Friday 11 November: the blue and yellow scone

by Toby Manhire / 11 November, 2011
Key has a cup of tea with Banks at last. Poll puts National under 50%. Winston in the ascendant.

Photographs by David White for Listener Live

8.00pm: The lifting of name suppression for the parties facing charges over Pike River leads both the main news bulletins at six. That's followed on One News with the cup of tea summit. "John Key held his nose, and supped with the devil," says Guyon Espiner. After their tea date, as Key says he will personally vote for Paul Goldsmith, Banks stares stiffly into the middle distance. That's it for the campaign in the first section, but in the business section, we see Phil Goff grin his way around the A&P show. One News's polling shows that 51% oppose Labour's plan for compulsory KiwiSaver, with 46% in support.

Then more from the campaigns: National's plans to tighten up driver licence rules (see 4.35pm), and a piece on young people failing to enrol to vote. It is a legal obligation to enrol, and there are provision for fines of up to $200 for failing to do so - though such a fine has never been imposed. What a wasted opportunity - in these difficult times, if you threw the book at all 147,000 of them, that's nearly $30m, that's a lot of iPads for the kids.

On 3 News, the licence crackdown policy is the first election item, then the Australian schoolboy on drugs charges in Bali. That's followed by the Johns' tea. "In effect it's a goverment bailout for a party that's imploded and been an embarrassment," says Duncan Garner. Then he gives us a sneak preview of their next Reid poll: ACT support has dropped by half to 0.7%. That's zero point seven per cent. At that United Future-esque level, even if Banks won, Brash wouldn't go in on his coat-tails. (Presumably, however, that polling will not reflect much if any of today's tea signal.)

Then on 3 News to the leaked draft document from the Human Rights Commission concerning possible proceedings being brought against Paula Bennett, minister for social development over her release of a protester's benefit details. Bennett said it was inappropriate to comment, but invited people to make up their own minds about the timing and motivation of the leak.

Later in the bulletin, a second preview of their poll, this time on electoral reform. Some 54.5% want to keep MMP, with 37.2% against.

Nothing election-related on Close Up. Campbell Live sends its reporter armed with a thermos and a pot to share a cup of tea with Don Brash, who is wandering haplessly around Christchurch holding ACT flyers like a lost inpatient in a hospital corridor. Brash accepts his mistake over decriminalising marijuana. Of course Brash is willing to have the mickey taken out of him, so desperate is he for any air time. But that's enough tea puns, tea gags and tea stunts for the next 10 years or so.


5.30pm: On Checkpoint at 5pm, Pike River leads the bulletin, followed by the cup of tea summit and prospects of ministerial positions for ACT MPs. Then the world: Europe, Apec, that sort of thing.

4.40pm: Some breaking news on Pike River - not directly election-related, but worth mentioning. Among those being charged for breaches of health and safety leigislation by the Department of Labour is Peter Whittall, former CEO of Pike River Coal. In a release by his lawyers, Whittal denies all the charges, and claims he has been made a scapegoat. "He maintains that he would never do anything to put men who worked with him at risk. And Mr Whittall will fight being scapegoated now."

The company itself, which is in receivership, also faces charges, as does VLI Drilling Pty Ltd (Valley Longwall).

More details here.

4.35pm: POLICY

A flurry of Friday afternoon policy from National. How they spoil us.

Top of the pile is the broadcasting policy, which promises to “support public broadcasting” – but for television, only through contestable funding via NZ on Air rather than platform funding. “Funding programmes rather than broadcasters ensures money is spent transparently and on quality Kiwi content.” No mention of TVNZ 7, which will soon expire.

TVNZ will remain in public ownership, and Radio New Zealand funding will be maintained, with a little lecture: “Like all other state-funded agencies and departments, Radio New Zealand has to live within its budget and provide a sustainable funding plan for the coming years.”

Release here. Policy document in PDF form here.

In women’s affairs, the policy release trumpets women in the economy. Sample sentence: “The sound economic management National has shown over the past three years, with a focus on growth, is the best possible environment for women to realise their economic potential.’’

And we’re promised the launch of My Board Strengths, a unique online self-assessment tool to help women who want to serve on boards.

Maybe Friday afternoon is the right time for this one. Release here. Policy document in PDF here.

Finally, National’s road safety policy will tighten up driver licensing so people can’t sit on a restricted level licence for ever. Release here. Policy document in PDF here.

4.20pm: Investigative journalism: I just called the Teed Street Larder to ask about the confusion (see 3.15pm). Apparently they shifted the venue at the last minute, and the bloke at the Larder reckons it was probably because "it was rocking in here, and we only had two tables at the back - I don't think they wanted to be there." That, or fear about how the whole scone thing might go down.

4.00pm: AUDIO

Jane Clifton's take on the Key-Banks taking of tea - and the "absurdity" in MMP that it exposes.

