Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

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

Bryce Edwards: Political roundup: Must-reads from the last week

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This week in politics. Photo / Thinkstock
This week in politics. Photo / Thinkstock

It's unprecedented. All the parties in Parliament - from Act to Mana - have ganged up on National to block it overruling the Commerce Commission's decision to lower broadband pricing. But it still leaves the problem unfixed, which is why Paul Brislen's column today, What to do about Chorus is a must-read for anyone interested in the issue. He outlines six options: Do nothing, Give Chorus more money directly, Go back out to market, Provide bank debt assurance, Nationalise Chorus, or Cancel the UFB.

Many are painting this latest development as a huge loss for the Government. However, Hamish Rutherford reports otherwise in his article, Parties oppose overruling ComCom. He says: 'One Beehive source admitted that the Government had been blindsided by the co-ordinated statements by some of its support parties today, but there was a degree of relief.

Legislation had not been ruled out up until now, but now the highly controversial option of over-ruling the commission had effectively been taken out of its hands'.

Of course, while that may be so, National has only itself to blame for allowing overruling the Commerce Commission to ever be considered an option. A real winner is Matthew Hooton's Exceltium, which has taken some corporates and the Government head on and delivered for its clients (mostly competing corporates) with lower mobile phone termination rates, stopping a carpark tax and now lower broadband prices.

There's plenty of speculation about what form National's machinations might take in terms of shoring up coalition support and Colin Craig's Conservative Party.

The most interesting recent theory is Rob Hosking's speculation that John Key might be simply using the Conservatives to drive down support for New Zealand First: 'So: is Mr Key talking up Mr Craig as a way of blocking Mr Peters? The numbers are chancy but they are there: what if Mr Craig hauls away enough of Mr Peters' vote to pull NZ First below the 5% threshold but National does not "gift" him an electorate seat and the Conservatives also fail to reach 5%? Suddenly you have a wasted vote of around 9.2% from those two parties alone. And, suddenly, it looks a lot easier for National.

The party got a little more than 47% of the vote at the 2011 election (and 59 seats) and it will no doubt lose some of that vote next year' - see: Why John Key won't gift Colin Craig a seat at the next election (paywalled).

For some interesting insight into Colin Craig and his party, see the guest blog post on The Standard: The Right Conservatives. Another post asks: Just what do the Conservatives & National agree on?.

For a defence of Craig and the Conservatives, see Steve Baron's Craig should be taken seriously. Also to be taken seriously, according to Rachel Smalley, is the leadership challenge against the Greens' Russel Norman - see: Fascinating battle on the left.

"After the Roast Busters saga, should there be a new criminal charge: 'Drunk in charge of a vagina?'" That is one of the satirical questions in this month's Metro magazine, and it has earned Metro some negative feedback - see Simon Wilson's On Satire and Rape. Wilson has also written his editorial on the Roastbusters issue - see: The Best and the Worst of Auckland. Other political items in this month's edition include Steve Braunias' Bevan Chuang: Little Princess, and a Best of Auckland feature which names the '10 Best Political Types' as well as the Best new thing (Generation Zero), Most inspirational (Louisa Wall), Biggest winner (David Cunliffe), Best stayer (John Key), The Destructor (Paula Bennett), and Aucklander of the Year (John Campbell).

Karl du Fresne offers up a list of curmudgeonly questions about The mysteries of a modern life. He's also written about Regime change at Radio New Zealand.

From a very different perspective on media issues, see Wayne Hope's The 150 years the New Zealand Herald didn't want you to see, and Chris Trotter's Getting Serious About Media Reform.

A thoughtful analysis of the final stage of the 'digital turnoff' in TV broadcasting is made by David Beatson in his blogpost, Digital Television's "little issues" are beginning to bite. He says that 'Of the 20 regional channels licenced to operate five years ago, only 10 are operating on Freeview today.

Eight of those 10 Freeview regional channels are only accessible in the 27 percent of digital TV households in their home regions that are equipped with a DTT receiver. That's a high casualty rate for a digital switchover "with little issues".'

