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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Electioneering in overdrive

How cool would it be if you could say that ‘the Prime Minister of New Zealand put a sausage on my piece of bread'? That was the rhetorical question asked by the man running the Christian Parachute festival John Key visited in the weekend – see Elton Smallman’s Key preaches to the converted at festival. But not all were impressed with Key’s electioneering at the festival and that’s not the only place the PM showed up in the weekend – see Lucy Townend’s Prime minister calls into Feilding childcare centre
 
Baby kissing, BBQs, and bugger tweets
 
On top of politician walkabouts and workplace visits, we’re also seeing some heavy duty ‘state of the nation’ speeches aimed at grabbing our attention and setting the political agenda for this year’s campaign. For the best analysis of these see Tracy Watkins’ column, Hectic start to political year. In a ‘pocketbook guide to election campaigns’ Watkins forecasts ‘five things to watch out for’: pork barrel promises, stunts, politician paranoia, scandal, and shopping malls. And for a brief history of the political significance of wielding ‘the barbecue tongs for the cameras’ see Steve Kilgallon’s PM snags votes at Parachute music festival
 
Voters will also be pursued in cyberspace. And we will soon be able to follow the comprehensive cataloging of these cyberwars via Frank Feinstein, a Christchurch computer programmer who is measuring the online activity of politicians – see Anna Pearson’s Greens star on social media. The article details the ‘digital footprints’ of MPs in social media, with a list of the most interactive MPs and parties on Twitter, as well as a list (and links) to the ‘Top tweets’ of the last year. John Key heads the list, with his ‘Bugger’ tweet, which was re-tweeted 1,514 times. 
 
The online iPredict website is also going to be useful for following political potentialities. For a very good explanation of how the website works and its significance, see Tim Hunter’s Forecasters cashing in on predictions. And for the latest analysis of iPredict forecasts, see Key's re-election chances improve, inflation surprise won't sway RBNZ – iPredict
 
The ability of politicians to use public meetings to electioneer has also been brought into question this year, and there will be some increased attention paid to whether parties are breaking the electoral rules when they launch policies with a celebration. That’s the message from Gordon Campbell in his column Dotcom party ruling sets precedent. With the Electoral Commission influencing Kim Dotcom to cancel the launch of his Internet Party with a huge function, Campbell says ‘every political party and candidate will surely now have to comply with the standard that has been set by the Electoral Commission.  In that case, it is hard to see how the Greens' annual "Picnic For The Planet" differs from the Dotcom "Party Party" bash - it, too, could be construed as encouraging its attendees to look more favourably upon the Green Party’. And with this in mind, Cameron Slater asks: Are the Greens treating too?
 
Inequality and education
 
The Greens’ weekend picnic went ahead nonetheless, after the party checked with the Electoral Commission and believed that it would be within the law. The major announcement was about education and inequality – see Michael Fox’s Greens unveil school hub plan. So far the response on the right has taken two diverse routes – to either say the Greens' school plan 'nothing new' or ridicule it as being extreme – see David Farrar’s Why not free dinners also? and The stupidity of free school lunches in every decile 1 to 4 school
 
There should be no doubt that issues of inequality are firmly on the electioneering agenda. This is nicely conveyed by Tracy Watkins in her column, Rich and poor in election focus. The fights are not just about which parties can deal most effectively with the problem, but also about the extent of the problem. There is now a battle of interpretation going on, with various players attempting to ‘fisk’ or correct their opponents. For instance, following David Farrar strong claims in his blogpost Educational Reaction, Anthony Robins of The Standard has replied with Socioecomonic status and educational outcomes (and the ignorance of DPF). Also on The Standard, see: Less (inequality) is more….
 
Also being disputed online is Rob Salmond’s The truth about the gap between the rich and the rest. In reply see David Farrar’s Some fisking and Matt Nolan’s Truth is a strong word when discussing inequality …. See also Lindsay Mitchell’s In anticipation of Cunliffe's speech, and Brian Easton’s Economic inequality in New Zealand: A user’s guide
 
The focus on New Zealand First
 
The re-emergence of Winston Peters as this year’s supposed ‘kingmaker’ is now capturing the focus of many political journalists and commentators. For the most interesting comment on this, see John Armstrong’s Winston for PM? Don't bet against it. And for the disparaging blogosphere reaction, see Danyl McLauchlan’s No! That’s just what they’ll expect us to do! and David Farrar’s Why drugs and column writing do not mix
 
For other quality analysis of Peters and New Zealand First, see Audrey Young’s Energised Peters grabs PM's gift of relevance and John Roughan’s Peters deal would carry a price. In addition, note that Peters has said this weekend, ‘Categorically, we will not support any party that seeks to move the age to beyond 65 at this point in time’ – see Felix Marwick’s NZ First lays down the law on superannuation
 
For Matt McCarten, National’s opening the door to Peters is a sign of the extent of John Key’s loss of integrity – see: Expediency overrules integrity. He argues that Key was originally seen as highly principled, but ‘since then a new man of dubious integrity has evolved’. But for a very different take on the PM, see Rodney Hide’s Key is a serious contender
 
There’s no doubt that Peters is also to be taken seriously as potential populist force this election – see Patrick Gower’s Peters wants to axe pro-Maori policies. And for more on Maori politics and the fading power of the Ratana Church, see the Dominion Post’s Ratana link is not what it once was
 
Finally, for the best overall analysis of last week’s electioneering, see Tim Watkin’s National & Labour offer same new years resolutions. He suggests that, so far, the election campaign is shaping up to be one of negative positioning and little vision. Despite the barbecues and the sound and fury of the campaign trail, electioneering this year isn’t yet proving enlightening for voters. 
 
