Could NZ First decide to sit on the cross benches and give support issue-by-issue? Turning Right and Left has hurt Peters before; Alex Tarrant sifts through the clues

Could NZ First decide to sit on the cross benches and give support issue-by-issue? Turning Right and Left has hurt Peters before; Alex Tarrant sifts through the clues

By Alex Tarrant

As we all sit around trying to pick who Winston Peters might go with, we need to keep in mind the alternative that it could be neither National nor Labour. Or both National and Labour (and the Greens).

Sitting on the cross-benches and supporting policies issue-by-issue was included in Peters’ nine permutations for government formation he talked about last week. While it doesn’t seem like a central scenario currently (purely based on commentary, not inside knowledge), we certainly shouldn’t rule it out.

I went searching to see if there might be any clues Peters really was considering the option. That included looking back at what happened after the last two times he went into coalition – ie. at the following election.

And those experiences might make him pause for thought before going into any formal coalition arrangement this time around.

New Zealand First won 13.4% of the vote in 1996. After going into coalition with National, and having that falling out with Jenny Shipley, the party was only able to muster 4.3% in 1999, with Peters’ electorate seat keeping them in Parliament.

After 2005, a 5.7% reading was washed away to 4.1% in 2008 – the election which saw New Zealand First out of Parliament as Peters lost Tauranga. In both instances New Zealand First’s vote ended up below the 5% threshold after being in coalition.

There were, of course, other factors at play outside ‘just being in coalition’. That disagreement with Shipley and public falling out of the New Zealand First caucus wasn’t that helpful. Likewise, the Owen Glenn situation in 2008 didn’t help Peters’ chances much.

Needless to say, New Zealand First has form imploding while in coalition, leading to voters punishing it below the 5% threshold. (Perhaps a lower threshold could be the subject of coalition talks?). This should be in the back of Peters’ and his caucus’ minds.

They’ve tried going Right, they’ve tried going Left, and after each they’ve been left fighting for survival. So, why not try sitting squarely in the middle?

Another potential clue was a comment from Peters near the beginning of that 25-minute press conference with the Press Gallery on Wednesday. Talking about his caucus’ first meeting after the election, Peters said this: “We first of all, forswore that, as a group of MPs, to ensure that we didn’t put our own personal views, from the Leader, to the most newest member of caucus, above the interests of the party and above the interests of the country.”

After reverting to laying into media coverage again for a few breaths, Peters continued: “We know we’ve got a bigger responsibility, and we’re going to fulfil it whether you’re going to give us a fair go in that exercise or not.”

“What we’re going to do is, make a decision in the national interest, when we know what the people of this country have said and in what numbers, and when we know with precision what we’re dealing with. Because, in the end, it is the economy we’re talking about and the social consequences of that economy, and that is a huge responsibility.”

Could these be read as laying the groundwork for not accepting Ministerial pay packets and the baubles of office? Could this be a sign that New Zealand First might just sit in the middle and veto policies they believe are not in the interests of the country, while backing other policies as a way to securing deals to get some of its own legislation through?

Add to all this comments from Peters’ first press conference the morning after Saturday’s election.

“You ran a first past the post campaign in an MMP environment. And things suffer from that,” he said at one point, referring to the media. “You spend all your time sucking up to the two old parties…but they won’t have the cards that matter…this is an MMP environment, and the two old parties do not have the answers to this country’s future.”

He continued: “The media were obsessed with running a first past the post campaign, 21 years after MMP came in. And they’re still doing it. They’ve never actually adapted. Other countries have, and they [in NZ] still haven’t adapted.

“Right now, you’re asking me about how quick we’ll be to form the next government. In other countries, that takes three months, six months. Nobody finds that terribly different. But over here, the obsession with the first past the post environment knows no bounds.”

Just prior to this campaign, as he did before 2005 – another one claimed as an FPP-style election which saw NZ First squeezed by the strong incumbent and resurgent opposition party – Peters was telling anyone who listened that polls showing NZ First around 10% were wrong, and that the correct number was up between 15% to 20%.

