David Chaston says the sudden ascent of Jacinda Ardern says a lot about us as voters, and not in a good way. He wishes party positions counted for more

By David Chaston

OK, so this is just my personal view. But I think the jump in support for Jacinda Ardern reveals a problem we have, as voters.

She may be a better leader than Andrew Little. It is hard to know at this stage.

But voters who have been polled think so.

And the Labour Party polling has benefited.

But here is my problem. It just reinforces that most people make their political judgements based on personality. 

It can't be the party policies causing this shift, because none of those have changed.

And I think that is very superficial.

And an essential worry for our democracy.

It is not the issues that moves voters, it seems. It is the 'presentation' - the showmanship.

Seems wrong to me.

Now, I am not saying that 'trust' and 'integrity' and the like should not be part of a political judgement. They should be. And these issues may be behind the sudden fall from public grace for the Green Party leadership.

However, the Greens have not changed policy.

Nor has the Labour Party.

And yet the political landscape leading up to September 23 has changed, and dramatically.

All due to personalities.

I can understand why political reporters can get overly excited by such changes. Fair enough - who of them really wants to just report party policies. A good cat fight will get their reports on to the front page.

But voters need to be more considered than any political reporter. Or should be, in my opinion.

We should vote for policies we want, choosing the parties and candidates that offer them.

But we seem blind to that, captured by the beauty contests being run on social media, on the radio, and on TV.

Unfortunately we will get the politicians we deserve that way, rather than governments and policies we collectively want and need.

You can compare more than 110 policies from all parties in Parliament (and a new more) using this resource.

Personally, I don't think we should mind if political leaders are bland on TV if they have a great program to address issues we need addressed.

Competence should count for more in political and election decision making.

I think Andrew Little got a raw deal from his colleagues. But let's hope Jacinda Ardern has more than just media excitement justifying her elevation.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Are you serious?
For me, enough of the bullshit from national.. it's not just personality

That's not really the point of this article, is it? It was the change in leader that caused the leap in the polls, not any change in Labour's policies. (The Green meltdown helped also, of course.)

Agreed, but a leader's position is normally consistent with their party's policies. If not both they and their party will suffer due to the inconsistency and hypocrisy. Jacinda is connecting with voters on several issues and it is safe to assume that Labour's policies will reflect her position on these issues (e.g. Auckland light rail and royalties for the taking of water). It is normal to associate a party's policies with its leader's position (e.g. Winston and NZ First).

This is because people are fed up with national polich of Denial, Lie, Manipulation and if nothing works blame everyone but themselves. Labour leader brings hope and fresh approach much needed in NZ.


I'm voting Labour on policy, thanks David.
Having an articulate PM I can actually be proud of - is just a bonus.

Would you trust Jacinda to run a big corporate like, say, Fonterra. Based on her lack of experience it would probably be a very foolish idea, since her exposure to commerce it limited to working in her parents fish and chip shop. So why on earth would you up the stakes and let her run the country. Its just such a dumb idea - I can't believe anyone is that naïve.
Labour will lead with the politics of envy and just tax us all more.

Getting desperater and desperater.

You couldn't possibly be happy with Bill English who has no people management skills and no business management skills. Ardern does have people management skills and would possibly do OK as chairwoman of Fonterra and employ the necessary skills in the specialist areas reporting to her

By this are you implying that Theo Spierings is better suited to be PM than English or Adern?

He is more qualified one at least one respect - that he has a proven ability to run a large organisation.

It is not the only measure of course. But it is a required skill, the NZ government is the largest organisation in the country, quite political too I hear.

Farming people and their tax outputs for shareholder profits instead of cows....I can see some similarities

Macawsley many will and fail to understand why many are not able to digest and face the reailty that this election is a vote for change and it has got its face in labour new leader.


Oh how quickly we have forgotten Mr Zero Policy, all waves and smiles and pony tail pulling.


And, there is one issue that should tip the Nats out of their ears, it is Pike River, the families of those people deserve and the nation demands some sort of justice for those deaths. It is looking more and more like there is one huge nasty cover up there. Could the government actually be complicit in those deaths?

Wow, some people really are crazy.

Skudiv, you should read about Erebus then perhaps you'll understand that not all governments are complicit in revealing the truth.

Aren't they though, how crazy is it to think that the truth about Pike River can be hidden forever behind tonnes of concrete.
Personally, I would rather this be sorted for once and for all, regardless of the outcome. I want for the Pike River families to KNOW what went on after that first explosion, than to bury it for all eternity. Absolutely, utterly disgusting the way the government is blowing those people off like they don't matter.
Sorry mate, but we do NOT know the whole story, and even if you and I have no real need to know what went on, those families sure as hell do.
Bring on a change of government and some positive action.

Best song written by any New Zealander ever to my mind;


One of the best from Dave Dobbyn.

Pike disaster is down to a configuration issue:

  • Coal drives were aligned on an uphill heading, into extremely gassy coal, with a single ventilation source well behind the heading (at the end of the stone drive, in fact). This was a very unusual configuration, and much mentioned upon issue in the Commission's findings: "Placing a main
    fan underground in a gassy coal mine was a world first. " Report P19.
  • The reason for the single ventilation shaft is that that was all DOC would allow (the land on top of the coal seams is DOC-administered). A more intelligent agency would have allowed vent shafts ahead of the coal drives, so that the uphill heading through the known gassy coal would have had natural draft ahead and above, instead of relying on forced draft, below and well behind.
  • The Commission found that the most likely reason for the explosion was a gas build-up in a goaf in the coal itself, triggered by a soft-start electric motor or the harmonics generated by the variable-speed-drive circuitry causing arcs to earth (See P24) "The coincidence of the switching on of the pump and the explosion seconds later suggested that an electrical cause may have been the ignition source." . As there was a fault zone near this point (which had, during construction, caused a cave-in in the original ventilation shaft), a roof fall in the goaf could have also occurred. It's also worth recalling that the Darfield earthquake occurred just two months before, and that roof falls had occurred: "Another roof fall like that which occurred on 30 October 2010 would have caused a large pressure wave bearing a substantial volume of methane." P23.

