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What is up with NZ First?

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, August 9th, 2019 - 105 comments
Categories: abortion, climate change, immigration, law, law and "order", nz first, Parliament, political parties, Politics, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:

Coalition Government is a complex thing.  Having to manage relationships between three disparate parties and over 60 members of parliament would be more than enough to age you early.

Overall Jacinda Ardern and Labour have managed things well.  But there has been the occasional glitch.  And there has been a chilling effect on how far this Government can go in terms of environmental and humanitarian crises.

Take for instance news this week that Iain Lees-Galloway met resistance to his proposal that extended family members of the victims of the Christchurch massacre should be allowed to stay here.  What could have been so difficult about this decision.  Surely anyone with a heart would say yes?

But for some reason when the proposal hit Cabinet it became more complex.  Lees-Galloway was very diplomatic in the way he described things but I sense there was quite a debate about what was appropriate.  And what was wrong with allowing the adult daughter of a mother who lost her spouse to the massacre to remain in New Zealand?

I do not know what happened in Cabinet but NZ First are historically not sympathetic to immigration.  I would hazard a guess they were behind the change.

Climate change is another example.  The modest methane proposals, although understandable in the long term, are more difficult to understand in the short term.  Reducing methane may give us some head room as we look for means to achieve carbon neutrality.

The repeal of the three strikes law is another.  The law was a sports slogan masquerading as a serious policy proposal.  Clearly to its MPs it was better to appear to be tough on crime than engage in a serious discussion about why our criminal justice system is failing and what we can do to improve it.

And over the past week we have seen New Zealand First do its best to distort the Abortion Law Reform debate with a very late decision to seek a referendum on the subject, one that caught spokesperson Tracy Martin by surprise.

Tracy outlined the background in her speech on the introduction of the bill:

I first met with Minister Little to discuss abortion law reform in December 2018. In the months that followed, the Minister and I, with our advisers, met on several occasions to get to a place of comfort that we had a Cabinet paper and then a bill that reflected a desire by some to shift a woman’s voluntary choice to terminate a pregnancy out of the Crimes Act and into the health Act. I did my best to ensure that I removed my personal view and followed the instructions of my caucus.

I reported back to the New Zealand First caucus a number of times over those months around progress. At no time during those negotiations did the New Zealand First caucus raise the issue of a referendum clause or instruct me to raise that topic with Minister Little, and so at no time over those months did I raise it with him.

But then things changed:

At the New Zealand First caucus meeting which began at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 August, a member of the New Zealand First caucus requested that they put forward a Supplementary Order Paper to insert a referendum clause into the legislation, in line with the New Zealand First historical position on this issue. He received majority support from the caucus. This is how democracy works: the majority prevails, while the minority have the right to their views without persecution.

At that meeting, the New Zealand First caucus resolved that they would cast nine votes in favour of the Abortion Legislation Bill at both the first reading and the second reading and introduce a Supplementary Order Paper 292 in the name of Darroch Ball for consideration at the committee of the whole House.

It is not hard to see what NZ First’s other female MP thought:

Add to this Shane Jones’ calculated insults to the protesters at Ihumātao and it is clear that NZ First will risk instability and the fracturing of Government relations so that it can pander to its conservative support base.

There are rumours that Simon Lusk is in the background providing advice.  Things do not end well normally when this occurs.

105 comments on “What is up with NZ First? ”

  1. Gosman 1

    Why is any of this a surprise? What is surprising is Andrew Little getting burnt around the Three strikes law and then thinking he wouldn't have a problem with NZ First with the changes to the Abortion laws.

    • He was presumably under the mistaken impression that having NZ First closely involved in developing the legislation would ensure they supported the result. It's a common failing of people with integrity that they never quite grasp just how low people lacking integrity will go.

      • vto 1.1.1

        Aint that the truth…

        Andrew Little and Winston Peters occupy completely different integrity planets

        Peters is, and always has been, deceitful

        This was clearly planned (both the referendum and the potshot at Little) and is a pander to his base

  2. … NZ First are historically not sympathetic to immigration.

    Unsympathetic to immigration by people who aren't White, that is. Who could forget Peter Brown denouncing immigration in Parliamentary speeches with his thick English accent?

  3. Sacha 3

    Have to wonder if Jon Johansson is regretting being involved in that party. Tracey Martin gave him and his back-office staff a shout-out in her abortion bill speech.

  4. Pat 4

    Whats up with NZ First?…not their polling

    • swordfish 4.1

      Ironically (well, sort of), I'd say the odds were mildly in favour of NZF returning to the post-2020 Parliament before this latest imbroglio erupted. But Winston & Caucus members may just have allowed themselves to be needlessly spooked by (mainly Nat-associated) doomsayers.

