Labour is now in a position of choice. The ball is in National’s court to respond, perhaps with a lurch across the centre line, Alex Tarrant writes

By Alex Tarrant

Labour has options. A two-party coalition with New Zealand First, or a trio with the Greens and Maori Party. This week’s 1 News Colmar Brunton poll was what Jacinda Ardern has been hoping for.

Of course, a lot of water is still to flow under the bridge. National is still in with a shout if it can stop its numbers from falling – it can’t afford any more weakness. Winston Peters’ greatest chance of the most power now lies with New Zealand First and National being able to form a government together, so I’d expect to see attacks against Labour from his direction this next week as he strives to win back his Kingmaker slot.

Bill English and Steven Joyce are now in ‘make-or-break’ territory. How on earth do you respond to such a shift in sentiment? National front-loaded its campaign with the traditional announcements. Something about a hospital, boot camps, drugs & gangs, being hard on youth beneficiaries, tax cuts in a few years if we can continue to manage the economy well.

So, what’s left for the next two weeks? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lurch across the centre line to see if it can grab back some of the urban middle class vote that Ardern has rounded up. Something along the education lines – secondary or tertiary - with Nikki Kaye involved, could fit the bill.

Wheeling out John Key to tell us how the prosperity we’ve scrimped and saved for these past nine years will be at risk if we vote an unknown into power also feels likely. “Helen’s already out there supporting Ardern, and anyway, John was always planning to pop up,” will invariably be the message from the National campaign (alternative thought: What signal does it give if he doesn't show?).

How did we get to this point?

Some people have likened Ardern’s rise to David Lange’s in 1984. Now, I wasn’t around then. In terms of admiration for the Labour Party leader, I’m told the scenes are similar. But when it comes to groundswell of why voters are so keen to turn to Labour, it sounds like the times are slightly different. The feeling in 1984 was very much along the lines of “we’ve got to do anything we can to get Muldoon out,” I’m told.

There doesn’t seem to be the same drive this time. We’re not hearing talk of English & co. having run the country into the ground along the lines of criticism of Muldoon. Quite the opposite, in fact – everyone, including Labour, seems to be congratulating English for his top-line economic management these past nine years.

So why the ground-swell to Labour? To me, it feels we must therefore have a policy undercurrent this election beneath the ‘stardust’. Not a nitty-gritty details-led policy drive, but a recognition that Labour can not only be trusted with the purse strings, but that its health and education focus is the next step for a New Zealand government that survived the ravages of the recession.

Steven Joyce’s attack on Labour’s fiscals may have had the effect of keeping some Nats from jumping ship. But on all other accounts it has backfired. Even the secondary argument that Labour will have to run tight, ‘near-zero’ budgets for the next two years isn’t being bought that much.

Yes, Steven, after the extra spending above Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) projections on health, education, family and baby transfers, tertiary education, police, tax credits, paid parental leave, trains…you’re right in pointing out that there will be less money for Labour to spend on other things. That’s because money doesn’t just grow on trees – as National was very keen to point out in 2011 and 2014. You have a pot of it available and it is government’s job to decide what to prioritise.

It is a government’s prerogative to decide on reallocating spending from certain areas to others when in charge. It is a government’s prerogative to seek spending efficiencies. In fact, that’s pretty much what the entire job entails.

Policy undercurrent

Why do I think there’s a policy undercurrent? Watching National these last few weeks indicates they think Labour might just be on to something. English has been wheeling out Health Minister Jonathan Coleman – a previous rival for the top job - to a greater extent than people thought this campaign. Dunedin Hospital, cheaper GP visits, Canterbury mental health – National knows it has a fight on its hands in the health policy (spending) space.

Education, too. Nikki Kaye was prominent at National’s campaign launch. She’s been doing the rounds for the past year announcing a few millions here, a few millions there for school classroom upgrades. But this was taken to the next level during the election campaign with National’s $50 million Whangarei Boys High announcement (a government announcement made with the campaign bus present).

If National is out there reinforcing to people that health and education are the two major policy issues this campaign, then voters invariably end up casting their minds to which of the two major parties is best at spending money in these areas. Try it yourself – the answer is Labour.

National’s argument that it’s not the amount you spend, but how well you target your spending, has some merit, and worked a treat during the recession era of deficits and zero budgets. But, isn’t Bill English telling us constantly how successful the country has become once again? The public reaction seems to be that, if the money’s there, why not spend it? Particularly if you’re also able to talk about paying down debt in the same breath.

“I would like to not have to pay that ‘voluntary’ donation for my child’s free education. I like the idea of cheaper GP visits and of health boards not being in deficit, I like the idea of shifting away from a government with a defensive spending mindset.” This seems to be the thinking of the urban middle class that was so enamoured by John Key and Bill English during the tough times.

That thought has been growing for a year or two now, but when these voters turned to see what the alternative looked like, they saw Andrew Little – perhaps the most defensive man in Parliament by some measures. This only served to cement the view that there was little hope for ‘blue-skies’ change from the other major party.

There was no obvious reason to shift support to Labour. This led the older disaffected to Winston Peters, and the younger disaffected to the Greens and The Opportunities Party. So, it is no surprise that these three minor parties are struggling somewhat on the back of Ardern’s rise.

Peter Dunne felt the shift. He says that even before Ardern became leader, he’d begun to feel a slight change in temperature in Ohariu. People started coming up to him on the street saying something he’d never heard before: “I’ll still vote for you, Peter.”

On the face of it, that sounds positive – every politician wants to hear that people will vote for them. But, the fact they were saying “still vote for you” indicated to Dunne that people were having conversations – whether within the family, sports club or down the RSA – about shifting away from the status quo, although they hadn’t quite decided yet where to.