It's as simple and as sad as that. No need for conspiracies.

The Commission's report is here: http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz/vwluResources/Final-Report-Volu...$file/ReportVol1-whole.pdf


Why, in the wake of the disaster, did Solid Energy buy the Pike River assets? And why did the Government broker a 'deal' such that compensation was paid to the families in lieu of any prosecution of Pike River directors and management?

These are more the crux of the questions associated with whether there was a deliberate strategy by the governing Executive of the National Party to close down all prospect of re-entry (and the gathering of evidence needed to bring appropriate prosecutions, including the potential prosecution of the Crown with respect to its obligations under the existing mine safety laws of the day).

I get the feeling waymad, that you are simply trying to deflect discussion away from the real issues at hand with respect to a possible 'conspiracy'.

I personally don't like the word 'conspiracy' - it's really more a matter of obstruction of justice and whether the government of the day was party to that.

Why did Solid Energy buy the Pike River assets?

Because there's 40 million tonnes of some of the best coking (steel-making) coal in the world, sitting there practically untapped. (Pssst - don't tell China....)

Don't be silly. It took them less than a year to determine the only way to get at it was open cast mining: purchased 2012, announced considering a new permit 2013;


Nothing, not even the permit, had any commercial worth. That was a given/known at the time of purchase - sure as the light of day. They were instructed to buy it.

Of course they were, how naive to think otherwise

I don't think waymad is naive - more mischievous. He crafts arguments to suit his biases and tries to make use of 'facts' to bolster those biases. Not saying we don't all have biases - but the mischievousness is in using the 'facts' when they don't actually apply and/or are a form of diversion.

Pike River is not a suitable subject for mischief. Just me.

No, it's not - which is why I found waymad's posting so offensive.


Yes I'll also be voting Labour too, Basically because they're the ones that actually have some reasonable workable policies, and are prepared to develop and support our economies, rather than just sitting back to maintain the top one percents wealth as National have done.


At minimum people need to vote National out to show Kiwis do not condone corrupt Government.

@dc, justice curious that you are not mike hosking?


I am amazed some of you think this opinion is in support of the National Party. How come? I have never voted for them in my life, and am unlikely to this time. Why would you jump to that conclusion? My view is that elections should be about policies. And voters need to take more time to investigate those, rather than use the shortcut of 'personal likeability'.

My apologies..

But what's wrong with the policies that JA has suggested so far.. not to mention the policies they have stated so far.. housing, education,health care

Well, the poorly thought out war on primary producers/farmers aka water tax for one, and thinly veiled threats to increase taxes on anything that moves another; don't think other policies have been announced....but you can guarantee there won't be too many specifics.


Rubbish. It is National's water policies which are a disaster. They have been privatising the gains and socialising the environmental costs of water use. To such a large degree that farming in NZ, dairy in particular, is in danger of losing their social license i.e. the public could very easily turn against farmers who were previously well regarded by the community.

Water pricing as a policy step introduced by Jacinda is a sensible step forward -user pays and all that. Aucklanders pay for their water -why shouldn't farmers? Putting a price on water incentivises users (farmers) to use this precious resource wisely. Down here in Canterbury, good farmers using best practice, are consuming only 1/3 of the water that their less efficient neighbours are doing.

Check out this article on how New Zealand's current policy settings are creating a disastrous Cowtopia.


Well said. I am saddened by the way that we as a society used to see farmers as our 'salt of the earth' type people. To have lost that recognition/admiration for farming is a real loss to my mind.

Aucklanders do not pay for their water - they pay for infrastructure based on the amount they consume. No New Zealanders pay for water - unless they have bought bottled water.

The Heathcote and Avon rivers are two of the most polluted rivers in NZ and are urban rivers. When these rivers are cleaned up come back then and have a go at farmers, Brendon. Otherwise urban Cantabrians are simply preaching 'do as I say, not as I do.' Everyone needs to look after their own backyard first. Hence the rise now of rural catchment groups.

The article you linked to has a date of Mar 28 - I presume 2017? It implies there is no control on conversions in Canterbury. I thought the Zones had nutrient allocations? So if a Zone was over allocated for particular nutrients then surely that would stop/hinder conversions? I have spoken to a zone committee member who said that in their zone they allocate 'nutrient credits' to the waterway and farms. At present there are not enough waterway credits in the zone that will allow anymore conversions. So perhaps you need to identify the zones in your article as to which currently allow new consents for conversions and which don't?

Perhaps Councils are losing their social licence from the non urban community when this sort of thing is allowed to happen and they have the audacity to ask to be allowed to continue to pollute for another 35 years! https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/95660618/Councils-stormwate... Urban NZ needs to wake up to it's responsibilities. Everyone has a part to play in water quality. With dairying taking up 1.8-2m ha of approx 12m ha of pastoral land in NZ it alone is not responsible for all water quality issues which you article implies, and it is time your community upskilled itself on what the contributions from other pastoral uses are.

