NZ election 2011: the morning papers, Tuesday 22 November

by Toby Manhire / 22 November, 2011
Phil Goff was the winner in last night's debate, the papers agree.
The New Zealand Herald leads with yesterday's wild weather and flooding in the West Coast. In the Wairarapa a couple were crushed by a falling branch. Sharing the front page is the story of six Hamilton schoolgirls taken to hospital after taking what are believed to be tainted Ecstasy pills yesterday.

Inside Amy Rosenfeld reports a street poll in Epsom of 180 people resulted in a 32% to 25% lead for the Reluctant Frontrunner Paul Goldsmith, despite only two respondents having laid eyes on the National candidate. "There were reports of sightings in Newmarket, but it was not clear if he was campaigning or just shopping."

National's education policy is examined by Claire Trevett. It opens: "Aspiring teachers will have to undergo personality tests to make it into the profession under changes proposed by the National party."

The TV3 leaders' debate is reviewed next. Derek Cheng gives an overview with Phil Goff emerging the winner. The sharp worm reactions to "Winston Peters" are covered as are the accusations of worm-rigging. The debate itself, under John Campbell's stewardship, comes in for praise for its "more measured feel than the previous two televised encounters".

John Armstrong awards the night to Goff who "lit the blow-torch" He adds that the topics hardly helped Key who was on the defensive most of the evening. In conclusion Armstrong questions the "undecided" studio audience and says the biggest loser on the night was the worm.

Claire Trevett agrees the topics were not in Key's favour. She says Key looked oddly out of sorts and despite landing a few blows on the economy it was Goff who took out the evening.

Audrey Young says Goff has improved and is now "telling Labour's story more effectively and authentically". Key was stronger on the economy, she says, but at no point was there a "gotcha" moment. She mentions the Royal Wedding Defence but that Goff was still able to "trash" Key's claim of Act being a stable coalition partner.

The police delay on acting upon search warrants is reported by Derek Cheng. The High Court hearing takes place today at 10am.

The Conservative party policies are examined next. Colin Craig has invested an estimated $1m to push his party's exposure. Expect to see a lot more advertising this week.

Winston Peters was in a Hamilton mall yesterday but declined to sit in Santa's chair. "That's what Peter Dunne was doing..." he quipped. Peters has challenged John Key to a high noon shootout debate in Aotea square tomorrow for some "good old-fashioned politics".

John Armstrong talks referendum in his campaign watch column and warns MMP supporters that "things are starting to get messy" with Vote for Change piggy backing on Key's polpularity as well as highlighting the Winston Peters effect. He says however that Supplementary Member is "doomed" with FPP the most likely alternative.

Bad manners and spitting are all part of the experience of running for parliament for Maggie Barry, writes Lincoln Tan.

The editorial predicts more friction between school staff and a National Government over their education policy, in particular the words "greater accountability" and the proposal to put more performance information in the hands of parents. It argues, however, that parents can be trusted to take all the variables such as social advantage into account when reading this information, that they just want to know their child is given the best opportunity in a "successful and motivating environment".

Bryce Edwards points at the recent downward trends in voter turnout and party membership. He blames the "heavily stage-managed" nature of campaigning, the perceived manipulation of the system in Epsom and events such as the teapot recording which he says "epitomised what many voters dislike about politics - it is scrappy, insubstantial, trivial and unnecessarily conflictual". Instead of condemning those who don't vote we should be trying to understand why.

Wages, GDP growth, and unemployment rates have all fallen further behind Australia. Adam Bennett has been examining the figures.

Inside the Business section Brian Fallow writes about the debt burden.

A tabloid-sized pullout Election Guide pulls together all of the previously printed major policy analysis, John Armstrong's referendum voting systems guide, the party lists, an election night viewing guide, and a guide to what will be the closest run seats on the night. Handy.

The Dominion Post begins with last night's debate. 'The worm turns for Goff' is its headline. Labour will claim a morale boosting victory from the worm's reaction as Goff debated strongly on most of the topics. The worm comes under scrutiny again later in the piece as National party insiders said the undecideds were "uncertain about which of the left-wing parties they would vote for rather than being genuinely floating voters."

Underneath Vernon Small says Goff's performance was strong but "no game-changer", he gives Goff the best hit of the night for his call on Key having gone into coalition with Hone Harawira.

Our "feral" drinking habits come under fire from police at Toast Martinborough, a poll reported 55% agreed drunken behaviour at the event was out of control.

Winston may still be around but the more serious threat to John Key is now behind bars with the conviction yesterday of a Palmerston North man who threatened to blow up the PM.

The criticism, discussed in the Herald editorial, over National's education policy release is reported by John Hartevelt. The Primary and ECE teachers' union said National is obsessed with "one dimensional" policy and "tick-box compliance".

Danya Levy takes a look at Winston Peters' supporting cast should NZ First make the 5% threshold. She refers to Andrew Williams, No 3 on the party list, as a "colourful character" before reminding us of his drink-texting previous.

Kate Chapman examines the latest Te Karare poll which has the Maori party retaining its four electoral seats especially in Te Tai Tonga which was previously seen as vulnerable to Labour.

Karl Du Fresne doesn't like the way TV journalism is heading and calls out Patrick Gower and Duncan Garner for special attention. Their aggressive questioning style and provocative interviews are clearly designed for the interviewer to be as much a part of the story as the target. "You get the feeling that its purpose is to claim political scalps for the sheer sport of it," he says of Gower, before describing him as a "journalistic picker of scabs, a scavenger who swoops on the wounded. He scans the political landscape looking for any story that, with judicious editing and sneering voice-over, can be manipulated for maximum effect."

The editorial compares the quick reaction of police to John Key's complaint to the six month tardiness in investigating the confessed fraud against Wellington travel company owners Ross and Raynor Wilson.(Note: the police have finally made the arrest and apologised to the Wilsons yesterday.) It warns that equality before the law must be applied "not only to the way police treat suspects, but also the way they treat victims."

The Otago Daily Times reports the National party are considering a complaint to the electoral commission after anonymous and negative leaflets were dropped in Maori Hill and Mornington in the weekend."I don't know who did this, but it is a bit disappointing. But I think people will realise what this is, and know what to do with it, so I'm not giving it too much time," said Dunedin National MP Michael Woodhouse.

The editorial talks about the "perils of public generosity", saying the Dunedin City Council's moves to tighten up its rules on acceptance of gifts is to be applauded, as in National politics it is much more transparent. "There is nothing quite so corrosive of 'government' and 'public service' than the perception - acquired rightly or wrongly - that the citizens' representatives are being at best influenced and at worst bribed," it says.

And the Waikato Times Editorial has questions for John Key about the difference in export figures raised on the  Q+A programme on Sunday.!/brendonRS/statuses/138696145114378240
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