Thursday 10 November: Labour launches education plan

by Toby Manhire / 10 November, 2011
Labour unveils education policy. Maori party says make Te Reo universally available in schools. Epsom candidates clash.


One News The poll (see 6.10pm) followed the Pike River charges laid today (see 3.55pm) and the sentencing of Christchurch gunman Christopher Graham Smith.

Straight after the poll came Phil Goff at the Otahuhu market giving a chin up response to the figures "on the ground we are getting a much more positive reaction" he told Michael Parkin.

Next up is the world markets reaction to the Eurozone crisis and what effect it will have on our mortgage interest rates, I'll take a stab and say they will go up. Italy is in the spotlight as borrowing costs and debt soar. The crisis and it's effect on our trade is looked at in depth.

The Greens get some airtime with Russel Norman on the accidental death of 800 rare snails removed to make way for an open cast coal mine at the Stockton plateau on the West Coast. The blame is laid with Solid Energy.

In part three of the news the it's the National health policy pledge to reduce elective surgery waiting times (see 1pm) Phil Goff responds "What I really resent is that they've cut money out of programs like obesity programs when we've got the third highest rate of obesity in the developed world"

The Greens Earthquake recovery policy is next with Russel Norman saying the proposed levy is a way we can all help out.

Finally there a mystery algal bloom at the Waitangitoana river mouth on the South Island's west coast.

Pike River leads the bulletin over on 3 News too followed by the Eurozone crisis, the coverage here from ITV is much more grim stressing the fact that there just isn't enough money to rescue Italy, whose debt is now 1.9tn euros or 120% of it's GDP. Bernard Hickey is on hand to tell us the long term effects on the NZ economy.

Election news next and Duncan Garner talks asset sales and the $100m figure Labour has projected will go to the Australian arm of Lazard in fees. "It's a bloody rip-off" says Phil Goff, " I don't think that would be true, no" retorts Key between mouthfuls of prawns.  On the possibility of more goodies being put up for sale at a later date "They'll sell everything if they get the chance" Goff says. Garner finishes by pointing out that many of the people polled who were against asset sales are National voters and Goff must do what he has been unable to so far -"convince those who are worried about partial asset sales to change their vote"

Minimum wage is the following topic and while John Key faced up to workers in a well known family restaurant chain 3 News revealed that while the Department of Labour claim that raising the minimum wage would cost 6,000 jobs, Treasury say otherwise "This has not been true in the past...The balance of probabilities is that a higher minimum wage does not cost jobs." Good stuff for Labour to cut and paste there. Key admits it would be "very difficult" for anyone to live on $450 a week and this montages into Phil Goff, Metiria Turei, Tariana Turia and Hone Harawira all in agreement.

More on those poor snails after the break and the Trademe float is examined which segues nicely into the market report.

No election news on Close Up. We visit the Occupy movement. An objectionable fellow provides some soundbites while continuously 'flipping the bird' under the assumption that the camera will be forced to stop filming. It doesn't. Tim Shadbolt, no stranger to protesting, comments with Auckland Council Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Occupy Auckland protester Campbell Jones. Everyone is kind to each other. The Schapelle Corby did-it-for-her-dad story follows and then a piece on the Spirit of Adventure ahead of it's 40th anniversary voyage. Then it's Coro....ahh.

Not much on Campbell Live either, although the Lawyer putting together a group of investors to enable Allan Crafar to reclaim control of his farms uses the terms "true blue" and "red-blooded" which wouldn't feel out of place in a debate. Campbell interviews Grey district mayor Tony Kokshoorn about the charges laid by the Department of Labour, next up part two of the series on Oil and Gas drilling, this time it's Taranaki. It is a really interesting piece again.  Finally it's, Hamish Easson will be 11 years old at 11 O'clock on the eleventh.....beat that!

6.10pm: POLL

The latest Colmar Brunton Poll is fourth in the line up on One News and National, although down slightly, are sitting comfortably.

