BIG NEWS

Sunday, June 17, 2012

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

superb video on NZ social media



here's another good one... from offshore

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Monday, January 02, 2012

My new years resolution

So, my new years resolution is to do even less blogging and even more real journalism (among other places, here,where I've been working all year), and engage at Twitter here.

However, don't unsubscribe those RSS feeds, I`ll blog occasionally. Perhaps when I eventually get to finish The Spirit Level, which I've just downloaded. I`ll link any posts on Twitter, so follow me there.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why can’t WINZ do the budgeting for beneficiaries?

Green MP Jan Logie has highlighted that many families cannot get food grants off WINZ unless they reduce their costs, increase their income or get budgeting advice. I understand that if a third grant is applied for, budgeting advice must first happen before they get it.

The issue here is that WINZ can actually do their own budgets for beneficiaries, instead of referring people on to other budgeting agencies who have long waiting lists. Legally, WINZ case managers can do draft budgets to see if there is a need, and meet that need on the spot by either a special needs grant or other temporary assistance.

The trouble is that many WINZ Case Managers don’t know how to do a draft budget, and the ones that can are unwilling to do so.

To merely say “get budgeting advice” or “reduce your costs” is just lazy stuff from Case Managers who have an obligation to assist needy beneficiaries.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nice pic

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Some amazing social media stats


source All labels are clickable and lead to new stats.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Labour and the Maori vote

Now that David Shearer is Labour leader, one of his top priorities is to win back the Maori vote. Labour has five Maori MPs. Only one holds a general seat, she is fairly new -and one is brand new.

Recent strategies include putting Maori too low on their list (Mahuta-Coyle, Davis) and selecting non Maori in general seats. So really, Labour has to do better than to rely on one or two Maori seats primarily held by long-term MPs with the odd token Maori selection in a general seat.

How about doing what National has done - select good Maori candidates in safe general seats, instead of having them contesting Maori in seats that they have no show. For example, it was a mistake putting Deborah Mahuta-Coyle against Simon Bridges in Tauranga as her main competition was the NZ First vote. Tauranga was second only to Epsom as Labour's worst electorate performance. Also NZ First got 14.9% party vote, Labour got 15%, whereas Nationals party vote in Tauranga was almost the same as in 2008 - more than 54%.

In terms of winning the party vote for Maori, Labour will have to reverse the increase in party vote in the Maori seats to National Greens and NZ First, get more people to vote in rural areas and promote the Maori electoral option.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Conservative Party official thinks deaf people should not be MPs

post has been updated

Kevin Campbell is the campaign manager for the Conservative Party. Prior to the election he was very happy in using Facebook to promote the party and most comments were of a political nature. But after the election he appears to have closed ranks after something he posted that many found offensive. Incidentally I was told by a Conservative Party candidate that they were not to use social media during the campaign.

Campbell questioned whether new Green MP Mojo Mathers, who is the world’s fifth profoundly deaf MP, should even be an MP as she didn’t have all her “faculties” - and only people who have all their faculties should be MPs. In other words, because she is deaf, she is unsuitable as an MP. Mathers became an MP after special votes were counted and I think she is perfectly suitable to be an effective MP.

I was one of many who pulled him up on this. Just after I did this, my comment was deleted, I was defriended, and Campbell changed his profile picture. He has now taken the post and all its 30 -odd comments down after he reiterated that there was nothing wrong with what he said, adding that because Mathers was also a Green MP she, by definition can’t be effective.

If this is reflective of the attitudes of the Conservative Party, I`m appalled. While Campbell may comment how he wishes in a free and democratic society, he should be expected to be taken to task if he publicly promotes opinion that most find unacceptable rather than wimping out and deleting stuff after an outcry.

update Just to let you know that Kevin Campbell has since e-mailed Mojo Mathers a personal apology which she has accepted.

update2 NZ Herald has the story here, which (of course) doesn't mention any blogs as the source.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Why charter schools won’t lift student achievement

Stuff reports
Prime Minister John Key is defending the introduction of charter schools under a deal with ACT despite National never campaigning on it, saying "that's MMP for you, isn't it?"
No, it’s not. National didn’t need Act to govern. It chose to govern with Act and incorporate charter schools under a deal. I wonder if that was discussed at the “cup of tea”? I guess Key is a little annoyed that Supplementary Member is not going to be our electoral system and we have spent millions on a referendum to get no change.

