9.35pm: Into the final segment of the programme now and they’re grilling Goff on leadership. Soper brings up the Cunliffe remarks from yesterday. “By the time I’d heard about it, he’d already made his apology,” says Goff, which seems to imply he isn’t reading this blog, which is hard to fathom. Come on, Phil.
“You can expect a very high standard from cabinet ministers in the next Labour government,” says Goff.
And Darren Hughes - in that case you had the information before it was in the media and didn’t act, says Spence. “There was always going to be action, but I happen to believe in the principle of justice, and you don’t get justice through trial in the media,” says Goff. “You understand that.”
What about Winston? Don’t you need him to govern, isn’t it impossible to govern if he won’t play, as indicated earlier today? He denies that, but adds that while he’d rule out a coalition with National, ACT or Mana, “I’ve made no decision about him [Winston] at all.”
What went wrong at the Press debate? “It was a debate of two halves,” Goff says, conceding that “it was a disadvantage not to have those figures“. (My outlandish emphasis.)
A difficult ending, as Young says no one in a survey of 500 people had a good word to say about him. He says he often meets people that have a good word to say for him – “and they’re not all my wife”.
The awkward last few minutes aside, however, Goff will be pleased with that. No banana skins, and he didn’t look edgy or rattled. But not a lot will have been watching, and few of them will be up for grabs as voters. Certainly not a – what’s the word? – game*****er.
9.15pm: Audrey Young asks about the the Two Phils: the Phil that has historically been on the right of the Labour party, and the Phil that is heading a leftward campaign for Labour in 2011. “I don’t accept the left-right paradigm,” says Phil Goff. You go with what works, he says, as if we were born yesterday.
Are you being dictated to by the trade unionists on employment policy, asks Soper. We’re proud to have people in the caucus with trade union backgounds, he says. “I don’t claim that the National party, which is full of farmers, is there solely representing farmers.”
9.00pm: It had to happen at some point. Barry Soper has fruit and veges in his arms. He holds a lettuce aloft, in plastic wrapper. Yes, that is a fresh vegetable, and won’t attract GST under Labour’s plans to remove the tax from fresh fruit and vegetables, says Goff. No, it doesn’t apply to cafes and restaurants, he says.
But the lettuce has a mayonnaise sachet, says Small. “I think you’re making this much more complicated than it is.”
What would Goff drop from his spending plans if the economy failed to recover as anticipated owing to global shakiness? Goff refuses to cite anything specifically, instead suggesting they would phase in their promises more gradually.
How do you change the attitude of the kid on the dole from a welfare background, asks Spence. Goff responds with a bit of conviction: “Let’s get something straight first: the vast majority of people on the unemployment benefit do want to work.”
8.50pm: The Sunday night election series on Sky News is back, this week with Phil Goff being interviewed by Barry Soper, who is joined, Meet the Press style, by Audrey Young (Herald), Vernon Small (Fairfax) and Alex Tarrant (Interest.co.nz). Is this any time to be increasing debt, asks Small. Goff says “financial crises occur periodically”. True enough, but is this really a typical crisis? That’s my question, to the television, rather than anyone’s on the television.
Goff is assured on whether the country’s credit rating can withstand Labour’s plans, with a few shots across the bows of National and their S&P. Strong on tax avoidance, too, though I’m wearying of the my-friend-Sam-Morgan story.
“Gamechanger” has already been uttered three times. I’ll vote for any party that makes speaking “gamechanger” a criminal offence.
On capital gains tax, Goff is confident. Good start.
Now assets and Goff’s track record. “We were wrong then and we know it know and they are wrong now,” says Goff, or words to that effect. I can just about lip synch with Goff now so familiar have some of the lines become.
I couldn’t quite manage the answer on the super fund and why that doesn’t go on the borrowing ledger. Just. Goff says:
The money that would go into the superannuation fund would be borrowed for the period that we need it to before we get back into surplus, which is not a long period of time. But what the government has the ability to do – because it is the government – is to borrow at quite cheap rates. And, of course, it doesn’t spend that money, it invests it, so the balance of the debt is met by the value of the asset, and the asset returns more money to the government than the cost of the debt, so actually we come out on top.