      Here's NZF support in Colmar Bruntons at the same (21 Month) stage after each Election: (July 2019 CB = 21 Months after change of Govt)

      21 Month Poll … Subsequent Election Result … Diff

      Post-96 …. 2.0 …………….. 4.3 ……………. + 2.3

      Post-99 …. 3.0 ……………. 10.4 …………… + 7.4

      Post-02 …. 5.0 …………….. 5.7 ……………. + 0.7

      Post-05 …. 2.3 …………….. 4.1 ……………. + 1.8

      Post-08 …. 2.3 …………….. 6.6 ……………. + 4.3

      Post-11 …. 3.6 ……………… 8.7 ……………. + 5.1

      Post-14 …. 9.0 ……………… 7.2 ……………. – 1.8

      Post-17 …. 3.3 ………………. ???

      Two NZF spells in Govt: Poll vs Subsequent Election Result

      Post-96 …. 2.0 …… 4.3 …. + 2.3

      Post-05 …. 2.3 …… 4.1 …. + 1.8

      If NZF support were to mirror these (Post-96 / 05) trajectories … then, at the 2020 General Election, the Party would receive:

      5.6% (if echoing Post-96 trajectory … 3.3% July 2019 rating + 2.3 point Post-96 rise)

      5.1% (if echoing Post-05 trajectory … 3.3% July 2019 rating + 1.8 point Post-05 rise)

      I mean obviously this aint Science. Plenty of unknowns / variables / differing contexts … the best you can hope for is something approaching informed speculation.

      But consider also: the NZF trend line over the last 12 months in the CBs …

      Aug 2018 … 5.0%

      Oct 2018 …. 5.0%

      Nov 2018 … 4.0%

      Feb 2019 …. 3.3%

      April 2019 .. 4.3%

      June 2019 … 5.0%

      July 2019 …. 3.3%

      … Gently fluctuating within a relatively tight band between 3.3-5.0% (and averaging 4.3%). The fluctuation is essentially statistical noise (margin of error roughly 1.4, though asymmetric at this level).

      Compare with NZF trends in Colmar Brunton poll ratings over the same 12 month period in its previous two stints in Govt:

      Post-1996: Range: 1.0-3.0% … Average: 2.1%

      Post-2005: Range: 0.0-3.0 … Average: 2.0%

      The Peters Party is also significantly higher in the UMRs than the CBs & has been for quite some time … make of that what you will … but that at least raises the possibility that they may be a little more popular than the CBs are suggesting.

      All of which, taken together, explains why, in the immediate wake of the latest CB, I tweeted that I suspect NZF are / were headed for 5.4-6.4% 2020.

      Though obviously, having said all of that mouthful, … they'll still want to maximise in any case.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        Do NZ First have the funds to do their own polling?….something triggered Winston's latest round of electioneering and my pick was the previous poll numbers for them but they may also have private data

        • swordfish

          Pretty sure they … along with Labour & various Corporates … are UMR clients.

          And UMR certainly has them up in safe territory.

          • Pat

            4%?….doubt Winston would be happy with that…especially considering PGF and a billion trees.

            • Sacha

              Jones has not got enough of the slush turned into action yet due to those pesky accountability processes. Should see some results next year and a few after that. Hopefully from outside parliament.

              • Pat

                Your confidence is greater than mine…and possibly also Winstons…remember the PGF was NZFirsts re election strategy and it aint delivering either on the ground nor in the polls

  5. michelle 5

    NZ First are in the shit and Winstone knows it hence why him and shameless jones have been Maori bashing and they have been trying to stay relevant. If the Greens can get their voter base numbers up we won't need NZF.

  6. Enough is Enough 6

    NZ First is being NZ First. Anyone who ever trusts them is a fool.

    Just go and ask any of their former MPs what its like?

  7. marty mars 7

    the sooner these wankers are flushed down the u-bend of history, the better imo

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    Should've listened to John Key but then power is seductive…

    What I'd really love to see is both Jacinda and Jude (fine Simon for now) to stand in front of a podium and both state that neither party will have Winston Peters in their government

    • observer 8.1

      Which John Key? NZF was ruled out in 2008 but back in by 2014. The party hadn't changed, Winston hadn't changed, except he was older and crankier. But the "principles" (AKA polls) had changed. Fortunately for Key he didn't need Winston in the end, but let the record show: he was NOT ruling him out by that stage.

      Ardern has handled him well. If NZF want to force an early election the PM will oblige – and win. She can put on a sad face in public ("regret it has come to this", "good faith agreement", "thank deputy PM for his service") and open the champagne behind closed doors.

      So many commentators underestimate her skill. She doesn't need to kill NZF, they will do it to themselves. Then Labour and the Greens will get the government they want.

    • Jimmy 8.2

      I agree, I wish both Labour and National would say before the next election that they will not work with NZ First.

      I think John Key left early as he anticipated that Winston was going to be king maker at the last election.

