Month: August 2014

Poll of Polls update – 31 August 2014

The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll has just been released, and there’s some interesting results there.

National drop 2%, down to 48%. That’s on top of the 2% they dropped in the mid-August Colmar Brunton poll.

On the left, Labour increased 2% to 28%, while the Greens went up 1% to 12%. That’s a 5% narrowing of the gap by a Labour/Greens alliance. Given the continued floundering by National in the wake of Dirty Politics, and the confident performance by David Cunliffe in the first televised leaders’ debate (which wasn’t covered by the polling window), Labour might be in line for a continued lift in subsequent polling.

For the minor parties, NZ First is up 1% to 6%, providing a clear buffer above the 5% threshold. And there’s a good results for the Conservatives, up 0.8% to 3.2%, although it’s still nowhere near the threshold.

Internet Mana slumps badly, down 2.3% to just 1.6%. Given their headlines have largely consisted of the fallout from the Pam Corkery / campaign launch debacle, the slump is not perhaps surprising.

For the remaining minor parties, the Maori Party drops 0.3% to 0.6%, United Future flatlines on a big round zero, and ACT are down 0.2% to 0.4%.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 49.0% (-0.1%)

Labour: 26.8% (nc)

Greens: 12.2% (nc)

NZ First: 5.2% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (nc)

United Future: 0.2% (nc)

ACT: 0.4% (nc)

Internet Mana: 2.2% (-0.1%)

Conservative: 2.4% (+0.1%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 61 (nc)

Labour: 33 (nc)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

There’s very little change in the various parties’ percentages. National drops slightly again, but only slightly, while Labour ceases to slide, but doesn’t climb.

NZ First hit 5.2%, giving them a little breathing space above the 5% threshold. They briefly reached 5.2% back at the end of May, before sliding quickly down to 4.5%, so they’ll be pleased to be back at their highest point with a few weeks of the campaign still to run.

The Internet Mana momentum is arrested, although there’s no great fall for them. Meanwhile the Conservatives’ incremental increase continues, although they’re not yet at the level they reached at the last election.

With no change in the allocation of seats, the Right has a total of 63 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. With both United Future and the Maori Party providing overhang seats, National’s 61 seats means they can’t quite govern alone, but the Right bloc would still have enough seats seats to not require NZ First.

If the Maori Party fail to hold Te Tai Hauauru, National governs alone.

With all of the weekend excitement over the political demise of Judith Collins, John Key will be hoping that the heat goes off his government and National’s poll ratings can be sustained. However, with summons’s issued for an 11 September inquiry into Cameron Slater’s OIA request to the SIS, who knows what twists and turns lie in wait ahead.

Given all that’s already happened this election campaign, it’s hard to see how Kim Dotcom’s supposedly explosive revelations will be anything other than a fizzer…

Enemies without and enemies within

Yesterday, when the news of Judith Collins’ resignation broke, I asked where the Cameron Slater email had come from. It hadn’t been released by Whaledump, and it hadn’t featured in Dirty Politics. Instead, it had been sent to the Prime Minister’s office.

John Key clarified yesterday that the email was not sent anonymously. Instead, the email came from a person who was known to the PM’s office, but the identity of that person was not going to be released.

Well, we don’t know just whose hands the incriminating email passed through on its way through the Beehive to John Key and his staff, but according to the Sunday Star-Times this morning, the source of the email was Cathy Odgers aka Cactus Kate, Cameron Slater’s partner in crime:

Knowing Fairfax was investigating the hacked emails, it is believed Odgers (known by the blog name Cactus Kate) went through her own emails and found some that could be seen as implicating Collins. This correspondence then found its way to a Beehive staffer on Friday.

“I take it you found the smoking gun,” Odgers said in an email to Fairfax shortly before Collins resigned. She declined to comment further yesterday.

In fact, Fairfax did not have that particular incriminating email, and the hacker known as Rawshark said yesterday he did not have it either. “That email wasn’t leaked by me, I had nothing to do with it,” said Rawshark, who was also the source for Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

Exactly who Odgers provided the email to, and why, isn’t clear. If she had assumed that the SST already had the email, it was presumably an attempt to tip the Government off regarding the coming storm. Slater must now be wondering whether his friend Odgers had anticipated that Collins’ scalp was an inevitability the moment the email was provided by her to the National Party.

And the timing isn’t clear either. There seem to be conflicting accounts of what date it was received by National Party staffers, and what the chain of custody was before it arrived at the Ninth Floor.

