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Bay of plenty SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 VOLUME 2: ISSUE 15 WWW.BOPBUSINESSNEWS.CO.NZ FACEBOOK.COM/BOPBUSINESSNEWS ELECTION 2017: Working with the kingmaker The Bay of Plenty stayed solidly blue in the 2017 General Elections, with all sitting National MPs across the wider region being returned. By DAVID PORTER As Bay of Plenty Business News went to print, it was unclear exactly who would be forming the government. The only unquestionable outcome immediately post-election was that NZ First leader Winston Peters - despite losing his Northland electorate seat back to National - would be in his favourite position of calling the shots on coalition arrangements. National Prime Minister Bill English was quick to assert his party’s “moral” mandate to form a government, with a party vote of 46.0 per cent and an estimated 58 seats on election night, followed by Labour with 35.8 percent (45 seats), New Zealand First with 7.5 percent (nine seats), Greens with 5.9 percent (seven seats), and ACT with one. However, the specials voting results due on 7 October could see one or two seats move either way. And although National lost one electorate seat in Christchurch, it picked up two in the North for a total of 41 electorate seats, compared with just 29 won by Labour. Tauranga MP and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said the result in the Bay reflected significant confidence in the region. “People think we’re heading in the right direction, that the economy is going well, there’s good jobs growth and a sense of dynamism in the Bay,” he said. “But what’s also true is they want to see us make even more progress on issues like housing, transport, the environment, poverty, and wider social and infrastructure issues. We hear that loud and clear and want to form a strong government that can deal at pace with those issues.” Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the region had been strongly for National in the past and it was good to see that reinforced. “Most people are coming here because they see opportunities,” he said. “They are putting their services and capital on the table. We’re having a huge migration boom in the Bay. People that are here are doing well, and people are coming here because they want to do well.” Rotorua MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay said that for National to poll higher going into a fourth election than when they first came to government was impressive. “The country has been pretty clear about the direction we are going and the economy is working well. I’m personally extremely grateful for the wide support all over the electorate.” As we went to print, a variety of governing options were being canvassed, with kingmaker Peters keeping his own People think we’re heading in the right direction, that the economy is going well, there’s good jobs growth and a sense of dynamism in the Bay… but they want to see us make even more progress on issues like housing, transport, the environment, poverty, and wider social and infrastructure issues. – Simon Bridges counsel. In theory, Labour and the Greens could form a coalition with NZ First, but it would have a bare majority and be arguably less stable than the larger coalition that would be formed by National and NZ First. If Peters wants some final landmark policy decisions to his credit, he would seem more likely to get those through sitting with National in a larger and more stable coalition, than a potentially more fractious lineup with Labour and the Greens. But ultimately, only Peters knows which way he will turn. And he could well decide that an equally viable option would be to opt out of a formal coalition and agree to NZ First abstaining on confidence and supply votes in return for key policy concessions and cabinet seats. This has been an election of surprises and own goals, with the Green Party’s Metiria Turei’s badly judged confession to youthful benefit fraud being the effective trigger for Jacinda Ardern’s ascent and the Greens losing half their caucus. Ardern undoubtedly rescued Labour from the polling doldrums, but poor judgement over the timing of potential taxes gave National a chance to raise doubt over her economic competence. Whichever way Labour spins it, for a party that was counting on a landslide swing against a government that has held office for three terms, finishing up some 10 percentage points behind National in the party vote is a loss. The economy is unlikely to improve during the next three years. A case can be made for Labour being better off in opposition focusing on building up the credibility of its new team for 2020. And equally, there are many younger National MPs who suspect that even if they get it, the fourth term will be a poisoned chalice. They are more likely to benefit from a term as part of a strong opposition, in which some of the more tired senior figures in the National cabinet give way to younger blood. It’s time to upgrade! $2199 * +GST - Includes - 12 MONTHS WORKSPACE LITE I.T. 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