Winston Peters shows he is in good form as he belts Grant Robertson all over the paddock in his latest innings  

New Zealanders – particularly those in the North  Island – may have been so preoccupied  with other events they may not have noticed it is  election year.

Still, this  week  it may well have come to their attention when Winston Peters  fired a  volley at  the  government.

Few  politicians  can hit the target so unerringly as Peters  does. Almost certainly,  a refreshed Peters, despite his  age, will be a  force to be reckoned with, once again, at the helm of  NZ First.

National’s Christopher Luxon could take some lessons from the old master in how to  deliver some powerful blows  on the  government. Continue reading “Winston Peters shows he is in good form as he belts Grant Robertson all over the paddock in his latest innings  “

Karl du Fresne: A few more thoughts on Luxon, Pugh and the media – oh, and press secretaries too

The irony of the Maureen Pugh furore is that it has caused far more damage to Christopher Luxon than to Pugh.

Luxon has come out of it looking like a control freak, intolerant of any deviation from the party line.

This should surprise no one. He comes from a corporate background, and the corporate world values conformity above almost everything else. Original thinkers are seen as problematical and even threatening. Conventional men who play golf and wear suits are naturally most comfortable in the company of other conventional men who play golf and wear suits.

John Key came from a corporate background too, but of a different type: one that placed a high value on individual risk-taking. One difference between Key and Luxon is that Key, for all his faults, seemed to have more trust in his own judgment. Continue reading “Karl du Fresne: A few more thoughts on Luxon, Pugh and the media – oh, and press secretaries too”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: MPs are set for a big post-election pay increase


One of the most popular moves Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ever made was the pay freeze her government imposed on politicians back in 2018. The freeze may have only been grudgingly agreed to by other MPs and parties, but it had universal public support.

The pay freeze is due to end this year, and new rules for setting politicians’ pay mean MPs are likely to get a huge increase to make up for six years of standing still. The move should spark debate about whether we pay our politicians too much, and whether it’s appropriate during a cost-of-living crisis for politicians to receive a major pay increase.

Fixing the disparities in politicians’ pay

For the last five years, politicians have had to forgo annual pay increases. Back in 2018, the newly elected Labour-led government implemented a pay freeze when MPs were about to receive an embarrassingly high pay increase. At this time, the Government was pushing to limit the pay demands of public servants, and the scheduled MP pay increase for that year was viewed as hypocritical. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: MPs are set for a big post-election pay increase”

Another Green MP to retire next year: but how will the achievements be measured (and will democracy be better off?)


Green MP and former Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage will not be standing at next year’s election.

By then she will have served 12 years as a Green MP. 

She is the second serving Green MP who has decided she has come to the end of the parliamentary road.

Colleague Jan Logie, who was also first elected in 2011, had previously announced she won’t be seeking re-election next year. 

Sage was Conservation Minister from 2017 – 2020 and Minister for Land Information. She is based in Christchurch.

She made her decision some time ago, well before the furore over the entrenchment clause in the Three Waters reform bill, according to Audrey Young in the NZ Herald. Continue reading “Another Green MP to retire next year: but how will the achievements be measured (and will democracy be better off?)”

Six Labour MPs say they are quitting politics – and one gets a compliment (unexpected?) from ACT

As food prices  soar and  the cost-of-living crisis  deepens, it is  not surprising politicians of the governing party are throwing in the towel. If  they were uncertain about the  mood of the electorate,  the  Hamilton West byelection result was convincing enough. So those mulling their future in politics would take a powerful  message from  that. Among the ministers calling time are Poto Williams, Aupito William Sio and David Clark, and MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle will also exit stage left. If there were no surprises there, what may have been surprising  was PM Jacinda Ardern’s statement that all six had made important contributions to the government and the lives of New Zealanders. Continue reading “Six Labour MPs say they are quitting politics – and one gets a compliment (unexpected?) from ACT”

Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular

The  Ardern Government  has  taken a hammering  in recent days.

The weird aspect is that it has largely done the damage to itself, with the Opposition left only to rub salt into the ugly wounds.

Pollsters have been on hand to measure the extent of the harm done.

First out this week was the  OneNews Kantar, which put Labour at 33%, behind National on 38%.

Then came Roy Morgan with Labour on 25.5% and  National on 38%.

The Hamilton West  byelection is  to  round  things off  on Saturday. Continue reading “Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular”

 Prime Minister shines again on South-east Asian tour: her deputy not  so much at home

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been snaring the headlines again on her mission in South-east Asia, celebrating the signing of an upgraded free trade agreement with ASEAN, condemning  the regime in Myanmar, and having a 10-minute conversation with US president Joe Biden.