However, under Supplementary Member, Banks would have still been in parliament, and National would not have needed Act to govern either, but could choose to. I think National probably would have governed with Act under Supplementary Member, so to say “That’s MMP for you” is disingenuous.

What we need to do is lift student achievement. The choices are charter schools and National Standards, both of which are opposed by the education sector. Why?

They don’t lift student achievement. National and Act want to lift student achievement in charter schools but what will happen is that charter schools will select brighter students – perhaps from the highest decile schools in the area, or the higher performing students in low decile schools - to attend their schools, as they get extra funding for current rates of achievement, hardly benefiting the poor and struggling students who miss out.

Neither will it benefit the brighter students at these charter schools, as they are already achievers at the schools they currently attend.

But the Government will be able to say what a success charter schools are, while the lower performing students who charter schools were designed to assist remain in the low decile schools and end up failing NCEA level 1.

I`m really glad my kids go to a high decile school.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

What the Labour Party list 2011 should have been

I think this list is a much better list than we had going into the election. It would have given Labour three new list MPs, and three quality MPs who lost their jobs would not have. I have stopped at Number 40 and assumed that Labour's vote would have been higher had this been the list. I`m sure most of you agree it is a much better list, taking into account those who were likely to win their seats. Of the top half, nearly a third are women, nearly a third are Maori - and a fifth aren't even current MPs.


1. David Shearer
2. Grant Robertson
3. David Parker
4. David Cunliffe
5. Clayton Cosgrove
6. Jacinda Ardern
7. Kelvin Davis
8. Shane Jones
9. Parekura Horomoia
10. Andrew Little
11. Stuart Nash
12. Moana Mackey
13. Nanaia Mahuta
14. Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
15. Jordan Carter
16. Sue Moroney
17. Trevor Mallard
18. Phil Goff
19. Annette King
20. Damien O'Connor
21. Maryan Street
22. Carmel Sepuloni
23. Charles Chauvel
24. Su’a William Sio
25. Clare Curran
26. David Clark
27. Chris Hipkins
28. Rick Barker
29. Brendan Burns
30. Ruth Dyson
31. Phil Twyford
32. Carol Beaumont
33. Michael Wood
34. Darien Fenton
35. Stephanie Chadwick
36. Rajen Prasad
37. Raymond Huo
38. Iain Lees-Galloway
39. Josie Pagani
40. Kris Faafoi

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Party lists

Don’t you think it is a little strange that, of those who head their political party’s respective lists, one has resigned from his party, another has resigned as leader for the backbenches, and another is not leader - nor has he joined three of his colleagues in parliament. Two further parties have just their top-ranked person in parliament, and another party's top-ranked candidate was not even in Parliament immediately before the election, but now is.

First time that’s happened immediately after an election.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Election top fives

Good
Increase in Green’s party vote with some good new candidates
Peter Dunne winning Ohariu
Higher than expected Conservative vote – practically ensuring National did not get a majority
MMP being retained and reviewed
Government looks likely to be quickly formed

Not so good
James Shaw missing out as Green’s vote wasn’t high enough
NZ First getting back into parliament
68% turnout – worst voter turnout since the 1880s.
The cup of tea affecting the election result
Banks getting Epsom

Weird
The election night Labour and National tie in Christchurch Central
NZ First flatlining on 6.8 percent for the entire night
The Conservative Party more than doubling Act’s vote
34 percent of voters voting for change filling out referendum papers incorrectly
Green Party vote was nearly more than Labours in Wellington Central

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Why Peter Dunne won with an increased majority

Well, I have been saying for a while now that Peter Dunne will win Ohariu – and win with an increased majority.

