Archive for November, 2011

The Nation 3 December 2011

November 30th, 2011 at 7:55 pm by Kokila Patel

Labour Party Leadership Special
We will have David Parker, David Cunliffe and David Shearer with Sean Plunket. They will each be interviewed individually and then join together for a debate on Labour’s future.
We will also have an interview with former British Labour Party front bencher and 1987 Labour campaign director and former University of Waikato Vice Chancellor, Bryan Gould, on his thoughts on the way ahead for Labour.
There may be additions to this lineup which we will advise if they happen!

The Sunday replay at 8 am now includes a special extended media panel

Broadcast on TV3 Saturday 10.30 am, and repeated on Sunday 8 am

The Auckland Central race

November 30th, 2011 at 5:19 pm by David Farrar

I have blogged very little this year on the Auckland Central race. The reason why is I’ve got a lot of time for both the candidates. I would have rather they weren’t both competing for the same seat.

It is no secret that Nikki is one of my very close friends. I’ve known her since she was 18, and she is one of the most determined, and caring, people I know.

I also got to know Jacinda before the 2008 election, and like her a lot. She’s obviously one of the more capable Labour MPs, and a good person.

There’s been a huge media interest in their contest. They’ve had to contend with weekly opposing columns in the Herald Online, dinners with the Metro editor, profiles for the Listener, endless days being accompanied by journalists, the normal series of debates and public meetings and regular mentions in the Sunday papers. Few MPs who are not Ministers have had to endure the scrutiny the pair of them have.

Under such pressure it would be pretty easy for the race to get personal, or worse. But it didn’t. While they were both fierce competitors, I’m not aware of any situations where they really slagged each other off, derided the good intentions of the other or made it personal. They debated policy and issues instead. Now this is not to say that it was all love and roses. They’re competing for the same seat, and have very different viewpoints on most issues. It was a tough sometimes bruising  race. I recall seeing Jacinda at Wellington Koru Club and asking her if she was going to manage any time off between then (it was before the campaign) and the election. Her response was that if Nikki takes a day off, then she’ll do the same. The end result being I think they both worked seven day weeks for several months.

Unless specials do something very very very unusual, Nikki has retained the seat. I’ll be very interested to see how the votes were split when we get final results. The Greens got a massive 22% of the party vote. In 2008 only one third of them voted for the Labour candidate, while this time I suspect around two thirds did.

On the night Jacinda went around to Nikki’s celebration to concede, and she got a huge round of applause from the Nats gathered there. I am a huge believer that candidates should concede in person to the winner, and equally that they should get a good reception from the winning team. I recall going with Mark Blumsky in 2005 to concede to Marian Hobbs.It’s not something you ever enjoy doing, but it is a good thing to do.

I understand Nikki is still waiting for Judith’s concession from 2008 🙂

2014 is three years away. There will be a census in 2013, and new boundaries drawn up for the 2014 election. Until the boundaries are done it is impossible to be certain about how they will affect the seat. However I have a fair amount of experience with boundaries, and in my view Auckland Central is likely to lose some of its redder areas. Time will tell.

So my congrats go to both Nikki and Jacinda for their contest. That finally brings me to the name many have applied to the contest – the “battle of the babes”. Even now the election is over, Fairfax are still using the name for their video interviews with both candidates.

I am not exactly a campaigner for political correctness, but the point has come where that tagline should die a natural death. It is demeaning, as it makes it all about their attractiveness, rather than their political abilities.

For the avoidance of doubt, yes of course both Nikki and Jacinda are attractive young women. But, so what!

Did any media call the battle for Napier the “battle of the hunks” between Chris Tremain and Stuart Nash? No. They’ve only done it to the female candidates. It is sexist, and it should stop.

Afghanistan Electoral System

November 30th, 2011 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

Had a fascinating meeting this afternoon with a group of a dozen or so people from Afghanistan and Democracy International. They were from civil society and/or the Afghanistan Electoral Commission, and were out here to observe our referendum, plus meetings with various experts, lobby groups and commentators.

Afghanistan uses SNTV, and we discussed the pros and cons of MMP, STV and FPP, plus associated issues such as thresholds, list MPs, stability vs inclusion.

We also talked a bit about polling and focus groups, and specifically polling around the teacup tape which they had all heard about.

