Epsom and Ohariu

April 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

looks set to throw ACT a fresh lifeline in and do a deal with Peter Dunne in despite polls suggesting it could govern alone after November 26.

Prime Minister John Key has given his clearest indication yet that National will tacitly endorse ACT leader Rodney Hide in Epsom to save ACT from certain electoral death as it struggles to rate much above 1 per cent in most polls.

He signalled a similar strategy in Ohariu, which Mr Dunne has comfortably held on to under his UnitedFuture party banner since 1996, though his majority has been slowly whittled down to just over 1200 from more than 20,000 in 1999.

“The primary emphasis [in Epsom] will almost certainly be a party vote campaign,” Mr Key said.

Asked where else that might be the case he said “maybe Ohariu”.

What John Key has said, is no surprise. National was always going to stand candidates in  those two seats, but it was never going to actively run a campaign against Ministers who serve in their Government.

One should no more expect this to happen, than you would expect Labour to have tried to kill off Jim Anderton in Wigram, when he was a Minister in a Labour-led Government.

Regardless of whether National actively targets the electorate vote, many National party voters will give the National candidate their electorate vote. Tends to be around 80% nationally. This will also be the case in Epsom and Ohariu, unless onr or both of the following hold true:

  1. There is a candidate with huge cross-party support, such as Peters used to have in Tauranga, Harry Dunhhoven had in New Plymouth, Peter Dunne has in Ohariu etc
  2. It is tactically sensible to vote for another candidate to help your party – as happened in Wellington Central in 1996 and Epsom in 2005

National voters are smart, and also quite independent. They will decide for themselves what to do, regardless of whether the party is explicitly asking for electiorate votes or not. Epsom in 2005 is one example – letters went out to voters signed by the President asking them to vote for the National candidate. The voters said “No, we want ACT to remain in Parliament” and voted for Rodney.

What will happen in 2011? Well the two seats are quite different. Take Ohariu first. Peter Dunne, Katrina Shanks and Charkles Chauvel all polled quite close to each other last election and any of them could win the seat. If the National vote splits between Dunne and Shanks. CHauvel may come through the middle. If a poll shows this as probable, then you might get tactical voting – where eitehr Dunne voters vote Shanks to keep Chauvel out, or Shanks voters vote Dunne to keep Chauvel out. Whomever registers in third place in a public poll in that seat will run a risk of having their vote be tactically siphoned off. What Chauvel will want is the race to be so close that Shanks and Dunne almost tie, and he comes through the middle.

In Epsom, it will be a different sort of tactical decision. The seat is massively National and there is really no chance of Labour winning the seat. So why might National voters vote Hide? Because it may help National to do so. But my long stated position is that Epsom voters will only decide what to do in the final weeks. Any polls prior to that will mean little.

Around two or three weeks out, Epsom voters will ask themselves two questions.

  1. Can National form a centre-right Government without ACT? If National is at 57% the answer is yes, if National is at 47% the answer could be unclear, and if National is at 45% the answer is probably no. Remember that a National-Maori Party combination is not a CR Government. If Epsom voters see National as likely to need the Maori Party to govern, this will provide an incentive to give National an alternative in the guise of ACT.
  2. If the answer to (1) is no or “unclear” then the second question is will electing Rodney in Epsom make a difference. If ACT look like they can get five MPs again the answer is yes. If they are polling at below 1% the answer is probably no. If they are polling in the 1% to 3% range it is more complicated – especially as ACT usually does better on election night than the polls show.

The one thing the two seats have in common is that the public polls could have a significant impact on the outcome. Polls well before the election less so, but polls in the last few weeks could be considerably influential – far more so that what the party hierarchy want

Of course you want to be very careful that a poll has asked the right question. Peter McCaffery at AOC has a useful blog post on this issue, reminding people of the 2005 TVNZ poll which showed Worth beating Hide. That poll, as Peter explains, was asking the wrong question.

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69 Responses to “Epsom and Ohariu”

  1. tvb (4,497 comments) says:

    Richard Worth has one useful role in politics and that is one could easily NOT vote for him. Of course in both seats National should give the candidate a winnable list seat and let that be known. Act needs to get rid of Hide – who is just dreadful. Perhaps the only way of doing that is for the voters of Epsom to vote him out providing National can form a centre-right Government without Act.

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    National seemed to have stopped being a “centre-right” party some time ago.