Peter Dunne not only won Ohariu with an increased majority, he increased that majority by more than 50 percent and won 39 percent of the vote. While National’s Katrina Shanks’ vote dropped to her lowest in three elections,( as did the Greens’ constituent vote) Labour’s Charles Chauvel got 315 more votes than he did in 2008- but Dunne got 925 more – and that’s with a lower turnout.

Chauvel conceded before 10pm, but has yet to ring Dunne – in fact he has yet to ring Dunne to concede the 2008 election. He also came second in 2005 and contested an electorate in 1990. I heard that a reporter tried to get in to Chauvel’s electorate party only to be told she was not wanted.

However United Future’s party vote dropped and I recon the party would have got more had the tea tape controversy not assisted NZ First. In fact the electorate vote dropped too, perhaps reflecting the fact that only 65 percent bothered to turn up to vote – the lowest since about 1884. But it wasn’t the low turn-out or any “deal” between National and Dunne that won the seat for Dunne – more people in Ohariu simply want Dunne as their MP. Dunne had a 10 point plan for the electorate, the other candidates did not. Dunne has a firm grip on the electorate – even amongst the increasing number of people who party vote Green. Fewer voted Labour too – the party vote dropped to 26 percent from 32.8 percent, despite Labour campaigners being the most visible in the electorate.

It appears that some Dunne voters, tiring of the incumbent voted for Chauvel as there was no way Katrina Shanks was going to win, but more former Shanks voters voted for Dunne – with many staying at home. An increasing proportion of those who voted Dunne party voted Green instead of Labour. National also got a good showing - 49 percent of the party vote.

It is clear that Chauvel is the wrong Labour candidate for Ohariu. He has lost three times in a row, despite Labour's footsoldiers campaigning increasingly harder. If Labour wants to win Ohariu, Dunne would either need to retire, or Labour would have to select a candidate that more people will vote for – and who wants to represent his electorate a little more than Chauvel does.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

MMP

Vote MMP.

That is all.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Who I`m voting for

One blogger has encouraged us to advise who we would be voting for this election.

I live in the Ohariu electorate. Yes, the electorate that Peter Dunne has been holding for 27 years. In 2011 I am giving my both my electorate vote and my party vote to someone and some party other than I did in 2008.

We have four MPs in our electorate in Parliament. Greens’ Gareth Hughes just wants the party vote. Nationals Katrina Shanks wants the electorate vote, but none of her parliamentary colleagues want her to have it. Charles Chauvel wants the electorate vote and so does his parliamentary colleagues. United Future’s Peter Dunne doesn’t have any parliamentary colleagues and will be out of Parliament if he loses his seat – so he needs to win. Irrespective if Chauvel wins, he makes it to Labour’s front bench anyway. Hughes and Shanks will also be in Parliament on the list. So, in terms of who represents me as electorate MP, it’s down to Labour’s Charles Chauvel and UnitedFuture’s Peter Dunne. There’s about 1000 votes in it.

Peter Dunne will be getting my vote. He lives in the electorate,unlike the other three, he knows the electorate and at meetings he has best explained what he will do for the electorate if he is successful. He has a 10 point plan. He has been the most publicly visible MP in the campaign and can work with the incoming government.

The party that will get my vote has run a good campaign. It has concentrated on policy, as opposed to personality or scandals. It has good policies on welfare, education, employment, and wants to address inequality.It will also work with the incoming government. It has some good new candidates, particularly Holly Walker and James Shaw. So the Greens will be getting my party vote this year.

I`m not sure how many Dunne voters will vote Green this year, but there you go. There`ll be at least one. And I`ll be voting for the fairest voting system we have – MMP.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don Brash wants to decriminalise smack


Act leader Don Brash is calling for the decriminalisation of smacking.

He says prohibition of smacking hasn't worked, and policing it costs tax payer dollars and clogs up the court system.

He told Big News there are other ways to restrict the use of smacking.

"It's estimated thousands of New Zealanders smack on a fairly regular basis, many are persecuted every year, and thousands of tax payer dollars is spent to police this law," says Mr Brash.

