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

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: December 22

David Shearer. Photo / Jason Dorday
David Shearer. Photo / Jason Dorday

The bar was set fairly low for David Shearer's first outing in Parliament as the Leader of the Opposition. Anything better than a drubbing at the hands of Key was going to be claimed as a victory of sorts and Shearer delivered on that limited basis, as Vernon Small reports in Relief for Labour as leader avoids wipeout.

Jane Clifton does an entertaining assessment of Shearer's thirty minute contribution to the address and reply debate - see: Shearer passes the shouting test, saying he ticked all the right boxes, including putting Shane Jones to sleep.

As predicted, the speech from the throne was 'Nothing new to see here, move along please' according to Vernon Small, with no new policy initiatives - see: No nonsense opening for Parliament.

Winston Peters was straight back in to his stride, says Claire Trevett in Bigger pie and plenty of cake, taking pot-shots at all the government parties and the Greens.

The horrific child abuse case covered in a ministerial report released yesterday, has caused political fallout on two levels. Firstly the extraordinary list of 25 agencies involved with the family (see Adam Bennett's report Parents to blame for failing child), unable to stop what even Paula Bennett has described as 'the worst case of abuse, where a child has lived, I have seen.' (TVNZ: Calls for social workers in schools after horrific abuse). There is also a personal aspect as the convicted mother had previously written to John Key and had been responded to by Paula Bennett. Amanda Gillies reports that TV3 has seen a copy of Bennett's response in which she says the mother 'obviously loved her child' and went on to suggest the girl 'get into sport' and offered six free counseling sessions - see: Abusive mother says CYF and Govt failed her.

Some good economic news for the government today as the strongest GDP figures for two years are released with 0.8% growth for the September quarter (Newswire: GDP grows 0.8 percent in third quarter. This will be tempered, however, by yesterdays worse than expected current account deficit, especially as Westpac are predicting it going to 6.3% of GDP by the end of next year, a level they say is at the 'very edge' of the sustainable range - see: James Weir's Deficit 'will get worse' - economists. Along with a rapidly improving return of 16.7% for government enterprises last year - see RNZ: Govt profits continuing to rise, the $400 million increase in profits sent overseas last year may further undermine the economic rationale behind the government's asset sales. Despite National's claim for a mandate, the opposition parties are continuing to attack the policy in parliament as John Hartevelt reports: Battle over assets begins in earnest.

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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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