It was something he’d never heard before. He thought he could still hold the electorate, but then Jacinda Ardern turned up and effectively sealed the deal. Suddenly these voters had something new to turn to and feel good about. That thought on what they would like government to prioritise finally had a fresh home.

During the first 15 minutes or so of Thursday’s Press debate, and following that 1 News poll, I found myself telling an empty living room that, “it looks like Bill English might have lost this election.” When he had to revert to the stunt of trying to read out a list of tax changes Labour won’t rule out, it felt like the brains trust behind victories in 2008, 2011 and 2014 had nothing fresh to turn to.

Watch Winston

To be clear, it would be folly to call it just yet – we’ve got two more weeks of what is already a crazy campaign. There’s still a chance that Winston Peters – faced now with being left out of a Labour-led government if the Greens and Maori Party can hang on – warms to National if that becomes his greatest chance of power.

That Labour now looks to have a choice of coalition government options, keeps Bill English in the game when it comes to the Peters factor. If Peters was ever looking for an excuse to turn back to his Muldoonist roots rather than having to support a fresh, young, outwardly looking, migrant-friendly (relatively), former head of the International Socialist Youth, then the 1 News poll was it.

So, the election is still anybody’s. But National needs to stem the flow of the ‘John Key factor’ urban middle class to Labour. Will Key appear on the campaign trail these final two weeks with English? Will National lurch across the centre line with a bumper tertiary education policy or something similar aimed at stealing Labour's oxygen? Will we see Steven Joyce spelling out the tax changes National will deliver in two-to-three years’ time and tell us that, since PREFU, the potential for bringing them forward has increased?

These next two weeks will be fascinating. Labour has front-loaded its campaign with policy announcements, giving it the ability to attack any big policies English and Joyce announce between now and September 23 as desperate, eleventh-hour bribes - just the kind of criticism we had in 2008 but the other way around.

But, because this election has an undercurrent of policy driving people’s preferences beneath the stardust, as opposed to 1984’s “we’ve got to get rid of this madman”, National still has a chance. Watch for Peters this next week. If he can’t get up a head of steam up then English will certainly be sweating.

Here's our Sunday cartoon. If you don't get it, then watch this.

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129 Comments

One night out in Remuera DGZ.
There’s a lot riding on the Epsom election, with four current MPs in the race and everything from glory to humiliation at stake – for the candidates and for their parties too. Simon Wilson went along to a debate.
https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/09-09-2017/one-night-out-in-remuera/

"Barry Coates then shared his views on the government’s reputation for good economic management. “What’s good economic management about poverty? What’s good economic management about 1% growth? What’s good about dirty rivers and allowing property speculators to drive up house prices?”
https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/09-09-2017/one-night-out-in-remuera/

is it property speculator that drove up house prices or local government that just dropped the ball after the GFC and did not plan enough investment in housing and drove up the costs ... immigration drove up AUCKLAND house prices and councils with staff asleep at the helm... your arguments are simple minded.. Many factors contributed to this and it happened pretty quickly.. governments react slowly after the fact and so do local councils..low interest rates fueled this expansion with the petrol and it only happened in the last 4 years, before that it was sufacing.. to short a time frame for a government to react.. they and councils in new zealand are simple not set up to move that fast... wake up people,,.

Wouldn't WP lose votes if he signals he would go with National?
Some of his potential voters would prefer that he causes a change of Govt by propping up Labour.

Good question - thought the same

It would be the "kiss of death" for WP and NZ First - forever

Last Throw of the Dice - or - Last Chance Saloon

But then again if Billy promised WP the world, gave him everything, running the country, made NZF the rulers, everything, Prime Ministership, Instant Knighthoods for Flavel, Kelvin, Marama Fox, I mean the works why not - although he would have to promise an exit knighthood for Bill Hisself and a Dameship for Paula

Two otherguys. I would hope peters and his party would have only one important thing on there mind if it came down to picking labour or national. Peters age and retirement. Peters is nz first. I would think with this heavy in the discussions peters WITH his party and IF retirement was brought up which you'd think it would . Labour would be the better FUTURE . A national choice would be death in a short period of time

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Exactly my thoughts.

His billboard slogan "Had Enough?" says it all. The whole thrust of his campaign has been to appeal to those who are discontent with the current direction and want change.

Propping up a tired fourth term government would not fit that bill.

No way I'll be voting NZ First they plan to side with the National traitors.

I won't vote Winston if he goes to National. Immigration is key for me. I will not support National at all for what they have done and continue to do.

One night in Remuera, in an electorate once called Remuera

Again "The whistle pulling the train"
quote "Parker and Goldsmith both agreed property prices should not fall because that would cause a recession"

Almost impossible, in a context of prices having increased by 100% that a fall of 25% could or would CAUSE a recession. Theoretically, in that same context, house prices could retreat by 30% without causing a recession. A reduction of more than 30% decrease would be a "symptom" of a recession, not a cause.

The converse is - prices rose by 100% - where was the accompanying economic benefit or expansion

and

quote: Parker made a point of saying only two of the candidates on stage had proven track records in economics, running large companies and working internationally, and they were himself and Barry Coates, who has an MA in economics.

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National has a chance................ NO................. People should think and vote........... For change

https://thestandard.org.nz/after-nine-long-years-national-discovers-ther...

The 'thinking' swing voters probably need a little bit more evidence than the postings on a Labour blog / echo-chamber. But you know what, it is a tough choice this election - who do we change to?

We have the incumbent, National, who has been all talk and not a lot of action, and now stares down the barrel of defeat as immigration and shortage of housing / infrastructure spooks the horses. Asleep at the wheel is an apt description.

We have the challenger, Labour, who has a lot of talk of 'better' and 'fairer' whilst providing no detail of policies (we'll leave that to a post-victory 'Working Group') so we can work out will be 'better' off (millennials) and who will lose (boomers). Clever tapping into the angst between generations, but leaving a lot of doubt for those who look beyond the figure-head. Has the many-headed Hydra changed its spots? Probably not, but looks like they may just pull it off anyway.