3.15pm: It is done. According to this Herald report, two cups of English Breakfast were downed - though Key reportedly confirmed after his meeting with Banks that he would be voting for the National candidate in Epsom (his home is in the constituency).

TVNZ adds: "The locals in the cafe appeared a bit bemused, and some didn't seem too happy about having their afternoon invaded as about 10 cameras were directed at the politicians through the cafe's windows."

Hang on a minute: according to this report they took tea at some place called "Urban Cafe", and not the Teed Street Larder at all. There goes the whole scone thing. Bugger.

2.55pm: POLL

Poll results released this afternoon by Roy Morgan - the details are here - give National 56%, a drop of 1.5% on their last survey. Labour is down 3.5% to 26%. The Greens are up 2.5% to 12%, and New Zealand First leaps to the brink of the threshold, up 2% to 4.5%.

The rest: ACT NZ 1% (unchanged), Maori Party 2% (unchanged), United Future 0% (down 1%), Mana Party 1% (up 0.5%) and Others 0.5% (unchanged).

2.50pm: Breaking: Lyndon Hood of Scoop has rushed out a transcript of the symbolic cup of tea summit.

2.40pm: This is as tense as those last 20 minutes against France. The Two Johnnies have greeted one another outside the cafe, and it's time for tea, as evidenced by a photograph tweeted by James Murray of 3 News.

2.30pm: Any minute now, Key and Banks should be staring deep into one another's eyes in a Newmarket cafe, where a "huge media contingent has gathered".  Meantime, Phil texts with more on that blueberry and lemon combo:

Just tucking into the scone now. Sweet on initial taste but then the sour of the lemon comes through. Surprisingly well balanced.

2.05pm: POLICY

So obsessed have I been with urban concerns such as Newmarket cafes, cups of tea and scones, I overlooked Labour's release of its rural policy earlier today. The top line is that they'll revive the rural affairs ministerial portfolio. Find the summary here. The policy in PDF is here.

1.40pm: More oddness. More food oddness, in fact. @ZumwohlParty tweets this picture:

An elaborate critique of the no-GST-on-fresh-fruit pledge? That, or Phil the checkout operator.

1.25pm: With Willie Jackson and John Tamihere on RadioLive are John Banks and Paul Goldsmith. "Do you feel a loss of mana?" Jackson asks Banks. "It's almost like you're crawling on your belly to John Key. You used to be a warrior!" Banks is defiant. "I have never asked the prime minister for a cup of tea!"

People in Epsom "are typical of New Zealanders generally", says Goldsmith, in a remark that might raise a few typical New Zealander eyebrows. Jackson charges Goldsmith with subverting democratic principles by failing to campaign for the electorate vote. "You're a disgrace!" Goldsmith reels off his stock answer in his distinctive rat-a-tat-tat horse-racing-commentator style. Is Goldsmith going to the cup of tea? "No. I've got my job and it's simple one, and that's to get out there and get the party vote as high as possible."

Meanwhile this YouTube clip is circulating busily on Twitter and Facebook. Willie and JT might get a question out of it. In it, John Banks, talking about law and order on TV3's The Nation, says:

If we continue the bankrupt response of paying young Polynesian men, young Maori men in south Auckland the dole, to sit in front of the TV, smoke marijuana, watch pornography and plan more drug offending and more burglaries, then we're going to have them coming through our windows, regardless of whether we live in Epsom or anywhere else in greater Auckland

1.10pm: BLOGGERS

At last night’s NZ Politics Daily, Bryce Edwards has a useful summary of the possible coalition and support configurations, and the horse-trading around them.

In a post at KiwiPolitico, Lew Stoddart tears into Chris Trotter’s claim that opinion polls are slanted to the right. “It’s more of the usual excuse-making and blame-shifting that I see from lefties who can’t bear that their tribe is staring down the barrel of a(nother) heavy defeat,” he writes.

At Scoop, Gordon Campbell detects a “secret agenda” among National MPs to advance the supplementary member voting system at the expense of MPP.

At the Standard, Eddie argues that National would go much further on asset sales. “Partial privatisation of the big SOEs would be just the first stage, a stop-gap to avoid a small amount of extra debt.”

Cactus Kate thinks the Herald has been sensationalist in its reporting of this morning’s poll by suggesting National support had “plunged” and Goff’s personal rating “surged”. She writes: “Labour STILL are going down and National can still govern alone with more MPs than they have now.”

12.40pm: It's not just Steven "slip cordon" Joyce (see 4.30pm, yesterday). David "cat-man" Cunliffe doesn't bother with the less/fewer distinction, either. I'll shut up about this now.

12.20pm: The Herald have Colin Craig (see 11.45am); Stuff have Mana party leader Hone Harawira live-chatting.

12.05pm: The big story today is the scone. Which is just as well, because the tea-related japes were starting to wear thin. Phillip has been down to the Teed Street Larder in Newmarket, where John Banks and John Key are meeting this afternoon in an effort to radiate to the People of Epsom the importance of keeping National's "stable" partner Act alive by voting Banksie in.

