Andrew Little drops to fourth as preferred PM in latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll that sees both major parties take a hit

Labour leader Andrew Little has dropped to fourth in the preferred leader rankings in the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, the lowest result for an opposition leader for eight years.

Since the last poll in late May, Mr Little has dropped to fourth behind Bill English, Winston Peters and deputy Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. 

Mr Little's popularity fell by three points to five per cent while Mr Peters jumped four points to 11 per cent.

It's the lowest result for a leader of the opposition since 2009. 

Mr English has also taken a hit, down three points to 26 per cent. Ms Ardern remained steady at six per cent. 

1 NEWS political editor Corin Dann says Andrew Little is still struggling to make his mark two-and-a-half years after becoming leader, and now time is running out.

After a month of scandals - National's Todd Barclay resigned and Labour's intern scandal - both of the major political parties have taken a hit, according to the poll.  

A Government committee that oversees abortions in NZ is calling for the law to be updated, saying it would help medical professionals.
Source: 1 NEWS

National dropped two points to 47 per cent, while Labour dropped three points to 27 per cent. 

The Green Party and New Zealand First are both up two points to 11 per cent. 

The Labour Party leader says the party will "get to the bottom" of the incident involving the foreign students.
Source: 1 NEWS

The Maori Party is up one point to 2 per cent and The Opportunities Party is steady on 1 per cent.

When it comes to seats in what would be a Parliament of 122 MPs, National would have 57 seats. 

With its current support parties of ACT, United Future and the Maori Party, it could muster a further four seats, bringing its total to 61, not quite a majority.

Under this scenario, National would need the support of New Zealand First and its 14 MPs to form a government.

Labour, meanwhile, with 33 and the Greens' 14 could muster 47 seats.  

Throw in New Zealand First's 14 and the centre left block would also reach 61 seats - not enough for a majority, although it could technically force a hung Parliament. 

The poll was conducted between July 1 and July 5 and has a sample size of 1007 eligible voters. 

The margin of error is approximately plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

National's also taken a slight dive in the polls, but Mr Little is now registering the lowest levels for a Labour leader since 2009. Source: 1 NEWS

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John Armstrong's opinion: Jacinda Ardern can’t afford to look complacent as petrol prices verge on crisis-level

Those of suspicious mind will have likely pondered at some length what was the real motive behind the verbal lashing inflicted by the Prime Minister on New Zealand’s oil company oligopoly.

After all, Jacinda Ardern’s accusations of rampant profiteering on the part of New Zealand’s equivalent of the Seven Sisters was hardly news.

It merely added her name to a long list of politicians who have locked horns with the oil industry — and usually to no avail.

An independent report commissioned in 2017 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment concluded that "we cannot definitely say that fuel prices in New Zealand are reasonable, and we have reason to believe that they might not be".

That language might have been cautious. But it still left no doubt that the economic consultants who produced the report thought there was a massive market malfunction in the form of major variations in prices at the pump up and down the country.

What is not in doubt is the doubling of profit margins over the past decade has seen a transfer of wealth from consumers to producers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The oil companies claim that when it comes to competition, they have been absolute paragons of virtue.

Yet they have repeatedly refused to divulge the information sought by regulators to test the veracity if that assertion.

That is about to change. Monday's prime ministerial tirade included an announcement by Ms Ardern that the governing coalition would speed the passage through Parliament of legislation giving the Commerce Commission beefed-up powers to investigate suspected anti-competitive behaviour.

This might have been news to just about everyone. Bust it wasn’t news at all.

The drafting of a bill which will force companies to provide commercially-sensitive information to help the commission carry out meaningful studies on market competition was set in train by Energy Minister Megan Woods as far back as last December.

The latter set a target back then of getting those powers into law by the end of this year.

All that Ardern did on Monday was to provide confirmation that Woods' timetable will be met. Ardern added that she would be nominating the supply, distribution and retailing of petrol as the first industry to be subject to the scrutiny of a "market study".

It hardly needs the imprimatur of the Prime Minister for that to happen. It would have occurred regardless.

Ardern's announcement was not really an announcement.

Rather, it was a classic example of the announcement you make when you have nothing to announce. It’s purpose was simple. With the price of petrol having sky-rocketed by close to 40 cents a litre on average over the past year, the last thing that Ardern and her colleagues can afford to do is look like they are sitting on their hands.

Ardern needed to give the firm impression she was doing something — even though there is precious little she can do.

The unpleasant reality is that soaring petrol prices are no longer just a nuisance. They are now verging on being a crisis.

It has taken some time for Ardern to realise the price hikes have serious economic implications and a resulting political downside which stretch far further than the service station forecourt.