Easy to blame individual farmers when the real problem is the system/politics they operate under.

If your water is metered and you are charged by your usage, you are, indeed being charged for water. It is what happens when you have to start restricting or better sharing out the supply6y\+

As a farmer I am charged a fee by the council based on the litres in my water consent - which is not used for irrigation only stock and dairy shed. So on your basis I am already paying for water.

No way! The forest and bird dude on socialist radio yesterday said all farmers get water for free and then sell it on hydrotrader for profit to the dumb farmers who haven't figured out they can get it for free yet.

There was was a question that went begging in that interview...


Really good interviews - hadn't seen that website before;


Could not find any detail on water consents and price and if they are one off and last in perpetuity or an annual charge

CO- how much is that fee averaging out per year?
Re irrigation schemes being put in by the tax payer - how much is the land affected changing in value - no water versus plentiful water? If the change is significant and the water fees minimal is it fair that the tax payer has to pay for the schemes??
These recent National driven schemes seem totally unfair to the average tax payer looking simply like National just shoring up their voting base.

Casual Observer the water meeting I attended the expressed feeling was that everyone had an equal responsibility to clean up waterways and pay to maintain this precious resource. I agree with that. I will happily pay a few cents per cumec of water I use and more if it is needed to clean waters, which I or the people in my village are responsible for. Many farmers don't seem to have the same attitude. But maybe I am wrong about that and Labour's water policies which are aimed at protecting water resources will be more popular in farming areas than what is commonly thought.

The Labour policy is short on critical detail (And Damien O'Connor said that it could be used for more water storage)- How is the money collected from water going to be used to clean up water - what exactly are the uses it is going to be put to? Farmers etc could be said to be paying to clean up water by paying for technology to use water more efficiently, build more efficient effluent systems etc. On farm system changes, general industry practice changes e.g. meatworks, mills etc and changes in forestry felling are what will make a difference. So is labour going to subsidise farmers/industry for this work?
If you pay extra for your water Brendon, you are not going to necessarily help clean up water if you are an urban dweller. You need to be paying to improve/upgrade stormwater and sewage systems, these in turn have the biggest potential to improve water quality.

It comes down to your view/interpretation of the concept of sustainability. There is the 'weak sustainability' model that believes that natural capital can be replaced by manufactured capital of equal value - in other words, through technology and human ingenuity, we can exceed the limits imposed by nature. All those on farm systems inputs you are describing follow this line of thinking.

Then there is the 'strong sustainability' model that believes that the existing stock of natural capital must be maintained and enhanced because the functions it performs cannot be duplicated by manufactured capital.

Note I say 'beliefs' - sustainability itself being a normative concept, no matter which of those beliefs/views of nature that one has.

I used to be very, very, very much in the technology camp - given my science and technology background. But more recently I just think there are limits to what we can understand/predict using even the most sophisticated science. Some problems seem irreversible - cadmium in soils, for example. Hence, I'm moving toward the environmental limits camp, even though its only hope relies on a dramatic change in human nature.

I think you would be surprised at the number of farmers who hold the 'strong sustainability'. Not a majority but a growing number.

Almost all the water quality discussion is either about water composition (N,P etc) or what we want as humans e.g. swimming. I have yet to see robust discussions on true environmental values.

But... that is starting to change at some catchments for which I can only breathe a sigh of relief. The formation of stakeholder catchment groups (stakeholders being all those who have a stake in it, not just farmers) in many areas are starting to cause discussion to become much wider than just water composition - it is about what values the community has for their waterways.
Therefore it was interesting to hear that in one region four out of five stakeholder processes ended with the request for trout to be classified as a 'pest' in their waterways and for Fish and Game to be asked to get the trout numbers under control so that native fish can flourish. Apparently the F & G member present wasn't too happy with the decision.
These are the sorts of discussions we need to be having.
It seems ironic to me that introduced predators of our native fish are protected in legislation but our native fish are not. I challenge any political party to reverse that.

Surely we have that backwards? Trout require very 'clean' water to survive, native fish do not. What is wrong with a catchment/regional council deciding that waterway A is to be swimmable, B is for trout fishing and C is to be kept at a level that will keep trout out but allow native fish to flourish. It could very well be that both A & B are swimmable and C not so much.
Is it right to value swimmability of our rivers over our native fish? Afterall more NZers would swim at beaches than in rivers, yet they are completely unconcerned about polluted beaches, but seem to think human wants should rate more highly than the rights of native fish.

Thanks for the different concepts of sustainability - I hadn't seen that before, Kate.

Couldn't agree more about the trout and salmon issue - have always felt RMA s7(f)

the protection of the habitat of trout and salmon

very odd, given it runs contrary to RMA s6(c)

the protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna

But hierarchically, s6 matters are given greater import than s7 ones, of course (in theory!)

I'm definitely more enamored with koura than trout, aesthetically speaking - but accept that trout have a much greater value recreationally and economically.

Like your idea about classification by catchment. The proliferation of National Policy Statements isn't serving us well to my mind.

And yes, the more we discuss our values first - and then the science, the better.

"the protection of the habitat of trout and salmon"
How come we don't offer the same protection to possums and deer

One thing I should mention is thank goodness we do have Fish & Game in terms of their submissions/input to a large number of environmental consenting matters. DOC, when the Conservation Act was set up (and it is indeed still in their legislation) are supposed to act in an environmental advocacy role - meaning they too should be boots and all into these consenting matters. And they were, until Nick Smith knee-capped them in that regard - starting with his political interference in the Whangamata Marina consenting issue;


Subsequently, when National took over the reins, they have also been starved of funds - so really can't afford the advocacy work that Fish & Game are doing anyway.

