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Key begins 'MMP shuffle' towards endorsing Act in Epsom

UPDATED TUESDAY: ACT Party leader Don Brash conceded his party's public support is disappointing. 

Asked on National Radio this morning whether he was happy with ACT's recent polling - the most recent poll had the party on 0.9%, a far cry from Dr Brash's promised 10-15% - Dr Brash said he was.

"OK, I accept that, but the key question is whether National will have a good centre right partner...and which party is the best party to provide that," he said. 

With polling day now less than three weeks away, the issue of whether National leader John Key will give Epsom voters a nudge to vote for ACT candidate John Banks is becoming increasingly salient. 

Mr Key was bailed up on a public walkabout in New Plymouth yesterday by a local ACT Party official and accused of reneging on a deal where ACT would not run in New Plymouth and National would not try very hard in Epsom. 

Mr Key denied such a deal.  However he did not rule out a public "cup of tea" with Mr Banks along the lines of previous public signals in the past two elections. 

prime Minister John Key has begun shuffling towards endorsing Act candidate John Banks for the Epsom seat.

Mr Key has thus far declined all invitations to provide even a smidgeon of a hint to National’s Epsom supporters that they might have to swallow hard and vote for Mr Banks, as opposed to National candidate Paul Goldsmith.

Until now the message from the Prime Minister has been that people should give their party vote to National. The question about who they should give their electorate vote to is something Mr Key has steadfastly refused to give his views on.

This morning Mr Key began to shift his position.

In what might be called the MMP shuffle, Mr Key began tiptoeing towards endorsing Act.

“Act returning to Parliament is something I would like to see as opposed to something I wouldn't like to see,” he told a breakfast television programme.

Mr Key also said Act had been “very stable” – an observation which might surprise even the most casual observer of recent New Zealand politics.

But the important aspect of this morning’s comments is the shift in position, and that Mr Key has begun shuffling towards endorsing Mr Banks.

A recent UMR Insight poll, commissioned by The National Business Review, revealed most National voters planned to vote for Mr Goldsmith but also that most believed Mr Banks would win; and, crucially, that if Mr Key told them to, sufficient numbers would change their vote to put Mr Banks into Parliament.

The issue is crucial because of the risk of a wasted vote on the centre right: Act is unlikely, on current polling, to reach the 5% threshold on the list vote so it needs to win Epsom, won in the 2008 election by then-leader Rodney Hide.

More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

Is there another possibility that a week out from the election Key tells Epsom votes to go with the National Candidate and screws ACT over. This basically tells all potential ACT voters they are wasting their time voting for ACT, and may as well shift to National. This might have the added benefit of wiping out the ACT party for good, leaving National to corral up those right wing votes in future elections too.

This would be high risk but quite high return for Key if be believes that the ACT voters are sophisticated enough to switch their votes to National at the last minute (so only very few votes are wasted).

Do you really think an ACT voter would vote for the Nats after doing that to their party, especially after ACT has pulled a candidate in New Plymouth for National's benefit?

The fact is, if you look at the polling, National won't be able to govern alone. They'll need a coalition patner(s), and the most likely partners are (in order I believe): ACT, United, Maori, Greens.

If they don't have a few ACT seats, & ACT disappear completely, their govt. might just be unstable enough for the tail (Maori) to wag the dog so much that they'll go down in flames at the next election.

You have it right, the thought of "sweetheart deals" done between parties to "fix" a seat" appals me. But that isn't what the dumass voted for, when they voted for MMP?.

Any screwing of the ACT party by the Nats will ensure that I NEVER vote National again.

@John - if that did happen, then who would you vote for???

There is a shortage of right wing parties so eliminating ACT forces people to National unless you vote Labour etc out of spite.

Then, dare I ask, why bother with a Right Wing party at all, unless we want to be known as the puny Pacific country of rednecks....

Its the sane solution under the insane MMP system. Act winning the seat + a good representation in the party vote 3-5% means more right wing seats than National winning the seat alone.
DonKey know this.

Down with MMP. It leads to a distortion in Democracy.

