8.15pm: Time to wind things up at the end of a day in which Labour did its level best to get back on the front foot after a good four days struggling to swat away charges of fiscal ineptitude. They will be pleased with the coverage given to the launch, and not the least bit displeased with the ACT advocate who ambushed the prime minister in a New Plymouth shopping centre, embarrassing both Key and his own party leader, Don Brash. The question we’re all asking – aren’t we? – is what this all means for the Cup of Tea
P.S. My column for the print Listener on the parties’ websites is now online here. And Native Affairs begins at 8.30pm on Maori TV taking its Kowhiri series to Waiariki.
7.30pm: EVENING BROADCAST
It is one of Labour’s “biggest and most expensive shots this campaign”, says Duncan Garner. A “flagship policy”, says Guyon Espiner. And their policy for children – or “kids’ policy”, in 3 News’s introduction – gets a good airing on both 6pm bulletins, as well as leading Checkpoint on Radio New Zealand National. On the TV news, both networks give the policy (see 2.50pm) a story plus a survey of reaction.
(Neither One nor 3 leads on the election, however, plumping respectively for the suspicious death of a toddler and an engineer’s estimation that as many as 300 more people would have died in the February earthquake in Christchurch had the September 2010 quake.)
The Act party local chairman’s challenge to John Key over Epsom (see 12.50pm) overshadows the National law and order announcement on One News and 3, though the civil detention orders get a mention before the awkward shopping mall moment on Checkpoint.
Later in its bulletin One returns to election coverage, noting Sharples’ lead in Tamaki Makarau, following by a “special report” on the trees that do and don’t earn carbon credits under the emissions trading scheme.
Close Up runs the first of a promised series on New Zealanders moving to Australia – a potential slow-burner in this campaign – noting that closing the wage gap was part of John Key’s vision three years ago. Its first part asks whether life over there is all it’s cracked up to be. For the most part, yes, if the expats spoken to are to be trusted.
Don Brash appears in the studio. He’s not going to Australia. With him is Peter Conway of the Council of Trade Unions. The two men do not agree on a fix. Really.
Campbell Live looks into allegations of misuse of funds within the Samoan rugby union.
5.45pm: On the issue of National juggling government and campaign material on its website (see last Tuesday’s blog, 1.05pm and 8.50pm), a blogger at An Objectless Guilt has raised further concerns about the National site “mixing party policking with government activities and judicial appointments”.
5.25pm: A Te Karere Digipoll gives Pita Sharples, Maori party co-leader, a huge lead over Labour’s Shane Jones (58% to 23%) in Tamaki Makarau.
Apologies, a little late with this. Earlier today National released the second part of its law and order policy, and the tough-stuff theme continues, although civil libertarians will balk. The policy centres on keeping the most serious offenders in custody at the end of their sentences via civil detention orders. They estimate it will apply to fewer than 12 people over the next 10 years. The policy also pledges the introduction of parole applications to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings.
4.50pm: On her Facebook page, Robyn Malcolm writes:
Crumbs. Since when did the Herald go “full tabloid” in its headlines?? Good grief, hardly vitriol, was wearing pink!
Meanwhile a Twitter hashtag game has been chugging along mocking the Herald’s portrayal (see 8.15am) of Robyn Malcolm’s “vitriolic” attack on John Key, called #evilrobyn. Among other ill deeds she will “eat your ghost chips” and “is responsible for no live cricket on radio sport this summer”.
Here’s Jane Clifton, on the prospects for a Key-Banks cup-of-tea summit, Winston’s latest play, and Robyn Malcolm’s launch of the Green campaign. (If the audio player doesn’t appear, try here.)
Annette King and Phil Goff have released Labour’s policy for children, complete with a heroically banal title – “It’s about our kids” – for a bold ambition, to lift 100,000 children out of poverty.
Among their plans are cementing the 20-hours-free provision for three and four-year-olds, a return to 100% qualified teachers and returning to earlier levels of funding “over time” and extending Working for Families eligibility to beneficiary families.