A very enjoyable discussion, and a real privilege. I’m going to add Afghanistan to my list of countries to monitor in terms of electoral politics.

At one point I discussed the importance of the right vs wrong direction country indicator in polling, and how this tends to indicate a Government’s survival chances. I was surprised to learn that a recent (independent) poll in Afghanistan had 70% saying the country is heading in the right direction. It’s a reminder that we often only hear the bad news.

Why did Labour drop to an 85 year low?

November 30th, 2011 at 1:48 pm by David Farrar

At Stuff, I blog:

Labour has decided to choose a new leader in the next two weeks. I think it is a mistake to rush the choice, because they are choosing an “answer” without knowing what the question is. …

 So the question that Labour should be seeking to ask and answer, before they choose a new leader, is why did we drop 7 per cent from 2008?

I ask:

I’d be interested to hear why you think Labour’s vote was 7 per cent lower than in 2008, especially if you once voted Labour. Was it simply that the Greens did well? Was it that NZ First picked up tactical votes to stop National? Was it Goff? Was it one or more of their policies? And related to that, what would Labour need to do to get your vote back? Is there one particular leadership contender that appeals more to you?

There’s been some interesting comments made. The extending the in-work tax credit to beneficiaries seems to have gone down particularly badly.

United Future

November 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

MPs in

None new

MPs out

None out



There were doubts over whether Dunne would retain Ohariu. Chauvel ran a very aggressive campaign (which may have backfired) and Shanks was far more visible than Goldsmith was in Epsom. After the 2008 election my prediction was that Labour would win the seat if National and Dunne both stood, as Chauvel would come through the middle.

However Chauvel lost Ohariu for the third election in a row. Dunne’s increased majority was probably a combination of the general collapse in support for Labour, and National voters in the final days realising (correctly) how important United Future and ACT might be in allowing National to govern.

United Future got  12,000 party votes, around half the number needed to gain a second MP. Solid performances by Dunne in the minor leaders debates did not translate into increased support. United Future is unlikely to exist when Dunne retires from Parliament.


The immediate challenge is negotiating Ministerial portfolios. Dunne is a very competent Minister, and presumably will be happy to keep his existing portfolios.

Beyond that the challenge for Dunne is probably when to retire, without heading into Opposition. I thought Dunne may retire in 2011 (due to the chance he may lose Ohariu) but he increased his majority instead. He can probably win it in 2014, but will he want to if it looks like there will not be a National-led Government? Labour now hate Dunne and will not deal with him (unless they have to) so if Dunne stands and wins in 2014, but National does not, then he’ll face being a lone Opposition MP.

Incidentially unless I am mistaken, Peter Dunne is now the Father of the House – the longest serving continuous MP. Dunne was elected in 1984, as was Lockwood Smith. But Dunne was sworn in first as it is in surname alphabetical order. Goff and King were first elected in 1981 but lost their seats in 1990, so the clock for them starts from 1993.

Mana Party

November 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

MPs in

None new

MPs out

None out



Harawira retained his seat of Te Tai Tokerau, but only received 43% of the candidate vote, which is far from an overwhelming mandate. Hone will be pleased that Kelvin Davis is out of Parliament, as a Davis candidacy in 2014 on the back of three years in the shadow cabinet could have been formidable.

Mana had hopes for Sykes in Waiariki but Te Uroroa Flavell retained his seat with a majority twice as large as Hone’s in te Tai Tokerau.

On the party vote, Mana needed around 1.2% to gain a second seat, but got 1.0%. 5,000 more party votes would have been enough.

If you look at the seven Maori seats, Mana got 13% of the party vote and 21% of the electorate votes. This suggests a significant failure to attract widespread support from Maoridom. 71% of their total party vote support was from the seven Maori seats, and 29% from the 63 general seats which is an average 92 votes per seat.


Being a sole MP in Parliament can be very lonely. You get one primary question during question time every month, and your press releases are competing with 120 others.

Setting up a new party motivates supporters and activists, as does the election. The challenge now is relevance. What will Mana argue that Labour and the Greens will not? The re-election of a National-led Government pretty much settles the foreshore and seabed issue.

The pending retirements of Sharples and Turia may provide opportunities for Mana with those seats, but one would have to think Labour are more likely to win them, based on the 2011 results.

