It may be the season of goodwill in the real world, but within the parliamentary complex the past few weeks have been sheer poison and a taste of what is shaping up to be an ugly 2020 election.
The mix of potent policies and personalities are usually enough for a lively election but add two referendum on issues that are deeply felt, close polling between blocs, and New Zealand First fighting for its life, and you have a recipe for an intensely bitter campaign.
Monday's 1News Colmar Brunton poll reinforced how close it is, with National in a governable position and New Zealand First out of the picture altogether.
It should have jolted members of the Government out of its sense of belief that every new government is entitled to a second term and that theirs will be no different.
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Many have been content to believe that they couldn't possibly be a one-term Government because even if National is the biggest party, it has no political friends with which to form a government, and even if the polls show Labour slipping, the poll itself has a built-in prejudice to Labour.
These are lazy attitudes that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should be shaking out of her party, except she is the one perpetuating it.
The 1News Colmar Brunton Poll is the longest-running poll in New Zealand by a country mile. It sets out its methodology in a full page of its published result and while it over-estimated support for the Greens and under-estimated support for New Zealand First in 2017, its last pre-election poll was close for National and Labour.
Its final poll before the election had National on 46 per cent and it received 44.4 per cent in the election, and it had Labour on 37 per cent and it got 36.9 per cent in the election.
Ardern's claim that the poll has a built-in bias against Labour is not supported by the facts.
And as was pointed out on Kiwiblog, its last pre-election poll in 2014 gave Labour 25.2 per cent and it got 25.1 per cent of the vote; in 2011 its last pre-election poll was 28 per cent for Labour and it received 27.5 per cent of the vote; and in 2008 its last poll recorded 35 per cent for Labour and it received 34 per cent.
Continued close polling between the Government parties is likely to encourage parties to push the boundaries of electioneering behavior.
Labour's electioneering was not extreme under the Key Government because it never believed it could win. National will push the boundaries because it believes it can, because it has a stable of experienced social media creatives, and Labour will match fire with fire.
What is not yet clear is the effect the two referendums will have on the election.
They could draw new people into the political process and increase voter turnout. Or the prospect of making four decisions at the ballot box – party vote, electorate vote, euthanasia, and legalising cannabis – could be a turn-off for some voters.
What is becoming clear is that the referendums will change the dynamics of the party electioneering, particularly the cannabis referendum and particularly for National.
The euthanasia referendum – a legally binding referendum - has clear proponents and opponents within Labour and National. Current polling suggests it will pass comfortably and that may take the heat out of it.
The same cannot be said of the cannabis referendum – which will be indicative only.
Under current polling, cannabis looks to be much closer than the euthanasia question. The 1News Colmar Brunton poll – taken before the draft legislation was released this week – had 43 per cent supporting legalisation, 49 per cent opposing it and 6 per cent under or wouldn't say.
With no one in National being identified as a supporter and no one in Labour identified as strongly opposing legalisation, the cannabis referendum is more likely to enmeshed in the party politics.
National leader Simon Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett both oppose legalisation and National appears to be taking a party position on it – unofficially anyway – and could yet take an official position.
Alongside its hardline policies on law and order and welfare, it is pretty clear National is headed to an election year of attack advertising in which Labour is portrayed as soft on crime, soft on welfare and soft on drugs.
If Labour continues as it has on the issue, it will be in danger of putting the same constraints on itself as it did with the capital gains tax - leaving the debate to others and effectively giving National a free hit.
Bennett has been a well-rehearsed campaigner on the issue, having presented at all the party's regional conferences and visited. She highlights health issues rather than moral ones, and the unknowns such as whether, for example, a landlord should be able to stop a tenant growing cannabis.
Winston Peters joked about not seeing the difference between the dope and weed in reference to Bennett and a 14g bag of fake cannabis she brought into the House.
But he also made a reference which suggested personal attacks will intensify.
New Zealand First and National will be competing for the same anti-legalisation constituency.
New Zealand First is the reason the cannabis referendum will be indicative only and not binding like the euthanasia one. Such is its opposition, the party would not support the bill passing through Parliament even with the proviso it could only be enacted by majority support in a referendum.
However, unlike National, it has promised to enact the bill if it does pass.
The ugliest row this week was over political donations. Legislation passed under urgency, which does nothing to enhance transparency or to prevent parties concealing the source of it donors in a trust, capped off Winston Peters' attack on a former president of his party.
The process was a disgrace to the very democracy it purports to protect in election 2020.