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  3. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    With regards Ohariu, I think many National supporters punished Dunne in 2008 because he had been part of the Clark Government. His pre-election declaration of support for Key was only just enough to save his bacon. I would guess his stirling service in the Key Government should assuage a good bit of that unhappiness. Also, I think Chauvel would need a miracle to win given the way Labour is polling – his share of the vote will just not be enough even if there is a tie between Dunne and Shanks. Thirdly, I suspect that the soft Labour voters who are defecting in droves to National right now will find it easier to vote for Dunne than cross all the way over and vote for a Nat. So my bet is that Dunne wins handily.

    With regards Epsom, there are reports from polls (which others may have a more solid line on) that most National voters in Epsom are saying “never again” to Hide. They don’t want a clown as their MP, and will vote for the National candidate even if National doesn’t want them to. Now the interesting question is whether the alternate right force (? Reform NZ) will jump in and try and cut Hide’s throat with their own candidate, or will wait until Act is dead. Provided they DO have a credible candidate (eg John Banks), I’m guessing they won’t wait. Then things get really interesting…

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  4. dime (10,095 comments) says:

    Ill be one happy Dime if Dunne loses his seat. He’s the only person who’s income never changes, regardless of which party is in power. Hes just a scumbag.

    His hair is ridiculous too

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  5. alex Masterley (1,523 comments) says:

    s.russell,
    that is what I am hearing as well.

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  6. big bruv (14,135 comments) says:

    I gave my party vote to ACT at the last election, I did so based on Sir Roger being on the ACT party list.

    This time around I will not be voting ACT unless the party rolls Hide before the election, I cannot stand the man, he is a hypocrite and a serial trougher.

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  7. cabbage (457 comments) says:

    @Dime: His hair is reason enough to want him gone.

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  8. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    So why might National voters vote Hide? Because it may help National to do so.

    But will it? All ACT has provided to National is a series of embarassments and political difficulties – Rodney’s rorting, Roger’s rorting, Rodney’s cover-up of David Garrett’s criminal past, Rodney’s bullying of Heather Roy, and a centre-left majority on the Auckland Council.

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  9. cabbage (457 comments) says:

    So why might National voters vote Hide? Because it may help National to do so

    While it might, i still think its highly undemocratic for a party that is polling near 1% to tread the halls of power, especially on the back of a twat like Hide.

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  10. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Ohariu will be an interesting election battle. I wonder what damage the Katrina Shanks parody videos have done to her reputation. I’d never heard of her before but now all I know of her is she’s a bit dim. I don’t know how Peter Dunne survives, what does he do that’s so amazing?

    As for Epsom, ACT is toast without Rodney. Up to Epsom to decide if they want the ACT party or not…

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  11. Inventory2 (10,407 comments) says:

    @ toad – at least Rodney Hide has a mandate from his electorate. None of the current Green caucus has that luxury, or that mandate.

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  12. georgebolwing (978 comments) says:

    Ohariu would be easily won by National if they put up a stellar candidate. Stephen Franks or Hekia Parata would romp in over Peter Dunne. That they continue to stand Katrina Shanks is such a strong signal that they want Dunne to win.

    A true liberal committed to the founding principles of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers would probably do very well in Epsom, as the electors of that area probably want a party committed to private enterprise, private property and liberty. Unfortunately, ACT has somehow morphed into a kiwi version of the tea party movement: rabidly and unthinkingly anti-government, pro-environment degradation (Rodney channelling Sarah Palin with her “drill baby drill” approach is just scary) and generally a bunch of conservative wreckers and haters. So I expect National to win that seat.

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  13. davegee (6 comments) says:

    The two things the majority of the mainstream media always forget/choose to ignore every single MMP election when proclaiming their predictions is 1. ACT has always done better on election day than in any polls leading up to it, and 2. The Green also do worse on election day than in any polls leading up to it. The question for ACT is whether Epsom voters will be persuaded by the opinions of the msm – they weren’t in 2005 or 2008.

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  14. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    I agree with cabbage on this one, why should a party hardly even featuring in the polls get an MP just because National or Labour or the outer mongolian freedom front decide that it is in their best interests not give the voters a real choice?

    If ACT is history..so be it!

    Let the Epsom voters decide properly with candidates that really want to win, and that offer up true “DEMOCRATIC” options.

    God MMP gives me the screaming shits! Its no more or less than giving the fingers to the electorate, bring back FPP, at least we knew who the shitbags were, and their agenda, we could even vote for them, happy days then.

    Give me strength..1/2 the bloody parliament are losers & tossers and we did not have a chance to evaluate them, did we..no no no they are there because their “parties” liked the cut of their jib, or they are just plain good old sycophants.

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  15. Pete George (23,681 comments) says:

    None of the current Green caucus has that luxury, or that mandate.

    No Green individuals have that mandate, but they have a party mandate. People who party vote for the Greens know exactly what they are voting for with no list versus electorate confusion.

