NZ Political Roundup
Impress Your Friends With Your Knowledge
Critic’s market research has revealed that 70% of students get their news exclusively from messages chalked onto the ground on campus. So not only are you missing out on the political happenings that are so hot right now, you’re probably also contemplating whether Student Life can help you fill your gaping spiritual void. To solve the existential problem, congratulations, you’re actually a brain in a jar. To make a dent in the iceberg of political ignorance, here’s a roundup of the political issues currently on the public agenda.
John Banks ft. Kim Dotcom – ScandalIn 2010, ACT Party leader John Banks received five donations of $25,000 each to his Auckland mayoral campaign, which he declared to be anonymous. Two of them turned out to be from Kim Dotcom. Banks and Dotcom had met earlier in the year, in June. Coincidence? No. But the question is whether Banks knew for sure, rather than merely suspected, that Dotcom had made two of the five donations. If so, he’s goneburger.
But the best part of the scandal is the amusing sideshows. When a radio host asked Banks if he had a “relationship” with Dotcom, Banks angrily told her that Dotcom was a married man, and hung up the phone. If they do have a relationship, it’s probably pretty strained after Dotcom released a rap video dissing Banks.
If Banks ends up resigning from Parliament, National will almost certainly win the Epsom by-election, so no problems there. But if John Key decides to sack Banks as a Minister, Banks might retaliate by not voting with National, which would make National dependent on the Maori Party to govern.
Conservatives RisingDominion Post journalist Tracy Watkins has made another of her annual announcements that ACT is dead; due to the Banks saga it looks like it might be tenth time lucky for Watkins. This is bad news for National, as Parliament’s a lonely place when you don’t have a right-wing BFF. As potential fillers of this vacancy, the Conservative Party and their leader Colin Craig have started to get some rare media coverage.
The Conservatives received 2.65% of the votes in the last election. As their name suggests, they want to conserve what they perceive as New Zealand’s traditional values – for example, they’re opposed to asset sales. This contrasts with ACT, who think National’s economic reforms don’t go far enough. The Conservatives, being a Christian party, also have significantly more old-fashioned views on moral issues than National and ACT. In spite of these differences, the Conservatives are more in tune with National than Labour overall, so could be a key ally for National in 2014.
National’s second term – business timeBecause of National’s lack of definite partners, Critic is tipping Labour as the narrow favourites to win in 2014. A lot will depend on whether NZ First gets over the 5% threshold again. But there’s a long way to go yet. The point is that National may well be serving their last term in government, and will presumably want to stamp their mark on the country rather than risk being voted out without really having done anything. So get your miniature New Zealand flags and sad bugle music ready folks, it’s time to say goodbye to 49% of five state-owned assets. The next 18 months will tell whether this is as bold as National gets.
Will the Real Labour Leader Please Stand Up?It’s never a good sign when the media start talking about leadership challenges. Even if there’s no basis to their gossip, it can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Labour leader David Shearer has been criticised for being too moderate, too indecisive, and for failing to develop headline-grabbing policies for Labour. He may not last until the election. The two names being thrown around as potential replacements are:
Grant Robertson, the current Deputy Leader of Labour, is Helen Clark’s protégé – quite left-wing economically, but with an equally strong focus on social issues such as supporting gay marriage and opposing VSM. He’s regarded as the favourite to replace Shearer, and could make history by becoming NZ’s first gay Prime Minister.
David Cunliffe is more of an old-school Labour politician, preferring a megaphone and a fired-up working-class crowd over a student forum. He’s all about the economic issues, and wants to develop a wider gap between Labour and National on economic policy. This could enable him to win back the more militant left-wing voters who deserted for the Greens in 2011.