So, we do have trout and salmon to thank for Fish & Game.

That is true, I do find it odd how we (even if seasonally) haul in huge numbers of the juvenile native fish, without even so much as a licence to do so, (other than where stands are still legal) just a few rules to follow, but no limit during the season. And I used to do it myself in South Westland, have come to think very differently, though, about it.

Also urban areas over a long period has invested in remedial measures to prevent water pollution -there has been big investments in sewerage treatment plants, storm water upgrades etc.

Actually Brendon many urban areas have been found sorely lacking in storm water/sewage investments. If you read the Southland article those pipes are over 100years old! Queenstown has had sewage leaks in to Lake Wakatipu due to stormwater system issues - a so called iconic tourist resort having to place 'do not swim' notices in part of the lake is not a good look in the height of the tourist season. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea have similar issues at times. I agree that some urban areas have spent some money - just as some farmers have - but there are still significant funds that need to be spent on urban pollution mitigation. Last year urban dwellers were complaining about our local rates increase - they were told they couldn't continue to dump their sewage in the Clutha river and significant dollars were required to be spent to fix it. It was interesting how some people still argued their rates shouldn't increase.

As a note: I haven't live on a commercial farm for nearly 20years, even though I class myself as a farmer, as our income comes from our farm. I am well aware of urban councils lack of spending - especially in smaller centres. ;-)

PNCC's sewerage treatment plant has been in breach of its discharge consent with Horizons for years and years. Horizons finally took them to court over it. Eventually, PNCC admitted to the offence and between them they came up with an agreement that Palmy would fix the problem in about a decade;


Yes, urban authorities are by no means blameless. Same problems as farmers - money/debt.

Yes. Neither can urbanites or farmers carry on with business as usual. It all comes down to carrying capacity - living within our environmental limits. That means deintensification for some farming operations and depopulation/decommercialisation for some urban environments.

Growth has its costs and NZ clearly can't afford them given the prevailing economic conditions. Time to downsize.

Actually Kate what people need to really do is stop using glyphosate.

Herbicide use is increasing worldwide both in agriculture and private gardens. However, our knowledge of potential side-effects on non-target soil organisms, even on such eminent ones as earthworms, is still very scarce. In a greenhouse experiment, we assessed the impact of the most widely used glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup on two earthworm species with different feeding strategies. We demonstrate, that the surface casting activity of vertically burrowing earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) almost ceased three weeks after herbicide application, while the activity of soil dwelling earthworms (Aporrectodea caliginosa) was not affected. Reproduction of the soil dwellers was reduced by 56% within three months after herbicide application. Herbicide application led to increased soil concentrations of nitrate by 1592% and phosphate by 127%, pointing to potential risks for nutrient leaching into streams, lakes, or groundwater aquifers. These sizeable herbicide-induced impacts on agroecosystems are particularly worrisome because these herbicides have been globally used for decades.


Absolutely! Plenty of lobbying action going on in that regard presently;


National government gave it (the question regards glyphosate) to the EPA, rather than a Royal Commission to look at.

Are we surprised at that? Nope.

I always looked suspiciously on the EPA legislation when it was going through the Parliamentary process - looked suspiciously (in intent) like the NDA 1979 which Muldoon's government brought in and the Lange Labour government repealed in full.

Brendon there is far to much fake news and I think you might have have fallen for it.

Water pricing as a policy is stupid beyond belief. Do you want NZ to be the New Venezuela or what?

Well the readiness of labour governments to tax grab, as the panacea for all ills, is a big worry. Already we have petrol & water in their sights, even though said to be specifically targeted for certain purposes, there is something of the thin edge look about it. On another point there seems to be a bit of a treaty forming between Labour & NZF. Perhaps wily Winston & slippery Shane perceive they will have more influence over a Labour led government. So it would be of some interest to see how the tyro PM would keep these two contained and under control. I mean when it was just Winston, Bolger could not, and Clark, only just.

I know it might be difficult for you to process - but the economy under the recent Labour coalitions (including that with NZ First) did better than that under National coalitions;


NZF are not and never have been the 'chicken little' scenario where the wider aspect of running the country with their input is concerned.

It was only a question, but nevertheless, point taken in good faith. The only qualification being that it would be pretty damn hard to identify any coalition, anywhere on this globe that is, that would be more hopeless and hapless than that led, by Mr Bolger.

But it fell apart once Shipley took over, didn't it?

Well that would be seen as the Humpty Dumpty end for the story. Actually, at the risk of being pedantic, NZF were only, and therefore have only been, in coalition with National for a short period. What would it have been, 18 months perhaps? Then Mr Henare & his lot split in order to keep National and themselves in power. But they and the new PM couldn't put..... well you know the rest!

Yes :-). And you're right about that formal coalition point. I think it is an important one - NZ First popularity grew when outside a formal coalition partnership with the Clark government, but clearly inside the tent where the opposite leader was concerned. Meaning I think HC and WP worked more closely together than we all might realise, but just a guess.

Yep & if you would forgive my earlier cynicism, Winston is not bereft in any way with either a sense or memory of history and what has worked for him. That in itself could be a telling point as to how how he might shape up his thinking and preferred option. And as you suggest if it worked with Ms Clark, and he sees & feels similar good vibes with Ms Ardern, then why not and perhaps Mr Jones can be the aide de camp?