  9. weka 9

    It's pretty clear that the men in the NZF caucus didn't say anything about a referendum until too late. Whether that was intentional tactic or simply them being slack bastards and not paying attention, who knows (they do, but I'd guess we're not going to get that story any time soon).

    They then sacrificed Martin instead of taking responsibility for their actions. This looks bad too. Either the timing was intentional, in which case it's hard to see how the treatment of Martin is not an attempt to put her in her place. Or the timing was ineptitude and instead of owning that, they chose to let her wear it.

    Given this is the abortion law change, this has to be one of the worst examples of misogyny in politics we've seen in a long time.

    I don't rate Peters as a good politician because of how he has monkey wrenched MMP, but there are good things he has done for NZ. My respect for that has decreased substantially over this. Hard to see him as anything other than an arsehole this week.

    Martin's speech was incredible, massive respect for her there for saying what needed to be said in a way that didn't attack her party.

    Little comes out of this well too.

    Hopefully Labour won't need NZF's votes and their need for a referendum will be irrelevant.

    • Dukeofurl 9.1

      Tracy Martin is NZF but clearly she will support the compromise as put forward by Little, which doesnt have a referendum

      • weka 9.1.1

        not only that, but she put aside her personal position in order to work with her caucus and do right by them.

    • observer 9.2

      In a year's time, what will the voters remember? (Bearing in mind that 99% of them have never heard of Darroch Ball, and couldn't care less about party games in the bubble).

      1) Abortion reform passes.

      2) Ardern made it happen.

      That's the election, right there.

      • weka 9.2.1

        Probably, and hopefully. More of an issue is how to get a L/G government. This is a final straw with NZF.

  10. Dukeofurl 10

    Jones " calculated insults to the protesters at Ihumātao " were merely repeating the words of the iwi chairman


    Mr Taua said the land was traditionally used to grow crops and is described as wahi tapu because it was con-fiscated. It is not a burial site, as protestors have claimed.We will not allow outsiders to rewrite history for their own purposes"

    It may be an inconvinient truth for all 'outsiders' but the iwi by its own internal processes has a different view to many inner city liberals

    • marty mars 10.1

      "Jones " calculated insults to the protesters at Ihumātao " were merely repeating the words of the iwi chairman"

      Put up a quote where the 'Iwi Chairman' calls them, "freedom campers" – just ONE quote.

      You can't because you lay a crooked line dukey

      • Dukeofurl 10.1.1


        Isnt that what what freedom campers are when they are setting up accommodation on other public or peoples land.

        [I saw one my self down in Westhaven , 2 weeks ago] plus I had been by the SOUL site "camp" a couple of times over the last few years , long before you decided to 'make it part of your conversation' How many times were you there before ?

        You leave out what else he did say

        Jones-"says scattered "stones on an old cow farm" don't have greater significance than building houses for whānau."

        TMAK- "the land was traditionally used to grow crops "

    • mauī 10.2

      You're all in with the iwi chairman who holds a fair amount of responsibility for this mess. No surprise there.

      • Dukeofurl 10.2.1

        My understanding is the iwi as a whole came to an agreement with Fletchers for some of the land and some of the houses.

        I dont belong to an iwi , but hearing from people who do they tell me its never unanimous but if their is major support than its approved. You have no evidence that the iwi as a whole dont support the the result. Yes there seems to be some families in a hapu 'and some outsiders' who dont like it.

        SOUL dont like it , which I can understand , but they arent offering a better outcome , they just want 'talks' . Well 'Talks' over the land since 1988 gave the result ( amoung other as part of Treaty settlement) TKAM had settled with Fletchers.

        More in the context of the post about NZF and well overdue Abortion law changes. What have those ‘ultras’ who protest outside Abortion clinics against the existing laws achieved. ?

        SOUL is just another Ultra Land protest.

        • mauī

          "My understanding is the iwi as a whole came to an agreement with Fletchers for some of the land and some of the houses."

          Ahem… the marae is split. Your dishonesty knows no bounds.

          "She didn’t understand Oruarangi’s heritage aspects then or suspect the division between the Makaurau Marae Committee, which looks after day-to-day running of the marae and supports Soul, and the Makaurau Marae Maori Trust, whose warrant is the marae’s outside issues. "


          • Dukeofurl

            "Makaurau Marae Committee" is a self appointed group– like I have said a small group at the marae dont agree with the wider iwi on this

            "Te Warena Taua, who chairs both the Makaurau Marae Trust and Te Kawerau ā Maki Tribal Authority.

            hmmm … doesnt seem to come into your head.

            • mauī

              For a start citations please. Otherwise this could be yet more BS.

              • Dukeofurl

                ""I'm not going to let Rawaho or an outsider like Pania whom I don't even know come into our village and cause disruption," Te Warena Taua, of iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki, told the Marae programme."

                A marae trust is an actual thing , A marae committe is just people claiming that.