Today’s content
 
Green Party education policy
Claire Trevett (Herald): Green Party unveils $90m education plan
Michael Fox (Stuff): Greens unveil school hub plan
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Why not free dinners also?
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Greens are dangerous
Rob Salmond (Polity): Confusion reigns within National
 
Education
Ben Irwin and Nicholas Jones (Herald): Pack your laptop, we're off to $chool
Kirsty Wynn and Linley Bilby (Herald): Auckland school donation exceeds $1k
Will de Cleene (gonzo): State Schools and Free Lunches
Brennan McDonald: University As Consumption Good
 
Inequality and poverty
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Rich and poor in election focus
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Some fisking
Andrew Chen (MCDP): The (Actual) State of the Nation
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Greens to focus on inequality this year
 
National Party education policy
Mike Hosking (Newstalk ZB): Education policy overdue, but a great start
Rachel Smalley (Newstalk ZB): Children and education will be the winners
Viviane Robinson (Herald): Get it right and everyone will benefit
Matthew Dallas (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Teacher scheme has merit
Waikato Times: Education fix queried
Duncan Garner (RadioLIVE): Battle for the centre
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Hectic start to political year
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Educational Reaction
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Better education will reduce inequality
Danyl McLuachlan (Dim-Post): Enemy action
Bayden Harris (Liberal Notes): Hekia misses the Mark
Lewis Holden: A Change Principal
 
Kim Dotcom
John Drinnan (Herald): Giving Dotcom a closer look
Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): Greens fail to dissuade Dotcom
Matthew Theunissen (Herald): Scoop founder resigns from Internet Party
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Dotcom’s reverse Midas touch
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Norman met Dotcom twice
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Scoop, Newsroom and the Internet Party
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Time to take focus off mavericks
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Horswell resigns from the Telegram Party
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Are the bills being paid Kim?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Since when has the truth been a smear
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): When is a resignation not a resignation?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): General secretary. It’s been bugging me.
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Are the Greens treating too?
Keith locke (Daily Blog): Prospects for the Internet Party
 
Ratana and Maori politics
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Strong words at Ratana Pa
Claire Trevett (Herald): Cunliffe welcomed onto Ratana Pa
Will Matthews (The Left Estate): Ratana, and the Maori seats in election year
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Key and kids
3 News Online Staff (TV3): Tua to make politics decision by April
No Right Turn: The 2014 Treaty debate
Claire Trevett (Herald): Maori Party 'open to Labour'
Michael Fox (Stuff): Sharples seeks to distance party
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Labour can not trust the Maori Party
 
Act Party
Andrea Vance (Stuff): John Boscawen ready to rebuild ACT
Pete George (Your NZ): John Boscawen versus everyone else
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Can Boscowen be ACT’s Lazarus?
 
NZ First
John Roughan (Herald): Peters deal would carry a price
Matt McCarten (Herald): Expediency overrules integrity
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): NZ First lays down the law on superannuation
Pete George (Your NZ): The Prime Bauble
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Why drugs and column writing do not mix
 
Len Brown
Michael Daly (Stuff): Len Brown case hits snag
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The Brown prosecution
 
Economy
Colin brinsden (Stuff): NZ's economic bragging rights
Martin Hawes (Stuff): NZ property overvalued 71 per cent
Vernon Small (Stuff): Red ink for Government accounts
Paul McBeth (Newswire): Govt deficit bigger than expected
Brian Fallow (Herald): Government's tax income up by 5.9%
Stephen Jacobi (Herald): Busy year looms for trade negotiators
John Sargeant (Stuff): The rock star's still auditioning
David Farrar (Kiwiblog):In support of true capitalism
Phil Hayward (Whaleoil): Debanking the debunker
 
Offshore oil and gas
Bruce Munro (ODT):Search comes south
 
Labour Party
Claire Trevett (Herald): Labour aims to help kindy kid families
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Labour open to asset buy-back talks
Pete George (Your NZ): Cunliffe versus Lorde
Lindsay Mitchell (Breaking views): In anticipation of Cunliffe's speech
 
GCSB
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): David Fisher shows what real journalists do
 
Cannabis law reform
Newstalk ZB Staff (Newstalk ZB): Greens will push to decriminalise marijuana
Michael Fox (Stuff): Shane Jones in row over cannabis
Joshua Drummond (Stuff): Why legal highs should not be banned
 
John Key at Parachute
 
Other
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Two new MPs join Parliament this week
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Crampton on the anti-sugar jihad
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Censorship is alive and well on Whaleoil
Sarah Harvey (Stuff): Hospital waiting list warning
Rob Stock (Stuff): Digging down into leaky homes
Dene Mackenzie (ODT): National pushing rebuild
Steven Cowan (Against the Current): Commonwealth leaders discuss parliamentary privilege
Toby Manhire (Listener): An open letter to Chris Finlayson
Pete George (Your NZ): Green, but it doesn’t sound Kiwi
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): 1080 myths dispelled
Sarah Harvey (Stuff): Hospital waiting list warning
Elinor Chisholm (ODT): Distortions in policy on dogs
Tim Hunter (Stuff): Tax holiday for forester
Helen Kelly (The Standard): Workers Denied Access to Information
Shawn McAvinue (Herald): Call for state housing dog policy review
Alan Wood (Stuff): New directors for Solid Energy
Vaughan Elder (ODT): Dunedin talk spurs 'alien' jibe