn't forget TOP anymore than I forgot the Maori Party or United Future. They are gone-burgers.

TOP are a party of Economists who are only ever going to get votes from other economists/wannabe economists.

Three reasons why they will get less votes in 2020 compared to 2017.

1. in 2017 they only got the votes they did, because a very well off narcissist self funded a nationwide USA style "presidential campaign".
2. They don't have any viable electoral candidates, let alone one who is popular enough to topple an incumbent MP.
3. Their policies were idiotic ramblings based on GM approved "facts" only.

Those angered by the PM’s display of empathy constituted only a tiny fraction of the population.
..........
But 41% think immigration from Asia will have a positive impact (Asia NZ Foundation 2017) and those with "most knowledge of Asia" are most positive.
People might somehow blame Labour as they decided in the Burke Review of Immigration that NZ should become "diverse". It was the same ideology as practised in the majority of Anglo based Western Countries. They may say Labour made the conditions ripe.
Jon Haidt says:
“I am now very pessimistic,” Haidt said. “I think there is a very good chance American democracy will fail, that in the next 30 years we will have a catastrophic failure of our democracy.

“The current political civil war is between two groups of educated white people with radically different views about what the country is, what morality is and what we need to do to move forward.

“Most Americans are non-polit­ical, but in the age of social media they have become like dark matter. The modern civil war is being fought by the extremes.”

Haidt’s thesis originates with humans’ evolutionary journey. He says the “human mind is prepared for tribalism” and that humans are “deeply intuitive creatures whose gut feelings drive strategic reasoning.”

The delusion is to believe that liberal, secular, multicultural democracy is a natural condition for human nature. Haidt says this is false. The achievement of our democratic model based on diversity is a “miracle” that is far more fragile than we realise.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/very-good-chance-democr...

Brexit and Trump haven't been about economics but culture. We aren't supposed to know that?

It's interesting that the NZ political dichotomy is becoming one of rage and anger on the right, versus calm and empathy on the left. This reconciles somewhat with the locus of control, and the pathologies of an overly-internal locus that are easily observed in zealous supporters of the 'right'. OTOH, the left are often overly-apathetic; when they should be showing anger.

Another election issue is that the 'right' has not done enough to distance itself from terrorism. Some very real risk remains, foreign intervention has been indicated by the SIS, and National's behaviour of exploiting populist angst against gun reform is a serious risk to public order in NZ. It's almost as if Trump and the NRA are running that party.

If it boils down to the old nanny state versus police state argument, then I think the nanny state has already won, because there's some simple facts like that crime rates and inequality increase in response to implementation of many right-wing economic policies, which ought to be enough to make any rational person think twice before supporting such policy.

Is that why the right is always out protesting... mmhmm

Perhaps it's not obvious to you, but there's an ill-defined 'right' protesting a number of issues currently.

* In NZ tighter gun control for one.
* The rejection of climate change science is another protest theme.
* Anti-immigration protests from far-right groups have been increasing in the USA, Hungary and perhaps you are forgetting that acts of terrorism are a political protest, albeit the most extreme and violent form. The Christchurch mosque attack is an example of right-wing protest leaving the realms of civility.

Regarding your point 2.
Sometimes a thing is just not that important.
A ranking of priorities is not your denial.

https://youtu.be/q_-A-uDu2fQ
Are you happy with anomaly graphs?

Bit of problem when the parties that have been driving the anti-immigration sentiment in NZ include the current centre-left government and its associated parties. Makes pinning that one on the 'right' in NZ look a little bit cynical tbh.

It's only recently that National has quieted down on immigration and thrown the floodgates open for certain business sector buddies (Pretend Tertiary Education / PTE sector, hospitality, farming etc.) instead of their previous campaigning on immigration - e.g. Brash's and co.

So while they're currently likely to encourage massive immigration and foreign ownership of NZ land again, will be interesting to see what else they campaign on.

Likely lawnorder, moral conservatism (ironically), anti-intellectualism etc. I see Simon is off to the Philippines to shore up the Filipino Catholic vote by meeting with a bishop and a popular boxer.

No chance of Simon being rolled over mid year by The Crusher or Mr Luxon, to give a new life and vigour to the Nationals, a la Jacinda in 2017 ? That would shake things up nicely and put a fire under the Coalition of the Unwilling ?

Why would you want luxon as leader? All he has done is run the state owned airline, hardly party leader material in my view. Might as well get the head of another SOE...statistics department? Ministry of Health? Defence Department? MBEINZ?

I can see why the Left is where it is.

Lol, and I can see why you are where you are also...what is the point you are trying to make with your comment?

We need to rid ourselves of the hopeless do-nothing -but -tax Government as soon as possible

But the issue is, is the Fire outside, gonna feel any better than the Fry-pan we're all currently dancing in?

So you don't want roads, schools, hospitals, police etc? I suggest we need to refocus where tax is collected, and put it onto unproductive assets (fueled by endless debt) and promote productivity (working).

Where are the roads? Cops was meant to be 2800 extra, not 1800 new recruits. As for hospitals, elective surgeries are down.

I liked this analysis. CT has summed it up rather well I thought without dwelling excessively on the many aspects.

Labour could easily address some of it's traditional constituency by doing something meaningful around housing, but unfortunately they have chosen not to, rather waiting for the market to build the houses. BUT they haven't put the brakes on immigration, so in effect they will make no difference at all in the cost of housing. Now can they do one of the other things they, as in Robertson, talked about - create decent jobs on good incomes all over the country for even the unskilled/uneducated?

Labour roots on the West Coast seem utterly under the party bus.
What traditional are you thinking of?

As a swing voter I'm hoping for the gloves to come off this time around. New Zealand elections tent to be pretty soft and you'd struggle to get a cigarette paper between major parties since Clarke left office. I want an end to politics without policy, fighting for a declining middle ground. If your going into politics go in with purpose, don't be afraid to take a meaningful policy position and defend it. We want change and not at a glacial "we'll try our best" rate.

Nat's need a partner for any chance. The new Sustainable party is a chance (blue green), and so swing away from Red in the Maori seats. That's their best shot really. Opportunities is a tax and immigration reformist, but they are 70-80k votes away from the 5% threshold. Will depend on the strength of their candidates.

Do you see existing defined constituencies being"offered" policy & promise, or policy & cause (new or old) drawing/redefining constituencies?

Will the rumour of ammunition being found at the Chch Mosque after 15 Mar attack be verified?

You may be interested in this article.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/10120347/Drone-victims-radicalised-at-m...

This was in 2014.

Indeed. We've turned into a joke of a country. Where virtue signalling is more import than common sense.