David Hargreaves tries but fails to look on the bright side of an election campaign that has been as uninspiring as it has been drawn out and brings out a short wish list for the future

David Hargreaves tries but fails to look on the bright side of an election campaign that has been as uninspiring as it has been drawn out and brings out a short wish list for the future

I wonder how history will view the 2020 election.

I suspect the term 'lost opportunity' will come into it somewhere, for really any number of reasons.

Looking back three years, the 2017 election attracted a little over 2.6 million votes, which was, impressively, nearly 80% of those on the electoral roll.

At time of writing something like half of that number of people (1.282 million) have already voted in the 2020 election, which of course is not officially happening till Saturday, October 17. (If the pattern/numbers of early voting for the rest of the week matched that of the comparative week in 2017, we would have nearly 2 million people voting before election day itself!)

On the one hand the high number of early voters is great. On the other it is all a bit odd. We've still got the leaders of the political parties out and about, gallivanting around and attempting to answer the unanswerable question of how one can kiss babies in a responsible way while respecting appropriate Covid social mores.

Going early

It could be that the huge sea of early voting this time around is a product of the very odd circumstances; not least the fact that the election date was put back from the original September 19 that Jacinda Ardern announced about five years ago. (Well, actually it was on January 28 - it's just felt like that long.)

Personally, I would like to make a plea that no leader ever again announces the election date as early as that. It's ridiculous having effectively a seven-and-a-half-month election campaign when the electoral cycle is only three years. 

I thought on January 28 (through gritted teeth) that the election would be all we would hear about this year although in the event Covid proved to be a major, if not entirely welcome, distraction. And then of course it was Covid that decided we weren't even going to have the election on the chosen day and we would have to shunt it into the second half of October instead. So, the January 28 announcement really was a wasted gesture in every sense.

No surprise then that with such an extended build-up I suspect most people were well and truly over this whole thing before it had really begun. I got out as fast as my little legs would carry me on Saturday, October 3 and 'did the deed' - voting as early as I could, and allowing myself the luxury of watching subsequent proceedings dispassionately.

For me this election has been like one of those awful domestic situations where you start preparing the evening meal, only to have some drama intervene and end up sitting down to eat a half cold meal two hours later feeling like you've already consumed the darn thing.

Changes needed

But to get back to the early voting. Is this to be a trend? If we do have this level of early voting in subsequent elections, don't our politicians need to modify how they campaign?  

As I write, the politicians are gallivanting around the country attempting to attract votes from only something like half of the electorate. While the rest of us have already made our decisions.

In the light of this, why have we still seen politicians releasing new policies now? Right up to the end? What's the point of that?

I am very big on policies. I like to compare what all the parties are offering on the various subjects of importance to me.

I think, particularly if early voting is to be such a big 'thing' in future, that the parties really need to consider getting policies out much earlier. Why not, say a good two months before the election date? Anything to help the discussion.

Covid chaos

Of course policy and consideration of it has been knocked sideways this time around by Covid. Regrettably this election will go down as pretty much a referendum on how Covid has been handled.

Labour has therefore been able to get away with pledging very little. And this is a party that had flagship policies last time including KiwiBuild and the tram that proved to be among the most spectacular government policy failures ever.

I guess we might never know the full extent to which Labour might have been hamstrung in government through its marriage of convenience to NZ First. Summing up Labour in government this time around I would give them an 'A-' in crisis management and an 'F' in policy implementation. Little wonder perhaps they weren't that keen in going to the polls with a pocket full of policies this time around.

National made the mistake of waiting for the coalition of losers in the Beehive to fall apart so it could rightfully reclaim the seats of power for itself, only to then push the self-destruct button when opinion polls were supportive of the coalition's Covid stance. 

Trying to find positives

I made a promise to myself some years back that I would only vote for positive reasons - IE I would not cast my vote to 'get rid of' someone leading the country whose face I had grown tired of. 

It's depressing when you can't find positive reasons though. I actually ended up not voting at all for three consecutive elections between 2008-14 and made a very late swap in who I voted for in 2017. There will of course be no late swaps this time because I have voted.

I can't say in the end however that I voted for the most positive reasons.

Looking on the bright side?