Parliamentary Demographics

November 30th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve done an initial analysis of the demographics of the 50th New Zealand Parliament. This is based on initial results and is assuming Brendon Burns retains Christchurch Central, and hence Raymond Huo is not elected. I can update for final results.

The information is taken from public sources. Sometimes I have had to guess an age, where it is not documented. Happy to update with any corrections, if any details are wrong. Sexuality is of course based purely on public status. Only those who are openly gay or lesbian are classified as such, and all others are classified “straight”.


  • 83 Males, 69%
  • 38 Females, 31%


  • 90 European, 74%
  • 21 Maori, 17%
  • 6 Pacific, 5%
  • 4 Asian, 3%


  • 2 20s, 2%
  • 14 30s, 12%
  • 37 40s, 31%
  • 48 50s, 40%
  • 19 60s, 16%
  • 1 70s, 1%


  • 41 Auckland, 34%
  • 16 Wellington, 13%
  • 14 Christchurch, 12%
  • 22 Provincial Cities, 18%
  • 28 Rural, 23%


  • 90 North Island, 74%
  • 31 South Island, 26%


  • 114 “Straight”, 94%
  • 4 Gay, 3%
  • 3 Lesbian, 2%

I was disappointed the number of women in Parliament has dropped. But apart from that, overall Parliament looks pretty diverse and not too distant from what NZ as a whole is.

UPDATE: Two minor errors corrected.

General Debate 30 November 2011

November 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Phil Goff

November 30th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

As expected, Phil Goff resigned yesterday, effective in mid December.

Despite the result, Goff ran a reasonably strong campaign and more than one person commented to me that they are unsure that any of his likely replacements will be a better campaigner. However it is the right decision that he goes, because at the end of the day I don’t think someone who entered Parliament in 1981 would ever be able to convince New Zealanders they are the future. His longevity was the one thing he could not reinvent.

Being Leader of the Opposition is the worst job in politics. Goff struggled at it, as most MPs have. The only MP I can recall who excelled at it was Muldoon. McClay, Bolger and Clark  all struggled in the role. Bolger and Clark went on to be competent Prime Ministers, and Goff would also have been competent if he had been elected. However he achieves the unwanted record of being the only Labour Party Leader in the last 46 years, not to have made Prime Minister.

Goff’s legacy is that of a high achieving Minister. He made some good changes to the tertiary education system in the 1980s, and performed extremely well as Foreign and Trade Minister under Clark. The Free Trade Agreement with China is his greatest achievement, not made easier by the opposition of the then Foreign Minister to it.

In the fullness of time, I think it would be appropriate for the Government to offer him some sort of role. Possibilities are:

  • Ambassador to the US (once Moore term ends)
  • Ambassador to China (to build on FTA)
  • Deputy Administrator of the UNDP (okay, just kidding)
  • Ambassador to the WTO

Phil Goff spent 30 years trying to make New Zealand a better place. I disagreed with many of his policies, but respect his intentions and contribution. I hope he has a successful career outside Parliament, whether that commences in 2014, or before.


November 29th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

MPs in

John Banks

MPs out

None were restanding except a party vote candidacy by John Boscawen in Tamaki



Banks winning Epsom despite the polls keeps ACT alive. It is worth remembering (as I warned) that no public poll has ever shown ACT winning and they have now won it three times. However the failure to get a second MP in, is a huge disappointment, as it brings their future into real question.

Ironically if ACT had not rolled Rodney Hide as Leader, I think they would have had at least three MPs.

In terms of allowing there to be a centre-right Government the ACT result is a 7/10 or higher. In terms of the result for ACT personally it is 3/10.


Banks is a great campaigner, and I think he is likely to retain Epsom in 2014. Like Winston John turns 67 this year and I doubt one can expect more than two terms out of him.

The real challenge is that the ACT brand will now inevitable become the Banks brand, as their sole MP. And in my opinion there is nothing wrong with the Banks brand, but it is not the brand that has traditionally been associated with ACT.

ACT have always had two strong components to their brand. On economic issues they were strongly liberal, supporting massive tax cuts, no minimum wage, privatization of all SOEs etc. Those who served with Banks in the National Cabinet say Banks was not a huge supporter of the Richardson camp. He certainly is a fiscal conservative, and centre-right economically. But not someone who would privatize the hospitals.