    Act have been similar, the party vote was a top-up from the list to Hide’s electoral seat, as bruv said more than a few of those votes would have been to get Douglas in on the list.

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  16. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    bring back FPP, at least we knew who the shitbags were, and their agenda, we could even vote for them, happy days then.

    Except that we didn’t. Perhaps you have forgotten Muldoon, the National PM who gave us the most socialist administration NZ has ever seen. Or Lange-Douglas, the Labour duo who promised hope and jobs and niceness and gave us Rogernomics. Or Sunny Jim who promised an end to Rogernomics and gave us Ruth Richardson.

    These things may have been good or bad, but were not what people voted for.

    You may also have forgotten that FPP can put a party in power even if the vast majority want it out. National won in 93 with just 35% of the vote despite 60% of the vote going to parties which campaigned against it.

    At least with MMP we get exactly the Parliament the voters choose. This is called “democracy”.

    That said, I agree with lofty about a party with 1% of the vote getting list seats. I support abolishing the electorate seat let-out clause for the 5% threshold, ie NO LIST SEATS unless you get 5%. Period.

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  17. Viking2 (11,557 comments) says:

    # big bruv (8,936) Says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I gave my party vote to ACT at the last election, I did so based on Sir Roger being on the ACT party list.

    This time around I will not be voting ACT unless the party rolls Hide before the election, I cannot stand the man, he is a hypocrite and a serial trougher.

    hypocrite
    As far as I can see your behavoir is no better. Can you expalin in clear precise detail which of all the alternative parties , i.e. Labour. National. Greens, NZ first, Maori and so on that have not been even more guilty and more complicit in helping themselves legally or otherwise to taxpayer funds.
    At least Hide was within the rules and had a one off mistake to which he owned up to and refunded. Unlike many of your new found friends.

    You really don’t apply much thinking to these things. BB

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  18. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Fair enough s.russell, I take your points, and while FPP may well not be the “best” system, it is well ahead of MMP, due to the individual voting system that applies.
    STV would be the only other system that may give some semblance of transparency to voters, and accountability to MP’s (maybe)

    Either way MMP is a shit system devised by career politicians who’s only agenda is themselves, or their particular barrow e.g. “gay” rights etc.

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  19. Inventory2 (10,407 comments) says:

    Pete George said

    No Green individuals have that mandate, but they have a party mandate. People who party vote for the Greens know exactly what they are voting for with no list versus electorate confusion.

    They didn’t just before the 2008 election Pete; when Russel Norman leapfrogged Cath Delahunty and Mike Ward after Nandoor resigned. Where was the sanctity of the Greens’ list then, and where were their principles? That was nothing more and nothing less than an excuse to parachute their co-leader into Parliament so that he could campaign up and down the country at the taxpayer’s expense. So much for the Greens being the party of principle; they are troughers just like the rest of ‘em!

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  20. Viking2 (11,557 comments) says:

    s. russel; you are exactly right about FPP. Would be worse today than back then. At least MMP allows other voices to be heard.
    It may not be an excellent system but then who has one?
    Our biggest issue in Govt. is the power of the party and the power vested in the Whips by the parties. Whipping should be restricted to very few matters. That would allow the power of the excutive to be constrained and the real clowns that BB enjoys like Findlayson and Clark and those types to be put right in their place by the voters representatives. (which incidentally MP’s are supposed to be.)
    Too many Laws are driven by executive power without considering the thoughts of the electorate. e.g. smacking, ETS,EFA,youth rates and so on.
    These Mp’s and the executive are not running their own company but a country and its not actually their feifdom despite the fact that they hav grandiose idea’s about that.

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  21. RRM (10,001 comments) says:

    So Mister Perkbuster and the Margin-of-Error Party will live to dance another day.

    Oh how it must hurt the Rodent, knowing that even after Owen Glenn the people still wanted Winston more than the perkbuster ( :-D ).

    (Hey there’s a thought, they should make a pop group. Rodney Hide and the Margin of Errors. It couldn’t do any worse than all of their previous miserable attempts to get people to understand their vision for the country.)

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  22. RRM (10,001 comments) says:

    And why do they even bother courting Peter Dunne’s “We Agree with Whatever They Said” Party? Surely his support is something the larger party can just take for granted? :-)

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  23. Courage Wolf (557 comments) says:

    s.russell (810) Says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 10:24 am

    With regards Epsom, there are reports from polls (which others may have a more solid line on) that most National voters in Epsom are saying “never again” to Hide. They don’t want a clown as their MP, and will vote for the National candidate even if National doesn’t want them to. Now the interesting question is whether the alternate right force (? Reform NZ) will jump in and try and cut Hide’s throat with their own candidate, or will wait until Act is dead. Provided they DO have a credible candidate (eg John Banks), I’m guessing they won’t wait. Then things get really interesting…

    Hey, why not throw Mitt Romney in there too, that’s not a ludicrous suggestion either. Reform NZ seems to be pretty deluded about the size of its own penis.