                However glad to improve on your ignorance over most things on this matter (I get a lot of my information from Marae program)


                Which gives Tauas official positions , but of course his involvement goes way back


                As a thought . Doesnt the Fletcher land come under the Trust rather than the people who are willing to put time and effort into tasks on the marae ?

                • SPC

                  Calling his own niece someone who he does not know, and an outsider when she is of the iwi and has lived in this area is close to being deliberately misleading.

                  • alwyn

                    "Calling his own niece someone who he does not know".

                    Where did this come from? This is the first time I have seen the statement.

                    • SPC

                      Newton's uncle, Te Kawerau a Maki kaumātua Te Warena Taua, was originally against the development and led unsuccessful court action to stop Ihumātao being zoned a special housing zone.


                    • alwyn

                      Thank you.

                      To claim she had no connection with the land really is pushing s*t uphill isn't it?

                    • Dukeofurl

                      ""Calling his own niece someone who he does not know"

                      Shes not a niece in the general meaning of the word. The other kaumata say much the same. Dont rely on what SPC says about family history.

                      Her wakapapa – which she is very careful to avoid mentioning- is primarily Ngapuhi

                      She was only living in the area while studying at Law School and had said her plans after law school were move to Rotorua with her boyfriend and work in his fathers law firm.

                      Then after the iwi had been working for decades on the land claim in various forms, as a student but 'living with relatives' there she heard that surveyors pegs were being placed on the land and from that SOUL was born

                    • marty mars

                      the dupe pushing his lines again – you have been shown to be dreadfully deceitful yet here you are still pushing your tainted opinion.

                      The only good thing is your continued uttering show you. don't. have. a. clue. but i'm sure that won't stop you trying to sully the mana of others – as if you had any idea lol

  11. Sanctuary 11

    The problem is Winston Peters is the only politician left in parliament, a relic of the age before the careerist centrists we now get under MMP. Politicians are politicians who understand the most important political skill is knowing how to count – numbers like the number of MPs you and they have, your poll numbers, numbers like that.

    Because almost all the mainstream MPs we have nowadays are either neoliberal drys recruited from the white cracker end of the ruling elite (National) or neoliberal wets recruited from the inclusive liberal end of the ruling elite (Labour) who come from managerialist and technocratic backgrounds they have only the dimmest understanding of the great game of politics. They are just there to either administer neoliberalism and/or eat their lunch.

    So Winston – as cunning an old bastard as any from the era of larger than life politicians like Muldoon, Kirk, and Lange – routinely runs rings around the political ingénues of our parliament.

    Failure to anticipate that Winston Peters will instinctively behave like a hungover and cornered outhouse rat badly in need of a cigarette is failure of political nous on the part of our main parties.

    • Dukeofurl 11.1

      Instead of the above you could be like Hone Harawira and achieve all that he did

      You sneer at the neo liberals but thats where 99% of things occur
      I understand ‘a referendum’ for any abortion changes has been NZF first policy for 20 yrs?
      Dont really know how that got forgotten

    • observer 11.2

      Running rings? What has he won?

      Defeating the bill – no. A referendum – no. Losing a valuable MP – maybe. Boosting NZF support? Unlikely.

      "I'm now switching my vote to Winston because … " – how does that sentence end?

      • Dukeofurl 11.2.1

        Peters has said its long been their party policy for a referendum . Tracy Martin herself said so in 2017.

        Seems to be this will be an option offered for vote during the bills progress

      • Sanctuary 11.2.2

        Do you think Peters thought NZ First could stop the bill? Do you think that was his goal? I don't think for a moment Peters particularly wanted to stop the bill. Remember that bit about the key skill being knowing how to count? And Peters can count and he knows that unless he does something NZ First will vanish next election.

        Politically, Peter's action was a no brainer IMHO – which is why Labour should have at least had a plan to deal with the eventuality of what played out.

        Peters knows he doesn't have the numbers to stop reform. So he knows opposing law reform and demanding a referendum "on principle" is the best sort of principle – no actual material cost involved whilst sending a great, big fat message to his conservative base and putting him in the headlines.

        And that is, IMHO, is how Winston Peters rolls.

        • Dukeofurl

          Are you following it .

          "Referendum" has long been NZF policy. Since its Government backed bill but a conscience vote ( even some Labour Mps may vote against it) they may have had some loopholes about what the party would support to get the bill indroduced but wouldnt support in the final passing.

        • swordfish

          … he knows that unless he does something NZ First will vanish next election

          See my reply to Pat (above)

          • Dukeofurl

            That what you are saying , but the evidence over many many elections says otherwise. ( very similar to the Greens situation)

            Why are you ignoring the evidence ?

            • swordfish


              That what you are saying , but the evidence over many many elections says otherwise. ( very similar to the Greens situation)

              Why are you ignoring the evidence ?

              Would help if you were a little more explicit in outling your argument, Duke.