The other component to the ACT brand has been a degree of social liberalism.  This has been patchy rather than consistent, but overall most ACT MPs have been social liberals. John Banks would not describe himself as a social liberal.

Therefore my conclusion is that ACT, as we know it, is dead. There is talk of a name change for ACT, and that would be a sensible move, both because of the different brand John Banks has, but also because the ACT brand itself is pretty tarnished also.

Banks should move to position ACT as a conservative party, which reflects John Banks. Banks would be a good leader of a conservative party. The challenge of course is you also have a Conservative Party led by Colin Craig. And as I understand it, relations between Craig and Banks are not friendly – Craig took many votes off Banks for the Auckland Mayoralty.

A merger between whatever ACT gets re-named and the Conservatives would be a win-win, if they can work together. Craig has the money and the membership base. Banks has the seat in Parliament which means you do not need to make 5%. However just because it is logical does not mean it will happen. Colin Craig doesn’t strike me as someone who would settle for co-leader.

As for ACT itself, my suggestion is that those who identify as economic and social liberals need to have a get together next year and look at who is willing to commit to a new party, perhaps calling it the Liberal Party, and targeting the 2014 election. Many many especially urban younger New Zealanders are classical liberals (even if they have not heard the phrase) and support lower taxes, a smaller state etc but also don’t think Parliament should be greatly restricting what consenting adults can do.

I’m not about to quit the party I support, but I would be prepared to spend quite a bit of time assisting the formation of a new Liberal Party, and making sure lessons are learnt from the mistakes of the past.

Caption Contest

November 29th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Photo from Stuff. As always funny not nasty.

Joke of the Day

November 29th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Sent in  by e-mail:

Q.Why did David Cunliffe chose Nanaia Mahuta as his running mate ?

 A .Because Ross Robertson was busy.


Maori Party

November 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

MPs in


MPs out

Rahui Katene (Te Tai Tonga)



Losing Te Tai Tonga is a blow. Not only does it mean they now only represent a minority of the Maori seats, it also means that they do not hold the balance of power if National loses a seat on specials. Their ability to get policy gains is diminished.

On the plus side, they held off strong challenges from Labour’s Shane Jones in Tamaki Makaurau and Mana’s Annette Sykes in Waiariki. Losing either of those seats would have been fatal.


The immediate challenge is policy gains from National. As National can govern without them, these will be limited. Most of the “easy” gains were got last time.

The next challenge will be identifying successor to Sharples and Turia. Flavell will become a co-leader, but they will need a candidate who can retain Tamaki Makaurau also.

There is now a three way contest in each of the Maori seats with Labour, Maori and Mana. Their dreams of holding all seven Maori seats will never occur. It is difficult to see how they can increase their number of seats in the future unless there is some rapprochement with Mana.

The constitutional review is the big wild card. If they can get something substantial from that, such as Iwi observer rights on all local authorities, then that could give their supporters something to campaign on.

Back Benches 30 November 2011

November 29th, 2011 at 11:47 am by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

POST-ELECTION ROUND-UP?: After an exhaustive few weeks of furious campaigning the election is over. Now, we sort through the results to look at what the hell happened and what the next three years will look like. What do the results mean for National, Labour, the Greens, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First? Speaking of New Zealand First—who predicted 8 MPs? Who made it in on the list? Who lost out? What coalition deals will we see? What will be the bottom line for these parties?

GET OUT THE VOTE: A million registered voters stayed out of the voting booths. Why? Who did it hurt the most? How can we get people more excited about their civic duty? And do we need to be doing more to get people to the polls? Is it time to make voting compulsory?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of November. Our Panel: Green Party MP-Elect Holly Walker, Labour MP-Elect David Shearer, National MP-Elect Chris Tremain, and United Future Leader Peter Dunne.

TVNZ 7 Wednesday 9.05 pm and Saturday 10.05 pm

Apology to Clare Curran

November 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In the final week of the election campaign Labour MP Clare Curran blogged a picture drawn by a seven year old that asked John Key not to sell our treasures, fish and toys. I was critical of Clare’s decision to blog the picture, as were many of the commentators at Red Alert.

