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Worse polls to come for National - Key

PLUS: The PM issues a challenge to Winston Peters - with whom his party shares the goal of keeping the super age at 65.

NBR staff
Mon, 18 Jun 2012

There may be worse polls to come for National before the end of the year, Prime Minister John Key says.

The period will see the first assets sales - barring possible delays hinted at by SOE Minister Tony Ryall yesterday.

"The polls have eased back a little bit, we all accept that," Mr Key said on TV3's The Nation.

He added, "They might even ease back a bit more, frankly, over the next six months."

While National is still the most popular party, by far, it has slipped in recent polls, while Labour and the Greens have risen.

A One News-Colmar Brunton poll had the combined Labour-Greens vote neck and neck with National, while a 3News-Reid Research poll had the left-wing block pulling ahead.

The polls were taken before the government's climb down on classes sizes.

Mr Key said the government had been doing "some things that are edgy", citing the proposed partial asset sales as an example.

The polls had to be seen in context, the prime minister said.

National's support was still close to its election night vote. That was a good result, compared to others.

"Since 2008 there's only been one European government that has been re-elected, and that’s the Germans," Mr Key said.

"David Cameron's polling 28% Labour are polling 45% in the UK. In Australia, Gillard's on her knees. So we're the only incumbent government in four years that’s held our numbers.

"That shows you for all of the claims that commentators make about our government, we are for the most part understood, not always universally popular in every decision we make, but I think supported that we're on the right track.

"And we are ambitious and positive and everything else we hear is negative, and I'm sorry I think that’s why it resonates with the New Zealand public."

Daring Peters
The prime minister also issued a challenge to NZ First leader Winston Peters, with whom his party shares the goal of keeping the super age at 65.

"I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour even if Labour's policy is to raise the Super age from 2020 not in the three year period from 2014/17.

"I dare him to say that. He will not - he will not because he's tricky and he'll find a way around all of that stuff."

Earlier yesterday, Mr Peters rejected the challenge (and, to boot, called for a more generous super scheme).

Asked if he would rule out a National coalition deal with NZ First after 2014, the prime minister talked around the subject.

He noted National had ruled out the possibility before the previous two elections.

In the run-up to the 2014 ballot "I will sit down with the New Zealand public and say to the best of the ability I have these are the players I can work with, can't work with, and might work with".

"I've been very clear about that," Mr Key said.

NBR staff
Mon, 18 Jun 2012
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Worse polls to come for National - Key