This was before – in his estimation – the media (the foreign-owned media, that is) stopped paying attention to New Zealand First, instead choosing to play up a two-party race to secure better ratings at the expense of the minor parties who he believes would have received stronger representation on Saturday if the reporting had been fair.

So, what is the chance that Peters at some point during the next two weeks pulls out the claim that New Zealand First would have secured up to 20% of the vote if the media hadn’t turned all its attention to Jacinda Ardern, and hence Bill English, instead of allowing NZ First’s momentum to carry on?

What’s the chance that he claims this as his mandate to sit on the cross-benches and take one issue at a time – supporting some, and rejecting others - in the interests of this country, its economy and voters who were hoodwinked by the media into thinking we still had an FPP environment?

The public might not buy it. But I’d bet he’s trying to figure out how he’d sell it to them if he did think this was a viable option. History suggests NZ First’s vote might be weaker next time around if it enters a formal coalition with either side. So why not go down the untested road?

‘The only responsible way forward for the good of the country in the face of the two old parties thinking they know all the answers but without all the cards.’

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?

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

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


A minority government with NZF on cross-benches would force people to think about politics a lot. Issue-by-issue and bill-by-bill. I see that as a good thing but many Kiwis don't even like having to think about politics once every three years. So Winston might be punished even more severely for doing that to them.

And cross-bench wise, they have more policy in common with Lab/Green - so the machinery of government would likely be able to function more proactively/progressively in that regard.

One thing is for sure if he wanted to go with national would have done before the special votes are counted.

I still hold out hope that he will go with Labour/Greens and I didn't vote for any of them.

National will follow the Tories into oblivion. It started happening years ago when I was active, at a local level we went form hundreds of active members to 17, god knows what it's like now.


Exactly Andrewj. Politicians are irrelevant to the average voter, given they are powerless to reduce the number of hours worked for diminishing pay packet returns.

This chart shows that labor’s declining share of the national income is not a recent problem, but a 45-year trend: despite occasional counter-trend blips, labor (earnings from labor/ employment) has seen its share of the economy plummet regardless of the political or economic environment.

Given the gravity of the consequences of this trend, mainstream economists have been struggling to explain it, as a means of eventually reversing it.

The explanations include automation, globalization/offshoring, the high cost of housing, a decline of corporate competition (i.e. the dominance of cartels and quasi-monopolies), a failure of our educational complex to keep pace, stagnating gains in productivity, and so on.

Each of these dynamics may well exacerbate the trend, but they all dodge the dominant driver of wage stagnation and rise income-wealth inequality: our economy is optimized for financialization, not labor/earned income. Read more

one of the problems was the corresponding drop in donations. However I think that mantel was taken up by wealthy individuals, so we went from a broad based political party to something very different. In a way the party got taken over by special interest, well funded groups. One of which I believe was the Chinese community in AKL.

There were rumours that party meetings of Chinese interests in AKL could raise up to 250k in a night. I heard that that also went for the Labour party. I believed that some individual donations were up to 10k, also told that in China it was expected, and part of the way politics worked.

We should have much more openness regarding donations to political parties. I was not high enough in the party to confirm any of this. Also I am going back over a decade, but looks from the outside, very much a continuation.

So we desperately need state funding of political parties.

We slowly become taken over again by stealth and dependence. ie

'Milk powder exports were equally impressive in August. China imported 35,402 MT of whole milk powder
(WMP), 91% more than last year and second only to 2012 for August monthly volume. Not surprisingly, the
lion’s share of WMP, 95%, came from New Zealand. '
China imported 15,018 metric tons(MT) or 33.1 million pounds of butter and butter oil, up 102% from last year, and the highest monthly imports on record. New Zealand accounted for 85% of the volume, with European countries shipping most of the remaining product."