We have the NZ First, the single issue party riding on the coat-tails of mass immigration. If you're grey, old, and pissed that Harvinder pinched the job at the dairy your grand-son could be doing, an attractive choice. To the rest of us, we will be raising a cardboard 'No' sign thankyouverymuch.

The Greens - on their way to relegation thanks to Metiria Turei's double down on benefit fraud. A polarizing story, but ultimately voters are turned off by the sense of entitlement and refusal to accept any wrongdoing, in the face of evidence indicating plenty of family support despite her assertions that her daughter would 'starve' if she hadn't committed benefit fraud.

We have the Gareth Morgan Party, or TOP as they like to call themselves. They like to pretend they invented evidence-based policy, but clearly assume the voting populace is too stupid to realise that more than one policy can skin a cat - and maybe just maybe their policy sucks. Don't try and tell Gareth that, you'll get an angry response on Twitter. Maybe we are just all too thick to understand.

... can I be bothered going on? Not really. You get the gist.

An old tired argument against hope and progress -that gets trotted out when all other arguments fail.

The reality is that politicians are not all useless. That changes in public policy can benefit society. That Labour's policies on many issues are different and better than National's.

If you honestly compare policies in housing, education, health and the environment (climate change or water) then there are significant differences.

What I would like to know is why National after 9 years in government cannot point to policies which they have successfully implemented that are addressing the challenges NZ faces?

The reality is they have lost credibility because they are seen to be drifting and using lies and spin to cover it up.

This time is Jacinda Government !

NZF Policy, apparently, has been to make its first representation to the party that returned the highest number of seats. That will be Labour one would think. If out of that, a government can be formed, then that is probably the best outcome, out of any of the alternative combinations. So on that basis NZF still has my party vote.

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It's over blue rover. English is a two time loser. Jacinda an international power player.

National is shrieking, they are talking more about Labour than themselves.

They need to pull their heads in and realise they set the scene for the personality politics of saying not much. They need to realise they could have buried Labour for the foreseeable future by doing something, anything on the housing crisis.

Now the sound of Paula Bennett and Judith Collins sharpening their knives is deafening, Gerry Brownlee looks like he has plenty of room for a snack too.

Some people think it's all over. It is now, thanks to Steven (let me run those numbers for you) Joyce - the gift that keeps on giving.
Voting starts tomorrow and if the trend of previous elections continues, large numbers of votes will be cast before election day. Any ammo left to fire should've been used by this time. Desperation politics only from here on in.
Anyway, what have National got left to offer? Who's going to front for them? English, Joyce, Brownlee, Smith, Coleman, Collins, Bennett? LOL. They've been left looking tired, complacent and dare I say arrogant. Time for a decent spell in Opposition, contemplation, renewal and to develop policy that looks after all New Zealanders.

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John Key speaking to NZ Contractors Federation in August 2007

"We now have what has been described as the second worst housing affordability problem in the world.....
.....we need government leadership that is prepared to focus on the fundamental issues driving the crisis. National is ready to provide that leadership."

And 10 years later, after 3 terms, where are we?

Why would you trust this crowd to have a plan to fix anything?

Trust them to run the country?
I wouldn't trust them to run a bath for me.

He's manipulated the market so he can sell his house for 20 mill. Now that's what I call insider trading.

If I was in politics and had a business and voted on a policy that made my business and myself much richer I would be thrown out of parliament due to corruption. John Key made policies that substantially increased the value of his mansions and many rental properties, but it is accepted by most people.

Perhaps I am missing something but to me it is very, very corrupt and wrong!!

National in desperation will throw taxpayer money at subsidies for first home buyers. After all it goes straight into the pockets of their greedy mates anyway and inflates the market further.

This, along with encouraging FHB's to throw their Kiwisaver pension pot into the mix, is not a demand side fix of an affordability problem.

It's a text-book example of how to worsen it.

Absolute fail.

Funny you should say that

That exactly what happened this morning
National doubles FHB Home start grant for existing houses $20k and new homes $30k
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96687322/national-to-double-ho...

The farce is that the grants are available to anybody seeking their first home - anyone - including high net worth investing migrants buying their first home and High Net Worth individuals buying first homes for their children - you watch

Dear Mr interest.co.nz and ALL commentators - I have said on a number of occasions that the term "first home buyer" needs to be precisely defined

Oh for f**** sake.

I missed out on the subsidy late last year because my employer forced a sale of my stock options. Essentially I earned too much. What a rought. That year I paid heaps of tax and missed out.

Let's not forget that young people will take that subsidy along to ANZ bank and multiply it into $100k+ of debt. A gift to the boomers and banks, same as the accommodation supplement.

As someone in the top tax bracket trying to build I won't be voting national. They are a joke. Negative GDP growth per person!

It's a joke.
I see Wild Bill touting that it will help 80k people into their new houses in the next few years. So, an $800mil dollar subsidy.
People say that Labour are disjointed and inconsistent with policy, yet ignore the fact that a Party that so often champions letting the market work is okay with providing enormous (and desperate) subsidies.

No different to handing out envelopes of cash to garner support. Australia has juiced home buyer grants at the federal and state levels, which is effectively the public sector promoting and maintaining prices in a property bubble. National are simply copying what Australia ramped up during the GFC.

Also, allowing people to draw down on their superannuation defeats the whole objective of incentivizing people to save for their retirement in the first pace.

The situation is becoming farcical.

As of July 2018 Aussie FHB can withdraw up to $30,000 AUD from their compulsory super to buy their first home... More potential house price inflation?

The Australian govt has shown they will do everything possible. They will throw the kitchen sink if necessary. Even though they don't explicitly say as such, they're terrified of house prices crashing.