              Most commentators (indeed, I'd say the vast majority) are predicting NZF's supposedly inevitable electoral demise in 2020 based on its current / recent polling. I've argued (in my comment above) against that broad consensus, suggesting instead that the odds are in fact in their favour … and predicting they're likely to take roughly 6% of the Party Vote at the next Election.

              Although it's hard to tell for sure, you seem to be critiquing my argument from the opposite end of the spectrum, you're apparently saying: the evidence from multiple Elections is that NZF almost always pass the 5% hurdle and receive a far greater slice of the vote than Polls taken at this point in the electoral cycle would suggest. Hence, they're likely to be sitting on a much higher % come Election Day than the roughly 5.4 – 6.4% that I've specified. That I'm wilfully ignoring what's patently right in front of my face. That's what I'm assuming your argument is from the severely limited information you've given me.

              First of all, NZF's support trajectory between Polls at this point & Election day actually varies quite a lot: ranging from a fall of 1.8 points (2017 GE) to a rise of 7.4 points (2002 GE). So "the evidence over many many elections" is actually quite varied. Certainly almost always a rise … but not always a steep one.

              Perhaps most importantly, their rise was relatively slight both times they were last in Govt (+ 2.3 points 1996-99 / + 1.8 points 2005-08).

              And in both cases they fell below the 5% threshold. National-aligned doomsayers have focussed on the 4% Party Vote NZF received at both of those Elections … (implying it's some sort of Iron Law of NZ Electoral Politics that the Peters Party will always fall to 4% when in Govt), … whereas I've placed greater emphasis on the roughly 2 point boost they enjoyed at each of these elections (99 / 08) & highlighted their better performance in recent Polls compared to post-1996 & post-1999 (1 point higher in polls at the 21 month mark / 2 points higher in terms of their 12 month average).

              To be sure, the context differs a little … in its previous two stints in Govt, NZF had opted to join ailing Third Term Administrations … this time, of course, it's a fresh First Termer. But I think the point still stands that they're simply unable to mobilise a broader support base (of a size that would boost their vote by say 4-7 points) when they're in Govt / when they're in Power, with all the compromises & picking of political sides that will always piss off a section of their potential supporters.

              I'd say mobilising that larger potential reservoir of voters is dependent on at least [three] conditions.

              (1) Being in Opposition (untainted by Govt)

              (2) The leader of the Opposition being unpopular

              (3) A widespread perception that the Major Opposition Party has little chance of winning the following Election (often accompanying plunging or already low poll support).

              All three conditions are true of the 3 times NZF enjoyed significant boosts in support between polls at the 21 month mark & Election Day (2002 / 2011 / 2014).

              Whereas only the second condition is operative at the moment (although condition (3) remains a future outside possibility).

              Bear in mind, too, that most Nat supporters harbour a deep antipathy for what they see as Peters betrayal … so unlikely to be rich pickings from that particular end of the electroal market.

              I don't entirely rule out Peters taking a larger share than 6% (hence my allusion to their Higher ratings in UMR) … but I think it's less likely.

              very similar to the Greens situation

              Again, this is a bit ambiguous … but you're perhaps alluding to our brief debate on the Greens' key demographics. Best if you read my reply … https://thestandard.org.nz/can-the-greens-rise-like-the-liberal-democrats/#comment-1643383 … and take close note of what Jack Vowles has to say:

              • swordfish

                Should Be:

                I'd say mobilising that larger potential reservoir of voters is dependent on at least three conditions.

                • greywarshark

                  So am I right if I take from the above and what else I have drawn in from this blog, that National voters are blindly loyal to 'their' party as part of their class and position DNA, and can never be changed by important information about misbehaviour, even resulting in likely loss to themselves; so that support is impervious to any new intelligence that comes along.

                  Is that really true? Is there still something that could turn around such stubborn partisanship? What would be regarded as devastating behaviour on the part of National that would cause their acolytes to break away? People in cults can force themselves to leave, dividing themselves from their previous life and their families. What would bring about this response from a National Party cult member?

                  • swordfish

                    They certainly weren't blindly loyal in 2002 … headed off in all sorts of directions like headless chickens on a safari.

                  • Sacha

                    The Nats have an inherent tension between their rural and urban arms. Climate action may even break them into separate parties.

              • Pat

                All logical…but what if Winstons goal is other than simply reaching threshold, which I agree is likely on past form though by no means certain….reaching threshold is only a precursor to Cabinet and for that he needs to be part of Government, and that means he needs the numbers again to be kingmaker and threshold only dosnt guarantee that

                • swordfish

                  Absolutely right. As I said (as a kind of afterthought) in reply to you the other day (see upthread):

                  Though obviously, having said all of that mouthful, … they'll still want to maximise in any case.

                  My reply to Duke was really just focussing on where they seem to be heading at the moment. Strenuous efforts on Winston's part could well lift the ceiling (or cause it to come crashing down in a pile of rubble 🙂 )

                  • Pat

                    So you did.

