Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political roundup: What to read - 30 recommendations

Bryce Edwards rounds up the must-read political items from the media and blogosphere over the last week.

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. Photo / File
Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. Photo / File

1) Was the campaign against RadioLive's Willie Jackson and John Tamihere a victory in the fight against sexual abuse, or a worrying suppression of free speech? Chris Trotter thinks it's the latter - see: A Disturbing Precedent. PR professional Mark Blackham raises similar concerns in Professional outrage, as does Karl du Fresne in The tyranny of the mob - again and Miley Cyrus and the Roast Busters. And for a satirical take on this, see Ben Uffindell's Nation really angry, no fun to hang around with at the moment.

2) For more on how the consumer/advertising revolt against RadioLive played out, see Russell Brown's interesting blogpost, How a thing happens. Also, in his latest media column the Herald's John Drinnan deals with this and other important media-political issues.

3) Serious issues are still being raised about New Zealand's 'rape culture' and the legal system - see Andrea Vance's column, What's wrong with our rape laws?. The Standard has the details on a National day of action against rape culture: 16 Nov (&15th).

4) The 'roast busters' debate hasn't been heavily partisan so far, with most politicians treading very carefully and wary of being seen to be using the issue for political point scoring. But today Labour MP Louisa Wall has admonished the National Government for its lack of leadership on sexual abuse - see her blogpost, Challenging the Government over Rape Culture.

5) Greens leader Russel Norman is holding his ground amidst outrage over his speech in response to the Philippines typhoon - see Tova O'Brien's Norman 'vindicated' by Philippines govt tweet, but also see Peter Cresswell's Sorry Russel. you're wrong.

6) 'Who is Colin Craig?' - watch Patrick Gower's 7-minute video interview. Also, get your questions ready for Colin Craig - he'll be answering them online at the NBR tomorrow at 3pm - see: Ask me anything: Colin Craig.

7) The latest and funniest parody of Craig and the Conservatives can be found in Ben Uffindell's Civilian blogpost, Colin Craig eagerly waiting outside Beehive. For the best political satire of the week, see Toby Manhire's Dear Mr Key, pick me, pick me. For a more serious analysis of National's coalition possibilities, see Vernon Small's Political minnows scrap for survival.

8) Nicky Hager is at it again - helping uncover and publicise what's happening behind the scenes, and this time it's the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership 'free trade' agreement being negotiated between New Zealand, the US and others in his sights- see his Herald article, Trans-Pacific Partnership leaks reveal trade battle. Much of the response to Hager's revelations has been in the form of praise for the NZ Government holding the line on issues such as intellectual property. Further analysis can be read in Tim Watkin's TPP report shockingly predictable, good for Pharmac. See also, Gordon Campbell's TPP: The Never-To-Be-Ended Story.

9) Al Jazeera has just broadcast a documentary about New Zealand's high rates of Maori incarceration - watch the 26-minute video: Locked Up Warriors. Unfortunately the documentary repeats the oft-cited statistic that New Zealand has the second highest rate of imprisonment in the developed world - see Graeme Edgeler's blogpost, NZ's Prison Rate, we're number 6!.

10) Recently the National Government celebrated its fifth anniversary in power and pundits lined up to give their verdicts on how they've gone. Duncan Garner gave them '7.5 out of 10', emphasising John Key's highly pragmatic centrist approach, but also warning that 'Key's 'crony-capitalism' and 'corporate welfare' has created a stench this term' - see: Five years on - Key passes the test.

11) Tracy Watkins made John Key provide his own scores for National's achievements across the 'platform of five key messages' it campaigned on in 2008, and she compares these scores to her own harsher ones - see Making the gains stick. David Parker and Russel Norman both give the government credit for certain achievements (and, of course, some criticisms).

12) Earlier, Watkins also published a list of Five key points for National's popularity. Much of this boils down to the centrism and conservatism of the Key administration. But there's also an emphasis on the Government's spin-doctors and political management team.

13) In another profile, the Prime Minister himself sheds some light on his spin-doctors. Key has recently been unusually open about the central role played by party professionals in running the Government. He credits chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson as well as 'former Treasury official Grant Johnston, former chief press secretary Kevin Taylor and close advisers Paula Oliver and Kelly Boxall, for much of the National Government's success' - see Tracy Watkins's Key credits team for National's success. In terms of Eagleson, Key says he's 'New Zealand's most "influential unelected" official'.

14) With National currently in major rejuvenation mode, Tracy Watkins outlines the Many reasons behind National's purge. She says, 'The fact then that National has managed to retire seven of its MPs so far.... and with not even a hint of a backbench revolt, is a truly remarkable feat'. Who else might also go? The iPredict website is trading stock on the following National Party departures: Craig Foss (currently at 73%), Lindsay Tisch (77%), Eric Roy (94%) and Maurice Williamson (55%).

15) Many commentators are noting the difference between National's changes and the rate of refreshment going in Labour. A Dominion Post editorial nominates four MPs for retirement: 'Darien Fenton, Moana Mackey, Rajen Prasad and Raymond Huo, who have not fired a shot since coming into Parliament and who would not be considered for ministerial posts should Labour win next year, should be among the first' - see: Cunliffe needs to have cleanout too.