The problem with this 'conclusion' is that it does not actually relate to New Zealand. I have just downloaded the data from 1988 to 2017 for New Zealand, Household share of GDP, and that shows little change over the almost 30 years covered.

In 1988, the household share was 56.5%. In 1997 it was 57.5%. In 2007 it was 55.9% and in 2017 it is 56.5%. The New Zealand household share of GDP has been remarkable stable for a long time and it has not slipped away.

Assuming US or other country data applies to New Zealand is an all-too-common fallacy. Your zerohedge chart (and which may also well be a partisan twist), shows something quite different - and shows clearly why such presumptions don't inform discussions about New Zealand.

New Zealand households have held on to their share of GDP over a long period with no slippage. Polemics like The Spirit Level, Piketty, etc. don't seem to be relevant here. Which is why we see the New Zealand Gini (at .333) also very stable over long periods.

I am sure you can find anecdotes supporting a decline, and probably quite a few. But they are not the overall situation. And that could well be why the NZF leader lost his seat, and his party shed votes. Most people don't relate to that message.

Humans are wired to out-weight negative things by 3:1. Something negative seems three times more 'important' than something positive. Hence whiners sound louder. But in fact we should weight positive aspects of an argument just as strongly as negative aspects. Sadly we generally don't, but we should be on the lookout for the bias anyway. It is bias.

Productivity growth in New Zealand has been pretty lousy for many decades, really since around the end of World War Two. We’ve had the odd decent run, but over the decades we’ve had one of the lowest rates of productivity growth of any advanced country. We’ve slipped down the OECD league tables, and now part of the way we maintain reasonable living standards is by putting many more hours, over a lifetime, than the typical person in an advanced country.

Productivity isn’t mostly about how hard people work, but is much more about the ability of firms to find opportunities here that generate high incomes, and in particular high wages. Read more

The NZGS 10yr yield hardly discounts opportunity of any sort.other than a liquidity preference at the upper limit of the RBNZ's inflation target.

The decline is possibly coming from the number of hours needing to be worked to maintain that figure. You have also used the term "household". Between 1988 and now it would have gone from a situation where all or the bulk of a household income came from one income to where, now, we have both partners in a household having to work much more to remain in the same position. It was just about unheard of back then for families to have their young children in day care for all of the day, now it is just about the norm. I have been adult or all of this period and I can assure you, that I have watched how much harder people are having to work to remain in the same place.
The other thing that could be supporting that number is WFF. Data can almost tell you anything you want it to.


Yes, that dual income household trend which began with the changeover to neoliberal economics is clearly demonstrated in the data within Elizabeth Warren's lecture here;

The effect of that in New Zealand has been more and more growth of taxpayer subsidies for early childhood education. The Clark/Cullen government started it and National have significantly increased the number of hours paid for by the State... to the stage that it became integral to their push to get solo mothers back in to the workforce. I see this deliberate intent of government policy to effect the 'farming out' of child-rearing responsibilities to a third party morally objectionable.

I keep reading evidence that tells us that the first three years are the most important in a child's development - and I just can't understand how a child benefits from one-to-ten nurturing, vs one-to-one nurturing. Through what Bennett, Parata and others in the National party have said about early childhood education, they seem to be arguing that these institutions give children 'better starts' than their parents can give... and I just find that an oddly Orwellian position.

I could not agree with you more, Kate. Look at this way, one partner working, one partner at home rearing kids, one income taxed, get the other partner out to work, you have at the least, three incomes taxed, the two partners and the care giver income, not to mention GST from the extra expenditure the family has to make, such as transport. There are probably more incomes to tax from this, but these are the most obvious. That some of those taxes have to go back to support families must still be leaving the equation on the plus side, otherwise, surely it would change, somehow.
I would like to have seen Peter Dunne's proposal of income splitting for taxation purposes given more attention.


Humans are wired to out-weight negative things by 3:1. Something negative seems three times more 'important' than something positive. Hence whiners sound louder.