                    Although theres likely a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and the election I cant help but think that Winston may have misjudged it this time.

      • Dukeofurl 11.2.3

        ""I'm now switching my vote to Winston because … "

        Well the obvious answer is ' they stick to their promises'

        That part is probably the biggest policy a party can have that overides all else. Voters hate politicians who support one thing before elections and then drop it afterwards.\

        Just because you dont vote NZF ( neither do I) its clouding your judgement over those that do.

      • Sacha 11.2.4

        "I'm now switching my vote to Winston because … "

        '.. I can't vote for Judith but I want someone loud and punitive in charge' ?

  12. observer 12

    This is a classic case of political tragics (i.e. us) looking at politics the way we do, not the way the voters do. But only a tiny minority think like that.

    What the voters see is: Abortion reform. With strong majority support among the public.

    What the commentators see is: points being scored in the Game.

    But that isn't a win at all. Because the voters hate the game.

  13. bwaghorn 13

    Storm in a teacup .

    Just Winston getting some TV time.

    It's going to pass without him anyway .

    • Enough is Enough 13.1

      That depends on how much power he wants to exert.

      He holds over the government the ability to bring them down. I don't personally think he would be that stupid but if he got a gut feeling that enough conservatives would support NZ First on the basis of abortion reform, he could force Labour's arm, i.e "give me a referendum or I will make it an election issue this side of Christmas".

      He walked away from (and almost brought down) the Shipley government over an issue that was close to the heart of his base (sale of assets). Don't rule out him doing the same here.

      Which I would be quite happy with because I think a Labour/Green government would be returned without the ugly interference of Winston Peters holding it back.

      • SPC 13.1.1

        He won't do it over a conscience vote – referenda issue.

        • Enough is Enough

          Its not about the conscience vote, its about him needing something to get them over the 5% threshold. If this is the issue that does it, then why wouldn't he?

          • SPC

            Holding a referenda on the issue is not part of the coalition agreement, nor is any requirement to hold referenda votes on conscience vote issues.

            While holding referenda on such issues is part of their policy and is consistent with NZF support for MMP and more democratic decision-making – thus one of the ways they attract votes, there is no obvious electoral gain in ending a coalition on such an issue (given they will not take sides on it).

            The law would soon be changed anyway and little liklihood that NZF would have a coaliton partner that would agree to put it to a referendum after any new election (given most people support the change). Of course if he went to Simon Bridges and he promised a referendum if NZF jumped ship and made him PM – then maybe he could blackmail Ardern into a referendum. But at the price of both Labour and National seeing coalitions with NZF as something to be avoided if at all possible.

            • Enough is Enough

              You are still missing my point. Its not about abortion or referenda. Its about surviving in Parliament.

              On current polling New Zealand First is gone. They need an issue to get them back into Parliament after the next election, and this could be it.

              • SPC

                How? Support for referenda does not win them support on this issue (on which they take no side).

                • Dukeofurl

                  Support for a referendum on this issue means they can say at election time – We followed our policy.

                  Following your pre -election policy ( even if most have forgotten/unaware) is always a vote winning approach. Plus it negates attacks mostly from national about 'broken promises'

                  Broken promises are mightly effective attack lines. There may not be a plus to talking about a referendum but the downside is huge

                  Why cant you see this ?

                  • SPC

                    Why cannot you get the context of the comment was made?

                    You are joining a discussion about whether NZF leaves the coalition over the issue or not – not whether it simply holds to its policy on conscience vote issues going to referenda.

                • Enough is Enough

                  I think you need to go back to my first statement which is "That depends on how much power he wants to exert."

                  It may be none at all. But if you're a political strategist in a party that is going backwards and has fuck all support, you need to do something. You are in coalition with a popular party with a popular leader who is eating into your voter base. What do you do to survive? You need something to differentiate yourself from much more popular senior partner.

                  That could be race relations (watch this space), somehow go feral on immigration (tired tactic, but could work), or use something like abortion reform to appeal to a conservative demographic. NZ First's position on these issues don't really matter in the real world, but could be used to get them over the line again.

                  • lprent

                    But if you're a political strategist in a party that is going backwards and has fuck all support, you need to do something. You are in coalition with a popular party with a popular leader who is eating into your voter base. What do you do to survive?

                    Pretty much my viewpoint. The point is that political parties and politicians have an imperative to win reelection. This is how they achieve the goals that brought them into politics in the first place.

                    So far I haven’t seen anything that NZ First that has walked over the bounds of the coalition agreements. I do think that there have been pre-assumptions, bad communications, and lousy instruction (notably to Tracy Martin that lead her to be hung out to dry – I wonder who organised that?).

                    But this is largely a relatively new set of politicians at ministerial level. They are still learning to pin down exactly what is intended without those coalition communication screwups.