My wishlist going forward is that this election does produce a decisive result and so we don't have interminable trading of muskets and trinkets afterwards while deciding who gets to sit in the expensive seats. Coalition negotiations I think they are called. Well, none of that, thanks.

And then I want to see a clear strategy for handling the virus next year, which hopefully will include vaccines and then looking at how we can open up the borders again.

And then what I would really like is for someone somewhere to espouse some policies that genuinely demonstrate some vision of how New Zealand wants to be as a country and its place in the world. 

But I suspect that's going to have to wait for next election at the very least. And I ain't holding my breath. 

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

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



Unfortunately I share your cynicism. Neither of the main party's want to tackle the real issues - such as inequality or climate change or housing etc. They are happy to tinker around the edges to make it look as if they are doing something. I blame the NZ people - they are just unwilling to suffer any short term pain for long term gain.

" I blame the NZ people - they are just unwilling to suffer any short term pain for long term gain." Where have I heard that before? Ah, yes, in the glory years of the neoliberals. What we found, of course, is that a small minority got the gains, and the rest of us the pain. Any wonder no one is interested, now?

I think we're starting to learn something interesting about MMP, it's not particularly progressive.

Not with such a high minimum threshold, makes it too hard for other parties to inject ideas into the discourse and take votes away from the big parties, and even prevents parties like the Greens from being more radical and trying to drive a hard bargain in coalition, lest they drop below the threshold.

Children are instructed:
Don't play with people's feelings!

especially blue and red children, every now and then you get a rebel that goes to the other side. to this day i do not know whom my parents voted for they left it to us to make our own decisions, i guess that is why over the years i have voted different parties and am not loyal to anyone of them

Question: If Labour gets 45% ,Nats 40% & Act 8.5%,no other party gets across the line...does a Nat /Act government become the Coalition of Losers (COL) ??

By definition any coalition that can form a government is a winning majority by popular choice even one as optimistic as the one you propose :)

b21,I was being sarcastic,there has been a lot in here who have been going on about the current goverment not having a mandate as the Nats got the largest vote in the last election...they just didn't understand MMP

That would be the Coalition Of Conservatives. You can figure out the acronym.

I thought it might be the Coalition Under Nats Team

We are talking politics so based on the preferred leadership poll and individuals charisma seen through media we would more likely see a very negotiated Labour/Act Coalition than Nat/Act partnership. Act are smarter than they look and are sure to get close to 10% of the vote this time due to the alternatives.

Apart from David Seymour & his deputy Brooke,does anyone know who else they are bringing into parliament?
Are they proven performers?

The Brooke who equated burdening future generations with public debt to child abuse? DS knows how to pick his winners!

Spinoff today;
The Act Party’s number four candidate is being criticised for promoting climate change denial at a Nelson high school. Stewart Sowman-Lund reports.
A Nelson-based candidate for the Act Party, who’s all but certain to be in parliament after the election, rallied against the local council for its position on “so-called ‘climate change'”, convened “Climate Hysteria Skeptics” meetings at the high school where he teaches, and attacked activist Greta Thunberg as “a Swedish girl with Aspergers and well known mental health issues”.
Chris Baillie is number four on Act’s list and standing for the party in the Nelson electorate. His online bio says he has a strong interest in sport and music, is a former policeman and a full-time secondary school teacher. David Seymour is quoted as saying Baillie would bring common sense to parliament.
But former students who attended Nayland College, the school Baillie teaches at, have spoken out about meetings he used to run where he would, they said, push back against the scientific consensus on climate change and claim climate hysteria was contributing to New Zealand’s youth suicide rate.

sounds to me like he borrowed his argument from Judith Collins;


nothing better than a born again , from the far left to the far right.
She switched from being a Green voter to an Act supporter while studying economics at university.

Probably because she worked out what pays the bills? Virtue signalling and destruction of economic opportunities coupled with rampant welfare vs investment in and creation of economic opportunities and the harvesting of lucrative resources.

lol. Yup, Fay Richwhite sure harvested our lucrative resources.

This election could be tighter than the earlier ones. The results may still surprise the polls.

I am pretty sure it was a coalition of the losers last year, wasn't it? I think the Nats won the most seats by quite a margin so why the sarc?

