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Corin Dann: Key might be 'secretly a little disappointed' by latest ONE News poll

I wouldn’t be surprised if John Key wasn't secretly a little disappointed by the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll that has the party remaining steady at 47 per cent.

Over the last month National has had some unusually big policy wins that include a budget surplus, the completion of the TPP trade deal and the announcement of a giant marine sanctuary.

In addition, John Key has also got to bask in the international spotlight at the UN and show off his commitment to the fight against ISIS with a secret visit to the base in camp Taji.

Source: 1 NEWS

Given all that, one might have expected National to bounce a little in our poll. Perhaps we will see a delayed affect in coming months.

Or, who knows - maybe after seven years in office, 47 per cent is emerging as a bit of a ceiling for National.   

For Labour it's another frustrating poll that sees it drifting downwards rather than making gains.  However at 31 per cent there is no need to panic. Along with the Greens' 12 per cent, the centre left still has a combined 43 per cent in this poll.

He needs to get a wriggle on. - Corin Dann on Andrew Little

That keeps it well within striking distance of a government that might not have too many months as good as the last, in the coming two years.

Labour's bigger problem seems to be around the profile of its leader Andrew Little, with his slip in the preferred prime minister stakes to eight per cent a worry. 

Despite having nearly a year under his belt as leader, he's still not connecting with Kiwis in a big way.  Again, though, it's not disastrous - and there's no sense Labour would change its leader again, allowing him time to make that connection with voters. 

The poll showed the Labour leader was level with New Zealand first leader Winston Peters on eight per cent while John Key remains streets ahead. Source: 1 NEWS

But he needs to get a wriggle on. A big speech and strong policy announcement at next month's annual conference would go a long way to helping. 

It's a conference Labour desperately needs to get right, and that won't be easy. There are differing views within the party, for instance, over support for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. 

And whilst debate over policy is surely to be encouraged, there is always danger that at the conference arguments over the TPP flare up and dominate proceedings. 

The party's brains trust need to be mindful of this, and treat this conference as an opportunity to try to set the agenda in the final two months of the year. 

To do that, I think they may need to roll out some kind of new policy announcement.  

Perhaps the biggest concern must surely be the housing market. - Corin Dann

Doing so won't be an easy decision given the constant temptation to hold back new policies until closer to the next election. But it may be a risk they need to take.

For John Key there will be a temptation now to already have one eye on the Christmas break - a time when the government often gets a poll bounce. 

However, it'd be foolish to relax. 

The Australian deportee saga, whilst not damaging in the polls, hasn't reflected well on our government - nor John Key - and is unlikely to go away given the number of Kiwis that are going to be arriving back here over coming months.

The economy too - whilst showing signs of improvement - is still going to feel the pinch, with growth possibly set to dip below two per cent in the coming year. 

In addition, there's a strong possibility of drought this summer, and the unemployment rate's unlikely to get better any time soon. 

Child poverty hasn't suddenly gone away either, just because of a promise to increase the benefit next year. 

But perhaps the biggest concern must surely be the housing market. 

National - despite all its admirable efforts to ramp up housing supply and get more housing built - hasn't yet got anywhere near fixing the housing supply issue in Auckland. 

And despite the government introducing tax changes and the Reserve Bank tightening lending rules, prices in Auckland don't appear to be easing either. 

The fact is the Auckland market remains a major risk to financial stability. 

John Key and Bill English know this - and also know that if the prices continue to climb at 20 per cent per annum, either they or the Reserve Bank are going to have to do something. 

What, exactly, is unknown.  Loan to income ratios, perhaps? 

Until then, National is still massively vulnerable on housing. If Labour is looking for a theme for its conference, surely this has got to be a good place start.