Regardless of the exact dates, times and chains of custody, Slater and Collins must be spitting tacks. All that talk of “giving back double”, and then to discover that the person they need to give back double to is Cathy Odgers…

Cameron Slater – lies, or the art of puffery?

Cameron Slater’s email to Carrick Graham, Mark possibly-Hochin and one mystery identity may have sunk Judith Collins’ political career, but Slater is standing steadfastly by her. Reading a pre-prepared statement yesterday, and taking a few media questions, he denied that Collins had done what the email said she’d done.

So was he lying in the email? Apparently not. According to Slater, he was exaggerating the truth:

“Embellished is a good word. It’s better than a lie, isn’t it?”

It’s worth looking at precisely what Slater wrote about Judith Collins’ involvement in the conspiracy to undermine then-SFO director Adam Feeley:

“I also spoke at length with the Minister responsible today (Judith Collins). She is gunning for Feeley. Any information that we can provide her on his background is appreciated. I have outlined for her a coming blog post about the massive staff turnover and she has added that to the review of the State Services Commissioner. She is using his review of these events to go on a trawl looking for anything else. It is my opinion that Feeley’s position is untenable.”

There are a few definite statements of fact there:

  • Slater spoke to Collins, and the conversation was at least partly about Feeley.
  • Slater discussed with Collins his Whaleoil campaign against Feeley.
  • Collins stated that she intended to pass on Slater’s blog material to the State Services Commissioner.

Now the rest of the paragraph could be explained away by simple puffery. For example, Collins says a few intemperate things about Feeley in a topic of conversation initiated by Slater, which Slater describes as Collins “gunning for Feeley”. He assumes she’d be interested in more material on Feeley being passed to her. She pats him on the head and tells him he’s doing good work with his blog.

Nonetheless, even if everything that isn’t a statement of fact is merely Slater demonstrating his elevated sense of self-importance to his business partners, Carrick Graham et al, the statements of fact in themselves raise serious issues with Collins’ conduct.

Collins was Minister of Justice. As part of her role, she was the Minister in charge of the SFO. And in that role, she had a conversation with a blogger who informed her that he was about to undertake a campaign to torpedo the head of the SFO. Rather than telling the blogger that such a course of action is entirely inappropriate, she instead gives him a green light to go for it. After all, when you tell someone that you’ll pass their material on to the State Services Commissioner, and you don’t tell them to then pull their head in, that’s a green light.

So if Slater wasn’t lying in his email, that’s the best case for Collins, and that, to my mind, is resignation material on its own. And if the true situation is less than best case? Well, Collins won’t ever be returning as a Minister.

Serious questions for Jared Savage & the NZ Herald

So, further to the Cameron Slater email that felled Judith Collins, there’s a particular line in the email that’s rather troubling:

I am maintaining daily communications with Jared Savage at the Herald and he is passing information directly to me that the Herald can’t run and so are feeding me to run on the blog.

Perhaps Jared Savage might like to explain what precisely he as a journalist was doing feeding information to Cameron Slater that Savage couldn’t publish himself. If the NZ Herald can’t use certain information in a story, it’s presumably because they’re worried about the legal consequences. So why would a reputable journalist then pass that information on to a blogger to use?

Let’s look at the Len Brown sex scandal story. It wasn’t something any mainstream media outlet was going to touch. Until it was all over the Whaleoil site, which meant that it was now news. Was/Is there a similar modus operandi here from those working at the Herald? We can’t run the story, but if we give it to Slater we can report on what he’s “reported”?

Or was it simply a Herald smear campaign against the then-SFO director? “We can’t report it, but we want to take him down.” Because if that’s the case, that’s not journalism; that’s a vendetta. Worse, it’s a vendetta performed in secret by the very people we are supposed to trust as impartial reporters of fact.

Judith Collins resigns

Oravida and the mysterious Chinese border control official, the Simon Pleasants leak, Bronwyn Pullar’s Privacy Commission complaint, plotting to roll John Key after the election – the allegations just kept coming.

Now there’s the allegation that she conspired with Cameron Slater and others to discredit former Serious Fraud Office director Adam Feeley. This while she was Minister of Justice – the Minister in charge of the SFO.

She’s resigned as a Minister, and John Key has accepted that resignation. As with the Oravida saga, she believes that she’s the victim here (the vast left wing smear campaign continues…), and she’s resigning to focus on clearing her name. She’ll be staying on as MP for Papakura though, although John Key, in his press conference at the Beehive, made it clear that she could not expect a Ministerial role if National is re-elected (not at least until her name is cleared).

