NZ election 2011: the morning papers, Saturday 12 November

by Toby Manhire / 12 November, 2011
In the New Zealand Herald the front page reveals the mother and driver of a 12 year old killed in a crash near Helensville in July is to face charges. To the side the Pike River charges and defendants are revealed; Peter Whitall says he will not be made a scapegoat.

Election news starts on page 6 with John Armstrong's look at the week. He examines the permutations should NZ First continue their rise and actually cross the 5% threshold. "The question is whether Key has devoted too much attention to squeezing Labour out of the vote-rich centre-ground and left himself exposed on his right to [Winston] Peters' rehashing of a more traditional quasi-National Party brand," he concludes.

Adam Bennett gives us all of the sound bites from the Epsom tea party. "It's a rort on the system", "hearts and minds" "Don is flexible", etc.

But who was secretly recording the "pretty bland stuff"? I can report that the Listener Live micro-scone was not on the table (see yesterday 12.05pm).

Over the page Winston is "Back from the Grave" basking in his latest poll figures in Dargaville. He blames the 2008 result on "five months of character assassination" and told the Maori Wardens annual conference: "You can vote for who you like with your first vote. But it's wise to take out some political insurance [with your party vote]."

Underneath Derek Cheng examines the use of social media to encourage expat voters. Explanation of retweeting incuded.

Claire Trevett reveals the most important issues for voters are Health and Education, ahead of Wages and Tax in more Herald Digipoll figures; worryingly for Labour only 8.7% said partial asset sales were an important issue for them.

The editorial echoes the thoughts of various political commentators that if polling trends continue "coalition partners will be required rather than desired" and says National needs to find its second wind. "A sanitised campaign for the leader can go only so far. Mr Key's personal affability is fighting a drop in public confidence that the Government is going in the right direction."

Fran O'Sullivan doesn't think the Act/National coalition will be very smooth at all and worries about what happens if the "Brand Key" ideology continues after the campaigning finishes.

Paul Holmes feels sorry for Phil Goff. "It's not his fault, it's the price of longevity," he writes, adding: "You can talk about policy until you're blue in the face, but in the end I wonder if people vote on policy. I don't think they do. Most people don't give a rats about policy. If we like the leader we vote for him."

In the Business section Brian Gaynor warns us to address our welfare entitlements if we are to avoid going down the same road as Europe. "New Zealand's population is aging rapidly and the country is not generating enough economic growth and tax revenue to pay for all of the government entitlements."he says.

And Christopher Adams looks at KiwiSaver -  the "political football" as Anthony Quirk puts it.

The Dominion Post front page also carries the Pike River charges, alongside the upheld allegations against Building and Housing chief Katrina Bach.

Peter Dunne is only just holding on to Ohariu according to the latest Fairfax mini-poll. Dunne at 37.4% has Labour's Charles Chauvel breathing down his neck on 35.6%, Given that the margin of error is 7% this will be a tight one.

"We are the Epsom of the south" says one Ohariu voter as Danya Levy reminds us that, without the party vote to fall back on, Dunne has "Everything to Lose".

We are experiencing a "Pacific Spring" according to Winston Peters, with the latest polls putting NZ First anywhere between 2.8% and 4.5% "Word of mouth and old-fashioned hard work has done it" adding that the fear of National governing alone was also contributing to the jump in support.

Kate Chapman examines the Mall Walkabout and asks the experts just how effective a campaign tool it is.

The minimum wage joust continues. Andrea Vance has a blow by blow round up of the action as the two major parties slug it out and I mix metaphors.

Tracy Watkins says that now the policies and money has run out the rest of the campaign is going to feel a little like a Bill Murray "deja vu" movie. She lists her five things to watch out for in the second half of the campaign. "Will Winston Peters make the most of his last shot at being returned to Parliament and shine in the TVNZ minor party leaders' debate in Auckland?" She asks. No mention of Ned Ryerson sadly.

The editorial says the Maori Party aim to make Te Reo available in all schools is laudable as the language is reaching crisis point. However how it would work in practice, especially in primary schools where there are not usually elective subjects, needs to be clarified to avoid a backlash. "Providing more detail on how that would work in practice would go a long way towards heading off those who would seek to paint the policy as the first step towards making Maori compulsory for all."

The Council wants Occupy protesters gone by polling day

In The Press Vernon Small reveals poll figures suggesting Clayton Cosgrove is facing "crushing" defeat in the electorate of Waimakariri. The numbers say 53.9% to 36% in favour of National's Kate Wilkinson. The party numbers are more dramatic still, with National on 71.9% and Labour 17.4%. [Updated to correct numbers, 3pm Saturday]

In the Taranaki Daily News Kate Saunders reports on Maori Health Advocate Colleen Tuuta's criticism of the Whanau Ora program.

And Steve Braunias reveals the secret diary of John Banks.

The Otago Daily Times, fresh from the unveiling of its stand yesterday, runs an editorial discussing the crisis in Italy and warns us of the consequences, concluding: "There is no schadenfreude to be had in seeing Europe suffer. In the end we are all interconnected, and if the euro zone disintegrates we will all feel the shock waves."
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