Opinion: Betting on election outcome a fool's game, but scenarios don't look good for Bill English

Only a fool would make predictions on the outcome of this coming Saturday's general election. But here goes. Here are the questions which everyone is asking. And here are some answers.

Who is going to win?

Source: 1 NEWS

The oracles have spoken. The high priests and priestesses have passed judgment.

The betting —literally — is that Labour will be the victor by a narrow margin.

Take a look at the most right and left-leaning electorates in New Zealand according to 200,000 Vote Compass results. Source: 1 NEWS

That is the unanimous verdict of Australia’s biggest bookies. New Zealand’s TAB does not yet offer betting on what it calls “novelty prediction events”.

Across the Tasman, however, the likes of Centrebet, William Hill and Sportsbet are paying around $1.83 on Labour being the party whose leader will be sworn in as prime minister once post-election negotiations have determined who governs.

Those agencies are offering as much as $2.30 on National’s leader ending up with the top job. (For the record, a $1 bet on Winston Peters or James Shaw would return $73 if either leader became prime minister. This election has witnessed much in the way of big  surprises, but flying pigs have yet to be one of them.)

Bill English met orchard workers in Hawke's Bay while Jacinda Ardern went walkabout in Whanganui. Source: 1 NEWS

What is worth noting is that the Aussie bookmakers are not defining victory according to which party wins the most seats, but which party “delivers” the prime minister.

In every one of the seven elections held since New Zealand’s adoption of a proportional representation voting system, the party winning the most seats has gone on to form the government.

Things may turn out to be very different in 2017. It is very possible that the parties with the second and third biggest share of the vote — most likely Labour and New Zealand First — may co-operate to shut National— the party favoured to win the biggest share — out of of power.

On current polling, National is averaging around 42 per cent of the vote — a level which would see that party securing around 54 seats — six less than it has now. 

That would leave Bill English seven short of a majority and without enough friends to make up the difference. Peter Dunne is gone. The Maori Party may likewise no longer be in Parliament.

Voters in the Auckland constituency of Epsom might rebel and ignore the ongoing instruction from on high to cast their electorate vote for Act’s David Seymour.

The confident NZ First leader today called this election "a three way fight". Source: 1 NEWS

Labour, which is averaging about 40 per cent, would win about 51 seats — a whopping 19 more than the party currently holds.

While voter backing for New Zealand First has been on the slide, Winston Peters can expect to return to Parliament with at least 10 seats under his belt and — under the above scenario — the balance of power seemingly in his pocket.

If the numbers fall that way on election night, the “monarch-maker” may find the decision as to with whom he goes into government has been made for him, however.

First, if Labour wins more seats than National on Saturday, there will be a change of government full stop. Peters could not ignore such a hurricane-force gale for change.

Opting instead to prop up a fourth-term National-led government would be to sign his own party’s death warrant.

Second, those constraints on Peters’ negotiating power will still apply, although to a lesser degree, if National wins the most seats but only two or three more than Labour as in the above scenario.

English’s hopes of victory depend on him either securing sufficient numbers in the House to enable National to rule alone or getting very close to it, or, for “Jacindamania” to fail to translate into votes for Labour to the extent the polls have been indicating.

If English cannot make headway on either score, Jacinda Ardern and Peters could contemplate forming a two-party coalition.

It is not uncommon in Scandinavian democracies for the largest party to find itself excluded from a governing arrangement.

All the above should not be regarded as predictive. It simply outlines the more likely scenarios in the mix on Saturday night. Not much of it adds up to good news for English, however.

Will the Greens still have MPs in Parliament once the votes are counted?

Yes. The Greens have enough friends in the inner suburbs of metropolitan New Zealand who are willing to forego casting their party vote for Labour to ensure their centre-left allies are not cast into the wilderness.

Kaitaia could get funding for a sports centre if Labour win, while National has promised a velodrome upgrade for Whanganui. Source: 1 NEWS

These voters have another motive for ensuring the Greens do not fall below the 5 per cent threshold. The arithmetic of MMP means the wasted votes for the Greens would mean more seats for National.

Will the Maori Party survive?

Goodbye Te Ururoa Flavell. The Maori Party currently holds only one of the seven Maori electorates. A resurgent Labour Party is about to reduce that number to zero.

Will Gareth Morgan and The Opportunities Party climb above the 5 per per cent threshold and into Parliament?

You really can teach an old dog (or cat) old tricks.

TOP says it  commissioned a market research company to get a handle on voters’ attitudes to the fledgling party.

TOP says between 4 to 5 per cent of voters were either committed to voting for the party or were  “most likely” to do so, while another 11 per cent were “considering” voting for TOP.

Such findings are designed to allay voter fears that a vote for the party is a wasted vote. To the party’s credit, it is upfront about the purpose of such research.

If Morgan and his fellow political neophytes are to escape the “wasted vote syndrome”, however, the party needs to register support at around the 6 to 7 per cent mark in both of the two remaining television polls prior to Saturday.

Even then voters would want confirmation that such backing was part of a trend and not just a one-off. It is too late for that. Time has run out for TOP— at least at this election.