A 2011 email from Slater to Carrick Graham and others was sent anonymously to John Key’s office last night.

The Cameron Slater email that has resulted in Judith Collins' resignation

The Cameron Slater email that has resulted in Judith Collins’ resignation

The email includes the following paragraphs (some grammar/spelling fixed):

I am maintaining daily communications with Jared Savage at the Herald and he is passing information directly to me that the Herald can’t run and so are feeding me to run on the blog. In the meantime I also have additional information flowing in via my tipline. That information will be drip fed into the media or via my blog.

and

I also spoke at length with the Minister responsible today (Judith Collins). She is gunning for Feeley. Any information that we can provide her on his background is appreciated. I have outlined for her a coming blog post about the massive staff turnover and she has added that to the review of the State Services Commissioner. She is using his review of these events to go on a trawl looking for anything else. It is my opinion that Feeley’s position is untenable.

Given the allegations in Dirty Politics that Judith Collins was responsible for so many of the leaks that poured through the Whaleoil “tipline”, it’s hard to escape the possibility that Collins was both sending and receiving information regarding Feeley. Even if nothing flowed from her to Slater on the subject, the fact that she was at least briefed by Slater on a smear campaign against the head of the SFO is more than grounds for her resignation. That would be unacceptable from any Government Minister, let alone the Minister in charge of the SFO.

Of interest is where the email came from. It wasn’t released by Whaledump, and one would assume that if Nicky Hager had had it in his possession, it would have featured prominently in Dirty Politics. Was Slater hacked twice, or has someone in Slater’s inner circle turned against him?

Regardless of the provinence of the email, Judith Collins’ career is now officially in tatters. Since the Oravida story broke, the likelihood of her ever becoming leader of the National Party and Prime Minister was ever-decreasing. Now, the odds have to be as close to zero as they come.

Andrew Williams lawyers up

Andrew Williams is somewhat annoyed about being dumped completely from the NZ First party list. As such, he’s following in his leader’s footsteps and is lawyering up, seeking a judicial review of the party’s decision.

My immediate response, on hearing the news, was to ask what possible remedy Mr Williams is hoping to achieve? After all, once the party list has been filed with the Electoral Commission, and nominations have closed, there’s no going back. According to s 128C(2) of the Electoral Act, once we reached noon on 26 August, nomination day, no party list can be withdrawn and no further list can be lodged. There’s simply no way for a Court to order that he be substituted onto the NZ First list, even if the party did him wrong.

However, the NZ Herald reports that he’s seeking “an urgent hearing following the election” as doesn’t “wish to derail NZ First’s campaign”. So he’s not seeking, in some Don Quixote-like quest, to receive his previous unwinnable place on the list. Instead, it’s about protecting his reputation:

“I regret that I have no other option other than to take my party to court to protect my reputation.”

Which means that Williams is simply seeking a declaration that the NZ First list ranking committee breached the party’s constitution when it removed him from the list. He says:

“The manner in which I have been mistreated by the party has forced me to seek court declarations that the revocation of my electorate and list candidacies, and my removal from the party list, breached the processes in the party’s constitution for fair treatment.

There are numerous protections in the New Zealand First Constitution to ensure fair treatment, which I have not been accorded. This includes not being given an opportunity to respond to the decision to remove me from the party list.”

Williams is presumably intending to rely on clause 53 of NZ First’s Constitution, which sets out the process by which a List candidate’s candidacy can be revoked. Essentially, if the party’s Board resolves that revocation is necessary, clause 53 provides that a meeting shall be called, with the candidate to be given four days notice. The candidate is to be given the right to be heard at the meeting, following which the List Ranking Committee can essentially do whatever they like, be that confirming their place on the list, dropping them down the list or removing them entirely.

Of course, actually following clause 53 would have been somewhat problematic for NZ First. Andrew Williams went public with his attack on deputy leader Tracey Martin and her mother, the party president, on 21 August. With nomination day being 26 August, that would have meant holding a List Ranking Committee meeting the day before nomination day, at the earliest.

That’s assuming that the Board had made a decision on 21 August to review Williams’ list candidacy; if they didn’t make the decision until, say, the next morning, and meeting would then have had to be called on nomination day itself, cutting things a little fine.

And if the Board didn’t make a decision to review Williams’ candidacy until, say, 23 August? Well, you get the picture…

Frankly though, it sounds a lot of money to burn through if the sole end result is going to be a declaration in Williams’ favour. But perhaps Colin Craig’s penchant for litigation is contagious.