Yes, exactly why National's attack ads on tax and the 'dead cat' thrown on the table regarding Labour's budget had so much impact.

I agree therein lie the problem, but surely a government somewhere can somehow influence that disturbing trend. At least Labour recognised that problem and put forward a set of policies to address it;

After nine years of National, working people’s share of the economy is falling. Less than 40 per cent of economic growth under National has gone into working people’s wages. If working people’s slice of the economy hadn’t shrunk under National, workers’ pay packets would have been $23 billion larger.

lol, Jesus Kate, the election is over .!! .. Sounds like you have already started campaigning for Labour 2020 ... talk about dead cats on the table !!

Get some manners, Eco Bird;

But Kate I don’t understand the point you’re making, or are you in conspiracy theory mode; the Govt wants more tax, so wants everyone to work, and as a tactic of that they subsidise child care. Perhaps, just perhaps, modern life (for good or bad - some woman do like to work and so do men) has increasingly demanded, for economic and/or social reasons, that there are an increasing number of two income families resulting in the Govt subsidising that to increasing levels to assist its citizens?

No, not conspiracy theory - you need to watch the Elizabeth Warren lecture - full of facts/statistics which demonstrate the very real erosion of the middle class, arising in particular from neoliberal governments/political movements and the associated economic prescriptions.

It's not that neoliberal governments strove to collect more tax (and hence wanted dual income families) - far, far from it. Nothing to do with taxes on labour - and rather everything to do with reducing the labour share of capital/GDP (as per the link provided by S. Hulme). And that is what it has achieved - the explosive growth in debt slaves/working poor, or as Elizabeth Warren calls it - the coming collapse of the middle class.

Hope you enjoy the video - that's really the place to start in order to get your head around it - and the similarities/parallels with NZ are plain to see.

Andrew - why, and what’s the comparison between the Tory’s and National Party that suggests that to you ?

well for a start the hollowing of the membership. However I have been out of National for a while now. None of my friends children seem to vote National, they could just be too embarrassed to admit it. Mine don't vote National yet all my family were members not long ago.

We all know that power has shifted away from the electors to the very rich, the privileged, the financiers, the globalists, the surveillance office and the military axis. And we all know that Governments and their allies don’t want to address any of this. They don’t want to demolish the Club: they want to gentrify it…..make the membership even more exclusive, and stifle any criticism of it.It's why all sides of politics in the USA despise Donald Trump. Not for his view, but for the fact that he threatens the status quo. Professional politicians, as exemplified by Winston Peters, are the really just the local personification of 'what we all know'.


Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn is gathering the support of the excluded.

Jeremy Corbyn's inspirational speech at this week's Labour Party conference, in which he pledged to develop "a new model of economic management to replace the failed dogmas of neo-liberalism," was arguably the best address by a Labour leader to the party faithful since Harold Wilson's in 1975. Read more

Bw - I wouldn’t say anything has “shifted”. It been that way for centuries, always has been and probably always will be - its just sometime its more obvious than other times but money will always influence.

Winston Peters is on a hiding-to-nothing regardless of the eventual decision he makes

Whatever happened this election, Winston Peters won't be there for the next, surely. He is no longer as ageless as he has appeared in the past. Once he is gone, NZ First will vaporize, it is Winnie, like it or not. In the next 3 years we need to see some other parties solidify so that we have real choice. I would be quite prepared to put a few spare ones on Gareth Morgan filling that hole, I hope he has the patience to persevere and has the humility to make sure whatever comes of TOP that it is not all about him.

That is just opinion.

The reality is that Winstons support base is 'waiting for god'. another 10 years and things will be very different regarding voter patterns.

If you look at where the young are trending then some of these minority parties will move mainstream, houses will need to be affordable and probably some kind of UBI.


There have been enough comments in these pages to indicate that Winston's intention to reduce mass immigration was a very important issue to a number of his voter support rather than just pensioners.