Then there were the formal  meetings of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. Now  she is seeking to lift trade with Vietnam. Still to come is the APEC forum meeting  in Cambodia, where possibly she will have  a  head-to-head with China’s President Xi Jinping.

She  does this so well that  some  of  her  countrymen  back  home  think she  should do it permanently.

But would those same countrymen accept deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson in the  role of Prime Minister?

Not judging by the criticis  he has been attracting while  she has been away.As Sports Minister Robertson  could  share the glow of the Black Ferns’ triumph. As Finance Minister,the report card was less favourable.

In his Saturday column in the NZ Herald Steven Joyce was particularly severe, contending that the failure to let the central bank focus on stability risks its independence.  

The headline neatly encapsulated the Joyce criticism: “Robertson sticking an Orr in on RBNZ’s role”.

Joyce argues the reappointmentof Adrian Orr as governor of the Reserve Bank by Robertson for a second term of 5 years is “troubling”.

“Because of the bank’s importance and independence, the appointment of the governor is supposed to be a non-partisan decision that both sides of politics can live with. For whatever reason, it is clear that for the opposition parties and many independent commentators that is not currently the case.

“A sensible finance minister concerned for the independence of the institution would have either appointed a new governor or reappointed the current one for a shorter term.

“I should stress the criticism is directed at Robertson. It is Robertson who appointed Orr  and the buck stops with him on  Orr’s reappointment”.

Business journalist Bernard Hickey told Radio NZ’s Morning Report that as an independent, inflation-targeting central bank, RBNZ had missed its target and the public were right to want some accountability.

He said while it had responded to the pandemic in a similar way to other central banks around the world, the various things it had implemented in addition to its remit of setting the official cash rate (OCR) had caused a “perfect storm”.

Hickey points out:

“The Opposition is now saying Adrian Orr is not just a purely independent apolitical person, he did so many things in concert with Grant Robertson, so many joint memorandums of understanding, joint letters, that he crossed the line.”

Claire Trevett, political editor of the NZ Herald,noted in her Saturday column that the cost of living is rated the top  issue for voters,with the economy ranking second.

She says polling  shows on the  issue of which party is  considered best at managing the economy, almost twice as many people believe National is best  at 47% to Labour’s 24%.

Hardly a  feather in Robertson’s cap.  

Trevett reckons the bluntest lesson—or solution—for Labour came in the Reid Research poll,in which an overwhelming 85% of people supported a  tax-free income threshold

“Labour has not ruled out some tax cuts in its 2023 policy, and Ardern’s observation that a tax-free threshold did at least deliver the same to  those on low incomes the same as high may or may not be a hint about what it is looking at.

“It may be Labour’s only  hope”, says Trevett.

So, with an election budget still to come, Robertson back at his desk may be telling himself “Don’t count me out yet”

Bryce Edwards: The Increasing speculation about Jacinda Ardern quitting

Bryce Edwards writes:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern flies to Antarctica today, and her media spin doctors will be hoping for some good photo opportunities to lift the leader’s popularity. But they will be asking a lot.

Tomorrow it will be five years since Ardern was sworn in as Prime Minister. At that time she was incredibly popular, and her support kept rising, hitting its heights in 2020.

That tide has certainly turned in recent months, and there are signs that Ardern is headed for a very difficult time as Prime Minister in the near future. Economic and social factors may get much worse. And the prospect of Labour’s popularity declining further is possible, especially as difficult reforms throw up problems. Re-election in 2023 has never seemed more in doubt.

Unsurprisingly, there has been an upswing in speculation about how long Ardern will stay on as leader and prime minister. The idea of her stepping down before the next election is gaining traction, despite there being no obvious candidate in the Labour Party who could do a better job than her. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards: The Increasing speculation about Jacinda Ardern quitting”

Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide

The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.

The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:

 “It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”

This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.

“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”

He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged. Continue reading “Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide”

Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card

We intended alerting our readers (if they had not already noticed) to how Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins played the race card in the matter of the Public Service Commission deciding to look into the propriety of government contracts awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband.

We have taken a short cut and will draw attention, instead, to this post on Kiwiblog by David Farrar under the heading Hipkins apologises for smearing English.

Farrar references a report posted by Stuff  (which until now has studiously steered clear of the contracts and the questions about  procedural issues they have raised).

Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins has apologised in the House to former finance minister Sir Bill English for dragging his family into an exchange over government contracts awarded to the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Continue reading “Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card”