16) Labour's new gender rules for candidate selection get some quality discussion in Claire Trevett's Party pruning begins but Labour men cling on, Brian Rudman's Wanted: MPs to help Labour tick all the boxes, Rachel Boyack and Stephen Judd's Gender quotas (and helping journalists with their maths), and David Farrar's Labour's gender quotas.

17) Labour has turned the tables on the Government, pointing out that it has got rid of a male from one of it's proposed boards in favour of greater gender equality - see Tova O'Brien's National accused of 'man ban' hypocrisy.

18) Labour's ideological direction and strategy Labour discussed by Vernon Small in Will Cunliffe move Labour to the Centre?, and Peter Wilson in Cunliffe caught between left and centre. The best quote about Labour comes from Paula Bennett: 'It's the yeah, nah party, it's yeah nah this, yeah nah that and yeah nah everything else'.

19) Winston Peters is well known for his disdain for many in the media, but it turns out that he would like to work in the media himself - as an investigative journalist. That's one of the nuggets to come out of his interview with the Nelson Mail's Bill Moore - see: Old warhorse leading the charge. Peters indicates that New Zealand First will campaign in 2014 on race relations and the 'disaster' of the 'Wellington-driven "rush back to Maori tribalism"'.

20) New Zealand is ranked 4th in the world for having 'open data' according to the 2013 Global Open Data Barometer. For a positive view of this ranking, see David Farrar's NZ 4th for open data. For a more critical view, see No Right Turn's Not a great result.

21) Should the Government step in to pay the compensation to the families of the Pike River victims that the Pike River Coal company can't pay? Labour condemns National for not doing so - see: Pike River decision 'repugnant'.

22) Who are the winners and losers from the decision not to shift the Interisland ferry terminal out of Picton? David Farrar sums up it with: 'Good for Picton, good for taxpayers but bad for travellers and freight' - see: No Clifford Bay.

23) The evidence suggests that National will win next year's general election according to Claire Robinson - see: Election 2014 - Who will win and why?. But her logic is disputed in a number of blogposts - see Tim Watkin's That's the past - a little bit the same, but mostly different, Andrew Geddis' It was different then, and that's all in the past, and Danyl Mclauchlan's I just cannot let this go by.

24) Next year's post-election government formation could be particularly complex, especially if it involves minor parties deciding to abstain on confidence votes. This is an important issue raised by the Governor-General in a speech this week to the parliamentary press gallery, and is best covered in today's Herald's Self-interest will ensure parties heed voters' will. See also, Chris Trotter's Dinner At Government House and Dinner At Government House - Continued.

25) Parliament is set to decide whether to tweak MMP by ditching the so-called coat-tails provision and lowering the threshold to 4% - see Michael Fox's Electoral threshold bill drawn. The No Right Turn blogger states that 'This change would make our Parliament less representative than it is at present, so I am hoping it goes down in flames' - see: The battle for MMP. But interestingly, Colin Craig approves of the proposal - see Corazon Miller's MMP changes would create "better democracy". David Farrar bemoans that the bill cherry picks among the Electoral Commission's recommendations and seeks to push the changes through without consensus - see: Labour says no need for consensus on electoral reform.

26) We're not seeing a lot of media coverage of the Christchurch East by-election at the moment, but Glen Conway reports on the latest from the campaign trail - see: Round One: interest vs impact.

27) Worker's rights are under attack. This time, though, it's those earning over $150,000, with a National MP promoting a private member's bill that Audrey Young reports has more likelihood of 'being passed under a Labour-led Government than the National-led one' - see: Golden handshake may lose luster. On a similar topic, see Richard Meadows' Praise for reining in executive pay.

28) With the upcoming referendum on asset sales, it's interesting to see how many oppose the next energy company partial float - see Patrick Gower's Poll: 68 percent against Genesis sale. And if you want to read a comprehensive list of reasons for voting against asset sales, see Gordon Campbell's Referendum On A Robbery.

29) The finances of politicians have been under the microscope this week in the Herald, with some excellent investigations - particularly Jared Savage's Labour owns property worth $5m, Jared Savage, Keith Ng and Claire Trevett's Ministers' secret investment properties, and Adam Bennett's Labour MP forced to declare role in $900,000 trust. For the best commentary on these, see: Danyl McLauchlan's All within the rules, No Right Turn's Another Parliamentary rort and Parliament of the 1%, and David Farrar's MPs and Accomodation. But maybe we shouldn't worry so much about such revelations - see Claire Trevett's Financial nous among MPs not such a bad thing and Mike Hosking's 'Exposé' attempts will put people off politics.

30) Finally, for more recent satire, see Scott Yorke's JT and Willie in shock Radio NZ deal, Ben Uffindell's Chris Laidlaw breaks Radio New Zealand tradition by stepping down before his death and Elephant in studio eats Willie Jackson, gores John Tamihere.

- NZ Herald

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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