Steven Joyce

Good, now taxpayers are off the hook at last, but Dalton is clinging desperately to the trough

Steve Joyce must be breathing a sigh of relief as he gets and escape clause from having to pour more corporate welfare into Team New Zealand.

But the idiot Grant Dalton, who these days tends to think with his little head is deciding to waste more taxpayer funds by challenging the organisers.

Team New Zealand are challenging a decision by the America’s Cup Events Authority to ditch Auckland as host of the qualifying regatta in early 2017.

But chief executive Grant Dalton says regardless of the outcome of any hearing “this is not the end of Emirates Team New Zealand”.    Read more »

Why complacency won’t be an option for John Key

John Key and Steve Joyce are fobbing off concern over the debacle in Northland.

They are apparently unconcerned because the polling numbers for National nationwide don’t appear to be affected…which is strange considering Steve Joyce was saying Farrar’s numbers were wrong for Northland, but are surprisingly right for the country.

But this sort of complacency is bred by arrogance…and if they haven’t learned from the shellacking Winston Peters handed out to them on the weekend then there is more pain to come.

Asked how he would deliver, Mr Peters said the Government could not afford to ignore the result and would be “on the road to oblivion” if it didn’t listen to the message Northland sent. He predicted other regions would pick up the discontent in Northland and punish National in the same way.

He spoke about boosting the three Fs of regional industry – farming, forestry and fisheries.

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Key dying in a ditch for Steve Joyce

John Key is dying in a ditch defending the campaign debacle overseen by Steve Joyce.

Prime Minister John Key admits National has been delivered a message by Northland – but rejects suggestions it is a tipping point for his Government.

Key told Stuff Peters ran a good campaign and had massive name recognition up against a relative unknown, National’s Mark Osborne.

But the win was a result of unique circumstances, including Labour throwing its weight behind Peters, turning the contest into a two horse race. People should not read much more into it than that, he said.

“We congratulate him on the win. We will take away some lessons from last night. It’s a simple thing for our opponents to claim it’s the beginning of the end but it really isn’t and it would be massively overstating it (to say otherwise).”

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Peters to resign from list so NZ First can score another MP

Life just got tougher for John Key with Winston Peters confirming he will resign from the NZ First list after his win on Saturday.

That means NZ First will bring another MP into parliament increasing the opposition umbers by one and National reduced by the loss of Northland.

Northland’s new MP Winston Peters has confirmed he will resign from the list – making it harder for the Government to govern.

The NZ First leader, who convincingly wrestled National’s strong hold on the electorate by more than 4000 votes, told Radio NZ’s Morning Report that there was never a question that he would resign as a list MP.

“Of course I’ll resign, I don’t know why it was ever a material question.”

Under MMP rules, Peters resigning as a list MP means the next candidate on NZ First’s list can enter Parliament.   Read more »

‘Tis but a scratch

John Key seems to have a happy knack these days of treating his supporters with disdain.

He is apparently “philosophical” about losing a safe National seat to Winston Peters. He sounds remarkably like the Black Knight in Monty Python.

Prime Minister John Key says losing Northland in yesterday’s byelection was disappointing but he was “pretty philosophical” about it.

It was effectively a two-candidate contest between National’s Mark Osborne and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who won with a 4012 majority and that could not be translated to a general election.

“Once you back to a normalized scenario where there are a great many more candidates, then the dynamics change dramatically because obviously you get vote splitting and we are by far the biggest party and our candidate will come through,” he said today from Melbourne, before the cricket final.

Mr Key said he would take the loss on board.

“The voters are never wrong like, frankly, in my view, the polls are very infrequently wrong.

“We’re not dismissing it. We’re saying the rational explanation is that you’ve got a collection of parties up against National rather than droves of National voters deserting us.”

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Karl du Fresne on Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle

Karl du Fresne gives 6 reasons why National and Steve Joyce failed so dismally in Northland.

The day after the election, John Key warned his party against third-term arrogance. He promptly proceeded to disregard his own advice and has continued on much the same path ever since.

Yes, the government has plenty of reason to be cocky. The economy is humming. Migration is running at record levels, indicating New Zealand is seen as a desirable place to be.

A run of sporting successes – the Black Caps, the Wellington Phoenix, the Breakers, the Hurricanes, Lydia Ko – has contributed to a feel-good mood that will rub off on National, which is no doubt why Key is in Melbourne today watching the cricket, rather than in Singapore attending the funeral of Lee Kuan Yew (as Tony Abbott is).  He wants to share in any glory that’s going, just as he did in the embarrassing three-way handshake at the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

It is shameful he went and presided over the Blackcaps Melbourne debacle…and not attended Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral.

His six reasons for the loss in Northland, I don’t actually agree with him on all of them.

Exhibit One: The dust had barely settled after the election before the government pushed through a bill exempting employers from the obligation to provide paid rest and meal breaks.

As the first significant legislation of National’s third term, it seemed a deeply symbolic statement. There seemed no other way to interpret it than as a signal that the Key government was reverting to a National Party archetype from an earlier era, shedding its friendly, centrist face in favour of a more classical right-wing hard line on employment relations.