I suspect Shane Jones will be a big influence along with the rest of the caucus with respect to the nature and structure of any agreement to work with anyone in the next government if they are in a position to be sought out for such an agreement. Winston I am sure is going to leave the Party's future planning to them, this election being his last. Some real insights about his thinking at the present in here;


Clark did not have a GFC and quakes to cope with.

...and she still managed to hand English a $6 billion budget deficit and projected deficits for a decade to come and the odd $1billion ACC blow out/worthless trainset thrown in as a nice surprise..

David - on what has become a left wing blog, you were always going to get dumped upon if you cast any aspersions on the cult of personalities if the one getting the current media is labour's one.


And I agree with you, David, but the thing is both the party policies have to be good and the person leading the party (that is, the one getting them passed within the machinery of government) also has to have the personality to achieve that.

I've been buying all my computer equipment from the same company for years because I like the person who owns the place. I never get competitive quotes as I trust him to recommend the right equipment and give me the best deal - one that keeps both him and me in business for the long term.

We humans trust other people/individuals and trust is the single most important quality where both individuals and governments are concerned.

Plain and simply, I do not trust Bill English as a person. Neither did I trust John Key as a person - following his first term, that is. I look further into the ranks of the National Party, and again I can't find a person that I could genuinely trust, but I'm sure there are some there. Those we do hear from all seem to work to a playbook - covering up stuff seems to be a modus operandi.

Until they can shake that impression I have of them, they just aren't an option for me no matter what their policies are and no matter how well I think they might have run the country through very difficult times.

But this fact that I vote based on a personality/leader who I feel I can trust is not at all surprising. I married a guy I can trust too and it didn't matter one bit what he could bring to the relationship other than trust.

Hence, I 'get' your real frustration with the electorate - but it all boils down to trust and trust comes with a person(s), not a policy and not a party. It's likely not the best way to make democratic decisions, but nothing will replace trust as being the number 1 election issue.

The contrarian in me wonders how this works when you don't *really* know the person, have no real relationship to the person?

The contrarian wonders how you therefore make accurate judgements of trust with only external indicators?

I mean, you start with a level of 'trust', but then the person might make a decision you don't like. Invariably you don't have all the facts behind that decision (maybe some of them), and you don't know them to be able to ask the full story and reasons for the decision.

The facts you do have might even come through a biased (or even bigoted) media who are pushing their own agenda.

I fear your proposal must inevitably lead to loss of trust, through failure to meet external indicators, set through inaccurate measures and leaves no sustainable foundation for leadership to make either mistakes or hard decisions in difficult circumstance.

So we vote in Jacinda, because she has a blank sheet of trust, which she then progressively 'burns' through an unavoidable process of making hard decisions to complex problems, where various groups of voters 'lose out' on their agenda and thus being 'betrayed' lose their trust in her. Rinse and repeat.

I don't mean to be highly critical, I just wonder how the personal trust method can work in the absence of the personal.

Have to go with Ralph on this one Kate. You trust the guy you married; good for you, I imagine it was based on proof of his trustworthiness over time, and not a married at first sight scenario. I'm also going to assume you haven't been dating any leaders of the political parties, so your trust is based on... their lack of failing you yet?

I trust that the honest politician, if such a wondrous being exists, would tell us what they could do to run the country, while at the same time admitting when they were wrong, or their weaknesses. Still waiting for this.

I also trust that every other lying boar out there would also tell us they could run the country well. There are whole herds of these.

How would you pick the difference?

Oh dear. It was nearly a married at first sight scenario - a bit short of 10 months and we were standing at an altar.

Good point made about politicians that haven't yet had the chance to prove their untrustworthiness.

Maybe that means I act on intuition where relative unknowns are concern, and I act on principle where knowns are concerned.

I would put it down to being more like sentimentalism in the electorate which is strongly aligned to an "anti-ism" of the current government and establishment as well as the old clarion call of time for a change anyway. The new Labour leader has simply, but very effectively too, consolidated & catalysed all of that momentum. It has to be regarded as being in the same vein as the Brexit and Trump results. And all this harnesses a lot of ill feeling this government has brought on itself by favouritism of the big corporate world over the the rights and entitlements of the ordinary tax paying public. For example the "not a tax haven" utterance even though all the trusts hastily fled once a "proper look" at things was undertaken. And pocketaces is quite correct about the disdainful attitude to the Pike mine families and then of course the Canterbury EQ claimants that have rec'd nothing short of punitive treatment by EQC and Insurers, fully condoned by the government. So in my opinion, it all adds up. To echo sort of, W.C. FIelds, best to vote against than vote for. Unless there is a Greens like trip up by Labour in the coming weeks, expect we will see a Labour/NZF government once again.

"Against" voting seems to be how just about every government gets voted out, it must be in our DNA. People are now against National, and in a few years time, Labour will experience the same thing again. But we are ever hopeful that things will change.
In future it will likely be policies similar to what ToP are expounding, I largely am in agreement with them, but I don't think their time has come yet, though it is on its way.

Yes, TOP in 2017 is a bit like the Values Party when it came into being and contested its first election in 1972.

They changed the nature of what every party found themselves having to address/talk about. NZ historians called it the "bandwagon effect". They brought out an election manifesto called, Blueprint for New Zealand - an alternative future which opposed nuclear power and armaments, advocated zero population growth and zero economic growth, and promoted abortion and drug and homosexual law reform.

