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

Bryce Edwards: Politics round-up: 25 questions

Is our justice system broken?
Is our justice system broken?

1) How can the low voter turnout in local government elections be reversed? Andy Asquith and Andrew Cardow have a very good proposal and write In praise of Colin Craig ... and openness Don Day also examines What's behind low voter turnout?

2) What's happening in the local body races outside of Auckland? To find out more about the Hamilton election, see Natalie Akoorie's Hamilton a two-horse race after 'scratching'. For Dunedin's contest, see Brooke Gardiner's TV3 item, Mayor Cull dismisses challengers.

3) Is our justice system broken? Chris Trotter makes a strong case for reform in his blogpost, No Possibility Of Error: Why Can't Our Judicial System Correct Its Own Mistakes? But the Minister of Justice says otherwise - see TVNZ's Justice system has robust safeguards, says Collins. See also No Right Turn's The Lundy verdict and the police and Brian Rudman's Infallibility myth puts too many behind bars.

4) Are we losing trust in the New Zealand Police? That's the question asked this week in TV3's The Vote - you can watch the full 44-minute show here.

You could also read Martyn Bradbury blogpost, TV Review: The Vote 56% losing faith in Police. But the best analysis can be found in Tim Watkin's Are the police losing our trust? A bit, and here's why. Also relating to police conduct, see Dan Satherley's Most IPCA complaints 'frivolous' - police.

5) Whatever happened to disgraced Employers and Manufacturers Association boss, Alasdair Thompson? Thompson lost his job after some controversial statements about women's periods and productivity. Since then he's apparently had a 'breakdown and a redemption'. Watch Paula Penfold's very interesting 3rd Degree profile on Alasdair Thompson's change of life.

6) Will New Zealand benefit from a TPP free trade agreement? Two newspaper editorials have a surprisingly critical analysis of what the agreement could mean - see the Dominion Post's Hidden trade agendas are a worry and the Southland Times' TPP won't free us anytime soon. Interestingly, leftwing commentator Chris Trotter is much more open to the benefits of trade agreements, and has focused on one particular country that has huge potential for the New Zealand economy - see: The Japanese Connection: New Zealand, Rural Japan and the TPP. For a very in-depth critical analysis, see Hadyn Green's TPP: This is a fight worth joining.

7) How well has the media covered the current TPP negotiations? Gordon Campbell makes a trenchant criticism of the media in his column, On the media's duty to evaluate the Trans Pacific Partnership. Some of the lighter coverage was worth reading to get a sense of John Key's current summit trip - see Vernon Small's It was never going to be flattering and Audrey Young's Mateparae features in summit newspaper. And for satire about the prime minister's trip, see Ben Uffindell's Key admits he discussed nothing with Putin; just stared at him.

8) What are the chances of a TPP trade agreement actually eventuating? Two commentators of the both the left and right are in agreement that the prospects are pretty bleak - see Gordon Campbell's On that alluringly elusive TPP trade deal and Matthew Hooton's paywalled NBR column, TPP: Key has opportunity to trump expectations. Hooton argues that the strongest critics and supporters of the TPP both have an interest in the delusion that some sort of agreement is just around the corner.

9) Is Murray McCully really still the foreign minister? Paul Buchannan suggests that he's now the minister in name only and has been sidelined - see: Mission to nowhere.

10) Who are the most powerful amongst the new Maori elite? As neotribal iwi corporations and institutions become more powerful, it's becoming more important to analyse their power. Morgan Godfery answers this comprehensively in his blogpost, The iwi power rankings: who are the most powerful iwi in 2013?

11) Who is to blame for the Maori Electoral Option leading to no additional Maori seats? Some point the finger at the Maori Party and its leadership disputes but the Maori Party itself blames the government authorities - see Newswire's Maori Party blamed for option failure and Maori Party points finger at commission.

12) What do the latest Census figures mean for electoral politics? The best analysis is in David Farrar's blogpost, One new North Island electorate.

13) Will the Government's housing announcements really make much of a difference and why can't they do more? For a libertarian perspective on this, see Peter Cresswell's Ten questions for Nick Smith on his Special Housing Areas.

14) Should the Labour Party be committing itself to the promise of a minimum wage higher than $15? According to the No Right Turn blog, if Labour is to inflation-proof the union movement's demand for a $15/hour minimum wage, then it should actually now be $17 - see: The new target.

15) Have you heard of the TICS? It's the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill - another piece of contentious spying legislation we're going to hear much more about. Andrea Vance likens it to the 'little brother' of the GCSB bill, and she explains it all in great detail in her excellent article, Helping spies break through hi-tech barriers.

16) When is it right for a politician to refuse to front to the media? Cabinet minister Simon Bridges has some issues with TV3's Campbell Live programme - see Amy McGillivray's Row erupts over interview.

17) Why is a part-owned government company buying shares in itself? Laura Walters explains in Mixed views on MRP buyback.

18) How strong is New Zealand's economy at the moment? Brian Fallow reports on the latest International Monetary Fund's assessment - see: NZ growth tipped among strongest. No doubt it's being helped by the reported $2.2 billion about to be spent by oil and gas companies exploring for resources - see Grant Bradley's Search for oil in NZ hits top gear.

19) How much do politicians think cleaners should be paid, and who should pay? The Greens want their parliamentary cleaners to be paid $18 an hour - see Isaac Davison's Low-earning Parliamentary workers should be first in line for living wage - Greens. Winston Peters has called for the individual political parties to top up their pay from their parliamentary budgets - see: Today in politics: Friday, October 11. David Farrar (@dpfdpf) also tweets 'I pay my cleaner $35 an hour. But that is not an argument for making everyone do the same'.

20) Should the Minister of Education resign over her latest loss in the courts? The fullest discussion of the Phillipstown School decision is in TVNZ's School mergers reconsidered after court victory. Greg Presland suggests Hekia Parata needs new lawyers. And No Right Turn asks 'how many other Christchurch school closures would be found unlawful if they were tested in the courts?' - see: The Phillipstown decision ().

21) Will the Government's proposed university management reforms actually be improvements? Two vice-chancellors are speaking out against them - see Radio NZ's Vice-chancellors oppose government plan to cut councils. The Otago Daily Times has an interesting discussion of the issues - see: University governance.

22) Are Christchurch's NZ right wing resistance group really fascist? David Farrar has some evidence in The neo-nazis HQ.

23) How might the House of Representatives operate its debates differently? Parliament is currently calling for submissions, and so far you can read the submissions of Graeme Edgeler and David Farrar.

24) What do outsiders make of New Zealand's GCSB debates? Read Anthony Loewenstein's Guardian article, Mass spying: how the US stamps its supremacy on the Pacific region.

25) Is Lorde's song Royals racist? Definitely not, according to a blogpost co-written by John Moore and myself: Seeing racism everywhere: Why Lorde is not a racist. The minor controversy over the fast-rising New Zealand artist was kicked off on the prominent US Feministing website and is titled Wow, that Lorde song Royals is racist. Other refutations of this accusation so far have come from New Zealand satirists Ben Uffindell - see: Lorde's 'Pure Heroine' riddled with bigotry, discovers bored psychology graduate and Scott Yorke - see: Is Lorde an anti-Semite too? Both are very funny responses, but the episode provides some very interesting insights into, not only modern pop culture, but also the politics of race, class and gender. One of these issues is raised in a post on the Daily Blog - see: Reflections on Contemporary Feminist 'Censuring'. The controversy is now being covered internationally by various media such as CNN, Time magazine, and the Daily Mail.

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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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