Guyon Espiner leads us through the numbers:

National 54%

Labour 28%

Greens 9%

NZ First 2.9%

Maori 2.1%

Act 1.5%

United 0.8%

Conservative 0.5%

Mana 0.2%

Minor parties are up he points out but "we are talking some pretty small numbers here"

That would give National 68 seats and Labour 35 and Espiner points to the numbers for preferred PM with Goff up to 14 but Key still streets ahead on 55 as a sign National have got it right with their campaign strategy so far. "Labour is dropping into that danger zone" he says "where they risk not being seen as contenders."

5.30pm: A Canterbury University study shows that in the campaign to date the National party is getting the largest percentage of media coverage, though a greater proportion of National's coverage is "negative in tone".

I'm off out, but Phil will update here as soon as One News reveal the details of their Colmar Brunton poll, and later provide a roundup of the news and the 7pm shows. I'm on Media 7 later, too, desperately plugging the live blog thoughtfully reflecting on election coverage.

5.15pm: On RNZ's Checkpoint, the Pike River charges lead  5pm bulletin (see 3.55pm), followed by the Reserve Bank report quarterly statements (see 10.50am). Next is Phil Goff's pledge today that the first thing he would do were he to become prime minister would be to cancel the asset sales. This was a response to the revelation that Australian bank Lazard has been engaged to prepare the sale of the assets, an "arrogant" act on Key's part, according to Goff (not a new story, though; Lazard's involvement has been known for at least 10 days). The Labour party statement is here.

4.30pm: Yesterday (see 11.20am) I pointed out a missing apostrophe in a National TV ad (and today the TV3 site spotted the same thing, believe it or not). I noted then that there is a bit of glass-house stone-thrower about me sniggering - hell, earlier today I called Labour's education policy its "health policy". And I restate that qualification as I point you in the direction of National's brand new campaign leaflet (PDF), which Steven Joyce, the party's campaign supremo and minister of everything, including tertiary education, proudly introduces here.

There should at least be a job going proof-reading at National campaign HQ.

(Hurls stone, runs to glass shelter.)

4.15pm: Auckland Central might be getting portrayed as the country's sexiest electorate, with two of the country's youngest MPs contesting it, but the young population couldn't give much of a stuff if new enrolment figures from the Electoral Commission are to be believed. Less  than half - or should that be fewer? -  the number of eligible voters aged 18-24 have enrolled, with 5,791 voters, or 54% not on the roll.

The Commission has put together a dinky map where you can see how many young people have and haven't enrolled in electorates across the country.

3.55pm: Twenty-five charges have been laid against three parties over alleged health and safety failures at the Pike River coal mine. The details of the charges, laid by the Department of Labour have not been made public because they could lead to the identification of the parties involved, who have name suppression.

3.35pm: A proud Tau Henare tweets: "I have the privilege of standing in for the PM at the 3rd and final Helensville candidates debate tonight at the Kaukapakapa Hall, 7:30pm." Another missed opportunity for John Banks.

3.20pm: John Key would have us think the cup-of-tea-or-not is no big deal, but the worst case scenario for National is nothing to shrug off, writes Danyl Mclauchlan at the Dim-Post:

Say he has his cup of tea with Banks, sending a signal that National backs ACT in Epsom, and far-right voters around the country decide this means a vote for ACT is not a wasted vote, and ACT surges up to, say, 3.5% almost all of which comes from National. And THEN the voters of Epsom fail to give their electorate to Banks out of sheer bloodymindedness. The wasted ACT vote means National drops down to ~49% and Key needs Dunne, Turia and Sharples to form a government.

3.05pm: The journalism school that made headlines for running a poll asking "which politician would you go to bed with?" now say that the exercise was a "spoof". This morning Jim Tucker, the head of the Whitireia New Zealand journalism class, was quoted in the Herald saying it had been "tongue in cheek". Now a piece on the class website says it was in fact designed "to demonstrate the fatuous nature of polls during election season". It adds:

All politicians contacted for comment today denied  voting for themselves repeatedly, but logs show they or staff/friends/supporters appear to have voted in bulk over short periods of time.

Next up: the Pope is a Catholic.

2.25pm POLICY

Labour's education policy has been released in Hamilton.

It emphasises a $75m investment in e-learning in secondary schools million over four years, "targeting low-decile schools that have the capability to deliver an effective programme". Most of the funding will come from a saving of $14.1m year by dumping scholarship for low-decile students to pricate schools. "Labour would rather resource the low-decile schools well than send just a few students off to private schools."