Which side of your bread is being buttered - the big guns are being wheeled out
NZ Registered $100 company donates $150,000 to National
Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co Limited
Lin LANG, director
Qing MENG, director
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96652568/millionaires-fight-to...

The Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Co?
What other 'entities' are desperately sending emergency money to National?

I'm truly shocked that toxic hagaman gold digger is a rabid National supporter. Who would have thought.?

Toxic ? and here was gullible old me believing she had been central to building and operating a string of hotels, many in remote areas unpopular with other hotel developers, that have generated significant export dollars to the NZ economy and created employment for local people and young Kiwis. Maybe we have a different understanding of what the word toxic means.

It is quite evident that far too many of the rich are only worried about themselves.

Yep, ugly self interest. It's what makes capitalism the most successful system and builds the strongest communities the world has ever seen.

The weird thing about capitalism is that it generates 'haves' and 'have nots'. Under democracy, the ruling party will attempt to create as many 'haves' as possible, because people want to prosper. But for people to be 'haves' in a democracy running under capitalism it naturally needs more 'have nots' to make the 'haves' prosper (for example more tenants for landlords). Eventually the 'have nots' realise they are being screwed by the party supporting the 'haves' and rise up against status quo. This will cause instability in markets and swings from right to left in the democracy. Then the cycle restarts and repeats under the new ruling conditions...

I just don't see how long term democracy and capitalism will work without continued volatility in sentiment and markets...The 'have nots' that the capitalist system creates have equal voting rights as the 'haves' so why would they ever vote for a party that supports the 'haves'? It's like having two opposites resist against one another....and that only creates friction and a lot of wasted energy/effort...

Thanks for a good analysis. The answer to why people vote for the haves is natural optimism. Surveys have found that when you ask people are you in the top 1% of wealth about 20% say yes. And asked do you earn above average way more than 50% say yes. While home ownership stay above 50% we are likely to see the Nationals generally doing well (even if they lose this election) . When it drops below about 50% they will need to worry.

This is why I find it interesting that now that capital gains have disappeared from housing markets, that Nationals support appears to be dropping as well - surely Kiwis aren't that shallow? "National are making me rich - I'll keep voting for them" "National aren't making me any more rich, and now my kids are getting screwed, better vote for Labour now".

Is that how shallow we are?

I went to a school that required all boys to wear shorts until the end of year 11. Only years 12 & 13 wore trousers. Twice I saw a remit put forward to allow all boys to wear trousers. It was defeated both times by year 11 boys effectively saying we're not allowing the other years to get trousers earlier that we did. They were prepared to ride out the year and get their reward. Some people do vote on the optimism that they will rise.

As an aside it will be interesting to see how many labour voters stay the course if they see their inheritance taxed. It's one thing to say you want to pay more tax and another to see a swag of your inheritance going into the communal pot.

Just get a good accountant.

Very good point. Democracy is great but change of government every 6 or 9 years may result in low efficiency and policies uncontinuity. If people vote for their value or thoughts it's great but some people vote just for change, I don't know why.

I think its because capitalism creates this competitive tension in a society - where the 'winners' go around with a I win - You lose mentality. They vote for the party that is going to support them and provide conditions where they can 'win' by beating others and creating the 'have nots' who then eventually realise they're getting shafted and that life 'sucks', so they vote the party out of power - and those that who have been winning start crying blue murder like the world is going to end, but really its just democracy doing its thing by leveling the playing field - but capitalism isn't about a level playing field - so there is this never ending imbalance by coupling the two together. It creates a bunch stress and worry and people wonder why we have all of these mental health issues - its because we have a nuts way of living life. It's all about pretending to be nice and caring when in reality you're a raging capitalist trying to beat other people to 'have more'....(by no means do I support communism but I don't think we've quite got it right yet with out model - and our suicide stats probably support that fact..trying to be nice while at the same time as 'beating' people to get ahead creates all sorts of cognitive dissonance).

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Many times on this site National supporters have been asked to list Nationals achievements over the last 9 years.

...... still waiting for something better than high house prices and the associated benefits to the building industries.

If you have 2 hours I could list their unachievements but you know what really pisses me - its their lying, non stop lying. Even when they know we know they will lie. They are truly world class in this regard and we are truly stupid.

Kiwis so dumb lah!

Ardern confirming Labour is to introduce an inheritance tax must have all you lefties a bit concerned. Likewise her refusal to rule out means testing NZ super. Going to unsettle middle NZ. Probably explains the sudden ratcheting up of attacks on Peters.

That is sobering, very sobering. Is there anything at all that Labour will not tax. Poll tax? But cannot call it that obviously, otherwise a Thatcherism. It's actually looking like Labour are on the brink of a tax feeding frenzy. Unfortunately they have the capability, will and potential to tax NZ to a standstill, all they need is opportunity and that may not be too far away.

Scaremongering

Ardern staked her reputation on establishing a Tax Working Group and not pre-empting it

Was she lying?

Your question is highly pertinent: we don't know what theTWG's decisions will be and won't preempt them ..... then a while later; but we will confiscate part of grannys house if she dies in a rest home. Attempt to deceive or confusion arising from inexperience .... or some other explanation. You decide.

Hardy-har-har

quote - "we will confiscate part of grannys house if she dies in a rest home"

Whaddya mean? - that's already happening under National's watch

Got anything else you care to chuck in?

I didn't realise the present government was applying a CGT or inheritance tax to granny's house, do enlighten me. If you are referring to the assets test for a rest home subsidy, that is a very different thing.

That's exactly what I'm talking about - if granny survives long enough they will take the lot but leave $200,000 - If an inheritance tax is ever introduced there will be a tax-free threshold of $1 million for starters - the moral of which is granny's residual $200,000 will be safe and if she falls off her perch before she has been reduced to $200k most of her worldly possessions will be safe unless she is a member of the asset-rich aristocracy

Most of granny's house is already being confiscated - what else would you call it?