I frequent a few forums populated by the young and hip (I'm not really either, clearly). I'd certainly agree that there's growing sentiment against the twice-the-OECD-average rate of immigration that National has been running, primarily due to stagnant wages / opportunities, and soaring costs of living (incl. housing).

While the young don't seem opposed to immigration, I get the impression many are just starting to think "Geez, National. Take a breath, will you."

"According to the NZ electoral study and various other sources, New Zealand First actually has the second youngest core voter demographic of any political party. Only the Green Party boasts of having a greater appeal to young people.

Though the stereotype pushed by the media and others is of the average NZ First voter being an elderly white pensioner, a more realistic stereotype would be a young Maori who doesn't go to university.

While the Greens might rule on campus, young people who aren't on campus are more likely to vote for NZ First than for any other political party."

"New Zealand First actually has the second youngest core voter demographic of any political party. Only the Green Party boasts of having a greater appeal to young people." Very interesting.

That's a fascinating link, thanks. I never knew this:

"Norman Kirk was a devout Catholic who introduced the DPB as a means to discourage abortion."

Which if correct (and I have my doubts given there are no references cited to its claims and it is a blog/website of the right in politics), is interesting given abortion was still illegal during his time in Parliament and as PM - although many women over many years died as a result of 'back street' abortions here (and another large number adopted out their children). It was made legal in South Australia in 1969.

NZ legislation changing the law to much as it stands today (still part of the Crimes Act, but legal based on certain conditions) was only enacted in 1977.

What is interesting (if that was the initial policy rationale behind the DPB) is that it as a benefit wasn't repealed once abortions became pseudo-legal. Silly thing is, as the abortion law is written, you cannot use financial hardship/difficulty as a reason to seek an abortion. In other words, 'I can't afford to raise this child' doesn't qualify. That needs to change, I suspect.

A guy I've known for years is one of them, and he's not yet 40. He's a hunting/fishing/shooting outdoors type who wanted to join the Army but had too many medical issues, and has a PhD in Bioscience. He voted Labour/Greens in his first ever election in 1999, but later on he found that Auckland was the only place he could get a job in his chosen area. Several years of living and breathing the Auckland rat race have driven him to NZ First. He frequently complains that Indians & Chinese have 'ruined' Auckland, and likes Donald Trump simply for walking away from the TPPA (which I'm sceptical of for different reasons).

The media have been portraying their voter base as being weighted in favour of the retired/elderly - and that could well be the case given this age demographic lived through the changeover from welfare democracy to neoliberal democracy - and therefore their demographic most understand what has been lost in terms of NZ's social fabric.

This is a very interesting account from a reporter who attended NZ First's party conference as a (newly joined) party member;

And he points to the clear theme emerging is that they are the anti-neoliberalism party.

The reason he walked when Jenny Shipley came onboard. Not sacked - he walked

.. if memory serves , Winnie had negotiated a deal with Jim Bolger ... what he couldn't have foreseen was that Shipley would oust Bolgie when he was overseas ...

Not many journos bother to point that out ... they've too busy slagging off Winston with their preconceived opinions ...


TOP sent out a survey to its membership post-election which canvassed that very matter, i.e., was Gareth's persona and statements on the campaign trail detrimental to the party. And indeed it was him, rather than their policies, that was the start of the rot for me with this speech at Ratana;

TOP, in my opinion, should have been targeting votes from the well read right of the political spectrum - why they ever decided to go hard into Treaty/Maori politics, is still a total mystery to me. Constitutional matters cannot be resolved via evidence-based policy.

Based on FB page comments, in part they appeared to attract fringe lefty types. A long way from the Right wing. Gareth Morgan is a Policy wonk and forever linked to his anti cat crusade. I don’t see TOP ever getting into parliament as he doesn’t attract a strong enough core. He could do with practicing Te Reo as well if he wants to go back to Ratana. His effort on TV3 was woeful.