The annual report by AUT's Centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy on the state of the New Zealand media is out - download Merja Myllylahti's New Zealand Ownership Report 2013. Myllylahti emphasises the rise of new media, and says 'it is good to see that the New Zealand media is looking for new ways to raise issues, and bloggers are gaining in prominence'. For a summary of the report, see Teuila Fuatai's Whale Oil is New Zealand's most popular blog. Also, an academic focus on Maori media has just been published in the form of the book The Fourth Eye: M?ori Media in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The rise of casual jobs 'has been a major feature of our labour market over the past 20 years' and 'has major implications for a society' - see Peter Lyons' Casualised labour no production panacea.

The re-election of the Government next year will be highly reliant on the state of the economy. So National will be very happy with news that 'Business confidence is surging across the board, nearing a 15-year high, pointing to strong economic growth in the year ahead' - see: Business confidence bullish. Note also that the Statistics New Zealand's triennial household economic survey results are out - see Brian Fallow's Average house income hits $85k.

What could happen to John Banks? While we're waiting to get the court's ruling on his case, read Graeme Edgeler's Q&A: John Banks' judicial review.

The major policy debate of the moment is about deep sea oil drilling. For the most insightful discussion of the issues, see Tim Watkin's two blogposts, Deal or no deal? New Zealand's oil & gas choice offers great risk & reward, and Deal or no deal II: The economic arguments aren't all pro-oil.

Other very interesting items on the issue include Herald's If we've got oil under our oceans, we need to find it, No Right Turn's Deep-sea drilling: Risks and arrogance, Pattrick Smellie's Collective silliness reigns on deep-sea oil drilling, and Matthew Hooton's Greenpeace doesn't speak for me (paywalled).

The Labour Party's position on deep sea oil drilling remains ambiguous, which is very well summarised and examined in Pete George's blog post, Labour on drilling - Yeah, Yeah-Nah, Nah.

Healthcare is a debate bubbling away under the surface at the moment. One of the best writers on health issues is Olivia Carville - see her very good features, Big shakeup coming for Chch hospitals and Call to measure unmet health need. See also Brian Gaynor's Forget Obamacare debate - focus on NZ and Helen Harvey's Health system 'is not working'.

The downfall of Alan Titford has led to some interesting debate about 'race relations' in the last week. The best overall item on this is Simon Day and Adam Dudding's Bittersweet vindication for iwi. Paul Moon also intelligently discusses The Titford fallacy, while Titford's own political party, 1 Law 4 All is somewhat embarrassed by their former poster-boy - see Liam Hyslop's Party distances itself from Titford. And as an interesting aside, Andrew Geddis discusses the fact that 'At the same time as he was sitting in jail awaiting sentence for his various crimes, Titford's name was on the ballot papers for Northland's mayoralty at the October local body elections. And, perhaps helped by the fact he still had name suppression' - see: Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. Meanwhile, John Minto argues that others in the 'race relations' debate should be tarred with the same brush - see: Call it what it is - "Doing a Titford".

The latest Treaty-related debate concerns property rights and development in Auckland - see Cherie Howie's Maori history undermines home renovations.

The Maori Party is arguing for the Maori electorates to be smaller - an argument refuted by No Right Turn in the blog post, Maori, large electorates, and representation.

What do Gerry Brownlee, Clayton Cosgrove, Peter Dunne, Damien O'Connor, and David Carter have in common? Glen Conway says that 'All five sitting MPs attended St Bede's College in Christchurch's north-east - a record thought to be unequalled anywhere in New Zealand political history' - see: Leading lights in red and black ties.

The police have announced that they'll be issuing tickets for lower speed violations over summer. Colin Espiner records his dissent in Lowering speed tolerance targets wrong drivers.

With the asset sales referendum currently on, it's worth debating whether such referendums are worth it. Philip Temple says 'no' and wants them abolished - see: Voice of the people falling on deaf ears. Also on the topic of asset sales, see Adam Bennett's Have we got a deal for you ...

Finally - it's the Christchurch East by-election tomorrow. For the latest overview of the campaign, see Vernon Small's By-election a ho-hum affair. TV3's Brook Sabin has been providing colourful coverage of the campaign and some wider issues - see In-fighting kicks off among National's partners and Colin Craig admires Sarah Palin. But for an even more whimsical item, see the 1-minute video of the Prime Minister campaigning in Christchurch: John Key's Answer To Mystery Of The Fox.

- 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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