You seem to know a lot, are you part of the hive?

This is going to be a field day for lawyers and accountants. If the grandparents own a $2,000,000 estate and granddad carks it first, his share of the estate is $1,000,000. His will says all to kids so no tax. Granny's share is $1,000,000 so no tax either. If it's a $3,000,000 house, then the grandparents enter an open marriage etc etc. National campaign on repealing this and get another 20 years.

Twootherguys. False equivalency. One is a means test for a benefit where family members have options to avoid asset value erosion, the other is an unavoidable, compulsory state expropriation of part of her house value. Presently administrators of grannies affairs can choose to rent her house to subsidise her rest home fees or/and pay a top up in anticipation of receiving an inheritance. Under Labours inheritance confiscation regime, the State will help itself to a slice of every persons accumulated wealth, with no regard for individual circumstances. Chalk and cheese.

Not lying anymore than any other politician, but lying by omission perhaps, going on, more likely. If you already know the answers you want, just stack the working party, group or whatever, with likeminded identities who will deliver it up on a plate. QED?

To quote a common Labour refrain, they've had nine tax payer funded years to do so, you don't think for just one moment that its in their interest to hide behind a TWG ?

Well Clark & Cullen hid behind Anderton. Hide & seek. But then, Muldoon was the supreme exponent of neutering & stacking the deck of "neutral" advisory & investigative entities. Cannot see why any government of any cloth would not avail themselves of the same tactics.

A new recruit - I thought the National Party scare campaign boiler-room was out for the count

Yep. Don't tell anyone but I'm really Todd Barclay and it's raining here in Balclutha so I'm bored.

Well if it is really you Todd and you want to be relevant could you tell us what was really going on between Glenys and the billshitter that warranted 450 texts - some at 2am in the morning.

Remember - after the 23rd any ace in the "hole" (I know thats a nasty word for you Nat guys now - sorry) you might hold over farmer will be worthless so you might as well get it off your chest now.

PS - any kind thoughts on SJs fall from grace - especially considering his kind words on you ? ("Barclay's statements yesterday didn't match up".)

There is nothing Steven Joyce as the Minister of Finance can do for National because he (like many others in this generational change election) has taken the sword to himself.

Steven has lost all credibility. The $11bn fiscal hole in Labour's fiscal plan that only Steven and Bill English believes exists was a desperate gamble to change the public conversation that did not work.

If Steven makes any further announcement that involves numbers, then they will be torn to shreds with the simple question of -"can we trust these numbers Steven or have you made another $11bn mistake?"

Given that the economy was meant to be a strength for National -Steven Joyce's self-inflicted loss of credibility is a massive own goal against National.

My prediction for the election is a close score with Steven Joyce's own goal being decisive in the end result.

Bill had to back Joyce with the short time to the election which show the man English is. Lied again

Given this massive loss of credibility and if Labour does win the election as I am predicting, then there will be massive changes to National's top bench.

Key-already gone (I don't believe we will see him in the next 2 weeks -he knows he is history)
English -two time failure -must go
Joyce -campaign manager -couldn't cope with generational change election. Finance Minister -loss of accounting credibility -must go
Smith -housing crisis and dirty rivers are his millstones -must go

Others will possibly avoid the shocks -depending on how fleet of foot they. Bennet? Brownlee? Coleman?

Probably Collins, Bridges, Adams and certainly Nicky Kaye have the best survival chances but the earthquake erupting through National is going to be brutal and there are many more shocks to come.

I have never voted anything but Natiional. I can't stand Collins. I'd like to see National take David Seymour into their ranks. His debates have been solid. He seems to have grown into his role and he's the right age. Nikki Kaye as deputy. Anyone over 45 needs to be pensioned off. This is a new generation driven by different motivators.

They are all too young. Now the reading habit has been lost we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. We need politicians who have long experience and can remember immense famines in India and Africa, the Chinese revolutionary guard, high rates of inflation, etc.

Get with the times Lapun! It's now fake it until you make it.

More seriously, I agree with you to a certain point, except I don't like the long tenures some of the older politicians have.

What worries me most is that the younger politicians haven't seen hard financial times like the early 90s. I suspect we are on the brink of something, which I think would happen no matter who's in power but Labour will be less equiped to deal with it. Last week, I told contractors we felt their prices were too high and we would re think our commitment. Tomorrow I will tell them that the work won't go ahead. Cash is king and I won't spend a dollar if I'm not sure about the future. Instead I've been researching gold purchases. A nice fungible asset.

I certainly wish our politicians were students of religious history and economic history rather than politics. I also have nightmares where I go to buy something, open my wallet, proffer banknotes and the seller says "what is that? why would I want some bits of paper?".

Brendon. Time will tell. Labour is now locked in to no increase in operating costs for some key expense categories for 18/19 and 19/20, which is the acknowledged gap Joyce identified but unwisely labelled a hole. Robertson has backed himself into a corner with some serious credibility questions when these shortfalls materialise.

Polls are indicating the persistent media drive to keep Joyce's mislabelling a live issue (contrasted with their 'Cindy says let's move on so we will' stance on Hipkins probable complicity in attempting to unseat a democratically elected government), may not be as injurious as you believe. If concern was as widespread as you suggest, the trend would have been more pronounced.

Meanwhile Ardern has been revealed as talking out of both sides of her mouth - from one side insisting no decisions have been made on tax but from the other admitting that yes they have - eg the latest acknowledgment that inheritance tax in the form of a CGT will be appplied to granny's house unless her children live there. Middle NZ will be starting to have some serious questions about what Labours secret agenda on tax really is.