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  24. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,914 comments) says:

    Think outside the square, folks.

    Consider what might happen if ACT puts up John Bascowan in Tamaki and National puts the quiet ‘party vote only’ word out in that electorate.

    Suddenly, Epsom and Rodney Hide lose considerable significance.

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  25. redeye (630 comments) says:

    A one off mistake?

    Comedy gold.

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  26. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Is that what is going to happen Adolf?

    We could consider any number of things, like, oh I don’t know ummm a straight election process.

    Given the poll results this week, Hide & Epsom have already lost considerable significance, except that the voters of Epsom will not be given a straight shot yet again.

    ACT is rooted, and should be allowed to stand or fall on their own merits.

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  27. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Epsom voters do not want Rodney Hide why insult them by saying they should accept him. I’m guessing they won’t vote for him regardless- Key is just making himself look stupid by supporting him.

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  28. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    Wow I’m glad all you guys know what us Epsom voters think.

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  29. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    I don’t know what you Epsom voters think KiwiGreg, but I do know that the process of election is less than honest, and that you as an Epsom voter are not getting a straight candidate choice.
    PS I don’t care how or who you vote for, none of my business, but the process is crook mate, isnt it?

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  30. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    labrator asks:

    I don’t know how Peter Dunne survives, what does he do that’s so amazing?

    Simple. Just before an election he emerges like a Groundhog to see which way the electoral shadow is falling. Then he hikes up his skirts and bats his eyelashes at the party in the lead, regardless of their policies. Hell he could wake up tomorrow and find Pol Pot was winning and he’d busy himself dutifully plowing the fields so as to give his new leader an easy job burying the corpses.

    Then he spends the term doing nothing, backing every single policy of the government of the day regardless of how odious, and otherwise make himself an indispensable lackey of whoever’s in power.

    Then close to the election he sniffs the air again…

    I had great fun in 1996 – when I insisted on standing not in my home electorate of Hutt South but in Ohariu for just this reason – going to joint candidates meetings and reading quotes from Dunne, when Labour were in power, about Jim Bolger being a dimwitted hick not fit to run a cowshed, then waving a photo of Dunne sat beside Bolger at the Cabinet table exuding a post-coital glow, then reading what he’d said about Labour while sitting at Bolger’s right hand.

    In short, he is the most malleable and “co-operative” human being since Mistress Cutie [definitely NSFW].

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  31. Courage Wolf (557 comments) says:

    lofty (828) Says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t know what you Epsom voters think KiwiGreg, but I do know that the process of election is less than honest, and that you as an Epsom voter are not getting a straight candidate choice.

    Haha, what an innocent view of politics you have lofty. Deals are never made, compromises are never struck. Every MP makes it through honest hardwork, and not cunningness, backstabbing, nepotism, financial support, creating factions, etc. I suppose you believe that the hottest girl in school is going to wait until marriage before she has sex as well.

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  32. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Yes of course courage wolf, is that a problem? ;-)

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  33. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    Nah courage wolf I am not that innocent, and I most certainly understand how it all works, It is just that I don’t like to see it flouted so openly.

    There is a better way.

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  34. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    s.russell suggests:

    At least with MMP we get exactly the Parliament the voters choose. This is called “democracy”.

    You’re partially right. MMP gives us exactly the proportionality of parties in Parliament that voters choose. As such it’s a vast improvement on MMP.

    It does not, however, gives us the Parliament we choose because – and here’s where lofty’s right – we don’t actually vote for around half of them.

    Despite what the MMP supporters say, no one “votes for the list” in a General Election. It’s called a party vote for a reason: your vote determines the portion of seats held by the party for whom you vote. That it implements this by dragging into Parliament a circus troupe of otherwise unelectable clowns is merely the mechanism used by MMP to achieve that proportionality.

    If, for instance, Act voters at the last election didn’t like the way David Garrett suddenly appeared at number 5 on the list their only options were:
    1. Suck it up and vote for Act anyway, or
    2. deny themselves the choice they wanted to make and either support an opposing party or not cast a party vote
    they could not, in any way “vote for the list”. As such MMP is, as lofty says, undemocratic – just in a different, and arguably “better” way than FPP.