There is also a commitment to retain the 20 hours free subsidy for children aged three and four.

Summary here; the full policy in PDF here.

1.40pm: BLOGGERS

Tim Watkin chaired the Epsom candidates’ meeting last night, and he blogs about it at Pundit.

Yes, welfare. ACT is, frankly, a political beneficiary, unable to pull itself up by its own boot-straps and get parliamentary work in its own right. Even if Banks and maybe Brash make it into parliament, they will be beholden to National; a tool of the tories, but with little power to pull Key to the right. Banks will be to National what Jim Anderton became to Labour.

At Scoop, Gordon Campbell looks at National’s latest spending pledges, including the irrigation commitment (see yesterday).

Last week, Prime Minister John Key made the economic credibility of Labour into a campaign touchstone yet arguably, the Tooth Fairy has as much credibility as the government’s Future Investment Fund.

Cameron Slater aka Whaleoil has found a campaign ad for Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove which doesn’t even mention the word “Labour”.

And if polling is your thing, you should certainly read David Winter’s assessment of the different polling companies tendencies at The Atavism and David Farrar’s response at Kiwiblog.

1.20pm: The Greens have announced they would push for a national earthquake levy, providing a direct revenue stream for the Christchurch rebuild.

1.05pm: Another thinly disguised jab at John Key from Phil Goff, this time by way of an allusion to the prime minister's favourite place to go for a break. "People at the top have got a lot of money and they take their holidays in Hawaii," Goff said to the Grey Power meeting in south Auckland this morning.

1.00pm: POLICY

National has announced its health policy - or at least part of it - with a pledge to cut the waiting time for elective surgery from six to four months within three years, and to enable an extra 4000 people a year to undergo elective surgery.

Here's the release; and the policy document in PDF.

12.40pm: My colleague Phil is a true democrat. He's been looking at venues.

Cornwall Park restaurant offers high tea with a wonderful view, a delightful little ladies high tea happens just once a year.

Cotter House offers a very special affair and it's conveniently located in Remuera.

It's game time at Orbit restaurant atop the Sky Tower for a more literal “high” tea on Saturday and Sunday.

12.05pm: What the?

11.40am: POLICY

The Maori party's education policy is now online at Scoop. Notably, they do use the awkward phrase "compulsorily available" to describe their pledge for the teaching of Teo Reo in schools. As I mentioned earlier, "universally available" or simply "available to all" would seem a more straightforward way to describe their plan. Presumably they calculated - rightly, it turns out - that the allusion to compulsion would give the announcement more legs.

Don Brash spoke against the policy on Morning Report earlier. Catherine Delahunty of the Greens welcomes the plan in a blog post here - indeed she'd like to see "a trilingual Aotearoa where the three national languages, Te Reo, Sign and English, are core subjects".

11.25am: John Banks has posted a photo on Facebook. What is that in front of him on the table? "Look I know how to do it," he seems to be saying. Short and stout, Johnny! Tip me over!

(Just no one say pot: that's a sensitive area.)

11.10am: Financial statements notwithstanding, there seems to be a strain of flippancy in the water this morning. On the back of a journalism school running a poll searching for NZ's sexiest politician, Sean Plunket on Newstalk ZB has been inviting listeners to let him know which politicians they fancy. "Not a single person has rung up and said they're John Key," he says. After Cunliffe's blunder on Friday (see here), politicians aren't likely to wade back into this one themselves.

In any case, just because Plunket is soliciting views, doesn't mean he approves. "I don't know if it's healthy to think about politicians in that way," he says. "I try to keep it pretty pure."

10.50am: Government financial statements for the quarter to the end of September have been published by the Reserve Bank this morning. The top line, in the report by "The Government's deficit for the first quarter of the 2011-12 financial year was NZ$2.5 billion, which is NZ$210 million worse than expected, Treasury says, due to lower tax revenue than forecast."

The Bank's deputy governor said both main parties' fiscal strategies were tickety-boo, though the report explictly backs the government's approach, however. "In light of the elevated risks of further disruption to global financial markets, the Reserve Bank is supportive of the Government’s stated intention to return the fiscal position to surplus in coming years," it says.