I have long held the view that children and politics are best kept apart, and never like seeing kids used in protest marches and the like. I stand by my criticism on that issue.

A couple of days later I had someone point out to me a photo on Facebook of some people in Dunedin waving Labour and Clare Curran hoardings at traffic. One of those waving a Clare Curran banner was a young girl, who looked around nine or ten.

With the previous issue fresh in my mind, I took this as evidence that Labour was happy to exploit children for political gain, and blogged the photo. In doing so, I made two mistakes.

The first mistake is that I assumed there was no legitimate reason for the young girl, to be out campaigning for Clare. I was wrong. There was an excellent and very positive reason for her to be doing so. It is not my role to specify what that is, but it was my error that I did not think of that possibility before I posted.

My second mistake is that regardless of what the reason was, I didn’t consider the impact on the young person of blogging their photo, and the comments it would attract. Yes, the photo was already public on Facebook, but I gave it more profile. Incidentally Tim Shiels (A Dunedin YN) also regrets publishing the photo. I deeply regret that my actions caused upset to the young girl concerned

In the heat of an election campaign, sometimes you over-react and get things wrong. This is one of those things I got wrong, and I do regret the impact it had on Clare and especially the young girl who was in the photo. They have my apologies, and I hope that next time in the same circumstances I’d do it differently, learning from my mistakes.

NZ First

November 29th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

MPs in

Winston Peters, Tracey Martin, Andrew Williams, Richard Prosser, Barbara Stewart Brendan Horan, Denis O’Rourke, Asenati Taylor. Their No 9 candidate Helen Jane Mulford holds the 121st quotient and could come in, but traditionally NZ First does not do so well on specials

MPs out



7.5/10.An excellent result for Peters. He capitalised on his opportunities and not only made 5%, but made it easily. He has proven himself the great survivor and NZ First is only the second political party to be elected to an MMP Parliament that did not already have a sitting MP (ACT in 1996 was the first).

The score would match National’s if they had ended up holding the balance of power.


The short-term challenge is the caucus. Few of them have significant parliamentary or even political experience. Peters need to put in a place a strong experienced Chief of Staff to help managed them. My pick would be former MP and Party President Doug Woolerton. Rumour has it that Michael Laws is also a contender. Michael’s cunning is second to none, but his relationship with Winston goes through ups and downs.

The longer-term challenges depend on what Winston wants. If his major motivation is revenge on John Key, then he could well be placed to achieve that in 2014 by denying National a third term. If his motivation is to become a Minister again, then his challenge is to convince National and Labour that he can be a stable player.

Peters is 66. I can see him standing again in 2014 when he will be 69, but in 2017 he will be 72 and would be commiting to still be an MP at age 75 if he contested that election. There are two paths ahead for NZ First. One is that Peters remains Leader and an MP indefinitely, and when he goes, NZ First goes.

The second path is that Peters uses the next two terms to build up leadership sucessors such as Andrew Williams and Brendan Horan, with a managed transition heading into maybe 2017. Then Peters gets the ultimate legacy – a party that survives him.

How the pollsters did

November 29th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on Friday the final polls by the five public telephone pollsters and the final poll by Horizon. A fuller analysis will be done once we get final results, but for now I’ll do a quick analysis of how each pollster did for each party.

Note that this is not comparing apples and apples entirely. Those pollsters whose final poll was earlier in the election period naturally do not pick up what happens in the final few days. And there are other factors at work such as sample sizes. So this is not about saying who is “best” and “worst” but just a quick look at were they broadly in the right ballpark for the various parties.

This shows the actual result, and the (absolute) difference between the final poll for that pollster and the final result. Where the difference was greater than 1.5%, I have highlighted them in red.

This is just one of several ways to analyse it. One can also total up the differences for each pollster. Also you can count how many had a result within the margin of error for that poll. I’ll comment on each poll result.

Roy Morgan

They were the pollster that got NZ First closest. They had National and Greens too high and Labour too low. They did not record results for the Conservative Party at all, but otherwise were pretty good.

Fairfax Research International

National significantly too high, but Labour pretty accurate. Undershot NZ First and did not report on Conservatives. Other Minors within range.

3 News Reid Research

Like everyone had National too high (but within margin of error) and like most had the Greens too high. All other minor parties within 1.5% except NZ First whom they had at half what they got.