    But there are even better alternatives which offer voters the chance for a say on each cadidate as well as maintaining proportionality (STV being the most obvious one), so one has to ask why we’re not using them.

    The level of compliance of list MPs with the commands of the party elites, compared to MPs who know they have the backing of an electorate and – provided they represent them well – can get back in anyway provides, I suggest, the answer.

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  35. trout (944 comments) says:

    As an Epsom voter I am once again bemused by those who would predict my decision; much of it speculation based on prejudice. Rodney is our MP; we voted him in. As such he has more legitimacy than a List member. We do think he has passed his use-by date – his fall from grace is irreversible. His election prospects may have been mortally wounded by the Maori Statutory Board fiasco – yes, he could have stopped it. But in the end I will vote for him because to leave the Nats stranded like a flapping fish with only the Maori Party to go to bed with is an unacceptable outcome. We Epsom voters are pragmatic if nothing else; if Rodney is the means to a desirable end them so be it.

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  36. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    “PS I don’t care how or who you vote for, none of my business, but the process is crook mate, isnt it?”

    /shrug. It’s the system the people voted for. Not me, but democracy is always the tyranny of the minority.

    And I’d have to agree with trout, well said.

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  37. BlairM (2,364 comments) says:

    A true liberal committed to the founding principles of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers would probably do very well in Epsom, as the electors of that area probably want a party committed to private enterprise, private property and liberty. Unfortunately, ACT has somehow morphed into a kiwi version of the tea party movement: rabidly and unthinkingly anti-government, pro-environment degradation (Rodney channelling Sarah Palin with her “drill baby drill” approach is just scary) and generally a bunch of conservative wreckers and haters.

    Are you serious? The difference is a matter of angels on pinheads. If you want private enterprise, private property and liberty, that means less government, lower taxes and the ability to exploit the natural resources of the property you own. You can’t have one without the other. What on earth would possess you to think that the Tea Party are “conservative haters and wreckers” when they want the exact same things that you seem to want? There is no daylight between you and them, so I have to conclude that your views amount to simple snobbery.

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  38. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    Rex has hit the nail on the head with his assessment of Peter Dunn’s chameleonlike election tactics. Rodney Hide’s fate is really dependent on National’s party list polling in the weeks leading up to the election – if it looks like National can govern by itself, then the voters of Epson will be less likely to throw Rodney a lifeline.

    As much as I detest MMP, it is on balance fairer than FPP and the worst excesses of MMP could be curbed under STV thus banishing the tyranny of the party list. The worst excesses of FPP could be curbed by a US style primary election system thus ensuring each electorate elected an MP with a plurality of the vote.

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  39. Chuck Bird (4,923 comments) says:

    “curbed by a US style primary election system thus ensuring each electorate elected an MP with a plurality of the vote”

    Please elaborate

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  40. Manolo (14,031 comments) says:

    Rodney Hide will be known as ACT’s gravedigger. The “leader” who sold his soul to National for the baubles of power.

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  41. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    I get sick of the dickheads saying, “don’t vote for Peter Dunne because, “oh mi God”, his hair is terrible”. I live in the electorate, and can’t understand why people take offense. From what I gather the worst that people could say about Peter is that he could be a bit of a bellwether sheep, ie knowing which way to take the fence. Is that such a bad thing? It would be interesting to see a list of bills he has babysat or ferried through Parliament. He would seem to be a productive minister. UF has parted way with the rigid fundamentalists of 2002, and looks to be hooking up with the rec crowd again.

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  42. V (745 comments) says:

    If Don Brash and Stephen Franks joined ACT, I wonder what would happen to their ratings?

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  43. Gwilly (158 comments) says:

    Epsom voters will vote Hide back in because (not in any particular order):

    1. ACT is the only centre-right party in NZ;
    2. They want more of ACT’s policies implemented;
    3. They want to ensure National wins the election;
    4. They detest Labour, Greens & Maori.

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  44. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Monique Watson asks:

    I live in the electorate, and can’t understand why people take offense.

    Perhaps the reason is best summarised in the old adage about the man who stands for nothing falling for anything. The purpose of MMP (or one of them, anyway) was to bring into Parliament a diversity of views. Now if those views happen to be that every single thing Labour did in its last term was right, fair enough. But you cannot then, with any conscience, enbrace a Ministry in a National government which – for all its other faults – is markedly different to that of the last administration.

    Not without finding something to challenge (other than Dunne’s perennial purse-lipped condemnation of how “naughty” every MP but him is, of course). It’s simply not possible.

    I’d rather a rogue with whom I disagree, like David Garrett, than a cypher like Dunne. At least with Garrett no one has to ask me “but why do you dislike him so” because he stands for something, and isn’t afraid to say what that is.