Of course National need Act to win in Epsom what with a strong Green showing likely. Sooner they get this charade over the better.

This shows how flawed MMP is. Strategic voting to get a candidate elected: and he/she, then, gets to bring in several hanger-ons into parliament, as well. Not so much undemocratic as it is rotten.

It would be fascinating to know whether National have done any secret polling on this issue - i.e. whether most ACT voters would switch to National if ACT were consigned to oblivion by Key in the week prior to the election. I am a potential ACT voter and I would certainly not vote Labour out of spite. ACT only have themselves to blame.

Most probably though, its a political risk that National doesn't need to take. After all, Key has shown himself to be pretty risk averse when it comes to taking bold decisions as PM. So this is probably no diffferent (and actually why I am considering voting ACT in the first place)

I'm an ACT voter & I certainly wouldn't vote for the Nats ever again if they pulled a fast one on ACT. I'd prefer to vote Libertarianz, not vote at all, or move to Oz, in that order.

...though of course you would say that Don...

This once again shows the flaws in the MMP voting system.It is too prone to political manipulation.
The sooner it is consigned to history the better!

Rid NZ of MMP. Give us back democracy. A type of STV system better. NO NO NO to FPP.

Where will Key be in the next election, if the line-up of parties are:
Left: Labour, Greens, Maori, Mana;
Centre: National
Right: (vacant)

I'd like to see Act in, not just to ensure National can govern, but they have produced some very good policies in the last decade. There are some bright bods on the list.

I would agree if it could happen without Brash. Sadly that won't be the case.

Sure, there were some good ACT policies before, but now with Brash and Banks all they are is pretend Nats. And given his flaky policies, I'm not sure I want the Brash Act tail wagging the National dog either.

I for one will not be impressed if John Key shows so little respect for the electorate that he tries to manipulate it in the way suggested.

Although I voted ACT last time, I do not want Banks or Brash in parliament. A letter from Banks in my mail today saying he wants to 'earn' a seat in Epsom. Can't imagine how that is possible.

I've got a feeling that it will be a very bad deal for us all if Act wins through this subterfuge.

Vote National, is my conclusion.


The Caps Lock button is to the left of the A key .

Try it sometime .


Greens appear to be an increasingly appealing option. It would bring balance to either a National or a Labour govt.

I had been debating between a Labour and National vote and finally have come to the conclusion that in the current economic scenario it is surprisingly the Greens that appear to have a sensible economic policy.

You must be insane. The 'Greens that appear to have a sensible economic policy'?

The Greens haven't an economic bone in their collective, and they also show that they know bugger all about looking after the environment with their anthropogenic global warming conjob.

My god its people like you voting for the Greens who will drive any chance of economic prosperity for NZ into the ground. You might want to think about that with your Forest and Bird mates while you sit around the campfire you fuel the fire with your pubic hair (to ensure nothing impacts on the enviornment), listening to the bird-song, wondering how much warmer you might be allowing the country to mine a small amount of fossil fuel that could have kept NZ economcally going forward instead of the state of anarchy you created through a mindset zero leniency to using NZ's natural resources.

greenies like you are what i call eco-communists.

if you want to live in the wild like cavemen, go for it. don't drag the whole country down with u.

With national selling state assets and labour's plans for a spending spree, I agree that Greens will be a wise option and my party vote will be for them.

You need to update your photo of John banks. He has much cooler glasses now.

The reality is John Key is ACT all over.

Comparing a state house existence in the 60/70's to today is like comparing apples with pears.

It seems we need a party for common sense, prudent financial management and long term planning and goals for this country.

Selling off your silver & gold is bad times is hardly prudent financial management; especially when there are alternatives.

It may to time to break open those vaults in Switzerland to determine who the real crooks are?

Richard you are soooo right:

a state house existence in the 60/70's was known to be assistance not a right - you never expected your kids and grandchildren to end up the same way if you are in one

Selling off your silver & gold is bad times is hardly prudent financial management - correct if you have lived within your means which the majority hasnt. How many state houses have you ever seen with out a sky aerial not attached to the house?