                    What I do like is that they are quite open and that these disagreements are being done in public. It is a welcome relief after the destruction that National wrought on their coalition partners by conducting everything in secret and making it look like there was agreement – but only the surface.

                    It makes me far more confident that there will be coalition parties for a repeated government next election. Certainly more confident than I have that National has a chance of getting into the government benches for a long time.

                    As it stands, National’s only real course of action is purely destructive. They are still strategically wedded to trying to destroy other political parties as their only route to government.

                  • SPC

                    Unless his caucus has the balance of power votes, as on euthansia, there is no power to exert.

                    And the party cannot grandstand for popular vopter support on conscience vote issues, not this or any other one, because its policy on referenda precludes that as an option.

                    But in the general context, sure he will be looking at issues to campaign on in 2020 – but whether he has any further opportunity to do so via blocking the coalition to grandstand ahead of the campaign is another matter. There has already been 3 strikes and CGT.

                    • Dukeofurl

                      Most of politics is Grandstanding…well when the policy and record is thin pile it on even more.

                      Look at Boris Johnson and even in our backyard Scott Morrison

            • alwyn

              "Holding a referenda on the issue is not part of the coalition agreement".

              Gosh. Are you claiming that you have actually seen this fabled document? The public were promised, by Winston Peters I believe, that it would be published but nothing was produced for us to see.

              Please tell us. Where can we see this engraved stone that Moses must have brought down from Mt Sinai. Have the Labour Party finally decided that the public is entitled to know what they are up to?

          • observer

            I accept that in theory he *could* do it, but the cost would be huge.

            Obviously the hot button issue to get the 5% is abortion, not the technicality of the referendum. And if the angry and organised conservative voters backed him, he'd get over the threshold. So he would have chosen an issue on which most National MPs have voted for progress (so far). And he would lose MPs within his own caucus, and his party list would be less "centrist" than ever.

            His only option post-election would be supporting National, who would either have to rule him out because of his behaviour OR embrace a conservative stance that would hand the election to Ardern.

            There are many better issues for NZF to use as a pretext, if that's what Peters is looking for.

      • Pat 13.1.2

        Lab/Greens may get the required support (not certain) but I suspect Winston believes he has enough up his sleeve from his time inside to be problematic regardless

  14. SPC 14

    We all know what NZF policy was and is.

    So if something needs their support it has to go to a referendum – euthenasia. If it does not, it does not – abortion goes out of the crimes act via parliament.

    As for marijuana supply and use – Labour and Greens agreed on that as a referendum policy.

    • Sacha 14.1

      How do you think they got through months of negotiations without that being raised?

      • Dukeofurl 14.1.1

        Both Little and Martin are busy people. Overlooked for some reason. Maybe mostly handled by their office people with a just a wrap up in a meeting with Little and Martin at the end. Likely both had forgotten about the NZF referendum policy.

        A bit strange that Little has now twice done a big reveal on legislation that isnt quite as well thought out as it seemed.

        It happens, Key got caught out by the Maori party 'confidence buster' reaction to The Kermadec sanctuary bill that he announced that at the UN. There was much earlier issues with RMA reforms Nick Smith announced that went no where after Dunne and Maori party back tracked a bit.

        You should see how its done in Northern Ireland where they have 'compulsory coalitions' that was designed for SDLP and Ulster Unionists but after some years they ended up with DUP and Sinn Fein instead.

        • Sacha

          Martin credited the NZF staffers in her speech. Doubt they would all have missed something like that.

          Sounds more like last-minute testosterone poisoning in their caucus.

          • Dukeofurl

            Staffers -Thats the clue to both Martin and Little delegating most of the 'discussions' to relatively inexperienced others.

        • Sacha

          'Fool me twice' would seem apt for Little right now. I'd be refusing to accept anything slick Winnie says.

      • SPC 14.1.2

        Given it was legislation led by a coalition government minister NZF would be a party to its development. And that was the focus. Tunnel vision, dealing with that was before them.

        Of course once that process was completed, and it was decided that the vote would be by conscience vote of MP's, and not by the coalition government, it then reverted to being one that NZF caucus (could and did determine) would be decided under their policy on conscience vote matters going to a referendum -. and so they would vote for that amendment to it in parliament (most likely unsucessfully as their voters do not appear to hold the balance as they might on euthenasia).

        There is the irony that the minor changes realised by Martin have diminished the need for support by the NZF caucus to get a parliamentary majority.

        • Sacha

          You really think that operators like Jon Johansson would have been negotiating for months without including how the policy would be progressed into law?

          • Dukeofurl

            Politics isnt a perfect process let alone what happens in the wider world which do have formal checks and balances..look at the Courts , decisions are overturned for various reasons all the time ..oops.

            You throw a name into the air and say 'whatabout'

            • Sacha

              He's their chief of staff.

              • Dukeofurl

                An academic . no wonder it was a balls up. What did I say about inexperienced …hes clearly no long time NZF follower.