Poll of Polls update – 29 August 2014

The polls are coming thick and fast. There must be an election on…

Yesterday, we had the release of the latest Herald Digipoll, while this morning it’s the Fairfax Ipsos poll.

In the Digipoll, National are up 0.7% to 50.7%, while Labour sink further, down 1.1% to 24.1%. The Greens didn’t soak up the lost Labour support though; they dropped 1.7% to 11.4%.

NZ First just scrapes the threshold, up 0.7% to reach 5.0%. Good results were also had by the Conservatives (up 0.7% to 3.3%) and Internet Mana (up 1.3% to 3.4%).

For the remaining minor parties, the Maori Party was up 0.3% to 1.0%, United Future was down 0.2% to 0.2%, and ACT were down 0.3% to 0.3%.

Meanwhile, in the Fairfax Ipsos poll, National drops a huge 4.3% to 50.8%, while Labour gains a healthy 3.6% to 26.1%. The Greens make a small gain of 0.5% to 11.8%.

NZ First may have gained 0.6%, but that still leaves them on 4.0% and short of the 5% threshold.

The Conservatives drop back 0.7% to 2.7%, wile Internet Mana increases 0.1% to 2.2%. The Maori Party are down 0.3% to 0.7%, United Future go from a flat zero to 0.1%, while ACT increases 0.5% to 0.7%.

Ignore National’s drop and Labour’s gain in the Ipsos poll, and look at the final result. National’s 50.8% is still above the average of what the party has been polling, and it’s remarkably similar to the 50.7% they achieved in the Digipoll.

Meanwhile, Labour’s 26.1% is only slightly below what they’ve been averaging in the polls lately. It seems that the last Ipsos poll was somewhat of an outlier, placing National’s support at an inflated level, and Labour at an artificially low level. National’s increase and Labour’s decrease are likely a reversion to the mean, as we saw with the second to last Herald Digipoll.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 49.1% (nc)

Labour: 26.8% (-0.2%)

Greens: 12.2% (nc)

NZ First: 5.0% (-0.1%)

Maori: 0.9% (nc)

United Future: 0.2% (nc)

ACT: 0.5% (+0.1%)

Internet Mana: 2.3% (+0.1%)

Conservative: 2.3% (+0.1%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 61 (nc)

Labour: 33 (nc)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

Although there is no change to the allocation of seats, Labour falls to another low point, dropping below 27% for the first time, while NZ First drops back slightly to sit dead on the 5% threshold.

Overall, the Right has a total of 63 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. With both United Future and the Maori Party providing overhang seats, National’s 61 seats means they can’t quite govern alone, but the Right bloc would still have enough seats seats to not require NZ First.

So, has there been an impact for National from Dirty Politics?  Setting aside the latest 3News Reid Research poll, which had National dropping to 45%, the other three post-Dirty Politics polls have now had National on 50% or above. Labour, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to get above 26.5% in any of the four post-Dirty Politics poll.

At this stage, it would seem that National isn’t taking taking much of an electoral hit. Nonetheless, the polls have shown John Key’s standing has taken a hit, which may begin to corrode National’s support. Time’s running out though for the corrosion to occur pre-election…

Too close to call in Te Tai Hauauru

Maori TV yesterday released the results of their poll of the Te Tai Hauauru electorate, and it’s a close one, with the Maori Party’s Chris McKenzie just 3% ahead of Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe. Given that the pundits and iPredict have been expecting a relatively comfortable win for Labour, it’s an unexpected result.

Mr Rurawhe was certainly surprised:

“The results I have from our door-knocking led me to think that I should’ve been ahead and I’m not altogether convinced that I’m not.”

Of course, it’s just one poll of 500 voters, and it’s certainly a shakeup for Labour, but Mr Rurawhe might take some comfort from the fact that the punters at iPredict are still betting on a Labour victory in the seat.

The results for the electorate vote are as follows:

  • Maori Party (Chris McKenzie) – 32%
  • Labour (Adrian Rurawhe) – 29%
  • Greens (Jack McDonald) – 11%
  • Mana (Jordan Winiata) – 10%

In the party vote stakes, Labour has a comfortable lead:

  • Labour – 36%
  • Maori Party – 23%
  • National – 12%
  • Greens – 11%
  • Internet Mana – 11%
  • NZ First – 7%

 

Poll of Polls update – 28 August 2014

3News Reid Research released their latest poll last night, and it’s good news for almost everyone but the major parties.