Their stance on the environment v economic growth meant all of a sudden all parties were forced to start writing/determining environmental policy of their own.

Yes, and all those are examples of why my trust in the present National executive was eroded - unfortunately for them, Bill English as the right hand man hasn't changed their electoral chances at changing that impression.

There are other examples aplenty, but it is too depressing to revisit and recount them.

And so at long last we have a political party in opposition stating that a Royal Commission into the government's management of EQC versus the Canterbury claimants is not only necessary but will happen. Assuming this is with the full blessing and undertaking of the new Labour leader, then she is to be commended. But the big question is, why so long? The people mostly badly affected by the punitive and unlawful antics of EQC and the insurers are in Christchurch East traditional Labour constituents. Why then has it taken this long for a Labour leader to stand up for them?

David you may also want to look at how damaging National leadership has been for the tech industry in both Auckland and Wellington, by allowing house prices to get out of control sending the cost of living sky rocketing.
Even the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has NZ as the most over priced property in the world in comparison to income ratio.

Global House prices to Income Ratio : http://www.imf.org/external/research/housing/images/pricetoincome_lg.jpg

Here's a leaf from Vancouver's Tech industries books, to show everyone just how detrimental an extremely high cost of living can be on new industries.

Better Dwelling article: Vancouver’s Tech Scene Shows Just How F**ked Up The City’s Real Estate Is

I know where you're coming from David. I personally vote with head and not my heart. However there are many others whom vote on personal appeal (particularly swing voters) with policy being secondary. It's just human nature I think. As an example, we all know Jacinda will sell more Woman's Weeklys than Bill. And I think that can be a strong anecdote as to how the election will unfold. It's also showing in the preferred PM poll.

When Key took power did he lead National to victory via popularity or a policy revolution?

" It just reinforces that most people make their political judgements based on personality. " Possibly we all use a little of both along with experience where available. So for example Winston has policies and personality and clearly a sharp brain but past experience puts me against him - he has to persuade me that he will not abandon policy for baubles of power. Jacinda has not changed Labour's policies but has changed which one they give emphasis to - so Labour have a policy of bringing immigration under control and specifically protecting low paid workers - first Andrew and now Jacinda never mention it (went to a public meeting and they carefully avoided the subject) which is a rational response to all the fake claims of racism made whenever a wealthy businessman thinks he will lose his ready supply of cheap workers. However unlike Winston I trust both the old and new leader of the Labour party to do what they promised.
It is rational to give both head and heart to any important issue - for example when you are buying a new home you judge real estate agents by their apparent trust-worthiness and then by their arguments in favour of the property they are selling.

If you voted for National and John Key in 2008 on their promise to fix the housing crisis you would have been bitterly disappointed, again and again


Just to remind everyone -here is a video of John Key promising to fix the housing crisis in 2007

Breaches of Trust

You'll notice the blue-blood National paid stooge (fom Greenhithe) (among others) rarely misses an opportunity to trumpet that Winston Peters can't be trusted

You'll further notice that he never acknowledges these breaches of trust by John Key

Sometimes a goat with a hardon can be mistaken for a unicorn

Well, there it is!

On the face of it you would have to agree. Little steps down, Jacinda steps up, and Labour jump 10%. That was nothing to do with the message, and everything to do with the messenger.

Ardern clearly has a much better PR campaign supporting her, with the TV media in particular lapping up her every word.

The green implosion also helped her cause no end, and from that safety of a tin foil hat you could almost question the timing.

We have clearly entered the era of personalities over policies. Will this see any benefit to us the voters? Probably not, but then it is our fault.


I'm suprised it's taken you this long to notice. After all we've had nine years of policies wrecking our society and environment, but voters liked the all singing all dancing ponytail puller of parnell frontman.

I'd agree with you David. Not for all voters, obviously, but as an example I've been periodically asking my 17 year old daughter if she is interested in the election and who she would vote for. Until last week the answer's been, no and no one. But now she says she'd definitely be voting and vote for Adern, because "she looks like she knows what she's doing". I think for young, especially female, voters those boring old men don't inspire any interest or confidence.

Jacinda is a self described socialist and her ideology revolves around more govt interference in our lives and more taxes and less personal responsibility and aspiration. Never mind that socialism has never succeeded in history, we have a lot of people that couldn't care less about the long term viability of the country, just their own selfish ends. It leads to individualism and selfishness and corruption and I say this from experiencing it in Europe where the legacy of failed socialist states lingers like a cancer for generations. With no history being taught here I guess we'll just have to learn the hard way...there's no teacher like experience as they say.

You imply Aucklander's would prefer to continue with daily grid-lock with Central Government 9-year non-interventionist policy plus favoured status protection to a construction company that can't get it right, plus oblique intervention into the private education PTE sector in the form of a disguised subsidy to employers, plus massive subsidies to the Canterbury dairy farmers for irrigation systems, plus subsidies to the orchardists and fruit growers and petrol station operators and so it goes on

You criticise taxes while favouring (condoning) subsidies for the favoured few

Who cares about Europe. This is NZ where the very best has come out of socialist reigns

Jacinda doesn't describe herself as a socialist. Her ideological base is social democracy of the progressive Northern Europe variety -think the successful countries of Scandinavia -Denmark (best employment policies -flexi-security), Sweden, Finland (best education system), Norway (best government owned sovereign wealth fund). Jacinda describes herself as a social democrat.

