7 September 2014
13 days to go
National will be feeling very pleased that it has come through the cyclone of dirty politics largely undamaged, vindicating the PM’s position, that it was all of more interest to the media than the general public. It is now much less likely that Mr Dotcom will be able to alter the outcome of the election when he delivers his stage-managed “sensation” featuring live-streaming from a certain person holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The event is planed for five days out from the election, but there is a very real chance it could back-fire on the Internet-Mana Party – reinforcing the view that it is nothing more than a vindictive band of radicals with a hate complex against society in general and John Key in particular. If it does backfire, it is likely to draw more voters into supporting National.
This last week was, thankfully, one dominated by policy rather than politics. It seems the media finally realised that their obsession with the scandal was not hurting National, so their attention turned elsewhere, including onto tax policy.
The main focus of the election debate is now on tax policy in general, and Labour’s capital gains tax in particular. Every time National questions some of the detail – it delivers a body blow to Labour. David Cunliffe stumbled badly when he was asked to explain how the tax would affect a house owned by a family trust – and what happens when the title passes to an estate. The leader of the opposition is now refusing to talk specifics about their flagship policy, reverting to the (false) mantra that CGT is a tax on property speculators. That’s not a good look.
Labour’s CGT policy is short on detail and that’s a problem for them because detail on flagship policies really does matter. Detail is the difference between a tax achieving its objectives and being an absolute disaster.
It’s becoming evident that not only has Labour failed to properly outline the detail of its CGT policy, but it has also been hopelessly ambitious about what it expects to achieve. As a result, it could be a long 13 days for Labour as more focus goes into this policy and more questions are asked. But that’s what election campaigns should be all about – challenging policies and ideas.
Should Labour continue to fall in the polls, we believe the post-mortem will conclude that Labour’s CGT policy was a contributing factor in its demise – a message that would remove it from the political agenda for a very long time.
Te Ururoa Flavel, “Let me be clear here – we [the Maori Party] are not a raced based party. We are a kaupapa-based party that believes in cultural diversity.” So says the leader of a party whose MPs come solely from race based seats.
Peter Dunne when referring to the United Future Party, “We never set out to be spectacular” – and the reply from Colin Craig, “well you have certainly achieved that”.
Overhang may determine next government
Although National is gaining in the polls, it’s still not plain sailing. The “overhang” may take the number of seats in our next Parliament to between 122 and 124.
If the result is 122 seats, the majority to govern would be 62, not 61 seats. And if the overhang is four, the majority needed would be 63.
The overhang is likely to come from Peter Dunne winning Ohariu but United Future holding true to its promise of not wanting to be “spectacular” and not gaining any votes of significance; and from the Maori Party gaining either 2 or three seats but a party vote of under 1%.
Every seat will count.
Smoke signals of dissent
The absurdity of the Internet – Mana alliance was reinforced yet again this week with the announcement of their cannabis policy. Laila Harre and Hone Harawera say they both support decriminalising cannabis for medical purposes. That’s where their agreement appears to end.
Laila Harre in her usual manner of talking in riddles, said, “The Internet Party and the Mana Party have both developed policies around drug law reform.” She did not say that those policies were vastly different.
The internet Party wants marijuana decriminalised. The policy on its website includes, “Immediately decriminalise personal use of cannabis so that possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use will no longer carry a criminal penalty.”
That is unlikely to sit comfortably with Mana, which supports the legalisation of medical marijuana. But Mr Harawera does not support decriminalising cannabis for personal use, which is hardly surprising since he wants to “ban the importation, manufacture, and sale of tobacco and tobacco products in New Zealand. Cigarettes would instead be provided by pharmacies on prescription.” With that approach to tobacco, Mana is hardy likely to decriminalise cannabis.
Yet again, this reveals that this marriage of convenience between the Mana and Internet parties is likely to end shortly after the election.
If “likes” on Facebook are anything to go by the Greens and the Internet Party are way ahead of all others at mining social media. Here’s their “likes” score:
Internet Party 32,964
NZ First 1,693
United Future 434
ACT is not short of ideas but it’s struggling to get sufficient traction to reach the 1.25% it needs to gain a second MP. To date it has been overshadowed by the battle between NZ First and the Conservatives.
ACT has officially launched their campaign today. It remains to be seen whether it will be a circuit breaker. Something pretty major needs to happen within the next 13 days if ACT is to be anything more than a Peter Dunne type party – a party leader without a party.