In the Reserve Bank media release, Governor Alan Bollard says:

Despite progress in reshaping regulatory frameworks, financial systems in many countries remain under stress due to an overhang of private and public debt. Markets have been particularly concerned about the sovereign debt situation in Greece, and the potential for contagion to other European countries. This has made access to offshore debt markets more challenging for New Zealand’s banks.

In New Zealand, households and businesses have been containing debt, which has helped to reduce the country’s overall external imbalance. However, these efforts have been offset, in part, by rising levels of public debt. Further, many households and farmers remain highly leveraged, which leaves them vulnerable to a sharp slowdown in global growth.

The report itself is here.

10.40am: Oh, the glamour of the campaign trail! More prime ministerial internet prawn comes via a tweet from Andrea Vance of Fairfax:

More? You want more? Hold on to your seat, here's Phil Goff, captured in full flow at a Grey Power meeting in south Auckland, as tweeted by the Herald's Derek Cheng.

Fairfax's John Hartvelt is there, too. He tweets: "Phil Goff not pulling a big or v lively crowd at Papatoetoe Grey Power mtng. Tough gig."

10.20am: What election campaign would be complete without the prime minister posing for a photo at a prawn farm with a child dressed as a Mexican? From the trail, TVNZ's Jessica Mutch tweets a picture:

9.55am: Morning Report is keen to remind listeners that John Key doesn't want to play with them. From this morning's menu:

They're not the only ones feeling bruised by National snubs. TV3's The Nation is biting back. From the press release promoting Saturday's show:

John Key refuses to talk to The Nation so we've gone in search of him. Narelle Suisted follows the Key campaign and finds that its endless photo opportunities are carefully planned stage shows. She also tracks down two Ministers the Nats are trying to keep away from the cameras. One is so anxious to avoid the limelight things turn slightly strange.

9.00am: From the Herald to the ODT, via the Timaru Herald, the morning papers have been combed like a head full of lice (charming lice) by Phil Pinner here.

8.25am: Russel Norman has just been on Morning Report talking about National's climate policy (see yesterday). The Green co-leader is a plhelgmatic fellow, but he's clearly riled by National's effort on the environment, both in terms of the easing of emission demands and the irrigation investment. Nick Smith, the environment minister, who appears separately, says the Greens are never happy on climate - they always want more, more, more. With the economy in difficult straits, it's a balancing act he says, adding that National is doing its "fair share on the environment".

8.15am: The Maori party call for Te Reo to be "compulsorily available" in schools is getting plenty of play on Morning Report this morning - they're now running their third item addressing it. "Compulsorily available" is an odd choice of words - "universally available" is another way to put it. I haven't seen the Maori party release itself (it's part of their education policy), so whether it's their choice of words I don't know. Here's the report from the RNZ site.


On TV One, Breakfast leads on Italy and the eurozone crisis, then to a Helensville candidates' debate, where the incumbent MP, John Key, arrived 15 minutes late. I'm tipping him to win. That's it for election coverage.

Over on TV3's Firstline, separate items on Italy, the eurozone and Greece top the bulletin. Then to a student-led anti-cuts protest in London, followed by the standoff over the Octagon Occupiers in Dunedin. That's followed by Epsom, and the apparently imminent "symbolic cup of tea". I'd be delighted if it was actually symbolic - if Key and Banks got together and sipped from giant inflatable cups.

Next on Firstline is the Greens' criticism of National and Labour's environment policies

Morning Report leads on the Maori party call for Te Reo Maori to be compulsorily available in schools within three years. Then it looks to Europe. Back to the election thereafter, with Phil Goff voicing doubt over National's attribution of National's asset-sale-sourced "future investment fund". The figures are "vague" and "shonky", he says. Next is Key's seat, Helensville, where all the candidates but for his Labour opponent say they're not seeking the electorate vote, only the party tick.

National Radio's coverage this morning has included packages on the Te Reo in schools policy, last night's candidate debate in Epsom, and Phil Goff questioning National's spending sums.

Share thoughts, vent spleen, in the comments below, on Twitter to @listenerlive or on email to

Read yesterday's shenanigans here.
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