National are down 2.5% to 45%. That’s the danger zone – if NZ First is over 5% and National is on just 45% or thereabouts, then the odds are that Winston Peters holds the balance of power.

Labour also fall, down 2.6% to 26.4%. It’s another poll result showing Labour getting less than their abysmal 2011 result, which will be scaring the hell out of a few list MPs.

With both National and Labour falling in this Reid Research poll and the last Herald Digipoll, you’d have to assume that Dirty Politics is having an effect, possibly tarring both major parties with the same brush and squeezing policy out of the debate.

The Greens rise 0.5% to 13.5% – a good result, but they’ll be disappointed they haven’t picked up more of the vote that has fled Labour.

Instead, the big winners are NZ First, up 1.7% to 6.3%, which would see them safely in Parliament, and the Conservatives, up 2.1% to 4.6%, a result that’s close enough to the 5% threshold for swing voters to feel a little confidence that a vote for Colin Craig might not be a wasted vote after all. Whether it’s a one off result for the Conservatives remains to be seen, but it’s a result they needed. Given ACT is going nowhere fast in any poll this year, John Key could perhaps be forgiven for hoping that Christine Rankin takes Epsom in an upset victory. Otherwise, that’s a large chunk of wasted centre-right vote.

Internet Mana gain slightly – up 0.1% to 2.1%. They’re regularly getting at least three MPs in the polls these days, so another poll confirming that will make them happy.

The only losers are the Maori Party (down 0.1% to 0.7%) and ACT (who remain steady on a paltry 0.3%). Nonetheless, Reid Research have just polled the Te Tai Hauauru electorate, which showed the Maori Party candidate winning the seat with a slim 3% majority over Labour, which would provide a second seat (presuming Te Ururoa Flavell holds Waiariki).

Given that there’s only one poll out in Te Tai Hauauru, and it shows a Maori Party victory, I’m adjusting my seat assumptions for the Poll of Polls to show the Maori Party winning two electorate seats.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 49.1% (-0.6%)

Labour: 27.0% (nc)

Greens: 12.2% (+0.2%)

NZ First: 5.1% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (-0.1%)

United Future: 0.2% (nc)

ACT: 0.4% (-0.1%)

Internet Mana: 2.2% (nc)

Conservative: 2.2% (+0.2%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 61 (-3)

Labour: 33 (-2)

Greens: 15 (-1)

NZ First: 6 (+6)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

Having fallen below the 5% threshold in mid-June, NZ First are finally back in Parliament. Their six MPs come at the expense of National, Labour and the Greens, with the Left and Right blocs both losing three seats.

Also worth noting is the continued rise of the Conservatives. Back in mid-July they had fallen to 1.4%. Now, just over a month later, they’re on 2.2%. It’s still well below the 5% threshold, but they’ve got momentum.

Overall, the Right has a total of 63 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. With both United Future and the Maori Party providing overhang seats, National’s 61 seats means they can’t quite govern alone, but the Right bloc would still have enough seats seats to not require NZ First.

No surprises in Te Tai Tonga poll

Native Affairs promised, prior to the election campaign, that they’d be polling all seven Maori seats this election. On Monday they released their results for the Te Tai Tonga electorate, currently held by Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Unsurprisingly, Labour has a healthy lead in both the party and electorate vote.

In the party vote, the results were:

  • Labour – 43%
  • National – 17%
  • Maori Party – 16%
  • Greens – 10%
  • NZ First – 8%
  • Internet Mana – 6%

Meanwhile, the electorate vote results were:

  • Labour (Rino Tirikatene) – 48%
  • Maori Party (Ngaire Button) – 17%
  • Greens (Dora Langsbury) – 9%
  • Mana (Georgina Beyer) – 9%

In terms of the electorate vote, that’s a large swing against the Maori Party candidate (15%), but last election the Maori Party had gone into the campaign holding the seat, giving the party the benefit of incumbency. With a new candidate, the Maori Party has now well and truly lost their grip on the seat.

I’m surprised that Internet Mana wasn’t higher in the party vote, although I’d imagine their results would be significantly higher in Te Tai Tokerau, Waiariki and Ikaroa Rawhiti. Certainly, here in Gisborne, which falls into Ikaroa Rawhiti, there are Mana signs everywhere and a great deal of positive coverage of the Mana candidate, Te Hamua Nikora.

Returning to the Te Tai Tonga poll, I can’t seem to find any indication of the sample size. Polling of the Maori seats has traditionally been remarkably haphazard due to relatively small samples, so it would be interesting to see whether Native Affairs have upped the ante and gone for a sample of at least 500.