                This is what they were saying about Johanssons new job
                ‘ After all, in the past he has been more associated with Labour and the Greens, and in the lead-up to the 2014 election he advised these opposition parties in their quest to project themselves as a coherent alternative government.

              • SPC

                And maybe he had no idea about what NZF would decide (or would not presume) on government written legislation that NZF was part of designing – when that might reduce NZF leverage in the writing of it.

                Smart, but they snookered themselves because it is now so non controversial it does not need NZF to pass parliament – then again they will still be grandstanding on their amendment for a referenda (they seem to have got their way on that in the euthenasia legislation).

                • Dukeofurl

                  Got their way ?

                  "Allow a conscience vote for MPs on New Zealand First’s Supplementary Order Paper to the End of Life Choice Bill, which provides for a referendum." labour -NZF coalition agreement

                  Not sure you understand that one either

                  As 'their way' is a conscience vote for MPs on adding a referendum to the [Seymours] bill

                  Lo and behold – they will again want a conscience vote for MPs on Abortion reform- in line with their pre election policy

                  • SPC

                    Yeah I am the one who understands it….

                    Because they hold the balance of power on the euthenasia conscience vote, Seymour supports the referenda amendment. Just as Little would if they had the same on the abortion legislation.

  15. McFlock 15

    I guess this is the downside of NZ1 being an actual party, rather than Winston's Party as the tories like to portray it.

    I suspect Darroch Ball didn't run the idea past Winston before the tuesday caucus, although he probably canvassed most of the other men.

    Respect for Tracey Martin though.

  16. soddenleaf 16

    The PM said quite clearly, it's a conscience vote. If parliament wants to put abortion to a referendum then that would be a conscience vote, nzf out.

  17. Jenny - How to Get there? 17

    Take for instance news this week that Iain Lees-Galloway met resistance to his proposal that extended family members of the victims of the Christchurch massacre should be allowed to stay here…..

    Climate change is another example. The modest methane proposals, although understandable in the long term, are more difficult to understand in the short term…..

    The repeal of the three strikes law is another……

    And over the past week we have seen New Zealand First do its best to distort the Abortion Law Reform debate…..

    Add to this list of infamy, the Anadarko Amendment


  18. "

    "Take for instance news this week that Iain Lees-Galloway met resistance to his proposal that extended family members of the victims of the Christchurch massacre should be allowed to stay here. What could have been so difficult about this decision. Surely anyone with a heart would say yes?

    But for some reason when the proposal hit Cabinet it became more complex. Lees-Galloway was very diplomatic in the way he described things but I sense there was quite a debate about what was appropriate. And what was wrong with allowing the adult daughter of a mother who lost her spouse to the massacre to remain in New Zealand?"

    Indeed @ Mr Savage.

    And unfortunately what the RNZ interviewer neglected to ask was what advice and 'options' were provided by 'officials'.

    My suspicions are (based on I L-G having already been burned, and the testimony from a number of former employees – anecdotal of course) is that I L-G very very slowly wising up – maybe even continuing to have to push shit uphill, whilst others still not quite so much. I wasn't AT ALL surprised

    Btw…..do you know if staff turnover in that Ministry for Everything is still abnormally high?. Tinkering just ain't going to cut it. We still have some of those 'officials' referring to high and low 'quality' applications for example – though if you asked them to expand on what the criteria was for judging 'quality' – they'd get all flustered and defensive

    • Dukeofurl 18.1

      if its gone to Cabinet it sounds more like a policy change L-G wanted.

      Still leaves the option of the Minister approving any immigration application for any reason at his sole discretion. Which may require a few more hoops to be jumped through first

      I got the impression this was the preferred method.

      • Craig H 18.1.1

        Most decisions on ministerial intervention are made by the Associate Minister, but agree that either Minister can intervene at any time.

    • Craig H 18.2

      SSC website says MBIE turnover is 15%, which is higher than the average 12.1%.

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    Winston is playing to his electoral power base. As he understands it.

    1 in 3 women in NZ have had abortions, and made to feel like criminals.

    Winston does not have the balls to say that should not happen?

    To criminalise someone in physical and psychological torment is a civilised thing to do?

    Winston does not know? He should not be in Parliament. Gutless wonder!

    Hopefully the mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers of women who have undergone abortion desert his party.

    I am not a NZ 1st supporter. Tracey Martin has my sympathy.

  20. TheBlackKittenReturns 20

    There is an election next year so it’s obvious what they are doing. Doing and saying things that will appeal to their conservative voters who I bet are severely pissed off that they went into coalition with Labour instead of National.

    Peters plays games with the NZ public by not saying who NZ First will go into coalition with. It should be made compulsory that a week before an election that all parties declare who they will go into coalition with. They all know each other’s policies so no excuses then idiots like Peters and his merry gang couldn’t play games. At least with the Greens you know where they stand.

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