Polls put Election 2020 on a knife’s edge

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Peter Wilson

Another opinion poll shows a knife-edge result, Northland could decide the election and National goes after NZ First.

A second opinion poll has shown the election result balanced on a knife-edge.

A recent One News Colmar-Brunton poll gave National and ACT a scrape-through majority while Newshub Reid Research survey was the reverse, a narrow win for Labour and the Greens.

But they had one thing in common – NZ First below the 5% threshold and out of Parliament. The Colmar-Brunton poll gave the Party just 3%, one point ahead of ACT.

Northland crucial for NZ First

Those results mean Northland could decide the election.

Shane Jones all but confirmed to RNZ that he will stand in the electorate and if he wins NZ First can survive without reaching the threshold.

National holds the seat and NZ First will make a huge effort to take it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that Labour will not stand aside and she will not make any electorate deals, but if her government’s future depends on it, the word could go out to Labour supporters – ‘give your party vote to Labour and your candidate vote to Jones.’

The Epsom example

That is how it works in Epsom, where National keeps ACT’s David Seymour in place.

It would be surprising if Labour didn’t use the same tactic in Northland, given that it has virtually no chance of winning the seat itself.

Between now and the election, Winston Peters will be working on the case, and he will want the government to commit to moving the Port of Auckland to Northland. That would be a huge benefit to the region and NZ First could claim the credit. There will almost certainly be other enticements for Northland voters as well.

Back in the capital, Peters was having a hard time. The Electoral Commission handed its file on NZ First’s donations to the Police, who immediately shifted it to the Serious Fraud Office.

The Donations issue

The Commission said it believed donations to the Foundation, which were not declared, should have been party donations but it didn’t have the power to fully investigate.

Peters continued to insist his party did not breach electoral laws, and took the unusual step of bypassing the media with a live Facebook appearance where he answered questions about the donations. Not much was learned, however, and Peters distanced himself from the foundation.

“I did not receive any money. I’m not part of the foundation. I’ve never seen any of its accounts,” he said. No one has claimed he did receive money from it, the Foundation made loans to NZ First, which were used to run the Party.

National head on with NZ First

National, now it has ruled out working with NZ First after the election, is going after the Party whenever it gets the opportunity.

At a Select Committee hearing on Wednesday, National’s Finance Spokesman Paul Goldsmith asked Finance Minister Grant Robertson whether he had asked Treasury officials to review spending by NZ First ministers in light of the SFO investigation. Robertson said he had not, and took the same line as Ardern on the controversy – wait for the investigation to be concluded before making any judgments.

Peter Wilson is a life member of Parliament’s Press Gallery, 22 years as NZPA’s Political Editor and seven as Parliamentary Bureau Chief for NZ Newswire. The above Report (an edited version) and Picture have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

Photo Caption:

Shane Jones (Photo: VNP/Phil Smith)


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