Personally if I was in a National MPs position I'd love to stay on. If Labour proceeds with the plans they're hinting at, within 1-2 years Labour will be fun to mess with in the debating chamber - hopefully for NZ's sake, Labour will likely back off alot of their stated plans (at least the degree of them), but then that just changes who's going to be on their backs, instead it will the public including disappointed Labour/NZ First/Green party supporters. That could mean every chance of being a one-term Govt, the first in a while - On the basis that they do moderate, because no one wants a deteriorating economic performance and a rise in unemployment, its going to be great fun to watch because clearly they're going to get the chance to cock up in one direction or the other IMHO

So that's a prediction for a Labour win in 2 weeks time?

Yes absolutely Brendon I'm expecting that - we're in an age of personality politics and if you're high profile and populist then you're the most likely to get elected. Problem is, if you don't have much substance in the team behind you, it is fleeting (Trump now lowest ever recorded history, Emmanuel Macron ratings show one of the biggest falls in French history). We're fortunate NZ's last one did have the team, but ultimately, as the US for instance are finding out, it pays to consider substance

I don't see the team for this one, so suspect that this is the last NZ election for a while so dominated by personality

Fake News
Here he goes again with this inheritance tax thing
Where do you get that from or are you doing FAKE news too
Can you produce any authorities to substantiate it

Get used to it. Slippery cinders is going to spend the next two weeks fending off tax questions. It's like a political game of battleships. What she confirms limits the working groups options and what she won't confirm leave her open to attacks.

Curiously, National has pulled its most consequential policy back out of sight. If National is returned to government, it will (as Bill English has previously mentioned) most certainly look to change the law to progress the Ruataniwha dam and its other ten or so major irrigation projects. National's irrigation schemes remain absolutely central to its economic vision. Every other hurriedly announced social policy is mere cover for this now unspoken intention, for the investment it and its puppet-masters have in progressing this environmentally calamitous strategy.. If there is one reason not to return the party to power, I suggest this is it.

Are you referring to the same irrigation schemes that will drive a significant change in land use to cereal crops and horticulture, bring immense prosperity to local communities and , as is already happening in Canterbury, cause a rapid retirement of underground acquifier water abstraction and replenishing of waterways?

No he is talking about $100's millions of subsidies and National Party placemen being directed at getting more dairy land-use. In Canterbury dairy cow numbers have doubled in the last ten years. There has been no change towards cropping and horticulture in Canterbury.
National have not protected sensitive aquifers from water soluble pollution such as nitrogen -which at very high levels can cause 'blue baby' syndrome.
I have provided mental health counseling to rural Canterbury communities -there is a sharp divide between those directly benefiting -although they are stuck in a very stressful increasing volume business model -and those in the community who used to benefit from being able catch fish locally, take their dogs for walks by waterways etc. It is not clear to me that rural communities are benefiting from the largess that National pours at them.

Canterbury has reached peak cow population. It is almost impossible to achieve a new dairy conversion consent due to leachate rules. For it to be economic, new irrigation scheme water will have to be used for lower nitrate discharge cropping and horticulture, presently a $1bn generator and set to boom off the back of these schemes. Irrigation contributes $2bn pa to GDP - pays for lots of schools and hip joint replacements.

I agree National was too slow out of the blocks to begin restoring water but Ecan rules, modelling and monitoring are now stringent. As you will be aware from the work you do, there are immense efforts going in to turn the tide.

Ardern's glib sound bites about the tax on farmers being applied to riparian planting are so yesterdays story as you will know from travelling Canterbury, where farmers have already carried out much of this work. Restoring the water will take decades; the notion that taxing farmers and giving the money to councils to spend will magically accelerate the revolution in effluent and animal discharge control that is already underway and shorten these time frames, is fanciful.

From the Horses Mouth

quote - "National was too slow out of the blocks to begin restoring water but Ecan rules, modelling and monitoring are now stringent. As you will be aware from the work you do, there are immense efforts going in to turn the tide"

Immense efforts huh? You call this immense?

In the first debate Bill when asked what he had done about the rivers he bloviated that he had been monitoring the rivers diligently and measuring the pollution levels, and that's all they had done - Stuff's fact-checker the next day revealed that national had amended its pollution benchmark of measuring e-coli from 260 ppm to 540 ppm - mission accomplished

For almost a year I traveled around North Canterbury on a daily basis. What I saw was a lot of fenced off waterways but not very much riparian planting. I saw a lot of upgrades to irrigation canals. I saw a lot of farms that 10-20 years ago were mainly sheep but are now dairy. I saw no evidence of irrigation allowing a switch to cropping. The Hurnunui Water Project -another big irrigation scheme (35,000 hectares) is in it pre-feasibility/construction stage.
http://www.hurunuiwater.co.nz/

So talk of the immense effort to turn the tide seems to be premature.

What it will guarantee from my observation of dairy farmers in particular, an industry I know very well, is that in protest many will stop their quite extensive farm environmental programs that they already have underway, and welcome someone else to do it for them - the danger is of course, and it will happen, is the fact that it won't happen to the extent they're currently doing it themselves.

What big Govt supporters always fail to see is that things getting done best is inevitably always done by the private sector, and poorly or not at all by Govts. Of course the big Govt supporters are the first to complain and blame it upon a poor Govt and call for a change, and when when they inevitably get one, repeat the cycle again and again depending upon who's in charge.

What noble lies you disseminate Grant. If you know the NZ dairy industry well, you will know that the dairy hand is firmly inside the 'big government' glove. On the issue of irrigation it has been 'big government' subsidies which have pushed through the biggest schemes and where needed it was 'big government' which removed community opposition. Most infamously in Canterbury where it was 'big government' which removed the democratically elected Ecan so that 'big government' could replace the councillors with their pro-irrigation place men.