Glass half full, DH. At least, having voted already, one is free of the torture of watching Yet Mo' Adulation or, on t'other wing, Yet Mo' Leakage.....

The real shame is how quickly the 2017 policies were forgotten. We had a campaign where one side taunted the other for being neglectful, promised the world and then found themselves in the position of having to deliver, which they couldn't. Now we have a tepid election where the same party that did all the talking last time are begging to be seen as the stable, stead hand on the tiller, with all the supposedly urgently needed fix-ups discarded while the stats that proved their urgency have gotten worse.

I ask anyone who hasn't voted yet - do you really think you're any better off than you were in 2017? Do you really think the party that couldn't get it together pre-Covid19 will suddenly become competent and successful in years 4 - 6 , despite not looking likely until a global pandemic struck? And if the answer to those questions is "no" then please tell me who you decide to vote for because at the moment I've got no bloody idea.

reminds me of 2008 2011 same old same old just swapped sides

Haven't voted yet, my answer is no - I'll be voting either Act or TOP this year. Sick of being lied to by the big parties so they're out, was impressed by David Seymour standing up for democracy this term so he's on the cards but otherwise unimpressed with Act's policies on housing and immigration. I like TOP on housing and immigration but even if they got seats their policies would never be implemented by the main parties so a futile vote I reckon.

If David Seymour believed in democracy, he would have stood in Epsom without the free ride from the Nats.

Ok bud

To be fair,he would stand a good chance against Paora Goldsmith in Ngati Epsom..

unless paora was counting the votes on the night , 4 billion is nothing

Lets be honest,with what he polled at the last election,he didn't deserve to be in parliament;
ACT David Seymour classical liberalism, right-libertarianism 0.69% party vote 1seat

even on the radio david has said ACT will not exist within two to three elections, he is only getting disappointed national supporters this time, until we change the rules for 4% 100000 votes, get rid of the coat hang the small parties will come and go.
the only one that can survive long term is the green party as they are the far left of labour and let labour move to the center and i personally always view this as one party that split into two., vote for one is a vote for the other as well

John Key’s 10 Broken Promises

1. GST
The promise: “National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes, not raise taxes … what I am saying is if we do a half-decent job as a government at growing our economy I am confident that won't be happening”. (Source: Stuff, 10 February 2010) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3311679/Key-no-GST-rise-video-e...

The reality: GST was increased to 15 per cent.

2. Wage Gap with Australia
The promise: “That would be a fundamental purpose of our Government, to narrow the wage gap between ourselves and Australia, and to grow local wages in New Zealand.” (Nexus, Waikato University, Issue 13, 3 Jul 2007)

The reality: The wage gap with Australia has increased by $32 a week.

3. New Zealanders leaving for Australia
The promise: We're here today at Westpac Stadium. It holds nearly 35,000 people. And believe it or not, the equivalent of this entire stadium - and more - leaves every year to permanently live in Australia … I'm convinced we can give them a reason, and a purpose, to stay in New Zealand. And that's why I want to be New Zealand's next Prime Minister. (Source: John Key, Ambitious for New Zealand – Meet John Key DVD, 27 November 2007) http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0711/S00545.htm

The promise: “We’ve got an agenda which is about the economy, it’s about building opportunities, it’s about stopping 80,000 people leaving a year to other parts of the world”. (Source: TV3 Sunrise, 27 August 2008).

The reality: 100,000 New Zealanders have left for Australia under John Key.

4. Working for Families
The promise: “I personally guarantee that we will give families financial certainty by continuing all Working for Families payments at current levels”. (Source: John Key’s Commitment Card 2008)

The reality: Budget 2011 cut over $400 million from Working for Families by reducing payments through changing abatement rates and thresholds.

5. Asset Sales
The promise: “I'm not interested in selling assets – I'm all about building assets”. (John Key Speech, My Key Commitments to You, 12 October 2008) http://www.johnkey.co.nz/archives/504-SPEECH-My-Key-Commitments-to-You.html

The promise: “I personally guarantee that we will maintain and build New Zealand’s asset base by … not selling Kiwibank or any other state-owned company”. (Source: John Key’s Commitment Card 2008)

The reality: National is already spending the money from the asset sales and Treasury has already hired Australian investment banking firm Lazard Pty as an adviser on the asset sales.
http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-pursue-mixed-ownership-model http://business.scoop.co.nz/2011/11/01/nz-treasury-hires-australias-laza...