They are also promising free 24/7 access to primary health care for all under 6s. This comes from new funding (see Saturday). Paid parental leave would be extended to 26 weeks over time, free dental treatment for all pregnant women provided, and an official poverty measure enshrined in legislation.
(By the way still no sign of an online version of the climate change policy Labour launched yesterday.)
1.45pm: Here’s something for John Banks from another man of ideas. Best of luck.
“The concession by Finance Minister Bill English that National may not get the $5-7 billion it expected from its asset sales programme is a hammer blow to the government’s credibility,” argues Gordon Campbell at Scoop.
At Whaleoil, Cameron Slater says Labour are not being straight on the GST exemption for fresh fruit and vegetables.
More for polling nerds from David Farrar at Kiwiblog.
How are the politicians faring in the world of social media? Justin Flitter lets rip the analytics.
And legal blogger and electoral system expert Graeme Edgeler has two new posts at Public Address. One looks at infrequently asked questions around the referendum. They’re interesting questions, and all. The other post upbraids the anti-MMP Vote for Change group for their latest, misleading advertisement.
12.50pm: The ACT party chairman in New Plymouth has publically confronted John Key, who is visiting the marginal seat today, urging him to reciprocate ACT’s sacrifice in New Plymouth, we’re they’re not standing a candidate to give National a boost, and withdraw the National candidate Paul Goldsmith in Epsom. Will shouting at John Key help? It might, but on the other hand it might shake his conviction that ACT are the “stable” force he described this morning.
12.40pm: An oddly timed government announcement comes mid-campaign in a release crediting both National and Maori party ministers: “The Minister for Social Development and Employment, Paula Bennett and the Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, today announced the new Disability Innovation Fund making $500,000 available for innovative ways of getting disabled people into work or retaining them in work.”
12.35pm: The prime minister will attend the funeral of Allan Peachey on Friday. The National MP for Tamaki died on Sunday from Cancer. He was not standing for re-election following his illness.
12.30pm: The Mana party has challenged National to move the government accounts from Westpac to Kiwibank.
12.15pm: Radio New Zealand leads its midday bulletin on the National party’s failure to sign a pledge to eliminate Child poverty by 2020. The pledge, the work of the campaigning group Every Child Counts, has been signed by the Labour, Green and Maori parties.
National is perhaps alert to Tony Blair’s pledge in 1999 to wipe out child poverty in 20 years. They didn’t come close.
In any case, Labour could hardly have hoped for a better headline in the leadup to their children policy launch this afternoon.
10.45pm: The education debate on the Nine to Noon programme (RNZ) begins with a discussion of the controversial National Standards scheme. National’s Anne Tolley defends the standard as “benchmarks” – and they’re still being implemented, she says. The Greens’ Catherine Delahunty says: “National standards are good for rating water quality and rivers but not for our children’s learning.”
Labour’s Sue Moroney attempts to join the dots between those struggling at schools and child poverty. Pushed by Kathryn Ryan for more detail on Labour’s plans, Moroney says we should hang on for their big children announcement this afternoon. (That’s a big announcement about children, not an announcement about big children.) Says Ryan: “Haven’t you had a debate recently when you wished you had the facts in advance?” Just what I was thinking. Moroney is hobbled throughout by a vagueness born of not wanting to pre-empt the later release.
Key’s decision to link asset sales to investment in education (see here) is backfiring a bit here – it’s allowing Tolley’s opponents to return time and again to asset sales in the context of a debate on schools.
On early childhood education, Tolley is taken to task for a reduction in funding in real terms. Tolley brandishes the increase in qualified teachers, and promises the 20-hours free for over-twos will remain, but refuses to commit to the same level of subsidy. “No government could guarantee that given the state of the world,” she says.
“Twenty hours free is awesome but it’s so variable across the sector … It is really hard for parents to access sometimes,” says Kaapua Smith of the Maori party.
10.00am: Plenty to read on the election in the new Listener. The cover story is a timely examination of youth unemployment in New Zealand by Joanne Black, including a survey of the parties’ approaches to the problem.
