Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

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

Bryce Edwards: Politics round-up: 15 questions (and some answers)

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Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / File

Politics lecturer Bryce Edwards asks 15 of the most burning questions in current NZ politics, and even manages to find a few answers.

1) Why has John Key suddenly become an outspoken and radical critic of the United Nations Establishment?

Claire Trevett explains that Key's extraordinarily blunt speech at the UN last week was all about electioneering and was aimed not at the Big Five permanent members but 'rather at those other ears that might be pondering whether to vote for New Zealand for the Security Council' - see: Antipodean mouse's roar lost in all the excitement. The desire for a seat at the table might also explain two other reports: Radio New Zealand's High Commission to open in Barbados and Matthew Backhouse's New Zealand commits $2.6m more to Syria.

2) How well did Key's radical speech go down in New Zealand?

Today's Herald editorial approves - see: PM's speech a blunt message to UN on reform. Not everyone agrees, however - see Dan Satherley's Key's speech 'badly-timed' and 'wrong' - Williams. Although the Greens seem to find some favour with the speech, MP Kennedy Graham has also highlighted what he thinks was wrong with it - see: Prime Minister's Statement to the UN: B-, Five mistakes, "Could do better".

3) Will the Reserve Bank's new mortgage lending rules actually be counter-productive?

Economist Bernard Hickey ponders this possibility in Isn't it ironic - housing policy may actually worsen supply. And there's further evidence in Alanah Eriksen's Mortgage restrictions taking toll on builders. But Liam Dann is much more impressed by the Reserve Bank thinking, and today lists Four good reasons for new LVRs.

4) Do New Zealand's politically powerful have mortgages, and how easily did they buy their own properties?

James Weir profiles the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Graeme Wheeler, and points to his $470,000+ salary and two homes, but says, Bank boss has own mortgage. Even more fascinating is the position of MPs - many of whom have developed vast property portfolios. Today Adam Bennett looks at How MPs got into first homes. But what about renters? See Ali Memon's Pity the poor who are forced to rent.

5) Who is funding LIanne Dalziel's Christchurch mayoral campaign?

Glenn Conway looks at the controversy in his article, Christchurch mayoral rivals in funding feud. David Farrar argues that 'Dalziel doesn't know because she wants to be able to avoid answering the question of who is funding her campaign' - see: Who is funding Dalziel?.

6) Is the Christchurch local government election going to be a 'game changer'?

That's the question asked by John McCrone in his in-depth feature, Is this election a game changer?. He profiles four candidates and says that they 'appear to be the ones to watch if you want to know whether the power has shifted along with the ground in the new Christchurch'.

7) Is mismanagement of local government elections calling into question New Zealand's electoral integrity?

Stephen Franks has blogged to say that his law firm is handing out $2500 to members of the public who can help establish the extent of the botch-up by the Wellington City Council in its handling of campaign literature - see: Council election booklet botch-up.

8) Will greater powers for the new mayors help reverse low voter turnout?

By giving mayors more say in issues such as who their deputies might be, the Government might have made the election of mayors more important - see Michael Fox's Mayors to hold greater sway. But there are still plenty of people standing for office who might be criticised for lowering the quality of the options - see the Herald's Candidates: Vague or explicit.

9) Should the government invest in another America's Cup challenge?

Martin van Beynen explains why the America's Cup is not worth big investment. Andrew Alderson's looks at the issues that might affect any Government decision - see: Govt funding an election winner. Matthew Backhouse reports on an additional option for funding the next challenge - see: Dotcom: I'll fund Team NZ's next America's Cup bid. But perhaps the most interesting article dealing with the money behind the cup, and the fact that it's not simply a nation vs nation campaign, is Bevan Hurley's Kiwis subsidised Ellison's victory.

10) How is David Cunliffe performing as the new Labour leader?

He gets some extraordinary praise from an unlikely source - see Rodney Hide's very good column, No mistaking who's in charge. Cunliffe is also receives high marks from Matt McCarten - see: 8/10 for Cunliffe's winning team. Interestingly, McCarten gives very low marks to three of the women in Cunliffe's top ten - 5/10 for Jacinda Ardern, 4/10 for Nanaia Mahuta, and 5/10 for Sue Moroney. Further positive reports can be read in Peter Wilson's Cunliffe's caucus pulls together and John Armstrong's Canny Cunliffe lets polls do the talking.

10) Is Phil Goff on his way out of politics?

Not according to Fran O'Sullivan's profile of him in Goff adding muscle to Pacific trade push. Instead, Goff seems determined to promote Labour's pro-trade credentials and push harder for the Trans Pacific Partnership deal.

11) How well is the NZ economy going?

John Hartevelt compares it very favourably to the UK in Brits have cause to be jealous of NZ. Economist Eric Crampton reports on New Zealand's place in the latest Economic Freedom index - see: Third in freedom, last-equal in Cinnabon. Beith Atkinson summarises what the latest Hertie School of Governance report says about New Zealand's strengths and weaknesses - see: Governance Report 2013 has new perspectives. Or you can download the full PDF report.

12) What is the problem with the Government's broadband pricing policy?

It's a complicated issue, but one that is well explained by National-aligned blogger, David Farrar, who is strongly opposed to the Government's policy - see: More thoughts on copper pricing. See also Damien Grant's Crown trips in tangled copper web.

13) Is the New Zealand Establishment changing?

Slowly but surely it seems that the country's power elite is incorporating diversity. For a view of rising female leaders, see Catherine Harris' Women of Influence finalists named. You can also Vote for your Emerging Leader.

14) Can New Zealand's court system be modernised?

Justice Minister Judith Collins says it can, and is promising the biggest shakeup for over 100 years - see Audrey Young's Collins puts judges on notice and Michael Fox's Courts shake-up unveiled by Justice minister. Also of interest are Phil Taylor's Time for next move, says ex-judge and Roger Brooking's 80% of countries use torture - New Zealand is one.

15) Will the Ruataniwha dam controversy lead to Nick Smith's resignation?

It seems unlikely at the moment. Labour has made a strong case on the minor scandal - see John Armstrong's Labour believes it's found the Government's 'tipping point' and Andrea Vance's DoC launches dam leak inquiry. But on the substantive issue of the dam, Labour is ambiguous, with it's spokesperson unwilling to oppose it - see Radio New Zealand's Labour's Whaitiri in middle on dam proposal. Finally, on Nick Smith's political gymnastics over the DOC report, see Scott Yorke's parody: I did not order this.

- 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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