Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why New Zealand First is poised for a strong return to Parliament

National has a powerful 25-30 point lead depending on which poll you read, more than a year into their term.

But this actually makes me quite confident for New Zealand First. I don't think National is going to maintain their enormous advantage through an election campaign. Come election time in 2011, they will almost certainly have dropped below 50% and I believe will end up getting around 47-48% of the vote, barring some horrific event to weaken public confidence in them.

But the soft support for them is not going to necessarily transfer over to Labour. Labour has yet to convince the voters that ditched it that it is a party worth returning to power. Indeed, with Goff still as leader and running at 30% in the polls coming into election year, there is every chance that their support could collapse as far as 20% as voters do the math and see Labour won't win, just as happened to National in 2002.

The other minor parties are probably going to rise, but the picture is not as rosy as some might conclude. The Greens seem to have a ceiling of support at around 9-10%, and given that they usually poll better than they do at the election and are currently sitting on 4% while Labour is weaker than it has been since 1996, they should be genuinely alarmed about their chances in 2011. Peter Dunne is the new Jim Anderton and Jim Anderton is done. The Maori party will run a big campaign for the party vote in 2011 and will do better than in previous years, but I don't see them going over the 5% threshold. With four or five electorate MPs they will likely only get one or two list MPs. ACT's support could very well rise in the 2011 election, but they will only take that off National in a zero-sum game.

So I'm projecting that going into the 2011 election there will be between 15-20% of soft support that could end up going to a party that makes a strong case for being a voice in Parliament for the policies not being represented. New Zealand First with its strong brand in terms of Winston Peters and a good campaign could very well be returned to Parliament with a bigger, better team than ever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Issue that should get every Kiwi steaming mad

Rodney Hide's privatisation agenda is well known, and to be fair he has never denied he wants to hock off New Zealand's family silver, or what is left of it anyway.

But if National in any way leans towards Hide's plans to privatise water services it will be their second term that goes gurgling down the drain.

Water is the single most important resource in life and there should be no commercial incentives surrounding its supply. Both from the point of view of the consumer, who wants to know that the water they are drinking and using around the house and business is clean and safe, and from the environmental standpoint as our water resources need to be carefully managed, taking into account their long term viability and the relationship kiwis have with rivers and lakes. Making the responsibility for managing this precious resouce yet one more step removed from the voters is a ridiculous idea.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Investing in New Zealand Broadband

In a stirling example of what is right with Scandinavia, the Government of Finland has decided to make broadband access a legal right. This is a laudable example of 21st century government infrastructure investment, and the successful Scandinavian approach to government economic investment.

Poor performance on the part of our privatised national telecommunications giant has resulted in our equivalent infrastructure being in a woeful state. Considering a supposed government emphasis on creating a "knowledge economy" (whatever that means), the vitality of the internet in general, and its ability to mitigate to a certain extent our inherent disadvantage in being located on the other side of the world; one would think rectification and improvement of our internet problems would be imperative.

Regrettably such strident measures have not yet eventuated here. While National has indeed agreed to fork out one and a half billion dollars creating such infrastructure here in New Zealand, there are two problems with its plan. First, their committment to using private sector companies' part-funding. Given the rather appalling record of private control of infrastructure that this country has (the obvious examples being railway tracks), it seems somewhat odd to entrust such a vital element of our national growth to anyone but the public.

Second, to my mind they aren't going far enough. The key difference between the NZ plan and the Finnish plan isn't the speed (100 megabits per second in both cases), but rather an entirely different kind of access. The Fins have decided to make such fast broadband access a national right available to all; whereas National's silence on the matter (excepting their excellent idea of ensuring availability to schools) convinces one to assume it will be the 'user pays' system of our historically tight market.

