NZ election 2011: the morning papers, Wednesday 23 November

by Toby Manhire / 23 November, 2011
The Herald has been criticised at times for being too Key friendly. It sure doesn't look that way today.
The Dominion Post leads with the latest Fairfax/MRI poll showing National have a "cosy" lead (see live blog for more details, 7.10am). The front page also features a woman turning 18 on election day who will be voting. She says of the low enrolment numbers of her age group: "That might be because most of the policies that parties are campaigning on aren't directly targeted at young people. Stuff like net debt – while that affects us in the future it's not directly relevant to us now."

Tracy Watkins rounds out the front page with her opinion piece: "Teflon John has not won it yet". Apathy brought on by signs of a foregone conclusion and a large amount of undecideds may yet alter the outcome of this election, she says.

The Fairfax figures are analysed inside further as Tracy Watkins learns most of us would prefer a coalition government to one party rule.

John Hartevelt looks at the poll and says that the NZ First surge in support has not come at the expense of National as was feared. He adds, despite running a strong campaign, Phil Goff "cannot seem to get traction for his party".

The number of New Zealanders heading for Australia is nearing record levels, reports James Weir. Overall there was a net loss in migration for the first time since 2001.

Vernon Small agrees Goff has campaigned well but all Labour can do now is "campaign and hope". They need a magical combination of electoral seat results and pollster-defying party votes plus their own supporters coming out on election day to have any chance.

Phil Goff visits the Tafolo family in Otahuhu, who struggle on low wages, to highlight the benefits of Labour's minimum wage, GST and tax policies, Danya Levy reports.

Kate Newton quizzes the Wellington region candidates on local issues including the economy, transport, civil defence and local government. Peter Dunne comes closest to actually supporting the Super City idea: "We do not have to adopt a super- city model, but we do need to find a model that gets us working together better across this region."

John Hartevelt awards Metiria Turei most-improved-politician on the campaign trail as he reviews the Green campaign. "She has excelled in a series of minor party debates, staying determinedly on message with a firm grip on the key numbers." Her "chirpy approach" is the perfect foil to Russel Norman's more laid back style.

Andrea Vance references the Rugby World Cup Final, but not in a Phil Goff way, as she looks forward to a nail biting election for the minor parties. She previews Winston Peters' rally today expecting him to be at his "rabble rousing best". "He's found his bogeyman in John Key, and his niche as the last resort of the disaffected," she says.

The New Zealand Herald leads with the mother of a toddler who was killed violently in Auckland last week is pregnant again. Child Youth and Family, who have already taken two infants from the house into care, has the power to to remove the baby at birth if it is judged to be in danger. John Armstrong's Campaign Watch moves to the front page as he discusses the possibility of National, who only yesterday called the Greens policies "eye-wateringly expensive", having to call them for some kind of post-election deal come Saturday night. Especially if NZ First is in a position to influence power.  "Key may not need them on board. But if he does, it will be a rich irony if the stability Key and Joyce are promising is contingent on the Greens," he concludes.

In news that will have John Key gritting his teeth, Australia are opening two new Visa application centres in Auckland and Christchurch to make the "exodus" easier.

Derek Cheng reports on the status of the High Court case which will rule at 2:15pm today on whether the teapot summit was private.

Act lauched their law and order policy in Wellington yesterday which included a "broken windows" plan for low level offenders aimed at teaching consequences early in a criminal's career.

"Celebrity Prime Minister" John Key's popularity is trumping our misgivings over asset sales "that charismatic persona perhaps overcomes some of the doubts people might have about his trusworthiness", says Waikato University sociologist Kellie McNeil.

The Green leader Russel Norman has hit out at Government suppression of key information on asset sales as reported on One News last night (see yesterday 6:50pm). "Given that the privatisation of state owned assets is one of the central issues of this campaign, it is outrageous that the National Party suppressed information about this very issue," he said.

The Mana party are positioning themselves as the "party for the poor", writes Isaac Davison. Annette Sykes and Sue Bradford reinforced their message yesterday at a beneficiary advocacy meeting in Rotorua.

From Ghost Chips to Ghost Doctors. Health Unions are questioning the government's figures on increased numbers, reports Martin Johnson.

The Maori party leadership will meet in Wellington to discuss post-election position. Audrey Young covers the various permutations for all the parties and tells us who will work with whom.

Conservative party leader Colin Craig popped up at the Epsom candidates meeting last night. Reminding everyone how much money went overseas when Telecom was sold he pointed out that his was the only centre-right party opposed to asset sales.

It's public transport all around as both major party leaders travel by bus for the final campaign push.

The editorial chides a panel which has advised Auckland Council not to release a list of the 4300 "earthquake-prone" buildings to the public fearing they would become "a panic stricken rabble". As long as it is delivered in a way not to encourage unnecessary alarm the public can make their own decisions - much like Wellington, a much greater risk, who have delivered the information online.

Brian Rudman writes to warn National that winning the election will not give the new government the right to sell state assets. He quotes the unchanging poll figures against the sales and wonders what will happen when the prospective coalition partners make their final decisions on just how supportive they are of the plan after this Saturday.

John Pagani comes out with his strongest message of support for Labour so far as he claims National are trying to repeat "failed policies of the past". He also rounds on the Greens for failing to rule out working with National and warns Labour voters considering switching to the Greens to "consider how they might feel if their votes end up helping a National-led government sell assets".

Yvonne Tahana profiles the seven Maori seats; five are looking safe for the incumbents but in Te Tai Tonga and Te Tai Tokerau the Maori and Mana split in votes could enable Labour to come through and win.

In Business Brian Fallow does the maths on the sell versus don't sell arguments over asset sales.

"He's very busy and just sort of dashes in, eats something, goes to his room and plays on his computer." The Taranaki Daily News delivers a scoop on what Labour candidate Andrew Little does at home. His mother, who leaked the information, has voted National for 30 years but is displaying an Andrew Little placard on her home.

The Christchurch Press reports from Rangiora as Annette King and John Key both visited the small town.

And in the Otago Daily Times Simon Cunliffe writes an opinion column against the asset sales, saying they "would be another nail in the coffin of a disappearing dream - that of a society that still values some modicum of fairness and equality." He argues the comparison to TradeMe is inappropriate as our power companies "deal in a currency not only necessary to underpin economic growth in this country, but also critical to the comfort and health of every citizen." Finally he asks who these so called "mum and dad" investors are anyway.
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