Of course even in your non-existent 'free market' world where 'big government' doesn't exist, polluters would have an obligation to pay for their pollution -not the community. Farmers doing the right thing of minimising the off-farm adverse effects by land-use changes or by undertaking mitigation activities such as fencing off waterways and riparian planting are not doing a favour to others -they are just fulfilling their basic obligations to society.

Farmers who think they can farm without a social license need to seriously reconsider that approach.

.... bring immense overnight, no strings attached nudge, nudge wink wink fill your boots, CGT forget about it, capital gain to their farmer mates who will whinge like FXXK about very little water taxes as taxpayer money allows them to turn shite marginal land into highly profitable dairy and cropping land with the associated "necessary evil" damage to rivers while they save the world by flooding it with more milk.

Just good hearted folk actually.

Reality check - When the rivers run dry - fact

Over the period 2013-2015 I drove between Christchurch and Dunedin a dozen times and couldn't help but notice that all the rivers were mere trickles - don't know what they were like north of Christchurch but odds were they weren't running much better - so where are all these irrigation schemes going to get their water from - unless it is to dam the rivers upstream and dry the tails off completely and alter the eco-systems altogether - perhaps someone could confirm or deny

Over 90% of water in Canterbury rivers flows unused to the sea. New schemes collect and store peak flood and melt water until needed. Yes, you are correct that smaller Canterbury streams were disgracefully neglected by over abstraction over the last three decades but one of the key benefits of the new schemes and rapid retirement of underground bores because of the schemes, is the recharging of aquifers and these streams.

Streams? - looked more like gravel beds to me

That's the problem - all very well coming up with these fancy schemes and gifting $450 million in slush funds to the farmers - but where are the real hard facts on what the altered states of these rivers will be

Show me the evaluation studies
I want to know what the conditions will be down-stream of the dams

The only dams in Canterbury are Opuha and a small one at Coleridge for electricity generation. The farm irrigation schemes take surplus water diverted from three large Canty rivers. Various dams have been proposed in north Canterbury over time, none of any size have proceeded. It's a myth that extensive tracts of land are going to be flooded for these schemes.

Bill English is throwing around more election bribes for first home buyers and a subsidy to developers. I'm assuming Steven Joyce ran the numbers and money magically appeared due to his inability to understand basic mathematics. National is desperate and they're throwing money around without anyone questioning them.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96687322/national-to-double-ho...

A dollar short and a day (9 years) too late. National are doing everything they can to stay in power and continue the housing Ponzi. Its all their economic plan consists of apart from dirtying some more rivers.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1192...

"Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said every Kiwi should be able to buy their own house if they want to."

Encouraging FHBs at today's prices reminds me of that great American George Bush in 2003 " every American having the right and a chance to own a home" - this brought on the GFC.

https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/12/200312...

If you are thinking of becoming a FHB at current prices- don't. Run away

dictator - Labour's lists totals a lesser amount, or labour's spending is consider by you to be purer and they would never bride ? Please clarify

"...they would never bride ? Please clarify"

I wish Nick Smith had never brided. We can do without his genetics.

That's a low blow. There are those of us who find some lefty politicians lack of progeny fortunate but we wouldn't voice that.

Repeated your comment back to you "Bill English is throwing around more election bribes for first home buyers" - it made Labour, who promise tally is considerably higher, sound saint like

up
12

There is no way that you will see the pony tail puller back in NZ before the election - he is keeping well away, sold his house for $20m to an offshore Chinese collected his knight hood and now off playing golf. He knew his number was up and he ain't gonna want to be seen anywhere near Bill English.
It is quite incredible the number of former National voters who have switched to Labour - it is possible that we will see a Labour landslide win.
Whatever the outcome it will be bye bye Billy - the thought of Paula Bennett, Judith Crusher Collins or Steven Joyce as leader of the Nats - yuck!
National should have made Nicky Kaye deputy but too late now.

Sir John Key revealed he would eventually trade his stately Parnell mansion... real estate industry source said (it) was sold to a buyer in China last month.

Would you stick your head above the parapets you were Sir John?!

In my opinion Labour are advancing and National declining because of the word that nobody will speak: "Immigration".
National would still be in the lead if they had said was something like "Although we really like immigrants and what they have brought to NZ we admit to having accepted rather too many recently and intend cutting numbers mainly by a serious attack on the number of rorts inherent in our current system. We know some parties will accuse us of racism but when experts like prof Paul Spoonley say the numbers are too high, and when respected academic Dr Christina Stringer is reporting serious exploitation we must admit our past mistake and do something. We will be tightening the numbers coming for permanent residency and doing everything we can to ensure every immigrant is a benefit to New Zealand. Those who complain they need immigrants for construction, farming, cooking and health-care will be reminded that they underestimate the abilities and potential of of young Kiwis."
Maybe too late now.

Part of the problem is the true number of immigrants is a lot less than the stated number as many are kiwis coming back home. National May lose this electionbecause of immigration and bill English. As a supporter of national It astonishes me that this is the best person they have, the fact he is devoutly religious shows to me he is ideologically a retard and fantasist,

John Key can be blamed for lack of succession planning and jumping ship

Their best successor was Stephen Joyce and he has just committed hari-kari ritual suicide

Best thing Joyce could do now is throw himself on his own dildo.

Pen is mightier than the sword

LOL, still a few weeks before polls close.

KeyWest: True. The only reliable figures are for permanent residency ~ 52,052 in 2015 and 47,684 in 2016. I'm surprised National hasn't used these numbers to show they are doing something.

Many Kiwis returning but still more leaving than returning - net deficit.

I'm as atheist as you can get but I rather admire Bill English with his religious beliefs - but I cannot vote for a party based purely on my impression of his/her personality of the leader.

I was once a militant atheist but now consider that stance to be embarrassingly immature. We should acknowledge our Christian heritage and honestly describe ourselves as secular Christians. Atheism is no longer edgy and is actually declining worldwide even in the West. China will soon be the world's largest Christian nation.