I’m afraid that is just b.s. from du Fresne there, I doubt the Northland voters gave a toss about that bill.

Which brings me to Exhibit Two: Auckland’s proposed Skycity Convention Centre. From the outset, this looked like a dodgy sweetheart deal. But it began to look even more shonky when it emerged that the taxpayer was likely to be left footing the bill for a massive cost blowout.

It seemed clear the government was prepared to go along with this, and had indicated as much in cosy chats with Skycity. It was only when the public revolted that National hastily engaged reverse gear, insisting that a generous taxpayer handout to the casino company had only ever been a technical option.

That’s not how it looked, and I don’t think people were fooled. Either the government was incompetent in entering an arrangement that was loaded in Skycity’s favour, or it was pandering to wealthy friends. Either way, it smelled.

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Key had more pork barrels lined up but bottled it

If you thought the bridge bribe was bad enough, John Key had even more pork barrels lined up for delivery into Northland, but bottled rolling them out after polling showed the voters weren’t pleased.

And stupidly John Key has admitted it.

Prime Minister John Key has admitted National deliberately pulled back from rolling out more promises in the Northland by-election after a backlash to plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on local bridges.

National is in a fight for its life in Northland where local candidate Mark Osborne has been blindsided by NZ First leader Winston Peters, who polls show well ahead.

Key reacted to Peters challenge in the early stages of the campaign with a promise to upgrade 10 one way bridges – a bug bear in Northland where infrastructure has been a key issue in the by-election campaign.

Key had also signalled here would be more spending commitments announced before the campaign was over.

But since the bridge announcement National has only rolled out reheated announcements from the last election.

At a Kiwifruit packing plant in Kerikeri, Key admitted the campaign team decided against rolling out further spending promises after the initial reaction to its announcement on one way bridges..

“Probably on balance we decided there were a few things we wouldn’t announce and instead do them after the by-election.”

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A little history lesson for John Key, journalists and the National party

A reader emails:

It seems to me the youngsters in the media commentating on politics are too young to look back at history. Most weren’t born in 1969.

After the 1969 General Election Hon Tom Shand the long standing member for Marlborough died.  What did the “good and wise” delegates at the selection meeting for their replacement candidate in the 1970 by-election do? They selected Anthony Shand; Tom’s wet son who subsequently lost a blue seat to the Labour Candidate Ian Brooks, a telephone exchange operator who held it until 1975 when National put up Ed Latter, a one-termer replaced by Sir Doug Kidd in 1978.

Anyway the lesson for National is similar 45 years on.  A popular PM can not control the delegates who will be the masters of their own destiny. Unfortunately in Northland they are aided and abetted by Joyce and de Joux who have no idea how to run an election or by-election outside Wellington or Auckland.  The seat will come back to National in 2017 when the delegates understand they have to put up a credible candidate.

I’m not sure Northland will come back to National in 2017, all indications are that Northland is being used to create a path for survival for NZ First post-Peters.

Still the history lesson is useful, especially for John Key who doesn’t have a long standing in the party, and holds no truck for the history of the party.

His bravado yesterday and today looks silly.


Selwyn Manning on Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle

Selwyn Manning is a keen observer of NZ politics and like me he has sources across party lines.

He rarely gets things wrong but sometimes over eggs his understanding of things.

He has written a lengthy piece about Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle. It is long, and does over egg the faction details a bit…but is largely accurate.

IRRESPECTIVE OF THE FINAL COUNT, Auckland-based National Party insiders say there will be three losers once the by-election votes are counted, and they are: John Key, Steven Joyce and the National Party itself.

That’s the scornful assessment by some well positioned National Party conservatives who insist fractional fractures are in evidence among National Party loyalists as Northland voters prepare go to the polls in the Peters versus National by-election.

They say many have become disillusioned with the Party’s leadership: most recently, with the party’s campaign strategy, and formerly, with the values and judgment calls by their leader John Key.

John Key gave his caucus a lecture after the election to guard against arrogance and third term-itis. They have ignored that, including Key. Since the election they have lurched from one crisis to the next aimlessly.

After Northland the teflon-coating of John Key will have been shown to have worn thin. His go to people for crisis management will have failed…which means he will have failed by implication.    Read more »

Burning bridges not even built

What an omnishambles.

Bill English has caused confusion in parliament with his cute answers over the 10 bridges that National has promised to build in Northland.

The Government was asked to reaffirm its commitment to upgrade Northland bridges after comments by Finance Minister Bill English caused confusion in Parliament today.

The National Party has promised to upgrade 10 one-way bridges in Northland as part of its byelection campaign, which polls indicate will be a close-run race between National’s Mark Osborne and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Answering a question in the House today, Mr English indicated the completion of the bridges upgrade could depend on the byelection outcome.

“A political party has made an undertaking in an election – the Northland byelection. Whether it can be executed may well depend on the outcome of that election,” Mr English said.

Pressed by Labour’s Grant Robertson on whether he could confirm the 10 bridges would be upgraded under the current Government, Mr English still left room for interpretation.

“That is certainly National’s view … but in order to achieve a majority in this house you have to work with other parties.   Read more »