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  45. reversespin (70 comments) says:

    Monique – you and me, both.

    Labrator – you wrote “I don’t know how Peter Dunne survives, what does he do that’s so amazing?”

    Well, his electorate loves him, so he must be doing something right. He is known to attend the “opening of an envelope” in Ohariu. That is, every prizegiving, every fundraiser, every opening, every community board meeting, every christmas party etc. That probably gets him a bit of support, but also keeps his ear to the ground and on top of local issues.

    Yeah, he has been part of the Government, left and right, for a long time. Is that so bad? He is by all accounts a competent and dilligent Minister (tax cuts under Labour and National, at the IRD) and he gets stuff done on behalf of his supporters. Lots of legislation, lots or representation.

    There is nothing more useless and ineffective than a minor party on the opposition benches. You gotta be at the table.

    NZ needs and deserves a centrist party, to moderate the zealots, that IS NOT WinstonFirst.

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  46. big bruv (14,135 comments) says:

    Rex

    Usually when people are asked why they take an instant dislike to Dunne the answer is…

    “it saves so much time”

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  47. mavxp (491 comments) says:

    Dunne is perfect for Ohariu. Why?

    Transmission Gully

    If Dunne is part of the government whichever flavour (blueberry or raspberry), then there is greater chance of getting Transmission Gully through to completion. Roading projects of this magnitude can be scuttled at any period from announcement to construction. Until that final piece of asphalt is laid and the road marking is dry, Ohariu will vote Dunne.

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  48. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    Chuckbird
    The US system employs a ‘broad church’ approach to political parties with almost all those on the left congregating under the Democrat umbrella and similarly the right under the Republican brand. Each race, whether at city, county, state, governorships, the House and Senate operates on the basis that the winner of the race wins a plurality (50% + 1) of the vote (the President of course must win each state in similar fashion to commandeer that state’s Electoral College votes). Each state has different ballot rules – some allow 3rd party candidates in the General but the US has a history of 3rd party candidates (on the left – the Greens and on the right – Libertarian) polling usually less than 2%. This does mean that in states that allow 3rd parties to contest General elections that the victorious candidate will usually win with slightly under 50% of the popular vote.

    Many states require that only 2 candidates face off and so run off elections are held to determine the 2 top polling candidates who can face off in the General. There are curious twists such as Hawaii where in special elections (by-election equivalent) there is no primary and so multiple candidtates for a major party can and do stand (in July last year it resulted in the unusual election of the GOP candidate in what is normally a strongly Democrat district due to multiple Democrat candidates – in the General in 2010 he was defeated as he faced only one Democrat opponent).

    Primary elections are overwhelmingly the norm and it is where the internal ideological fight within each party goes on (GOP: moderate vs say Tea Party and Democrat: centrist vs progressive) and the outcome of the primary is determined by the demographic leanings of the district.

    The US system tends to force people into a the big party tent to make their case internally whereas MMP allows separate Parliamentary representation for various diverse sections of the ideological spectrum. Proportionality under MMP means pure voter sentiment is directly reflected in seats in the House of Representatives but with all the disadvantages of coalition compromises and the minor party tail wagging the dog (Winston Peters on more than 1 occasion).

    Because caucus discipline (particularly in the Senate) is nowhere near as strict as in the NZ Parliament, coalitions are built each time around key legislative efforts with all kinds of cross party voting that makes voting outcomes (especially in the Senate) less certain to predict.

    I favour STV – it combines the proportionality of MMP without the domination (and corruption to some extent) of the caucus by the party because of the propensity for the party heirarchy to order the list and thus manipulate the makeup of Parliament. I think were FPP to be voted back in that some kind of modified primary system would give more direct power of candidate selection to the voters.

    Sorry – bit of a long winded answer to a simple question.

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  49. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    LOL @ BB.

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  50. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    Peter Dunne is the worst kind of political prostitute, I wish he would stop sucking up far more taxpayer dollars than he could possibly earn in the private sector (though that goes for most MP’s) and just go away.

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  51. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Labrator..re Dunne
    He is extraordinarily hard working..that is he helps anyone and everyone who seeks his help. In Ohariu , people know if they go to him with a problem on Friday or Saturday , it will be solved by Tuesday or Wednesday. I had this experience years ago..He got a ridiculous bureaucratic decision overturned in no time at all.
    I recall that his majority was greatly reduced last time.

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  52. giggleatthegaggle (10 comments) says:

    I think that labour definitely see Ohariu as winnable. Kurt Sharpe from Rainbow Labour fired the first shots last week, and I see that CC got his message across in Dom Post today. I think this seat will definitely swing – people are tired of lazy Dunne, he has taken this electorate for granted for too long.