Young goes to ask a follow-up question, but Small comes in with a question on Air New Zealand. Young looks peeved. Goff looks relieved.
7.30pm: Extraordinary. The Timaru Herald has somehow gotten hold of John Key’s secret diary.
6.45pm: David Farrar of Kiwiblog has gone through Labour’s fiscal outlook and National’s response. His conclusion: “Putting aside SOE part-sales, overall I make it that Labour will increase net debt by around $12b over four years, of which half is for NZ Super Fund contributions.”
6.25pm: EVENING NEWS
One News leads on disgraced ACT MP David Garrett facing charges for drink-driving. Its first election story is Winston Peters’ announcement he won’t bind with either National or Labour. Guyon Espiner notes that in 2005 he said much the same, and ended up foreign minister in a Labour government.
Next we follow John Key on the campaign trail, then go to Phil Goff and Labour’s environment policy. Speaking to One News Goff accuses Steven Joyce of “negligence” over the Rena. Finally they take in the Green party launch.
On 3 News the same election stories are covered, but in reverse order. Following a story about the level of alcohol abuse in the military and more in Tiger Woods’s former caddie Steve Williams, it’s the Green launch, Labour’s environment policy, John Key on the trail and finally Winston Peters’s speech.
5.35pm: POLICY Labour has announced its climate change policy in Auckland today. I’m yet to see any official release or policy document, but I’ll add them to this entry when I do. Stuff leads its summary on a promise to review New Zealand’s preparedness for marine oil spills. I wonder if that was in their plans, say, two months ago.
5.10pm: Who knew? Russel Norman is a handy juggler, as this video from his Green co-leader shows.
4.45pm: Winston Peters’ speech from earlier today in which he confirmed he would not ally with either main party – “all those people lumping us in with groups and making us part of some fictitious coalition should stop right now” – is now online at Scoop.
There is a lot in the speech on race relations. Labour has failed, he says, to confront National “about the separatism, the insidious Treaty threat to democracy and the race based privatisation of the foreshore and seabed”. Indeed, all the other paries, ACT included, “are in the same Treaty addicted boat”. He concludes:
If we want to belong in our own country and if we believe in equality and a fair go it’s our duty to stop these political vandals destroying our way of life. The real battle of this election will start after November 26 when the enormity of the plans for New Zealand will see the light of day. That’s when you will need New Zealand First. That’s when you will need the political street fighters on your side.
If nothing else, full marks for correct use of enormity.
At No Right Turn, blogger Idiot/Savant says Peters’ decision has “killed Labour’s dream” of “cobbling together a coalition”.
1.45pm: I’m not playing with any of the other parties, says Winston Peters.
1.35pm: The pro-MMP campaign have the backing of “New Zealand’s best known and loved writers”, they say in a release. But according to the NZ Society of Authors, our best known writer is Katherine Mansfield, and I can’t see her name on the list.
1.05pm: The Greens have officially launched their campaign on the Wellington waterfront. I caught a few parts of it on the livestream. Seemed to be a full house at the Boatshed, and Robyn Malcolm, adding some stardust to the occasion, was doing a good job of rousing the troops.
The policy centrepiece concerns a “public option” for KiwiSaver, which would mean lower fees and charges for savers and ensure the investments remained in New Zealand. Russel Norman says it would “do for KiwiSaver what Kiwibank has done for banking”.
12.50pm: Bill English and Murray McCully are flying off to Hawaii in the middle of the election campaign. They have a good excuse, though: the Apec summit.
12.40pm: What does RNZ’s arts programmes have to say about the arts policies launched this week (see Wednesday)? According to Hamish Keith, nowt. He tweets:
12.30pm: This morning’s Insight programme on Radio New Zealand National looks at the breadth and impact of child poverty in New Zealand. Listen here.
10.45am: The Green party campaign launch, which starts at 11.15am, is to be livestreamed here. At the moment all I’m seeing there is a young man smiling awkwardly, though.
10.30am: This morning’s Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand looks at election coverage, including the debates – and this very live blog.
In other news, people are setting off fireworks around the corner. At 10.30am.
