NZ election 2011: the morning papers, Friday 18 November

by Toby Manhire / 18 November, 2011
The Herald leads on its poll, which shows NZ First on the brink. The Dom Post has a wealth gap splash.
"Winston within a whisker" cries the front page of the Herald. Tim Murphy tweeted (see yesterday 4:40pm) to tell us to look out for a real 'gamechanger' in today's Herald Digipoll, the apparent confirmation of this is that NZ First is up to 4.9%. National remain at 49.9%, Labour 29.1%, Greens 12.6%, Act 1.7%, Maori 0.7%, Conservative 0.6%, Mana 0.4%, United Future 0.1%.

Audrey Young reports that, of the 750 polled, 12.6% are now undecided and in a "horror scenario" for National if NZ First get another 0.1% and Act fail to win Epsom then National and United Future would not have a majority.

Underneath the "poll shock" is the news that the cameraman responsible for the recording, Bradley Ambrose, is seeking an urgent judgement over whether the conversation was a "private communication" under the Crimes Act. Ambrose believes his reputation is under attack and is considering a defamation case that could include Key, Steven Joyce and Don Brash.

Inside Adam Bennett runs the numbers on the latest wage increase for MPs and finds they are going up quicker than the average wage. Mana party MP Hone Harawira who feels "sick in the stomach" will donate his $7,200 increase to voluntary organisations helping the poor.

Phil Goff took the heat at a Federated Farmers conference yesterday - "not known as a hotbed of left-wing radicalism," he joked afterwards.

Law and order policies are compared by Derek Cheng, who then turns his attention to the real thing as he reports on the latest developments in the recording investigation. Police are poised to search four media outlets today and the saga is overshadowing the election campaigns of the parties. While John Key made light of the use of police time quoting a 7% drop in crime "they do have a little bit of spare time". Annette Sykes was less jovial. "First it was Tuhoe. Now it is the media," the Mana candidate said.

The Police Association don't agree either. "There is no police officer anywhere in the country who hasn't got anything to do," said its president, Greg O'Connor, adding that, however they responded to the complaint, the police would look political.

John Armstrong pulls out the Muldoon comparisons in his piece as he castigates Key for his war on media ethics. He then asks the question whether the stance has swung enough public opinion behind the PM or will he have "single-handedly helped his Nemesis back into parliament ... and National out of power." "What is not in question is that Key's hopes of toughing it out and the whole business losing steam has proved to be wrong," he says.

While acknowledging there was a huge elephant in the room at the Epsom candidates' debate last night, John Banks would not be drawn on any tea related questions, reports Bernard Orsman.

Over the page the rest of the poll is broken down: National's plan to keep the worst offenders incarcerated beyond their sentence gets a huge 72.6% support, reports Audrey Young. Some 72.7% believe the migration to Australia is beyond the government's control, writes Amelia Romanos.

The Greens released an oil spill policy yesterday including higher standards for coastal shipping and an inquiry into the Rena response.

The editorial leaves the recording scandal to concentrate on the National pledge to give veterans better treatment in future commemorations. It agrees it is the right thing to do both for the veterans but should have been announced months ago rather than "as an election policy - with half an eye on shoring up National's elderly support base from the encroachment of NZ First".

Chris Kerr of Amnesty International warns that we need to be asking more questions about the amount of torture in Afghanistan and our responsibilities a one of the international forces deployed there.

Te Tai Tokerau gets the battleground seat treatment from Yvonne Tahana.

And Morgan Godfery writes that the Mana party could profit from the Greens' more moderate approach by taking some of their disaffected "activist" votes.

The Domninion Post front page is filled by their investigation into the wealth gap and the revelation that "the richest 1% in New Zealand owns three times more than the combined cash and assets of the poorest 50%". The inequality rates ninth worst in the developed world,  it reports.

The reaction to MP wage increases is reported by Kate Newton; unsurprisingly 94% of respondents did not believe it was deserved. "Well done to the 1%," said one.

The editorial agrees. A 1.5% increase is ok, it says, but the $5,000 additional subsidy is not. "Ordinary New Zealanders are doing it tough. Many have lost their jobs. Many have not had a pay rise for several years. The Government is sinking further into debt. There is no need, and no excuse, for increasing the borrowing bill to compensate MPs for the loss of something they never deserved."

The urgent High Court proceedings and fallout from the teapot recordings are reported and the responses from the four media outlets are also included in the article. Bradley Ambrose's lawyer Ron Mansfield says: "He's needed to take this action because the National Party in particular has been describing his conduct as unlawful and unethical. This is obviously damaging his reputation and ability to work."

The Majestic Centre, home to the Earthquake Commission, is to have strengthening work done at a cost of $35m raising questions over the fitness of many of the other buildings in the region.

Tracy Watkins says that, just like 2005's Exclusive Brethren story, there is just enough information coming out each day to continue giving the teapot story legs. She agrees with many critics that Key has backed himself into a corner with the way the affair has been handled and warns: "It is one thing to stand on your high horse; it is quite another to derail an election campaign for the sake of principle over a conversation that Mr Key has repeatedly insisted on describing as bland."

And Des Britten has been awarded Wellingtonian of the year.

The Christchurch Press reports on the advance voting in Christchurch, including three campervans that are travelling around quake damaged areas.

The Pike River Royal Commission inquiry has been told about the "impossible workload" faced by mines inspectors which was not heard by the Labour Department's higher management. tomorrow is the first anniversary of the men's deaths.

The editorial looks at the close bond between the US and Australia and its reflection on how times have changed since the early ANZUS arrangements. New Zealand's foreign policy is to be applauded, though, as "it wants to present itself to other nations as fully independent rather than tied to the military and diplomatic coat tails of other nations."

The Waikato Times editorial laments the election campaign's descent into a circus and has a warning for the Greens. "Clean campaigning and the party's efforts to appeal to middle-class voters have helped lift poll support for the Greens above 10%. Being reminded of the party's more extreme disciplines could see some new converts scurry back to where they were before." That might just have been penned before three consecutive polls put the Greens at 13%.

Anger at the MPs wage increase looks like it could be a boon for charities. Along with Hone Harawira's pledge the Timaru Herald reports that Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew will also be giving part of her pay rise to charity.


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