The editorial acclaims Labour for “doing the country a great service in confronting the ancient political taboo of raising the pension age”. Jane Clifton’s politics column looks back across a mercifully entertaining opening week. Diana Wichtel has more on the leaders’ debate, and watches Patrick Gower’s struggles with Don Brash.
Bill Ralston columnises on the election, the Occupy movement (he’s not a fan) and the solace of red wine. And I’ve done a column on the parties’ websites.
And here’s Peter Griffin’s recent piece from the Listener on the parties’ information and communications policies.
9.00am: Phil Goff appeared earlier on Kiwi FM’s Radio Wammo, available on YouTube.
The most interesting exchange involved Glenn Williams asking whether a further global economic slump could force a Labour government to go back on promises. “If the world changes from what we can reasonably forecast it to be at the moment, and you’ve got to make changes, yes,” says Goff.
Williams: “It sounds like a dynamic [pronounced dinnimic, as Key did in the first debate on Monday] situation.”
Goff: “The difference with that, Wammo, is he made all those promises right in the middle of the global financial crisis. He’d seen all the projections, he knew what was happening in the world. There is no excuse for what he did.”
8.15am: PRESS REVIEW They might have wilder dreams, but the Green party surely could not have expected that their launch yesterday would lead this morning’s New Zealand Herald. But there they are – or there, more particularly, is the Outrageous Fortune star Robyn Malcolm, who came out swinging at National on behalf of the Greens. Read the full review of the morning papers here.
8.00am: Corin Dann asks John Key on Breakfast about child poverty - the Poverty Action Group say 22% of children are below the poverty line. “It’s not a perfect measurement, I don’t think,” says Key. “The general number that’s used is 200,000 children living in poverty.” It’s important there is welfare for “kids that need it” but equally to try to move their families off benefits, he says.
“I don’t want to see any New Zealand child in poverty, and one thing I am absolutely committed to is making sure they get a decent education so they can choose their own life.”
Next Dann brings up Robyn Malcolm’s attack on John Key at the Greens’ launch yesterday (which is all over the front page of the Herald this morning; paper roundup coming soon). “Given it was a fairly personal attack I’ll just leave it,” says Key.
What about that stronger signal of support that John Banks is hoping for in Epsom? “Maybe in due course.” And: “We’ve got to sit down and have a cup of tea with John Banks.” The kettle’s on at my place, guys: you’re always welcome. You’ll be English Breakfast, John, but of course you, John, will want gumboot.
The interview rounds off with the fiscal outlooks - and a new line from Key: that Michael Cullen in the past has calculated investment in the super fund as borrowing, unlike Labour now.
7.30am: MORNING BULLETINS
Leading at 7am on Morning Report is asset sales “coming under increasing scrutiny”, with Sam Stubbs of Tower Insurance having told the programme that he believes the four partial sales should attract a good price, despite Bill English’s acknowledgment yesterday that they could not guarantee achieving the prices sought. Next is the Green’s proffered public option for KiwiSaver (again see yesterday), followed by Greece.
After the news, David Cunliffe appears unopposed on the show – according to Simon Mercep National were unwilling to put anyone up (actually I think he said Bill English declined, but presumably they would have taken a substitute).
Climbers trapped on Mt Everest, Qantas great forgive-us giveaway, and the M5 pile-up in the UK lead the 7am bulletin on TV One Breakfast. Then the resumption of the Royal Commission on the Christchurch earthquake, the hunt for Rena containers, and off to sport. No election there, then, but John Key is on the sofa at 7.15am – more on that soon.
On TV3′s Firstline the 7am bulletin leads with alcohol abuse in the NZ Defence Force, an exclusive 3 News broke last night. That’s followed by a wrap-up of campaign activity: a preview of Labour’s policy on children scheduled today; John Key is off to New Plymouth; and the Greens’ KiwiSaver pledge. Then Winston Peters’ promise to sit in opposition. At the end of the bulletin, the indefatigable Patrick Gower pops up for a two-way explaining the Greens’ public offer initative.
6.50am: Good morning.
John Key will presumably keep his weekly appointment on breatkfast TV in half an hour or so. An education debate is airing on National Radio after 10am.
All the bulletins and the papers soon.
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