Will Hone Harawira return to Parliament as the MP for Te Tai Tokerau after three years on the outer?

Hone who?

Government reveals details of emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley

Details of the email exchange between former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran and Derek Handley were revealed today during Parliament's Question Time. 

Ms Curran said she was not aware of RNZ's policies surrounding meetings with Minister's at the time.
Source: 1 NEWS

The messages were sent over the role of chief technology officer, with Ms Curran using her private Gmail account to send the emails. 

An offer to Mr Handley for the role was retracted by the Government last week, resulting in a $100,000 pay out to the entrepreneur. 

Acting State Services Minister Grant Robertson told the House the following about three exchanges between the pair about the role. 

First exchange

August 11: 

"Derek Handley emails Clare Curran about the chief technology officer position and questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest."

August 14

"Clare Curran replies to that email, confirming a call to discuss these matters."

August 15

"Derek Handley replies to that, confirming times for the call."

Second exchange

August 19

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding logistics around the next step on the process of appointment, including the content of any public statements that might be made, and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)."

August 20

"Derek Handley responds to that email to Clare Curran about those issues, including the contact he has had with DIA and management of conflicts of interest."

Third exchange

August 21

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding issues that would be on the work plan of the chief technology officer and attaches some relevant background documents on those issues.

"On the same day, Derek Handley responds to Clare Curran, acknowledging the material and referring to the discussions that he is having with DIA."

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

The chief technology officer was intended to "drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand", said the then Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, when the role was announced last December. 

The new Minister for Government Digital Services Megan Woods said the Government have put a "full stop" on the process.

Ms Curran was stripped of her position as Minister for Government Digital Services after not disclosing a meeting with Mr Handley previously.

Over 20 vehicles vandalised overnight in suburb on Auckland's North Shore

More than 20 vehicles have been damaged overnight in an area on Auckland's, North Shore.

Police say a number of vehicles' tyres have been vandalised in Birkdale's, Tiri Tiri Road and Woodhams Street area.

Anyone who has had their car damaged is urged to report it to police if they haven't already done so.

Police are making area enquiries and conducting scene and forensic examinations and are interested to hear from anyone who may have information.

John Healy says people drastically underestimate the risks of leaving kids or pets in their car.
Source: 1 NEWS


Vodafone's 'unlimited' mobile plan comes under Commerce Commission scrutiny

The Commerce Commission has started an investigation into Vodafone's "unlimited" mobile plan launched in July which has a number of restrictions listed on the plan's promo page.

The NZ Herald reports the question is whether the "limited" factors are sufficiently prominent. 

The news outlet's online report says the ComCom refused any comment while its investigation was open.

The restrictions are listed on Vodafone's Unlimited Mobile promo page, but only after you click a link labelled "Important things to know".

Vodafone's "Unlimited Mobile" plan is $79.99 a month and NZ Herald says like "unlimited" plans launched earlier by rivals Spark and 2degrees, it has a number of limits.

These include speed being reduced from 4G to 3G if a customer downloads more than 22GB of mobile data within a month, and streaming video restricted to standard definition.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the company is "working through the details with the Commission and will co-operate fully with their investigation".

The regulator last month laid 10 charges against Vodafone under the Fair Trading Act for billing beyond the date of some customers' notice period.

In another legal action, the commission is targeting Vodafone's Fibre X marketing campaign.

More companies have gone into streamlining health and safety features such as picking up your arrival using  your phone and printing out your name tag ready to go when you arrive.
Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: 'We need to fix the bloody road' – MPs engage in heated exchange over deadly stretch of highway into Tauranga

A heated debate in Parliament over a stretch of road near Tauranga ended with the Transport Minister being asked to commit to driving the road himself. 

State Highway 2 between Katikati and Tauranga has seen numerous serious crashes and deaths.

In the last six years to March 2018, 21 people have been killed on the 37-kilometre stretch of road between Katikati and Tauranga.

In Question Time today, National MP Jami-Lee Ross asked Mr Twyford: "Why did he make the funding decision to reduce the State highway improvement budget... a project that would have saved lives on a stretch of road that has seen 86 serious and death crashes in the recent past years?"

Mr Twyford rejected that he made the decision, and said he agreed "with the people of Tauranga that we need to fix the bloody road, the number of crashes is unacceptable".

"We are investing $65 million right now on State Highway 2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa to make this stretch of road safer."

Hundreds of campaigners marched across Wairoa Bridge today. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after protesters blocked part of the road in Tauranga on the weekend, calling for major safety upgrades. 

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller asked the Minister to commit to driving from Ōmokoroa to Tauranga, "to experience first-hand that road, like my constituents do every day?"

"I can't commit to that," Mr Twyford said. "Because I am busy making sure that the Transport Agency... gets on with re-evaluating that project so that we can make the safety improvements on that highway that that Government failed to do over nine years and has spent the last nine months scaremongering about."

$100 million will be spent on safety between Waihi and Omokoroa, but protesters say a four-lane highway must be built.

The Transport Minister agreed it needs to be fixed, as National’s Todd Muller challenged the Minister "to experience the road first-hand". Source: 1 NEWS