Bill English simply refused to speak even a single word of Maori when interviewed during Maori language week - even though he tried to claim he could "speak a reasonable bit";

Just one of many outright lies.

Bill English spoke some Maori at the Ahuwhenua Trophy night.

From a written speech I imagine - that's reading (or repeating what has been memorised) te Reo, not speaking it.

So because you 'imagine' it Kate, it has to be true. ;-)

Kate is far too intelligent to know that "it has to be true" which is why she only suggests a probability.

"Fringe lefty" - you are really incorrigible, Expat. TOP drew a largely 'technophiic', tertiary educated/professional vote within the political spectrum;

This is further underlined by the fact that there were moderately strong positive correlations between voting TOP in 2017 and having any university degree: 0.40 for having a Bachelor’s, 0.63 for having an Honours, 0.45 for having a Master’s and 0.58 for having a doctorate. These were all much more positive for TOP than for the Greens.

And yes, many of those folks had previously voted Green - which is hardly "fringe" or "loony" (another of your favourites) whatever they mean to you.

"Fringe lefty" is Green. "Loony" is Kate.

Incorrigible sounds like a good respawning moniker :)

I don’t recall using the word “loony”, but I do use “fringe” a lot to describe those on the more extreme parts of the spectrum. One of my siblings is a Green supporter. Zealot comes to mind when discussing anything about politics with them. They have a Masters but are unlikely to be a TOP voter.

My apologies, Expat - it must have been the bunny above that used the 'loony' label :-).

One thing is for sure, the reaction to the whole idea of controlling cats and ridding the country of feral ones certainly elicited a response and a half. I will bet no-one who defends cats being able to roam, at will, wherever they wish, would offer the same to dogs. Feral cats are as bad as all other feral predators.

National will throw anything and everything to get power OR it is correct many current prominent national minister will lose their importance so will be more desperate as their survival depends on power

National and Labour have long been the dance of the same old same old. One hopes that Jacinda Ardern may move labour more towards the needs of most New Zealanders, but regardless, voters still need to make much better use of MMP in future elections.

I don't really care who gets in, they're both pretty similar as far as I can tell.

Both basically centrist with a few left or right policies at the margins.

Voters around the globe generally want to have their cake and eat it, too. We demand generous benefits but don’t like the price tags that come with them.....six developed countries (the US, UK, The Netherlands, Japan, Australia, and Canada) and two emerging markets (China and India) found that by 2050 these countries will face a total savings shortfall of $400 trillion... the United Kingdom presently has a $4 trillion retirement savings shortfall, which is projected to rise 4% a year and reach $33 trillion by 2050. This in a country whose total GDP is $3 trillion. That means the shortfall is already bigger than the entire economy

It doesn't matter what the New Zealand situation is, on any metric, because WHEN they go, we go.....

This was before – in his estimation – the media (the foreign-owned media, that is) stopped paying attention to New Zealand First, instead choosing to play up a two-party race to secure better ratings at the expense of the minor parties who he believes would have received stronger representation on Saturday if the reporting had been fair.

Yes, but the notion of it being a two-party race originated with Bill English himself in very deliberately calling it a "drag race" - which the MSM went with - and the polls followed.

Personally, I think publication of polls ought to be banned by the Electoral Commission. They are stuffing up people from making choices based on ethics/values - and instead votes are cast largely based on how to best get rid of or retain the incumbent Government - which is an FPP-type electorate behaviour/thinking.

We should all go into the polling booth 'blind' in terms of "popular" support, or opinion polls. The final vote to my mind would then be far more proportionally representative based on the values we all have as enunciated in the policies of the various party choices.

"Personally, I think publication of polls ought to be banned by the Electoral Commission. " - you clearly have a problem with democracy do you ? Is it about not getting the results you want ?