In recent interviews Jacinda has also described herself as a pragmatist -by that meaning she was looking at evidence based policy -not automatically jumping to a free market ideological position or a nationalise the means of production socialist position. Like most politicians she fits into the middle camp between the ideological extremes.

Her campaign slogan "Let's do this" implies she will use her charisma to effect progressive change -highlighting areas of importance -housing, transport, health -particularly mental health, education and water. This contrasts with John Key who used his charisma to reinforce the conservative status quo.

Quite agree Brendon.
OT but it's quite common to quote the Northern European countries as successful examples of government policy but I suspect there is a hell of a lot more to it than that. With their high levels of social cohesion, a deeply ingrained morality and work ethic they would probably hit the top spots for life quality regardless of the colour of their politics. Japan's similar.

You are 100% right David Chaston, the big shift upwards in Labour support is entirely due to Ardern being a lot more charismatic than Little, not because of big policy changes. That's the way we are, not just in NZ but as humans, we vote for people more than for policies.
BTW, you were always going to get grilled writing about politics. That is also linked to your point, people take things personally, never mind you made a valid point

Fully agree. Fortunately Interest isn't an echo chamber (despite the earnest efforts of many common taters).

Nil carborundum illegitimi, DC, to quote General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.

Personally, I can see just so much IT work a'comin' down the pike, as Labour 'tax and spend' introduces:

  1. Variable-rate fuel excise taxes
  2. Variable-rate water levies
  3. Variable-rate GST or swathes of exemptions (hey, I can Hope, right?)
  4. Given the penchant for policy-on-the-hoof, yet more tweaks to existing, or brand new call-'em-anything-but-Taxes

All of which will require mucho expensive (variable-rate?) IT input to devise, get running, maintain, and amend as the hapless pollies discover all manner of Unintended Consequences, as Perfect Theory sails straight across the Reefs of Practicality. Call it the 'Rena Effect....'

Of course I'm just being selfish/pocket-book-driven. But then, ain't we all?

Nothing wrong with a good dose of stimulus to the IT industry! This government has enriched the fortunes of the Fulton Hogans' and the Downers' etc. companies with its RONS. There will always be new money and new initiatives.

Of course, Kate, but tax-by-destination (fuel), tax-by-industry-category (water) and foobarring the internationally recognised for its simplicity tax (GST) introduces:

  • compliance, scope for error (e.g. in product/location attribution)
  • incentives for tax-base leakage (e.g. shifts in location - a trucking firm re-locating all maintenance fuelling at Hamilton or Whangarei not Auckland)
  • pure economic deadweight as a general consequence, which reduces overall productivity.

Tax systems as simple, cheap to administer and effective as NZ's are rare beasts internationally.

But Labour seems determined to have us adopt a US-like system (city/state/Federal tax stacks) with its attendant phone-book-thick tax codes.

There's Policy .... and there's Consequences......

An Emeritus Professor in Accountancy told me that his LA's proposed District Plan was bigger in word count than the NZ Tax Administration Act :-). I never checked it out to verify, but yes, simplicity is always best.

Thing is, a regional fuel tax is easy to implement, as is water charging/metering. So the objections to those two issues aren't based on systems implementation but I accept the second bullet point you make.

Your point about mirroring the US system is OTT - bordering on hysterical (not in the funny, 'haha' sense, but in the 'chicken little' sense).

David, Very disappointing to see such vitriolic and way out comments to your very considered comments.

Interesting to see how others see the NZ economy - virtually a nirvana which is why we see so many desperate to come here. Ask any Australian as we do regularly.

"Ours is not perfect world - it's just better than all the rest " to paraphrase Madeline Albright.

Post Sept 23 the problems will be exactly as they are today and whoever is government will be faced with the real world trade-offs that have to be made.

Despite the rhetoric Jacinta will find Peter's a tough nut to crack and they are going nowhere without him at the moment so there's a real possibility of very little change as Peters will simply not agree to many of their initiatives and has already stated as such.

MMP has its issues - but also it has strengths. Maybe we'll see that side in action.

In reality there was only a ~5% shift to the left bloc. Last election just under 5% of people voted for Colin Craig, I think that speaks far more about our character than the Adern jump.

It may mean that there is no longer a true Conservative party in NZ. Apart from NZ First perhaps, but they are a bit unreliable. The National party is pro-globalism, pro-corporation etc, but not really pro small business or pro small ag/hort, and is almost as left wing/ liberal as Labour in most social policy areas - mainly to keep the populace content not for any moral/ethical reasons.

"The Progressive believes in precisely two things:  his own magnificence and the constructive power of brute force.  In combination, they lead him naturally from the role of pestiferous busybody to brutal dictator.  Where the productive man dreams of the things he might create if only left alone by his fellows, the Progressive dreams of the world he could create if only the lives and property of his fellows were at his disposal.  The roots of his pathology lie in that oldest and most destructive of all human vices, the desire for the power to rule over other men." N.A Halkides
...Pretty much sums it all up.

Just goes to show, doesn't it, how easy it is to make sh*t up about people/things and make it sound credible? The antonym of progressive is not productive so it is perfectly possible to be both. The antonym of progressive is actually conservative so without progressives we would still be living in caves productively knapping rudimentary knives off flint. It was the progressives with their open and inquisitive minds who moved us on from that.
What happens to progressives is they get old, less open to change, thus become conservative in an attempt to halt further progress. Conservatism is something we need to guard against, not laud.