Leader Jamie Whyte has stated that having only 1 MP could be the worst case scenario for ACT. It would certainly be a challenge for the Party and difficult to make it anything but a joey in National’s pouch.
Kapiti District Council shame
Readers may recall back in April we criticised the Kapiti Coast District Council for charging Diana and Peter Standen, aged 74 and 77 respectively, with the heinous crime of “modifying naturally occurring indigenous vegetation” (in other words cutting down their own trees on their own property). The maximum penalty for a conviction is two years’ imprisonment or a fine of $300,000.
The public criticism was such that the Council withdrew the charges and apologised. At the time we encouraged the Mayor and Councillors to take control and bring some common sense to the matter. We thought it was blindingly obvious that the problem was that officious staff had been allowed to run amuck, and that intervention from elected representatives was required to bring some common sense to the matter.
However, it seems and Mayor and councillors could not figure that out for themselves so they commissioned Wellington QC Richard Fowler to review the case, “to help understand what it could have done better”. That report cost ratepayers $15,000.
A press release put out by the Council Chief Executive Pat Dougherty says, “We have already used the recommendations from the report to draft new enforcement guidelines that will see a strict process followed before any decision is made to take a matter to court…the draft enforcement policy…will see a higher level of authority applied to making any decision to prosecute. This will include setting up a panel, including two group managers and, if deemed necessary, an external party, to review potential prosecutions.”
Missing from the review process is the Mayor and Councillors. Not only are they missing, they have been specifically excluded, and gagged from making any public comment about a prosecution.
The enforcement policy states that this “will ensure the Mayor, Councillors, Maori representatives and Community Board Members… are able to avoid being drawn into any media comment or improper contact with the individuals that could jeopardise the right to a fair trial.”
This is outrageous. We find it incredible that the Mayor and Councillors would allow their authority to be usurped in this manner and allow themselves to be gagged from making public comment – they after all, were elected to speak on behalf of the public. Who do the Mayor and Councillors think they are working for – the bureaucracy?
We think this is yet another example of a bureaucracy becoming more powerful than those who were elected to protect the public from it. [The draft policy was tabled at the Council meeting of 4 September.]
Cunliffe suffers from “sorry for being a man” comment
Audrey Young in the NZ Herald makes some interesting comments about the declining support for Labour by men.
“When David Cunliffe took over as leader in September last year, Labour was polling at 37.7 per cent and it was supported by 32.2 per cent of men. In December, male support was at 32.7 per cent, in March 27.1 per cent, in June 27.6 per cent, in July 23.9 per cent and in August 21.8 per cent. In last week’s poll it was 21.2 and now it has fallen to 18.4 per cent.”
On 4 July Mr Cunliffe said he was, “sorry for being a man.”
While Labour’s support has fallen generally, the decline is greater for men. Gender support for the major parties is interesting. Of National, Labour, Greens and NZ First, only National attracts more support from men than women (57% vs 43%). At the other end of the scale 67% of the Greens vote comes from women, Labour 61% and NZ First 55%.
Last week we asked: “Do you think there will be a National or Labour prime minister after the 2014 general election, or is the result too close to call?”
82% said National, 13% too close to call and only 5% for Labour.
Only just with NZ First and the Conservatives holding the balance of power. James
This is certainly not the time for a change in Government. If compared with the rest of the world our economy has performed exceptionally. Why change a winning horse? Do we really understand the policies and competence of the other parties? Brian
Despite all the dirty politics people will vote for stable government and that means a National led coalition. Jo
National in conjunction with NZ First. Paul
National’s policies make the most sense to intelligent people. I believe that most Kiwis are intelligent and will therefore vote National. Elsie
I believe that the Kiwis are not thick enough to elect the Labour twits and their communist friends to the treasury benches. Heaven help us if I am wrong. Derek
National but equally I hope the Conservative Party, NZ First and ACT also get enough votes to get in and are called upon by National to form the next Government. They are needed to rein National in and give more weight to what the people want. Helen
Please not a potpourri of inexperienced/incompetent Labour, Greens, Mana.com and NZ First. Wayne
The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t and goodness only knows what we would get from the rainbow coalition. Judith
In contrast to parties on the left, which plan to increase taxes, on Monday, National is expected to announce a programme of tax reductions.
Our poll this week asks: Do you expect National’s proposed tax cuts for low and middle income earners will be good for New Zealand?
To vote, please visit www.5pm.org.nz and look on the RH sidebar.
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Next week: True lies – the biggest lies of election 2014
Frank and Muriel Newman
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