No, I have a problem with 1000 (out of 2+ million) people being surveyed and their opinion being reported with margins of error (which are even less reliable for the minor parties) virtually hidden in the fine print, if even reported at all, that is.

They shape our electoral outcomes, rather than inform them.

What other forms of political expression would you outlaw ? It is obviously not OK to survey opinion in your book .. is it OK to express opinion that differs from your own ?

Polls as a form of political expression - I don't think so - simply a snapshot in time of voting preferences; which then get influenced by the last poll and so on and so forth until election day. They are political theatre created and run by the media as click bait and headline grabbers.

Policies are a form of political expression. Speeches are a form of political expression. Blogging is a form of political expression.

Polls are part and parcel of manufacturing consent;

Polls are part and parcel o democratic process ; no more a form of "manufacturing consent" than your blogging ( or Chomsky's incessant bleating that you repeat a like poorly trained parrot .. ) Don't like them - do not pay attention to them and /or explain to others why they should not - no one stops you ; if you find you are unable to - tough.

Why are they part and parcel of the democratic process? What benefit do they have? Do people need to get an idea about what 1000 people think in order to make an assessment about who to vote for? Very curious as to why you think them beneficial to the democratic process.

"Do people need to get an idea about what 1000 people think in order to make an assessment about who to vote for? " - leave it to the people to determine if they have that need . Again - if you fee you do not need the pools to decide who to vote for - ignore them , but do not tell me that I should not be able to see them .
One thing that would happen without the polls is proliferation of one-off spoiler parties set up to draw and waste votes.

Democracy is messy process by its very nature ; trying to put limits on it in accordance with one's views of "efficiency" or "fairness" quickly erodes and destroys it

The premise that people are somehow "stupid "and the information they have access to should be carefully selected " for their own good" is extremely presumptuous.

Drag Race == Wedge Politics

cant see any reason why 75% of all negotiation cant be completed before special votes are in. The stats people will know the probabilities of votes. This is all rubbish from peters, total rubbish.

Don't be so childish.

If Bill English manages to get back in, he'll probably be spilled. Not by his own caucus, but from abroad in the form of Donald Trump or Nigel Farage, as systemic social immobility mutates into populist discontent.

I can't see any great changes happening regardless of who is PM.

Why doesn't anybody listen to what he is saying. No body can decide anything sensibly until we have the final election results. These could shift the final result very significantly. Why does the media and commentators feel that they have the prerogative to second guess the voters. The National parties announcements and propaganda through various ex MPs is nothing but annoying and if I were Winston it would push me away from any relationship with them.

Media and so called experts trying so hard to influence WP

I cannot see National and NZ First coming to a compromise on immigration, an have been predicting a minority govt since the beginning of the election campaign.

.. I know there's some talk in the media that the current situation proves that MMP doesn't work , 'cos Winnie has all the cards to play ...

But ... as long as the Greens steadfastly refuse to play the game as it's designed , and to negotiate with the Gnats ... they're handing NZFirst the whip hand ...

... more the fool them for not activity using the system to push their agenda with whomsoever they find most expedient ... everyone else in politics does ..

The point is the Greens feel the chasm between National and them is so vast that they dont feel its of any advantage.

Just because everyone else does, doesnt really make its the right thing to do IMHO.

Maybe this is an opportune time to have the balance of power flexible , where each issue is robustly debated and fought .

It may be good for New Zealanders , and make our politics way more interesting

Lets try this

This seems to happen with US politics and they look like a mess with all the buying of votes, so maybe not.

I think it is time to try it. My question is can it be done legally? How thoroughly does a minority govt have to prove it has the confidence of the house to form a government? How big an issue does it have to be for the govt to be forced to make it a confidence and supply issue?
To work Labour and National would have to agree to a process , and some bottom lines,( the minimum to run govt) everything else would be up to vote.

"Perhaps a lower threshold could be the subject of coalition talks?"

I agree, I think WP would be sensible to get this dropped to 2~4% and I dont think the Green's would argue no either.