For better or worse, charisma has always been a huge part of politics.
Of course, charisma without policy is shallow.
But policy without charisma is doomed

Well, David Chaston. We all know your political bias which allowed the 'nothing policy' of the Key led Nats to have an unchallenged 9 years accepting their ministerial salaries.
Now you are crying. Boo hoo!
Get a life, I say. At least you have got rid of that ghastly flag at the top of the page.
I do not defend the Labour Party but at least all Labour governments have had some edgy policies which they were prepared to defend. Nats only come up with any policy shifts under poll driven pressure. Then they screw it up with short term fixes that placate enough voters to retain their mandate at great cost to the future of what was a great country. I begin to wonder if we have destroyed too much already to exercise any recovery.

Great comment about National's last 3 terms. Short term pragmatism but really it is cynical & reactive politics.

And Labour hasn't/won't engage in reactive politics? Come on, they're no different. They chase middle Main St just as the Nats do.

Real change requires our votes going elsewhere.

You can go back to Bob Jones, and the NZ Party. a successful man, popular policy , no shoerage of money , and they tanked. Why?, He was a very poor ( many said boring) communicator, when it came to putting policy across.
You have to be likeable, It matters.

Cannot agree that he was boring at all. The Rowling mouse for instance is one of the finest examples of a simple effective political message. At the end of the day Sir Bob entered politics firstly to up end Muldoon, provide a bit of necessary entertainment and put a rattler up the Right Honourable Templeton. That achieved, he then retired in good order.

Indeed, one begins to wonder if in fact the system is fundamentally flawed. It is well understood that human beings are prone to a multitude of biases. As well as this democracy requires a well informed and educated public. Call me pessimistic but 'well informed and educated' is not how I view the average citizen.

I patiently wait for the day, a benevolent and all-knowing artificial intelligence will be voted into power.

They have got one of those in the States, well the last part anyway, but the fuse for the benevolent component looks like it has blown

Thank you David for a daring view point .. you have certainly scared the red heads in the sand !... I 'm afraid you are perfectly correct , -- Watching the news and reading article, I had the feeling that we are in a Hollywood style US president making season - plenty of jumping up and down without real substance, plenty of reports for unworthy reason or trivial news ... Plenty of pure Socialist and extreme left policies pulling the country back to the 70s .... the beauty contest as you rightly put it is just the cover of some of the policies whose ugly heads started to sneak out through smiles and cheering as they are being revealed !! - some are just trying to hang on to any straw to be on the front page or TV show.

Not sure why people would turn wisdom and caution to the wind and chose a young inexperienced person to potentially take the highest and most sensitive office in NZ ... A person who has demonstrated that she cannot cope well under the slight pressure of a press conference !! I guess we shall see more of this in the coming weeks...

people need to keep in mind that The position of PM is much different from a local body or association management post, its needs skills and experience acquired in politics or business to make serious life and death decisions in internal and external affairs .. it is certainly not a Let's give it Go position !!...

Some emotionally guided naive voters do not think much about the position or the person who is the most suitable for the job, they compare policies on the surface without examining the underlying damage that it might cause short or long term and examine its secondary effects on everyone...let alone those who are full of hatred and jealousy !!

Promising the earth without revealing where the money will come from clearly indicates that they have a hidden agenda, taxing policies will fire back big time when the voters realise that they all have been hit either in their pocket or income (jobs) or both - turning some successful people into benefit seekers .... and pushing some businesses to the wall and causing a lot of revenue to evaporate ... All voters owe it to themselves to evaluate all that .

Naked emperors only have 3 years to prove they wear any cloths ....failing to do that will be painful and could last them another 9 years on the opposition benches. Let alone the expensive bill for cleaning the Mess.

People should think far beyond personalities smiles and posture ... the policies should be clear and transparent and specific issues should be clarified before the election.

We are certainly going to witness a circus with tight choices and maybe unbearable coalitions for some ... and a lot of blame games too!

Good lord, the comment stream has gone all the way back to 2008. Pertinent though, given the personality contest then and another couple of elections after, and the blame game that has gone on the whole time.

'People should think far beyond personalities smiles and posture ... the policies should be clear and transparent and specific issues should be clarified before the election.'

So that is why ecobird idolised -and presumably voted for - ShonKey?
I presume also the speech in 2007 from Key in which " NZ faced a housing crisis" was never resolved but drifted instead into nothingness.

This incoherent rambling doesn't even address the point in the article, and proceeds to descend into a partisan diatribe. You then go on to compare the required personality, and personal attributes of the PM role. I wonder whether you missed the point.

Every single house that got sold to a Chinese foreign national represents a NZ citizen who's been deprived of home ownership and pushed on the wrong side of a wealth transfer. The rapidly growing population of Auckland makes that even more true. We're talking about tens of thousands of houses transacted to Chinese foreign nationals. The Chinese targeted well to do areas which would normally have been purchased by doctors lawyers engineers and scientists. This cohort of Kiwis aren't stupid. They know what's happened to them. It's not just a matter of disliking National and their neoliberal policies. It's visceral anger. They want the National party gone! (IMHO)

A tool to compare party policies from the Spinoff;


Much like interest.co's but additionally lets you store those you prefer and thus 'discover' your favourite party on a preferred policy basis only.

Quite cool - hope it's okay to post here, David.

We are not only voting for policy but also for our country's representative.

Jacinda has qualities people like for this job as they did for John Key and Helen Clark.

Poor old Bill will be left holding the booby prize - again.

National and its supporters are and will try everything but change is inevitable come Election