More here.Full speech here.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Australia, Catholic priest accused of rape was named in parliament

A Catholic priest is seeking to clear his name after being accused in the Australian parliament of raping a trainee priest 40 years ago.

Adelaide priest Monsignor Ian Dempsey was named by Senator Nick Xenophen under parliamentary privilege last week as the alleged rapist of former Catholic priest John Hepworth, who is currently primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

“For four years allegations have been outstanding that priest Ian Dempsey raped John Hepworth, and that church leadership has failed to make appropriate inquiries into this matter,”

Dempsey said he had “absolutely not” had a sexual relationship with Hepworth, and may make a statement in the Senate to clear his name.

In a letter to Xenophen, Dempsey accused the senator of smearing and denigrating his reputation.

“I have a reputation for honesty and integrity. I am innocent of these allegations for which you used parliamentary privilege to name me.”

“You did not even bother to find out about any matter relevant to this case except from one source, John Hepworth. You never contacted me.”

Hepworth told the Church of the allegations in 2007, but Xenophen told parliament that Adelaide Archdiocese vicar-general Monsignor David Cappo failed to properly investigate.

Cappo denied allegations were investigated inappropriately, and resigned his appointment as chair of the Australian government’s new Mental Health Commission.

Hepworth said he broke from the Catholic Church because of rapes by three priests, two of whom are deceased.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nearly half those who come off the dole don’t get jobs

Last month the Minster of Social Development announced that more than 6,700 New Zealanders went off welfare and into work in July 2011.

I was curious, so I asked the minister’s office if that meant that everyone who went off the unemployment benefit in July went to work. I was told that was correct.

I have now found out -via the OIA - that this is now incorrect and have also been told that the Government has no idea as to whether the work was full time or not. Paula Bennett says, “Some of the trends we’re seeing are more full-time jobs, more women in work, increasing wages and more hours for workers.”

Yet she has no idea whether how many full time jobs are secured by those off benefits. Many may well be on short term or part time contracts (like doing work associated with the Rugby World Cup) and end up back on the benefit shortly after.

What Bennett didn’t say was that in July, 7496 left the unemployment benefit but only 4213 went to work. So 44 per cent of those who came off the unemployment benefit in July did so for reasons other than work. Most started full time study, probably because they couldn’t find a job.

I also sought to find out why benefits were being paid to those who were not supposed to be getting benefits after 7400 benefits were cancelled after beneficiaries failed to reapply for their benefit after 12 months.

According to media reports
Half of the people who were now off it did not reapply. Of the other half, 2000 were already in work, 1400 had left the county, were in study or failed the work test.

Prime Minister John Key said it could be assumed those people were in work. But 300 of them had failed a work test and were on a stand down period, 365 had entered study as they could not get a job. A third of the 1400 had left the benefit for reasons other than stated. Around 230 had left New Zealand, but WINZ was not prepared to tell me how long each had received a benefit before leaving without charging me. Nearly 400 were cancelled for “other” reasons which WINZ simply could not tell me.

Of the 7400 benefits cancelled, WINZ does not know why half (3698) didn’t reapply – nor could they tell me how long they paid benefits before cancelling. Some may have simply left the country.

But there is a pattern. Just half those who leave an unemployment benefit get work. Meaning that when the workforce increases, a good proportion of the increase is from those who were not previously receiving the unemployment benefit.

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Gay marriage in Australia

Over the past few weeks there has been an interesting debate in the Australian Parliament over marriage equality.

Just to recap, in September last year, the Greens reintroduced a Marriage Equality bill in Parliament, but in November Parliament couldn’t agree to a conscience vote on the issue and there was no way a party vote would progress the bill. PM Julia Gillard opposes marriage equality.

So the Greens got a motion through the House that meant MPs had to consult their constituents. The response was interesting for several reasons: Most MPs oppose gay marriage, most Labor MPs support gay marriage ( even though its official policy reflects Gillard’s position) , most Australians support gay marriage – the latest Roy Morgan poll on the issue had it at 68 per cent - but, of the MPs who reported back to Parliament after the consultation, most stated that their constituents did not support it.