And we have it, photographic proof of the morsel that will forever symbolise this historic moment:

The blueberry and lemon scone

You'd be surprised how small microphones come these days, says Philip. Not sure what he means.

11.55am: Last night's Media 7 is now on YouTube.

11.45am: Conservative party leader Colin Craig - would would have hoped for a better result than the 1% his new party rated in this morning's poll - is live-chatting on the Herald site this very moment.

11.11am: It's 11.11! Not sure on the seconds.

11.00am: It's 11!

10.55am: Patrick Scoop Gower has gotten hold of a Treasury document that undermines John Key's assertion that an increase in the minimum wage would cost jobs. Read his blog post - "Key's figures dodgy on minimum wage" - at the TV3 site here.

10.45am: The exhalation of relief wafts off this tweet from the Act campaign:

Or is it self-satisfaction? Careful, guys. It ain't over till the tea lady sings.

10.20am: A glorious morning for Winston Peters. This morning's Herald poll puts him, or NZ First, rather, at 3.7%. Last night's One News poll showed him increasing, too, to 2.9%. The people at TVNZ have rounded that up to 3%, so meaning he crosses the threshold to qualify for participation in next Wednesday's minor leaders' debate. Maybe it's the 11/11/11 thing: Wintson Raymond Peters was born on the 11th of April.

10.00am: As everyone knows, the Aro Valley is one of the best things in the universe, and they know how to host a good meet-the-candidates meeting, too. Last night the Wellington Central candidates braved the brains and beards of the famous encounter at the Te Aro hall for what sounded on Morning Report to have been a ripsnorter of an evening.

Stuff has a report and some video. And you won't regret reading the Dim-Post version of events.

9.30am: A friend of the liveblog notes a "soul-destroying headline" for the Labour leader in this morning's Herald: Goff supports dying with dignity.

8.45am: POLL & PAPERS

From the Philip Pinner Paper Review: The latest Herald Digipoll which has a very different complexion to yesterday's Colmar Brunton Poll (see here 6.10pm). The Herald poll has National dropping to 49.5%, Labour on 28.7% Greens 12.6%. NZ First, the big movers, are up to 3.7% and Act 1.5%.

That would still given National the numbers to govern alone, but without much breathing space.

For the rest of the papers, the Taranaki Daily News included, go here.

8.30am: Not to be outdone by the "battle of the babes" label for Auckland Central, the New Zeland Herald this morning calls Waitakere the "battle of the bolshie chicks".

8.25am: Russel Norman is on Firstline, expounding the Green party plans to impose a nationwide levy for the Christchurch rebuild (see yesterday). The Green co-leader says the opposition to their suggestion from National and Labour underlines their expedient resort to borrowing. Quite something for a Green to be giving the big parties a lecture on fiscal prudence.

8.15am: John Banks is sounding chipper on Morning Report. Fair enough, too. When will tea be taken? "It's going to be in Newmarket at half past two," he tells us. But nothing is being taken for granted. "I'm not waiting around just to have a cup of tea with the prime minister, I'm working hard for the hearts and minds of the people here, we're not expecting anything delivered on a plate." Apart from one of those scones.

8.05am: The crucial details about the Cup of Tea Summit are emerging. According to Stuff, the venue will be the Teed Street Larder in Newmarket. I've examined the menu, and the most apposite offering appears to be the blueberry, lemon & almond scones.


On TV One's Breakfast, top of the 7am bulletin is the likelihood that John Key and John Banks will have that signal-sending meeting this afternoon. Then Pike River charges.

Radio New Zealand leads its Morning Report news with the Herald/DigiPoll, followed by Banks, ACT and the cup of John Key tea, and a poll  ommissioned by the people who want to keep MMP that shows people want to keep MMP.

The Pike River charges lead Firstline on TV3, followed by the hunt for an alleged drug courier. Then the eurozone, then the new iPhone. Then 11/11/11; lots of people are getting married today. And to the break without a peep of election.

7.00am: John Key will hardly be crying into his cornflakes this morning, but he'll nonetheless be reading over the result of the new Herald/DigiPoll, which puts National's support below 50% for the first time since the last election. More on that poll, and the rest of the morning bulletins and papers, soon.

With 15 days to go on the campaign trail, the big event on 11/11/11 could be the long-awaited cup of tea to be shared by John Key with ACT's Epsom hopeful, John Banks. Elevenses, perhaps?

Everyone knows it’s got bloody hard to live on the minimum wage - even John Key admits that.

His defence is that a rise from $13 to $15 an hour will cost jobs.

Key has used this defence in a televised debate, and he's used it to workers on the shop floor at McDonald's as seen in my story last night.

But what Key doesn't want to admit, is that this claim is not the full picture and may just be fear-mongering - a rise may not cost jobs at all.

That's what Treasury says in this advice from March 2010 obtained by 3 News under the Official Information Act.


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