One News Colmar Brunton

Overall seemed to get things closest. National 2% too high and NZ First 2.6% too low, all others less than a 1% variance.

NZ Herald Digipoll

Also did well. National too high and NZ First too low, but did have them over 5%. Slightly more variance with the minor parties but none greater than 1.5%.

Horizon Poll

Of the nine significant parties, Horizon only got two of them within 1.5% – the Maori Party and United Future parties. They were the least accurate with National (14.2% out), NZ First (4.1% out), ACT (1.7% out) and Mana (1.8% out). They also had Conservatives at close to double what they actually got.

Very amusingly, Horizon are boasting how they consider their poll to have been highly accurate. It staggers me how anyone can put out a poll which had National only 5% ahead of Labour and then could claim it was “close to forecast” when the actual result was a gap of 21%.

General Debate 29 November 2011

November 29th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The Greens

November 29th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

MPs in

Eugenie Sage (List), Jane Logie (List), Steffan Browning (List), Denise Roche (List), Holly Walker (List), Julie Anne Genther (List). Mojo Mathers may come in on specials.

MPs out




The Greens break the 10% barrier, which may be a first for a Green Party. They grow their caucus by four or five MPs, and just as importantly ranked their list smartly so that the new MPs are relatively youthful and talented. They have changed their brand significantly, no longer seen as the radical hippies. All very good achievements. They probably never have to worry about dropping below the 5% threshold again.

They will be slightly disappointed that as usual the vote dropped back from the polls. Getting James Shaw in would have been a coup. It also would have positioned them better to try and be seen as a “major” party not a “minor” party. But they only have five more seats than NZ First, so will be clumped together with them as a large minor party.

The only other disappointment for them, is one they had no control over. Labour did so badly that once again they are not in Government.


To some degree their biggest challenge is NZ First. The left could do well in 2014, but it is hard to see that Labour and Greens alone could win a majority. This means that NZ First may hold the balance of power. As in 2005, this could see Peters insist to Labour that the Greens do not get to be Ministers as the price of their votes for confidence and supply. There may be no way for the Greens to ever get into Government unless they can reach some common ground with NZ First.

Another challenge is the relationship with National. The decision to do a policy co-operation agreement with them in 2008 paid off, as did their decision to not rule them out in 2011. It is part of the reason their vote increased. What areas can they get a policy co-operation agreement in, and how do they walk that line between not being too close to National but also not being seen as just a greener shade of Labour?

The threshold

November 28th, 2011 at 4:45 pm by David Farrar

Now that MMP is confirmed, attention will turn to how can one improve MMP. A big issue before the election result was whether the threshold should include gaining an electorate, or just be the 5% party vote. A related issue is should the 5% threshold be lowered or increased.

It is worth noting that not a single MP entered Parliament through the electorate seat threshold. The only List MPs are with National, Labour, Greens and NZ First – who all made 5%. I suspect this result will take some of the sting out of the issue.

A minor skite

November 28th, 2011 at 11:28 am by David Farrar

In 2008 the day before the election I was drinking in Auckland with Matt McCarten and Chris Trotter and half the UNITE union. We had a sweepstake on the election results, and I am pleased to say I won it!

In 2011 the day before the election I was drinking in Wellington with Mark Unsworth and various associates of Saunders Unsworth. Again there was an results sweepstake, and I am pleased to say again I won it. My predictions for seats for the four main parties was:

  • National 60 (got 60)
  • Labour 35 (got 34)
  • Greens 13 (got 13)
  • NZ First 7 (got 8 )

I also earlier this year won the hotly contested (100 or so participants) Saunders Unsworth Super 15 rugby sweeps, picking the positions of the teams closest each week. That one I am very proud of, as polls don’t help much when it comes to rugby!

Combine that with a wonderful series of payouts on iPredict based on the election results (I’ll blog in detail once we have final results, but let’s just say I am a very happy chap) and overall a good year. I am thinking of starting up an astrology and fortune telling business on the side 🙂


November 28th, 2011 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

MPs in

David Clark (Dunedin North), Louisa Wall (Manurewa), Rino Tirakatene (Te Tai Tonga), Megan Woods (Wigram), Andrew Little (List)

MPs out

Steve Chadwick, Stuart Nash, Rick Barker, Carmel Sepuloni, Kelvin Davis, Carol Beaumont. One of either Raymond Huo or Brendon Burns depending on if Burns wins Christchurch Central.



