1. Phil Goff will win the Auckland mayoralty, triggering a by-election in his Mt Roskill seat. Not the hardest one to get right, but who could have known how spectacularly the Right would screw up the mayoral race, leaving Goff home and hosed. 10/10.
2. Immigration will be the big issue of 2016, in NZ and worldwide, under the twin pressures of terrorism and rising unemployment. Definitely on the right track on most counts, as the refugee wave swept over Europe, influencing the Brexit vote, and Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims and reached for some bricks and grouting to keep the Mexicans out. The issue sparked up at home too, with Labour dipping its toe into a pool that Winston Peters has been paddling in for years. The main economic trigger here though was housing, not unemployment, so marks off for that. 7.5/10
3. One party leader will be replaced – or signal they will go. Well, where to start with this one? Cynics might suggest we had different names on our list ahead of prime minister John Key. Others have said that if someone was so smart they knew Key was leaving they should be sacked for not writing about it sooner. All we can say is we will take the 10/10.
4. The Government’s books for 2015/16 will show a deficit when the numbers are known in October, and the 2016 Budget will include significant spending on reform in the area of Child Youth and Family. The reforms are well under way and a big chunk of money – about $200 million – was put towards helping vulnerable children out of $350m earmarked to reform the system. Yet here was no deficit for the year, but a $1.8 billion surplus. So half marks only. 5/10
5. John Key will wind back his shock-jock appearances, but only after one final dare involving dancing, underpants and a street corner. We contend we were joking about the dancing and underpants, and even he wouldn’t do that. But the PM certainly learned his lesson and sharply toned down the silliness. 10/10
6. The current flag will triumph easily, taking 60 per cent of the vote to head off the black and blue silver fern Kyle Lockwood design in the March referendum. The final result was 56.6 per cent to 43.2 per cent in favour of the existing flag. Rough enough for 9/10?
7. Significant steps will be taken towards allowing the medicinal use of cannabis. The debate has heated up further, fuelled by Helen Kelly’s advocacy before she died. There is a sense the public and political mood is swinging in favour, but no formal steps were taken. 0/10
8. A visit to New Zealand by United States President Barack Obama will be scheduled for 2016. Golf anyone? We are blaming poor wording – “in 2016” not “for 2016” would have been closer to the mark, given his widely-reported interest in coming after his presidency ends on January 20. But even then nothing has been “scheduled” so we ended up in the bunker on that one. 0/10
9. Pharmac will get more cash allowing it to fund new drugs, such as Keytruda, but the Government will stay out of decisions on specific drugs. Just like it said on the box. 10/10.
10. New Zealand will send SAS troops to Iraq, and not only as VIP protection. It’s a wise a citizen who knows where, and why, the elite forces are deployed. And there were on-the-ground reports by international media, which were denied by the Government, that they were being used in roles beyond VIP protection, In the spirit of neither confirm or deny we are claiming 5/10.
11. The review of security services will see the GCSB and SIS get greater powers of surveillance. They did. Nothing more to see here. Nudge nudge. 10/10.
12. The freshwater issue will spark up, causing a headache for National MPs and putting their relationship with the Maori Party under stress. Not as much as expected, and the issue stayed subterranean because the Government has largely hosed it down – and postponed the big calls. There was an attempt to rark the issue up by some fringe political players. And there was trouble between National and the Maori Party over Resource Management Act reform and the Kermadecs sanctuary decision, but fresh water was not the trigger. 2/10
13. ACT leader David Seymour’s “end of life choice” bill will be drawn from the ballot (relying on chance makes this a particularly fraught prediction) and then pass its first reading. Sometimes you just have to accept that picking lottery results is – well, a lottery. 0/10.
14. At least one MP will announce their engagement to be married. National’s Tamaki MP Simon O-Connor and Labour’s Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins both popped the question. 10/10.
15. Labour candidate Michael Wood will be sworn in as MP for Mt Roskill – but will not be the first to win a by-election this year. Wood duly bolted in in Mt Roskill, but all those other MPs who are heading for the exit – including Maurice Williamson in Pakuranga and David Cunliffe in New Lynn – have pledged to hang around until closer to the general election to avoid a by-election in their seats. 5/10
16. Labour leader Andrew Little will firm up his plans to run in the Rongotai seat now held by Annette King. Late in the year King fulfilled the first leg of the double by confirming she would vacate the seat to go on the list in 2017. Her hand-picked successor Paul Eagle was quick off the mark to express an interest.suggesting when Little finally firms up his intentions it will be “no” to throwing his hat in the ring.. 3/10
17. Speaker David Carter will head off to foreign diplomatic pastures, opening the way for Gerry Brownlee to inherit the wig of office. The inside gossip was that Carter was in line for the London post, but the move was scotched by NZ First leader Winston Peters. Now former governor-general Sir Jerry Mateparae has got the gig. Brownlee is so far unmoved. 0/10
18. An MP will find himself or herself giving evidence in court. Whanganui MP Chester Borrows has been charged over the use of his car during a TPP protest. 10/10
19. Pandas! Discussed yet again, but Key finally put the kibosh on the whole idea of bringing some to New Zealand. Reason enough right there to quit and make way for a new leader. We like pandas a great deal so can we have 3/10 for effort?
20. Australia’s deportation of Kiwi criminals will hit the headlines again when one of them goes off the rails on this side of the ditch, placing New Zealand politicians in the firing line. it’s fair to say the issue did keep bubbling along, with the Opposition taking shots at the Government’s handling of the diplomatic side with Australia. A deportee was involved in an alleged murder that hit the headlines and was on the agenda at a meeting between john Key and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull. But further details have not been made public. More generally it was reported 30 per cent of deportees re-offended.. 7/10
So it’s a fairly par 116.5/200.