Home' The Wellingtonian : January 10th 2013 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JANUARY 10, 2013
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Peters back in the spotlight this year
David Shearer's untested
abilities were a prime
focus of political coverage
last year, but during 2013 the
spotlight will shift on to a far
more familiar figure.
On current polling, New Zea-
land First leader Winston Peters
looks set to become the kingmaker
after the 2014 election.
As a consequence, Peters' plans
and allegiances will be the subject
of endless speculation throughout
The likely scenario?
All year, Labour and the Greens
will bwe set up to wear any odium
from being associated with Peters,
who -- asin1996--isjustaslikely
to find compelling reasons during
the post-election negotiations to
take affront, switch sides and join
a National-led coalition arrange-
No-one should be surprised at
such an outcome, given there are
few obvious advantages for Peters
as the third wheel in a centre-left
During 2013, therefore, any
Peters v National conflicts would
be best viewed as merely token
As a consequence though,
National can afford to allow its
poll support to dwindle into the
low 40s this year, and still
realistically hope to head the next
The challenge for the centre-left
will be to make a realistic assess-
ment of Peters' intentions early in
2013 and act accordingly, and not
rely on him to make up the
numbers in any Labour-led gov-
In the short term, the first pol-
itical event of 2013 will be the
likely appointment of Agriculture
Minister David Carter as Spea-
Nick Smith is tipped to return
to Cabinet as Carter's replace-
ment in the subsequent reshuffle,
but the fate of Education Minister
Hekia Parata will be the public's
Prime Minister John Key may
well conclude that Parata could
hardly have a worse year in edu-
cation this time around, and
retain her in her current post. If
not, a job switch with Social
Development Minister Paula
Bennett looms as another solution
for Key's most pressing manage-
ment problem -- what the heck to
do with Hekia?
The Electoral Commission's
MMP reforms will almost cer-
tainly result in the government
embracing a 4 per cent MMP
threshold. The only question will
be whether this kicks in at the
2014 election, or in 2017.
Choosing a 2014 start date
could look self-serving, given the
Key government would benefit
immediately from the way a 4 per
cent threshold would help to
propel the Conservatives into
Talking of thresholds, the anti-
asset sale campaigners now claim
to have gathered the roughly
300,000 valid signatures needed
to hold a non-binding referendum
later this year on the govern-
ment's partial asset sales pro-
gramme -- which also faces a
Supreme Court challenge at the
end of this month.
The programme is likely to pro-
ceed, despite both tests.
With its foundation leadership
on the way out, the Maori Party
will struggle in 2013 to emulate
the Greens' transition to new
The Greens have problems of
their own. Having being bullied by
the Clark government, the Greens
will be unwilling to repeat that
experience, but as yet, they have
proved unable to reach the 15 per
cent to 20 per cent poll ratings
they need to bargain effectively
for power in any Labour-led
Finally, if Key does decide to
retire shortly after the next elec-
tion, 2013 should be the year that
the tyres are firmly kicked on
Judith Collins as his likely suc-
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Ms Wade-Brown promised
inclusiveness and growth, but all
Wellington is seeing is a
dysfunctional council, run by
those with their own agendas, and
What the National Party and
Celia Wade-Brown exemplify is
that having a charismatic leader,
who offers platitudes and false
hope, is no way to run an
Someone who takes a good
photo does not necessarily have
the ability to be the driving force
behind what is needed right now.
Too many have been duped.
Why are people constantly
surprised by the behaviour of the
city council and the government?
Nothing they do surprises me.
The council is acting like a
bunch of dictators, the latest
being not merely suggesting
people pull down their chimneys,
but almost twisting their arms to
make them do so.
Don't people own their houses
and pay enormous rates for them?
Also, what about the
nationwide demolition of solid
state houses with the excuse of
them being so-called earthquake-
prone'', while at the same time
building houses by Habitat for
Humanity for immigrants?
Gordon Campbell describes the
continued high levels of support
for the National government,
along with other party support
holding steady since the election,
as being a case of brand loyalty''.
It should be called blind loyalty''.
Campbell lists many well-
publicised failures of the
government. Remarkably, the
public did not crucify them . . . ''
he says. There's nothing
remarkable about that.
John Key's popularity has
always been based on his know-
nothing'' political persona.
He has kept steady on that all
the way through -- climate change
and the already weak Kyoto
protocol; his yeah right'' quality
of comment about the Trans
Pacific Partnership global
governance treaty negotiations
recently continued in Auckland;
knowing little about the GCSB
and illegal spying on New
Zealanders (just to name a few).
This is just what Kiwis want at
this point -- building a future is
too hard for us right now.
Political support is notoriously
A major event may jerk the
public consciousness awake. Or
the Prime Minister may stumble
into something he is forced to take
seriously, such as the ACT
education policy imported from
the United States right wing.
With something such as that he
might crash and burn politically.
The year of 2012 must be one of
the oddest in New Zealand's
history with regard to lack of
No-one in the Cabinet has paid
the ultimate price for ministerial
Kate Wilkinson resigned, but
faced no pay cut.
Neither Education Minister
Hekia Parata nor her associate
minister has resigned despite the
series of gaffes about
Christchurch schools, her ill-
conceived plan to close Salisbury
School, the no pay-overpay''
No ministers have resigned
despite many flagrant breaches of
privacy, but I suppose as those
who have suffered are
beneficiaries, ACC recipients and
convicts Mr Key could just shrug
Minister Brownlee has
managed to ensure there are still
forecasts about a Christchurch
rebuild rather an actual rebuild
Mr Brownlee has also botched
transport -- witness his refusal to
even consider the rail solution for
Auckland, and Gisborne to
Napier, in the event of that road
route becoming impassable.
Mr English showed his
incompetence as he ignored the
pleas of everyone with concerns
about unemployment and the
inflated value of the dollar.
Mr Banks seems to be suffering
from a mental health condition
that means he does not remember
important events in his recent
past. Mr Key should really ask
him to resign for the poor man's
own sake. Meanwhile, Mr Key
seems unwilling to read any
reports about his ministers that
might breach part of the no see,
no hear, no speak'' policy.
Time to change
Jaden Sears (December 6) is spot
on.All religious holidays should be
withdrawn from the protection of
the Public Holidays Act.
Instead, people should have
three days added to their annual
leave entitlement to be used for
whatever religious observance
they choose to follow.
Christians would be free to
continue their observances and
New Zealanders of other faiths
would be free to follow their own,
instead of being forced by the
state to observe some medieval
That would end the current
lunacy where politicians and the
wealthy living in designated
holiday areas can escape the holy
day restrictions that prevent the
less well-off from meeting their
friends at the local mall.
Retailers would be able to
spread their shop till you drop''
message throughout the year.
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