Labour’s share of the popular vote is an 83 year low. At 27.1% it is the lowest they have had since Harry Holland got 26.2% in 1928. Despite a Government promising (partial) asset sales, and an 11 month campaign against them, Labour dropped 7% from 2008. They have lost their Senior and Junior Whip, and seven incumbent MPs, of whom three or four will be seriously missed. A significant  lack of rejuvenation also.

They lose around 16% of their parliamentary funding, and some question times will have only three primary questions in the House.


First is the leadership. Goff will go, but smartly not straight away as that means the new leader gets little publicity. The three Davids look to be the main contenders. If Labour were really smart they would have the vote in February 2012 just before Parliament resumes and have a two month campaign for the leadership. Have the three contenders talk up and down the country to members and supporters about their vision for the future. It will boost the profiles of all three men, and start to get people to tune into Labour again.

All three Davids have strengths and weaknesses. I’ll cover their contest in more detail, but briefly at this stage, I’ll comment.

David Cunliffe was the front-runner. He no longer is, and according to Phil Quinn trails Parker now. Quin has 22 for Parker and 11 for Cunliffe. Cunliffe is very competent. He was an excellent Minister in the last Government, and performed well against English. He has the strongest business background of any Labour MP, and would have the potential to appeal to the centre. His weakness is relationships – with his colleagues and others. Some of those close to Goff blame him for Goff not getting the numbers right, and that enmity will be hard to overcome.

David Parker is now the leader. A generally pleasant guy, also with a good background in business and the law. Led Labour’s policy renewal, and has few enemies in the caucus. Has shown his ability to master complex areas such as the ETS. Some grumbles about his standing in Epsom helped John Banks win. Another issue is whether a Dunedin based List MP can lead Labour to electoral victory. A shift to Auckland is likely if he wins. Perhaps he could take Mt Roskill, but Michael Wood and Jacinda Ardern may be less happy with that. If Leader, likely to push for some reforms within Labour.

David Shearer is the dark horse, but for my money the one who would have the best chance of beating John Key (now that Shane Jones is out of the mix). Imagine this in an advertisement:

“John Key and David Shearer both left New Zealand for 20 years to work overseas. John Key worked on Wall Street to make himself $50 million dollars, while David Shearer worked to help save 50 million lives in some of the most dangerous and impoverished countries on earth.”

Shearer’s back story is very impressive.

I’ve also heard Shearer speak to groups such as the Business Roundtable. He deeply impressed them, and has strong appeal across the spectrum. He would also be a more active reformer within Labour – both in terms of reducing union domination which led to them losing so many talented MPs due to low list rankings, but also in terms of policy. Shearer is more focused on the ends, not the means, and doesn’t share the loathing of the private sector some of his colleagues do. The big question over a Shearer candidacy is does he want the leadership badly enough? A really nice guy, who isn’t shy but isn’t an extrovert either.

Labour also has other positions to fill. A number of MPs will be keen on the Deputy Leadership. My only advice at this point is not to elect someone who wants to be Leader eventually. The best Deputy Leaders are those in the McKinnon/Cullen/Sowry/King mould – there to support the Leader 100%. I’d add English to that also – a former Leader is fine, a future Leader is what you don’t want as Deputy. It just allows bloggers to foment mischief about when they wiill challenge 🙂

Ross Robertson I presume will remain Assistant Speaker. Chris Hipkins would make a good whip. Ideally junior whip before he becomes senior whip, but he may have to go straight to the senior role. Robertson could be a good Shadow Leader of the House, as Trevor should be consigned to a dark cupboard somewhere.

The new Leader will or should have to reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet and especially the front bench. All nine front benchers were Clark era Ministers. They can not go into 2014 hoping to win, if that is the case. Could 2014 also see a return of Darren Hughes who might in hindsight be glad not to have been associated with the electoral thrashing of 2011.