6. Underclass
The promise: “I have no intention of being a Prime Minister who tackles only the easy and convenient issues .. But I can tell you that dealing with the problems of our growing underclass is a priority for National, both in opposition and in government”. (Source: John Key Speech, The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All, 30 January 2007) http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleID=9215

The reality: The underclass has grown with 32,000 more children living in benefit dependent households over the past 3 years.

7. KiwiSaver
The promise: “Under National, KiwiSaver members will keep their current KiwiSaver entitlements”. (Source: 2008 KiwiSaver – Economic plan: Enduring, affordable KiwiSaver, Bill English).
http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28684 and http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1072...

The reality: National passed legislation that halved the member tax credit in year starting 1 July 2011.

8. Cycleway
The promise: The cycleway would create 4,000 jobs. (Source: Radio New Zealand, 24 March 2009) http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/12890/labour-questions-govt-costi...

The reality: Only a fraction of that were created – 511 (Source: Question for Written Answer 6075 (2011), John Key, 3 August 2011). http://ourhouse.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QWA/d/9/0/QWA_06075_2011...

9. ECE
The promise: “We will retain all the existing subsidies and fee controls”. (Source: National Party Media Statement, ECE Policy: Your family – your choice, 11 July 2008, Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett) http://paulabennett.co.nz/index.php?/archives/33-Press-Release-ECE-polic...

The reality: Budget 2010 cut ECE subsidies by removing subsidy funding rates for ECE services with 80-99% and 100% registered teachers.

10. Tax Cuts
The promise: “The Government would not embark on a policy of increasing GST unless it would benefit the New Zealand economy in the long term and unless it saw the vast bulk of New Zealanders better off”. (Source: John Key, Stuff, Key confirms GST increase being considered, 9 February 2010) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3307911/Key-confirms-GST-increa...

The promise: “The bulk of New Zealanders should be either be no worse off or better off”. (Source: John Key, TV1, Breakfast, 26 January 2010)

The reality: NZIER released a report that found 60% of households are worse off after National’s tax switch. (Source: Stuff, Higher GST, prices eat tax-cut gains for most, 1 December 2010) http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4407809/Higher-GST-prices-eat-tax-cut-ga...

The promise: “This Government introduced a balanced package of tax cuts that were fiscally neutral”. (Source: John Key, Hansard, Question Time, 11 May 2011) http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/a/5/4/49HansQ_20110511_00...

The reality: Budget said the package would cost $465 million in the first year and over $1 billion over four years. In fact, it has cost $1.1 billion in just the first nine months. National is borrowing for tax cuts. (Source: Treasury, Financial Statement of the Government of New Zealand for the year ended 30 June 2011).

OK. I'll remember that next time John Key is standing for re-election.

Oh GV,I thought your issue was with unfulfilled promises...Judith & Gerry were part of that regime..

What's the argument here: One particular brand of neglect and failure is preferable to another? Hence why I'm having trouble with who to actually vote for.

Be thankful...your choice could be Trump vs Biden if you lived elsewhere.

I voted TOP. I swear will never vote for Labour or National again in my lifetime.

In the light of this, why have we still seen politicians releasing new policies now? Right up to the end? What's the point of that?

As their suckers (loyal supporters) have already voted, politicians can campaign without alienating them. This week, the completely off base policies. Reckon we are about to see Jacinda promising massive tax cuts and Judith promising to double the dole?

Regrettably this election will go down as pretty much a referendum on how Covid has been handled.

The latest covid plan B webinar is worth a watch with an empirical data assessment on the lockdown impact. Brief summary - Had we adopted a Swedish approach we would likely have had around 330 more COVID deaths. On the flip side there's a correlation between life expectancy ~ GDP with a coefficient of 0.171 for NZ. Given that we're facing a decade decline of 7% GDP that correlates to a 1.2% decline in life expectancy, or 1 year of life lost for every New Zealander. The negative impact of lockdown was 12 times greater than what would have happened if we'd taken a Swedish approach.

Grandma killer! Send the internet hate mobs after him!