Labor has its annual conference in December and a conscience vote among Labor is being discussed to avoid party in-fighting at the conference. Yet, as 2/3rds of Aussie politicians oppose gay marriage( but 2/3rds of the public support it), it remains to be seen whether such a conscience vote in Parliament on gay marriage – if it ever happens any time soon - is a vote reflective of an MPs own conscience or the collective conscience of constituents' they polled and represent.

Anyway, here's a story on an Australian Catholic politician who, along with his constituents, supports gay marriage - yet his party and his church officially don't.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 -what I was doing

I expect to be hit by a deluge of emails on 9/11 stories overnight, as part of the monitoring I do, but as a journalist have not written any 9/11 stories for two reasons: I haven't been assigned any and I cant be bothered finding any.

Many people knew what they were doing when they found out about 9/11 - as they did when Princess Di died and as they did when they found out that Elvis Presley died. To me, these were the three most significant " what were you doing when..." events.

Churches and media outlets world wide are 9/11ing. Its full on with sermons and stories. Its hard to believe that the terror was 10 years ago. So in the spirit of 9/11( because it is 9/11 today in the US) I`ll recall what I was doing on the day. It was a working day and I was in my car on the way to work about 8am - I was a journalist for a community newspaper - and I turned on the radio. All I heard was high pitched urgent commentary and that was the first I knew of 9/11. It didn't take me long to realise that something significant was happening in the US, but I had no idea of its significance.

It wasn't until I got to work and sat myself in front of the TV for the next two hours - as the rest of the office did - and took in the tragedy. I managed to write a few stories and then rushed home to get the TV on and it was on pretty much constantly.

And those images wont go away any time soon.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wellington drivers to be refunded thousands of dollars of parking fines

The Wellington City Council is to waive and refund thousands of dollars of parking tickets to motorists after wardens and council contractors blatantly ignored Council policy in issuing parking infringements.

I first wrote about it here.

According to information released through the Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act, parking wardens ignored policy in issuing $10,860 worth of tickets at clearways in the past two years. Most were issued in one street since July 2010 when a covert “dash-cam” - a Council vehicle with a camera - was introduced. This dashcam has taken thousands of photographs of up to six parked cars in one frame – that’s up to $360 per frame for the Council if unchallenged.

According to the Council’s parking manual [not online], infringement notices are “not issued…until six minutes after a (clearway) restriction begins, or within six minutes of when the restriction ends”. Yet in the past two years, 181 were – including people parked for a matter of seconds, still in their vehicles. The Council’s manual also states that “when the person in charge of the vehicle is present, then he or she in the first instance should be moved on”.

But instead hundreds have been covertly ticketed; most of the 181 were ticketed from the dash-cam in the past year, three-quarters actively targeted in Bowen Street moments after parking.

I asked Parkwise Manager Denis de Groet why his staff were repeatedly breaching council policy. "I'm not going to tell you," he said.

After the decision to photograph cars within this six-minute “grace” period, another decision was made to again ignore council policy, and spend ratepayers money by getting 154 vehicle registration checks, posting tickets to all registered owners – many of whom simply paid up.

As a direct result of my request, the Council’s Parking Services Manager, Colleen Thessman told me that $5100 (excluding legal costs) will be refunded to 85 vehicle owners as their tickets should not have been issued or enforced in the first place. An additional 16 tickets ($960) - about to be enforced through the courts or currently in the court system – will be waived. In addition, 76 vehicle owners - most parked in Bowen Street, had to go through the arduous process of successfully appealing tickets they should never have got in the first place.

I was one of these 76. I was told I was “considered to negatively impact on the safety and congestion around our city” after parking for 30-45 seconds without even turning my car engine off. I wrote to Thessman who told me that, despite the council’s policy, my ticket would not be waived - and to request a court hearing if I refused to pay. So I wrote to the Council’s Chief Executive - and later got the ticket waived, interestingly, a few days after I sent my OIA.