In the medium term, the challenge for Labour is to build up support so a Labour/Greens Government is viable. They have 37% at the moment and really need to get to 45% or higher between them. If Greens had got 14% rather than 10% then the Greens might have tried to become the major opposition party, but that is now unlikely. The more likely scenario for 2014 is that Peters holds the balance of power, and Peters deeply dislikes the Greens, so his support can not be taken for granted. Labour needs to get their party vote to at least 34% to be seen to have a “moral right” to govern – the level at which National got in 1996. Claiming the Prime Ministership if your party vote is in the 20s will be difficult.


November 28th, 2011 at 9:33 am by David Farrar

Today will be a series of posts on each party, looking at what happened, how they did, and their challenges ahead.

MPs in

Scott Simpson (Coromandel), Maggie Barry (North Shore), Mike Sabin (Northland), Ian McKelvie (Rangitikei), Mark Mitchell (Rodney), Jian Yang (List), Alfred Ngaro (List).

MPs out

Paul Quinn. Aaron Gilmore is in for now but will be the MP National lose, if they lose a spot on specials.


8/10. National hits its target of 48% and got a clear centre-right majority. To do so despite the economic troubles is a spectacular result. Would have got 9/10 if they could govern alone and 10/10 if they managed to get an MP for every electorate (ie 63 MPs).


What portfolios do you give Banks? He was an extremely popular and successful Police Minister, but that may be a bit too much back to the future. He has a strong commercial background, and is thought to be interested in Associate Finance. That could help ACT’s brand (which now will be economic liberalism rather than economic and social liberalism), if he has an economic role. Other possibilities are Customs and/or Corrections.

What policy gains do you give the Maori Party? They will want more than just a repeat of what they got last time. However any further policy concessions could play badly with National’s support base, and be fuel for Winston.

Ministerial portfolios. There is room for three or four new Ministers with the retirements of Mapp, Power and te Heuheu plus ACT having one fewer Minister. Any members of the Class of 2005 who do not make it this time will take it (accurately) as a sign they will never be a Minister, and this can lead to grumpiness. Likely at least one member of the Class of 2008 will be promoted (to join Joyce and Parata already there), maybe two of them.

Select Committee Chairs. National will not have a majority on all select committees and four of its five support partner MPs will be Ministers, so select committees will be important. Normally the Opposition gets to chair two of them. Will Key be generous and offer a chairmanship each to Labour, Greens and NZ First?

NZ First. Key rightfully ruled out a coalition or confidence and supply deal with Peters on the grounds of an inability to trust him as stable. However now he is back in Parliament, there is a need to have a working relationship with NZ First. Not an agreement, but they will be lobbied on bills they might support, will sit on the business committee etc. If Winston manages to avoid getting caught up in scandals, then the position on ruling him out may be different come 2014. Too early to speculate, but it will be interesting to observe.

2014: How the hell do you win in 2014? At this stage, I’d have to say the odds are not great for National, but there are three years to go. Labour also in a weak position. the reality is at this stage most likely 2014 outcome is Winston holds balance of power. But again if a week is a long time in politics, three years is an eternity.

General Debate 28 November 2011

November 28th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel


November 27th, 2011 at 1:43 pm by David Farrar

There are 220,720 specials, which represents 11% of the total votes cast. If no special are invalids, this is what impact they could have. At present the seat allocation is:

  • 120 – National (last one in – Aaron Gilmore)
  • 121 – NZ First
  • 122 – National
  • 123 – Greens
  • 134 – Labour

If National gets only 44.6% of specials, then that drops overall vote from 47.99% to 47.81% and National drops to 59 seats, with the extra seat going to NZ First or Greens most likely. This would mean National/ACT/United have 61/121 seats and have a majority.

The great irony is this scenario eventuates is that if Labour had now won Te Tai Tonga, then there would be no partial asset sales. If Rahui Katene had held that seat for the Maori Party, then Parliament would be 122 MPs (as it would be an over-hang seat) and 61/122 would not be enough. So a huge irony in that Labour winning a seat has made it easier for National to govern.

For National to lose two seats, would be very unlikely. This has not happened under MMP with a specials count. It would need this scenario.

National to get just 41% of specials, NZ First to get 8% of specials and Greens 14% of specials. This would make the total vote for each to be 47.4%, 11.0% and 6.9% respectively and they get 58, 14 and 9 seats each.

Hard to see National getting just 41% of specials. If that did eventuate, then the Maori Party would hold the balance of power, but as I said no party has ever lost two seats on specials.