10.20am: TVNZ are running their own election live blog. They’ve covered this morning’s Q+A programme in some detail, but completely ignored TV3′s The Nation yesterday. Probably trouble tuning the telly.
10.05am: Marae Investigates on TV One is looking at the Te Tai Tonga constituency. For a primer on this very interesting seat, try this piece in the Wellingtonian newspaper last week.
10.00am: Guyon Espiner leaves the duelling spreadsheets to last in the Q+A finance debate, cognisant presumably of the likelihood that it will have viewers reaching for their remote controls. Bill English opens a new flank of attack, saying that because the best Labour could hope for is governing with the backing of the Greens, a slew of new spending would be inevitable.
Are you ruling out an arrangement with the Greens then, Espiner says. “We’re ruling out anything that will [worsen] the debt situation.”
English then returns to the trusted “spending is in Labour’s DNA” line. If they’re not spending from the state purse, he charges, they’re making everyone else spend more by doing things “like the minimum wage, that stuff”.
The debate opened with a new poll showing that economic confidence is picking up, with two-thirds of New Zealanders thinking the economy will stay the same or improve. Are you one of the third who thinks it will get worse, Espiner asks Cunliffe. “No, I think it should improve,” he says. English says the figures reflect the “great resilience” of New Zealand through a difficult year. “It’s vital to keep pushing in the right direction.”
On government management of the economy, English says something a National finance minister would not normally be proud to say: “It’s been hands on.”
Pushed on asset sales, English says he is confident but unable to guarantee they will reap the estimated five to seven billion for the four partial sales. For his part, Cunliffe says a Labour government would not be interested in purchasing back the portion of Air New Zealand (25% I think) currently in private hands.
Next to capital gains tax, and Bill English refuses to say he’d insert a CGT if he was designing the tax system from scratch. In the past, however, he has accepted that such a tax is right in theory.
A TVNZ poll also has encouraging, perhaps surprising, news that opinion is even on Labour’s plans to increase the age of eligibility for superannuation by a couple of years.
Cunliffe has a go at English over their “90-day fire-at-will bill”. Espiner asks English whether the minimum wage is sufficient to live on. “A long time on the minimum wage is pretty darn tough,” he says. Cunliffe is bullish and at his best in this area. “New Zealanders are struggling,” he says, and Labour’s promise of no tax for the first $5,000 earning and a lift in the minimum wage will turn things around,
No clear winner from this clash, but that will suit National better than Labour.
9.30am: Read our roundup of all the coverage from this morning’s Sunday papers.
9.25am: Next on Q+A, an item from the fascinating New Plymouth electorate, where Andrew Little, a man tipped as a potential future Labour leader, appears to be struggling. His main problem, according to one resident, is that “He’s not Harry” – a reference to Harry Duynhoven, now mayor, who was the Labour MP for the constituency for nearly 20 years.
9.15am: Russel Norman, co-leader of the Green party, is first up on Q+A. Questioned on their efforts to be more palatable to business, Norman says it’s a two-way cyclepath: they’re becoming more business friendly, and business are becoming greener and hence Green-er.
Would he take a ministerial role? “That would have to be past of a confidence and supply agreement,” says Norman, who has all but ruled out a formal coalition with National. “So that’s highly unlikely.”
9.00am: Radio New Zealand is leading its morning bulletin with John Key’s remarks on SAS troops in Afghanistan. He’s bringing them home, he says, but: “In terms of redeployment, I’ve never given that any thought.” Never?
That is followed by Labour questioning National’s plans for public service cuts (see Tony Ryall on The Nation, yesterday morning).
8.00am: Armchair accountants are in heaven this morning, as Bill English and David Cunliffe meet again to clash ledgers and projections. National and Labour’s gravelly voiced financial commanders meet at 9am on Q+A.
The Greens launch their campaign today in Wellington, in an effort to steal some attention, despite the fact that their campaign has obviously been in train (I almost said on the road, but that wouldn’t be right) for some time.
Later this evening Sky host their second campaign event, with Phil Goff in the chair. I think. Beginning 8.30pm.
We’re flicking through the Sunday papers now – summary coming soon.