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  53. Chris2 (769 comments) says:

    We all comment on Goff’s suitability to lead Labour, but because Hide keeps ACT in Parliament no one comments on his suitability, or a successor. ACT is even more bereft of a successor than Labour.

    In many respects ACT is no different from NZ First in that it’s electoral survival depends on one person.

    If Key gives Hide his blessing in Epsom then it simply must include conditions, such as only one Ministerial seat, instead of the current two, or Hide standing down as leader at some stage. Key needs to call Hide’s bluff.

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  54. Chuck Bird (4,923 comments) says:

    kiwi in america, thanks very much

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  55. V (745 comments) says:

    If Don Brash or Stephen Franks took charge of ACT, they wouldn’t have to worry about the 5% threshold. IMO.

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  56. Tauhei Notts (1,746 comments) says:

    Joana at 5.39 p.m.
    Dunne is absolutely hopeless.
    In 34 years in practice as a provincial chartered accountant I have only ever needed to write to the Minister of Inland Revenue on two occasions. Once in about 1983 when the stupid problem was sorted out so quickly that the local District Commissioner nearly tripped over his own feet, he was so anxious to shout for me, when he saw me in the bar at a sporting event. My letter had been very embarrassing for him.
    The other time was last December, when a problem that had become extremely time consuming, and was a result of mis-management by the Tax office. Correspondence on the matter commenced in August 2009. Dunne replied promptly and courteously. Absolutely fu****g nothing has happened since. It has been played around by IRD officials in Dunedin, New Plymouth and Hamilton.
    It was all about the intricate nature of the paperwork involved with the Foreign Investor Tax Credit. Apparently I did not complete a form correctly. But, nobody can tell me which form I should have completed. I get shoved from pillar to post and it is still going on. All the taxes have been paid; it is merely trying to get it into the Tax Dept system.
    Dunne might be a “Caring Understanding Nineties Type” but I think the acronym for that is a better adjective when describing the man.

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  57. giggleatthegaggle (10 comments) says:

    I think that this is last roll of the dice for Charles [labour] in Ohariu – he knows that Andrew Little won’t give him a high list ranking, but will promote unionists up the list within his party – so CC has nothing to lose. Interesting that he commented on the 3000 green votes that are up for grabs [Dom Post this am] in the Ohariu seat – perhaps the Greens will also do a deal on this seat?

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  58. Blue Coast (165 comments) says:

    I read some of these comments with a great amount of FFS. Dunne has been around since Adam and apart from attending every opening of an envelope he has achieved nothing.

    He held the balance of power when he went with Clark first time. Did he made Transmission Gully the price. Hell no he just wanted the baubles. He only got that when National got the cheque book and he had nothing to do with Joyce’s decision.

    He moves left or right just to get the Ministers baubles and everyone thinks he is a sensible MP. FFS he only goes where the pay check is and fuck everyone else.

    Do the good people of Ohariu want some one who sell his soul

    No way will I want Dunne any where near the baubles of power.

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  59. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Tauhei Notts:

    An experienced accountant with a realistic view of IRD and a willingness to speak your mind… I might have a job for you, if you’re interested: RexWiderstrom (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  60. reid (16,632 comments) says:

    He [Dunn] got a ridiculous bureaucratic decision overturned in no time at all.

    Yes joanna I imagine there’s certainly a lot of saluting and “three bags full, sa” that goes on in your average govt dept whenever a politician gets involved.

    I don’t doubt there are times when this is good and that your decision was indeed a worthy candidate to be overturned, I just would probably find it amusing, being from a corporate background, were I actually to be there to witness all this saluting going in, inside the Wgtn office blocks.

    Not really healthy, for the taxpayer either, the degree to which all this saluting may or may happen. Healthy for the politicians though, I imagine they love it. We don’t run the town, we run the country. Hoo ra.

    Fact is tho, if you’re a politician, it can’t be too hard to write a letter who refers it that very day to the Ministerial Departmental Liaison officer who passes it on through about twenty layers till the manager tells the team leader of the person who “applied” the policy to reverse it right now, then pass it back up the chain. It used to take ages but email’s really great.

    It’s just too bad that doesn’t happen anyway to any of us but hey, we’re not politicians.

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  61. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Well by the sounds of it Peter Dunne is the perfect electorate MP, taking care of all the issues of the members of his electorate. That’d be why they keep voting him back in. It also sounds like he doesn’t have much of a reputation outside of Ohariu (which is why I asked the question) other than as a political chameleon which is why there seems to be such a love hate divide in the above comments. Very interesting, thanks for the feedback. A 1200 majority isn’t much though but I’d take him over Katrina Shanks unless she proves to be a lot smarter than she has shown recently.