Having publically ensured (and subsidised) broadband access for everyone might seem to be at the rather cavalier end of "thinking big" policy, but it is this writer's belief that in order to secure both parity with living standards in Europe, and to take and hold an international competitive advantage, such a plan is necessary for New Zealand.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Praise for Simon Power

I'm a fan of our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system - New Zealanders put it in place because we were sick of single party Governments that would be elected on a mandate only to do act in complete opposition to it once elected. Proportional systems ensure that your vote counts at a national level regardless of your geographical location, and electorates ensure local issues and independent candidates can be included in the national election process.

So while I would rather that Parliament hold an inquiry into improving MMP rather than a referendum on whether to switch to another electoral system I'd like to praise Simon Power for creating a referendum process that is fair.

An irony

I've been watching online the BBC "Question Time" Episode which features Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party. Towards the end of the first part the African-American Deputy Director of the British Museum says about the infamously intolerant and born-out-of-racism party:
"You do have to ask yourself the question: What kind of a so-called political party is based on an idea of indigenous people? It just doesn't exist"

Clearly she believes it to be deeply disturbing and inherently racist that a party base itself on the idea of advancing the interests of one race over others. I don't think anyone being fair minded about the issue could disagree.

Perhaps members and advocates of the Maori party could help the modern BNP answer the question.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Great ACC Coverup (Or: Fattening for Slaughter)

As aggrieved motorcyclists are no doubt already aware, ACC levies are on the increase due to an alleged new budgeting shortfall. Now, leaving aside my own serious doubts as to the veracity of the figures indicating the last "crisis", and taking the available evidence as-is rather than with a handful of the salt no doubt about to be rubbed into the wounds of the Woodhouse Report; things still seems mightily odd.

The root of the present "shortfall" and corresponding levy increase appears to have been a decision to increase the forecasts for costs (even going so far as to add a "future cabinet and regulated rate increases" category), apparently in an attempt to increase ACC reserves beyond their already impressive projected 3.5 years. In other words, the Government is attempting to inject enough money for it to be more self-sufficient for at least another election cycle. Indeed, The Listener estimates that 8.3 years worth of reserves would render the scheme entirely pre-fundable.

To put it bluntly, the Government is inexorably pushing ACC toward financial independance, probably as part of yet another bid to inject privatisation into this element of the insurance market - either by re-allowing private competition, or by wholly or partially privatising the scheme. National's refusal to genuinely confirm ACC's future, and pointed ambiguity as to the prospects of privatisations in their second term certainly do nothing to disprove this.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Putting New Zealand First on the Net

Well, here we are. Curwen and I are the first to join this blog, but I think the long term vision is to build up a group of bloggers as we help to build a stronger youth wing for New Zealand First. It should be made clear however that we are not speaking in official capacity for NZF, we are merely enthusiastic supporters.

"Youth Wing? New Zealand First? Aren't they mutually exclusive?" I can hear some of the more sceptical amongst you ask yourselves. Despite the stereotype, we think there is every reason for kiwi youth to get energised by the issues New Zealand First brings up. Despite National's rhetoric in opposition about ending the brain drain, we have seen precious little action on this issue since they have got into Government. The most talented youth we have do not see this country as the dynamic, exciting land of opportunity it needs to become to keep its place as a first world nation. Both Labour and National are responsible for the twenty five years old neoliberal experiment that has eroded our public services, destroyed our manufacturing sector and sent us tumbling down the OECD ladder. So that is why I've decided to put my efforts going into the 2011 election with a party led by a man who has resolutely opposed these policies both as a opposition frontbencher against the Rogernomics of the Lange Government and as the man with the courage to leave National over its betrayal of the electorate in committing to Ruthanasia.

But more than that I'm committed to getting a party elected that will put New Zealand's economy back on track, that recognises the importance of keeping critical assets such as Kiwirail and Air New Zealand in New Zealand hands, that wants to create a New Zealand of full employment and has the courage to propose new and innovative ways to manage the economy, rather than carrying on with the failed Reserve Bank Act which up-ends our economy with every sign of growth.

That is why I'm with New Zealand First.