For starters, the benefit of hindsight suggests the Labour-driven imposition of increased taxes on petrol both nationwide and additionally and more heavily in Auckland might have been a major political mistake even though the policy objectives are laudable in providing the funding for overhauling transport infrastructure.

Then there is the socio-economic dimension. Grant Robertson's oft-repeated response to charges that the extra tax and levies will hit the poor especially hard has been to stress that Labour’s families package is designed to provide replacement income to make up for extra fuel costs.

But the higher the price of petrol, the harder hit will be the less well-off and the more intense will be the pressure to ditch the imposts to the levels applying prior to the change of government last year.

The Finance Minister’s case has not been helped by his posting of a whopping $5.5 billion Budget surplus at the very time that the utility of Labour’s imposition of added petrol taxes is up for debate.

The governing party will be in much more serious strife, however, if the hikes in fuel costs are putting the squeeze on household incomes in middle New Zealand which are already heavily committed to repaying loans or reducing debt.

Equally worrying for Labour and its partners in Government is that big increases in crude oil prices have an unfortunate habit of sending economies spiralling into recession.

In the face of those forces. Ardern is powerless.

She cannot talk down rising crude oil prices. She cannot talk up the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The risk is that voters’ minds translate such impotence into weakness.

The directing of her ire at the oil companies —most notably her allegation that they are "fleecing" consumers — was consequently designed to make her sound tough-minded.

In hamming things up, she was adopting the age-old adage that attack is the best form of defence.

Above all, Ardern is playing a "blame game". She cannot afford to sit around waiting for the new powers handed to the Commerce Commission to have an impact on pricing behaviour in the oil industry. That could take years.

She is instead highlighting price anomalies up and down the country along with the fact that New Zealand has the highest priced petrol of all OECD nations before tax is applied.

For her, that is evidence aplenty that Mobil, Z Energy, Caltex and BP are engaged in unacceptable pricing behaviour— and thus are responsible for the high prices at the pump as much as factors beyond New Zealand’s control.

That might well turn out to be a line of argument which proves to be difficult to sustain.

But Ardern has one major thing going her way. No politician ever went broke by attacking the oil industry’s oligarchs.

If oil prices soar even higher in coming months, the public is going to have to decide whose version of the complexities of the retail petroleum market is closer to fact rather than self-serving fiction.

Given the faith that the voting public has in Ardern to do the right thing — to borrow her phraseology — and the corresponding expectation that the oil companies will unfailingly do the wrong thing, it is no contest. When it comes to trust, there is only one winner — and it is not the oil companies.

When the PM was asked if she thought the pricing moves were “fair”, she said “certainly motorists won't look upon it as fair”. Source: 1 NEWS

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National launch petition urging scrapping of new fuel taxes

National have launched a petition urging the Government for a repeal of new fuel taxes, as prices creep up at the pump. 

"The worst is yet to come with two more excise tax hikes planned in the next two years," Opposition leader Simon Bridges said in a statement today.

"Ordinary hard working Kiwi families don’t need the worry of figuring out how they’re going to drive to school or get to the supermarket. But this Government is pricing them out of their cars."

He said the Government should provide "immediate relief" by cancelling recent excises and "putting a stop to its plans to add more".

This week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government is moving quickly to look into the root causes of high fuel prices and told reporters she was "hugely concerned" by rising fuel prices across the country.

She said her Government is now taking steps to look into how and why petrol prices have risen so quickly, jumping up by an average of 39 cents between the end of October last year and September 28 this year.

In April this year, Ms Ardern said the increase in fuel excise would go towards road safety.

She also maintained that "every time a Government policy comes out... included in that is what will happen to excise (certain taxes) in New Zealand".

Ms Ardern said "over a six year period (while National were in government) in fact, it's gone up 17 cents". 

Petrol prices set to rise
Source: Te Karere


Three people injured after bus crashes into cafe in Auckland's Birkenhead

Three pedestrians have been injured after a bus crashed into a cafe in the Auckland suburb of Birkenhead.

The man suffered minor injuries and the children were unharmed, but a building was a badly damaged in the Birkenhead crash. Source: 1 NEWS

Fire and Emergency New Zealand say the three people are in a moderate condition.

The accident happened on Birkenhead Ave shortly before midday.

Police say there are no reports of anyone on the bus or inside the building receiving injuries.

Cordons are currently in place on Birkenhead Road at the intersections of Onewa Road and Mokoia Road.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

A bus which crashed into the shopping centre at the Highbury shops in Birkenhead, Auckland.
A bus which crashed into the shopping centre at the Highbury shops in Birkenhead, Auckland. Source: Dan Bidois