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  62. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    DPF “National party voters are smart”

    God smuggest comment I have ever read, alongside being just plain bullshit.

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  63. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    Further this blog has been one of the main proponents again the abuse Anderston took (not to mention Labour never explicity said what Key has effectively done).

    Politicians should leave tactical voting to the population and not get involved in it.

    Especially as one of the two parties concerned are a poisioness little vermin. Act under Hide is one of the main propenents of less democracy encouraging the abuse of urgency over the last couple of years.

    Taking a break from blogs except Dimpost. This crap makes me feel ill, especially as there is no actual opposition to vote for against it.

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  64. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Rodney Hide shold stadn in Epsom – that’s democracy in action. If the electorate hand him his ass on a plate, that will be justice in action.

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  65. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Tauhei (or whoever coined it) ‘Caring Understanding Nineties Type’ LOL.

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  66. Dave Mann (1,249 comments) says:

    A well written and obviousy well researched article…. but unfortunately the whole thing was rendered into platitudinous mush by the inclusion of the phrase ‘National voters are smart’. Quite obviously the people who vote National are not smart , otherwise we wouldn’t now be experiencing this degree of economic decline, racist separatist empowerment and hopeless indebtedness, would we?

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  67. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Guys..I was only trying to explain how Dunne has stayed in parliament for so long. People from outside his electorate can hold all sorts of opinions but they are not the ones voting for him.
    And as for caring people , I think we need a whole lot more of them as events in the past six months in CHCH have proven.
    Going on to a completely different topic..did any of you see Sam Johnson being interviewed? There is huge international interest in his volunteer student army..he is helping people in Japan and at several American Unis..His group is still linked with the Farmy Army and Volunteer Canterbury which is itself a very organized organization..I think their building may have been damaged FEB 22. There is growing interest world wide in Mass Volunteering preparedness in the event of natural disasters.
    Go Sam..what one young person can do..amazing.

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  68. KevinH (1,236 comments) says:

    Dunne is relatively safe in Ohariu, the people know him well and regard him as their M.P.. Dunne has cleverly avoided being dragged into petty party politics and has got on with the job, enjoying support from incumbent governments. His survivor ability is his greatest asset that will see him through the next election.Don’t expect Chauvell to be a problem because Labour’s vote is collapsing around the country and in a conservative electorate outsiders won’t get a look in.
    Hide however is in a different situation. There is dissatisfaction with ACT in Epsom in that the electorate does not feel represented and that all indications to one side Epsom want a National M.P. representing them in parliament.
    Patronage aside Hide is going to struggle.

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  69. georgebolwing (978 comments) says:

    BlairM:

    Yesterday you asked;

    “Are you serious? The difference is a matter of angels on pinheads. If you want private enterprise, private property and liberty, that means less government, lower taxes and the ability to exploit the natural resources of the property you own. You can’t have one without the other. What on earth would possess you to think that the Tea Party are “conservative haters and wreckers” when they want the exact same things that you seem to want? There is no daylight between you and them, so I have to conclude that your views amount to simple snobbery.”

    While the Tea Party is clearly a lose coalition of people with many shades of political opinion, I see them, especially the prominent ones like Sarah Palin, as conservative, not liberal.

    To quote Sir William Harcourt, a prominent Liberal Party politician in the Victorian era, from a speech in 1872: “liberty does not consist in making others do what you think right”. On many important issues, that is exactly what the Tea Party does: propose making other people do what they think right, or make other not do what they think wrong.

    Looking at that great charter of freedom, the US Bill of Rights, many Tea Party members seem to take positions against those freedom: on religion, abortion, on crime and punishment, on gay rights they often seem to be saying that people who don’t think or act the way Tea Party members people think and act should not have the right to do so. That’s conservatism to me.

    On property, liberals do indeed strongly support the idea of freedom to use your property as you think best, but in doing so, you can’t interfere with anyone else’s rights to use their property. Thus, on oil pollution, a liberal position would be that the owners of the property in an oil well must act to protect the property rights of those with surrounding property. “Drill baby drill” seems to me to be infringing on the property rights of those owning and enjoying coastal land. This again is a conservative position: “I say drilling is good, so it is good”, not a liberal position: “If there are risks of damage to others, you must bare them”.

    On the Tea Party being “haters and wreckers”, it just seems to me that they are opposed to many things that other people hold dear, but don’t care about the views of others. They are a negative force, and takes little interest in the opinion of others. Again, classical conservative opinions: they want others to do what they think right.

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