In Bowen Street, parking wardens have historically hidden among roadside bushes out of sight of motorists, emerging within the six minute “window” to ticket unsuspecting drivers who locked and left their vehicles. Other drivers drove away to avoid being ticketed –and Parking Services managers told me that as a result, the Council was unable to generate enough money – hence the dash-cams.

Now, drivers, realising that they are at parking spaces minutes early, quickly vacate- only to be pinged $60 from the impeccably timed dash-cam.

Yet Colleen Thessman claimed that the council had no idea that Council policy was being breached– despite my photographic evidence to the parking warden contracts manager as early as last year. I asked a couple of weeks back whether owners of other vehicles in my “dash cam” photo would similarly get their tickets waived or refunded – Thessman said no, they wouldn’t.

This week she changed her mind.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Key pushes the minor party vote at the expense of National candidates

Last week there was a rumour that Phil Goff asked his front bench if he should resign as leader. Goff has denied this and said today ”I think you`ll find that that spin has its origins in the National Party”.

Earlier today John Key emphatically denied that this came from the National Party, saying that National has “no interest in the Labour leadership”.

However, while Key is interested in speaking at conferences of minor parties – fronting to Maori Party and Act conferences, and, today, the United Future conference, he has no interest in debating their leaders on TV, but wants at least two of them to win their seats - in Ohariu-Belmont and Epsom - and is therefore encouraging supporters to list vote National – but split their vote.

While some New Zealanders what to be informed on minor party policies, Key thinks that this should not happen while he shares the TV screen, saying today “it wouldn’t do a lot about informing New Zealanders”.

So informing New Zealanders about minor parties is somewhat pointless to Key. Does he expect National to govern alone? The TV3 poll came out today showing the Greens on their highest ever polling of 9.3 percent - in fact their polling is way higher than NZ First, United Future, Act, Mana and Maori parties combined. The Greens would have nearly a third of the number of seats that Labour would have, and Labour just under half what National would have. Labour would likely lose six seats if the election were held today. Mana would get two seats if they win an electorate seat. National could govern alone – but may choose to include Peter Dunne as part of the government, if he wins his seat, as is likely.

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Key may have minister from a minor party even if National were to govern alone

I attended my first political party conference today for two reasons: One it was just down the road from where I live, and Prime Minister John Key was there.

John Key has lived in Peter Dunne’s electorate. Key and Dunne obviously have a good relationship, and will continue to do so after the election. Key said Dunne has done an “excellent job” as a minister in a complex portfolio. At the stand up after Key’s speech, he said even if National governed alone, conversation lines will still be open with “all minor (parliamentary) parties like Act and United Future.

I asked Key if his relationship with Dunne, who is associate Minister of Health and Revenue Minister, would change. His first word in his reply was no. Nor did he rule out a leader from a minor party –like Dunne in UnitedFuture –from having a ministerial role in a situation should National govern alone.

That would be a first.

Key said any minor party ministerial roles would depend on what expectations minor parties had in ministerial roles – but it is pretty clear what Dunne’s expectations are.

It is clear that Key obviously wants Dunne back in Parliament. Gossip among the press gallery is that Dunne is in danger of losing his seat – and would have lost it in 2008 had the Greens and Labour tag-teamed. Key was asked by reporters if his invite to the UnitedFuture conference was to drum up support for Dunne. He laughed that off, as expected, and said his standard line that it is up to the people of Ohariu who they give their candidate vote to but National will be running a strong party vote in the electorate.

That said, Key sees Dunne as someone who he sees as a like-minded person whom can work through sensible compromises. As long as Dunne has a reasonable chance of being elected in Ohariu-Belmont, the National candidate will be told to run a strong party vote campaign, and be told their entry to parliament depends on their list placing. National will hope its supporters will split their vote.

At the conference, Dunne also announced changes to child support, including the reduction in the number of nights a year used to determine shared care being reduced from 40 percent to 28 percent of nights. Child support payments will be deducted directly from the paying parent's wages.

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