Yes, am a supporter of Christian values but not supernatural thinking, as it will take supernatural forces to enable Bill to win this election

Strong atheism doesn't have to be militant. I do agree with you about heritage - my beliefs in right and wrong are all tied in with protestant Christianity.

Militant Atheist, eh? :) I envisage a battle with you guys on one side and the militant wing of the Salvation Army on the other side, led by the formiddable Frau Farbissina.

As a related aside, I'd like to see the King James Bible taught in our English literature classes, as there's a whole world of literary and cultural allusion in our culture you won't be aware of without it.

"Part of the problem is the true number of immigrants is a lot less than the stated number as many are kiwis coming back home."
Anyone who believes this lie from National is either gullible or stupid.
I work in an industry associated with immigration and we know this is just National propaganda

I read a comment on a Stuff article this morning where a person called the new Labour leader Jacinda Trump. Every cloud has a silver lining after all.

The biblical story of zachariah
According to the Gospel of Luke, during the reign of king Herod, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the course of Abia, whose wife Elizabeth was also of the priestly family of Aaron. ... After returning to his house in "Hebron, in the hill country of Judah", his wife Elizabeth conceived.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zechariah_(priest)

Why are the other National heavy weights like The Crusher not out there campaigning on a national level ? The portraying of the choice solely as between Jacinda and Bill is bound to hurt Bill more, because of his baggage. May be National should rethink their campaign strategy, dump Joyce and get others to show their faces ?

After Steves " maths was never my strongest pt - that why they made me Finance Minister" efforts they can see what happens when they try and defend the indefensible.

Better to keep the head down and fight another day (term)

Most of National's current bench are liabilities. Smith, Collins, Brownlee, Joyce, and Bennett will only hasten the downfall.

Interestingly Labour seem to be in the same boat. It is all Jacinda, the rest of the loonies are being locked away until after the election.

There's a reasonably obvious answer to that question. Crusher and Bennett are reviled by certain sectors of the population. IMO both would be unacceptable as fronts people for the Nats. Nikki Kaye would be a better choice; but I have a feeling that no one in the National ranks wants to get too close to Bill English!

Does anybody know if Winston's 25 year residence qualification is intended to also remove those qualified under the existing 10 year rule to be disqualified until they reach 25 years?
I suppose we would end up giving them the unemployment benefit anyway but here's hoping.

That's code for saying if you are 40 years of age or older don't bother coming or bringing your elderly parents with you

Too little too late Jacinda - Sir JK has already sold his mansion for $20M to a Chinese!
A Labour-led government would ban foreign purchases of New Zealand property, says Ardern
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1192...

Finally, a specific policy stopping foreign buyers of NZ property.
This will attract a lot of voters surely, (& interest.co commenters!)
"A Labour-led Government would ban foreign purchases of New Zealand property "by Christmas", leader Jacinda Ardern told her supporters at a rally in Wellington this afternoon."
Labour is becoming the new NZ First - or is it NZ Labour First, or Labour - NZ First.
It may be more complicated stopping the complex buying arrangements that foreigners buy NZ property through - e.g. using recent NZ PRs etc.

John Key the rat deserting HMS National before it sinks.....

lol, God save the Queen .... and NZ !!
the property market will skyrocket after this promise come October !! ( if she can pull it off without being told off by the chinese DTAs) ... interesting times coming !!

Is that what you mean EcoBird? Lessons from Australia on Capital Gains Tax
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1192...

Humbuggery

That Herald article suffers from the usual flaw - it pre-supposes that CGT was expected to impact house prices - the problem with that expectation is CGT does not apply to the family home - never has and never will - so why peddle the myth that CGT in Australia hasn't worked in controlling residential house prices - I do despair at the inflammatory nonsense that passes for journalism

You've been suckered

Yes, a very interesting read , isn't it?

But you see, this where Labour disappoints anyone with 10gm of grey matter !! the horse has already bolted and the money is already here or parked somewhere safe outside china, the ban is on foreign buyer who are not permanent residents!! .. a very easy condition to get around !! these people work on |TRUST| .... and buying will be banned for existing houses ..lol i.e. new dwellings is Ok ...i.e. still competing with everyone else including FHBs on new built ... which makes it an empty and useless policy really ...
So this is just a comic stance from Labour dished out in a TU pointing finger style sort of passionate speech to fool the illiterates and those who dont know much about the market and foreign cultures ....

Something tells me that the market could go crazy between now and Dec this year, every single foreign buyer will snitch every available 4-6 bdrm mansion ( designed for chinese) and any good appartments for their kids at whatever price before Xmas because of this !! -- you might see some big action in your area DGZ ...

So, God save the Queen ,--- and NZ !!

I dealt a lot with Asian businessmen in my Expat days. They have a very effective network of trust amongst their wider family. If there is a third cousin twice removed with existing PR they won't have a worry in the world circumventing this. Albeit if they haven't been able to get money out of China for some time, it's of no import.

They call that 'Benami' holdings in Asian countries, mainly India. Rampant way to hide unaccounted money (also called black money)...NZ on the way to importing great financial shenanigans, if not already done here ?

With my profile,I should be a natural National voter;a retired small businessman with most of my income coming from dividends and rental income. But I won't be voting National. In my view,democracy requires that no government should be in power indefinitely,so I would be inclined to vote them out anyway. More specifically,they have failed on housing,immigration and the environment.
If labour form the next government,then they will do some good things and some dumb things and in 3 years time,we can move the chairs around again.I have never believed that any one political party has all the answers,so I am and always have been,a floating voter.

good troll

It's not about policies, it's about personalities. Labour hasn't changed many of its policies since its resurrection, it's just that people like Ardern a Little better