It may to time to break open those vaults in Switzerland to determine who the real crooks are? - It may be time for you to wise up that Switzerland is not the only tax haven - how about

The Bahamas
San Marino
Bermuda (United Kingdom)
British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
Campione d'Italia an Italian enclave within Switzerland
Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)
The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey (United Kingdom)
Delaware (United States)
City of London (United Kingdom)
The Isle of Man (United Kingdom)
Jebel Ali Free Zone in the United Arab Emirates
Labuan, a Malaysian island off Borneo
Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands)
Turks and Caicos Islands (United Kingdom)

Catch me if you can sucker....

Im a Act voter. If Act Dissolved chances are i would vote for National it wouldn't be easy to swallow but it really would be the only choice in-till a new Libertarian party came around.

Watch the assassin's smile - poor ACT

How come ACT's 'ONE LAW FOR ALL' hasn't applied ( yet ), to Don Brash and John Banks, as former fellow directors of Huljich Wealth Management (NZ) Ltd?

How come only Peter Huljich was ever charged, when all three Directors signed the same 'Huljich Kiwisaver Scheme' Registered Prospectus dated 18 September 2009, which contained the 'misleading' graphs which purported to 'compare the performance of the Huljich Kiwisaver Funds to other Kiwisaver funds from the start of Kiwisaver to 9 September 2009'.

Tomorrow, 8 November 2011, I shall be requesting, in writing, that the CEO of the Finance Markets Authority treat Don Brash and John Banks equally (ONE LAW FOR ALL) and file the same criminal charges against the now ACT 'Leader' and ACT candidate for Epsom under the Securities Act 1978 as applied to former fellow Director Peter Huljich.

When it comes to 'white collar' crime - will the 'ONE LAW FOR ALL' preached by the leadership of ACT - equally apply to Don Brash and John Banks?

If not - why not?

Where will National's Prime Minister, John Key stand on 'ONE LAW FOR ALL' - when it comes to ex-National Party Leader, now ACT Party Leader Don Brash, and ex-National Government Minister (of Police), now ACT Party Epsom candidate - John Banks?

I'm sure this will be of some considerable interest to members of the voting public - not just within the electorally-pivotal Epsom seat?

Penny Bright
Independent Candidate for Epsom.
Campaigning against 'white collar' crime, corruption (and its root cause - privatisation), and 'corporate welfare'.

Penny - you claim to be a voice for anti-corruption, are you associated with the credible global group Transparency International (TI) ?

This is not right. Act and National agree to divvy up the electorates?
The business analogy would be price fixing, where competitors agree to keep to their own turf.
They should not be rorting a flawed voting system that they engineered.

A C T is dead, long live the NATS epsom votes23

Penny, make sure you tell the FMA you are on medication when you write to them

TO TADPOLE at at least she tells the truth.NOT A C T bst

Penny tell the truth? Now that really is funny. ACT will survive purely because National need them.

Past election polls/results show the polls for Act is usually about half of what they get in election results. eg. polling 2.5% they get 5%.

Im voting Act regardless to what the polls say. I truly hope they get more than 5%.

I live in the Epsom electorate and whereas I was going to vote National, the deal with Act will mean I will vote neither.

Same here. I had voted for national last time but wont do it this time. And neither act or labour will not get my vote . I don't like some of the environment policies of the greenies (they should be open to opencast mining) but overall their policies are on the right track. Would possibly give them a chance this time.

If Key endorses Banks candidate vote and National party vote, then Goff should endorse a Goldsmith candidate vote and Labour party vote. That would put a cat amonst the Acy pigeons!

Im a 65 Year old lesbian virgin.

Well, good to hear somebody is.

Bunch of people whining about how undemocratic it is if an elected candidate gets their party's share of votes represented in parliament. Good one, so much more democratic to move to a two party system. I hate ACT, but if they get the votes then they should have a say. MMP isn't perfect but it's a hell of a lot more democratic than anything offered as a choice in the referendum.